What I learned from wearing the same clothes for a month

Last month, I set myself a challenge: Wear the same 15 items of clothing for 28 days. No repeating outfits. No buying new clothes. And, of course, documenting the whole thing on Instagram.

And guess what? I did it! Here’s what happened:

Choices, choices

I didn’t know what to expect from the challenge. I treat my wardrobe like a dressing up box, so how would I make do with just 15 items for a whole month?

But it wasn’t as tricky as I expected. In fact, getting dressed in the morning had never been simpler. Before the challenge began, I wrote down a few outfit combinations in my Notes app and ticked them off as I went. So, instead of a mind-boggling number of outfit combinations to consider as I opened my wardrobe, it was just a matter of: ‘shall we wear the floral skirt and the grey jumper? Or the black jeans with the printed shirt?’.

To my surprise, I liked this. A lot. And according to psychologists like Barry Schwartz (who wrote The Paradox of Choice), having fewer choices actually makes us happier. Or rather, having too much choice makes us anxious.

It makes sense, right? By narrowing the number of choices in your wardrobe, you’re helping to alleviate a lot of your ‘what will I wear!?’ stress in the morning.

Here’s what I chose for my capsule wardrobe:

I wanted items that would mostly match, so I went for a lot of plain tops but patterned bottoms. I decided against dresses, as they can only really be worn once. Separates are your friend!

I choose: Two chunky jumpers (one blue, one grey), three long-sleeved tops (navy and white stripes, dark grey, black), a star-print shirt, a pink pinafore, black leggings, black jeans, blue jeans, a floral midi skirt, and three T-shirts (black, green and white).

And these are my 28 outfits:

I wore the same coat and bag each day, and alternated between my black boots and white sneakers. I let myself go wild on hats, as you can see.

Quality concern

Halfway through the challenge, I had a revelation: I don’t mind wearing the same two pairs of trousers all month. But I do mind that my black skinny jeans are baggy in all the wrong places. They stopped me having as much pride in my outfit as I’d have liked.

Everything I’m wearing here fits me properly, so I felt better, brighter and more confident

Lesson 1: You don’t need many items of clothing for a delicious wardrobe. But the items you do have need to be good quality and fit you well.

Post-challenge, I’m trying to:

  • invest in high quality, timeless pieces I just *LOVE* (jeans, that amazing dress that goes with everything, those shoes you wear like, every day)
  • buy my other pieces from charity shops/Depop. Less of the fast-fashion, high street stuff that costs a fair amount but doesn’t really last (both in terms of quality and you actually wanting to wear it year after year).

Accessories make the outfit

I hate to say it because it sounds like a cheesy magazine tip, but it’s true. I wasn’t bored of my basic wardrobe because I experimented with hats (oh, so many berets), I wore different coloured lipsticks, I tied scarves in my hair, I tried different hairstyles, I dressed outfits down in sneakers or up in heeled boots. It made a big difference.

I’m a total sucker for a beret (and own about seven different colours)

Lesson 2: A bold lipstick and a scarf can turn an ordinary outfit into something special.

I’m a bad shopper

Because I combined my capsule wardrobe challenge with a spending ban, I’d save links to all the things I wanted to buy.

At first, I had this desperate, burning desire for whatever it was that had caught my eye. I really struggled with not being able to have what I wanted straight away. But then, going through the list once the month was up, I realised I didn’t really want those things anymore.

So now if I want something, I write it down and wait a bit. Just to check if I really want it or if it’s pure clothing lust that’ll subside after a day or two.

Lesson 3: Don’t buy things on a whim. Leave it a while and ask yourself the following questions: Is it something you’ve wanted for a while? Is it really your style? Does it have purpose? Does it go with what you already own?

Black ankle boots? Classic Nikki. A midi skirt? Me. A beret? SO ME. By investing in items that scream ‘you’, your wardrobe will feel more cohesive and it’ll be easier to put together outfits that you love.

Falling in love again

I was a bit ‘meh’ about my wardrobe, to be honest. And that made me buy things I didn’t really need or love that much. That’s bad on my wallet and the environment!

This challenge sparked a genuine love and appreciation for what I already own. It turns out I didn’t need more. I needed less.

In fact, I de-cluttered right after the challenge. Things that didn’t fit right, feel very ‘me’ or – dare I say it – things that didn’t spark joy all went. Now I appreciate and enjoy everything I own.

I actively enjoy my stripes and my dungaree dress and my beret – even if I look like Where’s Wally’s girlfriend

Why should you give this challenge a whirl?

  • You’ll save time in the morning.
  • You’ll appreciate the clothes you already have.
  • You’ll learn to be more creative with accessories and more daring with your clothing combinations.
  • You’ll get a better idea of your own sense of style, so you’ll shop smarter in future.
  • And, if you do it alongside the shopping ban, you’ll save money too!

Tempted? You’ve got nothing to lose! In need of inspiration? I’ll be posting some spring/summer capsule wardrobe ideas for men and women in the next week or two, so keep an eye out. Xx

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