In my last post, I began a two part series (or maybe more…) on depression and anxiety and what we can do to experience a greater level of happiness and peace in our lives. I’m grateful to all those who responded to that post, either directly on the blog or via email. I continue to ponder these issues and will offer my own tips and those of others in an upcoming post. However, since I’m not ready to go with that quite yet, I’m going to write about something else that I’ve been thinking about.
For almost two months now, I’ve been doing a modified version of the “30 for 30” remix challenge. My reason for doing this was to shift my focus from what’s “out there” in the stores and online to what is already in my closet. Since this is the time of year when there’s a “big sale” seemingly every other day, it’s difficult for us recovering shopaholics not to get caught up in a major case of FOMO. I also got a lot out of doing a similar challenge back in April/May (see my recap here), so I thought it would be helpful for me to do an encore.
How the Challenge Works – and a New Rule
Here’s a reminder of how this challenge works, including a new rule I’ve instituted this time around:
- I will be dressing with 30-item capsules for both my “out and about” and at-home wardrobes for the months of November and December.
- Instead of selecting my capsule items at the beginning of the challenge, I’m building them organically as I go, adding new pieces until I reach 30 items in each capsule while also tracking how often each capsule item is worn.
- Only clothing items are included in my capsules, but I’m also keeping track of my accessory pieces (shoes, jewelry, etc.) and how often I wear them.
- I’m keeping an outfit journal for my “out and about” ensembles, rating each outfit and jotting down what did and didn’t work and why.
- NEW FALL RULE: I can swap items out of the capsules for either weather or style-related reasons. For the latter, the swapped out items will go “on probation,” which means that they may be potentially eliminated from my wardrobe. At the end of the challenge, I will re-evaluate these items and see if using them in new combinations changes the way I feel about them, but I will pass on anything that is uncomfortable, fussy, or unflattering.
I’m really glad I decided to take on this challenge when I did because it has been enlightening. I will do a full debrief in January, but I want to share a few thoughts and insights with you today.
Timing is Everything
The fact that I opted to do the challenge around the time when the seasons changed ended up being particularly instructional. This varies a bit year by year, but the warm weather where I live typically lasts until sometime in November (this warm weather doesn’t begin until late June or July, so things even out…). This year we got lucky and it was still quite warm until right around December 1st, when the overcast days set in and the temperatures dropped. Until that time, my challenge was proceeding very well and I was happy with the pieces I had selected and the outfits I was wearing, but then things started to go awry.
This challenge has led me to realize that there is very little crossover between what I wear when it’s warm out and when it’s cooler. I don’t know if this is unique to me, but it’s almost like I have two disparate wardrobes for the warm and cool months. When I embarked upon the challenge, I thought that I could perhaps just swap out a handful of things to navigate the weather shift, but I’ve ended up swapping out quite a few items. That’s okay, though, as it’s made me do a lot of thinking. I’ve also made notes about all of my outfits that have helped me to see where things have been going right and where they’ve been going wrong. In my wrap-up post, I will outline any patterns I noticed in these notations, but there’s something that’s already quite clear to me.
It’s All About the Pants
In my post introducing this challenge, I mentioned that I had purchased a few pairs of looser-fitting pants for the warmer months, including printed options. These pants have been game changers for me in that they opened up lots of new outfit possibilities and increased my comfort level dramatically. I enjoyed wearing these pants so much that I was sad when it became too cool outside for me to wear them any longer.
Since the beginning of this month, I have mostly been wearing jeans and black pants. I haven’t been nearly as happy sporting these bottom pieces as the ones I wore during the summer months. Part of the reason for this is that jeans are less forgiving and aren’t generally as comfortable (for me) as other types of pants, including my new summer pants. But that’s not the biggest reason for my discontent. I’ve recently noticed that none of my jeans are quite long enough, thus I end up pulling them down to try to get some additional length. This decreases my comfort level, as the waistband of my pants digs into my high hip area, which doesn’t feel very good at all!
People always tell me that I’m lucky to be so tall, but there are definite drawbacks to being well above average height. Sadly, even “long” or “tall” pants are usually still too short for me, but because finding pants that fit my proportions are difficult enough already, I have often chosen to “settle” for the length being half an inch or an inch too short. I thought it would be no big deal or that I could stretch the pants out or wear lower heels, but it never quite works out all that well. The end result is that I’m unhappy with many of my outfits because they’re not quite right. Additionally, since I prefer to wear heels over flats, some of my shoes just don’t work with the pants I predominantly wear, so they end up gathering dust in my closet. Clearly, searching long and hard for pants and jeans with longer inseams needs to be my top shopping priority in 2019.
