Less or Fewer

Here’s a good example for those who struggle with the less and fewer distinction:
fewer clothes, less clothing
Clothing is a mass noun, clothes are individual items; less is for a mass, unitary, undivided while fewer is for individual items.
The problem comes in with a sentence like:
There are less/fewer cars in the parking lot these days.
The pedant/purist insists on fewer because cars are individual items. However, if the speaker is offering a perspective of a parking lot full of cars seen as a mass, then less makes perfect sense.
Comparing teams, you might say that American football has fewer players on the field than does world soccer, but less players if you think of the team as a whole.
The key, as usual, is a combination of calibrated usage (formal, colloquial, informal, etc.) and what is in the mind of the speaker, i.e. what he means to say.

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