How Many Clothing Items Should You Own?

Having too many clothing items can lead to frustration and a cluttered wardrobe. On the other hand, having too few pieces in your closet means you might not have something that fits an occasion or is necessary for various weather if you need to travel. So how many clothing items should you own? Learn what constitutes an optimal wardrobe size for any lifestyle.

Assess Your Closet:

The first step in determining the optimal size for your wardrobe is assessing what you already have. Begin by asking yourself a few questions, such as am I holding onto items I don’t wear? Then, go into your closet and start sorting by type of clothing (shirts, pants, etc). Put together any outfits that you already know you love, and uncover any hidden gems that could come in handy down the road. This will give you an idea of how many pieces you currently own and what potential items are missing.

Then, take the time to go through each piece and evaluate if it still fits your style. If you haven’t worn a certain item in over a year, consider donating or selling it in order to make room for new pieces. Doing this may feel difficult but being honest with yourself about what clothes you need and use will ultimately save you money and closet space. After completing this step, you’ll be able to determine how many clothing items you should own in total, as well as the types of items that need to be added to your collection.

Optimize Your Wardrobe:

Once you’ve identified which items need to be added or removed from your wardrobe, begin the process of optimisation. Ask yourself questions such as: Are there any pieces that can transition from day to night? Do I have enough seasonal options? Can I combine items in more than one way and create easy outfits with fewer pieces? By taking a critical look at each item, you can make thoughtful and sustainable decisions that will result in an optimised wardrobe.

To help guide your decision-making process, Marie Kondo encourages wearing items often and choosing quality over quantity. According to her, a well-curated wardrobe should consist of around 37 pieces including tops and bottoms, dresses, outerwear and shoes. Wardrobe specialist Debbie Roes suggests two pairs of jeans, five tees or tanks, five blouses/shirts, two skirts or trousers and one dress as the foundation of a workable wardrobe that can easily be supplemented with accessorizing. This creates a diverse selection of 15-20 foundational pieces for all occasions that don’t take up too much space in your closet.

Swap or Donate Unused Items:

As you review the pieces in your wardrobe and determine what needs to be kept and what should go, remember that many clothing items can still be donated or swapped with friends. Consider hosting a clothing swap party with your friends and family where everyone brings an article of clothing for swapping, upcycling existing items as much as possible. Not only will this reduce the amount of clutter in your closet, but it’s also a great occasion to have fun and create some unique new outfits from existing items!

There is no definitive answer for the exact number of clothing items everyone should own. Instead, everyone should strive to develop their own minimalist wardrobe depending on their needs and lifestyle. What is most important, however, is every individual takes stock of their wardrobe periodically and discards any pieces they don’t need to ensure that only necessary items are occupying precious closet space. Additionally, it’s also worth keeping in mind the importance of giving unused items a second life rather than disposing of them.

Save by Shopping Minimally:

To save money, the key is to shop minimum and shop wisely. The way you spend your hard-earned money should reflect what it will bring you in quality and longevity. Investing more in a special piece that you can wear over many years, rather than a quick fix of multiple throwaway items, will make all the difference. Look for solid styles that offer a range of wearable potential by mixing and matching with existing pieces—quality fabrics and timeless silhouettes increase the longevity of an item significantly.

If you follow this guideline, it's recommended to have between 15-30 clothing items in your wardrobe. Aim to invest in a few quality pieces that can be layered and styled for different looks. This includes essential basics such as T-shirts, blouses, trousers and denim. Choose timeless styles that you won’t tire of—it’s better to invest in one great piece than five mediocre items. Think carefully about what new clothing pieces are worth adding. By shopping purposefully and considering longevity, you will be able to create outfits without breaking the bank.

Practical Variety for Different Occasions:

A minimalist’s wardrobe should be made up of pieces that reflect their lifestyle and work obligations. For example, if you commute to work most days, consider investing in pants, skirts and tops with a smart office edge. When going out at night choose versatile pieces that can be accessorized to take them from day to night. Ultimately, aim for a 34-piece set of garments that caters to every occasion or event you will encounter. This collection should include shoes, but also keep your climate and activities/sports in mind—do not exceed the threshold without needing any item.

The 34-piece goal is a flexible number that can be easily edited down and suits both seasonal needs and life changes. As always, the key is to stow away items via storage organizers by season or event, and upgrade any item that has seen better days. Invest in quality pieces of garments if you want to use them for a long time, which also includes clothing items made from natural fibers, like cotton, cashmere and wool. By investing in quality over quantity you can guarantee versatility and smart sartorial options no matter the occasion—and save yourself the stress of ‘what do I wear today?’

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