Six Items or Less, Day 29: The end of the road.

October 5, 2010

Tomorrow is the last day of Six Items or Less for me. I’m slightly relieved since this weekend I’m going to three fancy events — a rehearsal dinner, a wedding and a family photo shoot with my future peeps-in-law — all of which require a somewhat polished appearance, and I don’t think anything in my six items much less the rest of my closet fits the description. Although, let’s be honest, I’ll probably end up wearing the blue J. Crew popover that’s defined my SIOL experience to one or all of these events anyway.

As a little gift to myself for getting through SIOL/getting my first paycheck at Ye Olde New Job, I bought the red beanie you see above from Yes Jess. It’s getting chilly in these parts, and since I lost my favorite purple beanie last year, I have nothing to wear on my head — I don’t want to be caught unprepared. Besides, I needed something bright and amazing to enliven my mostly navy wardrobe.


What to Expect When You’re Expecting… to Participate in Six Items Or Less

October 4, 2010

To the relief of  at least a few members of this blog’s readership, I finally did some much-needed laundry. This writer is wrinkle- and coffee stain-free once more (at least for now). Still going strong in my blue popover and jeans, y’all. *fist pump*

Looks like the folks over at Six Items or Less are getting ready to unveil their new site and start another leg of the experiment en masse! Hooray! In honor of the occasion — as well as the final three days of my own Six Items or Less stint — here’s a list of dos, don’ts, always-es, definitelys, maybes, etc. to help you prepare for the mission, if you choose to accept it.

1. Stock up on lots of good-quality underwear and socks. You’re going to need them. I suggest getting them in cotton and like colors to cut down on laundry costs (see below) and spruce up your palette — despite my somewhat stark, monastic ramblings earlier, I firmly believe that variety is the spice of life :)

If you’re a man, I kindly suggest you proceed to tip #3.

2. If you’re a woman, now’s the time to invest in one or two comfortable, high-quality bras. In case you didn’t know, a good bra…

  • might require a fitting at one of those lingerie specialty stores (you know exactly what I’m talking about; every town has one!). I strongly suggest that every woman endures five minutes of minor discomfort / embarrassment and get fitted. You’ll be glad you did.
  • will probably be more expensive than you’d like but is worth every penny
  • will make whatever you’re wearing (even if it’s the same six things, over and over) look good and feel comfortable

Remember, a bad bra will make you feel and look unpolished and uncomfortable no matter what you’ve got over it.

3. When you’re trying to decide on your six items, don’t choose anything that needs to be dry-cleaned, washed on delicate, rinsed in rosewater by the light of the full moon, etc. Everything you choose should be able to be washed in cold water and dried in a washing machine. No wasting time here.

4.  Do expect to do laundry more often than you have been. There’s no such thing as waiting an entire month to do laundry again in The Land of Six Items. I’ve had to do it about once a week (gasp!).

5. On that note, when you do do your laundry, expect to only have to do one big load (or maybe two medium sized-ones). I purposely didn’t choose anything white in my six items so that I could throw all of it in the wash without worrying about colors bleeding. It was a big money saver (and good for the environment, too).

6. If you’re not doing it already, brace yourself to wear clothes two, three, four or, in my case, as many as nine or ten times between washes. If you live in Brooklyn, you’re already at an advantage, because no one between the ages of 18 and 34 seems to bathe or wash themselves regularly anyway. If anything, you’ll just fit right in.

7. Raid your friend’s and family member’s closets (with their permission). I feel like the only thing that was really missing from my Six Items or Less experience was a greater sense of community (I’m sure this will be at least partially remedied with the new site!). As I mentioned in my last post, I didn’t have much to work with outside of my six items anyway, so it would have been nice to rely on a few close friends for accessories, scarves, jewelry, etc. It gives you more opportunities to talk about the experiment in a meaningful, constructive way with people you care about, and it helps decrease any feelings you might have to spend money on those things that aren’t included in your six items.

8. Take this opportunity to relish the small things. If you happen to be a lazier, relatively unadorned sixer like myself, you will begin to take a new-found pride in personal hygiene — brushing your teeth, flossing, combing your hair.

9. Similarly, I recommend using your money to buy quality experiences instead of “things.” For instance, pay to get a really good haircut or manicure. Sure, it won’t last forever, and it might seem a little indulgent. But you’ll get to relax as well as meet and converse with the kind person offering you the service. I guarantee buying a bracelet at Target won’t give you that. Besides, I’m terrible at painting my nails; I’d rather hire a professional to do it.

Any fellow “sixers” have good advice that I didn’t mention here? Chime in!

Six Items or Less, Day 27: A 700-word treatise on clothing.