It May Not Be Pants for You…
I know that most of you don’t share my specific wardrobe challenge outlined above, but perhaps there’s an area in which you’re settling of which you’ve been mostly unaware. Maybe it’s a different fit challenge or it could be a color or fabrication issue. You may end up buying things that aren’t quite right simply because they’re on sale or a “good deal.” Doing a challenge like the “30 for 30,” Project 333, or similar can help to highlight problems that you weren’t aware of previously.
It’s amazing how crystal clear wardrobe problems can become when we push ourselves to dress with less. Travel can definitely highlight issues we have with our clothes. For instance, have you ever been on a trip and struggled to get dressed because you neglected to pack a particular item? Or maybe you packed too many similar pieces and not enough variety, or too many prints and not enough solids to ground them. It could be that we need to improve our packing prowess or it might be that our wardrobe at large needs work. Either way, traveling or doing challenges like mine can be very educational in terms of our wardrobe needs and the degree to which we are or aren’t meeting them.
I’ve identified other issues besides pants length that I will mention in my challenge recap in January. I was surprised that I didn’t notice these things previously, but when I was working with my entire wardrobe, they were simply easier to overlook because I had so many items to choose from when getting dressed. Not recognizing my “blind spots” has led me to focus on the wrong types of purchases when shopping. Sure, I often bought some great pieces, but they weren’t the ones that would add the biggest bang for their buck to my wardrobe. It’s wonderful to have a lot of pretty tops and toppers, but if the pants they’re paired with are substandard, the resulting outfits won’t be “10”s. If I want more higher ranked ensembles, I have to do the work to find better pants.
In addition to finishing out my challenge (I will stop at the end of the year or when I reach 30 “out and about” outfits – I’m up to 26 so far), I’m going to do a few other things to deepen my learning and help me dress and shop better moving forward:
1. Formulating Seasonal Capsules
I’m going to formulate seasonal capsules out of my existing wardrobe items. Maybe I won’t have many pieces that do “double-duty” for both warm and cool weather – and maybe that’s okay. However, I would like to identify what I view as my core items for both conditions so I better understand what I’m working with. If there are gaps between what I have and what would be ideal, I will make note of them. I will also list all of the items that serve the same basic role in my wardrobe (e.g. multiple black and white t-shirts that are interchangeable and potentially redundant). Through doing the challenge, I saw that I have multiple items that are so similar that they don’t add a whole lot of value to my wardrobe. More on this in my recap…
2. Outfit Creation Sessions
I used to spend a few hours every month or two putting outfit possibilities together and photographing them. I haven’t done much of this at all in the past few years and I think my wardrobe has suffered as a result. I don’t realize that there is a wealth of outfit options in what I already have, so I think I have to go out and buy more in order to dress well, and the cycle continues. My recent challenge has showed me that I need to allocate the time to “play” in my closet to prove to myself that I have enough. I may learn that I only need a few strategic purchases rather than a lot of more of the same of what I already have. I suspect this will be the case and that these items will all be bottom pieces. That’s my guess, but I will have better knowledge of that through finishing this challenge, doing the exercise above, and doing a few outfit creation sessions over the next month or so.
Conclusion and Your Thoughts
I hope you found this post interesting even if you don’t share my particular wardrobe challenges and insights. I know that not all of you have done Project 333 or the 30 for 30 Remix, but you have probably gained knowledge about your wardrobe in various other ways. I’d love to get your feedback on this topic. Here are a few questions to help you gather your thoughts, but feel free to comment however you’d like.
- What have you learned about your wardrobe and your style preferences from times when you needed to dress with less (i.e. travel, a closet challenge, or a body or lifestyle change)?
- What “blind spots” have you discovered with your wardrobe and how did they impact the way you dressed and how you felt about your outfits?
- What are your biggest fit challenges and how do they affect your wardrobe satisfaction?
- What have been your greatest wardrobe challenges overall?
- What wardrobe and style goals do you have for 2019?
I look forward to reading your thoughts on these questions (and they may inform future blog topics!).
Thank you for reading. I plan to publish another post before the end of the year, but today I would like to wish all those who celebrate a very Merry Christmas!
I hope that whatever the weather brings on the holiday and whoever you spend the day with, it is a joyous occasion for you. Many blessings to all of you, my dear readers! I appreciate your reading my words and sharing your insights with me.