I spend quite a lot of my online time reading the NY Times, over the years they've published some of my all-time favourite articles - they never hesitate to make me think a lot. One that recently sparked an interest was this article about shoppers on a diet.
"Imagine that horrible though all-too-familiar feeling: You are standing before a fully stuffed closet and yet have nothing to wear. Now, imagine something worse: Your closet contains only six items, and you are restricted to wearing only those six items for an entire month. Now, if you can bear it, imagine something unspeakable: No one notices."
The article tells the tale of Stella Brennan, a 31 year old insurance sales executive, who wore just six items of clothing for a month. This self-imposed exercise in frugality was prompted by an online challenge called Six Items or Less. The challenge was to go an entire month wearing only six items you already own - not counting shoes, underwear or accessories. Motives include 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 are damaging the environment.
Aside from the challenge of mixing and matching the same six items for 30 days, what is really interesting about the outcome is that no one noticed. Not even Stella's husband - the man responsible for doing all the laundry in the house.
This has made me question my own life. Do I own too many clothes? Definitely. Could I survive on six items or less for a month? Probably, but I don't do washing often enough; I'd be out of clothes by the end of the week. I've suddenly realised how much stuff I own that I don't use. I have four bedrooms full of material artefacts, yet I managed to backpack round Australia for months with only a rucksack full of clothes. Do I need to go on a shopping diet? Almost definitely.
I also hate wearing the same thing more than once a week, incase anyone thinks I haven't washed it. This undoubtedly makes the "what shall I wear today?" dilemma every morning all the more difficult. But the fact that even Stella's own husband didn't notice has made me question if I'm worrying unnecessarily. I bet my boyfriend wouldn't notice (and he does most of my washing) so would anyone else? Would I notice if any of my friends recycled their outfit for many days in a row? I'm not all that sure that I would. I used to have a lecturer who wore the same outfit every time she taught us (including on a uni trip where she seemingly wore the same outfit for 3 days straight) but even then, how many weeks/months did it take us to notice?
Almost tempted to try the Six Items or Less challenge. Watch this space.