How much clothing is too much for adults?

Have you heard of the 80/20 rule?

It says that 80% of the time you wear 20% of your clothes.

It’s true! This means that it’s probably safe to let go of the other 80% of the things that you’re not wearing anyway!

We’ve put together a guide (and printable chart) to help you declutter your wardrobe without worrying about whether or not you have too many (or too few) clothes.

how much clothing adults

How much clothing do you actually need as an adult?

The answer is a lot less than you think!

Consider going away on vacation and only taking a suitcase of clothing (and belongings in general). You are able to live for several days or weeks with just the contents of that suitcase.

So why do you need that much more at home?

The Factors That Dictate How Many Clothes You Need


If you’re living somewhere with 4 distinct seasons, you may need to have a few more articles of clothing in your closet to accommodate the changes.

Laundry Frequency

For our chart later in this post, we’re assuming you’re doing laundry once per week. With that in mind, you essentially only need a week’s worth of clothing that you wash and re-wear the following week.

If you’ve been able to wrap your head around building a capsule wardrobe, this concept will seem a lot less crazy – and scary!

Don’t worry if you’re not there yet. Putting this little idea into your mind will still help you when you’re decluttering your clothes closets.


If you have to dress a certain way for your job, that’s definitely going to add a few extra clothing items into the mix. Adding in versatile garments that can be mixed and matched is going to be key to keeping these to a minimum.


Are you physically active? Hit the gym? Love to go hiking? Have a thing for fancy dinners out?

All of these factors will influence the amount of clothing you need in your closet as an adult.

Benefits of Living with Fewer Clothes as an Adult

1. More Use & More Value for Money

When you have fewer clothes, you actually wear the clothes that you own. That helps you get more value out of the money you spent on that article of clothing.

2. Easier to Know What You Own

When you actually know the pieces you have in your closet, you are more likely to find and wear said pieces (which helps get you more value for your money, etc.). You’ll be less likely to go out and buy a duplicate of something you already own and just can’t find.

3. Less Decision Overwhelm

Do you ever open your closet doors and simply can’t decide what to wear? That’s probably because you have too much choice – yes, that’s a thing!

4. Less Clutter Stress

Don’t let your closet cause you grief every single day.

5. Save Money

When you only buy what you truly need, and stop buying things that rarely get used and worn, you save money!

>> Psst! Check out our Stop Overshopping course to learn more ways to keep your shopping in check!

6. Less Waste

You waste less money by keeping fewer clothes, and you also contribute less to the waste that affects our planet. Clothing waste is filling up our landfills and affecting our environment on a massive scale.

The “How much clothing do you need?” Printable Table

Wondering how many clothes you should have in your wardrobe?

Use this table as a guide to decide how much clothing you really need as an adult. (Check out this table that helps you know how much clothing kids really need and get the entire family sorted.)

It goes without saying that you should adapt this chart to fit your own needs, your climate, your work environment, etc.

Just remember, less is more!

We’ve categorized our table according to 3 levels: Minimalist, Moderate, and Plenty.

Please note that even the Plenty category probably contains a lot fewer items than what you probably have in your closet right now.

Going for the larger option on this table is going to help you make a big difference when decluttering your closet.

Click to download this printable

how much clothing do you need as an adult

Where do you fall on the chart?


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22 thoughts on “How much clothing is too much for adults?”

    • Me too. I don’t see any methods here for clearing out. I have probably 25 of everything that says 9 is plenty. I live in a tropical climate so it could be 40 in the morning & 70 that afternoon, so layering is required. Some days I wear 3 shirts just because it’s too hot for the long sleeve I had on earlier, then it cools off again. Also I move out if season clothes to other closets but right now I have 3 seasons in my closet. It’s stuffed! HOW to clear out?

      • Hi!
        I am a clothes aholic. I admit it. The thing that has helped me the most on sorting clothes I got from the Konmari way. You literally touch every piece of clothing and tune in to your very first thought on it. It AMAZING at how that first thought is right! Too scratchy, too tight, too big, meh, to bright, too out of date, I love love this! Etc. immediately put in a give away bag if it’s anything besides “love love”. I Tell myself that my closet, (more importantly my life)is PRIME real estate and clothes can’t live here if I don’t love love them. It’s been a game changer in the closets.

