Design your life to include more money, health and happiness with less stuff, space and energy.

Design your life to include more money, health and happiness with less stuff, space and energy.

The 10 Item Wardrobe Challenge

In the past, we’ve looked at Courtney Carver’s Project 333, a minimalist challenge that asks participants to wear only 33 items of clothing for 3 months. Well Canadian Matt Souveny’s 1 Year, 1 Outfit project makes Project 333 look like something out of Keeping Up with the Kardashians (we suspect the K’s have big wardrobes). The Royal Air Force pilot and men’s fashion blogger (interesting combo, eh?) has pared his wardrobe down to 10 items (not including socks, underwear and outerwear). The 10 items include one pair of pants, one pair of shorts, two T-shirts, one button-down, one sweatshirt, one pair of sneakers, one pair of boots, a blazer and a belt. That’s it. Every choice was derived from Reddit’s male fashion advice forum, a place where only the geekiest of dandies dare tread.

The specific items Souveny chose were an Outlier merino v-neck t-shirt, an Outlier merino crew neck t-shirt, an Outlier merino/Co Pivot dress shirt, Strike Gold Loopwheeled sweatshirt, Apolis Chore Jacket, Hollows Leather ‘The Rail’ belt, Outlier 60/30 Chinos, Outlier New Way shorts, Strike Mvmt Interval Runners and a pair of Viberg Service Boots. In case you’re curious, he wore Outlier Megafine merino socks and pullWool Merino Boxer Briefs (see full list with links here). Save for a couple items, Souveny sought to use North American made products.

If it seems like Souveny has a disproportionate amount Outlier clothing on his short list, it’s not because he’s a spokesperson (so far as we know). Outlier, a small, Brooklyn-based clothier, makes clothes that use the latest in technical fabrics, all cut in fashion forward styles. Their stuff is as appropriate on multi-day backpacking trips as it is in boardrooms. For this reason, the brand has become a Reddit darling–it’s also a personal favorite of this author, who owns a number of items on Souveny’s list (Full disclosure: in more youthful times, I was one of their first models. That’s me below in a super sketchy photoshoot sprinting through traffic on 5th Avenue without a helmet).

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I don’t have any personal experience with the other brands, though I’m a fan of merino wool in general for its wicking abilities and BO funk-resistance. Of the other brands, I’m confident their merits have been scrutinized and overanalyzed by Souveny and many others on Reddit.

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Some note of Souveny’s circumstances should be made. He is on a nine months leave from work, living in a 600 sq ft cabin in the woods (for the record, his main place is 2500 sq ft and he claims no “minimalist” cred). And when he does go back to work, he wears a flight suit, which I suspect he won’t count as an additional item. While he might not have to contend with work attire, he will have to contend with Canadian winters–and summers for that matter–making the brevity of items all the more impressive. Ten items living in the tropics ain’t that big of a deal.

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Souveny is chronicling his experiment on his blog This Stylish Life. Here’s some of what he wrote about his first month:

What I have found is that choosing what I wear each day is dictated only by what is clean and the weather outside. If it’s hot it is a shorts day and if it’s not then pants it is. It is that simple, I don’t think about colours, social encounters, or situations that may warrant using a cheaper spare. I put on my American Trench raincoat if it is raining and my Apolis wool jacket if it is cold. It all works together because I designed it with that purpose, I coordinated my outfit once and that is all I have to do for the year.

I have stopped chasing sales online or thinking about how to fill this or that imaginary gap in my wardrobe. It has given me more free time away from the internet and I’ve actually started reading books again, which I haven’t had the time to do for years. I guess I was too busy shopping.

This sounds a lot like the post we wrote a while back about wearing a uniform. Eliminating choice in many situations is a liberating, not restrictive, act. And it does not mean eliminating style or comfort. In fact, when you have fewer things, there’s a greater imperative to make those few things the right things, the ones you love and look great. While we might not all be able–or want–to pare down to ten items, Souveny’s experiment that shows us how, with a little consideration, we can simplify our lives and do more with less stuff.

Image credits: This Stylish Life and Emiliano Granado for Outlier

Via CNN

  • Marrena

    Even with the Project 333 (which I am doing) there comes a point where it actually becomes a non-green lifestyle because of the energy expended to do more frequent laundry with smaller loads. Now maybe the Outlier clothing gets around that. I am going to experiment myself this winter with merino wool base layers.

    Minus33 carries women’s plus sizes in merino wool:

    http://www.minus33.com/shop/womens/sequoia-womens-midweight-14-zip/

    I think they are the only place that does. I do have an Outlier six foot blue scarf, which is absolutely amazing. I would love to buy more of their stuff–thank you lifeedited for letting me know about them. The scarf makes a perfect wrap, I no longer need a winter hat.

    • Marrena

      By the way, I do mostly launder in cold water (with Coldwater Tide and a Wonder Ball) and I line dry my clothes.

  • clarkbennett

    I’ve taken a look at outlier clothing and it is way too expensive. I’ve got less than 33 items in my wardrobe (-socks and -underwear) It’s all cheap stuff from local stores, thrift shops and promotional items.

    • Marrena

      Their stuff is super-pricey, but I think people who buy Outlier clothing are commuting to work by bicycle. If you have a dress code at work, oftentimes that means you can’t cycle to work easily, because you get all sweaty and work clothes aren’t compatible with cycling. Outlier clothes fix those problems. So if that means you can give up your car, a cyclist could save thousands of dollars. Seems a fair trade to me.

