2017 Remake 2 + Slotober wardrobe challenge

2017 Remake 2 + Slotober wardrobe challenge

It was my intention for today to post October outfits and a fun little wardrobe challenge, but I got caught up in my own challenge and didn’t get the outfits done! Here’s the idea: Have you ever seen Lee Vosburgh’s 10×10 challenge or similar sorts of things? Lee routinely challenges herself to pick out 10 garments and make 10 days of outfits out of them. I’ve never actually done it, but it’s fun to watch! Jess Daniels suggested to me last year that it would be fun to include something similar as part of Slow Fashion October and I didn’t manage to pull it off. During Slotober last year, Jess set a challenge for herself of picking 1 garment per week and wearing it 6 different ways (documenting each day on Instagram), and there have been a couple of people the last two years who wore 1 dress 30 different ways for the month. I don’t know if I could do any of that, but I love all of those ideas and, as you know, my quarterly wardrobe planning thing this past several seasons has boiled down to me picking out 20 or 30 garments that will form the core of the season for me, and putting them together any variety of ways. I also really loved my Paris packing list (and my Squam one, for that matter) and how many outfits I got out of those very few garments.

So I decided that for my October wardrobe planning, I would challenge myself to pick 20 garments (including shoes??) and make 30 outfits out of them. It’s a 20×30. And I’m wondering if you might want to play along — with this idea or any of the above, or any variation you might cook up for yourself. It’s a parlor game, sure, but it can also be pretty amazing to see how far some pieces will go. And it’s also a great way to make sure things get worn that you keep meaning to wear but somehow don’t. That’s the challenge part!

And then here’s what happened: I had plans to make more of my beloved toddler pants (like my olive ones) and knew I wanted them to factor heavily into my October, so have been head-down at the sewing machine since Friday night. Plus there’s a refashion I’ve had in mind for three years that I decided to do yesterday — live in my Story on Instagram — in honor of the first day of Slotober, after finishing the second pair of pants (which I’ll show you soon). So instead of putting together my 20×30 this weekend, I was sewing for it! But it was extremely productive, and it’s not like I can’t get dressed in the meantime, so I’ll have my 20×30 plan to share on Wednesday (after tomorrow’s Slow Fashion Citizen interview with yours truly).

Meanwhile, what about this remake? This is an army-green men’s shirt I got off the clearance rack at the J.Crew outlet three summers ago, when we had just moved to Nashville, our stuff was in storage, and I was living out of a suitcase for two months. It’s perfect in a lot of ways, but in addition to being a little too mannish and a little too military, even for me, it was weirdly high-cut on the sides, awkward. From the beginning, I’ve had the urge to lop it off and make it into a cute little cropped shirtjacket. So yesterday I cut off the bottom, sliced those scraps into 2.75″ wide strips, sewed them together into two long strips (deliberately not caring where the seams wound up — I love random piecework), assembled them into a waistband and reattached it all. It took me a couple of hours, as I was making it up as I went, but I had a blast doing it. And now instead of a regrettable unworn thing taunting me from the end of the clothes rail, I have this awesome new little layering piece! You’ll be seeing more of it.

The only thing I really debated was the button tab on the new waistband. That’s how I’d always pictured it, for some reason, but when it came time to commit, I wavered. In the end, I’m glad I went with it. “First thought, best thought.”

This is just the sort of thing I used to do all the time as a teenager — cutting stuff up and hoping for the best. This one worked out better than most of those high-school experiments, and I hope to be doing it more often!


PREVIOUSLY in FOs: My first jeans

32 thoughts on “2017 Remake 2 + Slotober wardrobe challenge

  1. It’s the very aspect of a game that makes me want to play along! It’s these wonderful challenges and the ability to connect with a like-minded community that has tricked me into becoming a seamstress and developing skills I didn’t think I could. I love the idea of 20×30. I hadn’t thought about altering clothes before, and before this year wouldn’t have imagined I would ever have the skills. I am not a thrift store shopper, mostly because I can never find anything in my size that interests me. A couple goals for this month will be to hit the thrift stores, look through my closet and find something I might want to alter, and take some pieces I don’t want anymore to a resale shop. I don’t see myself doing a swap, just because of time.

  2. This came out great! I wish I could look at a piece of clothing and see the possibilities. By your examples, I may learn how.

  3. I bought a couple of those large swing-y angle front sweaters when they were in style, a couple of years back even knowing they’d look dated pretty quickly (clearance rack super cheap). I really like both of them. They’re good colors and lightweight so I’ve decided to either attempt to cut them straight on the bottom and hem them or have them altered professionally. I should get many more years of wear from them. Thanks for your continual inspiration to re-think my wardrobe.

  4. One of the assignment options I give to my students in my fashion writing class is to wear one foundation item (i.e. pants/dress/skirt/top – accessories don’t count) for seven days straight and document it with photos and blog posts. Of course I had to do it, too. I got the idea from The Uniform Project (http://www.theuniformproject.com/) where she wore the same dress for an entire year. I’m still amazed, everytime I watch the video, the way she was able to transform it. As for myself right now, I’m not sure what I can commit to; it’s that kind of time for me…

    • I’ll never know how she did that. (And others.) Some Eliz Suzanne employees recently wore the same pair of pants for 90 days straight, to test the wear on the fabric, and I was getting itchy by the end of it — it wasn’t even me! I think I would lose my mind after about two weeks.

