In thinking about clothing and the 100 thing challenge I started thinking back and found this post I wrote a few years ago about minimizing wardrobes and the idea of a personal uniform. It’s been 2 years since I wrote that and I’ve got back and forth and tried out a few things here and there, but especially with this year of travel I’m really seeing the value in having a uniform and wardrobe that is similar enough that it doesn’t take a lot of thought about packing or getting dressed, but is easily repeatable and replaceable as things wear out. I’ve been experimenting with some of the Multibasing ideas as well and leaving sets of clothing in different parts of the world so that when I travel there I don’t need to pack as much as I would have if I was bringing everything with me. It’s a different approach to the no baggage challenge but with similar goals I think.
I’ve always had some basic rules in mind but never really spelled them out clearly, not that I am going to be any better at doing it now, but the more I use this stuff and the more I think about it the patterns get easier to spot and point out. So here’s basically what I keep in mind:
– Clothes should be easily replicable. That is, if I buy a shirt a like it, I should be able to buy 4-5 of the same one without much hassle. This eliminates one of a kind or super expensive items but that is fine because I’ve never been comfortable with those anyway. And being able to replace them anywhere is a huge plus to. Much of the stuff I’ve chosen is easy to find any number of places around the world which makes replacing a lost or damaged piece easy. This also allows me to get into a fairly simple “buy new, donate old” cycle every few months so nothing I have has been through too much of a ringer.
– Clothing should be mix-matchable. That is, everything should go with everything else. This allows very little thought when getting dressed or packing, I know I can’t go wrong. This is easiest achieved for me by choosing things that are solid black. The same could be true for any solid color I guess but black seems classic and goes with anything, and fits in in almost any situation. I vary a little bit in the shirt department, but that is fine because I’m never wearing two shirts at once so I don’t have to worry about something not matching if everything else is black. That said I personally tend to avoid any clothing with obvious branding on printing on it.
– Clothing should be good for travel. I travel a lot, so this is important to me, might not be to someone else. To me this means it’s not overly bulky and can be rolled up fairly compactly for packing, and that it’s easily washed in a hotel room so it should dry quickly. It should also be layerable and multipurpose, that is I should be able to create cold weather combo by layering warm weather items. Or something like that.
Those are really my big points. I have a few other but those are more personal things – no leather, etc, but that doesn’t totally relate here. Because I know you are wondering, here’s how that translates for me at this point..
– Pants. With minor exception I’ve been wearing Dickies work pants almost every day for the last 10 years at least. You can get them anywhere – in any corner of the world, they are relatively inexpensive (which means buying multiples is no problem) and work in a variety of social settings. When newer they are basically dress pants.
– Under Shirt. I’ve got about 20 American Apparel simple black T-Shirts scattered around the world and these serve me very well. Again, easy to find and replace, not very expensive but nice quality. The one drawback to these is that being cotton they don’t wick moisture very well which is only a problem in hotter climates (which I’ve been finding myself in a lot recently) and they take the longest to dry of anything I usually travel with. I’ve been thinking of trying out one of the ScotteVest T-Shirts to see how they work out in these situations.
– Underwear. I’ve raved about ExOfficio brand before and I stand by it. These are the best underwear ever, and you could easily travel for a long time having only 2 pair of these with you. I generally travel with 4-5 but really feel like that is overkill sometimes.
– Socks. I don’t have the die hard loyalty here, but I’ve been pretty happy with injinji toe socks for a while. They are comfortable and dry pretty quickly, but I’ve found they wear through pretty quickly as well.
– Shirt. I’ve got a stable of Ben Sherman plaid and solid color shirts I rotate through which works really well for me and is a style that I like. That said, the quality of their shirts seems to have dropped a bit in the last year or so and I’m keeping my eyes out for alternatives.
– Shoes. Adidas have been my standard goto for a while, but recently I’ve been loving my Terra Plana Vivo Barefoot shoes and might make the switch more fulltime.
Add a sweatshirt or jacket here and there depending on where I’m traveling to and what the trip will entail. As I said the beauty of a lot of this is it’s easily replicable so I can have duplicate wardrobes in many corners of the globe without much effort.