October 2, 2010

Well, I did it. I wore the same outfit five days this week. I actually went into my dirty laundry yesterday morning, pulled out the blue popover with the coffee stain on the front, unsuccessfully attempted to shake out all of the wrinkles and wore it to brunch. I didn’t work yesterday, so there was no need to look or smell particularly good. I don’t know whether to feel proud of or disgusted with myself.

I went back and re-read what I said the other night about Six Items or Less, and I feel like I need to explain a couple of things. I want to make it perfectly clear that I’m really, really, really glad that I decided to do it. In fact, I’m already thinking and talking about doing it again. It’s just that, like any mildly challenging undertaking in life, it’s been both exactly what I expected and not at all what I expected at the same time.

I’ve had a strange relationship with clothing for as long as I can remember. When I go shopping or flip through a catalog, I tend to gravitate toward pretty, feminine styles, and if I had an unlimited amount of time, money and patience, I’d probably wear them. As for what I actually do wear, I’m a tried-and-true champion of comfort and practicality. For instance, I like the way skirts look on others, but I don’t like to wear them because I don’t like the idea of having to restrict my range of motion in order to make sure I don’t flash the people near me when I bend down to plug in my computer cord.

That mentality reaches further than just clothes in my life. About two years ago, I stopped wearing make-up to work because it took too much time to put on and usually irritated my skin. Around the same time, I stopped blow-drying and putting styling product in my hair because I was tired of, once again, wasting time on something that was damaging my very fine, straight hair and never achieved the desired results anyway.

All of these aforementioned decisions have not been easy at all. I don’t walk around patting myself on the back or thinking that I’m better than other people, because guess what? I’m a total mess. I’m just as much of a consumer-driven, money-obsessed superficial narcissist like everybody else my age in America, and the only reason that I’ve forced myself to cut these things out of my life is because I want them — I actually think I need them — so badly that I think if I don’t have them, I’m going to be an ugly failure. Seriously.

The honest truth is that I want to be cute, I want to be stylish, I want people to “ohh” and “ahh” over what I wear, I want to be one-of-a-kind, and I want to feel younger than my 25 years. But I’ve traveled down that road so many times in my life, and it’s just not worth it. I actually ended up feeling more inadequate than I did to begin with, because there’s always — ALWAYS — someone cuter,  more stylish, etc.

Besides, if the coffee-stained popover isn’t enough of an example, I’m just inherently lazy.

At the risk of sounding slightly melodramatic, let me say that with only three days of Six Items or Less left to go, I’m at the end of myself. I’m bored. I’m uninspired. I’m pulling out dirty clothes and re-wearing them again and not even trying. Instead, I just look like myself, unadorned, and whatever that means — whether it’s cute or ugly or weird — doesn’t matter, because why should I have to explain who I am without frills?  I’ve never known before what it’s like to not think about my appearance, but when you only have six items to choose from, it’s a little easier to forget.

Like I said before, I thought that, for me, the point of Six Items or Less was going to be to find out how creative and interesting I could be with next to nothing. But I think that it’s forced me to stop thinking about what I wear altogether. Maybe I’m getting to my point a little too late, but I’m thinking more about who I am and how I define myself when I’m not worrying about how I look.

(Photo courtesy of Farmhouse Vintage)

Six Items or Less, Day 25: oMg whatever lolzzz :P

October 1, 2010

Wanna know the truth? At this point in the game, I’m just bored .

I wore the same things three days in a row this week. THREE DAYS IN A ROW. I didn’t even take the trouble to change my sweater, accessories or shoes. To tell you the truth, I probably would have worn the same things today, too, except that I noticed that I had a spot of coffee on the front of my popover last night and tossed it in the laundry. Because I really pride myself on my devotion to a professional appearance in the workplace. Or something.

When I started doing Six Items or Less, I imagined myself digging into the depths of my closet and unearthing a ton of untapped resources — jewelry, hats, belts, whatever — that would make the same six pieces look completely different every day of the month. I  would prove my creativity, individuality and adherence to a sustainable lifestyle with a series of cute outfits and quirky posts.

Then I actually started digging into my closet. You want to know what I found? Not much. I have three belts. Until recently, I owned only two necklaces, one bracelet and no earrings (even though my ears are pierced!).  My most relied-on “purses” are actually my North Face backpack from high school (still going strong) and a series of grimy canvas tote bags. I own less than half the amount of shoes that my gentleman caller has, but considering what he does, I guess it’s not too surprising.

I sold and gave away the majority of my clothing when I moved last year. A lot of superfluous crap was gotten rid of in the process, and since then, I’ve made a habit of going through my drawers and closet every month or two and weeding out things that I don’t need. Pretty soon after starting the challenge, I thought that I needed to reinforce my accessories arsenal and buy a bunch of cute things that were interchangeable with my six items. But wouldn’t acquiring more “stuff” be entirely AGAINST the spirit of Six Items or Less?!

