If you are like most people you worry about smelling bad, as you should, no one likes the smelly person. As a result, we shower use deodorant (we will talk about those another time) and we change our clothes as often as possible. Now this works great for not smelling bad, but it creates a lot of other problems, such as having enough clothes, so we can change clothes as often as we like and not run out before our next laundry day. Then there is the whole environmental aspect, yes environmental. “Making 1kg of fabric generates 23kg of greenhouse gases on average, as stated in the Economist and The Guardian informs us that  “the washing of synthetic fibres can releasing nearly 730,000 tiny synthetic particles per wash”. If the environment is not high on your priorities, then how about all that money you are shelling out or all the time you are spending doing laundry? If you don’t value your money or time then STOP reading now this is not for you, go on your merry way, perhaps you can find a nice pair of Yoga pants just in case you decide to start a Yoga class. Nothing against Yoga it’s just that Yoga pant sales far outnumber the actual number of people that practice Yoga.

 

If you’re, are still here then have no fear there are ways around all these issues and you’ll smell just fine. Let’s start with the base layers if you go with Merino wool socks, undershirts, and yes underwear you won’t need to wash them as often. Two pairs of socks and two undershirts and 4 pairs of underwear will last you a week. Keep in mind you still need to shower, just saying don’t want people to start smelling and then blame me. If you do laundry once per week that means you can get away with owning three pairs of socks three undershirts and 5 pairs of underwear. That nicely fits in one drawer with lots of room to spare for other fun stuff. Now for outer layers such as pants, shirts and sweaters you can follow the example of efficiency masters like Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg and wear a personal uniform. Yes, that’s right just wear the same thing all the time. This idea resonates because of its sheer simplicity you have 5 pants and 5 shirts or sweaters that you cycle through. You don’t need to change your pants or clothes everyday change them when you change your underwear.

Now if this is too extreme for you, as honestly, it is too extreme of me also, then you could do 5 shirts that you cycle through that are different and have 2 or three different pants to cycle through to change things up a bit. The only reason I do this is due to social pressure. I am still working up the social resilience to go full minimalist and commit to one uniform, granted I do it on weekends and my daughter jokes that someone is going to make a cartoon character with my persona.

For shoes, it is also quite simple, the extreme method is one pair of shoes for all occasions you will want something that is comfortable but that can be worn for nice dinners or a pair of jeans. Now I have not been able to pull this off, but if you consider that millions of people all over the world do not own one pair of shoes or the shoes they do have do not fit, having a closet full of shoes does seem excessive.

The less extreme method is two pairs of dress/casual shoes, one black, one brown, a pair of running shoes and boots for winter if you live in the cold north. 3-4 pairs of shoes are not exactly living in poverty, but it is a start. The reduction of shoes hits a chord because my father did not own a pair of shoes until the age of 13, I can’t even imagine what that must have been like, if you are not sure what to do with the savings from not buying unnecessary shoes check out Shoes That Fit and considering helping one of the millions of people that need shoes.

Jackets are quite simple you need one for when it’s chilly and for when it’s very cold. That’s it, no more required and if you live in a warm climate then one jacket is enough.

So how does this all shake out when it comes to your pocketbook?

      
Garment typeAverage unit PriceUnits requiredCost of all UnitsCost per Day
(4 years)
Cost per Day
(2 years)
Socks$25.003$75.00$0.05$0.10
Under Shirts$50.003$200.00$0.14$0.27
Underwear$40.005$200.00$0.14$0.27
Outer Shirts or light Sweater$85.005$425.00$0.29$0.58
Pants$85.003$255.00$0.17$0.35
Shoes$100.003$300.00$0.21$0.41
Jacket$120.002$240.00$0.16$0.33
Total$1,695.00$1.16$2.32

At first glance, this seems like a lot of money to spend on clothing, however, if you are disciplined and this is all you spend for 4 years that is $35.32 per month on clothing. If you make $40K per year this is 1% of your gross annual income. If you wait for sales, you can reduce that amount even further. The other way to look at the above chart is a per use cost if you stay strong and disciplined you could get your daily clothing costs down to $1.16 per day not too bad, that is less then a cup of coffee.

Now you might be thinking what about workouts, gardening and having to attend the occasional gala event.  When it comes to working out the goal should be your health and not making a fashion statement, as much as company’s that market workout clothing will disagree special clothes not required just check out this video of workout trends over the years. If you work out just make sure the clothes you pick are comfortable, it is not likely that you will need special workout clothing (unless you need a uniform like a gi for jiu-jitsu). Same goes for gardening unless you are performing baseball slides in the grass you just need to wash your clothes after outdoor activities and ready to go again. If you need to attend formal events, then make one or more of your outer shirts a dress shirt or a plain black sweater (think Steve Jobs) and one of your jackets a sports jacket and you are set for most formal occasions. If you attend black tie events and you don’t already have the classic James Bond Tuxedo, then one can be purchased for $197 and it can be reused indefinitely.

If you have any comments about how to create a minimalist wardrobe leave your comments below.

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