I keep telling my wife that it’s easy to pack up everything you own when you don’t have much to begin with. She doesn’t see the humor in it.
Then I realized, my choice of minimalism isn’t normal. To some people, it may seem unfathomable to be able to carry your world on your back. But I’ve been doing this a while. At first it was short trips, I hated carrying much, then several month long stays during which I was expected to have clothing appropriate for both the Himalayan foothills and the beaches of Thailand. A system needed to be developed.
So I began giving away or selling all the clothes I didn’t think I needed. This led me to the adoption of a personal “Uniform”.
You may be thinking. “No. No way, there is no way I want to limit myself to a uniform. I want to be able to pick and choose what I wear.” I don’t doubt you feel that way. Heck, I still do from time to time. The simple fact is that my lifestyle demands low overhead in the clothing department.
If you want to do adventure travel extensively you simply must address your wardrobe. Look at your closet, now look at your backpack. Now look at your closet, now back at your backpack. You need to fit all that in there.
So how do we fit an entire year’s wardrobe into your carry on? We first need to define some rules. “Rules?! I hate rules” Don’t worry, this is fun because you get to be the one setting the rules for yourself. Remember, you are a responsible adult and this is a privilege.
Design a Layered Personalized Uniform For Yourself.
It doesn’t have to be all suit jackets or blouses with chic skirts, but it does need to be able to cover the range of activities and weather you can reasonably predict for a year. Are you in a wet and cold environment? Plan accordingly. Will it be hot and humid? Don’t pack a wool sweater. Are you going to be working in muddy fields or wining and dining the rich and fabulous? Define a style for yourself then pick quality items you will actually wear.
In my case, I have narrowed down my everyday attire to a fairly specific look that still gives me options depending on how I feel. Each morning I get up and decide what to wear, and despite having a very limited amount of clothes, the variety of ways to mix it all up is more than adequate.
Specifically I own 3 pants, 2 shorts, 9 shirts, enough undergarments to last a week or so, two pairs of shoes, a sweater, a jacket, and a blazer. I review my planned activities for the day and decide whether I want to be casual or more put together.
If casual, I decide on shorts or pants, pick a shirt in the color range of gray to blue or black, then put on the appropriate pair of shoes for the outfit either boots or tennis shoes. If the occasion calls for a nicer look, I pick either my chino pants or nicest pair of jeans, then a button up oxford shirt and perhaps spice it up with my navy blazer.
Though I own few clothes, I have a decent variety of choice. No, this will not allow you to have a new outfit for every occasion, that is simply not the goal here. The goal is to own and pack the fewest amount of clothes that can service the widest range of needs throughout your year.
If you take the time to master your wardrobe and buy quality materials once, you will find yourself being more comfortable in your own skin. You will spend less money in the long run, and drastically reduce the headache and hassle of hoofing around suitcases worth of pointless luggage.
Oh and did I mention? I barely have any laundry to clean each week. That alone is worth the price of admission. Do yourself a favor, even if you are not planning a trip in the near future, take a look at your closet and assess what you can do without.
You’re gonna like the way you look. I guarantee it.