News / USA

Does Less Clothing Reduce Stress?

Choice-weary shoppers exercise frugality, simplicity by wearing the same 6 pieces of clothing for a month

Six Items or Less, a self-imposed exercise in frugality, encourages people to wear the same six items of clothing for an entire month.
Six Items or Less, a self-imposed exercise in frugality, encourages people to wear the same six items of clothing for an entire month.

Multimedia

Audio
Faiza Elmasry

What am I going to wear today?

That daily question often consumes time and causes stress. Some people might even stand before a stuffed closet and still think, 'There's nothing to wear.'

But, what if they had only six items of clothing to choose from and wear for an entire month? That's the idea behind Six Items or Less, a self-imposed exercise in frugality.

Practicing frugality

Six Items or Less is a social experiment, a gentle protest against fashion consumerism and the high cost of apparel. New York City advertising executive Heidi Hackemer came up with the idea.

"I know a really good friend in London. She and I were talking one day over Facebook messaging about clothing and how much time and energy we spend on clothes and how it seems to be a bit ridiculous," she says. "So she and I wanted to see if we can get our wardrobe down to a uniform and see what that type of effect that would have on the rest of our lives. Would we be stressed out by not having choices of clothing? Would we be more creative? Would our mind be freed up to do different things?"

Heidi Hackerman modeling one of the six pieces of clothing she wore for a month.
Heidi Hackerman modeling one of the six pieces of clothing she wore for a month.

The two friends shared their idea with other friends.

"When we went to work the next Monday, we spoke to a few people about it. We sent out a few tweets on Twitter," says Hackemer. "And all of a sudden, within five days, we had almost 100 people from around the world saying that they too wanted to take part in this experiment with us. So we started in June 21 and we ran the experiment through July 21."

Fewer choices, less stress?

It proved to be an interesting month for a wide variety of people.

"We had an 11-year-old girl and we had a woman that was in her 60s. We had people from all walks of life," says says Hackemer. "We had people from anywhere from Singapore to Dubai to London to Amsterdam, Brazil, all across the U.S. It just seems that a lot of people are struggling with their relationship with clothes and the way they consume them. That's why I think we had such a wide range of people participate.

Hackemer was surprised at how few people seemed to notice that she was wearing the same six items the whole month.

"I had a pair of cutoff shorts that I would wear on the weekend. And I had another item, a black blazer, that was very much about dressing up. I then mixed in other things like a black pair of pants and a black top and a skirt and a black dress."

Having fewer choices reduced stress in her life.

"I learned what's really important and what's really worth stressing over. I also found that this simplicity echoed into other parts of my life, you know just walking more or cooking more food. I realized that - you know what? This stuff we let come into our world, physical stuff that we allow into our world, really jams up our mind. And our mind can be quite a powerful and positive thing if we cleared up a little bit."

Becoming a 'sixer'

Twenty-two year old Kristy Hogue, who lives in Seattle, Washington, learned about Hackemer's experiment through a magazine article. She says the idea appealed to her, so she decided to become a sixer.

"I felt I had too much of everything including clothing and a lot of it I didn't wear," she says. "So I thought it would be a great experiment to see if I could wear six items or less."

The experiment inspired Hogue to reexamine her wardrobe and get rid of the clothes she didn't wear. However, going for 31 days with only six outfits to choose from was quite a challenge.

"At the very beginning, my items were really easy to pick. They were items that I liked, that I wore a lot anyway. For the first week or so I was really excited and everything was working out perfectly and I never got bored. Then I started to feel a little bit constrained. I didn't have the freedom to look the way I wanted to look all the time. So that was really frustrating. Then I eventually accepted it and started to be more relaxed, not caring as much about how I looked."

Most people who participated in the experiment were women. Thirty-five-year-old New Yorker Alexander Smith was one of 40 or so male 'sixers'. He picked six items from his wardrobe, but ended up wearing only five of them.

Getting more out of less

"The most difficult part for me was having to do hand wash laundry pretty much every day in order to have clothes for the next day." says Smith.

The experiment changed his perspective on what makes people happy.

"We're exposed to choices for everything. There are hundreds of consumer opportunities. But all that choice doesn't necessarily lead up to any kind of fulfillment. We're obsessed with novelty. We go after that when, in fact, slowing down a little bit and considering your choices a little more tightly, maybe constraining yourself in some ways, actually leads to more time, more happiness and more fulfillment."

The Six Items or Less website includes a forum for participants and observers to exchange ideas and express themselves. Heidi Hackemer says it received a lot of traffic during the month-long experiment.

And, she adds, more than 1,000 people from around the world expressed interest in taking part in the next cycle that starts in October.

You May Like

Turkey: No Ransom Paid for Release of Hostages Held by IS Militants

President Erdogan hails release of hostages as diplomatic success but declines to be drawn on whether their release freed Ankara's hand to take more active stance against insurgents More

Audio Sierra Leone Ends Ebola Lockdown

Health ministry says it has reached 75 percent of its target of visiting 1.5 million homes to locate infected, educate population about virus More

US Pivot to Asia Demands Delicate Balancing Act

As tumult in Middle East distracts Obama administration, efforts to shift American focus eastward appear threatened More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Natural Gas Export Plan Divides Maryland Towni
X
Deborah Block
September 21, 2014 2:12 PM
A U.S. power company that has been importing natural gas now wants to export it. If approved, its plant in Lusby, Maryland, would likely be the first terminal on the United States East Coast to export liquefied natural gas from American pipelines. While some residents welcome the move because it will create jobs, others oppose it, saying the expansion could be a safety and environmental hazard. VOA’s Deborah Block examines the controversy.
Video

Video Natural Gas Export Plan Divides Maryland Town

A U.S. power company that has been importing natural gas now wants to export it. If approved, its plant in Lusby, Maryland, would likely be the first terminal on the United States East Coast to export liquefied natural gas from American pipelines. While some residents welcome the move because it will create jobs, others oppose it, saying the expansion could be a safety and environmental hazard. VOA’s Deborah Block examines the controversy.
Video

Video Difficult Tactical Battle Ahead Against IS Militants in Syria

The U.S. president has ordered the military to intensify its fight against the Islamic State, including in Syria. But how does the military conduct air strikes in a country that is not a U.S. ally? VOA correspondent Carla Babb reports from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Iran, World Powers Seek Progress in Nuclear Talks

Iran and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany, known as the P5 + 1, have started a new round of talks on Iran's nuclear program. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports that as the negotiations take place in New York, a U.S. envoy is questioning Iran's commitment to peaceful nuclear activity.
Video

Video Alibaba Shares Soar in First Day of Trading

China's biggest online retailer hit the market Friday -- with its share price soaring on the New York Stock Exchange. The shares were priced at $68, but trading stalled at the opening, as sellers held onto their shares, waiting for buyers to bid up the price. More on the world's biggest initial public offering from VOA’s Bernard Shusman in New York.
Video

Video Obama Goes to UN With Islamic State, Ebola on Agenda

President Obama goes to the United Nations General Assembly to rally nations to support a coalition against Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria. He also will look for nations to back his plan to fight the Ebola virus in West Africa. As VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports, Obama’s efforts reflect new moves by the U.S. administration to take a leading role in addressing world crises.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Militant Assault in Syria Displaces Thousands of Kurds

A major assault by Islamic State militants on Kurds in Syria has sent a wave of new refugees to the Turkish border, where they were stopped by Turkish border security. Turkey is already hosting about 700,000 Syrian refugees who fled the civil war between the government and the opposition. But the government in Ankara has a history of strained relations with Turkey's Kurdish minority. Zlatica Hoke reports Turkey is asking for international help.
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid