3 Wardrobe Challenges to Help You Create a More Efficient Wardrobe

This entry is part 15 of 31 in the series Exploring Minimalism

It doesn’t take long to get used to something, to become comfortable in a mindset or routine.

To find yourself stuck in a rut.

You might have the vague notion that you’re not truly happy with the way things are, but… it’s comfortable that way.

It doesn’t take a scientific study to know that the percentage of women who are happy with their wardrobe is relatively small. But most people continue to seek the next perfect item for their closet like it’s the Holy Grail, never bothering to address underlying issues with their clothing mindset.

I don’t think I’d be far off in saying that most closets are more of a hodgepodge of styles than a carefully curated and versatile set of items that makes it easy to choose an outfit.

We graduated into our adult lives with relics from high school and college years; we went up and down and up again in size as we had babies and our hips, boobs, and tummies paid the physical price of motherhood.

But for the most part, throughout all of that, our closet never had a real come-to-Jesus moment.

I’ve had fits and starts of trying to reform; trying to find my way as I gradually morph into what it means for my style to be a mom in her 30s. On one hand, I know my style wants to grow up, but on the other, I am still drawn to dressing like the young twenty-something that I feel… until I look in the mirror and am rudely reminded of the extra flab that didn’t used to be there at that age.

A couple years ago I finally realized that just throwing “more” at the problem wasn’t the solution – it was a matter of already too much.

3 Wardrobe Challenges to Help You Find New Outfits, Discover Your Style, Save Time! | minimalist living, minimalism, simple living

It can be hard to know where to start, but after trying a few different things over time, I find that I’m ready to just scrap it all and start over at the beginning.

There are a number of very helpful wardrobe challenges you can try out for yourself if you’re interested in exploring what taking control of your closet could feel like. I highly recommend going through these exercises to help you understand your true style – not what you’re holding onto from the past, not what you wish it was, but what you feel and look best in and don’t need to stress over anymore.

For the most part, wardrobe challenges consist of limiting yourself to a certain group of clothes so that you can:

  • Stretch your creativity in putting outfits together.
  • Learn by doing, what items are truly versatile.
  • Enjoy an easier time getting ready.
  • See how little you really need.

These are all basically just variations of a capsule wardrobe, defined simply by one practitioner, as “A mini wardrobe made up of really versatile pieces that you totally LOVE to wear.

Here are a few flavors of the capsule wardrobe that you can try out for yourself, or make your own version that works best for you.

7×7 Remix – I’ve participated in this one a number of times, and it definitely taught me some things about my style – partly that I was holding onto pieces that I really didn’t like that much. And I definitely found a bunch of outfits that I didn’t know I had – well worth it! All you do is pick 7 items to mix and match into 7 different outfits. It started out to be including shoes, but then got more lenient. See my experiments with this challenge (some of which I definitely liked more than others) here.

Project 333 – This challenge is to pick only 33 items to wear for 3 months, including clothing, accessories, jewelry, outerwear, and shoes. She doesn’t count jewelry that you never take off (like a wedding ring), underwear, sleepwear, in-home lounge wear, or workout clothes, so that starts to feel a little more manageable. You take everything else out of your closet and box it up to decide after the 3 months what, if any of it, you still want.

*Here is another challenge along the same lines, only she picks 37 items instead of 33. I don’t think there’s really a magic number.

30 Day Shop Your Closet – This is a month-long challenge with daily prompts/themes for picking outfits. It inspires you to look at your wardrobe with fresh eyes and discover combinations you never thought of trying. There are many more outfit prompts like this on Instagram as well.

When we go south for the winter, I’m planning to go a little more hardcore and create a wardrobe challenge for myself with the number of items and details TBD. I’d love to know if you try one of these!

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  • L. A. McDonough

    A website that was helpful was: richlyrooted.com ( search:rule of ten) explaining having ten clothing items in each category as in pants, shirts, dresses, etc. Can go to twelve or fifteen in each category. Another great idea is to wear neutrals for the bottoms (denim, black, navy, gray, kaiki, ) and wear the tops/blouses/shirts that go best with your skin tone. Mix and match all items, can’t go wrong. I own zero dresses and wear neutral outerwear. We are retired and live in active wear with rare exceptions. Six or less outerwear items is really enough for anyone.

    • Yes, it’s amazing how little you really need! I prefer to have neutral bottoms and colored tops also, but I keep finding black tops I like, and having a hard time finding good colored ones LOL