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August 16, 2006 2:30 PM   Subscribe

Zebedee has 75 FUCKING BUTTON-DOWN SHIRTS... He gets a lot of them for free from his employers, but this is out of control. I told him that it isn't normal. We both want to know what is normal. What is the average number of articles of clothing owned by adult males in western society? T-shirts, button-down shirts, trousers, underwear and so on. Citations from studies or surveys would be best.
posted by riotgrrl69 to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (38 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
57 shirts (combo of buttondown, polo, and teeshirts), 4 jackets, 5 suits, 14 trousers, 15 pairs of shoes. Um, that's a friend's closet.
posted by jmgorman at 2:36 PM on August 16, 2006

At one point I owned about 30 button downs (with wear, that number has declined; I'm not sure what it is now.) Basically, you want a number of white ones, and nice variety of color. 30 makes it easy to take them to the laundry once a month.
posted by orthogonality at 2:40 PM on August 16, 2006

I can't be bothered to count, but between my boyfriend and I we fill one six-drawer dresser, one full closet, part of another closet, a couple of piles around the bedroom, and at least two overflowing laundry baskets. Then again, we're gay, which probably skews the numbers slightly.

I don't see how 75 is excessive, though. Surely that must cover every possible occasion? This is a good thing.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 2:41 PM on August 16, 2006

The correct answer is "No more than will fit in his half of the closet without cramming, squishing, jamming, or creasing."
posted by jamaro at 2:42 PM on August 16, 2006 [1 favorite]

Normal's kinda subjective here. For a man in a management position I'd imagine that 75 shirts is a good number, depending on color and quality. Me. I have seven camp shirts (short-sleeve button-ups) and maybe two shirts i could wear to a job interview. But then I work in an environment where button-up shirts would be considered out of place so I have no reason to start my collection. Yet.
posted by lekvar at 2:44 PM on August 16, 2006

I wish I had 75 dress shirts. I wear one every day.
posted by Ironmouth at 2:52 PM on August 16, 2006

Caveat: I wear suits twice a year. If that. I've got one of those work-at-home-in-your-bathrobe jobs.

I have four suits (two of which I haven't worn in many years and really should get rid of, a third which I like but is, well, kinda old, and a fourth of unimpeachable character), two dress shirts, two ties. About 15 T-shirts, four pair of shorts, five pair of jeans, two pair of khakis. One pair dress shoes, three pair sneakers, one pair chakos (plus various specialty footwear). Six or so sweaters and second-layer type shirts.
posted by adamrice at 2:52 PM on August 16, 2006

After scrounging through my father's closet (engineer at DOD), he has exactly 5 button down shirts, 3 suits (jacket and pants), 3 pairs of pants, 2 separate jackets. Everything else he owns is jeans, jean shorts, and t-shirts with pockets.
posted by sperose at 3:08 PM on August 16, 2006

I'd say that if you have more than a fortnights worth of one thing, then its excessive.

In fact, some people consider 14 work shirts excessive since you can probably get by on only 9-10 provided you wash them regularly. Any more than that and you get items which are used much less often than others.

In addition, you can spend more per shirt and still save money.

75 is madness. Especially if only 20% of them are used regularly. Which is what is generally the case.
posted by mr_silver at 3:11 PM on August 16, 2006

It really depends on your job. If you wear them every day to work, and you have to have crisp ironed, starched shirts every day, then maybee 40-50 wouldnt be insane,

but unless you have 50 pairs of shorts, your going to have to do laundry anyway
posted by Megafly at 3:29 PM on August 16, 2006 [1 favorite]

Are they all the same size? Many people whose weight fluctuates end up with a lot of clothing, but only some of it fits at any given time.
posted by amro at 3:29 PM on August 16, 2006

I have at least 25 polo shirts, which is what I wear to work.
posted by smackfu at 3:34 PM on August 16, 2006

I am a woman and excluding socks and underwear, I don't own 75 articles of clothing. Just as one data point.
posted by peep at 3:41 PM on August 16, 2006

75 seems like a lot. I've got 25 long-sleeve button down shirts, maybe a dozen polo shirts, couple dozen t-shirts, 20 pairs of pants from khakis to jeans to dress slacks. Two suits, two blazers. Ten sweaters.

