How Many Clothes Do We Need? – Week 4 of the Six Items Challenge

When I heard about the Six Items Challenge for the first time, I thought it was pretty extreme. When I decided to take part and saw my tiny pile of six items for the first time, I was genuinely a bit terrified. I thought that I’d really have to struggle with only six items, thinking the clothes would all wear out into unrecognisable shape, because I’d use them so much. I was so worried about what would happen when the clothes get dirty, and if I would be able to actually have clean clothes every day with only six items for six weeks. Now that the fourth week of the challenge is behind me, I feel ridiculous thinking about how worried I was. Six items is just enough. Sure, it’s a bit repetitive, but other than that, I’ve had no problems with restricting my wardrobe to six items.


Day 22


Day 23

Now that I’ve realised that you can do so much with only six items, I’ve started to wonder why I have so many clothes in my wardrobe. So I decided to count how many clothes I have and see how many outfits I can get out of them. The fact that I had to summon up quite a bit of courage to even go though all my clothes and count them maybe says a bit about the fact that I might have a couple of unnecessary items in my closet.

Here goes, this is what I have in my closet:

  • 22 dresses
  • 15 skirts
  • 29 pairs of pants
  • 98 tops and shirts
  • 14 jackets
  • 25 pairs of shoes
  • 3 jumpsuits
  • 18 handbags and backpacks

98 tops and shirts sounds like a lot, but when you do the math, it sounds like a ridiculously large amount. To put that into some perspective, if I wanted to wear all of my 98 shirts evenly throughout the year, it would mean that I could wear each of them only 3 times in a year. If I wanted to get 30 wears out of each of them, it would take me 8 years to wear each of them 30 times.


Day 24



Day 25

I also calculated the amount of ways I can mix and match my tops and bottoms to see how many different outfits I can get out of my wardrobe. The number is a staggering 4312. I’ll try to remember that the next time I think I have nothing to wear. If I wanted to wear all the different outfit variations I have, it would take me almost 12 years to do so if I wore each outfit once. And I thought I didn’t have an excessive amount of clothes. When I told my sister about these results, she wanted to count her clothes too. Her outfits came out to 12105. That’s enough to last her for 33 years – she would be in her 60’s by the time she’d have worn each of her outfits once.

I really used to think I didn’t have that many clothes. But counting them and seeing how many times I can wear them in a year has really opened my eyes. The only consolation I have is that 74% of the clothes in my closet are second hand or recycled. But considering that I have tried to be a conscious consumer for quite a few years, and don’t usually go shopping just for the fun of it, it’s surprising that I have so many clothes.


Day 26


Day 27

One of my friends has under 10 shirts, and when she told me that her ideal amount would be 7, I was in awe, but also wondering how in earth she does it. But if you have 10 shirts, that means you can wear each of them 3 times a month. That seems pretty reasonable to me. I think most of us are just used to having so many clothes, we’ve lost touch of how many we need or should have.

Only now, after four weeks of the Six Items Challenge has the point of the challenge really hit me: we don’t need that many clothes. We don’t need anywhere near the 224 items I have in my wardrobe. The number of items we need is much closer to six than 224. I’ve come to realise that one of the reasons I so often want to buy new clothes, or feel like I have nothing to wear, is that I don’t know the contents of my wardrobe well enough. If I really remembered each piece, and knew exactly what I already owned, I would realise that I already have everything I need. Having too many clothes means you don’t even know what you have, so there’s no point in buying even more.

I can’t say how many clothes we should have, but I’m pretty sure that most of you reading this have too much. I really recommend that you count your clothes, and see how many times you can wear them in a year. If you want to see how many outfits you can make out of them, just multiply the tops by the bottoms and you can see how many decades worth of outfits you already have. That really puts the amount into perspective, and might make you think a bit more before you buy something new again.


Day 28


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