For nearly 20 years I wore all white clothes. That period overlaps the period when I began to live with only 200 objects. It was convenient because I could put all my clothes in the washing machine at the same time. I wore Japanese motorcycle jumpsuits that were easy to put on and were comfortable.
I see the elites of the East Coast wearing their summer whites, and remember how nice it looks. There is something about a uniform that makes individuals more important. Having distinguishing clothes every day is much like tattoos. They can’t communicate much (narrow bandwidth) and they can’t say much about an interesting person compared to a few minutes of conversation.
The other day I had to explain to new friends my ‘white period’. It started when I was building a park for street people who were nearly all black. These men always hit me up for a loan. As I came to understand what that was about, I was forced to opt out. The loans among black people, was to form a community of mutual sharing and commitment.
I liked that idea but I was too busy to get involved. My polite solution was to start wearing all white clothes. I had learned from one or two blacks who were part of the community that in the Bondye religion among blacks it included a year of wearing all white and leading a spiritual life. So my white clothes were seen as spiritual and made me a part of the community more than the mutual money lending and borrowing.
To my great surprise the all white clothes had an additional effect. I had spent my life being elected leader and president of every group I was ever a member of. That stopped happening as soon as I was wearing all white. Maybe I was perceived as crazy. But it was a blessing for me.
I went back to conventional clothes, actually to suits and sportcoats, toward the end of the 1990’s when I came back from a Japanese trip determined to work on four unfinished projects.
The projects required that I be seen as serious.