Do bike jerseys and shorts count? If bike clothes count, then that screws everything up. Bib tights, bib knickers, base layers, vests, jackets...
posted by fixedgear at 4:03 PM on August 16, 2006

I have 4 pair of jeans, 4 pair of dress pants, 4 pairs of shorts (really, not planned, just goes that way)

About 5 Polos, 6 or 7 button-downs, 2 suits, 10-15 t-shirts (some un-adorned, others with logos/snarky statements on them)

It's quite possible he has twice as many button-down shirts as I have articles of clothing (not counting underwear/socks)
posted by hatsix at 4:36 PM on August 16, 2006

75 seems like an awful lot even if he wears them to work. That said, I remember coming home from college freshman year and mom did the laundry. She was aghast that I had 60 t-shirts. I never realized how many I had or meant to accumulate so many - that's what I wore most days and they just sort of built up. And what are you going to do - throw them away? Anyway I tried to cut back after that and stay more aware, especially when mom's laundry service dried up and it was kookoobirdz doing the laundry.

I can see how his might have added up gradually. If he's happy with them, just let it slide. But a good rule is that if you haven't worn it in a year, you're not likely to. So even if he kind of wants to keep the unworn ones, he should consider just biting the bullet and letting them go. I bet he could drop a number of them that way. He'll breathe easier with less stuff around the place. And you forget about them very soon after they're gone, especially if you have others like them, which must be the case if he's got 75.
posted by kookoobirdz at 5:21 PM on August 16, 2006

I have:

-around a dozen shirts (mostly polo, a couple t-shirts) and pairs of pants that I wear regularly
-another dozen or so dress shirts/beaten-up t-shirts that sit in a drawer and collect dust
-one suit that collects dust
-a dozen identical pairs of socks and underwear
-one pair of sneakers, worn regularly; one pair of dress shoes, collecting dust

I think I'm on the low end, though.
posted by equalpants at 5:24 PM on August 16, 2006

My SO, who dresses casually for work but socially dresses better than most early-30-something men, probably has 25-30 button-down shirts and probably more than 30 t-shirts.
posted by desuetude at 5:31 PM on August 16, 2006

i don't think all the men in my family combined own 75 button down shirts. if you own 40 pair of pants and do your laundry every three months, maybe, but otherwise it's just excessive. i don't think you need citations to reach that conclusion.

he could donate half of those and still have more than your average dude.
posted by sonofslim at 5:32 PM on August 16, 2006

Who's Zebedee?
posted by DieHipsterDie at 5:35 PM on August 16, 2006

Button downs?

posted by oxford blue at 5:42 PM on August 16, 2006

I'm with peep - I'm female and I don't have 75 items of clothing if you don't count the undies and socks. My male partner would have maybe 7 shirts and the same number of T-shirts, although he does not work in a profession where appearance is an issue.
posted by andraste at 6:31 PM on August 16, 2006

My boyfriend says if he ever has 75 button down shirts I should shoot him, unless he is a shirt salesman.
posted by thirteenkiller at 8:01 PM on August 16, 2006

I probably have 75 shirts of all kinds, including plain white tees, and 15-20 pairs of trousers, and I feel like I have a lot of extra crap.

I would apply the time-honored rule that more than a month's supply of anything, aside from wine, is excessive. And the wine exception applies only to casks.

P.S. He does know, I assume, that they can be unbuttoned and buttoned back up?
posted by Clyde Mnestra at 9:15 PM on August 16, 2006

WTF is a "button down"?


Oh, a shirt. I have seven for work (three with french cuffs, four without), plus three for dressy / casual wear. 75 is a joke. You'd wear each one, what, twice a year?
posted by obiwanwasabi at 9:18 PM on August 16, 2006

I flipped quickly through mr. anjamu's closet and he has somewhere around two dozen button-downs, maybe a few less. Granted, he's not part of the working world yet, but he wears collared non-polo shirts with a fair amount of frequency for a student.

If he has a lot of the shirts because he gets them for free and doesn't know what else to do with them, there are organizations that supply clothes to people starting off in the professional world that would be more than happy to have them.
posted by anjamu at 10:01 PM on August 16, 2006

15 button down (three weeks worth), five suits, I own two pairs of black jeans and two T-Shirts for "downtime". Two (heavily painted) leather jackets for play and one rain jacket for work.