  1. Clothing is something that I can part with quite easily. I have accumulated more than I need again so thank you for inspiring me to make plenty of closet room! Can’t wait to start!

  2. A friend recently said to me :
    “You have way too many clothes l think you should have a sort out and give some to me, l thought about what she had said for a couple of weeks and then thought actually she’s right.

    So l did what she suggested she’s delighted with her new wardrobe and it’s sooooo much easier for me to get dressed everyday because l can see what clothes l have and have only clothes that l wear, it’s so freeing.

    It was also really easy to pack for a recent holiday.

    Try it….

  3. this is super helpful – it is embarrassing how many clothes I have but was not sure how much is ‘enough’ and did not want to go crazy getting rid of items only to have to buy more because I cleared out too much – thank you!

  4. I lost 30 lbs and am reducing my closet too! Do you have any suggestions for reliable companies that pick up used clothing and actually use them? I’ve read that many seemingly reputable pickups actually sell your clothes for rags!

    • NY state =
      Salvation Army. City Mission, Goodwill, Thrift stores. Next-to New stores. some churches, nursing homes. These places are all over, change the pattern of thinking by not always going to the same place we always shop every time we think we need ‘something new’.

      (stock up on food.)

  5. I thought I had too much but in most things i’m minimalist to moderate. there are some things i don’t wear though need to sort through.

  6. Wow, that is an eye-opener! I’ve purged my clothes a couple of times in the last year, and thought I was doing really well, because it all fits neatly in my closet and dresser with room to spare, but nearly everything falls under the “Plenty” column. Some of it far more than Plenty, actually. Time to get honest about what really gets worn.

  7. do you think this depends on what you do for a living and in your freetime? mine do not overlap at all. i have clothes for working in the yard, for going to church, for going to meetings, for working construction, for working out in the gym . i do not see how i can use anything in more than one category. Also if you live in changing climates? i have to wear layers as the temperature where i live is in the 40’s when i leave the house, but in the 70’s by mid-day. please help. thanks!

    • oh, i just noticed that it suggested that this could make a difference. what do you think would be appropriate? looking forward to ideas 😉

  8. This is a tough one for me, but I’m not really sure why because I wear mostly jeans and t-shirts. I finished school a while back, so I now have some business clothes for my not-quite-figured-out career.

    I went through my closet a couple of weeks ago, and I have a lot of clothes which I am donating to a nonprofit this week. I have a thing for underwear and socks for some reason. If I don’t do laundry for three weeks, I still have socks and undies to spare. I probably ought to work on that. Lol

  9. I realized I will never wear a dress that I have been photographed in for an “occasion” – family wedding, graduation- etc. I should donate those dresses immediately. I’m very good at finding high quality dresses at consignment stores, so I don’t have much $ invested.

  10. Any tips for someone who has a conservative wardrobe with family no work, but dresses more retro and gothic at night and weekends but also has paying side gigs at Renaissance Fairs and Steampunk events? I dress up at those gigs where it is either enforced or encouraged and a lot of the conventions can go 4-5 days or more so I have about 10 to 20 outfits for each, then my fun clothes and my work clothes. Plus with Covid, it has been hard to donate. But I love my clothes and Victorian tops that have gotten smaller, get a new life as an under corset top. Cannot where a Faire gown to work though.

    Any help for someone like me? Or is it ok to have two closets filled with a life well lived?

    • Hey, Nyx,

      YOU get to decide what works for you. The answer to “how much” is going to be different for everyone. Since your life and work require (at least) two totally different wardrobes, you can calculate each one separately. How much do you need for your day job? It sounds like your heart is Retro/Goth/Renaissance/Steampunk (which I love and admire), so maybe a minimal “capsule” wardrobe is enough for the conservative side, based on how often you do laundry. Then you’ll have the space to be more expansive with the costumes and things you love. The key, though, is to keep what you actually WEAR, and let go of the stuff that doesn’t fit you or thrill you.


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Welcome. I’m Sarah!


I’m the creator of Decluttering School (formerly known as Early Bird Mom), lover of organized spaces, encourager to women and mom to four boys. Click here to read more!

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