The Wardrobe Mission

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Welcome to the first DFA Mission!

Starting today – and over the course of the next 12 months – I will embark on month long missions designed to retrain myself to live a mission minded life.

For a thorough explanation of the purpose of the missions, go read the DFA Missions page and meet me back here.

What is the wardrobe mission?

“And he said unto them, Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth.” – Luke 12:15

I have way too many clothes.  At this point in my life, my stuff has become a hindrance for the mission minded life God is calling me to live.  So I am making a change. You can too.

For the entire month of November 2010, I will wear just one outfit.  The video below also describes the mission, shows my wardrobe as it exists now, and shows the single outfit I’ll be wearing… if you’d rather watch than read you can scroll down and check it out.

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.

The reason I’m wearing just 1 outfit for 30 days is to help clear the fuzzy boundaries of wants vs. needs so I can reduce my wardrobe the essentials.  The wardrobe mission is the first in a long line of short term missions to simplify my life so I can better serve God and others.  Up till now, a lot unnecessary time and resources have been spent acquiring and maintaining unnecessary stuff, and it’s time for a change.  I believe we are all here for a purpose, and that nearly all of us are bogged down by excessive debt and possession.  Because I see it as a problem in my life, I am taking steps of obedience to “take heed, and beware of covetousness.” I am excited to have others join me so we can make positive changes in our lives and the lives of others.

Encouragement from leaders around the web

Chris Guillebeau of The Art of Non-Conformity

“It’s hard to say where these missions will take Matt, or anyone else who joins the ranks, but rethinking past decisions to live a life of pointed purpose can never hurt… I say go for it!” – Chris

Bob Lotich of Christian PF

“I believe that the most exciting, joyful, and fulfilling life comes from diligently obeying God’s plan for our lives. As we take the plunge to give all we have to the Lord, we will find that all of our needs are met, people’s lives will be changed for the better, and God will be glorified. I appreciate what Matt is doing with DFA Missions and encourage you to get involved in any way you can!” – Bob

JD Roth of Get Rich Slowly

“Living with purpose is the best way to get more out of life. When you have a goal or a mission, it makes every decision easier. Matt’s missions are a great way to bring focus and clarity to your finances — and your life.” – JD

Adam Baker of Man Vs Debt

“I love the idea of Matt’s ‘Wardrobe Challenge’. Courtney and I are always looking for tips and strategies to raise the consciousness in our lives – especially when it comes to consumerism (and wants vs. needs). And this first “mission” is the perfect way to start things. I’ll be taking part at the 3 outfits level – for the month of November, I’ll only be wearing three different outfits. I’m excited about this challenge and it already has me brainstorming ways to apply this to my daily  life. Come join us!” – Adam

Participation is encouraged

The wardrobe mission begins today and will last all 30 days of November 2010.  If you have been wanting to simplify life or live more of a mission minded life… why not be a part of something bigger than yourself?  Join the mission.

I am setting rules for myself, and if you join, you’re encouraged to do the same.  In saying that, I still wanted to outline a few suggested levels of participation below.  Do not hesitate to customize any level to make it fit in with your job or what have you.

One outfit (what I’ll be wearing – see video below)

  • 1 coat, hat, pair of gloves, pair of shoes
  • 1 over shirt, pair of pants
  • 3 undershirts, socks, and underwear, handkerchiefs

Three outfits

  • 3 coats, 1 hats, 1 pair of gloves, 3 pair of shoes
  • 3 over shirts, 3 pair of pants
  • 3 undershirts,  socks, and underwear, handkerchiefs
  • add/remove any customizations you like

Five outfits

  • 3 coats, 1 hats, 1 pair of gloves, 3 pair of shoes
  • 5 over shirts, 5 pair of pants
  • 5 undershirts,  socks, and underwear, handkerchiefs
  • add/remove any customizations you like

Video explaining the wardrobe mission

Apologies for the “shakiness” of this video, I’ll do better next time. :)

Join and or comment below

What do you think?  Are you ready to simplify your life, reduce your wardrobe, repay more debt, and help others?

