Minimalist Clothing Challenge Report

Friday, December 4, 2015

It's OVER!  My 15 items of clothing for 15 days is done (okay, so about two weeks ago, now), and I wanted to report back on how things went!  You may have been following along on Instagram, and see the outfits I wore.  Overall, it was an interesting experiment.  Here are a few take aways that I got from it, and you can decide if you would ever do something like this in the future.

1.  Fifteen items isn't enough.  I wanted it be a drastic change from what I usually wear, and it honestly wasn't quite enough clothing.  I was wearing the same thing every three days, and that much laundry just isn't pleasant.  I am considering doing another challenge next year, but I think I will do 30 items for 30 days, and possibly not count accessories (belts, scarves, etc).  I want to make it a more realistic assessment of what I really need and wear.

2.  Pick clothing items that you already wear.  I picked a few items that are not normally part of the rotation (the hat, and the blazer), and because of limited choices that I had to wear with them, they were more difficult to incorporate into my outfits. That created some stretching for me, but that wasn't really what I was going for with this.  My advice to you is to pick things that you already like, and wear frequently.

3.  Go in knowing what you want to get out of it.  I think I liked the novelty of doing a challenge like this, but honestly, I spent a fair amount of it wishing that I could wear the new stuff that I got at a clothing swap the day before the challenge started.  I felt like I couldn't back out after blogging about it, and it was too late to change the items that I picked. In retrospect, I should have just put it off a week, and rephotograph the clothes, including new things in the bunch as well.

If you do something like this, focus in on why are you doing it.  Because you want to get rid of clothes?  Do you want to see what you really wear?  See what you really want to wear?  Be more creative with your outfits?  I don't think I had enough focus, and I don't think I got the results that I was hoping for because of it.

4.  The staggering amount of clothing that most of us own is completely unnecessary, intensely wasteful and not sustainable (my hippie side is totally coming out in this point... you have been warned).  I remember a summer in college where I decided that I didn't want to wear the same outfit twice.  I think I lasted about two months, which now seems sort of absurd to me.  I think my goal then was to wear all the clothes in my closet, but now I think it is more important to just wear the stuff you like and looks good on you.  If you don't love it, get rid of it.

In the Marie Kondo book "The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up,"  she talks about how if an item was a gift, or a previously loved item, and is no longer wanted, it has still served its purpose, and can be thanked for the joy it gave when it was given, or when it was loved. It is okay for it to move on, and out of your life.  I really struggle to get rid of stuff like that, and I love that philosophy.

5.  High quality wins.  If you have less clothing, it is a good idea to invest in a few quality pieces that will last a long time (think white blouse, blazer, trench coat, etc).  Two of the items that I picked for this challenge were higher quality pieces and I am always amazed at how well they fit, and how much I like wearing them.  Sometimes it is worth investing in something a little nicer.  It doesn't have to cost hundreds of dollars to last for many years and be a regular favorite.

Overall, I would say my challenge was a medium success.  I didn't start with enough focus, but in the end, it made me realize (again) that I have way more clothes than I need.  I realized that I want to get clothes in a more sustainable way, and get rid of things that don't make me happy anymore.  I also realized that I consistently like higher quality brands better.  They fit better, last longer and are generally less trendy and more classic.

If you are looking for a good way to get rid of stuff, or want to purchase some higher quality pieces for less, you might consider using Thred-Up, an online consignment store.  I have mentioned them before, and will probably mention them again, because I love what they do.  They have lots of brand name clothes for significantly less than original purchase price, they have a program for selling your old stuff to them, and if you click on this link, you will get $20 off your first purchase (and I will love you forever because I get $20 credit to them if you buy through this link!).  Basically they are all about reusing, and I am all about that!  Hooray for recycling clothing!

I am curious if anyone else has done something like this, either before or after my challenge?  What did you do?  What did you think?  I would love to hear about it!


  1. So interesting to hear your comments here! As you know I also follow The Daily Connoisseur and she promotes a very limited wardrobe (I think her's is only TEN, if you can believe it -- although that number doesn't include many basics like tank tops or belts or shoes and such). She has mentioned a couple of things that I've found interesting. First that she buys expensive items so that they will last through an entire season or year of constant wear and that at the end of the season she has to replace most of them because they are worn out. So, I'm not sure that a limited wardrobe is actually cheaper, which one would think it would be. And I'm sure -- like you -- you get tired of wearing the same things over and over again. This concept has always seemed attractive to me, but I'm starting to change my mind from your expereince and what I'm seeing elsewhere. Thanks for the experiment on my behalf :)

  2. I loved following along with this experiment! I'm a total clothes hoarder! But I love to do capsule wardrobes when we travel, because we always travel carry-on, even internationally. I love the problem-solving aspect of creating a mini-wardrobe that is practical for wherever we're visiting, as well as comfortable and stylish. Good on you for trying this in your everyday life!

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