Are we really defined by what we wear, whether it’s “bigger” pieces or accessories? Don’t answer that. Bottom line: Acquire less, act more. No one’s going to remember what you wore; they’re going to remember how much you cared.

That’s what I think, anyway :P

P.S. I inadvertently acquired another accessory last weekend… an engagement ring (see pic!).

Six Items or Less, Day 19: Skirting the issue.

September 26, 2010

I had to cave yesterday and today and WEAR THE SKIRT. Don’t worry, Susan, I shaved my legs :)

As soon as I put it on, I remembered why I’d been postponing wearing it: There’s a partially ripped seam around the pocket. Not a huge deal — a needle, a bit of thread and a few minutes will do the trick — but it’s a more urgent issue when you have only two other bottom pieces to rely on. Looks like it’s back to jeans for the remainder of the challenge — or at least until I get navy blue thread.

I feel weird about wearing skirts in New York City anyway. For one thing, it’s getting colder, and for another, call me old-fashioned, I’m always worried about modesty when going up the stairs in the subway station :)

Finally acquired some quarters, so I’m going to take care of the laundry that’s been a thorn in my side for the past week or so tonight. Photos coming again soon…

(Photo courtesy of lacklusterco)

Six Items or Less, Day 18: CRISIS.

September 25, 2010

I had a close call yesterday morning.

All week, I’ve been wearing either my Log Lady blouse or my green Lacoste polo on top, so yesterday, I thought I’d ring in the weekend right and give my blue J. Crew popover some much-needed play. TGIF and all that, right?

Well, it wasn’t in my closet or my dresser. After a couple of minutes, I found it. Crumpled in a ball. In the bottom of my laundry bag. With a toothpaste smudge on the front of it.

At that moment, I was faced with a conundrum that, in most instances, could have been easily solved by simply finding something else to wear, but in this case, left me with three equally unattractive choices. Do I wear…

1. A wrinkled, visibly soiled shirt that’s been fermenting in a pile of other dirty clothes for a week?

2. A green Lacoste polo that I just wore the day before  (and also needs to be washed)?

3. A polyester/rayon blend blouse that I love dearly but provides little to no ventilation in this muggy transition from summer to fall (and yep, you guessed it, needs to be cleaned)?

I actually spent a few minutes hemming and hawing, half-dressed, trying to decide what to do. For me, one of the most appealing aspects of Six Items or Less was that it seemed to reduce the amount of time normally wasted on trying to decide to what to wear. Except for this time around, in which my limited choices were making me waste more time than usual.

I finally settled on #2 (just wearing what I wore the day before), but I almost caved and decided to grab something else. PHEW.

In other news, it’s 18 days in, and I’ve managed to still adhere to the “or Less” part of Six Items or Less — I still haven’t worn my skirt, so my count’s officially at five items. Preeeeeeeeeetty impressed with myself.

(Photo courtesy of Accessory Addiction)

Six Items or Less, Day 15: The Halfway Point.

September 23, 2010

It’s Day 16 of my Six Items or Less challenge, and I’m currently LIVE BLOGGING from my apartment in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. What you see here, my friends, is my look from yesterday — the Crystal Castles look — the exact halfway point between the beginning and the end of my decision to wear six and ONLY six items of clothing for the month of September.

I know that you — not unlike the countless millions of other Acorn Archive readers — have probably been wondering how its writer has been holding up. You’ve probably been sitting there at your respective office desk, kitchen sink or steering wheel, unable to concentrate on the more urgent tasks at hand, silently asking questions like, “Which two, exactly, of her six items is she going to pair today?  Is she going to buck her pants-only regimen and finally introduce the much-awaited skirt into the mix? Or is she going to blow all of our minds and find a way to wear not only two pieces a day but, I dare say, three?”

Well, to answer all of the above questions in one fell swoop: It’s super boring. I’m doing little to no laundry;  it takes about five minutes to get ready every day; no, I’m NOT ready to shave my legs and therefore have NOT worn the skirt yet; and the only thing I’m convinced of is my need to embrace accessories like jewelry. Jewels in my crown, y’all. You know what I’m sayin’?

Six Items or Less, Day 8.

September 15, 2010

One of the benefits of not taking pictures the first five days of this challenge is that I get to recycle looks that I’ve already worn. Behold yesterday’s look: the Pen on a Necklace/Freak on a Leash. Harkening to times when bright Lacoste polos, navy blue cable knit sweaters and faux gold pen necklaces a la Joanie Holloway ruled supreme (in retrospect, I don’t know when that would have been, but… okay), this is the only way to greet the rapidly approaching autumn in New York (minus Winona Ryder and Richard Gere) as far as I’m concerned. I wore two of my six pieces — the Lacoste polo and my Levis — as well as:

  • A pen on a necklace, courtesy of my long-time gentleman caller
  • A navy blue cable knit sweater. I’m confused; do sweaters qualify as “outerwear” and therefore not count towards the official Six Items or Less? Let’s pray to God that they don’t; otherwise, I’m screwed.
  • Navy blue Keds from DSW in Union Square.

