My whole big 20×30 experiment for Slow Fashion October turned out to be more fun and informative than I might have imagined. And also a little bit addictive! (It was also the cause of my taking more selfies in one month than I have over several years. I managed it almost every weekday.) I began the month vowing that I wasn’t going to be a slave to the plan — as I said to the Crafty Planner, it was meant to be a game not a sentence — but once I got started, I found I didn’t want to waver from it. I really wanted to know if I could go a whole month wearing only 20 garments. The answer is … sort of!
For one thing, operating off of a limited number of clothes — especially if you wash them comparatively rarely, like I do — requires a certain level of organization if you’ve got things like a trip and a photo shoot on the calendar. So there were a couple of days where I had pretty much the whole set in the wash and had to wear something else. There were also a couple of weekend days at the start of the month where I basically didn’t get dressed. And while I originally thought I would treat the Rhinebeck trip as a time-out from all this (with the notion that it would be cold there), the mild weather made it possible to mostly stick to the plan after all. The exception being that I only wanted to take one sweater, and it needed to be one that would go with everything, every day, so I traded the camel cardigan in the original plan (which hadn’t been worn) for my little black cardigan.
I also didn’t actually wear 20 garments. The natural pants never got finished, nor the raglan seam fixed on my striped sweater, so neither of those made an appearance, which wiped out a lot of the possible outfits from the lineup. And the persistent warm weather meant the five sweater-sweatshirts in the mix were of essentially no use until late in the game. So in reality, I was working with more like 14 or 15 garments for the majority of the month.
That and the fact that the only real color in the group was in those sweater-shirtshirts meant the risk of boredom was even greater than I originally thought. (It was definitely an unintentional lot of black/white/army.) But it all worked out, and I either made or reinforced some useful observations along the way—
1) Novelty is critical. My beloved State Smocks — with their unusual volume — are really fun to play with, and brought in an element of newness, which kept things from getting too dull. The two outfits in the middle got repeated on the Rhinebeck trip with just the addition of the black cardigan, and a shoe swap (snake instead of silver) for the second one. Also, I love this cardigan so much with the smocks that I’ve decided not to lengthen it, at least for the time being.
2) A uniform doesn’t have to be uniform. An easy formula for me is to put on my white linen shell and one or the other of my toddler pants, then throw just about anything on top. These don’t look like five of the same outfit, even though they all have the same foundation.
3) “Jeans and a t-shirt” can be reimagined. There are a lot of days in my world where all I want to do is put on jeans and a tee, hair in a ponytail, and get to work. But of course those are the days where I inevitably run into someone and feel bad about looking so blah. The fact that I didn’t include a t-shirt in the mix forced me to think differently on those days. The silk smock is as easy as a tee and so much nicer looking. Same goes for the sleeveless tee with my wide-leg denim toddlers instead of regular old jeans. The mix in the middle was my travel outfit en route to NY, perfect for the plane.
4) Even a little bit of print can go a long way toward keeping things lively. I was soooo happy I had the camo pants and snake-print flats in mix, and had on one or the other just about every day. (Sometimes both.) Had this all been solids, I might not have gotten through it! The outfit upstream with the black vest and camo pants got repeated at Rhinebeck with the black cardigan and snake flats. You can also see here that I actually wore two different pairs of dark jeans in Oct — my handmades one day and the J.Crew made-in-LA pair on several others. So I guess technically that puts the worn tally back at 19 garments.
5) And last but not least: If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. This photo is the same outfit I wore home from Rhinebeck (including the black cardigan in my hand), albeit with different shoes, but this was actually taken on November 1st. I thought I was excited to wear something different once the calendar flipped over, but when it came time to get out the door yesterday morning, the fact is it was much simpler to stick to the list. After all, there are still quite a few unworn outfits on there … and I’ve never felt this reasonably put-together on this many successive days in my entire life. I’d say that makes it a rousing success!
One other thing I want to note: When I picked out the 20 garments for this little parlor game, I didn’t think about their origins. I just picked 20 items that I thought I could wear for a whole month. This post in the #slowfashionoctober feed led me to go back and tally it up. Of the 20 items, 11 were me-made, 1 was a refashion of a RTW piece, 3 were storeboughts from before all of this, 2 are upcycled thrifted goods (the State smocks), and the remaining 3 were bought more recently from known-origins brands. I think that’s a pretty amazing balance and a fair representation of where my closet currently stands.
For a rundown on all of the garments, see my Fall inventory. Photos mostly at Fringe Supply Co. HQ during our little expansion — pardon the dust!
PREVIOUSLY in Wardrobe Planning: October outfits! (The 20×30 plan)
Well done. Can’t wait to see the Arranmore yoke sweater added into the mix.
This is great and totally inspiring, especially since in retirement I seem to wear the same pieces repeatedly. Sadly, few of mine are me-made, but you and others have inspired me to rectify that. Thank you. BTW–your hair looks terrific this length!
Thanks, JM — I’m loving this length right now.
I love this! And you may have convinced me I need to knit your vest pattern finally.
I’m thinking of making another one!
Great fun! You have once again inspired me to attack my closet.
Very nice photo spread.. I was interested in your views on color. It’s funny how too much color makes us look like clowns and too little, we could be in mourning or the army. Bright clothes are fine to wear in hot weather but in the fall and winter, go darker. I just started wearing gold last year, as it is dark enough (I live in NYC, where we all wear black all the time) but not so dark as gray, which I wear constantly, and black, navy, and dull purple.
How do you find yourself able to wear so many sleeveless items? They do look very good on you and perhaps style keeps you warm. I was wondering if you weren’t freezing in air conditioning.
I’m sort of the opposite — I love black in the summer and lighter colors in cold months. But overall, I just think color is very personal and emotional and it’s lovely that we’re all so different!
I’m definitely a fan of sleevelessness, and October was in the mid-upper 70s for the most of the month (even at Rhinebeck). We also finally gained control of our own climate at work last month, thankfully, so I’m no longer subject to excessive a/c!
You’ve inspired me to do this for December. The month is stressful enough without having to think about what to wear!
It really is so amazing not to have to think about it, but just glance at the lineup and pick something. I’m addicted to it, for sure.
I am so inspired by your post! I’m ready to jump back on sewing some of my own clothes again. Where ever did you find that most perfect camo fabric??? I live in Bozeman, MT and let’s just say the fabric options here are limited. I buy all my fabric online and still haven’t come across a site with good looking camo fabric.
The camo actually came from the JoAnn website. It’s my semi-guilty purchase for the year, basically, and it’s a little thinner and darker than I would have liked, but good camo is harder to come by than I ever imagined!
I just found this interesting link: I’m sure the fabric is synthetic, but it should be pretty durable: https://www.armysurplusworld.com/camping-survival/camo-netting/fabric
My biggest problem is I’m so deeply attached to my ancient camo pants and will never be happy until I can find the exact same fabric.
I just love your style!
Well done!! This was such an interesting project to share. I’m a colour-lover, so capsule wardrobes always seemed limiting but your take made me rethink that.
I definitely think if you’re working with a palette of colors that you love and play well together, there’s no reason that can’t work even within a capsule situation.
I love your outfit posts, but I do sense your frustration with a series of selfies. A couple of suggestions…try putting on some music you love. And then imagine that the camera aimed at you is someone you love and/or someone who makes you laugh. Make it fun for yourself and this will be reflected in your photos. You are freakin wonderful looking and you have a great smile, btw. XOXOClare
You’re very sweet — thank you, Clare.
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