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Live with 15 items of clothing

Live with 15 items of clothing

Or:  how to be monogamous to your clothes.

Simplifying your life can be, well, complicated.

I was inspired by the fifty things challenge. I’m a suburban housefrau so it’s not as easy as I’d like, but I’m streamlining where I can. One of those areas is my wardrobe.

I spent a long, silly time trying to figure out what “defined” my style.  In the end I realized it’s as easy as knowing yourself and your life.

Wear what you already wear. Chances are you’ve already defined yourself just by living.

I’m convinced that anyone can get by with three pairs of pants, four or five tops and some dress up stuff (for those rare but unavoidable fancy weddings or dinners).  And something fun.  This is not about deprivation, just simplicity. If you don’t think you can, check this out.  If you’re  creative and have the legs accessories, you can get by with only one dress.  One.

Bottom line:  choose your clothes.  Love them as they are, and as they are to you.  Until you can’t patch them, wiggle into them or hang them on you anymore.

After a hard look at my lifestyle (okay, I don’t need a ball gown) and some experimentation, this is what I came up with for myself:

The Fifteen

  1. black cap sleeve turtleneck
  2. whitish shirt with long sleeves (since I look washed out in pure white)
  3. ruffly shirt (in a bright happy but neutral color)
  4. cardigan or twinset
  5. sweater
  6. A line skirt
  7. light sporty fast drying pants (ever been to the zoo in DC in August or been caught in a desert thunderstorm?)
  8. wide leg trousers
 (I’ve worn these everywhere from the beach to fancypants interviews)
  9. jeans
  10. black dress
  11. jacket
  12. trench coat
  13. tissue thin long sleeve tee for layering
  14. short sleeve tee
  15. random fun thing

Other things I need but keep to a minimum: Accessories like jewelry, sunglasses, scarves, hats, and gloves. Unmentionables are essential foundation. I don’t sleep naked so I need PJs/workout clothes (I double-task these).  Swimwear.  Six pair of shoes.

The flipside of my love for my clothes is my fear that they will die and I’ll never find another pair of jeans like them. Care is important.  Care and maybe buying two pair if they’re on sale.

More musing on the subject is over here.


  • This is inspiring, but I LOVE my closet full of crappy clothes!! If nothing else, they look great lying around my room in wrinkled clumps.

    6 pair of shoes, I maybe could do. Maybe.

  • I donated 18 pairs of shoes. I didn’t even think I had that many. My husband probably did.

  • i dont believe in having more than one pair of jeans. i only own 4 pairs of shoes at a time.
    what i have found in the years and years of having the barest of wardrobes is that owning a great pair of boots (my 15 year old hand-me-down Docs that have seen everything) is the one thing that you need more than anything.
    Jeans come and go and when i wear a pair out i am forced to go find another pair and sometimes i like that pair better than the ones i had. I generally have no memory or nostalgia for stuff like that.
    The only thing i feel sad about, is my bad-ass tee shirt collection that im currently too fat for.
    So i now own only 15 shirts.

    • I hate shopping for jeans. Nothing makes me crazier. But the pair I have now are sad, shrunken and patched almost to the point of no return.

  • Even better than I imagined. More of exactly what I wanted this site to be about.
    I love this so much, I’m jabbing at a tiny keypad in arattling truck and getting seasick just to say LOVE.

    • Thank you. + Have fun on vacayshun.

  • I can do this so easily. Mainly, after 3 kids my butt only fits into about 15 of the things I own. And since I can’t buy a new wardrobe, or find the magic butt shrinking tree, I can do with cutting back some. :)

    • Oh oh oh! If you find the magic butt shrinking tree, pleeeease let me know.

      P.S. You look a lot like my sister.

  • […] Live with 15 items of clothing […]

  • How timely – last night I re-sorted my wardrobe. 12 months ago I packed about half of it away (I don’t work outside the home anymore, so I packed up the suits for the day I eventually do again). Last night I slimmed everything down again, and my wardrobe now has probably a quarter what it did 18 months ago. Some packed away (my nice, tailor made clothes will store), some sent to clothes swapping sites for future swaps, some to charity.
    And it feels good.

    • Congrats! I stopped working in an office last year, so I just donated my work wear. None of it was custom tailored though.
      It does feel good, doesn’t it? Like cutting off all your hair sometimes feels. Lighter. Less work.

  • in the past two years i’ve gotten rid of over half my wardrobe and find i still have too much. i find i don’t need to be super drastic in getting rid of my stuff, but i like to keep things tight.

    i’ve identified the things i wear a lot, made sure they look and feel awesome, and put them away in my dresser. then i have a special drawer in my dresser for the clothes i find pretty amazing but, for some reason, do not wear. this is the first drawer i open to pick clothes out in the morning. if i’m not feeling inspired, i just move to the staples. i use whatever item, it gets promoted to stuff i wear; if i don’t, i bring it to the next clothes-swap.

    15 is inspiring, though i think i may want a little bit more. how would i ever get rid of my pink 80’s cut-off prom-dress, my favorite blue jacket, my tmnt tee, my dpw-hoodie, my jump-suit, my rain coat, or my awesome pleated skirt before they fall apart?

    • I love the idea that you promote your clothing like they’re little soldiers in your wardrobe army. Since clothing is both physical protection and a buffer between you and the world, it makes so much sense! Or I could be overthinking.
      And a TMNT TEE??? Awesome.

  • […] of my favorite new blogs, Love and Trash, had a post up a couple weeks ago about cutting down to only 15 things of clothing. It’s a huge thing for some people, cutting down on the things that most of society assumes […]

  • […] Live with 15 items of clothing […]

  • […] crap I have that I don’t need! I found myself inspired by both The 50 things challenge and Live with 15 articles of clothing. photo by […]

  • I sold 40 pairs of shoes @ one point!
    I also think if you make the clothes have alternatives it can seem like you have more. I altered a dress for a friend once that she could wear in 6 different ways. I wish I could remember the designers name!

  • *Try 7 tops and 7 pants – to create a month of different outfits.
    *Try sleeveless or short-sleeve tops for any season – along with a sweater.
    *Dark colors create a thin appearance – try teal, navy, burgundy, brown or black.
    *It’s easy to shop for the same matching colors or prints.
    *The same color top and pants creates a thin appearance.
    *Wear summer prints in the winter and vice versa – no specific rules.
    *Rather than a hat or umbrella, try a hooded jacket.
    *Try one pair of dress shoes, sneakers and boots – or be barefoot.

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