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How Many Clothing Items Do You Need?

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    How Many Clothing Items Do You Need?

    Over at The Vivienne Files, there is an article called "How Many Pieces of Clothing Do You Need?" Here's the link:
    The question I’m asked the most often: How many pieces of clothing do I need to have in my wardrobe? Nothing like a simple question to keep me thinking! But I’ve figured out, finally, that if you can answer four questions (two easy, two more difficult), I can tell you EXACTLY how many pieces should […]

    The method she developed can be used for any length of time. I tried it for a trip where I'm able to dress mostly casual and not changing for evening.

    The numbers:
    Length of trip: 14 days
    Outfits per day: 1
    Items per outfit: 4
    Wears per item: 5

    The calculation:
    14 x 1 x 4 divided by 5 = 11.2

    TOTAL Clothing Items is 11.2

    I've recorded my outfits daily for just over a year. According to the Stylebook app, most of my travel outfits have four items: a shirt, a skirt or skort, a pair of tights, and a scarf. Only two outfits had three items because I didn't wear a scarf. A couple of my trips were in November, so several outfits had five items when I added a silk base layer top.

    Here is what clothing I logged on my last three trips.
    New England for 3 weeks: 9 items
    Reno for 14 days: 17 items
    New England for 3 weeks: 18 items

    I've been playing with the packing list feature in the Stylebook app. I've been able to use 12 items of clothing, including 4 scarves, to make over 50 outfits. At this rate I'll never be able to justify getting an Aeronaut45.

    I'm curious how many clothing items everyone typically travels with versus what this calculation suggests. Please share your numbers with us. Thanks! elisa

    Originally posted by AlaskaGirl View Post
    there is an article called "How Many Pieces of Clothing Do You Need? TOTAL Clothing Items is 11.2. Most of my travel outfits have four items: a shirt, a skirt or skort, a pair of tights, and a scarf. I've been able to use 12 items of clothing, including 4 scarves, to make over 50 outfits. At this rate I'll never be able to justify getting an Aeronaut45.
    No undergarments, socks, or footwear? Wild! But I travel with shoes and keep my A45. ;-)
    Last edited by ThomGault; 11-24-2019, 08:46 AM.


      On a macro level, it depends on the time of year/weather/events and access to laundry...
      For trips of one week or less, I don't plan on laundry and bring what I need. For more than a week, I plan on laundry every 3rd or 4th day, so I'm bringing about 4-5 days of clothes. I generally air dry my clothes, so I usually plan on one overlap day of drying, even with quick dry materials.

      My work trips (which usually means I'm going to a factory) require safety boots and shirts with no buttons (metal snaps/zips only), so I have specific DriWeave polo shirts that I use for work. The boots are the bulky part. I can wear them during travel, but prefer to pack them and wear sandals or sneakers/loafers, depending on the weather, it's simply more comfortable. Packing those boots means single-bag travel is too uncomfortable/annoying for me to bother with.

      With all that being said, in addition to the clothing I'm wearing, I generally bring:

      -one extra pair of pants (I don't wear skirts/dresses/leggings, I find them uncomfortable & not they're not permitted if I'm working in a factory anyway)
      -4 shirts
      -7 pairs or so of undies (these really don't take much room, I'd rather have extra - remember what Mom always said)
      -1 bra
      -one pair thin nylon long workout pants & workout T-shirt (heather grey, can be worn for other uses)
      -1 or 2 pr calf height merino socks if I'm in a factory wearing work boots
      -1 pr ankle/quarter height merino socks (depends on if I have the other socks and if I travel in shoes or sandals)
      -work boots or sneakers or sandals in addition to what I'm wearing (depends on trip)
      -1 sleep shirt & shorts

      So, that's basically 21ish items, unless the trip is only a day or two (which I never seem to take... all my trips seem to be 5+ days).
      I usually carry an under packed A30 in addition to an S19 or Pilot for the electronics.

      If I'm going someplace cold, I add a fleece and/or down vest, maybe an actual jacket.

      I've been traveling this way for decades.
      Right now I live in casual California, work in engineering, and personally don't care much about fashion... All my clothes mix and match with only a very few exceptions and they are all easy to clean. So I'm rather boring from a sartorial standpoint but inoffensive and efficient

      ETA: I do have an A45, mostly because I just wanted one... so far I've used it for a trip where I brought some camping gear along to Hawaii and for my annual xcountry trip to MA for the holidays where I'm just bringing random extra stuff for family

      ETA: If we're not counting undergarments, then it drops to 10
      Last edited by G42; 11-24-2019, 10:18 AM.
      “Them as can do has to do for them as can't. And someone has to speak up for them as has no voices.”
      -Sir Terry Pratchett, The Wee Free Men


        Originally posted by ThomGault View Post
        No undergarments, socks, or footwear? Wild! But I travel with shoes and keep my A45. ;-)
        Lol! Of course, but "Vivienne" doesn't include undergarments in her calculations. Oddly, she does include sleep wear in her packing lists, but I have not seen any undergarments.

