It all started with an email from Vinnies Victoria, asking if I'd like to participate in a fashion challenge. For two weeks, I could only wear pre-loved clothes. That's easy, right? Well, the difference with Vinnies' #NewYearNewStyle challenge, is not just to wear pre-loved clothes, but I could only choose ten items to wear over the two weeks.
1. I have a lot of clothes
With a limit of only ten items of clothes, I could almost hear the rest of my wardrobe crying in disappointment "wear me, wear me". I have A LOT of clothes. I probably hadn't noticed quite how much, until I couldn't wear most of it.
2. I wouldn't be very happy with a capsule wardrobe
Yes, I know, first world problems, but, with a limited wardrobe, I would get bored too quickly. I love my pre-loved wardrobe, with its quirkiness and colour. I didn't choose a lot of colourful pieces for my selected 10 items of clothing, because I thought basic colours would be easier to accessorise with. I missed wearing my colourful things, and my colourful things missed me.
3. It is quicker to get ready in the morning
It's true. I didn't really need to think too much about what to wear in the morning, because of my limitations. That said, I did consider my outfit the evening prior, but that's mainly because I documented the fashion challenge every day.
4. Accessories can really change an outfit
I remember going through fashion magazines in my 20s, reading articles where the same outfit could be transformed from day to night with some simple accessory changes. The #NewYearNewStyle challenge proved just that. Wear a frock with flats and a scarf one day and look casual, and the next pair the same dress with glittery heels and a matching belt and you've got yourself an evening outfit. My hats surprised me too. I do wear hats, but I hadn't realised until seeing each individual look, how a hat can work wonders for different occasions.
5. Breaking the rules is the key to a creative simple wardrobe
I really liked how Trudie from My Vintage Childhood (who joined me on the challenge), chose to wear her full length skirt as a dress one day, completely changing the way the garment looked. She also wore a sequinned vest over the top of a tee. I didn't do much in that respect, other than wearing a singlet over the top of my dress, and wore a scarf around my waist, but I could have tried wearing some of my clothes back-to-front for a different look. Others suggested I try wearing a dress as a skirt, or even wearing things inside out, which would certainly put a new spin on things.
6. Owning a minimalist wardrobe doesn't make you any more eco
I've already admitted that I own a lot of clothes, and I thought this fashion challenge would make me question that. It hasn't. I don't feel compelled to donate half of my clothes away, as I thought I might. Instead, I've welcomed back my out-of-bounds wardrobe, and feel happier knowing I have more to choose from.
You probably think that isn't a very 'eco' way to think; after all, I encourage others to dress in a sustainable way. However, with around 80-90% of my wardrobe made up of recycled fashion, I don't feel any guilt in owning so many clothes. If I don't buy second-hand clothes, that's one less person in the world that does. One less person saving clothes that might be thrown out.
7. I am grateful this challenge was set for a Melbourne summer
Melbourne weather is incredibly unpredictable, although February is usually pretty consistently hot, or at least warm. If I'd carried out the same challenge in any other season, I'd be struggling to either a) keep cool or b) keep warm. In Autumn or Spring I'd need a coat, jacket, cardigan, short sleeve, jeans, skirts, shorts, probably tights.... In winter, I'd have to throw in two coats, and my wardrobe would be mostly sweaters and jeans; no pretty frocks unless paired with gumboots.
8. Why save your best shoes for 'best'
Most days, you'll find me in thongs (not underpants.. sandals) during the summer. This fashion challenge got me digging out some of my best shoes to wear, because they helped me feel better about the overall outfit. A good pair of shoes can make a plain outfit more appealing.
“Shoes transform your body language and attitude. They lift you physically and emotionally.” — Christian Louboutin
9. A short dress can go a long way
By that, I mean a short dress can be worn as just that, otherwise I could wear it as a tunic or a top with jeans. This is the one item in my 10 piece collection with the most versatility.
10. I would do a similar fashion challenge again
With all this talk of missing items in my wardrobe, craving colour, and getting bored of my limited wardrobe, I would do this fashion challenge again, or a similar one. Heck, I'd even go for a longer stretch next time. I'd plan things a little differently; i.e choose skirts that could be worn as dresses, and set up more suitable accessories, but otherwise, I'd give it another shot in a heartbeat.
“The joy of dressing is an art.”— John Galliano