A Closet Full is All We Really Need

ClosetI did learn from life that you can never have enough closet space, so in The Little House we did have the presence of mind to build deep closets with enough hanging space to accommodate clothes for two people.

The problem, as I saw it when we moved, was that because the house was a weekend home, the closets couldn’t accommodate more clothes than enough for a week or so.

When I was younger, I loved clothes. I begged my parents to allow me to start working at 14 so I could buy my own designer jeans and not settle for the department store brands my parents could afford.

After I paid the bill for having my own phone line in my room, I spent much of my $2.25 an hour wages from the local Tasty Queen on clothes.

When Dale and I started dating, I was still in high school but he had graduated and was working, so he had the extra money to buy clothes for me too. Sometimes, he would go shopping and get my mother’s permission to lay the new outfits out on my bed before I came home from school. There was nothing more fun than finding a nice, new outfit I could wear to school the next day!
As a result, I accumulated a lot of clothes – enough to fill two closets at my parent’s Victorian Tudor.

As I got older, the jeans turned into business suits and when I worked in the corporate sector, I had closets filled with expensive dress suits.

The first thing I did when I began my full time freelance writing career is sack those suits up and donate them to a women’s shelter.

Most of the clothes I have now are casual. We have one set of dress clothes, a suit for Dale and I have one dress for occasions when I just can’t get out of wearing one, and I have several pairs of casual slacks and dressy shirts for meetings with editors and writer’s conferences.

Mostly, though, I just have sweats, t-shirts and sweatshirts or fleece shirts for wearing to work at The Belle Writer’s Studio.

I learned this week I do need a few more warm shirts, which I’m sure I can find in the boxes still packed away.

But generally, having so little space is not a problem any longer. We have enough room for what we need.

Like those suits I no longer needed, the clothes still stored in boxes would be better served going to someone who does.

If you would like to shrink your wardrobe to a simpler one, my friend Tammy, over at Rowdy Kittens, posted 6 Steps to a Simple Wardrobe. Check it out!

Now, I can never have too many t-shirts in the summer. This week’s giveaway is a gift card for a very cool t-shirt made of 100% certified organic cotton from bgreen.

bgreen apparel is a division of NatureUSA, a leading manufacture of certified-organic cotton apparel. They’ve just recently launched their new website featuring their Spring/Summer collection and I hope you will check them out.

All you have to do to enter to win is make a comment on this post before my new post on Monday. Tell us how your views on clothes have changed throughout your life, or just tell bgreen how cool they are to offer this giveaway through Living Large! I’ll put your name into a drawing and you could win this gift card for yourself, or to give away as a gift this holiday season!

Confidential to “Me:” You sure brightened my day the other day when I found that beautiful fleece and all of the other fun stuff in my Big Box! You’re very clever using a different post office so the postmark was different! Thank you! 🙂

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53 Responses

  1. Jonah says:

    Like what you did. Wishing you and yours a very happy and prosperous new year !

  2. Jonah says:

    Nice site – Wishing you a very happy and prosperous new year !

  3. Elaine says:

    Thanks for the inspiration! I am pregnant with my second child, and I realized that it is MUCH quicker, easier and stress-free to get dressed in the morning. Why? Because I have maybe 7 outfits and that is it. I am working on eliminating my non-maternity clothes, maybe not down to 7 outfits, but I want to limit them a lot more so I can keep this stress-free feeling.

    • Kerri says:

      Hi, Elaine – Congratulations on your second child! I know a lot of women who realized they just didn’t need a closet full of clothes after having a limited wardrobe from which to choose when they were pregnant. I’m glad the blog inspired you to keep purging once you have your baby!

  4. Frugal Kiwi says:

    I long ago moved from trendy to basics in clothing. My Merino sweaters see me through 3.5 seasons here in NZ as do my zip-off hiking pants. No exactly chic, but certainly comfy.

