The Six Items or Less Challenge: My Experience

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Six items or less challenge experience

For the past 30 days, everyone in my Intro to Retail Merchandising class has been participating in a top-secret fashion and social experiment.

In an attempt to explore our personal ethics, buying behavior, and tendencies for over-consumption, all 145 of us have been wearing just six articles of clothing for the last month. Six!

The six items we chose needed to get us through every and any situation: class, parties, dates, review sessions, whatever! And, we couldn’t tell anyone what we were doing.

As a fashion (…and style and shopping)-obsessed girl, this assignment totally freaked me out. What pieces would I choose? How would I do it? Would people notice?

If you want to know the answers or you’re interested in participating in a challenge of your own, read on!

The Challenge Rules:

  1. Pick a maximum of six items to wear for 30 days.
  2. Once you pick your six items, they cannot be changed for the duration of the challenge.
  3. There are freebie items! These include undergarments, swimwear, workout clothes, outerwear, work uniforms, shoes, and any accessories.
  4. You’re allowed to wear “multiples” of ONE of the six items so you can do laundry. So, if you have two pairs of skinny black pants that are identical for all intents and purposes, you can wear them! You cannot, however, wear one pair of skinny black jeans and one pair of black dress pants — the items have to be the same.
  5. During the 30 days, you cannot go shopping for clothing for yourself.

The 6 Items I Chose…


For my part in the challenge, I chose items that were simple, practical, easy to mix, and warm: a basic white tee, black skinny jeans, a drapey white three-quarter length shirt, a purple tunic blouse, black pencil skirt, and draped long-sleeve taupe sweater.

My strategy? Keep the individual pieces simple and play up shoes and accessories.

The pieces I chose are cute and there are some interesting design elements, but the colors are muted and not particularly memorable — definite basics. Therefore, accessories were a must.

My Experience


Here’s a rundown of what I learned while taking the 6 Items or Less Challenge.

Shoes, outerwear, and bags became my BFFs.

Freezing Minnesota winters necessitate owning lots of cute (and warm!) outerwear, so I had that covered.

Before the challenge, I’d just grab whatever was closest to the door on my way out. Over the 30 days, however, I proudly exercised my right to rock different outerwear styles, going from a cozy fleece zip-up to a cropped wool peacoat, to a long puffy jacket, to a down coat with a fur-trimmed hood.

Similarly, although I’ve never been a shoe girl, I suddenly began to take great pleasure in alternating my footwear and showing off my boot collection. As I found, it’s pretty amazing how much a simple shoe can change an outfit!

I had to do laundry far more frequently.

With the rest of my wardrobe temporarily off-limits and with only a few options to choose from, it felt like I was doing a new load of laundry All. The. Time.

I got bored quickly.

While the pieces I picked were practical, they weren’t especially fun. After a week or so of wearing the same things, I felt dull. I missed different textures. I found myself admiring the forbidden tops, dresses, and jeans in my closet. I missed getting dressed! Oddly enough, though, I didn’t think much about shopping until I was actually in a store.

Going shopping, as you might imagine, was not a particularly enjoyable experience! I saw all kinds of cute clothing, none of which I was “allowed” to buy.

Had I not missed out on purchasing the last pair of AGolde ripped jeans in my size at 60% off, the trip might have leaned more towards “boring” and less towards “tragic.” Upside? I saved $$$!

I pushed the boundaries.

On those special days when I felt like I had to be extra comfortable, I ditched my skinnies in favor of a pair of leggings.

I told myself that I was still within the rules as the leggings were from Aerie — they even said “AERIE F.I.T.” on the waistband — and were therefore totally “workout wear,” even though I never wore them with my Nikes.

Annnd I may have ended up wearing a non-six tank top for a few hours one night. My b!

No one really noticed.

I worried that people would instantly notice I was re-wearing the same clothes, especially because I hold a leadership position in a fashion group on campus, but really, no one seemed to. (And if they did, they didn’t say anything!)

It seems as if people only notice what you’re wearing if it’s something extra special or interesting, but they’re usually much more concerned with their own looks.

…But I paid a lot of attention to what other people were wearing.

You know how if someone says “don’t think about elephants,” elephants are suddenly the only thing on your mind?

For me, the challenge was exactly like that!

I was suddenly hyper-aware of fashion around campus, noticing new jeggings, perfectly-placed headbands, and chunky knits everywhere. In my merchandising class, of course, I was especially observant: I wanted to catch someone cheating on her style diet! 

In case you’re wondering,  it happened — a girl showed up for class one day totally channeling Blair Waldorf in a fitted skirt, flouncy blouse, black tights, bejeweled flats, matching headband and an adorable pea coat — definitely not in her six items, but she looked amazing.

Take the Challenge Yourself!

Our assignment was roughly based on the experiences of the ladies behind and The Uniform Project, all of whom participated in a similar wardrobe challenge.

So if you’re interested in participating in a style diet of your own, check out their guidelines or use the ones I provided above.

Think you could do it?! Make sure to photograph the items you choose to wear and document your experience.

(Send us the link if you blog it!)

It’s pretty interesting to see how things turn out. As our professor told our class, “You can do anything for 30 days, there is a lot of clothing you won’t even miss, and just THINK of the money you’ll save!”

What do you think?!

Have you participated in the Six Items or Less challenge or done something similar? What would you choose to wear if you tried it? Do you think you have too much clothing? Not enough? Could you survive with just six items?

