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TEDActive 2011

Jessi Arrington: Wearing nothing new

March 3, 2011

Designer Jessi Arrington packed nothing for TEDActive but 7 pairs of undies, buying the rest of her clothes in thrift stores around LA. It's a meditation on conscious consumption -- wrapped in a rainbow of color and creativity.

Jessi Arrington - Designer
Jessi Arrington is a color-loving designer based in Brooklyn. Full bio

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Double-click the English subtitles below to play the video.
I'm Jessi, and this is my suitcase.
00:15
But before I show you what I've got inside,
00:18
I'm going to make a very public confession,
00:21
and that is,
00:24
I'm outfit-obsessed.
00:26
I love finding, wearing,
00:28
and more recently,
00:30
photographing and blogging
00:32
a different, colorful, crazy outfit
00:34
for every single occasion.
00:36
But I don't buy anything new.
00:39
I get all my clothes secondhand
00:41
from flea markets and thrift stores.
00:43
Aww, thank you.
00:46
Secondhand shopping
00:49
allows me to reduce the impact
00:51
my wardrobe has on the environment
00:53
and on my wallet.
00:55
I get to meet all kinds of great people;
00:57
my dollars usually go to a good cause;
00:59
I look pretty unique;
01:02
and it makes shopping like my own personal treasure hunt.
01:04
I mean, what am I going to find today?
01:07
Is it going to be my size?
01:09
Will I like the color?
01:11
Will it be under $20?
01:13
If all the answers are yes,
01:16
I feel as though I've won.
01:18
I want to get back to my suitcase
01:20
and tell you what I packed
01:23
for this exciting week here at TED.
01:25
I mean, what does somebody with all these outfits bring with her?
01:27
So I'm going to show you exactly what I brought.
01:31
I brought seven pairs of underpants
01:34
and that's it.
01:37
Exactly one week's worth of undies
01:40
is all I put in my suitcase.
01:43
I was betting that I'd be able to find
01:45
everything else I could possible want to wear
01:48
once I got here to Palm Springs.
01:50
And since you don't know me
01:53
as the woman walking around TED in her underwear --
01:55
(Laughter)
01:57
that means I found a few things.
01:59
And I'd really love to show you my week's worth of outfits right now.
02:01
Does that sound good?
02:04
(Applause)
02:06
So as I do this,
02:08
I'm also going to tell you a few of the life lessons
02:10
that, believe it or not, I have picked up
02:13
in these adventures wearing nothing new.
02:15
So let's start with Sunday.
02:18
I call this "Shiny Tiger."
02:20
You do not have to spend a lot of money to look great.
02:22
You can almost always look phenomenal for under $50.
02:26
This whole outfit, including the jacket,
02:29
cost me $55,
02:31
and it was the most expensive thing
02:33
that I wore the entire week.
02:35
Monday: Color is powerful.
02:37
It is almost physiologically impossible
02:40
to be in a bad mood when you're wearing bright red pants.
02:43
(Laughter)
02:46
If you are happy,
02:48
you are going to attract other happy people to you.
02:51
Tuesday:
02:54
Fitting in is way overrated.
02:56
I've spent a whole lot of my life
02:59
trying to be myself
03:01
and at the same time fit in.
03:03
Just be who you are.
03:05
If you are surrounding yourself with the right people,
03:07
they will not only get it,
03:10
they will appreciate it.
03:12
Wednesday:
03:14
Embrace your inner child.
03:16
Sometimes people tell me
03:18
that I look like I'm playing dress-up,
03:20
or that I remind them of their seven-year-old.
03:22
I like to smile
03:26
and say, "Thank you."
03:28
Thursday:
03:30
Confidence is key.
03:32
If you think you look good in something,
03:34
you almost certainly do.
03:36
And if you don't think you look good in something,
03:38
you're also probably right.
03:40
I grew up with a mom who taught me this day-in and day-out.
03:42
But it wasn't until I turned 30
03:46
that I really got what this meant.
03:48
And I'm going to break it down for you for just a second.
03:50
If you believe you're a beautiful person
03:53
inside and out,
03:56
there is no look that you can't pull off.
03:59
So there is no excuse for any of us here in this audience.
04:02
We should be able to rock anything we want to rock.
04:04
Thank you.
04:07
(Applause)
04:09
Friday: A universal truth -- five words for you:
04:12
Gold sequins go with everything.
04:15
And finally, Saturday:
04:20
Developing your own unique personal style
04:23
is a really great way to tell the world something about you
04:25
without having to say a word.
04:28
It's been proven to me time and time again
04:30
as people have walked up to me this week
04:32
simply because of what I'm wearing,
04:34
and we've had great conversations.
04:36
So obviously this is not all going to fit
04:38
back in my tiny suitcase.
04:40
So before I go home to Brooklyn,
04:42
I'm going to donate everything back.
04:44
Because the lesson I'm trying to learn myself this week
04:46
is that it's okay to let go.
04:49
I don't need to get emotionally attached to these things
04:52
because around the corner,
04:54
there is always going to be
04:56
another crazy, colorful,
04:58
shiny outfit
05:00
just waiting for me,
05:02
if I put a little love in my heart and look.
05:04
Thank you very much.
05:06
(Applause)
05:08
Thank you.
05:11
(Applause)
05:13

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Jessi Arrington - Designer
Jessi Arrington is a color-loving designer based in Brooklyn.

Why you should listen

Jessi Arrington is a founder and owner of WORKSHOP, a designer firm in Brooklyn. Her favorite color is rainbow and her default answer is YES. She’s taught Design Fundamentals at Touro College and given guest lectures at NYU; she's a board member of AIGA/NY. Before co-founding WORKSHOP, she carried out branding for Brooklyn Brewery, Tomato Records and Lion Brand Yarn under the direction of Milton Glaser. She makes a hobby of wearing nothing new (except undies).

She blogs at LuckySoAndSo.com about design, consumption and color.

The original video is available on TED.com
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