i know what i wore this summer.
lessons from a minimalist wardrobe featuring favorite jeans, t-shirts, and togas, among other things.
When I packed my bag on the very last day of June to come to my parents’ house, I thought I was packing for a few weeks, tops. School was finally out for the summer, there were three-kids worth of clothes to also think about and my own packing was mostly an afterthought. What came with me was what I managed to throw into a bag while the rest of family’s bags were getting loaded into the back of the wagon. I was pacified by the knowledge that unlike in our apartment in Brooklyn, I was headed someplace with a washing machine and dryer and ample outdoor drying space. As long as there was enough underwear to last a few days and my bathing suits, I’d be fine.
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In addition to bras and underwear, this is what came with me:
one pair of jeans
one pair of cut-off shorts
one pair of vintage overalls
three summer dresses
a handful of cotton t-shirts
two cotton tank tops
two silk camisoles
two cotton sweatsuits
one cotton sweater
one rain jacket
two bathing suits
and two each of tops and bottoms of what might be loosely referred to as exercise clothes.
I squished two nightgowns into the corner of my bag and at the last minute, I added two pairs of what I call cozy pants, but are generally referred to by adults as lounge pants. Clearly, I was in a mood to relax.
In addition to the sandals on my feet, I packed a pair of beach-appropriate jellies, garden clogs for tromping through wet grass, and sneakers for the aforementioned “exercise.” Mostly I’ve been barefoot.
Everything I brought fit into one small duffel that’s been my favorite weekend bag for the past dozen years. Once here, and only recently, I bought a pair of hemp shorts that filled my hangout short requirements. There were also the two twin sheets that James and I fashioned into togas so that we could crash a party of my one-time high school classmate and pretend to be the twenty-year-old I never was. There was a pair of twenty-year-old heels I borrowed from my mom to watch Barbie.
Over the course of the past two months, I wore one of the dresses I packed just once. And one I ripped, perhaps beyond repair, while bicycling in it. One sweatsuit I wore not at all. Of the two nightgowns I packed, one fell behind a drawer in the dresser where I only discovered it was still there last week. The silk camisoles were passed over for a simple tee every single time.
On a recent camp morning, while standing in front of the drawer in the dresser all three kids have been sharing all summer, Silas, age six, proclaimed: “I don’t really pick out my clothes, I just grab something.” What he meant, of course, is that there’s not a whole lot deliberation. Getting dressed for him is an exercise in checking boxes: Shorts? Check. T-shirt? Check. Socks and undies? Check and check. I felt that. Part of the reason I started writing about minimalist wardrobes all those years ago, was an interest in developing just that kind of angst-free dressing. It’s not that I don’t sometimes like to dress up or play with my clothes as a form of expression, but most days, I just want to feel good in the clothes I’m wearing—I don’t especially want to think about them. And for me, the key to that has been having less, not more.
It’s been nearly ten years since I started to write about my own so-called minimalist wardrobe and this summer of dressing only in clothes that fit into one small duffle, has been a nice opportunity to reflect on what I’ve been able to accomplish as I zero in one what works for me and what doesn’t.
Herewith, a few general findings: