25 October 2012

How Much is Enough?

Source: tumblr

Whether it is a personal count of someone's possessions, or a challenge to own/get rid of a fixed number of objects, there are often numbers involved when the subject of minimalism is treated.

Is there a maximum number of objects that define a "minimalist"? I don't think so. As I mentioned before, I think minimalism is about our relationship and values regarding possessions, not their number. Then, is it useless to put a random number on a minimalist's collection or challenge? I don't think so. I think numbers can be a guide to start taking action, used as a reference more than a strict rule.

I discovered one of these quantified challenges pertaining wardrobe editing lately: project 333. The idea is to choose 33 pieces of clothing and use only these for the next 3 months. As the author states, it is an experiment of living with less. Is it possible that 33 items may be enough for a season? This experiment helps figuring that out.

Which made me wonder about the underlining question here: how much is enough? I decided to approach the subject on my own wardrobe, since I feel there are still too many items in my closet.

Obviously, there is no magic number as an answer. I noticed other, more subjective elements that can help find out how much is enough for you. After all, having enough is a feeling, it's personal and subjective, isn't it?

You may have too much if:

  • You have a hard time picking your outfit because there are too many possibilities and you don't know where to start
  • You don't wear the latest pair of shoes you bought because they hurt - you haven't broken them in yet
  • The latest garment you purchased still has its price tag on
  • When laundry day approaches, you still have trouble finding free space in your closet.
  • You wardrobe bores you because you feel like nothing fits together
  • You feel like you "have nothing to wear" because you can't find anything you want to wear among the piles in your closet

You may not have enough if:

  • You have a hard time picking your outfit because there is no combination that you haven't already worn very recently
  • You don't wear the latest pair of shoes you bought because they are being fixed at the cobbler's
  • The latest garment you purchased shows signs of wear and tear
  • When laundry day approaches, you have trouble finding a matching set of clothes, if there are any clean ones left at all.
  • Your wardrobe bores you because you feel like you're dressed the same every day
  • You feel like you "have nothing to wear", because you litterally have nothing that is neither dirty nor worn out left today

You may have nailed your perfect amount if:

  • You don't have a hard time picking your outfit in the morning
  • You wear the latest pair of shoes you bought, on a very regular basis
  • The latest garment you purchased found its place in your wardrobe and is worn on a regular basis in many different outfits
  • When laundry day approaches, there is just enough left for a few outfits until the rest is clean, dry, ironed and put away.
  • Your wardrobe doesn't bore you
  • You never feel like you have "nothing to wear"

In which of these categories do you think you fit in? Is there any other hint you would add to these lists? Another experiment I use to assess my wardrobe is when I travel for a few days. How much can I pack so I have all I need and use everything I packed?


  1. I think I am somewhere in between "nailed it" and "too much". I actually had a culling-spree last weekend and filled 5 plastic bags with clothes - some ill-fitting and some that I had only kept for sentimental reasons. I think I still might dig a sentimental garment or two back out and hide away in the back of my closet, but that's still a pretty good result.

    The hard part for me is not buying new stuff that I don't really need. I know I have to constantly keep myself from wandering off to online shops. It is a work in progress :)

  2. Haha I see what you mean here. There are pieces of clothing so hard to part with for sentimental reasons. I usually put them in the cellar, to keep them out of sight and see if I'm going to miss them.
    I think it's natural to want new things, it's quite challenging for me as well ;)

  3. I think I've finally managed getting to that point where I feel like I've nailed my perfect amount. Yet I do feel like I ought to add a few more extras of my staples so that I can wear them in rotation and not wear out the staples too quickly - which has been the case too many times now. My less than a year old apc shirt is so worn out that I don't wear it as much any longer because I'm not ready to part with it just yet.

    Anyhow, great post! I found it through out of the bag, and I agree with everything you say. It seems like people are more obsessed with the number rather than the content itself. I often receive a lot of questions about HOW MANY items I have in my closet, and I honestly have no idea because the number doesn't matter at all...

  4. I think I'm already close to category 3. And the project 333 has made it ;)
    I have more than this 33 things, but trying to use only 33 (and it's possible!) with exception as a wedding or concert where I need something extra.
    Doing everything to feel godd with one's wardrobe is a hard work but worth the effort.

  5. How much is enough is such a personal thing. It's never been about numbers for me. It's more about purchasing items that I love and that integrate seamlessly into my wardrobe. Right now I feel content with my wardrobe.

  6. Fleurette - I can imagine a lot of people ask about numbers, it's easier to start with something concrete. But after a while they are not necessary any more, like you say they don't really matter.

    Zuzanna Anna - You did project 333? how was it? I can imagine it is a great experience to try and dress with only 33 pieces of clothing.

    Lindsay - I agree, what matters is to feel happy with the wardrobe, not its size.

  7. I think I am still somewhere between 2 and 3. A year ago I was a one, though... then I cleared out so much that there was not much left and now I am slowly approaching the 3. Not yet there - but I see it coming and this feels great.
    @ Fleurette: btw the inspiration for clearing out also came from your blog!

    thanks for this post, I definitely agree with what you say ;)