143 pieces of clothing

The older I am the more I understand that it really does pay to buy less, but purchase only the quality stuff you really like. And use it. Don't save it for later. Use it now, today, as often as you can and enjoy it. That's why I was so attracted by the notion of "Minimalism" and one of my blog posts: "Minimalism feels fantastic" is still one of the most popular on my blog. Recently, I've taken a big step in my "minimalistic" journey and drastically shrunk my wardrobe to only 143 pieces of clothing. Here's how (and why):

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It's not about the number, it's about counting

When I was cleaning up my home office I realized that making a spreadsheet with all the gadgets, cables and office appliances I own might look crazy, but it's not that stupid. I realized how many of these pieces of equipment I owned and never used. How tempted I was upon each visit to the Electronics store to buy some new shiny toy. When I made the list, I got down to 100 things in my home office and I was happy. It wasn't about the number but about really understanding what I need and what I use... and what really makes me productive when I work.

After my home office, I took care of my closet - several times

Yes, reducing pieces of clothing took me several months and several tries but eventually I got there. When I read that Leo Babauta had a total of 50 things I thought he was crazy but again, it's not about the number, it's about awareness and about enjoying the stuff you own.

Take 1 - from ~400 to 180

I started half a year ago. Fired up my spreadsheet and started counting what I owned. My wife thought I was crazy. But I kept pushing... and I realized I had way too many things:

  • I had 20+ elegant shirts... and I work from home! I only need 3-4 for my business trips... and that's a lot. I chose the best (non-iron) and gave away the rest.
  • I had many shirts/pullovers/sweaters that were my favorite... like 10 years ago... and now are old and worn out and my wife doesn't allow me to wear them anyway...
  • I had many torn/stained/broken pieces of clothing I thought I'd fix at some point... crazy me.
  • I had many pieces of clothing I seriously didn't like and would never wear again...

And most of all, I realized there were things missing in my wardrobe - I had 400+ things and I had real "holes" in my wardrobe (like only one "good looking" pair of jeans... or lacking shirts in appropriate colors)

Anyway, got to less than a half of the stuff I had. Proud and happy. Next time I went shopping with my wife I knew exactly what I was missing.

Take 2 - from ~200 to 143 things

The second time around the reduction wasn't as spectacular as in take 1 but after half a year with my wardrobe I learned what I enjoyed wearing, what I needed more of and what I needed less of. My total count grew to almost 200 in half a year (as I was buying more stuff I really enjoyed) and I could take the final plunge and be more brutal about reducing my wardrobe.

The total count includes 20+ polo shirts (I love them!), 20+ pairs of socks, 20+ pieces of underwear... and all the shirts, trousers, etc. I'll ever need. For now, 143 is my number. Let's see how it goes in half a year - I'll revise my setup again then, but so far so good.

What counting my clothing did to me?

In a nutshell, it made me conscious of what I have, what I like to wear and of what I do/don't need to buy anymore of. It made me happy... and made it possible for me to shrink all of my clothes into three drawers and one small wardrobe.

Every day now I'm wearing my favorite clothes. Isn't that great?

Did you ever try to shrink down your wardrobe? Did you ever count your pieces of clothing? If so, what's your number?

Posted on Friday, June 1, 2012 (life)

Luis José
Jun 3, 2012 18:04
Hi Michael, I didn't count all my pieces of clothing but after reading your article I am very curios about that, definitly I will count them next weekend :)
Last year I participated in Project 333 (http://www.minimoblog.com/2011/04/proyecto-333-conclusiones.html), I used only 33 pieces of clothes during 3 months and I realized I don't need much; I threw a lot of clothes after this minimalistic experiment.
Michael Sliwinski
Jun 4, 2012 11:57
Project 333 looks really extreme. I prefer to go down with stuff gradually just like I explain in the blog post... I went from 400, 200 to 143 pieces of clothing and I'm sure I can have less. I'll see how it goes but for now I like this number :-) But you're right Luis Jose, 333 is a nice experiment that may be used as a "wake up" call :-)
Tamás Csikós
Jun 5, 2012 20:58
Hi Michael, thanks for this post, you inspired me to finally unclutter my closet after long period of procationation! And this couting of every piece made it great fun for me :-) I ended up with 162 pieces after getting rid of 34 pieces. So it seems that I'm in quite "normal" state with that :-)
Enjoying your blog and the magazine, keep on doing your passion!
Tamás (from Hungary)
Michael Sliwinski
Jun 6, 2012 08:25
The idea is to be "aware" of what you have and what you wear and to really really just wear your favorite clothes every single day. Not to settle for "more" but "less" ... and only the stuff you really like (and need) - so Tamas, if 162 is your number it's perfect! Congrats on doing that and thanks for sharing!