        For my tally, I'm only counting items of clothing. Undergarments are assumed, as is footwear. Lol. Your comment really struck my funny bone! Thanks for making me laugh! elisa


          I had to go take a quick look at my generic “travel packing list”

          Counting only outer garments, layers (cardigans or blazers), and sleepwear, I usually average 14-16 items of clothing for any trip over 5 days.

          This formula for packing is a really neat way to limit yourself and make you ask “do I really need to take this”. I like it!

          Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk


            This is the kind of thread I love!

            I packed 16 on my recent 3 week safari, which seemed like a lot. But doing the calculation, 21 (days) * 2 (outfits daily) * 3 (pieces) / 4 (days worn between washings) I should have had 32 so I guess I did alright!
            Synik 22, Truck, Luminary 12 with a MCB Freudian Slip, Daylight Backpack, EDC HLT2, Side Effect or Side Effect, zippered Large and Small Shopbags, Co-Pilot, Travel Tray, Snake Charmer


              This is a real "it depends" question. Am I doing professional stuff as well as touristing? Am I going to be seen by the same people repeatedly in a professional context? Is my fun-time going to be urban walking or serious hiking? Am I staying long enough in one place to be comfortable sink-washing more than just socks and undies? Is it going to be hot and humid, cold and rainy, or some combo of weather?

              For a nearly month-long trip I took a few weeks ago to Wuhan China, then to Copenhagen, and then to Birmingham, England, I needed warm weather professional clothes for 5 lectures and two workshops with partly-overlapping audiences--so a dark blazer and pants and four professional-looking blouses did for that. Another three loose, short sleeved casual blouses finished the China stuff. For Copenhagen and Birmingham, the weather was likely to be chilly and damp, so I added a jacket that packs into its pocket, two long-sleeved silk-knit tops that could be worn by themselves or with the loose blouses over them, and another blazer. Adding shoes, pajamas, a sunhat for China and a warm hat for Europe, and assorted socks and undies and I made it with my Western Flyer and Imago. If it had been much colder, though, I would likely have wanted a bit more warm clothing for the trip.
              Western Flyer (crimsom) with Absolute strap, Zephyr (black), Medium Cafe Bag (steel/olive), Shop Bags (solar, steel), Large Cafe bag (navy/cayenne), Small café bag (forest), Tristars (steel/solar and indigo/solar),Aeronaut (steel), Side Effects (old skool black cordura, olive parapack), Imagos (steel, cork, wasabi, and aubergine, hemp, steel), Dyneema Western Flyer (Nordic/Steel) and miscellaneous packing cubes, pouches, etc.


                For one month in Europe, which included cold and hot weather, I brought:

                1 pair of stretchy knit pants, mostly for travel days.
                1 pair pants.
                1 Macabi skirt (which got worn the most)
                1 long sleeve wool T shirt
                2 short sleeve wool T shirts
                1 lightweight wool shawl that doubled as a scarf
                1 pair of tights, in case it was really cold.
                3 pairs of socks
                2 bras
                4 pairs of undies
                A hooded rain jacket, also good for layering on cold days.
                One pair dressy, COMFORTABLE ankle boots that look good with everything, and are worn, not packed.

                So, I'd count 8 non-underwear items that are just regular clothes for a 30 day trip.

                Oddly enough, I'd bring the exact same items for a 3-day weekend trip.


                  Originally posted by Traveltech View Post
                  ... (days worn between washings)
                  Oh, this is an excellent update to the calculator! Thank you!

                  I've been thinking. What other calculations would be helpful?

                  • How many pairs of shoes to bring.
                  • The ideal size bag and/or piece of luggage.

                  Of course, I would need help to figure out how to create the calculations. elisa


                    How many do you NEED? That's a fascinating question. Here's what I carried for three weeks in Europe last August, with three days in Iceland; five in Istanbul; and the rest in Denmark:

                    On the plane, I wore a merino wool long-sleeve henley and a pair of travel pants (Prana Stretch Zion), with underwear, socks, and low-cut shoes (SOM Trailhead). I packed:

                    -- A merino button-down shirt (the trip included presenting at an academic conference)
                    -- A heavy sweater-like long-sleeve merino shirt
                    -- Two merino t-shirts
                    -- A second pair of travel pants
                    -- A pair of board shorts (Prana; they doubled as a bathing suit)
                    -- Four pair each travel underwear (Ex Officio) and 1/4 length merino socks (Smart Wool)
                    -- A packable rain jacket (Eddie Bauer)
                    -- A pair of minimalist sandals (Xero)

                    The merino tops were all from Wool & Prince, in a mix of black, dark blue, and burgundy. Any of the tops worked with any of the bottoms, which were taupe or dark grey.

                    The shoes were charcoal grey with black laces and water resistant. They were presentable enough for business casual but had enough grip for scrambling over rocks in Iceland.