Join us and define your plans in the comments below.  I am really excited to get started!



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1 Jeff @ Sustainable Life Blog

Matt -
This looks like a great Idea and Im glad you’ve gotten some people on board with this. I’m also glad that I caught this this morning. Instead of participating this month, I’m going to see what category I already fall into, then decide where to go from there.
I usually wear the same pair of pants for a few weeks (I wash them on the weekend) and seem to rotate between sweaters/oxford style shirts/polo style shirts with my jeans. While I have a few pair of shoes, I usually end up wearing 1 or 2 (unless i’m doing something, like hunting, that requires special gear).
I only own 2 coats, 1 pair of gloves and 3 hats (I need to stop taking ‘free’ stuff) so that shouldnt be a problem.

I’m glad your focusing on your calling Matt. Good luck.

2 Matt Jabs

Looks like you have the concepts of “need” down better than most. I challenge you to keep going… it is a blessing to be completely free from want and utterly focused on need. Not to say abundance in wrong, we should be content with either, but in our modern culture most of us stand to benefit from curbing want by focusing on need.

3 Peter

When I first heard your idea for this challenge I was a bit skeptical that I would be able to follow through or be able to get to even the three outfits level. After we talked about it, however, I thought about it and realized that I’m already only wearing about 4-5 outfits on a regular basis. I regularly wear only 2-3 pairs of pants, and then rotate among 5-6 shirts/sweaters. With that in mind, this challenge should be very doable. I’m thinking about all the clothes I should just get rid of because they’re only cluttering up the closet and taking up valuable space. I have one suit that has been in there for like 5 years without even being worn. Time to simplify!

4 Matt Jabs

Go for it Peter, I have your back.

5 Viviana

Boy you have a lot of clothes. In my wardrobe, I rotate about 4 outifts and I work in fashion. I don’t understand the need for tons of clothes as it just takes longer to get dressed in the morning, too many decisions. I do think one outfit is extreme as it will wear out quicker with the more washing needed, which means more time spent shopping.

I like to buy a few good quality items that always look good and last. I would be interested to see how many ladies sign up for the challenge. Best of luck!

6 Matt Jabs

Yep, a lot – I need this mission and am very excited for vast simplification. For the last few years, I have limited new purchases to top quality items, and even moved to 2nd hand top quality (which abounds in thrift stores.) Now that I’m set, it is time to purge and give.

7 karyn

I already do this just because, postpartum, I don’t fit into my old clothes yet. So I keep using the same two shirts and the one pair of jeans. I will warn you that it’s a pain laundry wise because I have to really make sure I get those specific clothes washed in time to go out. It’s also tricky because my little kids invariably get me messy! But it’s nice not having to try to figure out what to wear. I also think you’re wise in selecting outfits that are neutral colors and more “classic”. I do have a question though – will you have church clothes, work clothes, a suit for special occasions? That’s where I always get tripped up – having clothes for specific events and activities. Good luck – I love this idea of monthly missions!

8 Matt Jabs

I work from home now and will wear this same outfit to church, and any other special occasions I attend. I am blessed to attend a church that does not put any importance on clothing.

9 Jason@Frugal Dad

This is one of the more inspiring monthly challenges I’ve come across. And the timing couldn’t be better. At the end of this mission you’ll have a much clearer picture of what’s really needed, and what is not. And what a perfect time to donate what’s not needed to those who do need it – such as a local shelter trying to keep people warm through the upcoming winter months.

I might just have to join you on this one, but my start date may be delayed a day or two. Either way, you’ve got me thinking about reducing my clothing clutter and donating it to a good cause – mission already accomplished!

