I've spent a week now on my textile experiment. I've worn my set of clothes (see photo in my first post) 4 days. I decided that I'd wear my normal clothes to work and I work 3 days a week. That will give me time to wash my experimental clothes and keep myself sane. I did decide to purchase one other top- a sweater. I was finding that in a house heated by wood, my basement gets fairly cool and I wasn't comfortable working for hours on end at the computer. So, I bought a sweater at another average store for $20.67, on sale. Since I was looking for a sweater to keep me warm inside, I was really looking for something containing wool. I thought it odd that none of the sweaters in this store or at the store where I bought the rest of my clothes contained wool. Since I had decided for the sake of this experiment to purchase low to medium priced clothing at average stores, I didn't go searching for wool sweaters elsewhere. I believe that as fuel costs rise, we will be keeping our houses cooler and wool will be one of the fibers of choice.
So, hopefully, now I will be set for the year.
I have talked to a few people about my experiment so far. In general, people find it interesting which may mean they think I have at least one screw loose or that my idea has some merit. Some have agreed that the clothes probably won't stand up to heavy wear, being more designed for the mainly sedentary lifestyle of the average American. For me in January, I don't have a really heavy physical work load which would stress these clothes. I have taken care of the chickens and ducks, cleaned out the chicken coop, collected worms from my aquaponics system which I will be donating to a school for a worm composting system and a little housekeeping. In general, the stresses won't start until gardening starts in earnest in March. I'll be doing some planting in February in the greenhouse since the beds are already made, that shouldn't be too stressful on the clothes other than getting them a bit dirty.
I'll be washing everything tomorrow. The plan is to wash them at least once a week. More if they get really dirty. Now, in the world of the future with less access to fossil fuels, I would probably have to wash everything by hand, possibly using some more abrasive methods due to limited availability of modern washing detergents. For now, I'll be using my front loading washing machine, plant based detergents (my normal detergent), some "Oxy Bleach" (non-chlorine laundry booster), and drying the clothes on the line. Normally, I rarely use a dryer. I have one which doesn't work well anyway. In the winter, we hang up clothes in the basement where they add a reasonable amount of moisture to the air. This system will probably be less stressful to the clothes than in the average household, especially due to not using the dryer. I'll take a photo of the clothes about monthly to track any changes in the condition of them.
One interesting aspect of wearing the same clothes constantly that I have discovered is boredom! I’m still trying to figure out how much of that boredom has to do with our culture's habit of owning and wearing lots of clothes so that we wear different things, colors, styles, on a daily basis and how much has to do with the fact that the clothes I chose are very plain. I have this urge to add some color to my clothes and may be adding embroidery, woven trim, and other embellishments to my set of clothing over the course of the year! It's not so much that I'm bored of the clothes yet- I can just feel it coming.
Of course, I'm not the first person who's decided my clothing was too plain and needed to be spruced up a bit. Decorating clothing is a very old pastime of humans as you can see in this image of Russian peasants (http://rjohnhowe.wordpress.com/2008/07/) and this of ancient Greek clothing (http://www.richeast.org/htwm/Greeks/costume/costume.html).
In case you are thinking that everyday clothes which will be worn in situations where they will be heavily worn weren't highly decorated, take a look at this replica of an 11th Hussar's military jacket.
The only question I have for myself is how much I want to stand out with my clothing decoration…
And, for a peak oil/fossil fuels angle, what does boredom and decoration have to do with possible hard times ahead? Well, much of what is written about a world without fossil fuels is full of doom and gloom and how hard life will be. I believe that there are many wonderful things about life that we may be able to reclaim in the future. High among those things is an appreciation of simple things and of beautiful things. We may not have many clothes or other material possessions and those items can be well made and beautiful!