Results of The Wardrobe Mission

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As an exercise in simple living, back in November of 2010 I wore one outfit for a month.  Here is how it affected my life…

Simple living revisited

From the original article:

The purpose of this short term mission is to reduce my clothing from what I want to what I need. At the end of the 30 days, I will pare my wardrobe down to the essentials and will either sell the rest to repay debt, will give the excess to those in need, or some combination of both.”

As presupposed, occupying just one outfit for a month radically changed the make up of my wardrobe; and, how I view clothing.  It opened my eyes to what I actually need and taught me that I greatly prefer a simple wardrobe.  In fact, over the last four months I have happily worn just a handful of outfits.

So what did I do with all my excess clothing?  In a nutshell, I gave most of it away rather than trying to sell it to repay debt.  Betsy and I took approximately 85% to Goodwill – which filled 3, 30 gallon garbage bags.

It felt really, really good to give it away and get it out of my house!

My new wardrobe

Nowadays I buy limited amounts of high quality, high functioning clothing and typically wear an outfit for nearly a week before making a change.  I change into fresh unders daily while wearing the same shell outfit.  Sound gross?  It’s not at all.  If you think it is then I encourage you to try it before commenting contrariwise.

When faced with buying a new article of clothing I stop to think about what purpose it serves.  If the purpose is fashion, I keep my money in my wallet.  If the purpose is function, I carefully consider whether I already own something that can fill the need.

What about colors?  I remember going through my closet in college and saying to myself, “Everything I own is blue or gray!”  Turns out that was a good thing.  Darker, neutral colors like black, gray, and blue are easy to pair into multiples of outfits – which is precisely what I do now.

This isn’t for everyone

If you were forced into a situation where you only had a handful of outfits, I’m confident you would get along just fine.  That doesn’t mean you have to, or even should, I simply pointing out that you could.

Some people need a lot of clothing for their careers.  Others may find fashion enriches their lives and value their robust wardrobes.  All these things are fine… always remember that what is good for one person isn’t necessarily good for another.

If you have been thinking of paring down your wardrobe then I’m happy to encourage you by sharing my experience.

Results of the mission?

Mission accomplished!

I’m very happy with my new lease on clothing and view the Wardrobe Mission as a successful personal endeavor.

For more on this topic, check out DFA Missions.



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1 Chris

It is amazing that amount of clothes one accumulates with time.

About 6 months ago I had gastric bypass and have lost over a 100 pounds as a result of the surgery and my new lifestyle. I have gotten rid of over 4 FULL garbage of clothes in the last few months of clothes that no longer fit me.

As I still losing weight I have tried to keep my new clothes purchases to just the items that I need. When I finally get to a stable weight I don’t plan on buying more then I need.

2 Matt Jabs

You’ve got me beat already… I only took 3 – 30 gallon garbage bags of clothes to GoodWill. Congrats on the weight loss, that’s amazing! Keep it up and enjoy the benefits of a healthier life.

3 kh

I started participating in Project 333 this past month and posting about it on my blog. I am not quite down to 33 items, and I don’t ever see myself going for a month with just one outfit, but I do think there’s a huge benefit into paring down – even if just for a short while.
Already I’m seeing the benefits in my own life. Getting ready in the mornings is much easier. I can see what I have and what is clean at a glance. I don’t have a million choices to make. I know that everything that is there fits and looks good on me.
I also tend to wear things multiple times before washing them (especially slacks and non-tshirt tops). I figure that’s what underwear is for, right? 🙂

4 Matt Jabs

Ha ha… exactly! The benefits you mention are the same benefits I’m enjoying every day. Congrats and keep making progress.

5 Paul

Over the past 8 years, I have economized on my clothing by maintaining approximately 4 pairs of khaki slacks at all times. I get them from Walmart at $10 to $15 each (I but the house brand). They feel great and go with a wide variety/color of shirts from polos to long sleeves with ties. I often wear them on the weekends too (great for church, and I find them more comfortable than jeans). The same slacks can be worn all week, unless I spill something noticeable on them. Normally I will have one pair on, 1-2 pair in my closet, and 1-2 pair at the dry cleaners.

6 Matt Jabs

This is a perfect example of how career clothes can even be reduced and rotated. Thanks Paul.

7 Echo

I do have to keep up with my wardrobe for work, but at home in the evenings and on the weekends I share the same philosophy as you. I wear the same basic thing for about a week, which is comfortable for me and makes it easier on the washing machine.Like Paul said above, I also wear the same pants to work most of the week as well.

8 Matt Jabs

Great point about the washing. Reducing my wardrobe has greatly reduced my laundering. I rarely have to use the dryer… especially now that it’s getting warmer and my clothes line will be going up – can’t wait for those savings (since my wife didn’t get in on the 85% clothing reduction!)

9 Jenna

Glad you were able to accomplish your mission. I’m a big fan of Nike Golf Dri-Fit clothing when I travel. Simple, stylish and you can rise and run!

10 Matt Jabs

I’m glad you like running… I could never make myself enjoy it. Tried many times but it just doesn’t suit me. I’d rather hike or swim or bike or walk or lift or ski, etc. How many outfits do I need for all that? 🙂

11 jmd

Thank you for being brutally honest. I am too ashamed to admit to how many clothes have left our home and there is still much more that needs to follow. . Way too many clothes, enough here for many families. Very much shocked when really examining it at the amount of over-consumption we have done.

PS By most people’s standards we live and have a very modest stand of living.

12 Matt Jabs

The honesty and transparency are two big reasons why I love writing publicly, it helps push me and keep me accountable. Keep making progress to consume less and before you know it you’ll be even more proud of where you are.

13 Jon | Free Money Wisdom

Nice work Matt! I did the same thing recently. It was funny to see the look of the lady’s face when I took all of the clothes in. She was like “these are all from you?” lol.

Some of my coworkers found out that I wear a single pair of jeans for a full week. They thought that was shocking. What was shocking to me was that most of my coworkers have a pair of jeans for each day of the week, now that’s whack!

14 Matt Jabs

LOL, yeah whack is right Jon. It’s a paradigm shift that goes against all of the advertising we’ve seen over the course of our lives. It feels GREAT to break free, but for others who haven’t it can be quite bewildering.

15 Kristen

I love this idea but I’m too much a fan of fashion to give everything up like you were saying Matt. However, I do go through my closets each season to get rid of a good bulk of things that I haven’t worn and am still holding onto. I also make sure that what I buy I love instead of just buying something on impulse.

16 Matt Jabs

Good point. For those who do value fashion trends, you can be a huge blessing by donating last seasons clothes. Nice work Kristen.

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