Nov 202014

For TBT, since we have been talking about the limited wardrobe and laundry, I am revisiting my original formula for calculating how many of an item I need. Currently my focus is on tops (undertops: the t-shirts and blouses that are the first item of clothing covering nakedness and underwear on top); a dress could also fill this category. This post is originally from December 7, 2005.

There are those who think it amusing that I actually have formulas and mathematical equations that I use for shopping. Like the one I use to make sure I have the minimum of certain key pieces. Since I wear a wool sweater just about every day that it is below 40, today (7 degrees) is the day I will stop, count, and calculate whether I have enough. Just in case you weren’t absolutely certain that I was nuts, here’s what I do:

a) Figure out my laundry cycle. What’s the longest number of days something might sit in the hamper before it’s ready to be worn again? As an “empty-nester”, I can get my clothes back into rotation quickly after washing them (no baskets of clean clothes waiting to be folded); OTOH it could take me a week to collect enough of any one color grouping to wash a load. I am going to assume ten days as length of laundry cycle.

b) Calculate the percentage of days that I need to be able to wear this type of item. Well … I guess 100%. That is definitely going to make the math easier! 😉

c) Estimate how many days I can wear something before washing it. (When I had babies, I would estimate how many changes of clothes I needed per day.) Um, yeah. I can’t always wear a top more than once without washing it. OTOH, I don’t typically have to get dressed more than once a day. To be on the safe side, I am going to estimate that I can only wear a top twice one out of every four times.

The math:
Multiply a and b, and then divide by c.
In my example, a = 10 day laundry cycle, b = 100% (1.0), c = 1.25; therefore, I need 8 tops (100% of 10 is 10, divided by 1.25 = 8). If I were using 100% separates, working back down the Grow Like a Tree method I would have 8 tops, 4 layers, and 2 bottoms; a total 14 piece wardrobe. If I make all the pieces coordinate with each other, it is beginning to look suspiciously like a capsule wardrobe!

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  6 Responses to “The First Formula: Laundry vs. Wardrobe Staples”

  1. The thing that completely throws me is packing for a 2-week vacation … with a family that thinks doing laundry on vacation is obscene!

  2. Thanks for stopping by!

    I think if you master that one, you probably have figured out most of what clothing you need ever.

    Buy plenty of underwear, I guess.

  3. I think it’s great! Different people have different strengths. I make more choices in an intuitive way, but like you, it’s very important that I have enough jeans to (a) wear and (b) minimize laundry. Because they are an essential part of my “uniform”, as are sweaters …

  4. […] until at least the official first day of Spring. Back when this was a baby blog, I described the formula I use to calculate the number of sweaters I need. But, even if I have enough, about this time of […]

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  6. […] With the length of my laundry cycle, and the summer temperatures around here, I need more than two o… […]

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