30-Day minimalist wardrobe challenge

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As a part-time grad student with a toddler and a full time job, I’ve been trying to live a life with more mindfulness, which to me means acknowledging and accepting your own feelings and thoughts to achieve a more calming mental state. I figured that one of the best ways to clear my mind and achieve mindfulness was to remove any unnecessary clutter in my life. I turned to minimalism to address the physical clutter within my surroundings, and who else is better to talk to about minimalism than Jenn?

I reached out to Jenn and she encouraged me to take on a 30-Day Minimalist Wardrobe Challenge. She helped me select my pieces of clothing and the rules were simple: wear only the selected pieces of clothing (with the exception of activewear and underwear) and nothing else for thirty days. Challenge accepted.

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The Challenge Items

  • 15 shirts
  • 3 cardigans
  • 1 pair black pants
  • 1 pair of jeans
  • 2 jackets
  • 2 scarves
  • 1 pair of shoes
  • 1 pair of boots

The challenge was both exciting and difficult at the start. It was exciting because I knew that this would be my chance to be creative and combine all of my favorite pieces in my school, work, and mommy apparel into one cohesive wardrobe.

The difficult part was choosing which fifteen shirts I wanted to wear for the next thirty days. After much deliberation, I completed my wardrobe and was ready for the challenge to begin.

The Minimalist Challenge Outfits

I wore a lot of these outfits at least twice and wore a lot of different combinations of activewear on the weekends. Though I try to keep it business casual, I’m lucky to work in an environment where leggings, t-shirts, and flip flops are not frowned upon, so I was able to incorporate activewear to my work outfits.

 Minimalist wardrobe challenge outfits - Capsule wardrobe outfits

Minimalist wardrobe challenge outfits - Capsule wardrobe outfits

I also ended up wearing ten shirts instead of fifteen. I created my minimalist wardrobe intended for warmer weather (typical Southern California spring), but instead it was rainy and cold the first three weeks. By then I became so acclimated to wearing the same ten shirts, that it became a habit to continue selecting from that set.

What I Learned from Completing the Minimalist Wardrobe Challenge

I was surprised how easy this challenge was, and I learned a lot of lessons about my wardrobe and myself:

  • I learned that I don’t need five beige cardigans, I can simply do with one.
  • I don’t need three pairs of black pants.
  • I realized I gravitate towards certain cuts and styles, and by taking a picture of my outfit every day, I learned what cuts and styles actually look best on me (mirrors can be so deceiving sometimes). This lesson helped me purge half of my wardrobe at the end of the challenge.
  • If you incorporate a variety of patterns and stick to a color palette, you can create more versatile outfits with just a few pieces.

Through this challenge, I realized that I don’t wear jeans that often, and wide leg pants make me look short. (And these happen to be the only pants I chose for my challenge—whoops!)

I was able to purge more of my wardrobe by removing four pairs of jeans I rarely wear, and removing all of my wide leg pants. I’ll stick to skinnies and bootcut from now on. Now when I peruse online catalogs or Pinterest, I ask myself:

  • Will this go with my staple bottoms for the year: red and black pants, or pink shorts and mint cropped jeans?
  • Will this go with my favorite stripe sweater-blazer?
  • Can I wear this all year around?
  • Is it easy to layer when it’s cold, and will it look nice to wear on its own?

If the answers are no, I move on. But if the answer is yes, then I consider adding it to my wardrobe, and replacing something old that I no longer wear or doesn’t fit anymore.

But the most unexpected lesson I learned was how easily I could incorporate activewear in the office. My favorite and most comfortable outfit ended up being my grey Bettona leggings and Be Bold support top by Athleta, layered with a grey v-neck sweater and black boots.

I’m now experimenting with more of my activewear to see which pieces I can mix and match with my wardrobe to wear in the office.

What to Think About When Assembling Your Own Minimalist Wardrobe

If you are thinking about doing a 30-Day Minimalist Wardrobe Challenge, but don’t know how or where to start, learn from my mistakes and think about the following things when creating your capsule wardrobe:

  • What style and cut do I tend to gravitate towards?
  • What color palette do I already have in my closet? In other words, what collective shirts, pants, and layering pieces already coordinate with each other?
  • What will the weather generally be in the next 30 days? Is my wardrobe prepared for a drastic shift in weather?
  • What is my overall goal? How can I incorporate a minimalist wardrobe to help me achieve or get closer to my goal?

Minimalist Wardrobe: Focus on Comfort and Feeling Good

The 30-Day Wardrobe Challenge removed the stressof walking into a large and cluttered closet. It helped me be more comfortable in my own skin, own less, and focus on what's most important. I have a better understanding of what makes me comfortable and feel good and what I need (and don’t need) in my wardrobe.

Because of the minimalist challenge, I’ve created an environment that is less chaotic and more calming to help me achieve and maintain mindfulness in the mornings. I’m hoping I’ll be able to incorporate the lessons I’ve learned in other ways to achieve minimalism and mindfulness.

Maybe I should try another one of Jenn’s 30-Day Minimalist Challenges. :)

What would a 30-day minimalist wardrobe challenge look like for you?

Cover photo by Micheile Henderson