The “Six Item Challenge” has been around for a while now and I’m trying to figure out if I can travel under those limitations. What is it? You pick six items of clothes (not including underwear, socks/tights/hose, workout clothes, or accessories) and wear only those items for a set period of time (a month, six weeks, a vacation, a year). The challenge was created by Labour Behind the Label “to challenge our increasing reliance on fast fashion and raise vital funds which will enable Labour Behind the Label to keep fighting for the justice that garment workers deserve.”
Along with thinking about the issues raised by this challenge, I’ve also been thinking hard about my clothing sources lately and I’m committed to purchasing ethical clothing going forward. While each piece of clothing is usually more expensive than I once paid, I also find that I’m shopping less because I’m not constantly reacting to the constant Ann Taylor/J Crew/Gap sales.
When we went to Argentina last month, we brought some of our Wine Checks, so I needed to pack everything else very lightly. I used my 26L backpack to bring a bit more than six items:
- Encircled’s Chrysalis Cardi in black. This thing is awesome: it’s a scarf (which I needed traveling from Chicago in December!), it’s a cardigan, it’s a dress. I’ve worn it as a dress to some pretty fancy restaurants: with the right accessories, it can look great. I’ve worn it as a swimsuit coverup too. It’s also a great piece of ethical clothing: the fabric is made from sustainable resources, the dyes used are low-impact, and it’s made in Canada at a fair wage.
- Toad & Co’s Long Island Dress in black. Another ethical company that uses organic cotton, this dress is also quite flexible. I’ve gone to a French Michelin-starred restaurant in this dress, I often get compliments on the dress, and it’s absurdly comfortable because it has a built-in shelf bra. There’s also a hidden pocket that’s perfect for my cell phone. I love this dress so much that I own three of them: two in black, one in green.
- Prana dress in orchid. Ethical, pretty, but sadly no longer available.
- Ann Taylor dress in red. No, AT is not on any “ethical” list and I haven’t purchased from them in a while, but I’m not trashing clothes that are still wearable. This dress was quite festive for the holiday season!
- Everlane black cashmere/wool sweater. I only wore this in the USA (Chicago, Tennessee, JFK airport), but boy was I glad to have this layer when I got back from Argentina!
- Pact Organic Camisoles in black and white. Great for layering and as workout clothes. I brought too many of these!
- Pact Organic Cropped leggings in black. Again, layering and workout clothes. Perfect for underneath the dresses in cold weather.
- Swimsuits (I brought two, but only needed one)
- The usual exceptions mentioned above: underwear, footwear, accessories
- Black wool socks
- White athletic socks
- red leather belt that I got on Etsy
- the black belt that comes with my Chyrsalis Cardi
- a couple of costume jewelry necklaces
- a pretty silk scarf (which I didn’t end up wearing)
- I’m a new convert to Pact Organic briefs
- Yummie bralettes
- Outerwear or outerwear accessories: in addition to the Chrysalis Cardi scarf, I brought a packable puffer coat, a hat and gloves (it’s really cold in Chicago in December!) which all fit in a small packing cube while we were in Argentina.
- Black leather purse (this fit into my backpack when I was wearing my heaviest layers — the sweater, the coat, etc — but was great as a personal item when we were traveling from Santiago to Mendoza or Mendoza to Buenos Aires and I packed away those heavy clothes into a small packing cube)
- OTC medications for pain, allergies, tummy issues
- Prescription meds
- Sunscreen and after burn creams (just in case)
- shower gel
- hairbrush and hair ties
- face wash
- shaving cream
- eye and ear drops (I don’t often need these, but when I do, I hate to go looking for them!)
- menstrual cup
- nail buffer and clippers
- Wallet, passport, RFID-blocking passport cover, pens, keys, sunglasses, extra glasses: the usual important stuff
Even though I could fit everything into the 26L backpack (when wearing my winter layers), I still overpacked a few things (too many camisoles, too many swimsuits, too many pairs of shoes, possibly too many dresses). I’m thinking next time, I’ll try using just my ~22L Lo & Sons OMG bag!