Winter 10 x 10 Capsule Wardrobe Challenge

Created by Lee Vosburgh and co-hosted by Caroline Joy, both of respective insta-fame for their curated wardrobes and crisp photos, this ‘challenge’ invites participants to curate an experimental capsule for just ten days. This season’s challenge start’s January 19, 2018 - I simply started early so I could choose my pieces and photograph them for the project. I implore you to give this a try if you’ve ever been curious about capsule wardrobes!

Here are the outlines from Lee’s blog, Stylebee:

  1. Pick any 10 items from your current closet

  2. Style those items into 10 different looks

  3. Use 10 days to do it

  4. Have fun and don’t take it too seriously!

When I first moved to Tennessee, I created a capsule to ease the transition process. I limited myself to about 30 pieces, sprinkled in some undies and loungewear, and narrowed my shoes down to three pairs. This made moving so much easier! It took about a month to settle into our new home, unpack all of our things while continuing to work on our tiny home in the process. Having a small selection in my wardrobe meant fewer decisions, more matching pieces, and being ready quicker in the morning!

The 10 x 10 challenge is different - by choosing only ten items and attempting to create ten different looks for ten days, your wardrobe is just as challenged as your creativity. Are your clothes multi-functional? Do you have enough pieces that are versatile in the same color scheme? Are you prepared for the weather and unforeseen events that may come your way?

I attempted this challenge once before in Fall 2017. I chose my pieces, took a few photos, but didn’t follow through actually wearing my outfits each day. Why? I felt frumpy. My outfits were repetitive. It was jeans, boots, tee, sweater, just a few different ways. Of course, I could wear the same outfit every day. Plenty of experts tout the benefits of having a ‘uniform’ [link] but that wasn’t where my style goals stood… I wanted to feel comfortable in my own skin and confident in my choices. Instead of going through with the challenge and reflecting at the end, I gave up.

This time, I vowed to do things differently. I vowed to not let my excuses get in the way:

  • My clothes aren’t cute or versatile enough.

  • I don’t have enough pieces to make ten different outfits.

  • The photos I take won’t be cool enough to share on Instagram.

  • I won’t have what I need for the weather. This is a big one, as this is my first real winter ever.

  • Because I live in a remote, small town, I won’t leave my house enough times to actually wear my outfits.

These would all be self-fulfilling prophecies if I let them have their way. So what if my outfits weren’t “trendy” enough? What if I didn’t feel comfortable or confident? What if I wasn’t prepared for the elements?


Winter 10 x 10 Choices

Some of these pieces are the exact same pieces I chose in the Fall.

I’m not an avid shopper and even when I am, I still don’t feel confident in my choices and often pick pieces that lose my favor quickly. When I looked at these pieces, I didn’t feel confident. What I felt was familiarity.

Putting together outfits with these pieces didn’t inspire me to take gorgeous photos or proudly display myself in public, but it did have a different effect. I felt familiar, comfortable, safe. My clothes were just clothes and who I was seemed separate. That was neither good or bad.

My experience in the Winter 10 x 10 challenge was very personal, almost hard to describe. I learned a bit about myself, a bit about my goals for my wardrobe, and a bit about capsule wardrobes in general that I couldn’t have garnered from a book or blog post.

About capsule wardrobes:

  • Variety, just as much as versatility, is important to keep from feeling drab or bored. My typical ‘uniform’ of jeans, boots, shirt, sweater didn’t leave me confident or self-expressed - instead, I felt like I was hiding in convenience, aching to be my truest self.

  • Make notes about what’s missing, whether for function or fashion purposes. When I see photos by Caroline, Lee, Morgan at The Garment, Olivia from Liv & Co, and many others, I see key pieces they have that I wish were in my closet. Dresses that can be worn with wool leggings and a coat, knee-high boots to keep my legs warm (and to keep me from slipping on ice), a solid-neutral tunic that can be belted or front-tucked into trousers, pants that are made of some other material than denim.

  • Keep visual and written inspiration throughout my fashion journey, and consider journaling about the process. Dressing my body is the same as dressing my home, choosing a vehicle, deciding what laptop I want to use, which camera to buy, etc. When I chose my camera, I compared a multitude of specifications that I knew I’d want in something that I’d keep long-term. Knowing exactly what I want from my wardrobe seems like the missing link in my self-expression. Having photos, written descriptions, even links to products that inspire what I want my wardrobe to become will be a 2018 activity.

What I learned about myself:

  • I have grown out of a lot of pieces in my wardrobe. This is less to do with size and more to do with who I am. I have mellowed out, chosen a more robust climate, earned a bit more income, and am integrated into two very different communities. My wilderness family, who live off the grid and spend their days working hard. I need proper attire to join them in that life, which I want for my family and our tiny home journey. And, my city family, who love trendy coffee shops and who take meetings in conference rooms. Conference rooms which I am tired of showing up wearing muddy boots and knitted cardigans.

  • Wardrobe is more important to me that it used to be. Whether it is this year of grace  or if it is something bigger, I have grown to appreciate beauty and harmony around me - and have come to expect it. I want to be surrounded by neutral colors and stunning textiles who carry stories and inspiration. The sounds, smells, and environments I choose are more neutral such that creativity flows unconstrained and undistracted. My wardrobe should be the same, and that’s the direction I’ll head.

What’s not lost on me is how trivial people view the wardrobe to be. And also, what a privilege it is to have a wardrobe concern even on my mind. Many neither care nor have the resources to put so much thought into the threads on their back, but as someone who does care and who is adamant about impacting the fashion industry in a positive way, I can’t let naysayers or diminishers stop me in pursuing something I love. Wardrobe as art, wardrobe as self-expression.

Moving forward, I want to weave who I have become into the evolution of my closet.

  • Impart more grace and femininity into my wardrobe.

  • Reduce the pieces that no longer fit through a resale app like Poshmark. 

Winter 10 x 10 Challenge, you rocked my world. Thank you to Lee Vosburgh & Caroline Joy for hosting this project. Thank you to all the women in our ethical fashion community who pursue smaller wardrobes and bigger impact, and for you who read this post through.

I’d love to hear from you, do you have experience with capsule wardrobes? Is wardrobe a priority for you?

Share your feedback in the comments below and keep a lookout for future wardrobe-related posts here on my blog!