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The Minimalist Closet

by Chad Ludeman on September 23, 2008 · 13 comments

in Design,interior design

This post is a tough one in that I have to admit I have too many clothes (specifically t-shirts) and make an attempts to reduce my wardrobe down to only the bare necessities. I think this minimalist post, more than any of the others, makes it clear that minimalism isn’t for everyone and that’s OK. Some people wouldn’t want to and shouldn’t reduce their closet. Maybe you like costume parties and have a closet full of costumes or maybe you a classic rock t-shirt from every concert you attended in the 60′s and 70′s. Who is minimalism to ask you to throw them out?

Anyways, back to the task at hand. Below we take a look at my current closet space and inventory of items. We will then look at the closet space allotted in the future 100K House and start a debate on just how many items are necessary in a minimalist closet. I will already admit that my closet will not end up being as small as it could, but I can make an effort to find a reasonable balance for the average American male.

Current Clothes Storage Space:

Chad's Closet

  • 84″ of drawer space
  • 84″ of hanging rod space
  • 42″ of shelf storage
  • 84″ of shoe storage

Current Inventory of Closet Items:

  • 3 pairs of jeans
  • 10 pairs of slacks
  • 4 pairs of shorts
  • 3 pairs of athletic shorts (bathing suit included)
  • 3 pairs of sweat/wind pants
  • 28 long sleeve collared shirts
  •  13 short sleeve collared shirts
  • 33 T-shirts
  • 12 long sleeve casual shirts / sweatshirts
  • 12 athletic shirts / tanktops
  • 2 sweaters
  • 3 suits
  • 3 sport jackets
  • 8 pairs of normal shoes
  • 3 pairs of athletic shoes (b-ball, sneakers, cleats)
  • 5 pairs of flip-flops / sandals

145 Total Items

Future 100K Clothes Storage Space:

And now for the future case scenario. We plan to install a homemade closet from plumbing pipe and plywood (or something very similar) that will be freestanding like the image below. Once the closet is removed in the top bedroom, there will be a roughly 13.5′ wall along the far side of the bedroom where this closet will go.

Store plumbing clothes rack 3

In addition to this, we will also have a free standing dresser along the opposite wall that will look something like one of the examples below and have six total drawers.

Iannone midcentury inlay long dresser

So this will result in roughly the following amount of storage space for myself:

  • 90″ of drawer space (30″ x 3)
  • 60″ of hanging rod space (that’s 2′ less!)
  • 60″ of shelf space
  • 60″ – 120″ of shoe storage / extra shelf space (depending on whether there is a bottom shelf raised off the floor or not)

Future Minimalist Closet Inventory Goal:

  • 4 pairs of jeans
  • 5 pairs of slacks
  • 4 pairs of shorts
  • 3 pairs of athletic shorts (bathing suit included)
  • 2 pairs of sweat/wind pants
  • 10 long sleeve collared shirts
  • 8 short sleeve collared shirts
  • 12 T-shirts
  • 6 long sleeve casual shirts / sweatshirts
  • 5 athletic shirts / tanktops
  • 4 sweaters
  • 5 suits
  • 3 sport jackets
  • 2 pairs of casual shoes
  • 2 pairs of dress shoes
  • 2 pairs of athletic shoes
  • 2 pairs of sandals / flip-flops
  • 2 pairs of misc shoes

81 Total Items (44% Reduction)

Dang. This might not be easy. The list above is open to debate in the comments. If you think there should be more or less items, now is the time to speak up. This list is meant to be for the average man who has to wear a collared shirt to work each day and also leads an active lifestyle. Some may think 5 suits and 3 sport jackets is way too much for a minimalist closet, but I just think we need to wear more suits and jackets in general. If I had one category to make unlimited, it would be a close fight between suits and t-shirts.

I’m not going to attempt this list for my wife. Maybe she will take a stab at it herself. Her categories would obviously be different and I really couldn’t say what it would look like. I wonder if the total number could remain the same. If she does decide to make a list, I’d like to give her (and all women) an allowance to have an unlimited number of sun dresses.

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» The Minimalist Closet »Sport News & Equipment
September 25, 2008 at 10:02 am

{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Michael McTigue September 23, 2008 at 1:24 pm

Good luck! One piece of advice would be to be follow the “1 in, 1 out” rule…any time you get something new, you need to get rid of something. It forces you to really think about purchases.

2 lavardera September 23, 2008 at 3:54 pm

Going from 3 suits to 5 suits? That doesn’t seem right – Nic, talk some sense into him.