There was a time in my life when I tried to act like I don’t love navy blue. That time is officially over. Now, all I’m trying to do is get used to wearing socks again. It’s a lot more difficult than I thought it would be, but it’s totally necessary considering I actually said “Brrrr” tonight.

In other news, the step stool I ordered from Amazon finally arrived today; now my roommates and I can finally put things in the storage cubbies above our closets. Huzzah!

Six Items or Less, Day 7.

September 13, 2010

I’m reading a new book. Betcha can’t guess what! (Photography and art direction cred to Tori, again)

Last night, Tori pointed out that I had only worn five of my six pieces thus far, therefore living up to the “or less” part of this Six Items dealio.

Normally, this would have been a victory; however, my reluctance to wear the sixth piece — my light blue Steven Alan dress (the one that the navy blue rope belt in my previous entry came from) — may or may not have been rooted in the fact that right now, it’s not fitting so great. Two words: Oprah arms. Seriously. It’s like trying to fit sausages into casings that are too small.

Pssssssych. But for real.

So I did something that I’m not positive is legal in The World of Six Items or Less: I swapped one as-yet-unworn piece out for another; in this case, the Steven Alan dress for the polyester/rayon blend “blouse” I bought as part of my Log Lady costume. Today, I wore it with another of my six pieces — the Levis — as well as my:

  • Vintage Justin boots (again)
  • Montgomery Ward sweater (again; also part of my Log Lady costume)
  • Other pair of glasses (round, yellow Christian Diors from the mid-’70s to mid-’80s)
  • J. Crew leather belt
  • Czech coin earrings, hand-selected by Tori before scurrying off to work (while I was still half-asleep) from her personal collection

Together, this look is what I like to call “Grump Chic,” because the combination of polyester/rayon, mohair and mugginess doesn’t do a whole lot in terms of breathability, and I was sweating most of the day.

I have two necklaces (one of which I wore yesterday, the other of which is currently M.I.A. in my room) and only one pair of earrings to my name, so borrowing a pair to complete this look was crucial. Even though I feel a little ashamed that I have so few baubles to call my own, I feel like borrowing from a friend (especially one with good taste and in such close proximity) is more in keeping with the Six Items or Less ethos, which I think has something to do with consuming less and in turn relying on others more.

Kudos again to Tori for doing that which I could not do for myself, i.e. take a full-length picture of myself in decent lighting using an iPhone.

Six Items or Less, Day 6

September 12, 2010

As promised, here’s a photo of today’s look for my Six Items or Less challenge. After seeing this picture, I wanted to call this look, “So That’s Why Models Pose at an Angle.” Instead, I just made a mental reminder to keep up my running routine and never face completely forward for a photo ever again.

This look — which I like to affectionately refer to as the “Margaret Lanterman Goes Sailing” look — incorporates two of the six pieces mentioned in my previous entry, the blue J. Crew popover and my Gap jeans from high school, as well as…

  • Vintage two-tone (oxblood and tan) Justin boots with fringe (there’s a technical name for this, and I cannot for the life of me remember what it is; can you?). I bought these — rather, my mom bought them for me — at the Brooklyn Flea this past spring. They were $65. I saw the exact same pair TODAY at another, lesser flea market near my house for $125. Muahahahahahaha.
  • This necklace from my friend and cohort, Allison, of So It’s Gray. She likes to take bits of metal and beads and make them into amazing, beautiful, wearable things. More on her jewelry-related escapades coming soon.
  • A vintage Montgomery Ward mohair blend sweater, complete with metal zipper, which I purchased for $3 at a thrift store in Little Rock, Arkansas for my Log Lady costume, previously mentioned here.
  • A navy blue rope belt from another one of my six pieces, the Steven Alan dress.

I will always and forever think of this sweater as The Log Lady sweater because of the circumstances in which it was purchased and initially worn. However, this look was missing other crucial elements of The Log Lady’s uniform — glasses, long skirt, a log — so I decided it was Log Lady Lite. You know, something that ol’ Margie might wear when she wanted to kick back, relax, put the log away for a few hours and get lost in something — in this case, something that involves a blue rope belt and is therefore nautical in nature — that doesn’t remind her of how much her town is going down the crapper.

Photo cred goes to my good friend, current roommate and sponsee, Tori, who in no way endorses wearing six or fewer pieces of clothing per day, much less an entire month.