Fashions fade, style is eternal.
~ Yves Saint Laurent
Years ago I would wonder why some of the world’s most successful people always seemed to be wearing the same thing. It was as if they either had a daily uniform or were just way too predictable. Whatever the case even today some of our most fascinating cultural icons don a daily uniform. Consider Mark Zuckerberg and his gray t-shirt and zip-up sweatshirt. Or what about designer Thom Browne who is never seen out of his cropped pants and no-socks uniform? Then there’s our own POTUS who seems to have cornered the market on navy blue, single-breasted suits. And who could forget the late Steve Jobs who made history multiple times in a black, mock turtleneck? The point is, when you have a busy life or want to eliminate clutter and frivolous decision making or just want to keep things in perspective, wearing a well thought out wardrobe gives you one less thing to think about.
More simple is not more and for anyone who has had a closet the size of most American’s television screen or have chosen to live out of anything less than 4,000 cubic inches, it is all about choosing well and making conscious clothing decisions. In fact, style icon and actress Drew Barrymore recently wrote an article for the blog Refinery 29 in which she states, “But, the big problem is this: My closet keeps getting larger and larger with this unhealthy diet of shopping without clarity. What am I looking for, really, and why can’t I find it?”
So how does one go about choosing a wardrobe that is fit for the tiny house lifestyle? The steps are actually quite simple and have been posted in multiple places on the Internet over the past few years since Courtney Carver began Project 333 almost five years ago. They are:
1. Purge everything that doesn’t fit. Purge may mean throw away. It may mean take to Goodwill. It may mean to simply give to someone who is that size. Whatever the case, lose the “jeans that will fit if I just lose 5 pounds”, the “fat clothes”, the “skinny clothes”, and the “I just need to have the hem taken out a bit” pieces.
2. Purge everything that doesn’t flatter. Bye bye mom jeans. See you later Dockers elastic waste. And good riddance to anything that is overly baggy, saggy, or downright frumpy.
3. Purge everything not worn in the last year. Like Salami or Smoke Gouda, there is an expiration time to your wardrobe. If you haven’t worn something in twelve consecutive month it is time to give it the ‘ol heave ho!
4. Choose a base color. Do you wear more blacks than browns? Do you prefer khaki over everything? Use it then and make a neutral like black, brown, or khaki your foundation piece. Anything else needs to find itself a new home.
5. Choose accent colors. Be it a ties, a belt, a scarf, a turtleneck, or a pair of shoes, select a few shades and pieces that are flattering and complement your foundation color.
6. Pare down your shoes and purses. With a foundation color you no longer need the Baskin-Robbins shoe closet. Minimize to possible a pair of dress shoes, a casual shoe, a sneaker, and a sandal or flip-flop.
7. Accessorize. Take this to mean what compliments who you are. Chances are though that does not mean a 14k Gold, figaro link chain with a St. Nicholas medallion.
PROOF IS IN THE PUDDING
When we first began downsizing about six years ago I was ill-prepared. I still chose more cheap pieces than fewer, well made pieces. I almost had an entirely different wardrobe for each season. I quickly learned though that that wouldn’t cut it. And for someone who wear Birkenstocks all year round I had an insanely large sock collection. Within a year though I was able to avoid a jam-packed tiny closet, keep my style (and even enhance it), and maintain storage space where needed. Just for an example I now have:
- Underwear – 14 pairs. I prefer a brand like Exofficio that is odor resistant, moisture wicking, durable, lightweight, and quick drying. Easy to pack and great in all situations.
- Socks – 7 footie socks (for sneakers) and 4 long/boot cut (2 should be wool for colder weather).
- Sandals – Life rarely calls for more than a good pair of leather Birkenstocks.
- Merrell hiking shoes – 1 pair.
- Jeans – 2 pair and neither with holes, aged spots, or otherwise unsightly areas.
- Khakis – 1 pair. I always recommend Bills Khakis as they are Made in the USA and can withstand the nomadic life. They are a bit pricey, yes, but you get what you pay for!
- Shorts – 4 pair. I found a nice pair of cargo shorts that fit me well and are well suited for all occasions. I bought all four colors they were available in.
- T-Shirts – 7 short sleeve and 2 long sleeve.
- Button-Up Oxford – 1 Brooks Brothers that is really quite dapper and wrinkle-free.
- Blazer – A well made blazer can be worn with any of the above pants, the above polo, or even a t-shirt and instantly gives you a more dressed up appearance. Take note of the LL Bean Men’s Classic Travel Blazer.
- Casual Sweater – I only have one and it is an authentic Scottish zip-up made in Edinburgh.
- Pajamas – Seriously? Men, don’t you just sleep in your boxers? You may consider a pair of basketball shorts but don’t get crazy!
- Slippers – 1 pair.
- Belts – 1 black dress and 1 brown casual (for jeans and khakis).
- Coats — 1 Carhartt. I should buy a wind breaker of some sort but I typically prefer my sweater and a poncho if necessary.
- Swimwear – 1 pair of trunks.
- Active Wear – 1 pair of basketball shorts and 1 tanktop.