The 6 Item Challenge for Social Good

Fashion escapes me.

In fact, my staples of comfy pants and a t-shirt can be seen most days when I open my front door and reach around to grab the mail from the mailbox. Saturdays are special…I might don a pair of jeans for my Target run. So, when I ran across the 6 Item Challenge – USA version, it seemed like an easy challenge. Pick 6 items to wear the entirety of the Lenten season? Pshh, no sweat. March 5th-April 17th? E.A.S.Y.

Then I started trying to pick out what I was going to wear, because, really, how hard could this possibly be?! Well, let me give you a bit of the back story behind the 6 Item Challenge first.

Born in the UK, the 6 Item Challenge was the brainchild of Labour Behind the Label. Men and woman across the UK choose 6 items to wear during the Lenten season to help understand the relationship between clothes and daily life. Sound peculiar? Think that it might just be a British thing? Well, consider this…last year the average American bought about 70 pieces of clothes. Some more, some less (that’d be me), but we all bought something. Odds are that the clothing we bought wasn’t American made and that, in fact, we looked for cheap fashion or what some call “disposable” fashion. So, what is our relationship with clothing anyway? Why do we need so much? And how do those inexpensive pieces made in sweat shops in third world countries (because most are – don’t even try to deny it), hold up under repeated wear? Or do they?

The questions about clothing really made me think. When I started looking through my closet, item after item after item was…disposable fashion. Not one thing was made in the USA and that is rather embarrassing to admit. About this time, the six-year old fashionista popped her head in the door and asked what I was doing. I explained and she asked, “Why do it? Are you getting a prize?” No, no prize, I said, but I want to do it to see if I can, see if I really need all these things in my closet.

She nodded and skipped off to her bedroom as I pulled piece after piece out of the closet. Normally, this would have been a simple combination of pants and shirts, but the trouble is that I’m heading to a big, important conference in California in a few weeks. Here it’s sub-zero, there it’s 80….and I have to look professional and nice…comfy pants are not going to cut it.

I finally decided on a black skirt, black pants, jeans, a paisley print dress, a black t-shirt, and a grey turtleneck. The challenge says that you can wear unlimited socks, undies, accessories, workout gear, and shoes. The restrictions in wardrobe choices will force me to take stock of all of the scarves, jewelry, tights, hats, etc. that I normally do not dig out, in order to avoid looking like I’m wearing the exact same outfit every single day for 40 days. Some days I may stay in my pajamas. And I’m okay with that.

About this time, the six year old came bounding back in and declared the choices perfect. And then she asked me to follow her to her room. There, laid out on her bed, were her 6 choices. “Let’s do this together, Mommy.” Yes, let’s.

If you are interested in taking the 6 Item Challenge – USA, you can read more at Made in USA Challenge or at Labour Behind the Label Clean Clothes Campaign.