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The Clothing Experiment

post #1 of 157
Thread Starter 
Has anyone seen this site?

I'm sure some of you have because it's gained HUGE exposure lately. Basically, this woman decides to make and wear the same brown dress for a year...in order to reject consumerism, etc. (lots of other reasons).

I found the link on another simple living board, and someone on there posted how she kind of does this...she has a "uniform" of sorts. She has 4-5 pieces of clothing and that's ALL she wears. Just rotates it around. I tend to do this for months at a time---just get really stuck on my favorite t-shirt, jeans, etc. but I always have a closetful of clothes to fall back on.

I have really been thinking about clothing and what it means to me. I cleaned out my closet and got rid of another 50% of my clothing this past weekend. It was crazy what happened when I was actually honest with myself. Most of it didn't even fit correctly or look that great!

I am going over and over in my mind trying to think if I could get it down to even just TEN items, that would be a big deal for me. The best part would be that I would only have things I absolutely loved. Things I felt great in. Great textures, great lines. It could even be an ongoing thing...one new thing in, one old thing out. My top ten would be...
  • Jeans
  • Courderoy Pants
  • Black pants
  • T-shirt (2)
  • Yoga type pants
  • Fun flowy skirt
  • Pullover sweater
  • Cardigan sweater
  • Hoody
Undergarments and swimming suits don't count. Not that I would want to get crazy about the exact number, but you know. I'd love to get down to just 5 pairs of shoes...hiking boots, Chaco sandals, Chaco flip flops, tennis shoes and Birkenstock clogs. I'm almost there.

I think it would be so freeing to actually do this. Has anyone else attempted something similar?
post #2 of 157
I am always in the process of "streamlining" my life, including my wardrobe. It's difficult, since I work in a law office and go to church, but I keep working at it.

At the moment, my wardrobe consists of:

Jeans (One pair that FITS, two that are "snug", one goal pair)
Shoes: Cowboy boots (de regour in Montana), black Danskos (birthday gift), fisherman's sandals that need repair, manky old trainers that I can't afford to replace at the moment, old black pumps that need a new home
Blouses (4 or 5)
Skirts (2 that I like, 1 that's on it's way OUT )
1 dress that I adore, but it's beginning to wear out
Jumpers (I'm not sure how many; jumpers are next on my "de-junking" list.)
Summer outfits (3, since that's how many weeks of truly hot weather we ever get in Montana! Khakis, long-sleeved T-shirts, and cardigans, at that)

I also need to go through and eliminate some of my "comfy" clothes.

I could live in Levi's and pullover jumpers. The problem is, working in a law office, one has to dress up. (I could do with some more work clothes, come to that.)
post #3 of 157
Thread Starter 
Yes, I should add that I am a work at home mama, so I don't need too many "dressy" clothes. We go to church as well, but I am comfortable just wearing jeans and a sweater or a skirt and cardigan or whatever. We have a very casual congregation It would definitely be more difficult in a workplace, but like you said, it can be streamlined.
post #4 of 157
ive been doing that all my life kinda.........i still have more clothes, but I recently started getting rid of everything I don't like, fit or wear regularly. I have noticed recently that i do rotate the same few pairs of underwear and socks....I guess from comfort reasons lol, i dont specifically search them out, I just habitually wear them.
i only have 6 pairs of shoes, 3 summer, flip flops, slides and sandles, and 3 winter, because it snows and i need some with more traction and a backup pair for if they get wet.
post #5 of 157
I have actually cut down on my clothing a lot. I have about 10 days worth of outfits for each season, plus a couple of dress-up stuff. I have a trunk of India clothes but those are mostly to wear in India because American clothes are too hot there. It really helps with our laundry and sorting things. You can see ALL of my kids clothes in the wardrobe in this slideshow, with the exception of undies and socks in the drawers. I just went shopping for 2 pairs of capri pants and 4 new tops becasue I was literally down to 5 worn out tshirts and about the same number of worn out jean shorts. I had not been clothes shopping in a serious way since before I had dd2.


My closet is similar to theirs, with my dresser holding undies, socks, 3 sets of workout clothes, and PJ's.
post #6 of 157
I tend, also, to dress in cycles of favorite outfits but have a closetful to "fall back on." I've been considering trying to do a major redux, but if I do I need to make sure those are clothes that look good/make me feel good.