      I also bicycle during part of my commute, but I go at a leisurely pace so I don’t get too sweaty. I’ve managed to build up a cycling-compatible work wardrobe by buying Fit and Flare dresses from eshakti, I just wear bike shorts underneath and remove them when I get to work. eshakti fabrics are generally pretty breathable.

      I’m interested in merino wool base layers to cut down on heating costs during the winter. If I can save a few hundred dollars on my heating bills each year, the merino wool will definitely be worth it.

      • clarkbennett

        I suppose if you work a high paying job that might be a benefit. I make $16.50 an hour and can comfortably bike to work in the same clothes. But I can’t afford a $98 t-shirt. As much as a I enjoy this site, it is truly out of touch with the economic reality of a majority of the world’s working population.

        • HairyGuy

          $98 for a tshirt reminds me of going to macys in 1993 as a teenager and seeing tommy hilfger golf polo shirts at $68. that’s about $120 in today’s dollars. unbelievable and absolutely no value. what a joke.

          • Will

            The difference is that there is actually some quality, design and research that has gone in to the outlier clothes, whereas the tommy is nearly all in the branding as you correctly point out.

      • Jenn Wisbeck

        I can often find merino shirts at the thrift store- sweaters nearly always, often tees as well (cost is usually $5-10 at shops near me). I have to wear a camisole under, but they do work well in my freezing office. Silk tees if you can find them also work well.

        I’ve had a pair of Outlier pants for a couple years- mostly because they are a bit longer inseam than many other pants I could find at the time. They dry faster than my jeans, but I find mine need to be (hand)washed more often and that the fabric pills a bit in places- both of which I expect anyways with synthetic fabrics. Work them exclusively for 2 weeks straight on a trip last year. They certainly wouldn’t pass for anything but casual in my workplace, but make up for it since they don’t stretch out like jeans can.

      • HairyGuy

        it would make more sense to have a gym membership nearby your job. once you get there on bike, go shower, and ride back to work at a very brisk and moderate pace. you arrive freshly showered.

  • Chris

    Again, excluding underwear and socks I regularly use 15 items; 7 polo shirts, 2 shoes, 2 jackets, 2 T-shirts, 1 jeans and 1 jumper. If I was prepared to wash my clothes more often than once a week, I could easily get down to under 10 items.

    I like Outlier, Patagonia and other brands but I’m not convinced that they’re worth the premium over buying a product from Old Navy.

  • Chris

    Again, excluding underwear and socks I regularly use 15 items; 7 polo shirts, 2 shoes, 2 jackets, 2 T-shirts, 1 jeans and 1 jumper. If I was prepared to wash my clothes more often than once a week, I could easily get down to under 10 items.

    I like Outlier, Patagonia and other brands but I’m not convinced that they’re worth the premium over buying a product from Old Navy.

  • Thanks for the great write-up. I was greatly inspired by your TED talk on living smaller and am humbled that you took notice of my little project. i had no idea you were at one time an Outlier model, the world is a smaller place than one would think.

    I should like to note that of my 2500 sq ft of house, 1100 of it is a rental suite (pointing this out makes me feel a little less ridiculous being featured on your site). I love a lot of your ideas behind living a simpler smaller lifestyle and I think that this minimal wardrobe of mine will permeate into editing the other areas of my life as well.

    • David Friedlander

      hey matt, thanks for reading. just to clarify, i, david friedlander, wrote the post and was the outlier model, though i’m sure graham (the TED guy and my boss) would appreciate your appreciation.

      that’s a very big asterisks with your home as it halves the size that you use–not that we’re keeping tabs on people 😉

  • HairyGuy

    what i cannot understand is why men wear underwear. i realize women have an opening which allows bacteria to enter freely but for men, underwear is useless and just one more item to wash. everytime you do number 1, you should wash off the uretheral opening with an ounce of water after shaking out the remaining waste product. you should never really end up stinking at all down there. why have underwear? more junk to store in your home and more money to wash it.

    • litesp33d

      That might apply if you have a tiny penis and small balls. Personally I find going commando and loose jockey shorts vs y fronts most uncomfortable.

  • Rico

    Great post. I wouldn’t mind buying the exact same items and putting out all my current clothes.

    But in my experience, ten items in the tropics is a lot more difficult than in colder climates. When it’s cold you can wear the same clothes for days at a time, and that’s okay because people mainly just see that you’re wearing your outer layer over and over again, which is normal. When it’s hot, you might need two changes of clothes in one day because of sweat, and if you wear the same thing two days in a row, everyone knows you’re wearing the same sweaty shirt from yesterday. Also, with a small wardrobe when it’s cold you don’t need to wash much. Where I live you’d be washing everyday. I realize some of this wouldn’t be a problem if no one else was there to see what you’re wearing, but I’ve found that when it’s hot, I need more clothes, when it’s cold I’m quite happy to wear the same things for days and days.

    • Rafael Bucker

      Exactly! I’m from Brazil and I totally understand you.

  • litesp33d

    Basic clothing is now so incredibly cheap that buying, wearing for a week or so and chucking like Reacher makes economic sense. As does getting it from charity shops.