Minimalizing Your Clothing and Gaining Freedom


Recently, my wife and I started to minimalize. While this is a difficult thing for her (she does a great job with it and gets rid of more than I would have imagined), it comes pretty easy to me.

Without realizing it, I have been minimalizing all my adult life. Click To Tweet

Without realizing it, I have been minimalizing all my adult life. When I first moved to Florida for golf school, I took what I could fit in a Pontiac Grand Prix, along with my dog. Then, when I moved to South Florida after school, myself and my roommate took what we could fit in an old Dodge truck and his little Corolla. We gained many possessions while in South Florida, but that was short-lived.

When we moved across the south to Texas, we had to minimalize again to fit everything in my little Kia with a roof bag….still had to carve out space for the dog, too. Again, I minimalized after moving once in Texas and then back to Indiana.

My wife and I had to do a small amount of minimalizing after we met and moved from Indiana to Florida. However, we have a pretty big apartment in Florida, so the real minimalization journey didn’t start until we left the apartment to hit the road. Of course, some of our most prized possessions ended up in a storage unit we still have, but we are now in the process of minimalizing even further.

As I strive to live with the Waste Not, Want Not mantra in my head, I have to continue to minimalize.

Clothing First

Before Minimalizing
Before Picture 1
Before Minimalizing
Before Picture 2

Some books may not recommend you start with clothing and you can figure out where you want to start on your own. I started with clothing because, for me, it seemed like the easiest place to start.

Now, I have done this in the past and took bags of clothes to thrift shops for donation, but I had never really gone into it with any kind of plan, except to eliminate what I didn’t need or want anymore.

This time, the plan was to get my clothing down to only the pieces I actually needed. I also had the goal of being able to fit most, if not all of my clothes in a suitcase meeting the size you can carry on to an airplane. While I couldn’t minimalize every bit of my clothing since I do have some items still in storage in Florida, I did minimalize everything that I had with me.

The Numbers

I started by taking an inventory of everything I owned, clothing wise, and laying it all out. This is what I had:

  • 1 reversible belt
  • 3 pairs of jeans
  • 1 pair of pajama pants
  • 3 sweatshirts
  • 1 pair of sweat pants
  • 1 jacket
  • 1 leather coat
  • 6 pairs of shoes
  • 2 pairs of flip flops
  • 2 long sleeve T-shirts
  • 3 dress shirts
  • 3 pairs of jersey shorts
  • 3 pairs of dressy shorts
  • 2 plaid shirts
  • 4 sports jerseys
  • 13 T-shirts
  • 6 sweaters
  • 9 Polo shirts
  • 12 pairs of boxers
  • 13 pairs of socks
  • 4 loose socks looking for mates
  • 2 hats
  • 3 pairs of black dress pants
  • 3 neckties

I quickly realized I had far more than I need. For some, this may seem like nowhere near enough clothing, but for me, it’s way too much. First, I don’t dress up much since I work from home, so there really isn’t much need for 3 pairs of black dress pants, 3 dress shirts and 3 neckties. I think I collected them during our wedding and her best-friend’s wedding because we had multiple events to attend.

In the future, we may use a company to rent suits for me, since we don’t attend formal events very often and a cool suit will be far more fun than a shirt and tie from a department store, anyway.

Now, the task was to really make some cuts. I had to look at everything I owned, look at the quality and decide whether I liked wearing it, whether it was easy to care for or whether it could go. I know, some of the books say to find what “brings you joy” but I don’t derive much joy from clothing, so this wasn’t my mindset.

Minimalist Clothing
After Picture – Can really get them all on my side of the bed…lol.

Instead, I was looking at function and quality. I had some T-shirts from over a decade ago and the necks were stretched out. I noticed these were at the bottom of my list, most of the time, and I only wore them when nothing else was clean. They were the first to go.

My polo shirt collection grew because I used to spend a large amount of time on the golf course. I don’t play as much as I once did, so this got cut down, too. The main factor here was eliminating the shirts that don’t stay wrinkle-free after going through the dryer. Some require a large amount of ironing and that’s just too much work when I have other polos not requiring all that work.

I also looked at the quality of the polo shirts and anybody else that’s a golfer knows there’s a huge difference from a cheap polo to a more expensive one. I got rid of the lower quality ones because, if I am going to live with a limited wardrobe, I want the highest quality items I own to be a part of it.

