#10x10fall Wardrobe Challenge

my story Nov 05, 2018

I just finished my 10x10 wardrobe challenge, and I’m not going to lie - I’m glad it is over. For those who don’t know, this is an Instagram challenge to pick 10 pieces of clothing to wear over 10 days. It’s goal it so simplify the decision process of what to wear each day and help you see how little you need to rock a great style. The fact that I wanted it to end shocked me. I am all about intentionality and sustainable fashion. And I can totally rock the same outfit for a few days in a row and not think much about it. But my relationship to the 10x10 was complicated. It is more of a love/hate situation, if I’m being honest.

I loved:

  • Pulling together a color palette where everything could work together. It was a fun way to welcome the fall weather and made me feel super stylish.
  • The intention it added to how I presented myself to the world each day. By thinking about it ahead of time, I front loaded the mental labor and energy required to be that thoughtful every day. (I think this comes more naturally for some people…)
  • Having outfits already decided for the events that happened that week. I looked cute when I went grocery shopping and ran errands, but also when we went to the Symphony hall for a lecture, and when I went to a birthday party for a 103 year old neighbor and saw everyone on the street.
  • That by wearing the same pants a few days in a row, I got a better understanding of what they work for and when it would be better to make another choice. When I picked the jeans for the challenge, I didn’t realize they were the exact same cut in different colors.
  • The excuse to play with the jewelry I already own. I’ve picked up some cute necklaces at a local boutique and don’t always wear them on the daily. It was fun to play with these pieces.
  • That I took the time to order some new bras as part of this challenge. I had been making due with some that were no longer fitting and this felt like a permission slip to focus on me and what I need.
  • That this challenge underscored the importance of quality pieces that will last and are versatile. It made me notice that I gravitate toward neutral pieces everyday, but the things I’m drawn to at the store are bold and colorful. They don’t get worn as much as I’d like.
  • The clarity it provided on the missing pieces that I need to pull everything together - like a gorgeous coat that is also functional. I am willing to pay for quality pieces when I stop and think about it, but I find that I’m often grabbing something that is good enough because I want it right now or I’m going to an event, etc. I am committed to waiting for those pieces and to trust my instincts when I get that feeling that something will be good enough. That’s when I need to put it back on the shelf because I am worth it - I deserve to have just the right pieces that fit me well and will last more than a season. Even if I have to make them myself.
  • I found myself buying flowers for our house and finding other ways to simplify and beautify my space and possessions. It does feel contagious.
  • I loved the representation that showed up for the fall challenge. I think it is so important that we get lots of colors and sizes of people playing with these ideas, and the conversations that were started felt important and were beautiful (even if they made me uncomfortable).

I hated:

  • The pressure of photographing outfits and amount of effort and energy that went into selfies during this challenge. In retrospect, this should have been predictable since I’m an introvert. But I let it go at one point because I recycled a lot of outfits and didn’t feel like there was something new to document. But damn, @brownkids looked so cute EVERY DAMN DAY in her challenge and I have no idea how she did it (especially when she got sick!).
  • The strategy I chose when picking pieces. Choosing pieces I wasn’t wearing much and trying to make them work wasn’t the right way to use the challenge for me. I turns out, I don’t wear some pieces for a reason; and by day 2 it was clear I had made a few poor choices. So I swapped them out - bought a new black sweater that I loved and acknowledged that my old one was stretched out and not what I’m going for. I also picked up a black mock neck tee from Everlane that was a godsend. This piece worked with all of my pieces and was everything I hoped the other tee I picked would be.
  • Washing my clothes every couple of days. Am I the only one that can’t seem to get out of the house without making a mess of my shirt? I learned that I need to wear a full-sized apron (or maybe a bib?) around the house if I’m planning on being seen that day. Why did I choose a white sweatshirt? WHYYY?
  • That every day I grabbed my raggedy old Uggs or stretched out Allbirds because it was cold out and I wanted to wear slippers. It made me realize that the cute sneakers I bought this summer to rock with my outfits just aren’t comfortable and my other leather boots don’t allow me to walk around all day. (So, hit me up if you’ve got some no-arch/zero-drop/flat/cute boots that I can wear with wool socks this fall and winter in the Pacific Northwet. Otherwise I’ll be purchasing a pair of replacement ones soon.) These shoes may not be stylish, but they work for me and why not just own that? Related, wearing more stylish clothes made me feel like I needed to wear makeup. Like I needed to present a more polished version of myself to the world. This is in conflict with my desire to be more fully who I am right now. So naming this tension and watching it play out was interesting.
  • Feeling restrained. A “Don’t tell me what to do, 10x10!” rebellious reaction showed up toward the end of the challenge. Evidently that is called oppositional defiance disorder and now I understand that more intimately.
  • How as soon as I decided not to buy any clothes for a couple of weeks, I wanted to buy all of the clothes. Which is weird, because I typically only buy stuff on a quarterly basis when I am desperate and the weather is changing and don’t really think about it the rest of the time. Is it possible that I’m always living with that level of consumerism in my everyday and I just wasn’t awake to it? Or did the challenge trigger a feeling of restriction that kicked in some rebellious reaction again? It made me want to buy a great hat too, and new handbags, and shoes, etc. All of it. Just start over with the PERFECT set of 10 pieces…which is not the point of the challenge!
  • How my outfits made me feel like I missed the mark a bit. I would catch my reflection in a window and think, “I thought this was way cuter when I put it on this morning!” Now, maybe that is my strong inner critic or a self worth issue. But I also think that it could be a comparison thing - that I wanted to be a chic as some of the other women I see doing the challenge and was acutely aware that it was not me. It made me realize that while the intentionality is great, when your motivation is to be or look like someone else you will always fall short.

Here are some of the outfits I wore during the challenge:


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