                    All of this (and other things) fit comfortably in a Shadow Guide with packing cubes. I assume they'd fit an A30 as well. (The SG is 31 liters.)

                    The combination of the jacket and two merino layers (the sweater and a t-shirt) was warm enough for Iceland in August, which included a fair bit of walking outdoors. In Istanbul, I alternated between the two t-shirts. In Denmark, I wore one layer of merino, alternating between stuff depending on the circumstances. (Days were warmer; evenings cooler.)

                    For a different three week trip, I'd carry the same number of things but swap out stuff depending on weather -- more heavy layers if it were consistently colder; more t-shirts and another pair of shorts instead of long pants if it were consistently warm. And I'd ditch the button-down if I wasn't working.

                    I washed underwear & socks twice in a sink. I wouldn't take more stuff for a longer trip; just do more laundry.
                    Last edited by Buffalonian; 01-15-2020, 01:27 PM.


                      Hi there,

                      interesting question

                      For a month (31 days) in South-East Asia, I had with me arround 28 (clothes) items (shoes and accessories included) :
                      - 2 dresses
                      - 2 bottoms
                      - 4 tops (camisoles/light tops)
                      - 3 shirts/sweater (1 of the shirts was superfluous)
                      BTW : 1 light coat, 2 pairs of shoes (flip-flop included), 25L bag + 1L purse, total weight ~10kg (I'm tiny, don't sweat too much and have easily washable underwears ... but I have a bridge camera and drawing stuff, it's heavy ;-;...)

                      with @AlaskaGirl calculation (as I understood it) : 31 x 1 x 5 / 6 (avg total wears, as I remember...) = 25.83
                      with @Traveltech calculation : 31 x 1 x 3 (w/o underwears) / 3 (avg wears between washing) = 31

                      as @Buffalonian, I don't think I would bring more for longer trips (but likely less for shorter trips)
                      Last edited by Rei; 01-16-2020, 01:02 AM.
                      just a Bihnion here


                        For outerwear, it is layering with a fleece, wind shell and rainshell. I add a down vest or jacket for colder weather. I also take light gloves and a knit cap.

                        For my other clothing, I like the Rule of Three: one worn, ine dirty one clean and wash as you go. I'm not above tweaking that to suit weather and activities.

                        The main thing is washing and drying as you go vs trying to take a clean outfit for each day. Following this technique it doesn't take any more clothing to go for months than it does for a few days. Of course you can add or delete things as you like.


                          Originally posted by DWSeattle View Post
                          For outerwear, it is layering with a fleece, wind shell and rainshell.
                          When my windshell wore out, I never replaced it. I've been using my rain jacket, layered with a fleece or down depending on the time of year. I'm looking to replace my rain jacket now, but haven't found anything light and compact that is also long enough to cover my upper legs. Waterproof is essential, as water-resistant limits my activities too much. I can enjoy the outdoors while it's raining if I'm dry.

                          Do you find a wind shell valuable? Should I consider replacing mine? I'd appreciate your suggestions. Thank you! elisa


                            Tops - The absolute minimum number of shirts would be 4 (including the one I'm wearing) so there's time to dry in between washes. In practice I take 6-7 shirts (1 or 2 long sleeve, the rest short sleeve).
                            Pants - Usually 2, but I have done 1 (so just the pair I'm wearing) pair of jeans, which can be spot cleaned or washed in the middle of the trip in a washing machine.
                            Sweaters - Usually 2, for cold weather 3 plus a water resistant jacket.
                            Scarves - 0 - 2, depending on destination and weather.

                            My last trip was one week at the in laws' house. So I brought 2 pairs of pajama/lounge pants and 2 pajama t shirts too. That adds quite a bit of bulk, so if you bring any pajamas I'd count those too?


                              I use an Outdoor Research Helium Hybrid for a travel raincoat. It has breathable stretch panels on the sides and is breathable enough for Fall/Winter/Spring replacement of a wind shell for travel. It weighs 8.8oz. I don't use it for wilderness travel as the side panels aren't fully waterproof.

                              A wind shell should be very light and breathable. I prefer the term wind shirt and that's how I think of it. I have a Cotopaxi shell that is just 4.4oz and packs down to nothing. It layers perfectly with a fleece or just with a base layer tee to block wind (or sun amd bugs too). I've worn it like a shirt on laundry day. It is so light and packs so small that it is a "why not" decision to take along in my day bag. The Arcteryx Squamish and Patagonia Houdini are classic wind shells. Uniqlo makes a super breathable and light shell called a Pocketable Parka that is a great bargain.

                              There is another class of light jacket that is usually classed as a soft shell. They are light, very stretchy and breathable. The Outdoor Research Ferrosi and Eddie Bauer Sandstone are examples. My hoodless Sandstone jacket is 12oz. It is tougher than a ultralight shell and looks pretty good.
                              Last edited by DWSeattle; 01-18-2020, 12:41 PM.