09 February 2011

Six Items or Less - No, undies don't count

Since January 10th, I have been participating in the Six Items or Less experiment.  Here is some information on it:

What do our clothes say about us? ...
The scope of the Six Items project expanded rapidly around the world, exposing individuals and even entire families to explore a life with less...
The experiment is simple: 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...
Logistically, there are exceptions that don’t count towards the six: undergarments, swim wear, work-out clothes, work uniforms, outer wear (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.

For my six, I chose

  1. Black dress
  2. White button-up blouse
  3. Jeans
  4. Black cardigan
  5. Black long-sleeved t-shirt
  6. Gray sweater

These were really good choices for me.  I counted about 17 outfit options/combinations I could create with these six pieces (I only ended up wearing 7, but in different ways).  I was able to go to work and hang out and even attend the Lauryn Hill concert all with ease and without looking out of place.  The dress was something I have had for at least 8 years and have only probably worn about 5 times.

Initially I was worried about how hard this would be.  But, it turns out that it was way easier than I thought.  A couple years ago, I started getting rid of clothes that I didn't like.  Last year I got rid of some more.  When I decided to do SIOL in December, I got rid of even more.  I by no means am living super simple with clothes, but I have definitely pared down.  I also was worried about looking the same day in and day out.

Then I remembered that every summer I basically wear the same thing each day when I am not out coaching.  When Kid Sis #3 found out I was doing this, she asked, "Isn't that what you always do anyway?"  When I am not working, I am basically in similar clothes each day.

I was concerned that my students would notice my outfits and realize before anyone else what was going on.  I am in front of them and in the halls with them each and every day for long periods of time.

All of my fears were for nothing.

I loved the clothes I chose.  That dress that had seen so little wear in the past years has now become a favorite.

Scarves have become my favorite.  I have tried out so many different ways of wearing them around my neck and around my body that it is truly amazing.

I got so many compliments on so many days on my outfits.  Some one I don't normally see at work (outside of my coaching clothes) even asked me if I was going on interviews after school since I looked so nice.  The kids even complimented me on my outfits.  One girl compared another student to me as the after portion of "What Not To Wear" and the kid as the before.  The minimal items and the desire not to look the same each day made me really focus on looking put together each day.  It also made me use accessories, tights, and shoes to make my look different each time I wore something.  In these pictures you can see two examples of how I mixed up the dress.  In the first, I wore the black T on top with the scarf to break it up and make it look more like a skirt.  I wore ballet shoes that day.  In this picture I rocked my boots and just had the cardigan on top (the dress is short-sleeve, so I always had something on top.  I wore the dress with the white shirt on top, with the gray sweater on top, tucked in to the jeans to look like a shirt, and different colored tights and shoes and a lot of different jewelry.

I was really impressed by my creativity throughout this.  I have not seen myself as being really good with fashion, but perhaps with time and practice, that may be a calling of mine somehow.

I only told three people that I was doing SIOL, and no one else noticed (or at least said anything to my face about it).

I have always gotten my clothes ready for the week on Sunday nights, but with SIOL, it made it even easier to do so.

Today is the last day.

Next, I am going to up it to 15 items (no experiment, just doing it on my own) and continue to the end of February.  When I picked my 15 pieces, I started trying to figure out how many ways I could mix them and had to stop counting, because I was becoming overwhelmed with all the choices.

Through this experiment, I have come even closer to figuring out a few things:

  • What type of clothes I really like and what I need to focus one when I go shopping for clothes - I know that quality is way better than cheap items that will only be ruined after a season of washing and wearing.  Each of my items were good quality and made it through a lot of washing and (most of them) three times a week wear.  
  • I know that I can live off of very little - Again, no one noticed.  That is a credit to my creativity, but as many on the SIOL site have said, no one really cares what you wear.  It is really about wearing clothes that suit your body and lifestyle, and not looking out of place.  I have donated or sold even more clothes.
  • I have started trying to travel with just a carry on - After this, I know that this will be even easier.  
  • I love this six - With exception to the white shirt, and I don't totally love that because I feel like the arms aren't as long as I would like them to be.  They are by no means the MJ of sleeves, but I have long arms for a woman and like my sleeves to come to a certain point on my hands.  When I picked my 15 pieces, it was almost hard to get to 15 because I wanted to make sure that the pieces fit my style and that they would all look good together and be a decent quality.
  • I am not easily bored with clothes - Not until this past Sunday did I get antsy about wearing something different.  That was when I was getting my clothes ready for the week and was getting excited/anxious about all the options for Thursday.  I stuck with my 6, and Thursday will wear something totally different.  Though, I did consider wearing the dress again since I like it so much.

During the experiment I even tried things out with my ever growing TWA.  I had my sister braid some of it and tried out some of those comb-thingies that you can slide into your hair.  It may be time for me to invest in some of PeaceImages hair combs - I have been looking forward to the day my hair is long enough to mess around with since I became natural (finally stopping the cutting has really helped out - who would have thought, right?)

So SIOL no more.

It is still rather likely that I will keep wearing some of the same outfits in the next few weeks.

The community on the website was really great - it was cool to read about their journeys, trials, and tribulations as well as to see some of the options they chose.  I may do one of these experiments some of them suggested next.  Each of which will be a breeze after limiting myself to 6 items for 31 days.

Or maybe something completely different that comes up or that I create - for now it will be 15IOL for the next 19 days.  Perhaps after that, I will be able to pare my wardrobe down even more.


  1. What a great way to get to know your personal style! Love it!

  2. Hmmm....an interesting concept. I saw you alot during this period (like 3-4 times) and I never noticed. And you did look better than Lauryn!

    I think I could pull this off. But for guys I can't tell if it's easier or harder. Harder because we don't get to wear tights as an accesory (nor do I want to. itchy!).

    Also, though I rock a scarf more often than most guys, I doubt there are an abundance of (socially acceptable) ways in which to drapes said scarf around my body. And I don't know if men's bodies are meant for draping anyways. Meh.

    My 6
    1 favorite black jeans
    2 gray slacks
    3 grey v-neck t-shirt
    4 white sweater
    5 blue "military" button-down shirt
    6 tweed vest
    7(bonus) the fur shrug/vest/jacket that ms. hill wore during her concert lol

  3. First off, I love the 6 items or less idea. You looked great on the couple of days I saw you! IMO the experiment really says a lot about the difference between how we view ourselves vs. how we are viewed by others. It's funny when you think of the investment we make in our look ( i.e., time, money, thought....etc) vs the impact it has on those around us. It’s not that people don’t get your look. Rather, it’s that your look get’s quickly categorized and forgotten. You become the dude with the cargo shorts and Abercrombie t-shirts or the girl that wears jeans and a jacket. Anyway, it seems to me that this experiment forced you to revamp your look and that led to others taking notice. Anyway, I’m proud of you for sticking with it (black shirt not withstanding LOLOL)
    As a side note for BIO: That fur piece/baby rabbit/jacket that L Boogie wore should not be a bonus item on her SIOL list, let alone yours :)

  4. Good review. I'm trying this for the summer. I need to invest in some casual summer items. Tanks, skirts, capris and some cool accessories. You looked great doing this and it was so not noticeable what you were doing.

  5. I'm into this. Getting rid of loads of clothes I don't love is therapeutic and something I no longer apologize for. Life's too short. Your ensembles look great!


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