6 Tips to Maintain & Cycle Through Your Minimal Wardrobe
In the modern Land of Materialism (aka the United States) the average household stores a surplus of clothes where about 20% of their wardrobes are used on a continual basis (You Only Wear 20 Percent of Your Wardrobe Regularly). Clothing has become a means of expressing an individual’s personality. It is also an essential way to cover our nakedness and be modest to the best of our ability and knowledge. But now social media has driven the need to “Keep up with the Jones’.” Many families feel they MUST have an assorted array of clothes to wear, so as not to be accused of wearing the same things repeatedly. That would be far too embarrassing (insert sarcasm here).
I am not exempt from this statistic as I have also followed this way of life. Gone were the days when I would eagerly assemble Gymboree outfits for my three children. My covetous eyes would willingly submit to buy and collect each piece of an exclusive, newly released line. Bit by bit, the accumulation grew like a tumor. Soon I was faced with boxes and bags filled with outgrown clothes. Sure, there were times when the opportunity became available to purge, but I continually failed to capitalize on the benefits to resell or donate them. I had an inconvenient tendency to grow a fond attachment to them which is why I had trouble letting go. This is why when we started our plans of downsizing years-worth of clothes to fit in a fifth wheel, it turned into a daunting task.
We had a house worth of clothing and needed to keep only what would fit in our 400 square foot RV. I knew it was going to take a lot of will-power to drastically reduce the clothes that we were able to take on board, but I was determined to find a working system. I devised a system that would be coherent to our family’s needs and wants. ‘Needs’ to the effect we will store enough clothes for each individual. ‘Wants’ in that we would still have the ability to buy new outfits as we see fit.
In the midst of our downsizing, I thought of ways that would enable me to continue to experience the joy of clothes shopping while simultaneously keeping our closets and dressers from accumulating clutter. As adults, it’s not so hard keeping the same wardrobe for a long period of time. The only reason my husband and I would buy clothes would be due to our current wardrobes becoming worn out from holes and stains. Or maybe we’ve gained or lost weight and can no longer fit them or thought we would be able to sell our clothes for money and replace it with new ones.
The challenge lies with our children as they continue to grow (Praise the Lord!). It’s increasingly difficult to keep up with them. Especially with our oldest (10). It seems when we buy her clothes after she’s gone through a growth spurt, we would need to go back the next month to buy new ones because she went through ANOTHER growth spurt. Just to give you an idea, I’m able to wear HER shoes now HAHA!
Now that we’re living in a fifth-wheel, we have to make a conscious effort to keep our belongings down to a minimum, that includes everybody’s wardrobe. In order to tackle the foreseeable and repeated trips to the stores, to keep up with puberty of our adolescents, we established a system for buying and purging clothes. I developed 6 tips to apply to our clothes rotation system.
1) Determine number of clothing: You may have heard the term ‘Capsule Wardrobe’ which entails the ability to have a certain number of clothes that can be interchanged and used throughout the year. Some experts suggest to possess 30-50 articles of clothing and accessories. But the number of clothing selected for each individual can vary for each family. Establish that number and stick to it to the best of your ability. For my family, I try and store at least 10 days-worth of outfits, one or two pajamas, and a couple pairs of shoes to fit the appropriate times to wear.
Don’t forget to reserve one or two pieces to adapt to any weather changes—rain jackets, coats, swim suits, etc. Take into account various activities you’re involved in that will require certain clothing—work uniforms, trips to the gym, etc.
2) Plan to shop during sales: “Mom! I can’t fit this anymore!” The day that I hear this uttering from one of my children, or I begin noticing the high-water look on someone’s slacks, is when I begin plans to replace it with a bigger size. Start looking for retail sales or any yard sales planned for the upcoming days or weeks. One of my favorite times to shop at thrift stores are when they run 50% off sale days.
No need to shop on impulse. Practice patience. You or your children will be just fine wearing those soon-to-be old clothes for a couple more days. Wait for a good sale day, commence your shopping excursion, and reap the rewards that you stretched a dollar and have better fitted clothes for them.
3) Shop for quality: When it’s time for your shopping trip, keep in consideration the longevity and quality of the article clothing of choice. You may not be able to afford certain brands at retail price, but I always find those certain brands while shopping at thrift stores. What’s better is that I snag these clothes at more than 60-80% off original retail price. Shop with a purpose to avoid repeated trips to the store. In my experience, it is a bit challenging finding good quality clothes for my children that are affordable. The best place that I found these clothes at are at local consignment shops that sell and accept high-quality clothes.
4) Size up: Don’t be afraid to buy a size up or two. For toddlers and smaller children, many bottoms are equipped with adjustable waist bands that will grow with the child. For skirts that are a bit too wide around the waist or pant legs that are too long, find a way to temporarily sew it. Either sew skirt waistbands smaller or pant legs shorter. When another growth spurts up, you will be able to adjust it accordingly.
5) Buy Apparel Basics and Essentials: This topic calls for a post all on its own. Until I make my own blog post of what I personally do, here’s a quick tip: to make the most out of your wardrobe, invest in essentials items and colors that you can mix-and-match and highlight it with colorful accessories. Be sure to include items that can be worn through all seasons of the year. The tips and visual graphs in this article has a great guideline: Create a minimalist wardrobe with these essential clothes.
6) Replace old with the new: This is a favorite tip of mine that I haven’t seen circling around the virtual world. That is to immediately replace anything you buy new with the same number of items/types currently in your home. That means instantly–no excuses–RIGHT AWAY!
For instance, I may decide one day to go on an impulsive shopping trip to our local thrift shop and have a little retail therapy. I make an effort to immediately bag up the same exact amount once I get home and begin making plans to donate, sell, or hand down to another family or friend.
-Buy 3 skirts at store. Once we get home, choose 3 skirts to bag and donate.
-Buy 2 pairs of shoes at store. Once home, choose what 2 pairs of shoes to throw in the donation bag.
I’ve looked into the system of facing hangers backwards in your closet and ridding of the ones that haven’t been turned around in a certain period of time. This works to a degree, but I enjoy the visual and instant gratification. Hopefully you get the idea. It has been a great system in our house.
The most rewarding feeling in developing this structure is that my children have freely adapted it and gained the principle of contentment. The lines of communication are open with them telling me what they want to keep and what they want to give away. They are also engaged and hands-on throughout the whole process. Under my supervision, they go through their dressers to pick out exactly what they want to purge. It keeps the over spending and over indulgence at bay and ingrains this habit in their minds.
I encourage you all to pick up this system for your family. This system not only benefits families who live full-time in an RV but for anyone who wants to embrace a minimalistic lifestyle. Remember to be conscious and intentional of your selections!
Do you have any other ways or system on how you maintain your clothes at a minimum and would like to share? I’d love for you to comment below!