For all intents and purposes, I am a minimalist. I only own what I have a use for. This is filtered all the way down to my closet. Before becoming a minimalist I owned an incredible amount of clothing. These were not hand me down clothes or inexpensive clothes, but name brand items I spent years collecting. While I do not know the exact number of clothing I ejected, I can tell you that five 30 gallons trash-bags of my clothes ended up at Goodwill brimming with shoes, button-ups, pants, shorts, and an insane amount of graphic t-shirts.
I do not think people should avoid buying or wearing clothing, but I also do not think we take enough time to consider the true cost of the items we purchase. They take up our closet and drawers in a way that becomes more intrusive than helpful, at least in my case. Laundry day was a marathon event, costing an incredible amount in water after going two full months without even running out of clothing. Then I would sit down folding my laundry, watching Star Trek dreaming of a world where people had everything they needed while I folded my ninetieth graphic t-shirt.
The irony was strong. The people who made my clothing were the ones I would mourn for. The clerks who took my money were the ones who did not make a fair enough wage to feed their family. All of this factored into shifting my mindset into how many clothes I owned and where I decided to buy new clothing.
Now I wear the same thing everyday when I go to work: gray pants, blue striped shirt, black belt, colorful socks, and brown shoes (pictured above). I now do laundry once a week, and even wear the same basic outfit after work as well, just take away the button up shirt and add a blue v-neck and a change the shoes.
I do this for several reasons:
- Less Decisions: In any given day we make nearly 35,000 decisions. In the mornings, my choice is made for me as I open up my closet to my five blue stripped button-up shirts. My day job involves designing marketing materials and planning events for a non-profit healthcare facility. Decision fatigue hits me hard by the end of most days, and I need all of the fuel I can get when making choices.
- Focused People: When I look at the people who I admire presently and in history, they tend to wear close to the same thing everyday. I think of people such a the Dalai Lama, the Pope, Richard Rohr, Courtney Carver, Ryan Nicodemus, Rob Bell, and even the late Mother Teresa. All of these people make it their life’s work to help people think more objectively about life and what it means to live for meaningfully, and this is part of their template that I admire greatly.
- Less Laundry: I know what I need, and it does not exceed more than a weeks worth of clothing per season. When I began looking less at fashion and more at utility, the choices became clearer as I began to shop for used and new ethically made clothing and shoes.
- Ethical Clothing: I believe that much of the poverty in this world is due to the poor wages we see given to those who work in the fashion industry. This goes from those who farm the materials, to those who sew it, to those who sell it in big box stores. Everything I wear is either used or new from companies whose business practices reflect my values. Those companies and practices can be found here.
Clothing touches all of us, literally (hopefully?). Our days often begin with taking it off and putting it back on. What we wear is not nearly as important to the why we wear it. That is something I have come to believe over these past few years of my life. Perhaps this is something you have been fighting to ask yourself.