Capsule Wardrobe Challenge Because Why Not

The Essentials

Capsule Wardrobe challenges are something I’ve read a lot about but never participated in. My wardrobe is already fairly small after a few years of buying mainly second-hand and being ruthless with eliminating things that I didn’t wear and that no longer fit. But I liked the sound of the Project 333 challenge (literally, my favourite number is 3) and decided to give it a try.

Selecting my 33 items felt a lot like packing for a longer holiday, but when I had my true essentials out I counted them up and only got to 17. Whenever I do pack for any length of holiday I put a lot of thought into packing as a way to re-direct my travel anxiety. I guess I’ve got that part of the capsule wardrobe process down.

The 10 items x 10 outfits challenge seemed too short a time to actually challenge my creativity when it comes to combinations and styling.

So like a modern-day, 33-year-old Goldilocks* I found the middle option to be just right…

10 items for 30 days

For my 10×30 challenge I have borrowed most of the rules from Hello Brownlow’s similar challenge:

  • Simply pick out 10 wardrobe items, including accessories, and wear only those 10 for 30 days.
  • Accepted exceptions to the rule of 10: socks, underwear, bras, workout clothing, sleepwear, jewellery you don’t generally remove (wedding ring, non-earlobe piercings, etc).
  • My personal exceptions: outerwear, shoes, sunglasses, bags.

I live in a city and I either walk or cycle so I need a bit more freedom when it comes to shoes and bags. I have chosen a jean jacket for one of my ‘official’ items, but I reserve the right to pick something different to suit the weather. Sunglasses are non-negotiable as I am very light-sensitive.

Here are the 10-ish items that you and I are about to get suuuuper familiar with:

wardrobe challenge clothing pictured: black culottes, ripped jeans, black t-shirt, black and white stripped t-shirt, black and grey top, patterned sleeveless shirt dress, jean jacket

black wide-legged culottes (1)
ripped and cropped skinny jeans (2)
black v-neck t-shirt (3)
black/white t-shirt (4)
sleeveless black/grey top (5)
patterned sleeveless shirt dress (6)
jean jacket (7)

wardrobe challenge accessories pictured: black belt with rose gold buckle, set of bracelets, zodiac coin earrings, sunglasses

black belt with rose gold buckle (8)
set of bracelets (9)
zodiac coin earrings (10)
sunglasses (necessary)

bags pictured: black crossbody or shoulder bag, black backpack, black slouchy tote

black crossbody / shoulder bag
black Kanken backpack
and for variety… a black slouchy leather tote

shoes pictured: black leather sandals, black suede trainers, Dr. Martens

black leather sandals
black suede trainers
Dr. Martens

Aside from the obvious challenge of making these things look and feel good for an entire month, I think the hardest part – and possibly the most environmentally unfriendly – will be keeping the clothes clean. If I end up doing laundry more often, then this size of capsule wardrobe isn’t exactly sustainable is it?

We’ll see. And we’ll also see just how creative I can be when I’ve been wearing the same seven pieces of clothing for 23 days and I still have a whole week left.

If you’d like to follow along in real time I’ll be posting my outfit each day on my Instagram feed, with outfit outtakes and other fun bits on my stories! #10x30xRachel

*Fun fact: when I googled Goldilocks to make sure I remembered it correctly I learned that in the original story the cheeky intruder was on old woman who trespassed into the home of three civilised, bachelor bears. Which makes this my new favourite fairy tale!

Alternative Ways to Satisfy the Shopping Itch

Good Little Consumer

The advertising of my millennial youth and my current social media feed strongly encourage me to perform my role as a Consumer and go shopping! For a long time I really did feel less-than because I couldn’t have the next best thing, and like that thing would make me feel amazing. For too long this atmosphere of consumerism contributed to my very real anxiety.

I am more than just a walking, breathing, pooping Consumer!

I have (mostly) kicked my bad Consumer habits, but… I still feel that neeeed to go shopping.

Over the past few years I’ve developed a few tricks to scratch that itch that are fun and free and could even be called ‘sustainable’ if you wanted to give them a trendy title.

Reorganise (makeup, skincare, jewelry, clothing)

I put this as number one not because it is the most effective, but because this is my absolute favourite! When I start coveting an item of clothing, an accessory, some kind of skincare, or makeup product I reorganise how I store items in that category I currently own. This helps me get reacquainted with what I own, it gets me thinking about how I can use/wear what I already have, and it reminds me of why I love and keep the things I do have.