My bigger concern though is that my frugal nature says, even though I only wear my black dress sandals a few times a year, there are times its a need and I don't want to ditch them and find myself buying new ones when the occassion arises. I don't have cause to dress up often, but I believe having the clothing available, even if in storage, is important to not overspending or buying things I don't love at the last minute because its something I need.
post #7 of 157
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by Valian
I need to make sure those are clothes that look good/make me feel good.
I know...and I am finding that the more I go through my wardrobe, the more I find that I really don't feel good in at all. I really, really want to go on a little shopping spree and get a few pieces that I adore. Of course, if you're trying to save money, or not buy NEW clothes, that doesn't work, but I want to have high quality, classic pieces that last a long time.

Originally Posted by Valian
My bigger concern though is that my frugal nature says, even though I only wear my black dress sandals a few times a year, there are times its a need and I don't want to ditch them and find myself buying new ones when the occassion arises. I don't have cause to dress up often, but I believe having the clothing available, even if in storage, is important to not overspending or buying things I don't love at the last minute because its something I need.
This is where I get into trouble too...however, I have found a few things that double in duty. My flip flops are dressy enough to be worn with nice pants or with a skirt and also casual enough to go to the beach. Of course, it depends on your personal preferences. I tend to be more casual, so that helps. If I only wear it a couple times a year, I get rid of it. And then when I do "need" something again, I try to find an alternative, either in my closet or borrow, or thrift.
post #8 of 157
I love the LBD Web site. I stumbled upon it about a month ago and spent a morning going through her journal archives. It really makes you think about consumerism and modern times where clothing is so incredibly abundant.

I love the concept of a tiny wardrobe. It's so European, you know? Quality over quantity. I know my French friend has very few clothes, but what she does wear is streamlined, fabulous, and totally her.

I really want to do this, but I'm struggling with color. If I'm reducing my wardrobe to 10 or 20 items, there really needs to be some sort of fundamental color scheme. For me, I catapult between brown and black. I love black for it's simplicity, but brown is a warmer neutral that's probably more flattering to my coloring (auburn hair, hazel-brown eyes, freckles, peachy pale skin). So I have some brown "neutrals" and some black "neutrals". I feel like I need to go in one direction or the other, but perhaps not?

The other thing I struggle with are working through the seaons. I live in a place that has 14 degree days in the winter (without much precipitation, however) and 100 degree days in the summer. I'd love to shoot for 7-10 items for each season, with 10 more items in the wings for transitional seasons (this would include cropped pants, which I wear in the spring and fall, but rarely in the summer or fall).
post #9 of 157
I am in the midst of doing it because of weight loss; I am going down a size every month or so and that leaves me with clothes to get rid of and intermediate clothes to find (thrifting!). When I get back to the size that's good for me, I expect to spend a lot of time looking for quality pieces that can mix and match - professional and casual ware. I've already magaged to pair my shoe collection down quite a bit since I bought my Keen sandals - I never want to wear anything else now.

Another great blog on this idea is Seattle Simplicity; she talks a lot about streamlining her wardrobe with quility purchases that will last for years.
post #10 of 157
I also live where there's a wide range of temp (negs/with snow to upper 90) and see your list as great. The shoe part is hard for me. I made it one winter without snowboots (moved from the SE) and must get one pair for everyday wear and one for playing in the snow with dd. I need snowpants as well but just can't handle how much bigger I look in them!
post #11 of 157
post #12 of 157
Thanks for the link to the Little Brown Dress website. What a cool idea! A few months back I cut down my kids clothes. I cut them back to about a weeks worth of clothes. I was hoping it would stop the giant piles of laundry that appear everywhere. It did work for a while, but more clothes kept sneaking back in the house! My mum has friends that give her bags of outgrown clothes for my kids. She also buys second hand stuff for them on ebay. On Sunday I went through them all again. I've decided to give away every single shirt my boys own. They were all second hand. My boys are 2 and 4. I don't really dress them in shirts. (I don't really dress them at all - one is playing outside naked as i type this! That really cuts down on laundry!) They've got about 10 t.shirts each now. And NO shirts! The shirts are a real pain to iron.

Me and DP don't really have many clothes either. We are not really into fashion. I tend to wear the same thing over and over. I think I'd like to take a look at my clothes again. DP and I have no storage for our clothes. We just pile them in our bed room. If we could cut back even more that would be great. I don't think I will go as extreme as the Little Brown Dress experiment though!

