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Monday, August 31, 2015

Another step into minimal

Last year as I was working a stressful job, I think I was struggling to have more connection to my disappearing simple life. About three months into the year I decided to make a change to my wardrobe. I had often read about capsule wardrobes, but I think those work best for women - who have much higher wardrobe demands than men - and men who work in an office. My work, and lifestyle is pretty much  world of simple clothes and t-shirts I had gotten for free - the nature of my work is people give me T-shirts, frequently, and they comprised a large part of my wardrobe. I decided I wanted a uniform. Something I could wear every day, making little or no changes.

I first got the idea of having a uniform when I read the Isaacson Steve Jobs Book. Jobs got the idea of a uniform from SONY, who after the war had to clothe it's employees. They literally didn't have anything to wear. Over time it became a signature of certain japanese companies, and also created a bond between the employees and the employer. Jobs loved the idea, and tried to implement it at Apple. But his people hated the idea. He still implemented it for himself with the now famous Levi 501's, New Balance Sneakers and Issey Miyake black mock turtleneck shirt.

Actually, that wasn't when I first got the idea. I first got the idea from the 80's David Cronenberg film "the fly" with Jeff Goldblum. He is asked by his girlfriend played by Geena Davis why he never changes his clothes. He says "what do you mean? I put this on clean this morning." She goes to his closet and sees that he has 7 identical suits, shirts, and shoes. All hanging next to each other in the closet. He says he got the idea from Einstein, so he didn't have to expend any extra thought on what he was going to wear.

there is another reason to simplify your wardrobe. Decision fatigue. It is why Einstein did it, and probably why Steve Jobs did it. There is a lot of research that says the more decisions you make, the harder it is to make them.

A quick google search will tell you that many successful silicon valley CEO's wear the same thing everyday. There are countless links to things like "why successful people have a uniform", or "want to simplify your life, wear a uniform". And so about 7 months ago I decided to take the plunge.

But first, I did some local market research. I started asking people if they saw me in the same clothes everyday if they would think I was A) weird B) disgusting because it would appear I wasn't changing my clothes or C) well... weird. Unanimously, no one thought it was weird or disgusting. A few people wished they could do it. So I took the plunge.

Naturally it started with a purge. I needed to get rid of the things I wasn't wearing, and boy, I wasn't wearing a lot. Already being pretty minimal my wardrobe wasn't that big, but I did have about double what I needed. So a quick purge and then off to find the right Uniform.

The shoes and pants were easy. I already wear a minimalist running shoe daily. The Merrel Trail Glove. It is a lot like being barefoot without being barefoot. My Jeans, were Levi 501's - Like Steve but not because of Steve. The shirt was a problem. I couldn't spend near $200 a shirt like Steve, I need something versatile and inexpensive. I settled on a simple Grey T shirt. I am very happy with my uniform.

In total this is what my "closet" looks like covering both winter and summer.

3 short sleeve grey T shirts
3 long sleeve grey T shirts.
4 black Long sleeve mid weight base layer shirts - this is my winter uniform shirt
3 pairs of blue levi 501's
6 pairs of grey running socks
3 pairs of wool hiking socks
6 pairs of underwear
4 pairs long black base layer bottoms
2 pairs tan hiking shorts

I do have about 6 random t shirts I haven't parted with yet for either sleeping in, or working around the yard or house. These will slowly get whittled down.

I do have some oddball things I have kept.
A pair of Carhartts for working around the house.
A pair of hiking pants I wear when I teach land courses
2 pairs of running shorts
A pair of fleece pants used for expeditioning

Of course a couple of wool beanie hats for winter, a couple pair of thin gloves. A buff which I wear when I teach. A couple of pieces of outdoor specific clothing - shell jacket, puffy jacket, etc.

A pair of teva sport sandals, a pair of hiking boots, a pair of running shoes, a pair of dress shoes. In a closet I have a 3 nice dress shirts, a pair of black dress pants, and a couple of blazers.

All told, my wardrobe is around 50 pieces. I wish it was fewer, but my general rule is if I haven't worn it in six months I get rid of it. I usually go through things when the season changes, If I didn't wear it this summer (which is coming to a close) it is donated.

This is what works for me, it may not work for you. I have some special work considerations, that both make it easy for me to wear the same thing everyday, and necessitates some very special clothing like a rain shell and a dry suit. If you are delving into a minimalist lifestyle for the first time I think wardrobe is a good easy way to get started.

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