A Clutter Lesson from 10 Pairs of Socks and Underwear

posted by Andrea | 01/17/2018

For the majority of my life, I’ve had drawers stuffed full of socks and underwear — not because I necessarily NEEDED that many pairs, but simply because I had them.

Growing up, we almost always got socks and underwear as stocking stuffers, and in college, I got those “free underwear” coupons from Victoria’s Secret almost every month (you know I’m a sucker for freebies!)

My dresser drawers were always neat and organized, but I had significantly more pairs of socks and underwear than I ever needed, especially since I always did laundry at least once or twice a week.

You can’t see it in the picture above, but those clear plastic organizers are stacked 2-high — I had roughly 40+ pairs of socks and underwear! Yikes!

About 4 years ago, right before Simon was born, I decided I was DONE having so much extra. I purged EVERYTHING, because it was either very old and somewhat worn out, or it still had the tags attached if it wasn’t a style I liked (I donated the brand new items).

Then, I went out and purchased 10 of my most favorite pairs of underwear (I love these from Ariesย — they are often on sale 10 for $30), 7 pairs of white no-show ankle socks, 2 pairs of black dress socks, and 1 pair of Smartwool socks.

Since then, I’ve been wearing the SAME 10 pairs of underwear and the SAME 10 pairs of socks day after day after day!

And you know what… I survived just fine!

The items are still in good condition, even after hundreds of wears and washes these past 4 years.

Also, I’ve never ever “run out” of clean socks or underwear because I now do laundry 2-3 times per week. Even when we go on vacation, we always have access to a washing machine if we’ll be gone for more than 4 or 5 days.

NOTE: I do also have 2 pairs of tights to wear with skirts or dresses and fuzzy slipper socks for sleeping.

Now obviously, not everyone could get by with only 10 pairs of socks and underwear; nor do I think it should be a goal for everyone to have the bare minimum when it comes to clothing (or anything in life).

However, I DO think it’s worth sharing today’s post because it shows how few things we actually NEED.

In all honesty, I could probably get by with only 4 pairs of socks and underwear since I do laundry every 3 days — 10 pairs is more than enough for me.

My children also have a minimal number of socks and underwear for the same reasons — they just don’t need more. Of course, I replace theirs every year as they get bigger, but they get 1 new pack of underwear and 1 new pack of socks every year (usually around 6-10 pairs each) and that’s more than enough.

Even with bathroom accidents and getting dirty outside, we’ve never once run out of clean socks or underwear for any of our children.

The one exception is Miss Clara who had GOBS of socks, tights, and slipper socks as they are apparently a favorite baby gift amongst our friends and relatives ๐Ÿ™‚

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m definitely NOT a minimalist when it comes to clothing (or really anything in life). However, I do think it can be valuable to regularly evaluate how much of something we actually NEED.

Did I need 40 pairs of socks or underwear? Not a chance!

Yes, I had room to store them.

Yes, I kept them neat and organized.

Yes, most of them were completely free.

BUT I DIDN’T NEED OR USE THEM!

I’ve been perfectly happy and content to wear and re-wear the same 10 pairs of socks and underwear for the past 4 years… and when they start to wear out, I’ll order 10 more pairs and start all over again. Who knows, maybe I’ll go with only 7 pairs the next time!

Of course, if I get to the point where I feel it would be beneficial for me to have more than 10 pairs, I’ll certainly just buy more — but right now, I’m loving my mostly empty drawer and the fact that I no longer have so much more than I need!

I’d love to know, have you purposefully limited your socks, underwear, or anything else in your life – simply because you know you don’t NEED more?

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Oh, and if you’re worried about losing your socks (or your children’s socks) in the wash, here’s my super simple tip to essentially eliminate lone socks!

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26 comments

  1. Kay

    01/20/2018

    Thank you!!!

    [Reply]

  2. Kay

    01/20/2018

    Andrea,
    I hate to ask something so personal but with the underware, does it come up far in the back? I am so tired of buying all different brands and it goes over my pants when I bend the slightest.
    Thanks!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    hahahahah! No, not for me at least!
    I do probably wear my pants a little higher after having kids, but I don’t remember having any problems with this when I wore low-rise jeans either ๐Ÿ™‚

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  3. Debbie

    01/18/2018

    Andrea, I didn’t see pictures of bras in your minimalist drawer. How many of them do you keep? I read that women are supposed to replace their bras every 6 months. What’s your opinion on that?

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    yes, I have a different dresser now so they are in a different draw. That said, I only have 4 bras and I’ve had them all for YEARS!! I can’t imagine why they’d need to be replaced every 6 months!
    I usually just wear my nursing tank tops with built in bras, so I’ve honestly hardly wore a bra in the last 6 years! ๐Ÿ™‚

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  4. Gloria P

    01/18/2018

    Youโ€™ve successfully motivated me to purge the socks & undies in my closet. Thanks!