My new inventory of clothing looks like this:

  • 1 reversible belt – no change
  • 2 pairs of jeans – down 1
  • 1 pair of pajama pants – no change
  • 2 sweatshirts – down 1
  • 1 pair of sweat pants – no change
  • 1 jacket – no change
  • 1 leather coat – no change
  • 4 pairs of shoes – down 2
  • 1 pairs of flip flops – down 1
  • 1 long sleeve T-shirts – down 1
  • 1 dress shirts – down 2
  • 1 pairs of jersey shorts – down 2
  • 2 pairs of dressy shorts – down 1
  • 0 plaid shirts – GONE
  • 1 sports jerseys – down 3
  • 6 T-shirts – down 7
  • 2 sweaters – down 4
  • 2 Polo shirts – down 7
  • 7 pairs of boxers – down 5
  • 8 pairs of socks – down 5
  • 0 loose socks looking for mates – GONE
  • 1 hat – down 1
  • 1 pairs of black dress pants – down 2
  • 2 neckties – down 1

When I was done, I was able to fit just about everything into a carry on size suitcase. If I were wearing jeans, a sweater, a jacket and pair of my shoes, it would all fit with room left for toiletries. This is also assuming I would carry my entire wardrobe even though some of it is seasonal.

When I was done, I was able to fit just about everything into a carry on size suitcase. Click To Tweet
In Suitcase
Everything but one pair of shoes, a hat and a couple sweaters.

I immediately felt free from the burden of worrying about so many clothing decisions. With a limited wardrobe, the decisions are nearly already made for you, which is a GREAT time saver and excellent way to live, in my opinion.

Upgrading the Items

I minimalized my wardrobe about 6 weeks ago and since have made a few minor adjustments. I have upgraded my entire set of socks (I was due for new ones), so now I have 5 pairs of dressier socks and 6 pairs of regular white socks. All except the two dressy pairs from our wedding are brand new and I really do enjoy wearing brand new socks. I probably didn’t need quite as many as I have, but I cannot control that they sell them in sets of 6 and 3.

I also added a new pair of Jersey shorts for working out and wearing to bed. I left myself with only one pair because one was very old and needed to go and the other I got rid of had paint stains on it. Now, I have two pairs of jersey shorts.

Nothing else has changed, but I do have plans on upgrading my tennis shoes by replacing them and replacing my reversible belt with a Mission Belt. The goal now is to only replace items, as necessary, and follow the “bring one in, take one out” rule.

Why I Minimalized

My wife and I love to travel. We are itching to get back into traveling and when you travel the way we do, you simply don’t have a ton of room for things. This was one of the driving forces behind minimalizing for me, but just one of the reasons. Some of the other reasons I made this decision include:

  • I don’t need much
  • My wife does the laundry for us and less clothing means less laundry
  • Clothing and fashion are not that important to me
  • Living lighter is something I see as a necessity today
  • Less clothing meaning less laundry also means less money spent on laundry things
  • Spiritually we are called to live lighter than we do today
  • I want to value the things I own and not just own them to have a bunch of things
  • I believe in quality over quantity and with a limited wardrobe, I can spend the same amount annually for clothing, but only buy high quality items
  • I want to support clothing sold by companies supporting worthy causes, but it can be hard to justify $40 for one item when I can get 3 items for the same price. A limited wardrobe doesn’t put that same pressure on the decision.
  • Less to choose from means more time doing other things
  • A lighter, minimalized life has been proven to be a happier, more joyful life
  • I don’t want to be a slave to my stuff and be stuck moving it whenever I want to go somewhere

The list could probably go on forever as I have many reasons for minimalizing.

What’s Next?

The first things I will minimalize next will be the clothing I still have in Florida. We have already talked about going through that entire storage unit in the upcoming months and eliminating things we don’t need/want anymore.

The hope is to combine that one (which is larger) with our smaller one near us now and eliminate one of the two bills. Some of the things will go into our new home, when that time comes. Some will also get donates or sold and other items will probably end up in the trash (usually only throw away what doesn’t work or what is worn out).

Along with minimalizing my clothing, I hope to minimalize all other aspects of my life. My wife is also in the process of minimalizing and I believe it was her idea to do it this time around. The last time we did, it was a bit out of necessity because we moved from a 1,250 square foot apartment to a 300 square foot RV. This time, it’s a bit out of necessity, but more because we want to live a life uncommon.

Matthew Kelly says, “Master the moment of decision and live a life uncommon.” This, to me, also means eliminate unnecessary decisions and you will be able to focus on mastering the moment of decisions when they matter.

Click To Tweet

No longer having to choose as much with clothing is one less decision I have to make in a day. As we minimalize further, we will eliminate options, which will make decisions for us. This means we will spend less energy on decisions that really don’t matter much, leaving more focus for the decisions that matter most. For more on how to reduce waste and minimalize, read my post 10 Ways to Waste Less & Want Less.

Reference – Many of the things I learned about minimalizing came from the book, The Joy of Less by Francine Jay.

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