17th June
2011
written by Randy

The rise of minimalism is a good thing, I think, because it challenges the identity that has been foisted on us — that of the consumer. Buying less is good. Thinking more about what we own is good. Being more responsible inhabitant of our planet is good.

But there comes a point where minimalism becomes a religion, a mantra, an ideology that trumps practicality. Two weeks ago, I set out to begin defining that limit — at least for myself — by wearing the same clothes every day. I wanted to see just how little I really needed.

It began with my trip to Houston for minimalist weekend, but I decided not to stop at two days (actually three), and instead to try to do a whole month.

I made it two weeks before I had to quit.

At first, it was exciting, and throughout the first week, I mostly felt liberated by the lack of materialism. My life consisted of two outfits: my clothes, and my running outfit. And the only other possessions I interacted with were my iPhone, my MacBook Pro, my toothbrush and my towel.

Surprisingly, the lack of other possessions never bothered me. In spite of the fact that I have very few things left, I’ve realized these last two weeks that I can be happy with even less!

But the limit of one outfit was too much. By day 10, I was uncomfortable, and by day 12 it was making me unhappy. What began as freedom had become a prison.

Knowing that I only had the one outfit, I worried tremendously about how everything would affect my clothes. I didn’t want to do things that would cause me to sweat. I was paranoid any time I was near something that could stain. I was trapped in the smell of clothes damp from the rain. Washing every night and ironing every morning quickly grew tedious.

It’s possible that my lifestyle isn’t a good fit for the one dress protest or the uniform project. Or maybe such things are just better suited to women. I suppose I’m probably not qualified to make any guesses about why it works for other people; what I know is that it doesn’t work for me.

I’ve learned that I have room in my life for even less than I have now, but that there is a lower limit on clothing and having only one outfit is definitely crossing that limit.

  • http://www.facebook.com/trappermarkelz Trapper Markelz

    I’ve been meaning to ask, have you watched that No Impact Man Documentary? An interesting experiment to see how far you can go… I think their family realized that refrigeration is well worth the cost. That seemed to be their lower limit. Anyway, a fascinating show.

  • http://www.yearlyglot.com/ Randy the Yearlyglot

    Never heard of it. Sounds interesting. I’ll look for it and check it out.