March 3, 2011
This all started because I was too lazy to hang up my clothes.
A few weeks ago, I was changing my clothes after work and tossed my pants on a bedroom chair. Actually, I dropped them on the floor.
The next morning, the pants were right there — how convenient — just a few steps from the bed where I'd left them. So, why bother thinking about what to wear? I just picked up the pants, put them right back on and headed for work.
Pants, Day 2: Nobody seemed to notice that I was wearing the same thing. Not my spouse. Not my cubicle mates.
That's when I decided on my little experiment. I'd change my top, my jewelry and shoes but I'd wear the same pants every day. I figured it was only a matter of time until someone suggested it was time for a change.
It never happened.
For two weeks I wore the same dark gray pants. There was not so much as a raised eyebrow from the people who saw me every day. Pants, Day 3 was the same as Pants, Days 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, and 10. No reaction. Nothing.
Remember, I work at a newspaper. My co-workers are trained observers. Many of them are in the visual part of the business. Some edit the style and fashion pages. Nothing.
I'm pretty sure I could have continued my trousers test for months but it got boring, putting on the same thing every day.
What I learned is a lesson for us all. We don't need a closet packed with stuff. A few wardrobe workhorses will go a long way to building a stylish look. And basics don't have to be expensive.
I bought the pants in these pictures, unlined wool by MaxMara, for $60 at a consignment store. And I've seen $10 suits for men and women at Goodwill that could be the backbone of a versatile and varied personal fashion statement.
Think of dark pants — or a simple black dress or skirt — as your backdrop. Scarves, jewelry, a simple shirt, a jacket, a sweater, a belt, some interesting shoes — they'll completely change your look as they did mine during my two-week experiment.
In the past few years there have been a variety of well-publicized wardrobe simplification movements like Six Items or Less, sixitemsorless.com, where participants pick a half dozen basic items and wear only those for a month (with lots of exclusions like underwear, shoes, heavy coats, accessories, workout wear). Or, the Great American Apparel Diet, thegreatamericanappareldiet.com, whose participants vow to buy nothing for a year (exceptions here, too, like shoes, underwear, accessories).
I don't like rules and I'm not much of a joiner, so those exercises don't appeal to me. But what does appeal is the idea of making maximum use of the money I spend and the space in my closet. That's why putting my clothes spending on a diet and instead relying on a handful of core items seems so smart.
With that in mind and to get you thinking, I paired my well-worn pants with items I already had in my closet to create this trio of totally different looks that assure that no one will guess you're wearing the same thing over and over again.
Look One: Pile it on
Look Two: Keep it simple
Look Three: On the prowl
From 'Project Runway's' Tim Gunn, here are the 10 essentials every woman needs in her wardrobe:
•Basic black dress
•Classic dress pants
•Classic white shirt
•Blazer or jacket
•Cashmere sweater or any occasion top
•A comfortable sweatsuit alternative
Copyright © 2013 Chicago Tribune Company, LLC