Marie Kondo has made the minimalist lifestyle hip. From her book to her Netflix show, people across the world and working on limiting clutter and maximizing space. Within the movement of minimalism, capsule wardrobes have become popular. Pinterest is awash with images of perfectly laid out wardrobes for all types of people. But, is a minimalist wardrobe practical for military families?
Every 1-3 years, we are often asked to move across the United States if not the world, changing the climate we live in. So how practical is it to have a minimalist wardrobe? What about all those clothes we are transporting from kid #2 just in case, and we don’t want to buy a whole new kids wardrobe. What about the dress from a decade ago, it might fit again?
Remember Your Weight Limit
While clothing may not individually weigh much, collectively it can weigh as much as that sofa you are shipping across the country. Clothing, per Marie Kondo, can be the most surprising item in their home. Per her book, “the average number of items in the [top pile] is around 160.” That is a lot of tops. Do you really need 5.33 months of tops? Every military family has a weight limit with each move. It is a lot easier to know what was in a box the movers lost if you can label it accordingly, and are aware of what you have.
Forget the Kids
Forget the kids’ wardrobes that is. Children grow rapidly and at different paces. If starting out into the minimalist wardrobe style, stick to the adults at first. Leave the kids wardrobes for last. While it is possible to move them to fewer choices, we get that infants need a lot of onesies because of blow-out diapers and spit-up. Potty-training toddlers need extra pants due to the aforementioned activity. And Pre-schoolers often need clothing changes as they explore the world of different textures of sand, water, paint, etc. Take a deep breath and walk away from the kids’ bedroom. It is time to focus on you.
The Active Duty Spouse
For the active-duty spouse, it is a little easier to keep to a minimalist wardrobe. While most categories of clothing apply to both adults in a household, there a couple of areas that are specifically needed and highlighted for a minimalist wardrobe.
Keep the uniforms that are relevant and useful. If there are irreparable holes in the desert camis, time to toss them. If the dress blues are no longer applicable to wear at the rank ever, consider selling or donating them. Most of the time, dress blues can be worn in lieu of Mess Dress depending on the occasion. Uniforms can be expensive and are necessary for work. What you can minimize is the number of frogs you have as “extras” on hand, and any over-stretched shirt stays.
Some active-duty members have a work-out clothes wardrobe to rival Barbie’s closet of every uniform for every job. Sticking to 4-5 pairs of workout shorts, shirts and/or pants helps minimize the clothing burden. Life does happen, so it is understandable that the laundry doesn’t happen every day. Sweat breaks down clothing shortening the lifespan of the item, so rinsing or laundering them often helps elongate the clothing item.
Culling for the Minimalist Wardrobe
Marie Kondo recommends starting with off-season clothes. She is right, it is the easiest. When you aren’t currently wearing those same pair of jean shorts over and over, it will be a lot easier to look through those tank tops or turtlenecks to determine what you could actually keep. Keeping around 5 of each type of top is all you really need. Pregnancy, breast-feeding or having adaptive devices means you might and should have more. For most adults, five of each kind is sufficient as laundry is typically done once a week.
Define what is casual for you. Is it jeans, yoga pants, golf leisure? Stick to a couple of outfits you will actually wear.
For a healthy lifestyle, exercise is key. For busy parents, washing those gym clothes daily doesn’t usually happen. The minimalist wardrobe is not an excuse to get rid of workout clothes. It is a chance to thin what you have. It might be time to give up those field hockey shorts from high school and stick to what you wear weekly.
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Chances are if you are currently living in Southern California, Okinawa or Hawaii, your winter clothes are jeans, a t-shirt, and a light jacket. Your down-jacket is not utilized every day or maybe not once a year. Consider a small bin of clothing for each person in your family for winter gear – a jacket, snow pants, snow boots. Remembering that three years from now, those snow boots may not fit your now three-year-old. So cull accordingly.
The seasonal items in the summer to minimize are most likely swimsuits. Unless you are going to the beach or pool daily, one swimsuit and one pair of flip-flops may be all that is needed for each family member.
If you have watched any of the Real Housewives shows, chances are you have seen and drooled at their ridiculous shoe closets. Having a nice pair of heels for date night or a ball are worthy of keeping. If you need those shoes for work, keep them. Sticking to two pairs per season of shoes is probably what you actually need. While difficult to let go of those rain boots that came in handy in the Northeast while currently living on the beach in Hawaii, it may be necessary for a clutter-free life where you currently. Besides, will you wear anything but flip-flops while living in paradise?
What about Capsule Wardrobes?
Capsule wardrobes are tempting. The perfectly laid out clothing items on the ad for varying subscription boxes promise to help you minimize your clothes. Take screenshots of those laid outfits, pin all the Pinterest-worthy capsule wardrobes you see. You can shop at budget-friendly stores like H&M, Target and even Wal-Mart for items for those items and try them out.
The key to capsule wardrobes is that they are items that you can wear in different ways – ie: shirt over a dress, a sweater under the same dress, jacket over the dress, etc. The key to your budget is that these are items that you will actually wear and keep. The capsule wardrobe is tempting because it might all be done for you, but make sure they are pieces you want.
There are many reasons a minimalist wardrobe is practical for a military spouse, and for moms in general. It minimizes how much you have to move, how much laundry you have to do, and fights about clothes in the morning. And, really, it minimizes stress. And this is the reason to thin out your clothing and stick to a minimalist wardrobe. Who doesn’t want that?
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Photo Credit: Pixabay, Rebecca Alwine