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

VOA Exclusive: Interview With Myanmar President Thein Sein

Thein Sein calls allegations that minority Muslim Rohingya are fleeing alleged torture in Rakhine state a media fabrication More

Video Better Protective Suit Sought for Ebola Caregivers

Current suit is uncomfortable, requires too many steps for removal, increasing chance of deadly contact with virus More

UN Rights Commission Investigates Eritrea

Three-member commission will start collecting first-hand information from victims and other witnesses in Switzerland and Italy next week 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.
Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concernsi
X
November 19, 2014 11:39 PM
The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Mexico Protests Escalate Over Disappearances

Protests in Mexico over 43 students missing since September continue to escalate, reflecting growing anger among Mexicans about a political system they view as corrupt, and increasingly tainted by the drug trade. Mounting outrage over the disappearances is now focused on the government of President Enrique Pena Nieto, accused of not doing enough to end insecurity in the country. More from VOA's Victoria Macchi.
Video

Video US Senate Votes Down Controversial Oil Pipeline - For Now

The U.S. Senate has rejected construction of a controversial pipeline to transport Canadian oil to American refineries. The $5 billion project still could be approved next year, but it faces a possible veto by President Barack Obama. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, the pipeline has exposed deep divisions in Congress about America’s energy future.
Video

Video Can Minsk Cease-fire Agreement Hold?

Growing tensions between government troops and separatists in eastern Ukraine further threaten a cease-fire agreement reached two months ago in the Belarusian capital of Minsk. Critics of U.S. policy in Ukraine say it is time the Obama administration gives up on that much-violated cease-fire and moves toward a new deal with Russia. VOA's Scott Stearns has more.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Ferguson Church Grapples with Race Relations

Many white residents of Ferguson, Missouri, say they chose to live there because of the American Midwest community's diversity. So, they were shocked when a white police officer killed an unarmed black teenager in August – and shaken by the resulting protests and violence. Some local churches are leading conversations on how to go forward. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports.
Video

Video What Jon Stewart Learned About Iran From 'Rosewater'

Jon Stewart, host of the satirical news program "The Daily Show" talks with Saman Arbabi of Voice of America's Persian service about Stewart's directorial debut, "Rosewater."
Video

Video Lebanese Winemakers Thrive Despite War Next Door

In some of the most volatile parts of Lebanon, where a constant flow of refugees crosses the border from Syria, one industry continues to flourish against the odds. Lebanese winemakers say after surviving a brutal civil war in the 1970s and 80s, they can survive anything. Heather Murdock has more for VOA from the Bekaa Valley in Lebanon.
Video

Video China's Rise Closely Watched

China’s role as APEC host this week allowed a rare opportunity for Beijing to showcase its vision for the global economy and the region. But as China’s stature grows, so have tensions with other countries, including the United States. VOA’s Bill Ide in Beijing reports on how China’s rise as a global power is seen among Chinese and Americans.

All About America

AppleAndroid