12 x 12 Capsule Wardrobe

Over the last 12 days I have worn exactly 12 items of clothing. There’s been creative mixing and matching. There’s also been a lot of washing.

The 12×12 project is part of my commitment to a sustainable approach to fashion. I’m not sure how the washing fits in here. But I do love a fashion challenge.

This one was courtesy of the Shop Your Wardrobe 2018 Facebook group. We are bunch of like-minded folk who love fashion and the earth and are seeking to make more of what we already have. We’re doing that through weekly challenges and encouraging each other.

Our most recent challenge was to wear only 10 items over 10 days. I couldn’t narrow my wardrobe down, so I picked two extra pieces and extended the challenge by a couple of days.

Capsule dressing fits within the current minimalistic zeitgeist but it’s always held an allure for me.

It conjures visions of a well-dressed jet setter creating infinite outfits from her carefully curated suit case. I’ve always had a soft spot for those jersey dresses that can be worn 6 different ways.

So, when this challenge came up, I was gung-ho and started planning immediately.

My wardrobe needed to span work days and casual days with the kids. It needed to be warm enough for cool Brisbane winter mornings and flexible enough to cope with warm Brisbane winter days.

With that in mind I chose 2 jackets, 2 camisole tops, 1 pencil dress, 1 floral pencil skirt, 2 long sleeved tops, 1 pair jeans, 1 pair tights, 1 flowy dress/tunic and 1 pair of black pants.

For the most part, I felt good in the clothing I chose. I was too dressed up for my “off” days but that’s never really bothered me.

There were certain favourite clothes I missed and by the end of the 12 days I was keen for some more colour and print.

I could have swapped out the black pants and the pencil dress for something else and I would have had more options.

However, it did show me that it’s possible to dress well with quite a limited wardrobe.

I also introduced some casual elements into my work wear and work wear into my casual. It’s always fun to discover new things your wardrobe can do.

This is what my 12 days looked like …

For those embarking on this kind of challenge, this is what worked and didn’t work for me:

  • Take pictures of all pieces and mix and match every piece together on your phone. I used the Instagram layout app for this. It was a super helpful exercise.
  • Keep to a fairly neutral palette with maybe one or two stand out colours or prints so that most pieces can work together.
  • Make a note of what you will be doing each day over the challenge and balance the casual and not so casual. I didn’t do this and ended up with limited casual options. Those jeans worked over time!
  • For any pieces that you haven’t worn together before – try them on before committing to that outfit. I made a few assumptions that I shouldn’t have. A body con mid thigh pencil dress was probably never going to work as a long singlet substitute with tights. I wanted to wear the dress/tunic tucked into jeans and that didn’t really work either due to the bulk. It’s great to have pieces that can work double time, but if it’s uncomfortable to wear it’s really not worth it.
  • Plan exactly what you are going to wear each day of the challenge – the washing is ridiculous if you don’t. (It’s pretty ridiculous even if you do). Again I used layout for this.
  • Set yourself some guidelines but keep it fun. You don’t have to include shoes or coats if you don’t want to. Think about why your doing the challenge and keep the stress out of it.
  • Accessories don’t count in the tally, so make the most of them. Scarves and belts are great outfit lifters.

Would I do this again?

Yes, but I think I’d try a 30 piece capsule wardrobe over 30 days with 10 casual, 10 work and 10 cross over pieces. I was needing to wash every second day with 12 pieces. This negated the ease aspect of having a tightly curated wardrobe where every piece works together. It also felt environmentally irresponsible.

I think the shorter challenge would be a very useful thing to do before going on a holiday. When capsule wardrobes really come into their own.

All in all, it’s been a fun 12 days but I’m looking forward to getting reacquainted with my other wardrobe favs.

Have you ever tried a capsule wardrobe challenge? Any tips for a novice?

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