I do worry about the ecological impact of buying clothes. Plus they were probably made by some poor person in a far away country. Virtually all our stuff is second hand. We get bags of clothing from other people. One had about 12 jackets in 9-12 month baby size. How many jackets could one baby need? Another bag had some clothes that still had tags on. Why? Because they weren't fashionable enough labels for their 3 year old to be seen in!!!!
post #13 of 157
first HI! I'm new around here

second . i love how she looks so cute in the "little brown dress"

third! I have been doing this as well.. I am down to 4 shirts i rotate,3 pairs of pants,3 pairs of shoes, pajamas, 7 pairs of socks, 7 pairs of undies, 4 bras and 1 skirt and dress shirt ( i'm a SAHM ) I may have a few other things, but this is my basic wardrobe!
post #14 of 157
its sounds awesome. we always have a closet and drawers full in addition to 2-3 baskets of stuff to fold.
post #15 of 157
Originally Posted by OliveGirl
...I love the concept of a tiny wardrobe.... I really want to do this, but I'm struggling...I had no idea how stupidly large my wardrobe was until I wrote this down just now. Now what to get rid of? Where to start?
I would start with all the things you said you don't like, are poor quality, or haven't worn in years.

Then maybe move on to the things that are duplicates, keeping only the ones that you like the very best. Then maybe the "orphan" things; things that you never wear because you don't have anything to go with them.

post #16 of 157
Thread Starter 
What great responses! Thanks for all the insight everyone. I have started to make these changes...and I am struggling! I have 2 sides to my closet, so I went through and moved all the stuff that I thought I could live without to one side and the other side was my "keep" pile. It pretty much eliminated everything! HOWEVER...because those clothes are still just hanging there, I keep looking at them thinking...

"That shirt is soooo cute!"
"I totally might wear that sometime"
"That would be great for...."

I think to be successful, I will need to make the decision and immediately get rid of the items. Otherwise, I second guess myself. I am quite excited to do this...but I think that I have been so "trained" by the culture around me, that I think I NEED extra clothing. And that wearing the same skirt for a week is not normal (even though I know it's fine!). Just working through all of the emotions that come with it is hard.

On a different note, I will probably be replacing a few items and I'm wondering if anyone has companies that they love to buy from. Personally, I really like Lands End and J.Jill. I also love this little shop near my house that carries smaller label stuff that is made of all natural fibers, fair trade stuff, etc. Prana, Horny Toad, etc. I love hemp clothing as well, it lasts soooo long!
post #17 of 157
Originally Posted by Delight
I think to be successful, I will need to make the decision and immediately get rid of the items. Otherwise, I second guess myself.
Keep us posted!! You should document your purge (photos).

I'm SO inspired. I might join you. Shoes will be tough though.
post #18 of 157
What a great idea. I already try to keep my closet trimmed, but I really need motivation for my DD's. Girl's clothes are SO hard for me, but a girl only needs so many hawaiian print dresses! (her current fav!)

Someone was asking about brands--I personally love LLBean. I find them to be very responsible in terms of environment/social issues. They have a factory right in Freeport, ME. I may try to catch stuff off-season (sale) while I create my thinned out (but still well made) wardrobe. I tend to be very cheap when it comes to my clothes, so they aren't well made.
post #19 of 157
This is a great idea. I know I'll have trouble with it though...so hard to get rid of things, esp. clothes! But, I have a tentative plan: grab a rubbermaid tote, and go through the closet and drawers. I'll pack away the maybes and doesn't-fits, and just keep what I actually wear. If I miss an item, I can dig it out. But after a couple of months, if I don't miss anything, out the door it'll go!

Thanks for the shares and inspiration!
post #20 of 157
Thread Starter 
Well, I took more steps toward the streamlining of my closet. Good thing I have been saving up but oh my goodness, I am loving my new skirt and shirt. I went to my favorite local store and found a great, functional dress in a wonderful fabric. Falls just below my knees and flares at the bottom. It's a rich coral color. There is just nothing that beats a well made piece of clothing. Old Navy can't compare. I also got a nice, soft tank top with a shirred front. It can be dressy or not...it's black.

I decided to repair/sew one of my favorite skirts and keep it. I also ordered something that I have wanted for sooooo long. A Superhero necklace. I figured that if my clothing was going to be simple...I wanted a fun accessory that goes with everything to "rev" it up.

This weekend I will work on getting rid of more and "planning" the rest. I'll take pics for you OliveGirl
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