Filling Your Closet

Modern Minimalism (again!)

People like to fill their houses.  The bigger the house, the more they fill it.  So many fill them with junk.  All this does is cost money, take up space, and nail you down.  As life goes on, you will accumulate enough good quality items to lead a nice, relaxed life.  Until then, keep it very simple.  In your rental life you should not only be renting rooms vs. full apartments or houses, but your personal items should fit into a mid-sized SUV or full-size pickup truck.  One trip and 1-2 hours should take all you have in life at this point.  Having more is having too much, tying you down.  Consider this, should you need to make a big move of several hundred miles, you do not want to make more than one trip.  If the wort happens and a roommate situation goes bad, you want to be able to get out and leave fast.  When you rent rooms in any case your space is limited, so make it count.


Looking at a pre-1970s home makes one wonder what people did for clothes storage.  Closets are amazingly small by today’s standards.  4-5′ wide with one to a bedroom.  Considering husband/wife shared and kids probably doubled up, meaning 3 feet would hold all your closet clothing.  Even adding in a few dresser drawers, it might let you have 1/3 or less what people now “need” space for.  Women have always been far worse than guys with clothes, having way, way more outfits.  Guys do, though, commit the same offenses.  There are places you should cut back and places you should not.


This is a place you should not minimize.  True there is no reason for the “365 pair of underwear” idea where on New Years Day you just clean them all and are set for the year.  But wearing underwear and socks more than a day in a row is disgusting and unhygienic.  These parts of the body are susceptible to sweat and hold heat, letting bacteria breed.  Cleanliness is of the utmost importance.  There are still things you can do.

  • Make an underwear replacement plan.  Sounds silly, but us guys will wear underwear until it is falling to pieces.  Underwear makers even market more to women than men for men’s underwear.  Consider buying 10 pair every December and throwing out the old at New Year’s.  I have gotten some premium brands, and some are worth it, but will have to last more than 25 wearings on this plan.  Time will tell.
  • Socks have to be divided between dress and casual.  Casual socks can be all one kind.  Find a kind and buy a matching bag.  As individual socks wear out, throw out just the one with holes.  Buy another bag and match them up.  Go good on the dress socks, brands like Gold Toe(r).  They will last years, if you do not wear dress socks for your day job regular then just a few pair, if you have to dress in them then get 6 pair, which will mean you never run out in a week and never overload.
  • If you have more than one underwear drawer and one sock drawer, something is very wrong.  If your dresser has “wide” drawers, one drawer for both.  Seriously, that is all the space they should take.


Most office jobs today are “business casual.”  For guy this is a big blessing!  Guys business casual is khaki pants, meaning anything in the Dockers(r) line or similar is fair game.  4=5 pair is plenty.  Pants can be worn more than once between washings, just do not wear the same pair more than a day in a row as people, especially women, in the office will notice and talk.  2 wearings is fine and actually will make them last longer.  Thinking everything needs washed after one wearing is a uniquely American idea.  Not that you can go a week with one pair, but pants can be worn,  Shirts, socks, and underwear not so much, they get sweaty and dirty.

When you get home you will want to relax, meaning jeans, shorts, or sweats.  No need for more than 3 pair of jeans for the most part.  Same with shorts.  Rotate them, wear a few times, and wash.  Relaxing at home makes little sweat and wear,  chances are you are merely watching TV a few hours.  Nobody knows or cares how you look.


Shoes should be minimal.  Perhaps 2 pair for dress, one black one brown/neutral.  Ditto for casual.  I keep one pair brown sneakers that are good for walking and casual at the office plus my “demoted” pair that might get dirty.  Maybe you need one more pair for specialty, say a baseball league or other sport.  That should be about it.  I have known men that have over a dozen pair of sneakers.  I guess they were into it, but what else to do with the money and space?


Again, I am assuming you do not have to dress “business formal” for work.  If you do, that is a whole different animal.  Same if you have to wear a uniform, in either case, you need just 1-2 business casual outfits I will describe.  Evening, of course, takes care of itself.

  • Business Casual means a shirt with a collar, usually a golf shirt.  Have 3-6, no more needed.  Have some casual button-ups, short and long sleeve.  4-8 in total.  With your golf/polo shirts this gives up to 12-15.  That is way, way more than enough to vary your look in all seasons.
  • Have 1-2 nice, dress shirts, for job interviews, funerals, and any other occasion you need to be formal.
  • Have a small number of ties, unless they need to be worn for business.  In the 1990s, it was more fun to build a tie collection as wild prints were in style.  I was once a hit on a business trip for changing them not just every day, but once for the evening!  At the moment, plain colors are in style, so just a few are needed.
  • Don’t buy many tees.  After age 25 and for sure 30, you should not be wearing Tees out.  They are for lounging at home and working where you will get dirty.  Given time, you will get them for free!  At my age (47) I had to donate a dozen since they seemed to stay in my drawer and breed.  I have not bought one in over 15 years, yet still have more than I need.
  • Have a mix of 3-5 sweatshirts and long-sleeve “tees.”  A couple need to be nice enough to go out in, a couple will be for lumping around the house.

The Rest

The rest of your clothes can be a msih-mash.  Random ideas.

  • If your day job requires a uniform, you save money.  I hated wearing a uniform, but it saves money.  Should you get such a job, just cut back the rest of this list as needed.
  • You should have one good suit as discussed, for job interviews, funerals, weddings, dealing with government officials, or just for when you never know.  Purchase something classic and it will last decades.
  • There are some miscellaneous outfits and items.  Sweats for lumping out at home, coats and jackets, swim trunks or beachwear, etc.  This list is not rules so much as a guide.  Nobody should look online or in a magazine and think that is the only way to do it.  Just get the idea that 1 outfit can do the work of 2, and if you do not wear your in-season items in a month, why do you have them?