  5. Sandra says:

    I was owner partner of an investigative firm in Ca. we first moved back to Houston. Worked in Medical center. Dragged all the suits with me.Couldn’t handle Houston. Move to E. TN in 93. We bought an old farm house to redo. Wanted our son to get back to nature, live in small town, enjoy the outdoors. First thing my husband did was rip out all the home made closets. We gutted the whole house and put it back together. With no where to put stuff. Alot and I mean alot of clothes had to go!!! At that point I worked at the hospital (scrubs were in). Now that he has built the closets back only two are filled with clothes. I have come to enjoy the lightweight hiking apparel easy to wash no dryer and traveled great when we went to Baja. So now I am either in my hiking clothes or workout clothes. Unless I have meeting then I drag out a suit or two. I also shop the thrift shops. Goodwill has 50% off everything on the last weekend of the month here. You may want to check your area.

  6. Alexandra says:

    I run a green B&B and would love an organic cotton T-shirt! Simplify, simplify, simplify has become my mantra since moving to Cape Cod. When my husband and I left France, several suitcases of elegant clothing crossed the ocean with us. Sven had a favorite Dior jacket, picked up at Reciproque, an exclusive second-hand store on rue de la Pompe. He wore that jacket to holiday events, dinners with parents at his International School, outings to the Paris Opera. Sven looked quite fancy, too fancy for Wellfleet. We have not given the jacket away. It sits at the back of our one closet and got pulled out recently for my daughter’s wedding. Much of our fashionable clothing, collected over twenty years and adorned with Made in France labels, became prized items in other people’s closets long ago thanks to a donation to Mass Appeal, our town’s popular free shop. How often does one go to the opera on Cape Cod, I ask you? In Wellfleet, casual is the new chic. I have become addicted to a pair of comfortable black Cambio jeans, which I wear with a used turtle-neck, long-sleeved shirt and fleece. I buy the fleece after Christmas at the local thrift shop. (Note: often people receive fleece as presents and donate their old fleece, which is better for you because outgassing is less of an issue.)

  7. Tena says:

    It’s not my bedroom closet so much as the closet in the spare room. That one holds coats for my husband and I: parkas, dress coats, long and short coats, jackets, etc. And that is AFTER I’ve I’ve weeded . Sigh.

  8. Kim says:

    A huge tree downed by Hurricane Gustav knocked off the back of our house, including our bedoom and a huge closet full of clothes. We’re all fine, thank Heavens, but we certainly haven’t replaced all those clothes…we’ve found we do just fine with a much smaller wardrobe. I would have preferred to cull and organize on my own terms, LOL, but this showed us how little we really need!

    • Kerri says:

      Wow, Kim, that is one way to get rid of the excess, but not a preferred method. I’m very glad everyone in your family came out alright.

  9. Jan Moore says:

    Thanks for publishing your floor plan, oddly enough the one I drew up for my husband and I to use had a lot of things in common…..what do they say about great minds running in the same channel??? 🙂

    • Kerri says:

      You’re welcome, Jan. Great minds do think alike, but I can’t take credit for the floor plans. My aunt drew them up for us with a little direction. 🙂
      Thanks for the closet suggestions.

  10. Jan Moore says:

    I read somewhere that a closet only needed to be two feet deep (deep enough to accomodate the length of a coat hanger plus a little more).Taking that into consideration if you put drawers across the bottom and install rods at two different levels you can store a lot more than you think possible. I’ve also seen a corner curtained off which takes up very little floor space and can hold more clothes than you think if organized properly.

  11. David N. says:

    I am an American expatriate living in Ukraine. People here mostly don’t have many changes of clothing–but what they have is always, always neat, clean, and pressed. (Clothing here is often more expensive than in the U.S. but salaries are a fraction as much).
    Before I moved here, I got rid of a large amount of clothing, yet what I have is still more than I need and takes up too much room–and no, we don’t have closets either, but relatively small wardrobes. The entire home is about 500 square feet for the three of us, including a son who just started at university.
    Washing machines and other appliances also tend to be much smaller than are typical in the U.S.–so we wash more frequently as well.
    Try an experiment–put tags on your hangers with the date you wear an item. Do this for two months or so, then go through the closet and see what you wore and what you didn’t. Get rid of the things you didn’t wear, unless they are especially for rare but important occasions. You might be surprised at what you find!

