Could you wear just 6 items for a month?

Over-the-knee boots are appearing in all the fall shoe previews.

It feels like fall in New York — after week upon week of 90-degree heat, this week the mercury has dipped and it is merely in the 70s.

This is a merciful respite. I had grown weary of getting dressed for work each morning with priority #1 being “What will make me sweat the least?” My selection of sleeveless dresses and sandals have gotten heavy rotation and I’m tired of all of them.

Now I’m looking lustily at boots. All manner of boots, but especially the over-the-knee boots that seem all the rage.

I admit I’m a girl who appreciates shoes and jewelry and fashion in general — and maybe that’s why I was so intrigued by the Six Items Or Less experiment.

Starting Monday, June 21st 2010, a group of people from California to Dubai are going to take part in a little experiment: each participant gets to choose six (and only six) items of clothing and pledge to wear only these six items of clothing for a month. They’ll share their experiences here at sixitemsorless.com

There are exceptions that don’t count towards the six: undergarments, swim wear, work-out clothes, work uniforms, outer jackets (rain slicker, outdoor jacket), shoes and accessories. You can get multiples of the same item for laundry purposes, but different colors count as separate items. Or you can tell us to stuff it and make your own rules.

People have asked what the philosophy is behind the experiment and most assume it’s a statement about consumerism. In reality, we haven’t dictated a driving thought. Rather it’s about putting a challenge out there and seeing what people bring to it, do with it and talk about.

I went to Catholic high school for a year so I get the concept of a uniform — taking away the dizzying array of choices can be liberating. Like Garanimals.

But I’ve always considered clothes part of how I present myself for my job. It’s my uniform, my costume, that tells people I’m a serious professional. Could I do that if I had to limit it to six items for a month?

A New York Times article on the experiment included this telling line:

The most interesting thing to many of the Sixers was how few people noticed what they were doing.

Today I had my portrait taken for the alumni magazine at Ross School of Business, Dividend. I had forgotten the photographer was coming and groaned when I realized I’d have chosen something different if I knew it would be immortalized in a four-color photo.

But maybe I should just wear the same six things all the time, then I wouldn’t even have to think that?

Could you wear just six things for a month? If so, what would they be — and how do you think it might change you or your routine to have fewer choices in your closet?

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Categories: career, lifestyle

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4 replies

  1. I think I could do this pretty easily since my work uniform is generally black/white/gray with some sort of accessory mix. Actually, I probably have been doing it for a long time….. would just be more attentive to it and them start to think it was boring and want to shop for something purple. Similar to Rob above, my father has worn light blue oxford shirts forever. And my husband could easily do this. 501’s and a pair of khakis and cargo shorts. Then a rotation of blue shirts on top.

  2. I think you both bring up interesting perspectives of the same point — that it seems socially OK for men to wear virtually the same thing every day but women are conditioned to think the most horrifying thing would be someone noticing we wore the same outfit last week.

    I even had a high school friend who logged every outfit she wore so she wouldn’t accidentally repeat too soon.

    Interesting this gender difference, since in most other species, it’s the male that’s all about plumage and color.

    I had a pretty young coworker years ago who wore black pants and a black top every day. I’m not sure I noticed until she pointed it out.

    And if you have an outfit that looks terrific on you, why ration it? Why do I save my favorite dress for special occasions instead of every Thursday?

    Just thinking here …

  3. This is pretty much how I live now. I wear a white long sleeve dress shirt every day to work (one item since identical multiples count as “one.”) My colorful neckties are accessories, right? Two pairs of dress pants/Dockers to rotate. On the weekends, a printed T-shirt from the “Sanitary” restaurant in North Carolina and a solid polo shirt to rotate and a pair of Bermuda shorts like Daddy used to wear. At church I’d wear the same thing as work. At my son’s Boy Scout meetings I wear the uniform of an Assistant Scoutmaster, but we shouldn’t count uniforms.

    I’ve seen men in the work place with loads of coordinated outfits. They usually have nicknames like “Pretty Boy” and “Hollywood.”

  4. Ha, garanimals! I loved those. I also love this idea. I think one of the hardest, and most freeing, things about this idea is going into the office with the same rotation of clothing all week, every week. I see guys who do it, actually, but not women. Huh.

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