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A guide to help the average man... look less average

A smaller wardrobe

Mark Kwak

Recently, I had the opportunity to check out two of my friends' closets. Now, I don't actively request to see my friends' closets, but both were shown to me in the context of some apartment tours, so I obliged. Anyhow, the interesting thing was that both closets, though about the same size, were drastically different, enough so that I am writing a post about it.

The first closet I saw was filled to the brim. Hangers were jam packed next to each other, piles of denim were toppling over from being stacked too high, and shoes were scattered all over the ground in no particular order, making it ridiculous for the closet to even be labeled "walk-in."

The second closet was literally the polar opposite. I swear that no more than thirty pieces were in the entire closet, and it mainly comprised of white walls and empty shelves.  Everything was immaculately organized, clothing being separated by type, color, and even season, from what I could tell.

The stark difference between the two closets got me to thinking about how my closet is organized. Was it optimal? How do I feel about the contents inside, and the organization of it all?

While asking myself these questions, I couldn't help but feel like I preferred my closet to the first closet I had seen, but not to the second closet. Let me tell you why.

So yes, the first closet I saw clearly had more clothing, and far more pieces to work with than the second closet. If I were to mentally add up all the clothes that I saw in there, I would probably have to get back to this post sometime in March. Various colors, fabrics, patterns, sizes... it was like going to the circus in sartorial form.

By contrast, the second closet actually contained clothing that I didn't think was particularly fun, special, or eye-catching. No exclusive designer brands, no crazy patterns and colors, and no extras in any way. Just about enough clothing to protect from the elements, no more, no less.

Still, there was something so refreshing about seeing a closet that simply had... the essentials. A leather jacket, a pair of grey wool trousers, black dress shoes, a rain coat. Nothing fancy, nothing crazy unique, just plain simple. Seeing this guy's closet reminded me of the simple truth that we, as men, don't really need all that much clothing in our closets. Do I need my quarter-zip sweater in both purple and green? No. Do I need five different pairs of boots for each and every situation I may encounter? No. Ten pairs of denim from every designer under the sun? No.

What we do need, are basic, high quality pieces that fit perfectly to our bodies and never get old with the times.  The essential wardrobe pieces, if I can say such a thing (and I will provide a list of what I personally believe are those pieces soon). That way, we can shift our focus from clothing to other, more important things in life. Why? Because we know that with the small wardrobe we do have, we'll always look great, and we can take some of the guesswork out of our daily morning routine of getting dressed.

I guess my point is that it's worth it to spend the extra buck on attaining high quality, classic pieces that will never go out of style. And also, to buy no more than you really need. There's an odd satisfaction to keeping a very simple closet, where you don't really have to think about what you're going to wear today, tomorrow, or whenever. Thus, I urge you to open your closet sometime tonight, and take a peek into what your wardrobe currently looks like.

Then ask yourself a couple questions:

1. Do you need all of those pieces that you hardly ever wear?

2. Is it really necessary to have duplicates and lookalikes all around your closet?

3. Are you willing to put some investment behind certain tried and true essentials that are currently missing from your closet?

I, too, am going to ponder these questions while I look at my closet tonight, and start making smarter decisions on when, where, and how I buy my clothing. I think it'll help me in my quest to truly understand my own sense of style.