@petraalexandra was hosting a 30×30 wardrobe challenge (choose 30 items of clothes and shoes minus activewear/loungewear and only wear those for 30 days) on Instagram for May. I decided at the last minute to hop onto the train but only with a 20×20.
I wear about 40-45 items a month with no self-imposed restrictions, if anything, with trying to wear more of my stuff, so I didn’t feel like I would get much out of a 30×30. I’m also already pretty familiar with what I have, so it’s not like that would get me to really start thinking about my wardrobe for the first time. But I’ve enjoyed the 10×10 challenges I’ve done so I figured it wouldn’t hurt to see what I could do with a little more space. At this point I do these challenges because they help me 1) wear new outfit combos and 2) repeating the same items in a shorter space of time helps me identify general things I like or don’t like for styling them.
I ended up further constraining it to a 16×16, then calling it after 12 outfits, because I felt like I wasn’t going to get much more out of it in terms of learning how I feel about wearing the core items. Here’s what I wore:
And arranged by top/bottom worn:
For 10x10s I’ll usually plan out all 10 outfits in advance. Anecdotally (I’ve run two 10×10 challenges on reddit and read every one of the thread comments) it seems that people often find it difficult to finish because they can’t actually make 10 outfits they really like from the items, and a week and a half is easy enough to plan out anyway.
For a 20×20 I decided that as long as each top went with at least 3 bottoms, if there was plenty of outerwear and shoe options to mix it up with I’d be happier than if I wore the same 2 pairs of shoes and jackets the whole month. As usual, I also made sure that each item category had a variety of color values and cuts. While I definitely have my go-to silhouettes, I don’t find uniform dressing fulfilling.
I didn’t choose any particular theme or aesthetic to the capsule, which I think is largely why I got bored of it. My whole shtick for this year has been trying to wear bolder outfits for casual through formal looks, and a lot of the combos felt okay, but just blah to me.
That being said, I still went with mostly light springy casual pieces. That’s actually not a type of outfit I’ve worn much in the past, as prior to getting interested in fashion I wore mostly black or dark wash denim bottoms and my first wardrobe phase was sort of a minimal goth style.
I included two tees because I wanted to have most of the options be unfussy to wear. I expected not to wear the pumps much but given there was enough leeway with the item count I figured I could keep one shoe spot for when I was feeling dressy.
Things that got cut because I didn’t wear them by a week in:
- brown flat oxfords
- beige cotton-linen pants
Just too similar of a niche to the other items.
Starting off with the one of the better outfits. I mean, if you might bail out at the end, might as well front-load the good stuff. Still really liking the fancy blouse with the light-wash jeans. I love me some vintage style looks but I think I’m still more comfortable pairing white button-downs with more casual or trendy modern bottoms than A-line midi skirts.
I think this one would have looked nice with the heels, but I don’t like to wear the same height heel two days in a row and it was also quite warm out. I really love the strawberry shortcake color palette too.
One of my go-to casual combos, now with clogs. Ft more supportive sneakers I changed into for helping out with an event setup thing after work.
I think this was my favorite outfit of the 12. Felt really spring-y but a bit tomboyish. Very Madewell stock photo, lol.
Space dress with conveniently warm-toned bits that go well with the saddle brown color of a bunch of my leather/pleather items.
Slightly more formal-looking pants but slightly more casual shoe version of the first outfit. I think the clogs work better here than oxfords for the not totally costume-y vintage vibe I want because it mixes up the eras more, but they’re also less slouchy than Birkenstocks and don’t look out of place with all the other items that are a bit more formal.
Cute casual slightly 90s look. I think the matching lipstick made this one. Definitely going to repeat this.
Oh you’ve seen these jeans with two other light colored tops, but have you seen them with THIS light colored top? The oversized buttons here are a nice to break up the almost washed out look on top.
Kind of a normcore-lite thing (minus the jacket). Not the kinda style that will get you a load of new follows with low-key presentation but I’m partial to the earnestly dorky style (vs like, Hot Topic flavor of nerd style).
Round neck cardigan + scoop neck is not a combo I’d tried before and now I can confirm that it does pull too teacher twee in a way I’m not aiming for. The Birks help keep it from going full 2010 high school glee teacher costume but even then I’m also not a fan of the more structured skirt with particularly slouchy tee and sandals. Too much of a jump without the purse to tie it together in the formality dimension.
