by Niall Doherty

First: By pants, I do of course mean trousers. Not underwear. I have three pairs of those.

Now: I’ve owned no more than one pair of pants at a time for the past eight months. And somehow, the world hasn’t ended.

I know, shocking.

It’s interesting to note how people respond when I tell them I own only one pair of pants. Usually they inform me that owning just one pair is completely impractical. Then I remind them that, despite seeing me in those same pants dozens of times, they never took any notice. Even the people I’ve been closest to over the past eight months didn’t seem to realize my lack of trouser diversity until I brought it up.

As it turns out, owning one pair of pants is very practical for me. Since I’m traveling quite regularly nowadays, it’s better that I don’t own many clothes. I like to keep my backpack light enough so I can carry it around for hours at a time without developing the urge to kill myself.

I must mention though that I do own a couple of pairs of shorts. So when it comes time to wash my jeans in a cold country, I’ll stay home for the day and wear my shorts. That’s one downside to owning a single pair of pants. Another is that if you’re in a country where they still allow smoking in bars, your pants can start to smell quite shitty when you’re out for a few nights in a row.

A Minimalist Wardrobe

I feel I’ve built a solid minimalist wardrobe over the past year. I’ve purposely bought clothes that are pretty inconspicuous, items that people don’t notice much despite me wearing them over and over again. My t-shirts are mostly plain, earthy colors, nothing outstanding. As for pants, I always go for light-colored jeans. I find they’re suitable to wear to pretty much anything apart from the most formal gatherings, which I don’t usually find myself at anyways.

Because I allow myself to own only a few items of clothing, and I know I’ll be wearing each item regularly, I’m quite picky when I go shopping for something new. When I was in the market for a new pair of jeans back in August, I must have tried on at least twenty pairs before I found some that I liked.

Which brings me to another downside of wearing the same pair of pants every day: They tend to wear out pretty fast. Those jeans I bought last August recently developed a pretty sizable rip along the crotch, so this week I went out and found a new pair.

Given that I go shopping for clothes so rarely, I try to invest in quality, even if it’s expensive. The price comes secondary to how much I like a particular item. I figure it’s better to spend big on one thing you love, than it is to spend little on several different items, none of which really float your boat.

My minimalist wardrobe right now is essentially this:

  • seven t-shirts
  • one long-sleeve thermal shirt
  • one pair of jeans
  • two pairs of shorts
  • two pairs of shoes
  • seven pairs of socks
  • three pairs of underwear
  • a jacket
  • a scarf
  • a pair of gloves.

I like every item, except for my light blue t-shirt, which makes me look a bit like a tall, naked smurf when I wear it with my light blue jeans.

As for laundry, I do a wash every week or so. Sometimes I’ll wash my clothes myself, in a bag as per Karol Gajda, and other times I’ll pay someone to do it. It’s often worth spending the few $$ for the time it saves me.

To be completely honest, sometimes I do feel a little lame and uninspired wearing the same clothes all the time. I do occasionally feel the urge to go and buy something new, to feel that consumer buzz for a little while. But I know that the feeling wouldn’t last, and I know that buying things I don’t need goes against my priorities right now. I highly value the freedom I have to travel, and to maintain that I must keep my possessions to a minimum.

In the long run, the trade-off is absolutely worth it.

What’s in your wardrobe?

Are you a minimalist fashion horse like me, owning just a few essential items of clothing? Or do you have a whole heap of items stuffed away in a closet, rarely worn at all? Do you agree with the 80/20 principle in this case: that you wear 20% of your clothes 80% of the time?

P.S. If you’re interested in seeing a list of everything I own, you can check out a regularly-updated list of my possessions here.

P.P.S. This weekend I’ll be publishing my latest monthly finance report, detailing everything I earned and spent while working from my laptop in December. Finally, I have positive numbers to share :-). Make sure you’re signed up to my email list so you don’t miss it. If you’re not already on there, you can sign up below.