Talking to my neighbor, we discussed the unseasonably warm fall weather in the mid-Atlantic. The week ahead promises more summer-like temperatures. These “in-between seasons” make it difficult to figure out what to wear. Fall means jeans, but it’s way too humid. Meanwhile, summer dresses feel out of place.
For many people, finding a suitable outfit involves searching two closets or digging through bins of off-season clothing. Perhaps you are experiencing this right now?
For most of my adult life, I spent two weekends per year swapping seasonal clothes into my main closet. As a part of my minimalist journey, I eliminated the swap by downsizing my wardrobe and in turn, reclaimed precious time and space. My husband quickly followed suit. So, I took it a step further and eliminated four large drawers worth of clothing, Now, 99% of my clothing lives in just one closet. Only winter coats are stored elsewhere.
Experiment with Less
Along the way, I experimented with less clothing. I challenged myself to wear just 7 pieces of clothing for an entire week; inspired by Jen Hatmaker’s book 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess. I loved the small stack of clothes that sat on the bathroom counter. My closet remained closed (and organized) all week. Getting ready was a dream and laundry was a breeze. I still managed to leave the house for work, church and social engagements and always in clean clothes. 🙂
After this experiment, I tackled my closet again to develop a capsule wardrobe of 33 seasonal pieces. Having followed Courtney Carver’s Project 333, I was inspired to downsize even more. After selecting my seasonal items, I moved the rest to our guest closet. What a surprise to find that I dress better with less! The capsule forced me to try on items I hadn’t worn in years. I found hidden treasures buried beneath the excess.
Less Clothing, Less Laundry
As I talk about the benefits of a small wardrobe, the primary argument against it is “I’ll have to do more laundry.” Absolutely, 100% False. Less clothing always means less laundry. I know because I live it every week. Laundry can be done, start to finish, in one day. Without exception, my pile of laundry is the smallest for our family of three. It’s no coincidence that I own the least amount of clothing.
So, it got me thinking, Why is this the case? Admittedly, I have worked at least 4 days a week from home since 2011. My wardrobe is simpler and doesn’t require business attire every day. That said, I get ready each day and also exercise several times per week which still fills the laundry basket. And yet, I find my laundry the easiest to wash, dry, fold and put away.
Re-Hang, Re-Fold and Re-Wear
Even during my corporate office days, I rotated through just 3-4 suits and changed the look with different tops and accessories. The suits were dry cleaned periodically and had little impact on the volume of laundry.
The real difference came from the margin in my closet. The empty space in my closet allows me to easily re-hang items or re-fold and save for later. Some pieces are worn a second or third time before laundering.
“Many of us believe that all of our clothes only have a one-wear potential. We can wear each piece just once before we have to toss in the dirty clothes hamper and then into the washer before we can wear it again. What a lot of people don’t realize, though, is that we all have many articles of clothing that don’t need to be washed after every wear.” You’re Washing Your Clothes Too Often by Megan Branch
Before you get too concerned, no, I’m NOT advocating that you wear dirty clothes, but I am suggesting that we might all be doing more laundry than necessary. Because without a staging area, like the one in my closet, it’s easier to toss something in the laundry basket. (Check out the 2:40 mark in this video.)
In my corporate days, I always re-wore my church outfit to the office on Monday. Re-wearing items is recommended because washing clothes too often can do more harm than good and shorten their lifespan. Here’s a guide for how often to launder items. Your favorite shirt will wear out more quickly with over-washing.
Are you currently rummaging through baskets of clean laundry? Is putting away laundry the worst chore? This is likely because your closet is simply too full. Why not try a capsule wardrobe for a month?
Project 333 is a great place to start. Box up the extra stuff, donate a bag or two and re-hang only your favorites. Don’t like 33 items, choose your own number, just set a limit and give it a try. I’d love to hear the results of your experiment with less.
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