My minimalist hero and my possible desire to radically reduce my wardrobe

Leo Widrich is my new hero. He is an advocate and practitioner of "one-bag living." In an effort to simplify and de-clutter his life, almost everything he owns fits inside one backpack:

  • 6 T-shirts
  • 2 sweaters, 2 hoodies
  • 1 coat
  • 2 pairs of dress-pant sweat-pants
  • 6 pairs of socks and boxer shorts
  • 1 backpack
  • An iPhone, a Kindle, 1 notepad and a MacBook Air (+ keyboard and mouse)
  • Gym shoes and gym shorts
  • Various toiletries like toothbrush, contact lenses, etc.

I am tempted to try something similar. Though the mere existence of my wife and children would prevent me from reducing my life down to the minimum requirements that Widrich has listed, I love the idea of reducing a wardrobe down to its basic needs and eliminating anything from my life that is not necessary.

And in some ways, I have perhaps already begun this process. For more than a year, I have essentially worn the same hoodie as my fall, winter, and spring coat. I have a much warmer, winterized coat that I wear for extended periods outdoors (Patriots games in December), but otherwise, I wore that hoodie, so often that one of my students took me aside and asked me if I needed help getting a winter coat.

I also wear one of two pairs of shoes everyday: A pair of cross training sneakers or a pair of shoes for when I am onstage or otherwise dressed up.

That's it.

Imagine the amount of time and money I have saved wearing just two pairs of shoes. Want to know how I manage to get so much done? Think of me every time you go shoe shopping or spend time trying to match shoes to an particular outfit.

I also don't own sunglasses. I don't own an umbrella. I don't wear scarves or neckties or jewelry of any kind. I own one belt. Other than shampoo, toothpaste, and soap, I apply no other products to my body. No lotions. No shaving cream. No cologne. No moisturizers. No conditioners. When I travel, my toiletry kit consists of a toothbrush and a razor. 

That's it.

Imagine the amount of time and money I save on health and beauty products alone.    

If I were to reduce my clothing to the essentials, as Widrich has done, my list would be admittedly longer (Widrich doesn't seem to have to deal with winter in any way, and he apparently doesn't own a hat or belt) and might look something like this:

  • 9 tee-shirts (including 3 tee-shirts for exercising)
  • 6 sweaters/sweat shirts
  • 1 hoodie
  • 1 waterproof rain jacket
  • 1 winter coat
  • 1 knit cap
  • 1 pair of gloves
  • 2 pairs of jeans
  • 2 pairs of dress pants
  • 2 pairs of pajama pants
  • 2 pairs of sweatpants
  • 2 pairs of shorts
  • 6 pairs of socks and underwear
  • 1 blazer
  • 1 belt
  • 3 pairs of gym shorts
  • 1 pair of sneakers
  • 1 pair of golf shoes
  • 1 pair of shoes  
  • 3 pairs of gym shorts
  • 2 baseball caps

There are other things that Widrich fails to address in his minimalism. I have a file cabinet, for example, full of tax and insurance documents, medical records, photo albums, and more. Would he propose that I eliminate all of this material, and if so, how?

And what about the cabinet full of medical and first aid supplies? What about things like scissors and tape and glue? What about my tools? My golf clubs? My basketball? My journals? My books?

Actually, my books might be able to go, too. If I've read a book and will never read it again, why is it still in my house? I own a couple signed first editions, and I have books that possess enormous sentimental value to me, and I have the various editions of my own books, but the rest should probably vamoose. They serve no real purpose. 

A summer project, perhaps. 

In many ways, I have been on the path towards minimalism and simplicity for a long time. I have always found great pleasure in the elimination of physical objects. I love the appearance of an uncluttered surface. I despise shopping and have never understood the desire to acquire more and more stuff. I have specifically asked for gifts that reward me in experiences, learning, or times saved. I eat the same things for breakfast and lunch almost every day.

Ever year, I am asked by parents at my school how I managed to land the largest classroom. and every year, I have to explain that it isn't the largest. It's exactly the same size as every other classroom.

It's just empty. I only keep the things I absolutely need, and I store them well.

Perhaps reducing my wardrobe is the next step. I could certainly eliminate items without much effort, but if I were to radically reduce my wardrobe to minimalist levels, it would only be for the purpose of gaining back valuable time by eliminating decisions from my morning routine.

It would mean wearing essentially the same thing every day.

Steve Jobs did it. Barack Obama, to a degree, does it. I have a friend who wears the same thing to work every single day.

Could I do it? Would I want to do it? Would my wife want me to do it?

Important questions.