10 Matt Jabs

Awesome Jason. Figuring out the best way to “re-purpose” my wardrobe is one of the best parts. Should I sell the clothes and repay debt? Should I give the clothes to my local mission? Should I give them to Goodwill? Should I do a mix? Exciting decisions to be made for sure… glad to have you on board.

11 Tim @ Faith and Finance

Awesome idea Matt! I’m sure you can do it! I don’t have quite as many clothes but this post inspired me not to ask for any clothes-related gifts this year. I already made a big reduction in my wardrobe this year (just to declutter) and don’t need to build it back up.

Keep us updated!
Tim

12 Matt Jabs

Awesome Tim, I encourage you to help your family focus on homemade projects for gift giving to others this Christmas, we are. We have another site to feature that type of content – diyNatural.com – check it out and enjoy!

13 Robert Hickamn

Man you have a lot of clothes! I am already living with only 3 outfits (3 trousers, 3 t-shirts, 3 jumpers, 10~ pants and socks). This is about my limit, any less and I end up running out of clothes to were. Been living like this for over a year with no issues, before I had a few more clothes but found I did not use some of them. The metric I use for determining if I have to many of something is simply if I run out or not.

PS, don’t worry about the video being shaky, your voice sounds confident which is the only thing that matters.

14 Matt Jabs

Thanks Robert, I plan to end up around 5-7, but am thinking I can do with less… and figuring this out is one of the main reasons for the mission, it’s all very exciting. Nice work doing it yourself man.

15 Chris Guillebeau

Way to go Matt!!

16 Matt Jabs

Thanks Chris!

17 Mom

Great effort to kick off the DFA Missions, Matt! I bought two new pair of jeans last year at Kmart…the most comfy jeans ever and they look good, wash well and wear well. The secret, they have a little bit of spandex! :-) I have been rotating them with different sweaters, blouses or knit tops, depending on the season. I think Viviana is right, you must be very careful when you choose the minimal clothing to comply with the mission. Quality not quantity counts! I am inspired to get into my closet and clean out stuff I have not worn for years! I have always been clothing frugal, and usually, I have friends and relatives that clean out closets from time to time and I am the beneficiary of these closet purges! I have really gotten some nice clothes, FREE! I hope that this mission will help people think about why they feel the need to have so many different clothing choices. What motivates them? It is certainly not need. Madison Avenue brainwashing is my guess. My grandmother always told me, never throw anything away because it will come back into fashion at some point. I had to wait 35 years for my bell bottom blue jeans to come back in style. Of course, my grandma did live thru the depression! :) Good luck, and I appreciate you courage in starting the missions!

18 Matt Jabs

Thanks for the never ending encouragement mom, I don’t know where I’d be without you! Yeah, you have always been good with frugal clothing. What are you planning to do with the extras you find?

19 Mom

Well, I think that anything I find will go to our brand new and pricey looking Goodwill Store here in Gaylord. The need up in Northern Michigan is great!

20 Matt Jabs

Is there a mission up there… for homeless folks and the like?

21 Mom

There is a homeless shelter called the friendship shelter. I could see what I could do for them.

22 Craig

Easy. Did it for twenty years in the military.

23 Matt Jabs

Yeah, it has been easy thus far – 4 days in – and I must admit, I prefer wearing one outfit to deciding between all the excess clothes. Hands down.

24 Paul Williams

Sorry I didn’t comment until now, Matt. I think it’s great what you’re doing, and I can see why (that’s a lot of clothes!). I’ve got a few too many clothes myself and I should probably clean out the closet a bit, too. I also need to replace a few favorites that have holes if I can’t fix them. :) My wife always gets on to me for wearing those!

Like others said, having a few quality items is key. Also, making sure it’s easy to mix and match helps with keeping a smaller wardrobe. I tend to prefer medium dark jeans for this since they seem to go well with a lot of things.

