the 30-piece wardrobe experiment


Do you remember awhile ago when I shared a little about the five piece French wardrobe?

I was actually really struck by the concept. I loved the idea of a wardrobe that is functional, yet more minimalist – and full of high-quality pieces. I started thinking of how my current closet could reduce in size.

Also, I’m obsessing over the idea of simplicity this year. It’s my ‘one word’ for 2014. And, well, I love personal experiments, like Gretchen Rubin’s Happiness Project or Jen Hatmaker’s 7.

So, in a moment of sudden inspiration, I took all my clothes out of my wardrobe for my own personal experiment. I picked out 30 pieces and returned them to my closet. And that’s all I let myself wear for 30 days.

On one hand, 30 pieces feels like a lot. I picked out three pairs of jeans, three skirts, nine tees/tops, seven cardigans/jackets, two pairs of shoes, one pair of yoga tights, one pair of shorts, one pair of stocking tights, one dress, one belt and one scarf.

On the other hand, I packed away an entire suitcase of clothes that didn’t make the cut. I was a little surprised actually to realise just how many clothes I own, especially after I did a fairly serious purge when we first moved abroad.

Here’s something that struck me though. The ‘average’ Australian woman buys 56 garment per year, and up to double that if she’s under 30 (Source: Council of Textile & Fashion Industries of Australia). And yet, I’m sure I’m not alone in the experience of opening one’s wardrobe and lamenting that I have nothing to wear.

So here’s how it went.

Firstly, I realised again that I am not a shoe person. I could live the rest of my life with a pair of boots and a pair of ballet flats and I would be perfectly content. Especially if the flats are nude and go with everything!

About a week into my little experiment, the weather took a sudden turn to the cooler end of the thermometer. I’m a stickler for rules though, so I did not allow myself to swap out a cute silk singlet for my big wooly cardigan. No I did not. As a result, I did get a lot of wear out of my blazer and trench.

Though, apparently I’m not always a stickler for rules, because I did sneak in a pair of heels one night for a fancier dinner.. and I only felt a little guilty.

I had a couple of pieces I didn’t wear at all – namely that cute silk singlet, a light jacket that really didn’t hold up to Nairobi’s cool days, and a dressier skirt that I didn’t need all month.

But overall, I actually loved it. I felt like I always had something great to wear. You can do surprisingly a lot with 30 pieces, especially if they are all favourite items.

The biggest life lesson I’m learning this year is that life is better with less. Less junk, less clutter, and yes, even less clothes. Once my needs are met, all the extra stuff seems to weigh me down more than it makes me happy.

So now I’m really rethinking what I own and wear. I have more than enough clothes… and yet there’s always that nagging feeling that I need more. How can I find contentment in having enough when I hardly appreciate my overflowing wardrobe?

I don’t think 30 is some magical number. But my inability to define enough is not a healthy thing, and I’m eager to change that. I think something like 35-45 items might be a good number to aim for right now.

Now this month is over, I’ve been adding back a handful items. I’m figuring out what I really wear and what I don’t… and purging myself of the rest. Well, trying to. Why is it so hard to say goodbye to something I haven’t worn in months anyway?! (:


5 thoughts on “the 30-piece wardrobe experiment

  1. I am excited to try this!! I’m not one of those people that can just make a decision on a few items and toss the rest. I need to actually see what I use, get used to not having the other items, and then get rid of them once I understand that I don’t need them. This experiment seems perfect for that!

  2. Go for it! It’s definitely a great way to see what you love/use/need. After I finished with just 30 pieces, I challenged myself to only add 5 more, to really think about what I missed etc, and so on.

  3. Pingback: unfancy + into mind | laura swanson

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