    • That sounds like an awesome assignment–and a fun way to explore different things together with your class. Wish I had an excuse to do something with the classes I teach.

      I remember the Uniform Project, and also remember feeling a little underwhelmed because she had multiple versions of the same dress (in fact, in her TedTalk she was even kind of like, “ew! Of course I changed dresses over the week”) and a ton of “accessories”, including items that seemed pretty non-accesory to me. I just felt like her attitude and her actual wardrobe both undermined the message she is so celebrated for.

      • I know what you mean; I had a similar reaction. But I think that when I read about it her impetus for the project was literally based on having had to wear a uniform to school and seeing the way other girls would personalize the identical garments. So I think, to be fair, that her project was really more about personalizing/individualizing within strict limits (which I totally get as I went to Catholic school and wore a uniform), as opposed to about sustainability/using less, and that she was subsequently adopted by the slow fashion community as an inspiration.

  5. This past summer I removed the sleeves from a beautiful cotton oxford shirt that was too small through the shoulders; I loved the fabric and it was worth the two hours work as I was thrilled with the result. Running on that high, I attacked the long sleeves of a second shirt–also beautiful fabric and color but too small through the upper arms and shoulders. That time, I just shortened the sleeves and was again delighted with the resulting garment. I get an amazing amount of pleasure wearing those altered garments…in fact, I emailed the original manufacturer and sent photos of the garments as suggestions for future products. Now I am looking at other garments that I don’t wear and sizing them up–do I like the fabric? Can a simple alteration make it more comfortable and more likely to be worn? Or is there sufficient fabric to make something else from it?

    • I have cut the sleeves off a lot of shirts over the years — often men’s shirts my husband is getting rid of and I want to keep. My shoulders make sleeves problematic, but I’m lazy enough that I just cut them off and let the edge fray, but then I feel like I can never wear them without a sweater or jacket over them. Maybe I’ll be more patient in the future.

      • Karen, cut the sleeves off with about 1/2″ of fabric beyond where you want them to end, serge the cut end, then fold the serged hem to the inside, and top-stitch it. Quick, simple, and neat. I learned that technique hemming an endless twirly skirt for my daughter and have used it on just about every kind of fabric and project since then.

        • Oh, thank you but my problem is the sleeve caps — so the solution is removing the sleeves entirely, not just shortening them. Cutting them off at the seam works fine, but actually removing them and re-finishing the armhole edge would be the more refined thing to do.

  6. Would love to see your new top worn! I feel in love with State the Label Smocks (all sold out) when you posted about Adrienne. I went to Goodwill and bought some XL mens shirts. I’ve made 2 so far in how I think they would be made-cutting off sleeves and using the top of sleeve as pocket and hem. It was fun just trying to figure out how to make big pockets.

  7. Once when I was a student I gave up fashion for Lent and restricted myself to wearing the same six clothing items (two tshirts, two sweaters, a pair of jeans and a dress) for 40 days. Not sure where I got the idea from but I remember seeing it online. I did it with one of my roommates so we had some solidarity/accountability going on. I learned sooooo much about myself, my style, VANITY, and the meaning of enough. I’ve been meaning to do it again for years now but now that I am in the workplace there are so many excuses not to….as there always are. Perhaps this spring I will consider doing the challenge again.

  8. Your refashion turned out great, I really like the new length, as it will play nicely in this proportion, I think. For the challenge, I think this is a great idea, but out of lacking clothes in my wardrobe (post pregnancy), I am already doing it, really. I want to get a few items sewn up during slotober, and I am mostly working on building a clever array of garments. Will follow along, though, for sure.

  9. Thanks for the shoutout, Karen! I was bummed to not be able to support the wardrobe challenge idea last Slotober, and glad to see it being picked up and reimagined for this fall. I really loved doing the 1 piece 6 ways for Me Made May in the spring, although I grew tired (and self conscious!) of all the selfies. It was a fun way, for me, to share my love for “me made” clothes without the pressure of churning out new things to wear/show off — all of the pieces I focused on were well over a year old and well-loved already. I think I’m down for the 20×30 challenge! And it may inspire re-homing a few pieces too — love how you’re donating the proceeds from yours, I think I’ll follow suit.

  10. I’m sort of doing an involuntary version of this (thanks, foreign travel!) and am definitely excited to see how it goes. I know there are a lot of clothes I have and don’t wear, but there’s a lot wrapped up in those clothes for me: judgement about the size I am now compared to what I used to be, clothes that fit just poorly enough not to wear them and just well enough to justify keeping, handmades that aren’t quite right because I haven’t figured out how to wear them, or because they were from an era where I wasn’t skilled enough to choose colors and patterns wisely, or because they’re too small! you know the drill. letting go is hard, but I’m excited about being forced to for a couple months, and maybe passing on some of the things I truly truly can live without.

    • Oh man, I hear you on the changing body stuff! I have a couple of beloved bodycon dresses and skirts, plus three pairs of nice jeans, that I just can’t bring myself to get rid of because what if I lose forty pounds? And maybe also getting rid of them feels like admitting that I will stay at my current size forever. :( Fashion and hang ups…

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