Lessons from a 10 x 10 wardrobe challenge

OK, so honesty time.

I’ve actually been in a real rut recently especially when it comes to clothes.

Getting dressed in the morning has me feeling so blah.Β 

I’ve definitely not been getting much joy from wearing the things in my closet. And that’s pretty rubbish when you spend as much time as I do planning and making what’s in that closet.

So I really dived into a recent Instagram challenge thrown down by Caroline Joy Β – the Unfancy remix challenge – focusing on living with a tiny capsule wardrobe. I figured forcing myself to live in close quarters with a few key items might help me get a bit more out of what I have. You know, like a kind of Stockholm Syndrome. But for clothes.

Normally, I wouldn’t go through it all with you, but guys, I had some pretty awesome realisations and wanted to share some thoughts with you – maybe they resonate with you, or you have some ideas to throw in.

In any case get yourself comfortable.

We’re going to get all insightful.

What?

Essentially the challenge was pretty simple. Pick out 10 items of clothing. Wear these for 10 days. No outfit repeats allowed.

You could post your progress on Instagram with the hashtag #unfancyremix (which I did – hence the recent outfit oversharing on my Instagram account).

And to be clear these 10 items have to include shoes and jackets. I know, that’s a pretty big challenge, right?

Here’s all the pieces (details here). That was it. For 10 days.

And of course, being me I added a little extra to the challenge by trying to include as many me-made made items in the mix as possible.

So, how did I get on?


In a nutshell: actually not bad.

I thought I’d get super bored but I really, really enjoyed what I had. I think it was to do with the challenge of constantly having to reinvent and mix things up.

There were some outfits I loved more than others (more on that in a minute) but I managed a different outfit everyday by layering and a few style tweaks.

I subbed in some canvas shoes on the last day and a raincoat once or twice during the week when popping out to get supplies or the bambino, but those were pretty practical choices. I love a good challenge but no challenge is worth getting wet and cold for.

But here’s the real kicker – I never got bored. Not once.

Highlights


I had a few pieces that really worked with everything and for anything (work, hanging with bambino, coffee dates). The striped top and the black denim jeans were pretty much in heavy rotation.


I also liked pretty much all the looks that involved tops tucked into skinny jeans or pencil skirts. Funny because I hardly ever tucked anything in before. So that’s going in my back pocket of tricks.

I do love a quick win.

I’m also well into denim in all its forms. But I think we knew that already πŸ™‚

Low lights


These two outfits feel pretty boring and pretty unimaginative. I wish I’d made the look on the left more interesting – maybe by adding a necklace.

The outfit on the right is just plain weird. I’m trying to dress down the skirt but it just looks bulky. I think the cami would have worked better than the striped top. And maybe the black shirt instead of the chambray button down to add more interest.

What have I learned?

It’s OK not to be THAT into colour

So pretty much all of my 10 items were black, navy or grey. With maybe a bit of brown or tan. At first, this really bummed me out. How drab, right?

But as I stated to live with my 10 I realised that I really like monochromatic looks. They’re just really soothing to me.

Plus,Β monochromatic isn’tΒ boring.Β Adding in brown, tan, and cream accents can keep the whole look from being too snooze-ville.

Take an extra 3 minutes

Usually I just reach for the same things time and time again – wearing the same shirt with the same jeans in the exact same way.

Every. Single. Time.

Yawn.

But… having to imagine how to wear things in different ways was refreshing. It actually brought joy to my daily routine of getting dressed. Breaking out of my dressing rut was part of why I wanted to take part in this challenge – so bit of a result there.

And the thing is it didn’t take a-g-e-s. I certainly wasn’t sat up all night planning out the next days outfit (who has the time when there’s so many great box sets to watch?). I took maybe 3 minutes more getting dressed in the morning. That’s it.

It’s definitely encouraged me to take a little more care in how I wear things – with the details, like how I pair things and little tweaks to things like cuff rolls or extras like belts and scarves. That extra 3 minutes of thought really makes a difference.

Clothes need TLC

I really loved wearing all of my items, but keeping them in solid rotation made me realise they aren’t all holding up particularly well.

I noticed bits of thread, missing buttons and a few other sloppy things. And none of the me-mades I wore had labels. A pretty abysmal oversight considering I’ve got some pretty stellar labels.