Regarding clothes at church – I’m struggling with this issue. I certainly don’t place much importance on clothing (see my “wholey” clothes comment above). As long as it’s modest (so it doesn’t cause others to sin) I don’t care what people wear. But I’ll be starting as an assistant pastor at my church this Sunday. Do I continue to wear my normal stuff when I preach (nice jeans – no holes… – and polo shirts/sweaters) or do I wear a shirt & tie/suit? I know many people really won’t care, but I don’t want to make older people angry because of my preferences. They come from a generation where that is important (even if it’s not in the Bible…). I don’t want to cause controversy for no reason, but I don’t want to just please people either. As far as I know, clothing’s never been an “issue” at our church – but no pastors have tried to go up to preach in jeans either! Any advice? :)

25 karyn

My church is pretty casual too, though the older people tend to dress up more. While I don’t get decked out, my family does have their “church clothes”. I know God is happy to see us there irregardless of casual clothes or fancy clothes and I know it’s not important what others think, but I do think there is something to be said for dressing up for church – it helps put me in a more reverent frame of mind, that this time is more special and is set apart from the rest of the week. For me, it’s a little part of keeping the Sabbath holy. On the other hand, there’s no need to keep five or six or whatever church outfits – one or two would suffice.

26 Matt Jabs

This is a fantastic conversation, and one that is long overdue in our churches today! Paul, I’m with you 100%. Older people seem to have a preference toward having to dress up and younger people tend to see it as much less important. Either way, the most important thing is that none of us judge others for their choice, and that (as you mentioned) we don’t do things to purposely cause others to stumble.

I think the answer to this debate lies in I Corinthians 6. In this chapter Paul is encouraging Christians to settle their disputes among the brethren according to the scriptures. In verses 7 and 8 Paul encourages us to voluntarily suffer through being defrauded (in other words, to sacrifice our desire for the desire of others in humility) rather than doing wrong by defrauding others (or getting our own way despite alienating others.) Then in verse 12 Paul reminds us that, as Christians, all things are available to us, but that not all things are expedient for us. Again, herein lies our answer.

My church is completely casual, but I have spent much time in other churches where leaders were required to wear a shirt and tie to teach/preach. I encourage you to humble yourself and to wear the tie, but also to humbly teach others of this very truth… so they do not find their spirituality in their church attendance, or dress, but in the blood of Christ… and that the church needs to work together as one body to edify others and glorify God in Christ.

27 Paul Williams

Thanks to both you and Karyn for your helpful comments!

I agree with you, Matt, and I had planned to dress up anyway (though probably not on Sundays I don’t preach). I am thinking I’ll eventually preach on the matter in regards to James 2 (the whole chapter). I think dressing up for church can become a stumbling block for others (especially those who are poorer or didn’t grow up with a tradition of dressing up for church) because of our implied expectations for them. We don’t go gather together to be evaluated on our clothes. God looks past our clothes – straight into our hearts – and I’m sure He’d rather have a church full of grungy, right-hearted Christians than a church full of well-dressed, self-righteous ones. (I’m not saying those who dress up are self-righteous, but it is a danger if it impedes the truth of the Gospel.)

28 Matt Jabs

I wholeheartedly agree Paul!

29 Fern

There are some who say that the neopagan groups who worship ‘skyclad’ – that’s naked for the rest of y’all – took that on as a way to avoid class/wealth distinctions in dress during worship.

Nice theory. I think it has more to do with indoor worship and central heating, myself.

30 Jenna

Have you heard of The Uniform Project? Sounds like something you would be interested in: http://www.theuniformproject.com/. Its about a girl who wears one dress for a year, with fashionable accessories which she sells to help send kids to school.

31 Matt Jabs

Hi Jenna. I actually found that site when I was putting this mission in place. Originally I was going to go for one year, but decided to turn it into 12 month long missions. What she is doing is great, I believe more people should do things like this.

