“Did you guys see my new shoes? What do you think?”, I asked my colleagues jokingly at our last meeting. They hadn’t noticed anything, because I was wearing the exact same shoes as before, only fresh out of the box. I buy the same pair of shoes every 9 months or so. I do the same with my t-shirts, sweaters, and pants. Why? Because I find it more efficient and less time-consuming. I don’t have to think about what to wear in the morning, I don’t have to iron clothes, or organize them.
“Doesn’t it get kind of boring? I would be so bored wearing the same things all the time”, one of my colleagues asked. I responded that it didn’t get boring for me, but that I could definitely see this being a problem for some people. That being said, I also think we could all use a break from caring too much about how we look and how expensive our clothes are. Is this what really matters, or is the person in the clothes what really matters? Sure, our style says something about our personality, but you also shouldn’t judge a book by its cover.
Financially speaking, most of us spend a ton of money on clothes. Could our money be used for a better purpose? The average adult (25–34) spends $161 per month on clothes. Think of what you could do with half of that money per month. That’s almost $1000 a year ($960).
Finally, let’s not forget that the fashion industry is one of the most polluting in the world. The production of clothes makes up for 10% of the world’s carbon emissions. Textile production also pollutes rivers and streams. All this for what? 85% of all textiles go to the dump each year. People buy a piece of clothing and throw it out 6 months later.
I wrote about my minimalist wardrobe around a year ago. Since then, I’m happy to report I’ve made it even more efficient, simple, and cost effective. It’s built on a rotation of the same clothes, which I change every 9 months or so. Unless they’re really damaged, I never throw away clothes, I always give them away.
I buy 90% of my clothing from the brand Earth Positive. Their garments are organic and ethically made (no child labour). They use mostly wind and solar power energy to run their production plants, and as a result, their entire production process is almost 100% Carbon Neutral. Plus, their garments are amazing basics, minimalist, and of great quality.
To buy this brand, I use the reseller buytshirtsonline.co.uk (not an affiliate link). They’re aimed at businesses reselling branded t-shirts (bulk orders), but they also sell to individuals. I buy 10 t-shirts or so at a time, along with 3 to 5 sweaters. They also sell the amazing Earth Positive sweatpants, which I’ll get to in a second.
They ship to most countries in the world, with efficient delivery, and for a good price.
Most of the colour palette offered by Earth Positive is great for a basic, minimalist and efficient wardrobe. It’s by default “capsule style”, meaning that everything will always go together, no matter what you decide to wear.
With that in mind, these are the colors I tend to get for my sweaters:
- Navy Blue
I’m on a rotation of 5 sweaters, and I wear them on their own, or with a t-shirt under.
T shirts: $6
I use the same t-shirt all summer long (I mean the same model, I do change it everyday), and I also use the same under my sweaters in the winter, when it gets colder. Like for the sweaters, t-shirt fit is very important for me. I like to feel super comfortable in my clothes. After having tried almost all the different fits from the brand, I decided to go with the Earth Positive EP03 model.
I’m on a rotation of around 10 t-shirts, and I only buy 2 colors: black (9 t-shirts), and white, (1 t-shirt). Black for wearing under dark sweaters, and white for lighter sweaters.
For my sweatpants/pyjama pants, I wear the joggers from Earth Positive. Again, they’re super comfy, and although I use them as pyjamas, they can also be used for a casual style on the weekend.
During the week, I wear either a pair of blue jeans or black jeans, and they’re not from Earth Positive. The blue ones are from a no brand, and the black ones are from Lee. Unfortunately, I don’t think these are very eco-friendly, so I need to look into alternatives. I can at least say they’re pretty durable. I wear them a lot, wash them once a week, and I usually keep them for more than 9 months. I’ve tried other brands before and have been pretty dissatisfied with the quality. Especially since I bike to work, the butt area would get worn out very quickly. Not with those pants.
I switched to wearing sneakers over a year ago, while training for my first marathon. I realised that my flat soles felt terrible walking around the office after a long training session on the weekend. One day, I got home and googled: “most comfortable sneaker ever”, and this is the shoe that came up in all the search results: the Nike Tanjun.
It never runs out of production, it can be bought anywhere in the world, it works with any clothes, and it is indeed super comfy. I haven’t looked back since trying them on. I try to make those last a while, because I know Nike doesn’t have a big focus on being eco-responsible. Last time I bought those, I had bought the previous pair over 10 months ago. As of this writing, I’m looking into a more eco-friendly sneaker alternative.
I might try this model from Tropicfeel next time I need to change my black sneakers. They seem super comfy too, they’re slip on shoes, and they’re much more sustainable than a pair from Nike. Plus, I love the different color ways.
Socks and underwear
I don’t have a preference for socks and underwear at the moment, I take what comes my way. The thing with organic and sustainable underwear garments is that they’re usually really expensive. Here are a few sustainable underwear I have found online, but haven’t tried yet:
There you have it. I haven’t included the few more formal clothes I have, but I don’t have a lot of these either way. I don’t have and have never owned a suit or tuxedo. I have only one pair of black leather boots. I have 2 button-up shirts, and only one pair of dress pants.
The 3 most important things to consider when it comes to simplifying your wardrobe are:
- The colors. Find only a few colors you like and that go well together. Don’t make it too complicated, almost all your clothes should look great when you line them up on your bed.
- The fit. No need to buy 100 different fits and cuts. Basic is timeless, and nothing beats a white or black tee with a great fit. Same goes for sweaters.
- Finally, think of the environment. The fashion industry is one of the most polluting in the world. In this article, except for the shoes and underwear, I haven’t linked to a single piece of clothing that is above 30 bucks. So why not give it a go?
Thanks a lot for reading! I interviewed 50 productivity/business experts and made a 150+ page guide out of the project. This is road-tested advice from real people who get things done. Get it for free here.