The Voluntary Life: 239 Minimalism And Clothes

15 March 2016

239 Minimalism And Clothes

Preparing for a life of travel involved getting rid of anything that I could not take with me in one suitcase. One big source of clutter to address was clothes. My clothes took up a lot of space, yet I hardly ever wore many of them. As part of my extreme decluttering, I got rid of every item of clothing beyond a minimal set that would fit with my one-suitcase plan. The process included making an inventory, deciding what to keep or get rid of, and selling or giving away a huge amount of clothes. Whether you plan to travel or not, this episode will give you some food for thought about changing your approach to clothes.

Show Notes:
Listen to Episode 239


  1. I´ve just listened to this episode and I can´t agree more with the view of having only the clothes that you really use.
    In fact, I´m decluttering my clothing for three or four years now, following this procedure: the day I started, I put all my clothes in the storage bed, where I can take them when I need, but not too easily. Then, I begin to take the pieces I wanted and, after using them, I put them in the wardrobe and, whenever I need a piece of clothing, I try to use those in the wardrobe; I mean, I try to use as less clothes from the storage bed as possible.
    Then, the first day of every month, I put the pieces I´ve used the previous month in a drawer, and, when I use one of them, I put it again in the wardrobe. In this way, I only have on hand the clothing I´m really using those days, so the summer clothes are in the drawers during the winter and viceversa, not cluttering my view.
    Finally, the first day of May of every year, I throw away (trying to avoid all the excuses my mind is able to invent) all the clothing that remains in the storage bed, since I haven’t used it for a complete year. Then I put the clothes I´ve actually use during the previous year in the storage bed and the cycle starts again.

    Since now, I´ve reduced my clothing to a fourth or fifth of what it was, not because I travel frequently, like you do, but because it cluttered not only my wardrobes, but also my mind and my time. Now, I´ve less choices, which is, in this situation, a big advantage.

    I also see your point in the fact that, when you don´t work you need much less clothes. I´m a teacher, and, here in Spain, the schools are closed during June and August and, in these two months, I hardly use ten pieces of clothing, making my wardrove look empty.


    1. Great to hear. Thanks for sharing your story Jose!

  2. Jake,

    Thank you for sharing your how-to knowledge regarding a minimalist lifestyle. I found your site and podcast via the financial independence blogosphere and podcasts. Doing more with less certainly fits into my current mindset.

    I'm curious if you might go into more detail into the types of clothing you prefer since each piece must fill several roles. Did you eschew cotton altogether in preference for more technical, fast drying fabrics? (coolmax, nylon, spandex, wool). I've recently become fond of some nylon/spandex pants with a DWR finish that could perform well in almost all roles in my current (still working) lifestyle.

    Thank you,

    1. Hi Matt,
      I haven't bothered with multi-purpose travel clothes much, as we can fit everything we need into one suitcase each. I still have a lot of cottons. I have found it useful to have a merino wool base layer (top and bottom), which I can then layer up with a normal jumper so that I no longer need a really thick and heavy jumper for warm weather. I've also kept the nicest clothes, for example I only kept 2 jumpers, but they are cashmere. All the best, Jake


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