3 chad September 23, 2008 at 4:04 pm

Michael – Great point. This is the beauty once the target numbers are met. Do I want to buy that t-shirt? I don’t know if I like it better than any of my 12 in the closet…

Eventually, it should lead to less items of a higher quality that better represent one’s personal style. This versus a larger number of wardrobe items of poorer quality that may dilute one’s personal style.

How did we get to talking about this? What is this blog about??

Greg – We all need more suits! Give me a call. We’ll hit Boyds do some suit shopping. :)

4 Lori Ann September 24, 2008 at 10:12 am

I have a lot less clothes than that, but I never have to dress nice, either, so I ONLY have a casual set of clothes: 1 pair jeans, 1 pair capris, 1 pair linen pants, 1 pair shorts, and so on. Just a single nicer dress for special occasions.

Interested in this blog… will be reading!

5 Modern Guy September 24, 2008 at 1:57 pm

I’m one of those people who has to dress business casual every day, with the occasional suit thrown in, so I have a decent collection of shirts, pants, and shoes (and belts and ties and…and…). Not to mention regular casual clothes, work-out clothes, etc. This, unfortunately, gets in the way of minimalist living/design.

To that point, as much as I like the aesthetics of the open proposed closet design, I do have two related concerns: 1) It leaves the clothes open to the dust and dirt that inevitably settles in city homes. Yes, one dusts, but I don’t want to have to worry about dusting my clothes on a regular basis. More importantly, it leaves clothes open to pets/pet hair. My pets are part of my family, and I do not exclude them from my bedroom (or any other room in the house). This kind of set-up would be disastrous for me and my clothes lest I desire to look like I’m wearing a mohair suit every day. Perhaps a slightly selfish concern, but it’s a very real concern for someone like me, and one I’m sure other pet owners can empathize with.

Just throwing that out there, as we all have different concerns and things we’re thinking about when looking at properties.

6 chad September 24, 2008 at 2:06 pm

Good points Modern Guy. To clarify, this is not the setup we will be putting in the 120K House that is for sale. That house will keep it’s full closet that is in the plans.

This is just the setup that I am going for in our own home without the closet. My wife doesn’t share my enthusiasm for the open closet, so we may end up with something in the end, but the storage space will not increase. This post is more about the need to reduce the contents of our closet rather than the design of the 100K House…

I hear you on both the dust and pets. I have a suit that hasn’t been worn in months that is covered in dust and a cat that loves to nap in my clothes. I’m pretty sure she does 99% of her shedding on my shirts and it can be embarrassing if I don’t catch it before I leave the house. Hopefully the lack of forced air in the house will reduce the dust factor but I’m not really sure.

7 Modern Guy September 24, 2008 at 3:14 pm

Ah, gotcha. Thanks for the clarification.

8 chad October 5, 2008 at 5:36 pm

I just made my first reductions. While some goals were hit, others are still way off. I may have to re-evaluate some of my targets.

Having four distinct seasons makes things like collared long-sleeve shirts and pants tough to reduce too low. You quickly end up with only one or two of something to wear for there months…

9 Closet Designer Boston January 11, 2009 at 9:18 pm

If everyone cut down their stuff to the very most needful I would have to find a new job. That will never happen. People find it easier to gather more than to give it up.

10 tonia April 20, 2009 at 1:36 am

I’m moving to into a much smaller apt that has the tiniest closet ever and i want also wanted to make an exposed “closet” like the one you are going to make. Any suggestions on how to go about this?

Thank you!

- Tonia

11 Kris December 3, 2010 at 9:25 am

We live in a house with only radiant heat. Plenty of dust! I have an enclosed closet but I rarely get around to closing the doors so dust does gather on my lesser used clothes. I have been meaning to get some garment bags to protect the nicer items, but haven’t gotten around to it.

I love your list. I have been working to cut back on my clothes and have donated bags and bags over the past year (and I didn’t think I really had that many compared to most people. But I know I need to do some more culling, especially of the many sweaters that I never wear anymore. At least I have nowhere near as many as a woman I worked for once upon a time. She had a spare bedroom closet 15 feet long, floor to ceiling shelves in it that were ALL full with sweaters. She showed dogs and she would buy a new outfit for each show and then never wear it again. Wow, the homeless folks she could have clothed!

12 supra skytop April 6, 2013 at 3:05 pm

Hello just wanted to give you a brief heads up and
let you know a few of the pictures aren’t loading properly. I’m not sure why but I
think its a linking issue. I’ve tried it in two different internet browsers and both show the same outcome.

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