Could You Wear The Same Six Clothing Items For 30 Days?

Men Shopping for Clothing Accessories
Image by epSos.de via Flickr

Interesting anti-shopping story from The New York Times:

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. (Again, undies don’t count.) And next month, Gallery Books will publish a self-help guide, called “The Shopping Diet,” by the red-carpet stylist Phillip Bloch. (“Step 1: Admit You’re an Overshopper”… “Step 9: Practice Safe, Responsible Shopping”… “Step 10: Make the Diet a Way of Life.”)

Though their numbers may be small, and their diets extreme, these self-deniers of fashion are representative, in perhaps a notable way, of a broader reckoning of consumers’ spending habits. As the economy begins to improve, shoppers of every income appear to be wrestling with the same questions: Is it safe to go back to our old, pre-recession ways? Or should we? The authors of these diets — including some fashion marketing and advertising executives, interestingly enough — seem to think not.

Sally Bjornsen, the founder of the Great American Apparel Diet (thegreatamericanappareldiet.com), said she was prompted to stop buying clothes for a simple reason: “I was sick and tired of consumerism,” she said.

I just spent two weeks living out of a suitcase while on vacation. I confess to taking more than six items, my excuse being….well, I didn’t need one. I flew business class so could afford to have more than 50 pounds with me. That sounds like a lot. It is a lot. But, (including toiletries and shoes and books), those ounces add up fast.

Thin summer clothes are the least of it!

If I did wear only six items for a month, they’d be:

Summer:

1) black cotton leggings; 2) a black cotton tunic; 3) a white long sleeved T-shirt; 4) a gray silk broomstick-pleat skirt; 5) a dress; 6) a lightweight cardigan. Numbers 1,2,3 and 6 got the most wear in 14 days, aided by doing laundry enroute.

Winter:

1) black wool trousers; 2) grey cashmere turtleneck; 3) brown cotton dress; 4) brown wool cardigan; 5) long black jersey dress; 6) a colored long-sleeved cotton T-shirt.

I like this idea, although I do think six is tough. I’d go for ten.

It also depends, for women especially, on your style, and ability and willingness to accessorize really well; (I own a gazillion scarves, which helps.)

In summer, you’ll be doing a lot of laundry (which is itself tough on clothes) and if you perspire heavily and/or live somewhere hot and humid, you’ll be wearing your undies a lot, and not much else. I just endured 90+ degree heat and humidity in three cities in a row and had to change into fresh, dry clothes every day. It’s also very difficult if you don’t have some bo-ho, home-based creative job or need to impress someone at a client meeting or job interview.

But I do applaud the notion of buying a lot less and wearing it well, cared-for and maintained, for years or more. I grew up in Canada, a land of lower incomes and higher taxes than the U.S., where credit card interest was never tax-deductible, so shopping like a crazy person — for a variety of reasons — just wasn’t something everyone did all the time. We bought clothing and shoes to last, not “disposable” fashion a la H & M or Target.

And, if you find shopping a bore and annoyance, owning many fewer things cuts that right out of your life.

If you had to pick six things to wear for a month, what would they be?

Buying Clothes Not So Much Fun, Says Study — Especially If You're Fat

Extensive Retail Mall
Fatties, beware! Image via Wikipedia

Do women really head to the mall for a bit of retail therapy? Not necessarily, says a new Australian study.

The survey of 162 women shoppers aged between 18 and 55 from the city of Adelaide examined the link between clothing and body image. Results were published in journal Body Image.

The respondents were asked to rate statements such as ‘I usually find clothes shopping a positive experience’ on a scale of one to five, with high scores indicating they agreed with the statements. In general, thinner women saw shopping as a pleasurable experience while larger-sized women didn’t enjoy it as much. But the average score was three – indicating to researchers that women overall were ambivalent about shopping. Researchers said the study questioned the often-noted therapeutic value women are generally believed to receive from clothes shopping.

Speaking to Adelaide Now, Ms. Tiggemann likened shopping to “fantasy realm” for some women.

“They’re looking for that one thing that makes them look absolutely gorgeous, and when they can’t find it, they get quite down,” she said. “Women do like shopping. It has promise and hope but can turn into something that’s a bit depressing. The term retail therapy doesn’t actually apply to a lot of women.”

As someone who’s not a size 8, I agree that shopping for larger-sized pretty clothes is a mug’s game. And clothes-shopping, in general, is so often just a miserable chore: incompetent, bored or lazy associates too busy texting to help you; not enough choice; fluorescent-lit dressing-rooms the size of toilet cubicles, with about as much charm. Money these days is so hard-won and carefully-guarded by many of us, getting us to part with some of it demands skill, smarts and someone who can actually make the experience fun, welcoming, pleasant — and successful.

Even in a recession, where you’d think retailers would be all over us, big butts or not, some stores are clear no-go zones for the curvaceous — French Connection sells nothing over a size 10 and even J. Crew only offers size 16 online. Fatties, keep out!