You have too much stuff

Ever take a look at your closet? I mean really take a look? Does the idea of the task of organizing it put you to sleep? Do you forcefully push the clothes over to one side to make room for that new shirt/leather jacket/slacks/track suit? Are your shirts from the dry cleaners consistently wrinkled?

You’ve got too many clothes. You know this because you wear your favorite stuff over and over again and then when you pull out that Christopher Walken “I need more cowbell” t-shirt, you’re astonished! “I forgot I had this!”

Having been around fashion at varying degrees in my life, I have to admit I love a well dressed woman when I see one. Seeing these woman walking down the street, in line at the cafes, browsing in shops in Milan and Paris makes my antenna go up. I appreciate $600 Gucci heels and a Ferragamo summer dress. And I have shopped with my various GF’s in the past because they asked me what I thought about this or that. I can articulate how the fabric chosen, the stitch used, the color or pattern, the drape, the flow, the length or the layers accentuate and make my chick hotter or not. This is not to be confused with label whoring. To me and for me it’s about the quality. Does it enhance or take away?

One ex GF who worked in the fashion industry once told me something that stuck in my head since; “It’s better to have one GREAT item of clothing, than 3 mediocre pieces.” Meaning, going through the discomfort of saving up for a pair of Allen Edmonds trumps buying the three  cheap pairs of Aldo/H&M/Zara shoes any day of the week.  They are significantly better made and they will last you forever if taken care of properly. ( Just found a new pair for $179.00 that I immediately scooped up…after waiting a year to find the right deal)

As an transplanted East Coaster, I’m as comfortable in jeans, flannel shirts and engineer boots as much as  a  sportjacket, polo shirt, chinos on top of a pair of Sperry’s. I worked construction jobs (concrete form work and roofing) from the age of 14 and up. I also had a couple weeks in Nantucket in September before school started. I’ve always liked to dress well.

As a fan of sites like Dappered, Masculine Style, Parisian GentlemanThe Monsier, and The Sartorialist, I believe whole heartedly that less can make more of an impact.

I’m a recovering clotheshorse. I had 8 suits at one time while never having to wear them for work in an office. I just liked suits. I had 10 pairs of jeans, numerous t’s and collared shirts, shoes out my ass, etc, etc. I had a lot of stuff I didn’t wear all the time. Heavy winter jackets that were used sporadically. ( I don’t make it back east that much anymore).

When I moved, it was a chore to pack the clothes up. Fuck it, it was a chore to pack my material possessions up! I realized maybe the reason we hate helping our friends move is that we think they have too much shit. Maybe it reminds us we have too much shit. Too much clothing. Imagine all the clothing stores in the world, the factories in China, Asia and Europe spitting out garments. Go into a Ross/Marshals/Nordstrom Rack and just soak it in.

I dumped 80% of my stuff the fall of 2009 and took to Europe the following Jan. Clothes, furniture, personal shit. Kept the golf clubs and shotgun with some friends. Everything I owned could be put into 2 large canvas bags and carried.

Why do we have all this shit? We are emotional buyers. We have an emotional connection to clothing and the act of buying something new as a reward to ourselves. We can’t bear to throw out old shit because it represents something in the past. One friend still wears his school shirt from Peabody. He’s 43.

Get over it. It’s just stuff.

I know most of you reading this are younger and some maybe be at the silver haired fox point in life. Some will be living in urban environments and some in small rural towns. So with that said, this is not a rule book. This is a suggestion; an example of how having less can be actually more effective. Substitute any particular piece if you live in a climate that is other than temperate.

Things to remember-

-The world of fashion is driven by marketing.

-Don’t be a slave to fashion; be a disciple to style.

-Men should dress like men, not boys.

-Choose a style that compliments your look, frame, age and attitude.

-Apply Pareto’s Principle (80/20) to your wardrobe. Pick the clothes you wear 80% of the time and get rid of the rest. You will find that it amounts to 20% of what was your total wardrobe.

-Aim to have all pieces compliment each other (including shoes and jackets) in color schemes. Be aware of skin color; an Irishman may not be able to pull off an Italian inspired look and vice versa. But try it first.

-You can build a seemingly simple but sufficient wardrobe with 16 to 20 basic pieces.

2 light colored sportjackets, dark jeans, chinos, a polo, henley, button down oxford, v-neck sweater, a pair of brown dress shoes and a casual  pair, a gray suit, 3 -shirts, canvas Chucks, light weather jacket, cardigan, 2 dress shirts (patterned), off white cotton pants. ( you can get 40 + outfits from this collection alone)

This is to show you how many different looks you can get by combining and mixing and matching different pieces together.

Obviously, you need belts, socks underwear, pocket squares, ties, a watch and maybe a hat as accessories.

The point is, you can do a lot with a little. Pare down. Throw out the shit you don’t wear. If you haven’t worn it within two weeks, (and it’s not seasonal) Get rid of it.

Less means more. More confidence, more freedom to go where you want, more time not worrying about what you’re going to wear, more money in your pocket, more space, more control over your emotional ego, and more piece of  mind.

I’ll leave you with this…


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