Tuesday, January 18, 2011


I have heard about an experiment going on where you wear just six items of clothing for 30 days.  There are clothes that don't count as part of the six items - shoes, accessories, underwear, coats, swimwear, exercise gear or specialized clothing required for work such as in the medical field. The experiment began among a group of friends and caught the eye of others who wanted to be part of the experience.

A paragraph from a NY Times article explains this event: "This self-imposed exercise in frugality was prompted by a Web challenge called Six Items or Less (sixitemsorless.com). The premise was to go an entire month wearing only six items already found in your closet (not counting shoes, underwear or accessories). Nearly 100 people around the country, and in faraway places like Dubai and Bangalore, India, were also taking part in the regimen, with motives including a way to trim back on spending, an outright rejection of fashion, and a concern that the mass production and global transportation of increasingly cheap clothing was damaging the environment.  Meanwhile, an even stricter program, the Great American Apparel Diet, which began on Sept. 1, has attracted pledges by more than 150 women and two men to abstain from buying for an entire year. " (NY Times article).

Recently in the Globe and Mail, an article written by Angela Self, who writes a weekly column, described her commencement of wearing just six items of clothing for the next 30 days.  She reports that one noted stylist feels your style and bank account will come out winners if you are strategic about what you buy.  Her article states that studies have shown that we wear only about 20 to 30 percent of our wardrobes and that we have go-to outfits.  I can believe that!  I do not wear all of the clothes hanging in my closet or packed in my drawers.  Furthermore, I do gravitate towards certain clothes and wear them more than others.  Angela Self writes about testing this theory using a hanger test.  Flip all of your hangers backwards, then whenever you wear something, place the hanger in the right direction.   By doing this for two or three months you will quickly see what you wear and what you may need to think about donating, altering or selling.  Of course you have to be conscious of the seasons particularly if you live with four seasons of weather.

In reviewing several internet sites including that of "Six Items of Less" the comments left by readers support or criticize this experiment.  Much can be said about the home environment you grew up in, your weight and whether you have different clothes for your plus or minus 10 to 15 pounds weight range, your self worth, and your personal style.  One comment made by a reader was that they could cope much easier with 10 items and would prefer that option.  For those that took on the challenge, did their shopping habits change afterwards?  What did they do after the 30 days?

After reading this article, I asked the DH if he could wear only six items of clothing for a month. He replied that he does it already.  In essence he gravitates towards certain clothes and mostly wears the same clothes all of the time.  I have been thinking about whether I could do this exercise or a modified exercise of buying less and owning less clothes.  Would I get bored bored bored from a limited selection?  I do have clothes hanging in my closet that I don't wear very often and can count on one hand how many times I have worn that particular outfit.  I have clothes that I keep for nostalgic purposes; think that I will wear the item sometime soon; it was pricey, bought it on a whim and I need to keep it and wear it to get 'value' out if it; bought the item because I was engaging in retail therapy; bought the item because it was on sale and was such a deal; and finally, I like shopping.  What I do realize and would rather do is buy less but buy an item that is better quality and well made, wear it more often and enjoy it.  Maybe instead of wearing six items, 12 or 20 items is more realistic.  You could also set yourself a budget for the year and use that budget to assist you in your choices if you find yourself indulging in too much retail therapy.  You have to also acknowledge the environment you live in - do you live where the outside temperature can go from minus 30 degrees Celsius to plus 30 degrees Celsius depending on the season?  You do wear different clothes depending if it is summer or winter.

Vivienne Westwood, the fashion designer, has said that one should buy less, choose well and mix it all.

1 comment:

  1. I think I'm with you, I could manage the 12 - 20 items you suggest...doubtful I could manage 6. It sure makes you think, though. Some people have closets full of clothing that they never wear.