There’s nothing shocking about the outfit that Teddy Stocking was wearing ten days ago.  Teddy’s physical appearance resembled the style of a studious college student. His white oxford button-down shirt, khaki pants, and blue cotton sweater wouldn’t make you stop or take a second glance. However, if you knew he wore this outfit for 40 days straight through the season of Lent, you might want to ask him a couple of questions.

Teddy Stocking is one of thousands of sophomores majoring in history and business in numerous colleges near Chicago. But, he may be the only student who chose to wear the same outfit every day for Lent. Why did Teddy choose to wear the same outfit for forty days straight? Teddy states, “This [experience], as much as a spiritual exercise, I would also say it was like an experiment. Just to see what happens when you make a change.”

A Love of History – Singapore to the U.S.

Teddy Stocking is a 19-year-old millennial who grew up for most of his childhood life in Singapore where his father was a banker. He moved to the United States to the state of New Jersey when he was a freshman in high school and is the middle-child in his family of five. Teddy recounted that the move from Singapore to the United States was probably the “most momentous” moment in his life.

Teddy’s passion is studying history, specifically American and European history. Teddy states, “We are so affected by culture. As a history major, it’s weird to study certain historical periods because this is what people acted like then, this is how they thought and it was shaped by this event that happened twenty years earlier…” However he goes on to say, “We are in the midst of that right now. What we view as normal and what we view as just common flow of life, 50 years from now people will point at and be like, ‘Oh this is in indicator of their blank, and how this happened.’”


Teddy has an ardor for studying the reasons behind why people do certain things. He states, “I kinda just like the idea of while we’re in the midst of culture, trying to figure out why I do things, and why I desire to do certain things and abhor other things.”

The 40-day outfit fast

One of the ways that Teddy has put this philosophy into practice is by conducting an experiment of wearing the same outfit for 40 days during Lent. Teddy’s outfit consisted of a white oxford button down shirt, khaki pants, a blue cotton sweater, and a pair of shoes. Teddy decided to make some sacrifices in his Lenten outfit. For example, he chose to wear a cotton sweater instead of a cashmere one, and he wore a pair of shoes instead of loafers, a shoe he typically likes to wear. While Teddy was rather strict about not changing the essential elements of his clothes, he did give himself the flexibility of changing into different white oxford shirts and adding a tie and a blue blazer on Sundays.  Teddy did wash the white oxford shirts, but he did not wash the pants or sweater during the entire outfit fast.

The Lenten Outfit

However, wearing the outfit every day was not as simple as it may sound. Stocking is part of the track team at the college he attends, and he kept his Lenten ritual by wearing the outfit to meets, and would only take it off when he was running. Teddy says, “When we were traveling to meets I would wear it [the outfit] and they [other students] would be like, ‘Are you really wearing that to a track meet?’ If people were upset about it I would just be like, ‘Well this is what I gave up for Lent.’”

Stocking is excited to test out more social experiments in the future. Teddy is thinking about going without the use of electricity, with some minor exceptions such as using a desktop computer in the library for a week just to see what happens. “If you can, you yourself have the self-control to break the tradition of, you always walk in a room, you turn on a light.”

 Simple and Classic

Teddy’s decision to give up outfits for Lent reflects a bigger picture of how Stocking looks at life. Stocking believes that simple, classic choices are the best choices to make in all different areas of life. These ideas reflect the kind of consumer choices that Stocking plans to make in his life, to furnishing his home, to the kind of care he will buy. He states, “The idea of simplicity and having nice things that are classic and are aesthetically pleasing but aren’t necessarily meant to grab your eye.”

Things Will Get Better

Teddy’s motto for life is, “Things will always get better.” Stocking believes that even if things are not going the way that is expected we need to choose to be optimistic. He states, “Things will always get better, and if they’re not better it’s ‘cause they haven’t gotten better yet. It’s kind of what I tell myself. Even though that doesn’t make sense rationally, it’s a circular argument, that’s how I would like to live it [life].” Teddy doesn’t want to plan too far ahead in his life, because he knows that he can’t see the rest of his life from his nine-teen year old’s perspective.

Stocking is not opposed to thinking about different scenarios throughout life and using experimentation to try out different possibilities. He states that, “We all want to be happy and have success as however we define it. But I think for me {that’s} what that means is changing a lot.” He goes on to state that he thinks that is a good exercise to start by creating “what if” scenarios about our life and begin to start acting out these ideas.