For the past three years I’ve been trying to reduce the amount of clothes I own to a narrow 100 items. After reading that almost everyone only wears 20 percent of their clothes 80 percent of the time, I decided to focus on the 20 percent of my wardrobe that I absolutely love.
Working at a women’s magazine gives me free reign to wear whatever I feel like to work – and has made it tricky at times to stick to my “hot 100” rule – but I have drastically cut the amount of clothing I purchase monthly. If I buy something new, I force myself to choose a piece to let go of. I have held three jumble sales, and it makes me feel good to donate the money I make to charity.
After surprising myself at how possible it was to let go of so much clothing – I even set myself a challenge to pack only 20 items of clothing for a month-long trip to Germany last year – I decided to really up the ante. I wanted to see how feasible it would be to wear one item of clothing – a jumpsuit – for an entire week. Would I run out of ways to make it feel fresh and updated? Would my colleagues raise their eyebrow in my direction when I turned up in the same jumpsuit day after day? Would the new guy I had started dating wonder if I actually owned more than one outfit?
My normal style is a bit of a mixed bag, completely dependent on my mood when I roll out of bed in the morning. I asked my colleagues to define my style, and they threw out, “Quirky, unpredictable and eclectic”. I also asked my sister-in-law and she texted back immediately, saying “Eccentric!” Lol. My best friend was a bit more diplomatic with her declaration of: “Modern, boho, fun”. Their feedback inspired me to really make this challenge my own, while sticking to my own, unique style. Ready…GO.
- I can accessorize and layer however I wish
- I bought two of the same jumpsuits, so I can wash one, wear one
I woke up knowing exactly what I was going to wear, obviously, so got ready for work in a record-breaking five minutes. I styled it with a vintage belt and sunnies, heels (which I don’t usually wear) and one of my fave pair of tassle earrings, that one of my best friends bought me for my birthday. I then spent the other 15 minutes I would have normally spent deciding what to wear, on my hair and make-up, which left enough time for me to grab a coffee before work and still arrive early. #Score!
I wanted my LBJ (little black jumpsuit) to look different so I accessorized it with a hat and floral kimono. Surprisingly, no one noticed I was wearing the same jumpsuit, and even the people who knew about the challenge commented how different I looked. After work I met up with a guy I had recently started dating, where I felt confident and put together. At this rate I could carry on this challenge for a year!
Day three was a Saturday and I went off to a wine farm for a good friend’s farewell. I was running super late, so it was a relief knowing I could only wear one thing. This challenge was becoming a lifesaver. For a slight change, I tied the string detail around my neck, accessorized my outfit with every ring I own and wore my granny’s bag for a pop of colour. I got so many compliments at lunch and because no one was from my office and so hadn’t seen my LBJ before, I didn’t feel self-conscious. This jumpsuit was turning out to be super versatile and paired with a scarf and leather jacket when the sun went down, I felt comfortable and stylish.
On Sundays, my roommate and I often do our weekly groceries together and window shop at the V&A in Cape Town. We were both getting ready and I laughed when she moaned, ‘I can’t find anything to wear’. I officially had one less problem, although I definitely still have 99 bobbi pins and can’t find one. I decided to mix it up and wear a flowing pastel pink skirt over the jumpsuit, paired with a headband and choker. Because we use our window shopping as cardio, I wore comfy flats and had a big bag for water and my grocery shopping bags. That night, I went to the movies with my new guy. He smiled and said he liked my outfit – I’m pretty sure he didn’t even notice it was the LBJ he’d seen me in two days earlier.
I woke up on Monday morning, late, even for someone who didn’t have to make any wardrobe decisions. So I naughtily decided to wear the exact same outfit I wore doing grocery shopping and to the movies the day before. If no one saw you, does it even count? The skirt over the jumpsuit made me feel uber feminine, but truthfully, it was the first day I didn’t feel like wearing the jumpsuit. I was starting to realise that so much of my expression is tied up on my wardrobe choices, and on Monday I felt a bit ‘bleh’ about my outfit.
Paired with my granny’s scarf (I wear something from my granny’s wardrobe nearly every day and have never selected one of her things to purge – they’re all too special to me) and a pair of sparkly socks. I was back to feeling like myself (sparkly socks have that special power, don’t they?). I realised in a bit of a panic that even though I was taking practically no time to get ready, my normal 20-minute lay-in had turned into 45. Eeeeek.
The final day, was most definitely the most challenging. The novelty had worn off (again), and I was looking forward to packing the jumpsuit away for a while. Keen to end the challenge on a high, I went a bit overboard dressing it up – to an extent that the IT guy asked, “Where’s your pants thingy?” The problem with pairing it with extra shorts and an army jacket, was every time I went to the bathroom I had to take off 1.) the army jacket, 2.) the shorts and then 3.) the jumpsuit. I had loved having less choices to make each morning, but was desperately missing all my colourful and crazy clothes.
What this challenge has taught me
- You can wear the same thing, and no one cares, especially if you take the time to dress it up and accessorize it differently. I got so many compliments during this week, because I had spent extra time on my hair and makeup. I felt more confident and ‘put together’, which is often what people notice – more than your specific outfit.
- I found I used much less water for washing, I wore the same jumpsuit for two days in a row and would then rinse it in my shower and hang it up to dry. By the end of the week, I only had my gym clothes to wash.
- This challenge made me look at other areas of my life that I could minimize. I got rid of all the apps on my phone that I don’t use and cleaned out all my jewellery and accessories I haven’t worn in the last year.
- The time I saved in general was astonishing. It also made me so grateful for all the amazing clothes I have in my cupboard that I was able to wear after the challenge had ended. It’s clichéd but so true – instead of focusing on what you don’t have – realise how lucky you are.
The Day After
Back to my normal quirky self, wearing a red turban, earrings from India and bright red sneakers.
Pic credits: Glen Montgomery