This past November (3 posts ago), I did a wardrobe challenge where I limited myself to only what could fit inside my 21L backpack. As I was recently looking at getting back into posting regularly, I realized I never wrote a follow up to that post, detailing how the experiment actually went. So here goes:
In case you missed the original post, the goal of this challenge was to see how reducing the size of my wardrobe would impact my life. I figured I would spend less time in the morning choosing an outfit, and place less value on the fashion of my clothes and more on the utility of them. This was essentially what ended up happening, and there weren't really any big surprises here.
Overall, the challenge went pretty well. I was able to almost completely stick to the rules I set at the beginning, with the one difference being I took both of my exceptions spontaneously. I had already taken one to wear my suit, and a few days later a friend walked up to me at dinner and offered me free tickets to Lyric's production of Verdi's Rigoletto, an opportunity too good to pass up. So, I texted one of my friends and within an hour of getting the tickets we were sitting in our seats ready for a riveting performance. This serves as a perfect example for how on occasion, such a wardrobe could hamper the breadth of your experiences and not allow you to live your best life. However, I think that most articles of clothing that enhance your life like this are ones that would not typically be worn on a daily basis.
Another example would be sports clothing such as running shorts. I wasn't yet doing serious marathon training at the time, but if I had been, this wardrobe probably would have given me lots of headaches. Living in a home, you could probably wash your athletic clothes in a sink etc. but in my dorm, the only option was the laundry machines. As each load costs a few dollars, it didn't really make sense to do laundry more than once a week, and even that is a frequent cycle by most students standards. Accordingly, I basically wore the sports clothes twice and only exercised a few times a week instead of every day.
If one were to include more running shorts or a suit in the wardrobe, I don't think that would complicate choosing an outfit at the start of the day, but it certainly would improve the range of activities for which you are equipped. This summer, I will be experimenting with such an idea, as I am taking a Bluffworks suit with me to Germany. I am working for the government and will be attending my school's Abiball (similar to prom) and as such I will at least occasionally need an actual suit as opposed to the button down and slacks that I have been able to get away with in the past.
All in all, I think the experiment was a success, as it showed me the few pieces of clothing that are the most effective for my life in Chicago, and even after it ended, I oftentimes would wear outfits from November's wardrobe.
Practically, this type of challenge can be a great way to learn how articles of clothing work for you instead of just being articles of fashion, but also which pieces bring you joy when you wear them. Although utility is certainly important, there is definitely something to be said for enjoying the memories we often associate with clothes, without getting too attached. Well, that about wraps it up! I hope these two posts were able to, in some way, no matter how small, inspire you to reconsider your own wardrobe and the role clothes play in our daily lives.
Photo is of a pendulum at the Museum of Science and Industry west of campus. It happens to be the largest science center in the Western Hemisphere. They hosted UChicago students at a reception to kick off the school year way back in September.
Sorry for the long gap between these last two posts, it's been a crazy school year. Hoping to post on a more regular basis this summer.
One of the things I always think about when purchasing a piece of clothing is how it will fit in with the rest of my wardrobe. It may even be a fault of mine as I don't take a lot of risks in purchases because I want it to always fit together with the rest of my clothes. So recently, when I purchased the Club Monaco Hacker Vest, my first thought was that this will look great with t-shirts at the beginning of Fall and then, it will be great to wear under jackets in order to layer through Winter.
Most of the time, I am wearing blue jeans. I would probably guess 6 out of 7 days of the week, I am wearing my RRL Slim Straight Helm Wash Denim. This is because a dark wash denim is easily the most versatile pant out there for guys. You can dress it up with an oxford and sports coat or down with a leather jacket and plain white tee.(I suggest the Everlane Pocket Tee)
All this to say, when worrying about your outfits on a day to day basis, or you are out shopping, keep it simple. If you want a small wardrobe, there's something to be said about a few key pieces that are more expensive, but fit well and are of a very high quality. They will last longer, you can wear them more, and they won't fall apart after two wash cycles. (Oh and never wash your jeans. Seriously. And if you have to, soak them in the tub with woolite dark)