Our clothing is the one area of our lives we’re true minimalists. In fact, in reading some other minimalist blogs, I think we’re more minimalist in our clothing choices than most of them are! Let me first start by breaking down for you what we own. Then I’ll go into the why of our small wardrobes and how we make having so few clothes work for us.
One pair of jeans. One pair of shorts. Two t-shirts. A week’s worth of socks and underwear. Two long john undershirts. One pair of sneakers. One pair of sturdier shoes (he chose Converse All-Stars for his sneakers this year, which are good aesthetically but not that great in real life, so he kept his shoes from last year). One pair of sandals.
Two dresses (we have plans to get one more, but we’re holding out for exactly what I want, not settling). One skirt, which is a holdover from my winter wardrobe. One turtleneck (also a holdover from winter; it’s not quite warm every day here yet!). A week’s worth of socks and underwear. Two pairs of sandals (one black and one white). A pair of black Mary Janes that I got from Goodwill.
Two pairs of shorts. One pair of jeans. Three t-shirts. One set of long johns. A week’s worth of socks and underwear. One pair of sneakers. (When the weather’s consistently warm, we’ll get him a pair of sandals.)
Two pairs of shorts (hand-me-downs from Seahawk). One pair of jeans. One pair of corduroy pants. Three t-shirts. One set of long johns. A week’s worth of socks and underwear. One pair of sneakers. (When the weather’s consistently warm, we’ll get him a pair of sandals.)
15 cloth diapers. Two pairs of socks (he hardly ever wears them). Five onesies/t-shirts. Two pairs of pants. Two pairs of shorts. One pair of Crocs.
Additionally, we each have a swimming suit (a cloth swim diaper in Small Fry’s case), a pair of pajamas, and a jacket. Those don’t count toward our “allotment.”
We’ve also put aside some of this year’s winter clothes to wear again next winter. That’s something we’ve never done before; hopefully it works out well for us come fall.
We keep all of the clothes in mine and Will’s closet and invite the kids in each morning to choose their clothes and get dressed. It might seem weird to do it that way, but it makes it easier to a) put the clothes away and b) know when everyone’s out, or nearly out, of clothes and it’s time to do laundry.
Here’s a picture of our closet. It’s pretty grainy, so you’ll have to bear with me. The lighting in the bedroom is absolutely awful. This shows most, but not all, of our clothes. We were wearing some of them at the time of the photograph ;).
When I first approached this topic last year, some of you asked things like “don’t your clothes wear out faster?” “don’t you spend more time on laundry this way?” and “that’s really it?!” The short answers are no, no, and yes. Well chosen clothes will last just fine, even through frequent wearings. One thing I learned from my grandma (about quilts, but the same is true of clothes) was “Using [wearing] it doesn’t wear it out; washing it does.” So we only wash our clothes when they’re actually dirty. We don’t wash them every time we wear them, “just because.” A shirt or pair of pants that’s been worn for a day isn’t automatically dirty. We wash our clothes every 2-3 wears, or when it’s visibly dirty. Which is a lot more often for the kids’ clothes (especially Small Fry!) than for ours, but still not every time. This means we only have to do one or two loads of laundry a week.
So, now that the mechanics of what we do and how we work such small wardrobes are out of the way, what about the Why? I’ll be frank with you: this is mostly Will’s idea. I sometimes think he pushes too hard for the tiny wardrobes, but I also understand our roles in the family and I’m willing to follow him and not rock the boat, so to speak, on things that don’t matter that much. The idea is that we want to be ready to pack up and go at a moment’s notice if God calls us somewhere. And if you have leave in a hurry, what do you absolutely need to take with you? Not the kitchen full of dishes and small appliances. Not the bookshelf full of books (which we’ve consolidated almost all of to our Kindles and/or library use). Not the desktop computer, printer, and scanner. What you need is clothes. There are other ways of dealing with the other stuff once you get to where you’re going, should the need for such a hasty departure ever arise. In that vain, we’ve decided to keep our clothes to a minimum so that if we ever find ourselves in that situation, we can move quickly. Of course, such a scenario isn’t ideal, but we want to be prepared nonetheless.
I have just one more parting comment on the topic before I “sign off.” This wardrobe may seem drastic to some of you, but it’s not that much smaller than what we had “before we were minimalists.” I’ve read stories and articles about people with hundreds of items of clothing and dozens of pairs of shoes. That’s never been us. I don’t think I’ve ever had more than ten or twelve outfits at a time in my entire adult life. So cutting from twelve to four isn’t such a big deal. Additionally, I understand that this kind of choice isn’t for everyone. I won’t condemn you if you have a walk-in closet full of clothes and shoes. I won’t understand it, but I won’t condemn it ;).