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