It’s been 30+ days since I started my 1 Year 1 Outfit challenge and suffice to say it has been an interesting start. I’m a bit late on getting this post out as last week we lost power and water for almost the entire week. This presented some interesting challenges in itself for cooking, washing and what not especially for laundry, which I had to do in town one day – luckily it was warm enough for shorts.
I’ve been blown away by the amount of interest my little project has generated in the first month. I started this as a personal challenge to see if I could live with less clothing and I never anticipated that it would connect as much as it has with other people who are also feeling overwhelmed by their closet. Doing interviews with CNN and Brooklyn Accelerator was not only mind blowing, but it also forced me to think a little bit more about why I was doing this and what I was hoping to achieve at the end.
The response to this small challenge has been pretty positive for the most part, both online and in my personal life. I’d say it is true that clothes and possessions should not define us and it is also true that many people around the world don’t have the luxury of trimming their wardrobe down to ten items, whether it be due to work and life requirements or because they already own less than that. I’m not trying to be revolutionary, rather I want to experiment with the way I think about clothes and demonstrate what can be achieved with less.
What’s in your backpack?
I’ve been a hiker and backpacker for years; when I started out I had a heavy cumbersome pack filled with redundancies: extra cookware, spare clothing, and backup shoes. Now when I go backpacking my pack weighs half of what it used to. I can walk faster, go further, and be more comfortable all the while. The full significance of what I had done with my backpack and how that could relate to my life had not settled on me until just recently.
My closet was filled with bloat the same way my backpack was, plenty of spares and redundancies. If blue button-down shirts are a staple it stands to reason that one should have a few, right? What about jeans, I have my nice raw denim that I wouldn’t want to get dirty, so I need to have some cheaper backup pairs for those times when things might get unruly yet I still want to look good. And then, of course, I still need a few pairs of work jeans, because you know, I might paint or chop lumber or build fences, manly things like that. Soon I’ve got a stack of blue shirts and blue jeans that to most people all look like the same outfit.
I’m sure you can take a look in your closet and find similar redundancies, whether it’s a bunch of sweaters in slightly different colours or dress shoes in various shades of brown in order to effectively coordinate with the changing moon cycles. Now, rather than save my good clothes for some prospective special event, I get to wear my favourite clothes everyday. Something I’ve learned after only a month of wearing the same thing day-in and day-out is that you can accomplish most of your life activities in one set of clothing. I’ve hiked, camped, chopped wood, and gone out for dinner all in my Outlier shirt and pants and Viberg boots; they are not any worse for wear and no one is the wiser.
What I have found is that choosing what I wear each day is dictated only by what is clean and the weather outside. If it’s hot it is a shorts day and if it’s not then pants it is. It is that simple, I don’t think about colours, social encounters, or situations that may warrant using a cheaper spare. I put on my American Trench raincoat if it is raining and my Apolis wool jacket if it is cold. It all works together because I designed it with that purpose, I coordinated my outfit once and that is all I have to do for the year.
I have stopped chasing sales online or thinking about how to fill this or that imaginary gap in my wardrobe. It has given me more free time away from the internet and I’ve actually started reading books again, which I haven’t had the time to do for years. I guess I was too busy shopping.
Minimizing my closet has brought my attention to others who are trying to live with less in their various ways and has made me want to continue applying the trend to the rest of my life. I watched Tiny the small house doc on Netflix and it was humbling that these people are building 150-200 sq ft homes where I thought my 600 sq ft cabin was living small. I’ve read some of the The Minimalists’ blog, which is about paring down everything in your life to find what truly makes you happy. And, I’ve been inspired by Foster Huntington and his three years of living on the road. Now I just need to find the right time to whisk my family away in our 88 Westy.
We’ve got a beach vacation planned for the upcoming weeks so that will give me the perfect opportunity to test out my Outlier New Way shorts in the sand, sun, and surf. I’ll do up a full review on them once I’m back.