How much clothes is too much?
To me there is not a specific number or quantity of clothes that is right for every person. Like minimalism itself there is a scale to the extremeness and also uniqueness to each person’s situation, taste and needs. I think there are some general guidelines and questions to think about however when going through your wardrobe with hopes to declutter and minimize. AND I think it is most important to be in the right mindset before going through clothes and deciding how much is too much, and how much is enough.
When I went through my closet I went through it parts at a time, very gradually, over time. I recognized that it was going to be a process and it was not going to happen overnight, nor should it. Just like a fad diet that is quick and extreme, shows results for a short while, but is ultimately unhealthy and does not work because usually the weight comes back and then some, so is purging all of your clothes — its unsustainable, and usually is counterproductive. Go slowly through the downsizing process. For me that meant a three month process of taking trips to charities to donate clothes. Think for the long-term — if you are keeping a piece of clothing do you think you will love it and wear it for the next year? For years to come? If yes, keep it, If no, chuck it. If you don’t think you will love this piece for a year, it is not meant for your wardrobe. Your wardrobe should consist of all the clothes you love and feel good in, if there is something that doesn’t do this, it needs to go. Think about how much you were certain types of clothes. For me I dance and wear exercise clothes over my dance clothes 50% of my day, so 50% of my wardrobe should be exercise clothes. I wear casual clothes like jeans and tees for probably 30% of my week, and I wear fancier and sleepwear each for 10%. Whatever you wear most should make up most of your wardrobe. Think about if the clothes you have left go with each other? Can you make multiple outfits, with the clothes you have left? Do you need staple pieces? Think about each piece of clothes as being cohesive with the wardrobe as a whole for efficiency in making outfits.
Eliminating the obvious
Once you have eliminated clothes with wear and tear, the clothes you flat out don’t like, the ones that don’t fit, the ones you haven’t worn in a while, the ones that aren’t cohesive and the ones that aren’t comfortable, (the obvious things to eliminate), its time to look at what is left. Is there a lot of clothes left? Is there barely any? That amount is up to you to quantify- but ask yourself can I live in these clothes for a year- will I be comfortable, will I be happy? Am I missing anything? Can I get rid of anything else that won’t contribute to my comfort and happiness?
Invest in quality
If you are missing somethings to make your wardrobe complete, invest in quality items. Items that will last, that are made of solid fabrics, not in sweat shops. For example, once I eliminated the obvious I realized I needed a quality white tee shirt. I went to Madewell and bought a 100% cotton white denim style collared tee shirt that buttons all down the front, has to front pockets on the chest and short sleeves. It breathes, its easy to wash, but its thick enough of a fabric that I can go braless and nothing will show. It was about $65, but well worth it. I wear it pretty much every other day, and I’d say its already paid for itself. I’ll write another article on sustainable fabrics and what they are good for, but right now some basics are cotton, hemp and linen. Try to avoid blends of any kind as they fall apart easier, and try to avoid synthetic fibers such as polyester or rayon or acrylics because they use toxic chemicals and lots of energy to produce.
You’ve eliminated and invested, now what?
Do you feel good about your wardrobe? At this point the size, feel of the garments, and look of it all should be comfortable and wearable. If not, either you went to quickly, purged items you actually like, are holding on to clothes for sentimental reasons, or didn’t invest if clothes that make the wardrobe come together. Go back, reread, fix these before continuing. This wardrobe is yours, it should 100% represent you and your personal style. Being a minimalist does not mean owning an all neutral or white and black wardrobe, nor does it mean only owning two tee-shirts and a pair of pants. Minimalism means owning just enough clothes that suit you and you like, nothing more, nothing less. So every piece should be your favorite, every piece should be your style. And if its not, if nothing in the wardrobe is, but you don’t have enough money to go out and buy a wardrobe you do like, invest slowly. If the clothes are wearable, slowly overtime research brands and clothes you need and you enjoy so when you have enough money you can invest in clothes that do represent you and will last a long time. Exchange these pieces for the “eh” ones in your wardrobe now.
So back to the question: How much is too much?
It is up to you. If the amount feels comfortable and each piece is essential to your lifestyle then you have the right amount. No one can tell you that you must own a certain number of clothes because no one is you, so no one knows your life and you style. Be confident in that, and focus less on the amount.