32 Jenna

I would if I had a better sense in fashion ;)

33 Edward - Entry Level Dilemma

I’m not quite sure where it falls in wants vs. needs, but I have a dresser and closet full of clothes that I wear regularly (and a foot-locker that I swap out winter and summer gear; last month I put the shorts and swimming trunks away and got out the thermals, wool socks, and sweats). Wearing a shirt once every 2-3 weeks makes it last longer (I still have t-shirts from the 90′s). I also save quite a bit of money by doing larger loads of laundry less often.

On the “church clothes” debate, I don’t wear a tie, but I can’t bring myself to show up in jeans, much less a t-shirt. I go with business casual. I also put a nicer shirt on when dining out, too.

34 Matt Jabs

Thanks for stopping by Edward, God bless.

35 Elle

Fantastic job Matt on the new challenge! It’s amazing how wants and needs get blurred over time. It kind of sneaks up on you.

Your challenge inspired me to go ahead and go through our house and evaluate what needs to be donated or sold. We don’t live extravagantly, but I think we could do a better job on simplifying our lives.

36 Matt Jabs

Awesome Elle, this mindset is contagious and habit forming.. which is a good thing for all of us. :) God bless.

37 Denise

About eight years ago, I tried to “do without”, in a challenge with others in a book club. We all chose an item that we felt would eliminate (or extremely cut back). One chose wine, one driving, one coffee and I chose clothing. I wore the same outfit for one week to my office. NO ONE NOTICED!!! I was shocked to learn that the time and effort I’d taken to choose great outfits was needless. People noticed me, not my clothing. I even went out to lunch daily with the same person and they DIDN:T NOTICE! When I had my DMV photo I even wore the outfit as a reminder of the choices I make in my appearance.

38 Matt Jabs

After 1.5 weeks, I have found that I prefer this to wearing a plethora of different clothes. At the end of this challenge my wardrobe will be only 20% of what it was… maximum. It will likely be even less than 20%.

39 Jil

OK so I’m joining a bit late (blame it on my backed up inbox!).
I’ll be joining at the 5 outfit level with some tweeks to make it a bit more like the 3 outfit level.

40 Fern

I’ve found that the ‘limited number of outfits’ idea works fine only when the clothes are fairly new and in good shape. When the pants legs get frayed – and let’s not forget that eventually the knees will get patched – then they aren’t good for ‘business casual’ any more, but they are still great for days you work without seeing others. Or great for working in the garden, or helping a friend move.

Over time, I’ve found we developed a two-tiered wardrobe because of that. Clothes only good for doing heavy yard work/whatever, and the clothes we do NOT want to risk on yard work/whatever.

41 Edward - Entry Level Dilemma

Funny how life goes full circle like that. As kids, we have “good” clothes and “play” clothes. Now as an adult, my clothes are back to the same catagories

42 Dave M

Hi Matt: Great post — I love this idea for a life mission. I’m in the process of trying to do something similar, but currently I’m most concerned with just purging the closet and dresser of things I never wear or don’t fit. Would LOVE to get down to only a handful of outfits.

So, did you ever post a follow-up to update everyone on how the mission went? Did you video the results after you purged your wardrobe? I looked around your site, but couldn’t find any updates.

Also, what’s with the handkerchiefs? You mentioned in your video that people are missing out if they don’t use them. I just don’t get that – what are we missing out on? :) To me, handkerchiefs are nasty. Who wants to blow a bunch of snot on a rag and then stuff it back in their pocket or purse? That’s just gross. My dad has used them all his life, and I just don’t understand why.

-Dave

43 Matt Jabs

Hey Dave, thanks for stopping by and commenting. The Wardrobe Mission was a grand success, I’m in the process of putting together an article to update everyone with the results.

Handkerchiefs? The best way for you to understand the benefits is to try it yourself, otherwise you’ll only have a one-sided opinion. The things I like most are the money savings (no tissue paper,) not using disposable products, and superior performance of using cloth over tissue. I challenge you to try it… and be sure to let us know what you think. God bless.

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