Why I Downsized From 200 to 20 Clothing Pieces

I’ve been a contrarian all my life and have always wanted to stand out from the crowd. Clothes have been a great tool in doing that, which is likely the reason why I am so obsessed with them. All the clothing items I’ve bought over the years have accumulated to over 200 items of clothing! People naturally try to dress differently everyday, looking for different versions of themselves in a cycle of alternating identities. However, I realized that re-inventing yourself over and over again is an endless affair. With this in mind, I decided to give away (and sell) most of my clothes. It was the most contrarian thing I could do in fashion. 

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Now that I own about 20 pieces of clothes, I am often labelled as a minimalist among the company of Mark Zuckerberg or Steve Jobs. However, I prefer to reject this category as I find those associations a little too extreme and unstylish. Reducing my wardrobe wasn’t about dressing in the same t-shirt everyday. I still wanted to look cool and be different so I declared myself a fundamentalist. Being a fundamentalist would mean that I would be reducing my wardrobe to the very foundations. I now own a single item in each category of garment: one black denim, one blue denim, one hoodie, one denim jacket, one pair of sweatpants, and so on. 

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Being a fundamentalist is all about finding the right style and sticking to it. Artists like Kanye West, G-Dragon, or Pharrell all have a signature style because they know what works for them. When I find a good combination of choices, I can’t get enough of it. Plus, when you repeat them long enough, they become your signature. The most stylish people are the ones who repeat and make a particular style their own. When someone says “oh, that’s so you!” while pointing at a pair of shoes, that means you’re doing it right.

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The more obvious utility in becoming a fundamentalist is that you have less choices. This is beneficial because with less decision-making comes more time and brainpower to spend elsewhere. You don’t spend all day deciding what to wear, and there’s less opportunity to make a choice you might regret. However, the downside is, well, there are less choices. This means that I have to be smarter in maximizing my choices within the small number of clothes that I do own. I had to figure out a way to own a wardrobe where no two items did not go together. In the end, I was able to formulate a pretty coherent wardrobe. What I liked about this process was that I had to think and consider each item in my wardrobe, leading to greater appreciation. Plus, restrictions are fun because they allow for more thinking, and when an art form is empowered by more thinking, it’s more interesting. 

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Overall, my experience becoming a fundamentalist has been freeing (for the most part). If the post resonates with you, I definitely recommend trying it out. Join the movement – become a fundamentalist. 


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Jaden Kim

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