    A few years ago, after going almost bonkers sorting my husbandโ€™s black and navy dress socks, I provided him with a dozen large safety pins to pin his socks together (at the ankle) before he drops them in the laundry basket. They stay pinned through the wash and go back to his closet folded yet still pinned. No more mismatched socks or stretched out elastic. We both love this solution!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    this is awesome — great idea!

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  5. Jody

    01/17/2018

    There is just me. But I buy all black socks, all the same brand and style. If I lose one or get a hole in one then I can still wear the other one with any of the socks in my drawer. I have 8 pair of underwear. One for each day and a spare.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Yeah, I probably should have gone with black instead of white. I always wore white socks all the time, but now that skinny jeans and leggings are the style, I wear my 2 pairs of black socks constantly. As I was writing this post, I was actually thinking that I could purge a few pairs of white socks and get black instead!

    [Reply]

  6. Becky

    01/17/2018

    What socks do you wear to keep warm around the house in Michigan? I like wearing black athletic socks with my slippers in winter!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    you might think I’m crazy but I often go barefoot at home (Nora always does too!) I love wearing slippers in the morning and after my shower, but the rest of the day, I often don’t even wear socks. I do almost always put on socks if I’m going somewhere, but I’ve been known to wear winter boots without socks on many occasions ๐Ÿ™‚

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  7. Rhonda

    01/17/2018

    Yes. I either have problems with, or a low tolerance for, sweaty feet. I pretty much wear smart wool socks every day (unless I wear knee high nylons or tights or nylons at work). I have several different types, including 3 pairs of thinner ones that are the “no-show” type (low ankle). I might have 10 or 12 total. And I never run out, because I’m always doing laundry often enough. Even though they are expensive, they feel better to me and I have found that they last several years per pair.

    [Reply]

    Jules Reply:

    Aren’t smart wool socks the best?!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    haha — Simon is always complaining about his sweaty feet. I might have to get him some wool socks — too bad they are so expensive and his feet grow so quickly!

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    Rhonda Reply:

    They don’t make that many kids socks. But if you did try it, he might get by wearing them 2 or 3 days before they need washing.

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  8. calliope

    01/17/2018

    I constantly purge and re-evaluate the kitchen STUFF. I really havenโ€™t bought anything for at least 4-5 years, maybe more! yet I always purge! I have a bin in the pantry with all the stuff I โ€œmightโ€ need someday. well, guess what, that day never came.
    What I must do though, is go over that dreaded towel cabinet and be ruthless.
    And, like you, I do have the space. most of my storage space is half empty. Yet there is something really calming and reassuring with getting by with as little as possible and with empty space!
    Thanks for reminding me!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    yeah, I’m always purging and re-evaluating too! I’m actually blogging about a big kitchen purge next week!!

    [Reply]

  9. Kate

    01/17/2018

    I am super hard on socks- I think mine last about 4 months before getting a hole in them, definitely not 4 years! But this post inspired me to do a quick purge of my socks and underwear drawer today. ๐Ÿ™‚ I discovered I have WAY too many pairs of tights! I guess I’m worried they’ll get holes in them too. ๐Ÿ™‚

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    you and Dave both — he literally can put holes in the toes of his socks after 2 weeks of wearing them. I buy him SOOOOOOOO many socks every year!

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  10. Alison

    01/17/2018

    This is a great example of the 80/20 rule! Keep 20% of what you have and you’ll be just fine.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    exactly! It’s so true though — even now, after purging regularly for my entire life, I still resort to wearing my same favorite clothing items day after day!

    [Reply]

  11. Tina

    01/17/2018

    I have done this in reverse. After 3 years of having to wear the same four pairs of underwear and the same socks-you can imagine they were very worn, When I was able I went out and bought so many socks and underwear my drawer can barely close! I love it!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    haha — this makes me laugh! Do you just like having a lot to say you have a lot, or do you actually need so many pairs for different outfits?

    [Reply]

  12. Marsha

    01/17/2018

    Greetings from Central Texas.
    Love the clear plastic bin in the drawer for holding shirts. Where can I purchase something like
    this. Love your blog, read it every single day. Even though I don’t have little ones, I love keeping
    up with the Dekker Family.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks Marsh!
    This post didn’t contain any pictures of shirts in a drawer… but these are the clear plastic organizers we use for our socks and underwear drawers (http://amzn.to/2FOpE4K)

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  13. KR

    01/17/2018

    Much admiration. I could never do that.

    [Reply]