For me, today is Day 1 of a self-imposed fashion fast. For the next 30 days, I will wear only six items from my closet. That’s right! Just six!
Why would I do such a crazy sounding thing, you ask. Well, first of all, because I love a challenge and secondly, because I hope to learn something from the exercise.
The idea of a “six items or less” challenge is not a new one. In fact, they’ve been around for a decade or more. I’m not sure where the idea originated, but as early as 2015 and perhaps before that, a not-for-profit organization in the UK called Labour Behind the Label has been promoting an annual six items for six weeks fundraising challenge. Participants select six items of clothing from their wardrobes and pledge to wear only those pieces every day for six weeks while collectively raising funds to support Labour Behind the Label’s efforts to improve conditions and empower workers in the global garment industry. The annual challenge takes place during the season of Lent, a period of fasting and penance for many Catholics and other Christians. For many, that seemed a suitable time for a fashion fast.
While there has been no single dictating thought or reason behind similar challenges, most of which are one month in duration, those who have participated have often done so to promote mindful consumption. In addition to the reasons that I gave above, I see value in seriously considering what we purchase and why as well as what effect those purchases have on the environment and the people who make them. Last time I walked through a mall, I had this challenge in mind and I was overwhelmed by the number of clothing stores, particularly for women. The options available to us are staggering! We have so much while so many in the world have so little. Perhaps this exercise will also be an opportunity for me to discover how little I really need and to see how creative I can be with what I have.
The rules for all of these challenges have been essentially the same. Thankfully, underwear, socks, pyjamas, workout wear, coats, and footwear are not included in the six items and unlimited accessories are allowed. Though some challenges also include a rule forbidding participants from shopping for clothing for themselves during the challenge, I’m not sure if I’ll stick to that one. Living where I do, I don’t have many opportunities to shop and we do have some Christmas shopping left to do. If I happen across something that fits a gap in my wardrobe while we’re doing that, I might buy it, but I promise not to wear it until the challenge is over.
So how did I select the six items that I will wear exclusively for the next 30 days? After much thought, this was my criteria:
- must be able to mix and match to create many different looks
- requires a coordinated colour palette
- must be pieces that I love wearing
- must be able to layer
- must be versatile, able to dress up or down
- must be able to create at least one somewhat dressy outfit in case of a funeral or other unexpected event
I decided to use a 3-2-1 formula: 3 tops, 2 pants, 1 cardigan. I realize that I have an advantage over many in that I’m retired and don’t have to think about a work wardrobe. My choices would have been somewhat different if I were still teaching. Also, since Covid is still raging around us, we aren’t going out a lot which will also make the challenge easier than it might otherwise have been.
And now, for the big reveal, here is what I will be wearing for the next month.
I wonder how many people will even notice?
My biggest concern going into the challenge is laundry. While all of these garments are machine washable (some on the hand wash cycle), the denim shirt is the only piece that I put in the dryer. The others are hung or laid flat to dry. To help with the laundry concern, some of these challenges do allow duplicates of the same item as long as they are exactly the same colour. I doubt that that comes into play very often though because most of us don’t have identical items hanging in our closets. I do, however, have a second pair of the dark wash jeans. If I find myself without pants to wear, I will put them into rotation, but it almost seems like cheating so I’ll try to avoid having to do that.
Over the month, I plan to document my experience and share a bit more about the pieces that I chose, so stay tuned for more about “six items or less” in the coming weeks!