This is definitely more under the Hot Topic quirky vibe I usually try to avoid but I just wanted to try the space dress with different accessories. I think it’s okay with the sneakers albeit definitely a more juvenile look, but the trench on top of that feels really “fedora with a graphic tee and cargo shorts because then I’ll look dapper“. I just went to buy groceries in this and I don’t think I’ll ever repeat the full outfit.
One last outfit for a nice round 12 looks. Liked the casual summer weekend vibes here and the red headband makes the whole thing feel a bit Americana.
Things I Learned
A bunch of things I noticed, in no particular order.
I love the new clogs. They go with like, all my clothes. I think it’s because they’re a classic (though currently on the trendy side) shoe and have a more earthy look. I like how they can add some personality to a look and how rich and warm the brown is. They’re not quite as much of a comfort shoe as I was hoping though. Even though the actual incline is not very steep, I find that the stiff platform still means I have to walk carefully to avoid rolling my ankle on uneven ground.
Striped t-shirt was more versatile than I expected for just throwing it in as “eh, could use another easy-to-wear top”: honestly, I still wish this were a bolder stripe and a slightly more substantial fabric, but this worked really well with all the bottoms. Who’d’ve thought having an item with multiple colors means it feels cohesive in more outfits /s
But I’m still not into thin basic tees generally. The scoop neck is easy to wear and really good with the linen trousers, which are a warm weather staple for me, so I’m still keeping it around. I’ve noticed I’m generally not a fan of half-committed looks. As in, commit to utilitarian comfort or or commit to an awesome outfit. Both is bonus points of course, but I’m not into the whole “add a statement/nicer piece to zjooj up your look!” strategy of dressing at all. WELL-BALANCED VISUAL INTEREST OR BUST. If I wear, like, mid-wash jeggings and a tired-looking black jersey t-shirt, that might look marginally better with a smart jacket and leather shoes, but I still know in my heart that the core pieces are really blah and life’s too short for that (as fashion is one of my main hobbies. On the other end of things, I do absolutely nothing to my hair besides wash and dry it because hairstyling is not a hobby/priority for me now.).
Only wore the pumps once but I’m okay with that. They were there when I needed them. I enjoy having a dressy shoe option with the allowance of the extra couple of pieces. I have some mini capsules where I’d love to where heels 2/3 of the time but this just wasn’t it.
Using bottoms with distinct colors and textures kept things fresh and cheerful. Even with mostly light tops.
I like how the trench dresses things up. Usually I don’t like looking like a student and I feel like the trench can age up my casual outfits in a good way. Still can’t fix intrinsically juvenile looks, though.
I am more comfortable with dorkier outfits like the tee and hip-heavy trousers and sneakers look now because I know it’s a choice for me. Even if it might not read as fashion-y to other people, I find that being more confident in my ability to make a cool outfit when I feel like it makes it less stressful to wear something less flattering.
Moto jackets: I like them better with more casual, lower-neckline tops. Fancy tops feel a little too stuffy.
Cardigan with round neck tops: I appreciate ~2010 teacher twee as a style, but it’s just not what I’m going for and I feel like this combo + vintage-y pieces tends to pull that way.
I have more of an appreciation for light toned outfits. I don’t recall ever really getting into light-light colored outfits, only full dark or a combo. Always went more for dark clothes before cause either they feel edgy or nondescript (from when I didn’t consider fashion a hobby). I really liked how light and airy the beige/cream/light-wash denim combos were and I can picture my feed lightening up overall for spring/summer.
If I were to have a true small capsule, like ~25 items, I would prefer it have stronger theming. Extra basics as you will. Some people who I think do the “extra basics” thing really well are @shellsinshoes (she has a lot of the classic avant-garde (what an oxymoron) designer stuff like Tabi boots and Issey Miyake) and ruthannr94 on reddit (I’d describe her style as sexy-punk). Still perpetually waffling about whether to get more serious about downsizing to get some breathing space back in the apartment, so that’s a good reminder to err on the side of removing more of the stylistically minimal pieces rather than punchy ones.
Are you doing the 30×30? How’s it going? If you’ve also done a shorter challenge like a 10×10, which do you prefer?