AKA “what I wore in May”
This update is comically late, but I was just burned out on fashion posting for a while. But life goes on (though not in the same way), and I’m still wearing clothes and still acquiring more than any one person ought to, so still writing about it.
What is the May 30×30?
It’s a capsule wardrobe challenge run through Instagram by @petraalexandra (check out #may30x30challenge). The concept: choose 30 items and wear only those for 30 days. Some people also opt to do a ‘progressive capsule wardrobe’ where they just spontaneously wear things until they hit 30 pieces. There’s no prize, so anyone joining is doing so just for fun.
There are a bunch of reasons that might compel someone to join – just for the heck of it because they haven’t got much else going on during self quarantine, they want to do a trial run for having a reduced wardrobe, to use the constraints to come up with fresh outfits from stuff they already have, or just for the community aspect. Challenges like this, especially when run by people with a larger follower pool, are often great ways to find hobbyist outfit journal accounts that are a little more down-to-earth than full-on influencer accounts.
At this point, I know myself well enough that a <50 item capsule for no reason other than minimalism itself isn’t my thing. I joined for the creativity-via-constraints aspect, but also to motivate myself to regularly check in on the hashtag to see other people’s outfits.
I started on April 29th and went through May 30th. I figured there would be a few days where I wouldn’t end up changing out of chore clothes or activewear and I wanted to have a full 30 outfit outfits. I think I also wanted to start early to get some outfits in for the ‘full cycle’ theme WAYWT thread on reddit. This ended up being the right guess, as by May 30 I had 30 outfits. Here’s what I ended up wearing (click image to view full size in a new tab):
It wasn’t hard to do 30 items at all, even considering I wore a few themed outfits whose items I didn’t extensively re-wear during the month. If anything, I didn’t hit 30 outfits until the 29th, and I didn’t hit 30 items until the 30th (although if you count two jackets that I wore only for theme look photos then I could have cleanly finished both on the 29th).
A lot of this ease was definitely thanks to having 10+ outfits planned out of a 10xN, which took case of any days when I couldn’t prioritize making an outfit. Looking back, I’m not that excited about the 10×10 outfits. The process of actually making the capsule was a lot more interesting to me than actually wear it. I do think they look nice and as a whole I think the month’s outfits look like an upgrade from the usual set.
Types of outfits
2 theme outfits with mostly unique items: this Star Wars inspired look for “May the 4th be with you” day
And this throwback outfit that was supposed to be for a 1980s theme. I started with the pleated longer line shorts, but they felt overwhelmingly large and then by the time that I cuffed them, belted them, and paired them with an oversized tee to balance out the volume, it was full on 1990s instead. Pretty sure I had an outfit like this back in the day.
I had 4 outfits (not counting the ‘full cycle’ theme) that worked for theme prompts which entirely or nearly entirely used items that were from the 10 item starter capsule or ended up being repeated a few times later on in the month. I think these mostly turned out well, although after doing this I still think that ideally I wouldn’t do theme outfits and capsule wardrobe challenges at the same time. I like to go as all-out as I can for themed looks, and not being able to use like 80% of my items just seems wasteful compared to any personal educational value I’d get from artificial limitations.
12 outfits from the initial 10xN capsule. 1 was a repeat, and I didn’t end up wearing 2 of the outfits I photographed. I didn’t feel extra enough to wear the second snake fishnets look, and it was too hot in the last week of the month to wear the velvet camisole again. (As a curse for having weather that is generally almost too nice, it’s common in our area for residential buildings to not have central air conditioning, window AC, or even ceiling fans. So when it’s in the 80s outside it can already be uncomfortable indoors even with all the windows open.)
Miniskirts! They’re just easier for just being around the house.
I’ve been loving this gathered A-line skirt with a ruched waist, particularly because the stretch is more comfortable for all the sitting I’ve been doing. I still love my midi skirts for cooler weather and looking crisp, but the extra breathing space and flouncier feel of this was just so freeing.
Seriously though, it’s pretty rare for me to wear anything aside from jeans this frequently, even considering the novelty factor of the silhouette for me. I’ve been favoring puffy sleeves this year, and the silhouette works pretty well to balance out the visual interest while not feeling quite as stuffy as a higher coverage skirt might. I think I might like to hem it a little bit just to clearly get it into above-the-knee silhouette (as intended), but I’d like to wear it a while longer before committing to that.
As a bonus, wearing the same piece so many times inspired me to accessorize more. Been nice getting to use all my purses instead of just the ergonomic commuter laptop backpack.
