Using Less & Wanting More

24 Jan

Halfway into my 6 Items or Less experiment, and several thoughts and feelings have been crowding into me, as I’ve worked with a wardrobe of only six pieces of clothing.

First, I have found many benefits and extremely worthwhile realizations/outcomes to doing this:

  • It’s really nice not having to even think about what I’m going to wear every day.
  • It’s kind of fun and creative to make my outfits different by dressing them up with jewelry, belts, shoes, scarves and other accessories.
  • Even though most of us (myself included) have a lot of things in our closet, we still tend to wear the same things over and over. Maybe not just 6, but I bet most of us don’t regularly wear half of our wardrobe. So what do we have all this stuff for?
  • Quality is more important than quantity: it’s better to have fewer things of higher quality, than a bunch of cheap crap.
  • Simplicity, for the most part, is an incredibly freeing concept and practice.

However, on the flip side I have found this bizarre side effect in myself – I want to buy new clothes, plain and simple. Two weeks of wearing the same two tops, two pants, and one dress over and over have taken their toll on my boredom factor. I like these clothes, and they are wearing well. But I have to admit I’m getting sick of them.

At a friend's birthday bash, wishing I could wear a new outfit - but got lots of compliments on this one!

The desire to buy new clothes, the urge actually, is not common for me. I’m not a huge shopper, and I usually only want to get new things when I’m traveling or on a few vintage shopping runs a year. But due to my limitations of what I can wear for this month, I guess it’s triggering this real urge to acquire different stuff. Weird – and I wasn’t expecting that.

I guess I’ve figured it out to mean that, while simplicity and resisting the overly consumerist lifestyle are wonderful things, there is such a thing as too many limitations. Discipline yourself too severely, and you’ll not only be less happy but it can have the opposite effect in the long term. It’s sort of like the super rigid, strenuous diet – you might lose a bunch of weight and do really great for weeks, but when you fall off the wagon you usually binge, and in a big way.

For me personally, I believe that the goals of simplicity, inner happiness, finding contentment from within and especially not from material things, are all great things. But it’s also okay (even necessary) to treat ourselves to the little things that bring us pleasure without over-indulging, and to not regiment ourselves so austerely that our inner chaotic self rebels.

Your thoughts?

4 Responses to “Using Less & Wanting More”

  1. Laura S January 24, 2011 at 11:26 am #

    I think you hit the nail on the head with this post Shelley. I have a guest bedroom closet bursting at the seams with clothes, and in the year that I’ve lived in this house, I haven’t worn a single item in it. Yet, I can’t seem to get rid of the items. Why is that?
    I can only imagine getting bored with the items you are wearing right now. I get that way for no reason-just wanting something new and different. And I, like you, have found that quality items are worth the price-tag. My splurges have been items that have lasted me year after year whereas my cheap knit items usually only last one season! I agree with and love your goals-how do you plan to go about accomplishing them, now and beyond this experiment?

  2. Shelley Seale January 24, 2011 at 3:50 pm #

    You might try doing an experiment similar to this, even if it’s not the same. You wouldn’t believe how much it really does make you think about your clothes, and what they are doing for you and why we collect them. Also, Keith has a friend with a practice we’ve implemented: every time we buy something new (whether that is clothing or other items), we get rid of (donate) one old item. Replacing, not adding…It’s a great practice and it also really makes you think about what you’re buying!


  1. Halfway Mark Passed – New Ideas? « 30 Days at a Time - January 27, 2011

    […] clothes over and over – I do feel that stifles the fun & creative aspect of fashion. I posted earlier in the week about how the boredom was actually creating an unusual urge in me to buy new items; that’s […]

  2. Quality vs. Quantity « 30 Days at a Time - March 30, 2011

    […] six pieces of clothing might be pretty extreme (stay tuned for my next post about the backlash caused by such a wardrobe diet), certainly one thing that most Sixers seem to […]

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