The “Shopping Diet” – Six Items or Less!

Yesterday while waiting for my client I caught a glimpse of the Oprah show (in reruns) the topic: Ways people save money and live on less. One of the concepts on the show is a little known move towards “freeganism” yes- Freeganism. Freegans live an anti-consumerism lifestyle that embraces community, social change, freedom and cooperation. I have to say I was totally riveted. Many freegans that were highlighted actually earn very good livings and can afford all of the things that they seek out for free (most of which has been discarded by others) including food items, clothing, furniture etc. I certainly applaud anyone who can live simply and enjoy the other fruits of life instead of overspending on unnecessary items and living above their means.

On that same consumerism note I have been hearing loads about the site Six Items or Less which was co-founded by Heidi Hackemer. It started as a global experiment examining the power or what we don’t wear and has burgeoned into a not so quiet movement. The media attention and the inspiration has been amazing and proves that consumerism in this day and age may be just a little passe’.

The idea as taken directly from the website states – What do our clothes say about us? Why do (we ) spend so much time on what we wear? What happens when we don’t? The experiment started on June 21st 2010 when a group of people from California to Dubai took part in a little experiment, here’s the scoop if you dare to try it: each participant gets to choose six (and only six) items of clothing and pledge to wear only these six items of clothing for a month. The previous participants and new participants can share experiences at

The exceptions to the rule that don’t count towards the six: undergarments, swim wear, work-out clothes, work uniforms, outer jackets (rain slicker, outdoor jackets) shoes and accessories. You can get multiples of the same items for laundry purposes, but different colors count as separate items.

Surprising as it is for a fashion blog writer and fashion editor, I tend to stick to the same pieces in my closet over and over, black tee, jeans, black dress, cardigan, etc so I am not sure if it will be excruciating, but I am sure there will be challenges (mind you I haven’t 100% committed yet). The timing is serendipitous however, since my move from a house that was stuffed with ten years of accumulations I have been contemplating my own consumerism. Friends of mine are now doing the six or less experiment to raise awareness and donations for charity, which I think is a very needed and noble idea.

I myself tend to purge my closet often because I hate having items that just sit there…I already have a big pile of things to donate and often I send my goods to cities that have been affected by disasters like Nashville Tenn, Arkansas, Florida in light of the BP oil disaster etc…so if you are with me, why not give this a try…and even if you aren’t feeling the six item idea, let’s make it a plan purge our closets this week and send off some boxes to those in need. A good place to start is Of course there are loads of people in need right in our backyard. If you are inspired and you do donate or spread this along…please let me know…..we can all do a little bit to help others!

  1. I learned about the Six Items or Less challenge after a friend saw the segment on GMA and passed the site URL along. I don’t work in the fashion industry or in retail, but I’m definitely a fashion FAN! I love everything about fashion, but I especially love “the hunt.” I am a bargain-hunter to the extreme, scouting garage sales, craigslist, second-hand and consignment stores, and eBay for designer deals, as well as department and chain stores clearance racks. I study fashion magazines for the latest trends and then attempt to recreate the looks for pennies on the dollar. My closet is my trophy. And I ain’t giving up my trophy for nobody!

    I view the “Six Items or Less” project as a self-inflicted punishment, or some sort of masochistic ritual (a reason they admit some are electing to take part)? I felt so strongly opposed to the movement, that my friend and I started to celebrate fashion and style and uniqueness. Like you, I donate often. I also shop at Salvation Army Stores, and I donate clothing to my local women’s shelter. However, I don’t believe that one must submit to a wardrobe-famine or be an “anti-consumerist” in order to do some good in this world. I would rather look and feel great, AND support locally-owned boutiques by making regular purchases, AND also support worthy charities by shopping Salvation Army and Goodwill, AND recycle my less-frequently worn items to those in need, than submit myself to a six-item-or-less clothing (aka self-loathing) ritual.

    While I believe “Six Items or Less” has done a good thing to raise awareness, I think it is extreme action that is unnecessary.

    There is nothing wrong or bad or evil about celebrating the art and joy of fashion. It is an expression of inner beauty and an outward celebration of individuality.

    Why not skip the masochistic fashion-famine, and advance instead to the giving, donating and sharing stage?

    Celebrate and share. Sounds good to me.


    1. Dear Andrea, Thank you for your honest and heartfelt thoughts on fashion. I agree that loving fashion, having a large wardrobe and being charitable are not mutually exclusive, however Six or Less is an experiment and for many it is also a journey in discovering their own consumerism and over-consumption of goods. More importantly, whatever brings you to your ah-ha moment is certainly worthwhile. And for some having a reason and the support to go through a process that makes you donate is certainly positive in my books!

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