A capsule wardrobe was my own personal starting point on this intentional living journey. I didn't intend or expect it to grow into a whole new way of living my entire life, but once I'd discovered how much simpler, more enjoyable and more fulfilling it made one aspect of my life, it was no challenge at all to see how much making similar kind of 'limiting' decisions in other areas could actually make for a more adventurous, fuller and more contented life overall, way beyond the limits of my wardrobe.
Almost as soon as I discovered capsule wardrobes, I discovered Unfancy. Caroline has a wonderful way of putting clothes together that is minimalist without being stark, and she is thoughtful about colour, style, ethics and all the things that make me go 'oooh'. Her blog has evolved in its focus over the years, and more recently she has been hosting 10x10 wardrobe remixes with the equally stylish Lee of Style Bee. When they announced this summer's challenge, I thought it was time to dip my toe in the 10x10 challenge waters.
The concept is simple. Ten core wardrobe items (garments and shoes), ten days, ten outfits. You can add in any number of accessories and extras, although personally I am going to experiment with not having too many accessories on the go either - I've never quite seen the point of a capsule wardrobe with an un-capsule selection of accessories. If you want to know more about the 10x10 challenge, Lee has a brilliant rundown of the concept here. I'd love it if you wanted to play along too!
I should confess straight up that I have eleven items. This is solely because I have one day in the coming ten where I know I have an awful lot of walking to do, so I needed my trainers in there, but I have no particular desire to wear them other than that (the temperature is rarely dropping below 20C here, and many days is up to 30C, so sandals are very much the order of the day whenever possible. My trusty Birkenstock Arizonas are comfortable for almost anything except dusty stoney footpaths). So I'm largely going to discount the trainers, but I didn't want to be untruthful and pretend that real life wasn't going to happen while doing this, so the trainers get to sneak in as bonus item eleven.
It was when I came to pick my tens items that my first (and doubtless not my last) 'you don't actually know everything about capsule wardrobes, so don't be too darn smug' moment hit. The point of a capsule wardrobe is to limit your wardrobe to clothes that you love, that you feel amazing in, that work for your lifestyle and that mix and match really well. I have what I would have called a capsule wardrobe - I haven't counted the exact number, but I have about 50cm of hanging space and four small drawers, and they aren't even all full. It's probably well under 100 garments in total. But actually when I was trying to pick out 10 items that I really loved and that went together, I really struggled. Sure, there are some items I love, there are some items that mix and match, and there are some items that are perfect for the endless summer weather. But there really weren't many of each and they didn't often overlap the love/mix 'n' match/summer weather appropriate categories. Also, several of the items that I do love, when I looked at them objectively, are getting seriously tatty and really well past being dropped into a donation bin or, to be honest, repurposed as cleaning cloths. No wonder I've been feeling less than amazing about my wardrobe recently.
For me, the problem with my wardrobe has never been having too many clothes, it's not having enough clothes that I feel good in, and having to keep 'it'll do' clothes because I don't have anything better to replace them with. So my first takeaway from this capsule wardrobe challenge isn't actually 'you need to pare down your wardrobe' it's 'you need to start thinking about getting some new items and getting rid of some of the dead wood.'
That said, I'm really pretty pleased with the items I ended up with. Ignoring the interloper New Balance trainers, I have eight items of clothing and two pairs of shoes. The items are:
Grey silk jersey All Saints vest - A replacement for a previous vest (exactly the same one) which I wore so much it literally wore through in several places. Comfortable, flattering loose fit.
Red Kettlewell Colours t-shirt - a great relaxed tee, not too tight, perfect for hot weather.
Red check Topshop shirt - a very old faithful. I've had this longer than I've had one of my children.
White H&M Conscious Collection cotton shirt - I actually have this one my 'to replace' list, as it's a bit too crisp for me. I think linen would have been better for summer, silk for winter.
Denim H&M shorts - another old favourite, actually a donation from a friend who no longer wanted them. Possibly on their last summer, but I said that last summer too.
Dark grey denim Topshop dungarees - newish, much loved, mostly too hot to wear them but included because if it drops below 20 degrees they are coming straight out.
Striped H&M jersey dress - old, comfy, flattering. What's not to like?
Red Armed Angels dress - lovely loose fit. My first purchase since deciding to try ethical clothing companies first. I'm not committing to only buying organic fabrics from here on in, but I am always going to look at ethical options first, and I am making a commitment to sticking to natural fibres.
Pale gold K Jacques sandals - a recent purchase, ostensibly for my sister's wedding but mainly because I've wanted a pair for years. They more than live up to the hype, I love them.
Rose gold birkenstocks - I've had these a couple of years and they look quite scruffy now, but I still love them. Matte leather definitely better for birkenstocks, as it doesn't matter when it gets a bit worn - the wear on these is very visible.
I should confess that the tight colour palette is entirely unintentional, but more a happy accident once I pulled out my very favourites. There's probably a lesson in there too.
I'll be reporting my outfits on instagram throughout the challenge, and I'll round up here once it's all done. Happy 10x10ing if you're joining in too!