A Parisienne friend has been in therapy. One of her issues, she says, is an obsession with her appearance.
Her therapist asked her to try an experiment. She was to dress in mismatched separates, "more than just mismatched", she told me, "really jumbled, random things", then run errands in her chic quartier for an entire day. "What do you think happened?" she asked.
She didn't get a second glance, let alone a pointing finger.
This is the same result reported by men and women (who mostly seem to be in their twenties) who've tried wearing six items for a month. Many went for weeks without anyone, from partners to work colleagues, noticing their wardrobes were condensed.
On the Six Items or Less web site, they posted insights about identity, culture and consumption during their month:
"... one’s ’total public presentation’ is largely made up of a combination of clothing, skin, and attitude. Of the three, I am more convinced than ever that clothing is the least important to spend time precious thinking about and optimizing. Nobody really cares what you wear unless it negatively effects work performance or visually offends." -ATX
"...on a grand scheme of things – no one, except you, cares about what you look like. It’s all in your head. And the nice thing is – you’re still you. Whether you feel it or not." -Proxikid
"I finally understood what quality was." -thekhesirekat
"Simplicity, conservation, and preservation are harder to learn later in life but I’m trying. The kids (and I) really will live through and benefit from the less is more mantra." -Shannonandkids
"Stress and complexity in life is most often a self-inflicted malady. There’s lots of opportunity to reduce that stress by reducing ones reliance on material things.
"(I learned to) quit buying things just because one day I might wear them." - Addy
"My mom’s friend came to visit this weekend and I heard while they were talking, she said that shopping was her hobby. My mom said that’s what she used to do too. I actually think that’s how most people are today."-Addy
Could you do it?
Even if others barely notice, you might feel choosing your outfit is an embodiment of your creativity and autonomy. That's what I thought– but I wear about 25% of my clothes at least 85% of the time, a wardrobe Pareto's Law.
Anyone try the experiment? I'd be willing to sign on for ten items, just like the supermarket express lane.
Last summer's batch of experimenters had it easy; in Canada, fall means a jacket. And I don't want to live in my gym clothes. Ten to twelve would work; limited to six, I'd cheat.