It’s such an easy fix, but I’ve got to be honest mending is no where near as exciting as firing out a new make. So I kinda just don’t do it. Still it’s such an easy win. I just need to get on and do it.

Was it worth it?

Definitely. I actually enjoy getting dressed in the morning and think it’s a fun part of the day. Plus, it’s made me realise it’s possible to love everything in my closet.

Total win.

Now what?

Well, funnily enough instead of jumping back into a full closet, I’m basically auditioning pieces to join the 10 from the challenge.Β Β I’m slowly adding in other items from my closet on a case by case basis. I want to make sure every piece is working hard for me.

 

So what about you, are you tempted to join in a similar challenge? Or are you already wise with the ways of the wardrobe πŸ™‚

  1. Reply
    Mady(thewardrobeproject)

    It was really interesting seeing your 10×10 challenge on Instagram. I’m really tempted to join in this challenge!

    1. Reply
      randomly_happy

      Mady, you definitely should think about it. I learned so much!

  2. Reply
    Naomi

    You did well! Loooove the black shirt btw.

    1. Reply
      randomly_happy

      Thanks Naomi. The shirt is the By Hand London Sarah shirt. A very satisfying make and one of my most worn!

  3. Reply
    Sarah

    Is that an erin skirt perchance? Better get that blogged for me! πŸ˜‰

    1. Reply
      randomly_happy

      Well spotted Sarah – that is an Erin skirt. Plans are afoot to post this week, so stay tuned πŸ™‚

  4. Reply
    Alison

    Great idea. What’s the loose fitting blue-ish dress centre photo in the top group? Love it πŸ‘

    1. Reply
      randomly_happy

      Ah, good spot. It’s the Inari dress be Named Clothing. Seriously one of my favorites makes. Ever.

      And thanks!

      1. Reply
        Alison

        Thanks. That’s another to add to my long list of must makes πŸ™‚

  5. Reply
    Sogol

    Did you make your leather jacket- i love the tone of the colour! Good tips that I will have to apply!

    1. Reply
      randomly_happy

      Ah no, that’s vintage from a friend. I wish I could make one though!

  6. Reply
    Anya

    I love this!! I love Unfancy blog and I love the idea of a capsule wardrobe and having all my clothes working for me and together. I haven’t tried an actual challenge yet and I was very interested to read what you thought of it.
    I have looked through all my clothes this past weekend and kept only the ones that really make me happy. Funny enough they are also very “boring” – most are plain and solid or neutral colors. I also have downloaded Stylebook app and took the effort to photograph my clothes and upload them. It’s really interesting because I can plan my outfits anywhere and like you, I am really trying to pair pieces I normally don’t.
    Lovely read!

    1. Reply
      randomly_happy

      Thanks so much Anya! I wasn’t too sure that anyone would find this post interesting, but just had to share. I’ve heard good things about the app and may just have to jump in and get it πŸ™‚

  7. Reply
    Chloe

    Cool! As we sewers think so much about our clothes, it’s neat to see how our plans come to life, and if we wear things as much as we thought we would, or in the same way etc. I feel like I often have a sort of unintentional capsule wardrobe every time the seasons change – it’s like I forget how to dress and pull the same pieces out for a few weeks, until I get used to the weather again!

  8. Reply
    Suzie

    I was so happy that you decided to share your ten outfits on Instagram, I really enjoyed seeing what you would wear next (I sound like a crazy stalker saying that!), and loved reading your summary here. I feel like I’m in a similar rut and I’m so keen to shake my wardrobe up a bit, so maybe I should be giving this challenge a go myself! Also yes, please hurry up and blog about your fab Erin skirt! 😁

    1. Reply
      randomly_happy

      Not crazy stalker at all (just very patient to put up with all those 3/4 portraits I was throwing down!) Definitely would recommend you try this to shake up your take on what you have in your wardrobe. Once I finished it I wanted to start it all over again #IHaveAThingForSmallWardrobes πŸ™‚

  9. Reply
    Adeline

    The idea of a capsule wardrobe has been on my mind for awhile! And I’ve even embarked on a journey of intentional sewing following the idea of creating pieces that is all versatile and stuff that I can wear over and over. Like you, I have been pairing the same things, the same way every single time. And honestly, I haven’t dared to take up the challenge of limiting myself to maybe 10 things for 10 days with no repeats. But your post has certainly gave me plenty to think about. Should I or should I not challenge myself πŸ™‚

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