  12. I feel so fortunate to be able to wear anything I want when I’m writing from home–pj’s, gym clothes, jeans, leggings, sweats, skirt…whatever I feel like. It’s so nice. It’s funny how, even if I have more clothing, I’ll gravitate to the same things that I really feel the most at home in.

  13. Amy says:

    The Closet! Is one of the many things that bug me. We don’t offically have one but we chose a wall at one end of the bed area and installed a closet organizer. It bugged me to know end to have to look at out everything packed in there so we moved a couple of large shelving units that were part of a entertainment center to create a “wall” but they take up a lot of space. As soon as we end extended season at work I’m going to re-arrange the cabin again in hopes of freeing up every inch I can. My Closet is packed at the moment but I haven’t had a “new” T-shirt in years so throw my name in the hat PLEASE! 🙂



  14. Kerri says:

    Your set up reminds me that our daughter’s flat in Germany doesn’t even have closets. She has put a couple of wardrobes in. I think the Europeans live much smaller in general and I think that’s a good thing.

    • Bj says:

      Dad being military, I spent nearly 15 of my first 17 years of life overseas….split pretty evenly between European Theater and Pacific Theater…..don’t remember many overseas houses in either theater that had closets! We Americans are a spoiled bunch!

  15. Bj says:

    I have gone the reverse of most. As a truck driver I had 12 pairs of jeans and T-Shirts for warm weather, flannels for winter. Now I have a closet for professional dress suitable for teaching, and a closet for casual….then because I do historical re-enactments….I have a closet of clothes suitable for a pioneer woman from 1865-1890’s. Petticoats sure take up room so do gowns with 180 inches of hemline.
    When I finally move from my big house (923 sq ft) to my tiny abode (264 sq ft until I can grow it to nearly 500 sq ft)….I will have to do something about clothes. I may have to get a storage shed with hang-up space in the yard before moving in, just to accommodate my various clothing needs. LOL…
    Keri keeps giving me much to think on….so do the rest of the respondents. So glad I found this site because otherwise I would be thinking and discovering all this AFTER my move….LOL…THanks all!

    • Kerri says:

      Clothes is a major space sucker, BJ. I’m glad you found us too! 🙂

    • Amy says:


      I don’t know how they managed back in the day I have a shop at the Ozark Folk Center State Park we are required to dress Ozarks 1860 two 1900ish and I refuse to wear all extras of that era! I throw on my dress and apron and go to work. I envy people who can stand to wear all that stuff… I’m in the process of moving my work dresses to my shop.

      • Bj says:


        Over the years I have found that sitting facing the breeze with the dress hem and three of the seven petticoats raised an inch up on the shoe (scandalous!) will allow the breeze to travel up the inside of dress….natural air conditioning! I am actually very comfortable in all my get up. There are day (very hot ones) where I only wear two petticoats instead of the 7 they would have worn. These are thin layers though….LOL!

        • Bj says:

          Sorry to have abreviated the previous message, Amy…power went out here..Where is this shop? I would love to see it! I am driving up for Christmas to work more on my cabin…I currently live in western Texas!

          • Amy says:

            The Ozark Folk Center State Park is located in Mountain View, AR The regular season opens mid April and runs till Oct 31st (that’s when you’ll find us all dressed like our gggrandparents though I’ve not seen too many southren bells I guess mainly cause most people around these parts were poorer than dirt poor and still are). Then we have an extended season which runs from the 1st of November till about the week before Christmas. It’s more of a time where some of us who try to make a living doing what we do. We don’t wear our period clothing cause we are there to sell and work on stock not to demo what we do.

            Our last open days this year are the 18th and 19th and the whole town is really kicking it up this year. There will be Music and crafts both in town and at the Folk Center. After this weekend we shut down for the winter. You can check the Folk Center out here (http://www.ozarkfolkcenter.com/)


        • Bj says:

          Ah..won’t get out for break here until the 18th…driving up on the 19th. Will bookmark it for the summer! Trust me, even Civil War era were not all southern belles! After the war, even more were dirt poor….LOL…Thanks for the info! great site!

