When the Today show challenged financial editor Jean Chatzky to wear only six items for 30 days, my heart sank. If I was asked to do the same, there’s no way I would survive. (Confession: I don’t think I’ve even worn a single item in my wardrobe six times!)
As it turns out, this is a thing. Just like that couple who decided to get rid of all of their stuff but 100 items, now people — in an effort to save money, curb their carbon footprint, control their fashion addiction or simply prove a point — are challenging themselves to spend less and wear less. Conscious shoppers are joining communities like The Great American Apparel Diet and Six Items or Less, supporting each other, sharing their adventures and encouraging others to sacrifice stuff and (gulp) style.
I don’t know if I can follow in their footsteps exactly. One month is a long time, not to mention, a lot of small loads of laundry. But, I’ve decided on a style challenge of my own: I’m going to wear only six (interchangeable) items during New York Fashion Week. It’s the time of year when I plan, plan, plan my outfits days (sometimes weeks) in advance. It’s when I wear my prized possessions, pull together my favorite outfits and glam it up like there’s no tomorrow. I’ve already RSVP’d to a handful of shows (and the list is still growing). Can I really do this? Ack! Starting September 9, I will be out and about in New York City in a combination of the following:
• a little black dress
• a navy blue boyfriend cardigan
• a white A-line skirt
• a striped button-down shirt
• a pair of blue jeans
• a plain white tee
Day 1: Menswear with a Twist
For day 1, I went with a vintage Ralph Lauren button-down, no-name skinny jeans, and a navy blue boyfriend cardigan from Forever 21 — pieces I chose for my six because I knew they’d be versatile enough to mix and match. It’s simple, not to mention a little androgynous, so it requires very little accessorizing. Menswear is so hot right now, it works. I chose a pair of sky-high gray maryjanes by Steven, my black Charles David satchel, and my hair tied back to go with the look.
Day 2: Yes! Casual Friday!
Hooray, it’s casual Friday, and for my second Fashion Week ensemble, I decided to go super-casual with my plain white tee and skinny jeans. I only have one runway presentation to go to today, and I’m hoping no one will notice I look like I’m going to loiter at a coffee shop. To distract, I overdosed on accessories: one bib necklace from Kohl’s, an Old Navy scarf, gold tone cuffs and bangles, flat gray booties, a cocktail ring, an owl necklace, a drawstring hobo by Simply Vera Vera Wang, and a trendy fedora.
Day 3: White Weekend Wear
On day three, I decided to go ultra-feminine to the Fashion Week festivities. Luckily, wearing all white is in, so I was able to make good use out of two of my six things — a plain white tee (from Forever 21) and white linen A-line skirt (a vintage find). I used a thick, elastic earth-tone belt (from JC Penney) to break up the twosome. (I’ll let you in on a little secret, the whites didn’t exactly match in color, but I wanted to create the illusion of a dress.) For an ultra-feminine touch, I added a floral necklace from Anthropologie.
Day 4: Go for the Gold
On day four, I took my LBD and cardigan (two of my six things), and cinched it with a brown belt from Target, embellished with layered gold necklaces of varying lengths, lugged my belongings in a gold clutch, and rocked no-name gray booties with a platform heel.
Day 5: Dresses Can Be Shirts!
On day five, like magic, I realized — duh! — I can wear my LBD as a top. I layered my linen A-line skirt over it, and accessorized with a black and white leather belt, a strand of pearls, a white flower ring from Forever 21, a fabulous oversized clutch and peep-toe wedge sandals from Target.
Day 6: Stilettos, Studs and Stripes
On day 6, my combination comprised of my LBD (which yes, I wore the day before and the day before that — yikes!) and my button-down dress shirt, which I wore on day one. I added a studded black leather belt, black opaque tights and a pair of Jessica Simpson oxford stilettos to the mix.
Day 7: Yay! I Did It!
I really didn’t think I’d make it. I thought I’d give up mid-week after seeing all of the major fashionistas strutting their stuff up and down the streets of New York City during Fashion Week, but I stayed strong, wearing only my six things and learning to get really creative with my accessories. On day seven, I opted for my LBD (again, worn as a top), my skinny jeans cuffed, and BCBG mid-calf boots, a floral bib necklace, almost every gold cuff I have in my accessory bin and a fabulous mosaic-beaded clutch.
I set out on My Fashion Week Challenge with very little expectations. I had hoped that I would come up with cool ways to wear my six things — a pair of skinny jeans, a white linen A-line skirt, a striped button-down dress shirt, a navy blue cardigan and a little black dress. I crossed my fingers that I would look decent enough to hit Lincoln Center during New York Fashion Week free of judgment from other fashion editors who were dressed to the nines. But never in my wildest dreams did I think I would enjoy the challenge enough to do it again every season. (Yes, stay tuned for a new “six challenge” out of my fall staples.) And since posting my outfit choices, never did I think that I would inspire iVillage readers to do the same! (Thanks for all of your e-mails and support, guys and gals! And yes, stay tuned for a “six challenge” contest in the near future.)
This morning, I stepped into my walk-in closet filled with 100+ dresses, skirts, pants, blouses, sweaters, rompers, jumpsuits, shoes, bags… to find an outfit to wear to work. You’d think I’d know exactly what to reach for — I had been fashion-starved for a week, after all. But instead, I stood there, frozen, uninspired and overwhelmed.
Was Brian Schwartz, author of The Paradox of Choice: Why More is Less, right? Can having too many options affect a person in a negative way? We assume that more options mean better decisions and more satisfaction, but is that even true?
After 30 minutes, I eventually decided on a sleeveless button-down bodysuit from Forever 21 worn under a vintage navy blue and white polka dot, mid-length skirt with gray suede Nine West booties. It’s a cute outfit, but I wasted a lot of time to put it together. Whereas on the previous days during my challenge, it would take me all of five minutes to get myself dressed and accessorized. I could’ve used the extra time eating breakfast or enjoying a cup of coffee while watching today’s morning news, but instead, I ran out the door with little time to spare, irrate about traffic because I needed to beat the clock.
So were six things better than a hundred? This morning, I’d have to say yes. In the longrun, I might be whistling a different tune because there’s also that theory that sometimes change (not to mention, washing clothes) are good ideas.