(The skirt is the “field skirt” from the defunct Anthropologie house brand Edme & Esyllte)
In a move that I’m sure surprises no one, after a couple of outfits with it, I started looking for it in other colorways (here ft. with another colorway duplicate of the gigot sleeve waffle-knit blouse, though for some reason the cut of the sleeves on this version is much more voluminous).
Still enjoying the straighter cut cord miniskirt too!
My waning enthusiasm for my cardigans. Don’t get me wrong, there’s still a time and a place for cardigans in my own outfits, but I suddenly realized that I have so many and most of the time when I attempt to include them in an outfit, I end up putting them back. The sleeves are too long on the relatively trendy cropped ones and it can easily push a look into sloppy territory, and others are a bit clunky for my taste in all but a few specific outfits.
I wore this cream cardigan a couple times during the month since it was included with the base set, and I noticed that I really only liked it when paired with a more streamlined pant or skirt and v-neck or sweetheart necklines. Fair point, as very few things can claim to go with everything (or even 90% of things), but the storage space to usage+joy ratio for a lot of my sweaters is actually pretty low, and most of them don’t have pockets and as such aren’t even good as a chuck-on DGAF item for times when I’m just running out the door.
I’m reaching the point again where I’m having more trouble keeping clothes organized, so I’ll be listing a few sweaters on Poshmark (as things are still too iffy for me to feel good about paying a visit to brick and mortar consignments, which have recently reopened in my area).
Having a “blessed” selection of core outfits was great. Even towards the end when it shifted away from the moody greens and neutrals of the original 10 pieces, it was just so much easier to get on with my day. I know I’ve been talking about trying to make most outfits default-outfits even since the last Year in Review post, but I don’t think I truly committed to trying it until this exercise.
Sometimes I find myself feeling a bit ashamed of the idea of rotating through a few basic looks while I have such an expansive wardrobe. It feels like one thing if someone’s got like, 20 items to work with for any given weather range, but if I have 200+ pieces that I can wear at any given time (for context, I’m in the SF Bay Area which doesn’t have terribly distinct seasons), it just feels ridiculous to only wear the same 4 tops and 4 bottoms 80% of the time.
Theoretically the ideal compromise would be to have a rotating set of base outfits for each month, but I know that unless I know from previous scrutiny that the resulting outfits from those do get a thumbs up, just having a loosely designated core capsule still results in more time than I’d like spent on fine-tuning outfits every morning. Not gonna lie, I spent basically an entire day planning out the 10 pieces. While puzzling through capsule planning is fun, I just don’t want to devote that much time on the regular, especially once outside life fully opens up and I’m back to spending every Saturday at volunteering.
While my wardrobe might not have a strict endgame to it in terms of aesthetic, I still want to spend less energy on fashion stuff nowadays. I don’t want to be too hasty about downsizing, but over the last couple of weeks (as it’s now almost the end of June) I’ve been more aggressive about just repeating outfits when I’m not feeling actively inspired to create a specific outfit. On the counts of a) spending less time fretting about my outfit in the morning and b) consistently liking stuff I did wear, it really was just better. (I didn’t really discuss it here since I only got one fit with them on towards the end of the 30×30, but the pleated denim shorts have been a fantastic spring/summer casual complement to both my heavier vintage tees and puffy sleeve shirts.)
I’m not sure where that puts me in terms of posting OOTDs on Instagram. I’m definitely down to repeat outfits even multiple times a week IRL, but I suspect the effort of creating daily posts given that wear pattern is probably not worth it. I already know what the outfit looks like, and how many times does anyone on Instagram benefit from seeing the same 3 colorways of a shirt rotated with two different bottoms? I can only say so much about “yeah, that’s a top, and that’s a bottom, and those are Birkenstocks”. I might end up posting in aggregate but less frequently, and selecting a larger variety of outfits for the cover images.
I’ve been pretty burned out on posting on any platform recently especially while trying to digest all the current events and not have a mental breakdown from having to stay home and having most of my other hobbies sidelined for months, so in addition to kon-mari-ing my sweater collection I’ve also been figuring out how much space I want to allow various priorities to take up in my life. I think at this point I’d rather spend more time writing for the WordPress blog than for Instagram anyway, as I feel that’s more helpful for my own sartorial learning (plus it’s easier to reference than captions buried in hundreds of Instagram photos).
But either way, I guess at least at the end of this month’s messy experiment, I’ve become more comfortable with the idea of actually getting dressed without pushing myself so hard when I’ve got a bunch of perfectly nice outfits I’ve worked on already. And that seems good.