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Minimalist/capsule wardrobe 'rules' and experiments

Coat-hanger

You've probably seen things like minimalist wardrobe challenges, or capsule wardrobe rules. I've been interested in this kind of thing for a while, but the ones I've seen are basically unworkable for me, for a few reasons.

People who can live and dress for a year with a pair of jeans, a pair of chinos, a pair of shorts and a couple of jackets are living somewhere without huge changes in weather, and are doing jobs that don't require dressing up. None of those things apply to me.

I live in Japan, which is bloody cold in winter, and scorching hot in summer. One sweater won't take me all through winter, and likewise a shirt that's comfortable in summer will see me freezing in winter.

My work also sees me being able to wear anything I want when I'm working from home, to requiring suits when attending meetings, doing presentations, and lecturing. And, I'll be honest, I like to dress well.

Having said that, I don't like to have too much crap around, and I like to be a conscientious consumer. I've written about this before, but I've been experimenting and refining my own 'rules' to keep my wardrobe manageably minimalist.

Here they are:

Avoid 'fast fashion' as much as possible. It's usually a false economy. Quality lasts longer.

Minimalism doesn't equal deprivation. There's no need to force yourself to suffer.

You don't need more than five of one thing (suits, dress shirts, shoes, etc.). I make some exceptions to this - I have more than five ties because they can change the look of the same combination of clothes, plus I have more than five shirts, just not more than five casual shirts and more than five dress shirts.

If something hasn't been worn for two years, get rid of it.

Don't buy anything unless it's replacing something that's worn out, or it's a necessity.

Try to find things that work in different situations. White shirts, for example, go with pretty much anything.

Think about any new purchases for at least a week.

Have a periodic sort out (I do it once a year on average).

Go for classic cuts and colours rather than fads.

In short, do what works for you.

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