You could also call this ‘shopping your wardrobe.’

The Marie Kondo method of seeing everything you have is the best way to do this. Feeling the pressure to Consumer-up and buy a midi skirt? Pull out all your skirts and dresses. Look for items you already own that are a similar colour and that are a similar cut to what you’re wanting, not necessarily both in one item though.

Spend time visualising a few outfits with what you find, using layers and accessories you already own. If you’ve got time actually pull the other items to create the outfits. A full-length skirt or dress could be belted to make it midi, and a dress is a skirt when you layer a t-shirt on top.

When you put the items back into your wardrobe make sure your ‘new’ clothes are the easiest to see and access. If you can, put them near the other items you used in your visual or actual outfit-building.

I find that spending time with my clothing or beauty products, touching them, finding new ways to work with them truly satisfies that shopping craving.

Try some low-risk DIY

In a very real way this post is thanks to @_fran.stevens_ and her recent post with a let-out-hem denim skirt. Seeing that post in my feed this morning gave me the idea for this blog. I saw that skirt and slouchy top and my I’ve-gotta-have-it bell started ringing. Yes, the skirt is just from Asos so it isn’t a big expense, but I am not going to let one photo affect me so much that I actually spend money.


Then I remembered I have a dark blue denim jean skirt that I wear infrequently. I could take down the hem, my favourite detail of the skirt in the photo, and see if I like it and wear it more often. If I dislike the result, I can cut it shorter and fray the hem, and then reassess. The skirt was not expensive and it has been in and out of my giveaway bags for the last year, so this is a low-risk DIY experiment that could have a big pay-off!

Another very low-risk DIY I love is playing with a foundation or face tint that just isn’t working. I try mixing it with other foundations, lotions, primers, or serums to see what happens. There has only been one foundation so bad I couldn’t make it work with one of those things. And bonus: I’ve created several custom foundations that I love!


This ‘trick’ is mostly just procrastination, as the desired result is purchasing something, but it ensures you’re spending money well. What I consider researching an item involves an overview of available products, checking reviews, doing a price/quality comparison, and settling on a few things to keep my eye on.

Even if the ‘thing’ is a simple black t-shirt I will still take some time to decide on how it should fit, oversized or fitted, v-neck or round. I will look at what is available second-hand and what is available from ethical brands. I am trying to get into the habit of not just buying something on impulse.

So, after I research, I wait.

I wait to see if my need or want for the item increases or decreases. I wait to see if I keep thinking about the thing or if I forget about it. (Most of the time I forget about it). I wait to see if the thing goes on sale, particularly if I’ve chosen to ‘watch’ an item that is over my budget.

researching shopping

This kind of research helps me make sure that when I do buy something I am spending money well, getting something that fits my current collection, that I’ll enjoy wearing. It also is a good shopping substitution when the craving hits.

Mix It Up

Similar to my first trick, but much less serious.

This is a fun activity for an evening when you have time and are tired of binging TV shows. Put on some fun music, fix yourself a nice beverage (containing alcohol if possible), and pretend you’ve never seen your own wardrobe or makeup selection.

What would 13-year-old you do with your clothing and makeup? They’d probably go bonkers if they had a cocktail and time to play with your stuff!

I know 13-year-old Rachel would not have the same tired ‘rules’ about which clothes go with each other and what makeup looks best that 33-year-old Rachel does. She is more creative and carefree and she does come up with great outfits.

Playing with makeup one night I mixed up a lovely custom rosey bronzer to gently blend for a fast and subtle glowy colour. I wear this almost every day now.

Now, I don’t want to jinx anything but lately I’m starting to feel the urge to get creative with what I own in these different ways, rather than the old urge to go shopping. I think it is because these alternatives are more creative that they’re such good replacements for trudging through a fast fashion chain. Playing with my stuff also makes me feel so much more confident when I wear it!

Do I still buy cheap things I don’t need on total impulse? Yes. But rarely. Every time I do it becomes more apparent that these things do not fit into the relationship I’ve built with my belongings.

I am no longer a Consumer. I am an adult woman who has a great time pretending to be a teenager and playing dress-up with her own clothes.