80/20 Rule for Clothes: Is It Real? (2-Month Study Results)

I have been thinking a lot about the Pareto Principle and how I can apply it to my life. That’s the 80/20 Rule, by the way. As I learned more about this rule, I continually read comments claiming that we wear 20% of our clothes 80% of the time.

It sounded a little farfetched to me. I looked for actual data proving this claim, but alas; I found only generalized comments without evidence. Unsatisfied and unconvinced, I decided to gather the data for myself, on myself. I just finished month two.

Here is just a taste of the results that I uncovered:

For a 2-month period, I wore 20% of my clothes 64.52% of the time! It’s not exactly 80/20, but it is not too far off, either. This demonstrates that we do, in fact, wear a small percentage of our clothes disproportionally often.


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The Scientific Method

I was once a primary school teacher in Mexico. Among my many duties, some colleagues and I were privileged to chaperone a group of students and their families on a weekend-long science fair in the country’s capitol, Mexico City. I learned much from this experience:

  • Kids are strong scientists, with more creativity than many adults.
  • The scientific method is simple, yet powerful.
  • Tamales con rajas + a bread roll = a surprisingly delicious combination

Putting my tamale sandwich down for a moment, I decided to make this self-study slightly more scientific by incorporating the scientific method into my own research.

Do you remember the elements of the scientific method? No? That’s OK! I had to look them up, too. Here they are:


Do I wear 20% of my clothes 80% of the time?


  • I predict that in small sample sizes of one-month intervals, I wear 20% of my clothes less than 80% of the time, but not far from it.
  • I also predict that over longer intervals of six months to one year, I wear 20% of my clothes less than 50% of the time.


To complete this experiment, I performed the following steps:

  1. I began on 15-June-2019.
  2. I itemized every article of clothing I own into an Excel spreadsheet.
  3. I added formulas to the spreadsheet to keep track of my daily clothes usage.
  4. I calculated the total number of clothing items that I own (96).
  5. I found 20% of the total number of clothing items I own (19.2).  
  6. I added an “x” into the spreadsheet for each item that I wore each day.
  7. I repeated Step 6 every day for two months, ending on 14-Aug-2019.
  8. I manually found the top 19 clothing items for each analyzed interval.
  9. I found my personal 80/20 number for my clothes usage.
  10. I ate a gummy bear. Hey, it’s my experiment. I can design it any way I want to!


Here are the results of my study. You can download the Excel spreadsheet I used to see the complete data and spreadsheet setup for yourself. I encourage my peers to review my work for added authenticity, possible error correction, and so that you can perform this self-study for yourself.

I have condensed the results into the following tables.

The 1st table highlights my personal 80/20 number per period. The top 19 articles of clothing were worn the following percentage of time:

PeriodMonth 1Month 2Months 1 & 2

The 2nd table highlights the total percentage of my clothes worn per period. Of all of the clothes that I own, I wore the following percent of them in each period.

Period Month 1 Month 2 Months 1 & 2
Results 54.17% 55.21% 62.50%

The 3rd table highlights my top 20% clothing items per period. They are ranked from the most used to the least used. The numbers in parenthesis show the number of days I used each item:

NOTE: “U.P.” means “Underpants

RankMonth 1 (30 days)Month 2 (31 days)Months 1 & 2 (61 days)
1Blue Flip-Flops (29)Gym Shorts (28)Blue Flip-Flops (57)
2Belt (28)Blue Flip-Flops (28)Belt (52)
3Pyjamas (18)Belt (24)Gym Shorts (46)
4Gym Shorts (18)Sneakers (15)Pyjamas (25)
5Superman T-Shirt (10)Gym T-Shirt (14)Red Pants (20)
6Navy Blue Shorts (10)Red Pants (12)Sneakers (19)
7Blue Vans Shoes (10)Crazy Bus T-Shirt (10)Blue Vans Shoes (19)
8Blue Hoodie (9)Blue Vans Shoes (9)Superman T-Shirt (17)
9Green Flip-Flops (9)Blue-Silver Shirt (8)Green Flip-Flops (17)
10Dark Jeans #1 (8)Green Flip-Flops (8)Gym T-Shirt (16)
11Red Pants (8)Death Road T-Shirt (7)Blue-Silver Shirt (14)
12EBITDA T-Shirt (7)Superman T-Shirt (7)Dark Jeans #1 (14)
13Solid Green V-Neck (7)Pyjamas (7)Crazy Bus T-Shirt (12)
14Dark Grey U.P. (7)Gold Shorts (7)EBITDA T-Shirt (11)
15Blue-Silver Shirt (6)Dark Jeans #1 (6)Blue Hoodie (11)
16New Light Blue U.P. (6)Colorful Ladies U.P. (6)Dark Grey U.P. (11)
175-Way Tie (5)Dark Blue U.P. #1 (6)4-Way Tie (10)
185-Way Tie (5)Dark Blue U.P. #2 (6)4-Way Tie (10)
195-Way Tie (5)6-Way Tie (5)4-Way Tie (10)
#1 My Blue Flip-Flops. Need a foot model, anyone?!?


As you can see from the data:

  • For only the 1st month, I wore 20% of my clothes 70.21% of the time.
  • For only the 2nd month, I wore 20% of my clothes 67.83% of the time.
  • For the 2-month period, I wore 20% of my clothes 64.52% of the time!

The 1st part of my hypotheses seems to be correct; for shorter intervals of only one month, I wear 20% of my clothes less than 80% of the time, but not far from it.

While I did not achieve 80/20, this self-study still demonstrates that I wear a few articles of clothing disproportionally often compared to the total number of clothes that I own.

As for the 2nd part of my hypothesis, the longer the time period the smaller the 80/20 number. The total percentage of all of my clothes-used also increased over time. The evidence is pointing in the right direction. I will need to gather more data to definitively prove this prediction.

And Guess What!?

That is exactly what I plan to do! I have already begun collecting data for the 3rd month, and I will publish the results once they have been collected and analyzed.

I hypothesize that my 80/20 number for a 3-month period will continue to fall. I predict that it will fall to below 60%.

Will my prediction be correct? Come back in a month to find out!

Related Questions

What are some other examples of the 80/20 Rule? Here are just a few possible examples I found while searching online:

  • 20% of blog posts generate 80% of the traffic
  • 20% of criminals commit 80% of the crimes
  • 20% of drivers cause 80% of all traffic accidents
  • 20% of factories generate 80% of pollution
  • 20% of a company’s products represent 80% of sales
  • 20% of employees are responsible for 80% of the results
  • 20% of students have grades 80% or higher

NOTE: These ideas came from the Heflo blog. Leave a comment below if you have any other interesting 80/20 Rule examples to share.  

How will this self-study change the world? Honestly, it probably won’t, and that’s perfectly fine with me. I had a question, I could not find an adequate answer, so I am finding it on my own. The process is entertaining for me, and the results are demonstrating that I, too, can live happily with a smaller wardrobe.

In a best-case scenario:

  • Perhaps you will begin to become more frugal in your clothes purchasing.
  • Perhaps you will save your money instead of buying more clothes.
  • Perhaps you will invest that saved money in other ways.
  • Perhaps you will feel even more gratitude for the wealth of clothes you already own.
  • Perhaps you will donate some unused clothes to people who really need it.
  • Perhaps you will have found this self-study enjoyable.
  • Perhaps you will leave a comment below to share your thoughts and opinions?

Jack Clancy

Everything I do is focused on this concept: "To inspire personal change, so that together we can become the people we wish to be."

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