Shopping diet, or hunger strike?

When, instead of a “shopping diet,” is it just being lazy? Answer: When it’s me, lately.

A recent New York Times article describes the challenge issued by a website named Six Items Or Less: Pick six items of clothing, and wear only them for an entire month.

In an unrelated turn of events, I wore the same pair of pants for eight days straight (and probably 10 out of 14 days) recently. In all truthfulness, probably the only thing that broke the streak was the fact I had a business trip that required dressing up beyond khakis. (I did, however, wear them on the plane ride out there.) It was less a conscious statement about overconsumption than the fact they were the first pants I saw when I was getting dressed, since I had invariably tossed them at the foot of the bed the night before. They’re also lightweight and broken-in, which makes them the most comfortable of the contenders.

And, really, I wanted to see if anyone would even notice. I had done it once before — one straight week of a pair of tan corduroy pants — and no one had said a word. Then again, that time I had also hedged my bets by wearing a different attention-getting shirt each day. This time, I just went with polo shirts; about halfway through I thought I’d been caught, but my co-worker merely said she had noticed that each back pocket was lined with a differently patterned fabric.

To some people, this might reinforce a viewpoint brought up separately in the same NYT article: Some of us devote way too much energy (and money) on how we’re dressed. (To those people, I say: Have you been to People of Walmart?) I say most of us don’t spend enough energy thinking about how we’re dressed.)

Sure, I would be fine wearing only six items for a whole month. I can even name the items right off the top of my head: those khakis; my go-to pair of jeans; my favorite University of Montana T-shirt; a white polo shirt; and two button-down shirts (plaid, of course). And when I’m feeling lazy, or grumpy about another day at work, I’ll head straight for those pieces, because there’s minimal effort required. I could also drink nothing but water, listen only to the same two or three pieces of music on repeat, or limit my interactions at work to those people who directly affect my tasks at hand. But who wants to live that way? I’m not cloistered somewhere under vows of silence, poverty and celibacy. While austerity is sometimes advisable, most of the time it shouldn’t be mandatory.

WHAT SAM WORE: 07-27-10
The shirt: Long-sleeved gingham button-down from J. Crew.
The pants: Boot-cut khakis from Gap.
The shoes: Hemp taekwondo shoes by Adidas, from Last Chance. (Yes, I still have them.)

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