I try to own the smallest number of possessions possible, believing that if you don't your possessions will own you (and I'd be afraid 75 shirts could achieve self-awareness...).
posted by Mutant at 10:59 PM on August 16, 2006 [1 favorite]

Enough about the "button downs", what is with Americans and polo shirts? Whenever I am watching quality American programs like World's Wildest Police Videos; or [insert reality show here], all I see is polo shirts. Tucked into khaki pants. Or, god forbid, khaki shorts. Sometimes I even see cops wearing them, and I'm like: so, when you became a detective and stopped wearing your cool-looking uniform, you opted for a polo shirt with a pattern not unlike a casino carpet? (That someone has vomited on) Over here, we call those "Dad" shirts because kids buy them for Dad for Christmas as they cost about $7 from a cheap menswear store. Don't worry about the button downs folks: cut. down. on. the. polo. shirts.
posted by lazy robot at 11:17 PM on August 16, 2006

I have at least 40 t-shirts, 20 polo shirts, 20 button downs, 6 pairs of pants, 15 pairs of shoes, a month and a half of socks, 8 winter coast, 6 windbreakers and at least 20 pairs of underwear.
posted by jedrek at 11:46 PM on August 16, 2006

I recently doubled my number of "button down" (work) shirts from 6 to 12.

Mind you, I have something like 30 T-shirts that are still in fairly good condition.

8 suits.

4 dressy trouser things that don't have a matching coat.

4 pairs of jeans I'm willing to be seen outside of the house in.

And I barely have room for them.
posted by krisjohn at 12:35 AM on August 17, 2006

A few times a year, I force myself to wear each shirt I own in order from one end of the closet. If I have hesitation, I get rid of it.
posted by fcain at 8:34 AM on August 17, 2006

He is not abnormal at all. Women only have one pair of feet, but I know several girls with upwards of 80 pairs of shoes. Besides, he's getting stuff free from work. Free stuff isn't equal to going shopping for all of it. :)

- I own about 30 t-shirts.
- A few polo shirts, but they're uniform shirts for a side job.
- maybe 5 button down shirts.
- about 30 pairs of socks. Every year or so, I'll toss all of my socks into the Goodwill bin and then go to Target and buy new socks. Costs me about $20 and makes laundry time go faster because I don't have to sort them.
- about 20 pairs of boxer shorts
- 6 pairs of EMT pants (I'm a part time EMT)
- few pairs of camo BDUs for hunting/camping
- few pairs of jeans
- about 10 pairs of shorts. It's hot in California.

And I own 6 pairs of shoes (including running shoes) and 1 pair of Tevas.
posted by drstein at 11:21 AM on August 17, 2006

Interesting that noone has talked about seasonal clothing. I have lots of shirts, half of which I wear in the cooler months, half in the warmer months. Probably more than 75 (Ok, actually well over 100), but I never have more than 37 and a half in rotation at one time. And this is LA, so I would guess in most of the country the seasonal differences would be greater.
posted by johngumbo at 11:41 AM on August 17, 2006

my immediate estimate was that the average U.S. man has 5 of any particular type of clothing, with considerably more t-shirts, socks, and underwear. Apparently I drastically underestimated things, or at least the closets of mefites.
posted by billtron at 11:47 AM on August 17, 2006

The active area of my closet contains 8 button downs (6 long sleeved, 2 short), about 25 t-shirts, 14 misc long sleeved shirts and sweatshirts, 5 pair of pants (1 jeans), 3 pair of shorts, 1 pair of shoes.

Everything else (about half as much) I'm dragging my feet over getting rid of, though I know full well that I don't wear them.
posted by ThePants at 11:58 AM on August 17, 2006

Based on the tone of your question, I'm guessing you have a negative opinion about the number of shirts he owns. Just a reminder that you're entitled to that opinion regardless of how normal / abnormal his wardrobe is, just as he's entitled to own as many shirts as he likes. There's too many variables to conclude what a normal shirt count is... and it's pretty much a subjective matter when it comes down to it.
posted by yorick at 1:25 PM on August 17, 2006

Why do you all have such an unhealthy obsession with these déclassé and gauche button-downs?

What do you hate normal collars? Why?! WHYYYYYYYY?
posted by oxford blue at 5:50 PM on August 17, 2006

I have more clothinig than any straight white man in America, and I don't approach 75 button-downs.

Yard sale!!
posted by baylink at 8:17 PM on August 17, 2006

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