After a recent discussion with online friends about what to wear in the event of a zombie apocalypse I’ve been refining my wardrobe choices based on a slightly more realistic, ultra-minimalistic viewpoint. What would you wear for an entire year if you could only have one outfit? It would have to not only be versatile enough for different weather conditions, but it would also have to be wearable in multiple social situations.
Obviously your climate would play a large part in what you would require during different times of the year. This challenge would be easier living in California, where light pants and a tee might suffice for most of the year, than it would be living in Canada, where winter brings sub-zero temperatures and summer is still plenty hot.
Synthetic fabrics would offer better water repellency and higher durability than traditional cotton twills such as denim, which is susceptible to crotch and knee blowouts. While wool offers a multitude of benefits from natural odour reduction as well as a high warmth when wet ratio. If you only have one outfit you obviously would want to still keep laundry to a minimum and you would be relying on these clothes to stand up to all sorts of activities.
Barring not having to attend any formal events such as weddings or funerals, what mix would offer the widest range between backyard barbeques and being able to step foot in a respectable eatery? Again jeans would likely be too casual, but could any other pant pass without always looking like you just got out from Sunday school?
The clothes would need to be coordinated in colour so as to allow your t-shirt, over shirt, and jacket to all easily work in combination with your pants. They would also need to be relatively anonymous so that the average person doesn’t catch on that you wore that exact same thing yesterday (and the entire past week) and call you a vagrant hippie.
Footwear may be one of the biggest challenges. You would need one pair of shoes or boots that you could hike along the beach in, shovel snow in, and still show up at the symphony (and be allowed in).
I’ve given this some thought over the past few sleepless nights and below, from head to toe, is my pick for a 365 day outfit.
The Ultra-Minimalist Male Wardrobe
T-shirt: Outlier Merino V-Neck in Dust Olive
Shirt: Outlier Merino/Co Pivot in Sky Blue
Sweater: Strike Gold Loopwheeled Sweatshirt in Light Gray
Thick, loopwheeled, made in Japan cotton goodness. This one steps outside the technical fabric realm a little, but I’m a sucker for a great sweatshirt. Pair this with or without your blue OCBD and you’ve just doubled your entire wardrobe.
Jacket: Apolis Chore in Indigo Wool
A sturdy wool coat, dressy enough for everywhere except where a blazer may be required. This will age beautifully and show your minimalistic journey on its sleeves. Consider Outlier’s 60/30 Blazer if you live in warmer climates and/or might require a pseudo-suit. (by pairing with their matching pants)
Rain Jacket: Barbour x Tokito Ventile Shoreman in Cinnamon
You could go for a Gore-Tex shell jacket, and maybe you should, but I love the Ventile fabric in this Barbour. Reasonably water-proof, highly wind-proof, quiet, removable liner, and excellent hood, plus it feels just like nice soft cotton (because it is).
Belt: Hollows Leather Japanese Single Garrison in Brown Harness
If you’re travelling the world with only these clothes on your back you don’t want to mess around with flimsy belts. This one from Hollows is a beast, I would reckon that with a little love this belt would last a lifetime, not just a year, of everyday wear.
Underwear: ExOfficio Give-N-Go Boxer Briefs in Black
While I normally prefer merino wool underwear, the ExOfficio are unbeatable for their durability and quick dry-ability. You’re going to be washing these nightly (I hope) so they better be dry the next morning.
Pants: Outlier 60/30 Chinos in Midnight Gray
I own a few pairs of Outlier’s more casual looking pants, however I believe their 60/30’s offer the perfect mix for the only pant you’d ever need all year long. Stretchy, water-resistant, and decently tough you could wear these pants hiking in the Andes and then out for dinner in Paris
Socks: SmartWool Medium Weight PhD Crew in Charcoal
Boots: Viberg Service Boots in Brown Chromexcel
Viberg’s boots edge on being ridiculously expensive. There’s a good reason for it though: no one else in the world is putting out boots like these guys. With a rubber Dainite sole and tough Horween Chromexcel leather these boots will only look better after a full year of wear. Although they’re still a work boot, the sleek last and cap-toe brings an element of dressiness that, in a pinch, would work in most semi-formal settings.
If I were able to have a contingent of workout clothes I would add:
T-shirt: Outlier Merino V-Neck in Bravest Blue
Shorts: Outlier New Way Shorts in Gray
Running Shoes: Strike Mvmt Interval in Sierra Black
These shoes just showed up on my radar recently, although there doesn’t seem to be a ton of feedback on them yet, they look to me like they could be the perfect minimalist sneaker. An actual zero-drop running shoe that isn’t in an overbranded neon colourway? Yes, please.
***note that all of the above product images are property of the brands (except the underwear, those are mine).
What else would you need?
I would also add the following accessories as required for the weather: toque, scarf, gloves, sunglasses, and maybe a tie. As it stands, other than looking non-descript and boring, everything above would work together in different combinations. I figure with all of my layers on I could be comfortable in all but the absolutely coldest of weather. Obviously a couple of spare pairs of socks and underwear wouldn’t hurt either.
Almost everything above is made in North America or other first world nations. Strangely enough I don’t actually own any of this stuff other than the socks, underwear, and Barbour jacket, though the boots are on the way! This whole idea of a minimal wardrobe would also translate nicely for travelling light.
Obviously this list leans heavily towards Outlier as their aesthetic and performance fit this ideal well. Other brands that I believe would work well in this theoretically minimalist situation are Icebreaker, Arc’teryx Veilance, Mission Workshop, Proof NY, and Filson.
The One Year One Outfit Challenge
If a few of these brands want to lend me a good portion of the above garments I will embark on a 365 day challenge and wear only this stuff. I will record my trials and tribulations and the wear and tear on the garments. I think it would be a trying experience for both myself and the clothes, but it would certainly make for an interesting experiment.
What would you wear if you only had one outfit for an entire year?
Edit: Shortly after writing this, everything came together and I’m doing it for real! Check out Day 1 for my actual 1 Year Outfit.