Use a 'Minimalist Wardrobe' to Simplify Your Life

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CC BY 2.0. Dhini Van Heeren

There is a reason why many successful people wear the same thing every day. Not having to worry about one's clothes can be a huge stress reducer.

What kind of morning routine do you have? Is it a relaxing, meaningful time of preparation for the day ahead, or does it involve frantic minutes spent pulling clothes out of the closet and trying on numerous outfits before settling on the right one?

All too often, clothes create unnecessary stress first thing in the morning. Many of us have dressers and closets overflowing with clothes, and yet feel as if we have nothing to wear. The problem is that we fall victim to fads and trends, impractical styles, irresistible deals, and the urge to shop. We own clothes that (we think) make us look fat or skinny, lean or curvy. Over time, the closet fills with items that aren’t necessarily what we want to wear every day or what makes us feel good.

There is a solution to this problem, and that is to simplify. By reducing the number of items in the closet and leaving only the practical, comfortable basics (a.k.a. the kind of outfits that make you feel fabulous and indomitable all the time – and you know exactly what I’m talking about because we all have a few of those outfits), you can save time and, according to John Haltiwanger, keep your mind clear for much more important decisions later in the day.

Haltiwanger wrote an interesting article called “The Science of Simplicity: Why Successful People Wear The Same Thing Every Day,” in which he explains the concept of decision fatigue:

“This is a real psychological condition in which a person’s productivity suffers as a result of becoming mentally exhausted from making so many irrelevant decisions. Simply put, by stressing over things like what to eat or wear every day, people become less efficient at work.”

There is a good reason why successful individuals such as Steve Jobs, Barack Obama, Mark Zuckerberg, Hillary Clinton, even fashion designer Vera Wang, opt for the same, often plain outfits on a daily basis. They’d rather spend their time and brainpower elsewhere than standing in front of their closets in a state of panicked indecision.

The so-called ‘minimalist’s wardrobe’ is supported by Joshua Fields Millburn of the highly successful “The Minimalists” website. He says he can always be found wearing his favourite outfit – jeans, a black T-shirt, and a pair of comfy TOMS shoes. After all, why mess with a bad thing?

The Project 333 blog offers an interesting challenge to people wanting to learn how to pare down their wardrobes. Founder Courtney Carver provides guidelines for dressing with 33 items or less (for 3 months at a time, in order to accommodate seasonal change) and has great online resources for how to get started.

In the process of writing this article, I believe I’ve stumbled across my New Year’s resolution for 2015. Although I don’t have many clothes to begin with, I’m not good at choosing practical, comfortable items that make me feel good all the time. Too often I try to be stylish while shopping, and those efforts usually fall flat on their face; or else I insist on buying second-hand to the detriment of finding something I actually love wearing. I’ll be looking to Carver’s and Millburn’s websites for advice on paring down in the new year.