While some find the acquisition, curation, and maintenance of clothing to be bothersome, few take time to think about it deliberately. Failing to do so leaves many making decisions in haste—often around a sale rack that offers “good deals.” This results in further lost time and overflowing closets.
To take command of one’s wardrobe, it’s imperative to make clear decisions before buying another garment. The benefits in doing so are numerous: purchases are made simpler; money is saved; getting out of the house in the morning is faster; even packing is easier.
The following provides one perspective on how to achieve hassle-free dress. It is by no means definitive, but does work. It’s a minimal wardrobe concentrated on utility, and comprised of basic items.
At the heart of this system are two pairs of jeans. Denim is durable and—if carefully chosen—can be worn in a multitude of settings, ranging from business meetings to weekend outings. The rules: Choose dark denim, as it’s easy to pair and largely neutral. Select plain cuts as they are less likely to seem outdated. (Unless you work in a really dirty setting, I suggest only washing them once every three to four months, in cold water, hanging to dry. Doing so will leave them looking new for years.)
Next, three black T-shirts. These need to be free of prints, patterns, and logos, as such affectations tend to crack, wear, and grow tired. Besides, you aren’t a billboard, so why be treated like one? Then, two charcoal colored hoodies. Hoodies are surprisingly functional, and dark grey is an adaptable color, as it doesn’t fade or stain as easily as other tones.
Underwear and socks are items I don’t want to put an iota of time into. I just need these areas covered, and I’d rather avoid mismatched socks. As such, pick a shop that consistently carries one style (free of stripes, patterns, textures) and then buy only these. Doing so will avoid having to match them after washing, or discard of ones that no longer have a mate.
For outer layers, a plain black waterproof shell can be worn in almost any setting, at any time of year. One pair of light, neutral, and easy to pack shoes is also a nice alternative to a closet bursting with outdated footwear. (I’m quite happy with Vans’ hemp shoes, which are lightweight, and made with a focus on sustainable/recycled materials.)
I should, however, note that the above can easily be dressed up for more formal occasions, with the addition of a single well-tailored grey blazer and one wrinkle free button-down shirt. The essential wardrobe should be free of anything that requires an iron or visit to the dry cleaner—both of which make for tedious and unnecessary work. Key to this approach is the minimization of such nuisances.
With this in mind, locate garments and shops that you can rely on, when you wear these things out. Doing so will reduce the task of procuring clothing to a few moments, every year or two. Ultimately, you should be able to order another item online, or by phone, without even stepping foot in a shop. (I have seen Hell, and it is a shopping mall.)
Of course, this is just a set of suggestions, and you’ll likely change it to fit your needs. Perhaps you prefer plain knit sweaters over hoodies, or, grey t-shirts over black. It doesn’t really matter. The purpose of this exercise is to reposition clothing as a purely functional item, instead of a statement of self-worth.