Whatever your opinion, let us know with your comments — I’d love to hear your thoughts!

30 thoughts on “The Six Items or Less Challenge: My Experience”

  1. My goodness! I just finished blogging the 30 for 30 challenge and THAT had me complaining…this is a whole other level of dedication and awesome. Can’t say that I’ll ever really be inclined to try this out, but MAJOR PROPS to you.

  2. Did you do a photo-diary? I think It’d be GREAT to show it here on CollegeFashion, sure will serve as inspiration to shop in our own closets!

  3. This was a really great article. Very different and fresh for the blog I must say. I would have LOVED to actually see how you pulled it off, especially with those pieces but this is still really great.

  4. Hahaha, I love that this was part of a class you’re taking. I have seen fashion blogs with 30 for 30 (30 items for 30 days) and people start saying how difficult it is by Day 15, if not sooner. 6 for 30 is taking it to a whole new level. Whoa. However, I agree with whoever said that this would have been a much better post if pictures of the outfits were included.

  5. I’ve read about that challenge a whole ago and i thought it will be an interesting thing to do, but I was wondering the same as you : will people notice that I’m wearing the same things over and over again?? My other excuse was that I’m a dress-girl. I don’t feel comfortable on jeans and that will make hard my month. Only three dresses for a month? If I could choose freebie knitwear as cardigans and jackets that will be easier but I don’t know if they are classified as outerwear… Well, I maybe try someday. But after Xmas sales or I will end up totally crazy haha

  6. I think you are so very brave for taking part in this challenge! I am far too addicted to all my clothes to even give it a go. That said, I am DESPERATE to know where you got that “draped long-sleeve taupe sweater”. I too live in a VERY cold place and that piece looks like a must-have to me! Please please, if you have a second, shoot me an email or I’ll go crazy googling it.
    P.S. HUGE fan of the blog, first time commentor!

  7. First off: well done 🙂

    I find this poject very interesting however I am not sure I could do it?
    Maybe try it out for a week, then 2 weeks etc.

    It’s interesting to see that noone else noticed you were weaing the same clothes, makes you think that most people aren’t that concerned about how you look like but who you are 🙂

  8. What a fun idea… I wouldn’t want to do it, but it’s fun! I wish you would post some pics of how you mixed and matched and used accessories. I’m curious to see what you did.

  9. I congratulate you for taking a chance and trying a new thing, however, unlike you, I could never do something like that. One, I would be too worried about people noticing that I was wearing the same things day after day. I’m just like that sadly. Two, I couldn’t possibly live on six articles of clothing. Every day my jeans vary. I will NEVER wear the same jeans two days in a row. I also usually wait about a month or so before I wear a top again. Maybe the fact of me having way too much clothing is why I couldn’t do this, but I would also choose not to do this challenge. Also, I’m a little confused about if you saw that there were the last pair of those jeans in your size and they 60% off and you couldn’t buy them. If i were you, i would take the F on the challenge in class and buy those jeans. But that’s just me. Once again, great job for staying with it!

  10. I’m really tempted to try this now. 3 pants, 3 tees. Burgundy jeans, teal jeans, olive jeans, burgundy tee, gray tee, white graphic tee. I suppose I could probably pull this off. Yeah. I’ll try it.

  11. I haven’t done the 6 items challenge, but 2 years ago my husband and I embarked on an “Around the World” trip with all our gear for 4 1/2 months in one backpack apiece. We were traveling to warm places (Africa and SE Asia) and to cooler places (Istanbul in early Spring), so we needed to have layers. Clothing took up very little of the space in our bags since we also needed to carry air mattresses (we camped for a month in East Africa) and my travel pillow in addition to malaria meds and other first aid supplies, etc. I did a lot of research before we left and chose my clothing very carefully. I had a pair of Royal Robbin long, ripstop khaki pants that were often cooler than shorts because they kept the African sun off my legs. I had one pair of Ex Officio ripstop khaki shorts, and one long pair of black yoga pants. Five pair of Ex Officio underwear, 2 sports bras and 4 pairs of good socks. Three T-shirts: one gray, one white and one green. One long sleeved REI travel shirt. One blue fleece hoodie from REI, a T-neck, long sleeved undershirt and a pair of long johns. A Gortex rain jacket, a pashmina, a warm earband and thin gloves. One pair of Vasque hiking/trail shoes and one pair of Chaco sandals. About 6 weeks into the travel, I got a new T-shirt, and at one point I bought a sundress. And that was it for 4 1/2 months. I took nothing that could not be washed and hung to dry, ready to be worn or packed within 12 hours of laundering. There were times when I had nearly every piece of clothing on at the same time, and times when I was down to T, shorts and sandals. I laugh now to look back at our photos because we look like we just walked from one backdrop to the next snapping photos – we’re in virtually the same clothes in each shot. But considering I had to carry what I took on my back (and I am not a young person anymore), I was glad to have the minimal wardrobe. We did laundry almost every day, but it consisted of rinsing things out in a sink most times. Since coming back I have gradually been giving away most of the clothes in my closet and wardrobe. I have realized that life is much simpler when I’m not spending time thinking about what to wear. For a lot of people, shopping and putting together outfits is enjoyable. For me, traveling, gardening, cooking are enjoyable. And while I enjoy the occasional new outfit, I’m no longer scanning the Sunday ads convincing myself I’ve gotta have the newest this or that. I’m content with less. And that works for me.


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