Well, I didn’t expect to talk about this today, but here it is and here I am. For the past few months, I’ve been wearing the same clothes – 25 of them – over and over and over. It’s not earth-shattering, the idea of minimalism, and I’d even argue that it’s trendy to be a minimalist, which makes me like the concept eight thousand times less, but sometimes trends are here because they’re good, and easy, and smart. (How’s that for a run-on sentence? Apologies to my fifth grade teacher.)
Reducing the options in my closet has been all of those things for me, mostly because decisions have always been an anxiety trigger in my life. I remember when I was pregnant with Bee and had to choose a car seat, and how does one go about choosing a car seat exactly? Form vs. function vs. safety vs. price, it was enough to make me throw in the towel, which is code for ask Ken to do it, which is code for precisely what he’d prefer anyway. The man is a born researcher and decision maker, and I knew when I said yes to his proposal that it would be the last decision I’d really have to make if I wanted to, forever and ever, Amen.
The past few years have been a whirlwind of simplification – of fewer and deeper with fewer and deeper – and the great closet clean-out of 2014 was the final nail in the coffin of Minimalist Me. When we visited Singapore for nearly a month last May, I packed just 25 items and knew instinctively that this was my number, my cut-off. I didn’t need any more there, so why would I need any more here? And when we returned in June, I rid my closet of everything not in my suitcase.
This winter, I did the same – whittling down to a Wardrobe 25 – and it wasn’t until I started receiving questions about the process that I felt compelled to write about it. And so, here it is. Everything you wanted to know, and probably more than you wanted to know, but you’ll get that from me six days of the week.
Q: What did you decide to keep?
A: Here’s the list! Please note: I had to source similar items rather than exact replicas because the bulk of my wardrobe isn’t current, but this is the idea: 001 / 002 / 003 / 004 / 005 / 006 / 007 / 008 / 009 / 010 / 011 / 012 / 013 / 014 / 015 / 016 / 017 / 018 / 019 / 020 / 021 / 022 / 023 / 024 / 025
Q: How did you decide what to keep?
A: You know those favorite pieces you have that you wear over and over and over? Keep those. That’s it. Easy enough, right?
Q: Is this really all you wear?
A: For the most part, yes. I didn’t include my snow boots, or my coat, or accessories (hats, scarves, jewelry), the latter of which I heavily rely on to keep my favorite outfits interesting. I also have a sweatshirt, a robe and a few yoga tanks/tees that I sometimes wear underneath my sweaters and tops when I head to my local studio for a good workout. Other than that, what you see is what you get.
Q: Don’t you feel wasteful?
A: Oh, the opposite! It felt wasteful for my clothing to sit unused in my closet for most of the month, so I donated the pieces to a few womens’ shelters in the U.S., and offered a few to some gals here in town.
Q: What about special occasions?
A: I included one black pencil skirt for conferences and rare work travel, and I have a few classic pieces (blazer, shift dress, pumps, etc) in storage. I’ll pull them out when I need them, but for my lifestyle, I can get away with pretty little.
Q: Don’t you get bored?
A: Not even a bit. When I’m bored with my pieces, I’ll pair together something I generally don’t rely on, or add in an accessory I love. I’ve also relied a bit on my husband’s closet when laundry day is looming, a nice bonus for sure.
Q: Do people notice you’re wearing the same thing all the time?
A: I don’t know, I’ve never asked. But I’ve come to realize people generally aren’t really paying that much attention to the things you think they’re paying attention to, you know? They’re thinking of the same things you are – thawing out the chicken for dinner, sending that email, reminding themselves to get gas on the way home – and are likely too distracted to notice you have on the same pants you wore yesterday.
We say we dress for ourselves, but I think what we’re really doing is dressing for the way we want ourselves to be perceived. There’s a difference, and learning the difference (and letting go of that expectation) is a freeing concept.
Q: What about laundry?
A: You know, I’ve found that it’s just as easy to throw your clothing in the laundry machine as it is the hamper. And I spend far less time doing laundry because I don’t let it pile up for days, and everything I wear is machine washable. I don’t wash my sweaters and shirts daily, so between washes I often use this.
Q: What about the rest of your family?
A: Bee and Ken have a naturally slim wardrobe, so we’re all pretty much in the same boat over here. (And for those of you with kids interested in this challenge, I will say this: in high school, I wore the same five tops and five bottoms weekly and am convinced it was the key to teaching me how to dress creatively while experimenting with accessories. Restrictions and boundaries always offer creativity, so it was a beautiful lesson for me!)
Q: Will you be sharing your outfits on the blog?
A: I don’t know; it’s a bit of work to photograph it all. But if you’d like, I will. Just let me know!
If you feel compelled to clean out your closet as well, I’ve made a list of non-profits and other organizations by state that I imagine would be incredibly blessed by your donation (please offer your very best!):
Alabama / King’s Home
Alaska / Anchorage Rescue Mission
Arizona / St. Vincent De Paul
Arkansas / Northwest Arkansas Women’s Shelter
California / Love the City Thrift Store
Colorado / USAgain
Connecticut / ABC Women’s Center
Delaware / Friendship House
Florida / Chapman Partnership Inc.
Georgia / Covenant House
Hawaii / IHS
Idaho / The Haven Shelter
Illinois / Zealous Good
Indiana / Wheeler Mission
Iowa / Shelter House
Kansas / Hope House
Kentucky / The Hope Center
Louisiana / New Orleans Women’s Shelter
Maine / Mid-Maine Homeless Shelter
Maryland / Interfaith Works
Massachusetts /Rosie’s Place
Michigan / WISE
Minnesota / Safe Haven
Mississippi / Gateway Mission
Missouri / City Union Mission
Montana / Good Samaritan Thrift Store
Nebraska / People’s City Mission
Nevada / Las Vegas Rescue Mission
New Hampshire / Outfitters
New Jersey / New Visions Homeless Day Shelter
New Mexico / Joy Junction
New York / The Bowery Mission
North Carolina / InterAct
North Dakota / New Life Center
Ohio / Haven of Rest
Oklahoma / John 3:16 Mission
Oregon / Portland Rescue Mission
Pennsylvania / Bethlehem Haven
Rhode Island / The Clothing Collective
South Carolina / Zion Home of Restoration
South Dakota / Western South Dakota Community Action
Tennessee / Memphis Union Mission
Texas / Genesis Shelter
Utah / The Road Home
Vermont / Upper Valley Haven
Virginia / HomeAid
Washington / Tacoma Rescue Mission
West Virginia / Valley Mission
Wisconsin / Harbor House
Wyoming / Comea House