  16. Vicki B says:

    Sorry for the spelling, I did go to school, my computer key board has just about had it.

  17. Vicki B says:

    I really parred down when I moved back to Nebraska from Colorado, I also worked a corporate office job, and deceided that I was tired of the corporate world and all of its demands and fignting with a building of over 10,000 employees (yikes!) I sold most of my clothing to a fellow employee who wore the same size and I had my money to move back home, never looked back either.
    I have the same, warm clothing for winter, couple of pairs of jeans, warm fleece shirts, and a couple of nice outfits. I run a herbal and green transplant business in spring and summer, the plants don’t care what I look like, just water and feed me, animals too.
    stay warm everyone, we had -18* Thurs am, with a windchill of -40*. *****

    • Kerri says:

      I agree, Vicki! My dogs really don’t care what I look like everyday. Now, I might have to start at least wearing a nice shirt if we go to video conferences someday! 🙂
      -40 windchill? Brr is right!

      • Bj says:

        Vicki…I am ashamed to admit I have been grousing about mornings in the 20 degree range! My daughter calls me for warm weather reports-she is up in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan! LOL….too cold for me!

  18. olivia says:

    I once said to a friend that I wished I could just wear “jammies” all the time, to which he replied that all my clothes just looked like jammies anyway! I think they still do. Other than the odd occasion, I live in fleece pants, t-shirts and sweaters and a warm puffy vest in the winter.

  19. RowdyKittens says:

    Another great post.

    At one time I had a few closets full of clothes and that was so overwhelming.

    I spent so much time standing in front of my closets trying to decide what to wear. It’s nice to have a minimal wardrobe. It’s makes my life a little easier.

    Thanks for the link love. 🙂

    • Kerri says:

      Oh, good point, Tammy! Having a minimal wardrobe not only saves physical space, but again, takes some of the mental clutter of “what do I wear?”

  20. Kim says:

    As a stay-at-home mom of two toddlers, I must admit that my wardrobe is much like yours: a dress for the unavoidables, a couple of stray skirts/slacks from my working days, and a small collection of comfortable casual stuff. I’m no clothes aficionado, though; I’ve always thought of clothing as a necessary hassle, and the desire to be fashionable rarely enters my mind. I try to keep our wardrobes down to what we love and need– and nothing more. Living in a 90-year-old house means that there’s not much room for clothes collecting!

    • Kerri says:

      When I hear people complain about their old homes having no closet space, I have to stop myself from saying that they’re the ones that had it right. They had what they needed and what more room do you need than that?

  21. Susan says:

    Jeans, T-shirts, sweats….no purse if I can get away with it…love pockets. Need to purge my closets again…probably 80% or more I don’t wear or can’t =(

  22. Keri says:

    Because I work at a university, I try not to dress like my students would, meaning I avoid jeans as much as possible. Although I “cheat” once in a while. I try to buy clothes from thrift shops as often as possible. It’s hard to go through clothing piece by piece at such stores with two small children but I do my best. And I’ve found that my most favorite clothes are from the thrift shops! =)

  23. Michelle says:

    During the college years, I did a bunch of lieguarding so the attire was simple to say the least. In the years since college, most of the wardrobe requirements have been simple doing field work, or wearing uniforms or working shifts where there isn’t any wardrobe requirements. I was never really good at making a fashion statement and now living on a farm, comfort has a high priority, cool in the summer and warm in the winter. The animals never make comments on what I wear, just glad to see me.

    • Kerri says:

      Comfort is the key. I went out for awhile today and just couldn’t wait to get home to my nice warm sweatshirt and soft sweatpants!

  24. hollygee says:

    I freelance and rarely meet my clients face to face, so my wardrobe is exactly what you describe. Steve is a professional remodeler/handyman and wears jeans and t-shirts every day. He keeps one pair of paint-free jeans and t-shirt for “weddings and funerals”, but everything else is liberally splattered. His closet is a set of shelves next to the bathroom downstairs and mine are hanging shelves under the eaves next to the bed. It’s all we need.

    • Kerri says:

      Holly, I don’t know what happened to my reply to you the other day. Thanks for commenting. Sounds like our husbands would get along well!