If someone asked you to wear only ten items of clothing for the next ten days, could you do it? Well, this is exactly the challenge that I took on last month, along with many other slow fashion bloggers, with the aim of making the most of our existing wardrobes and demonstrating that you don’t always have to buy new to put together a creative, fun and inspiring outfit.
WHAT IS THE 10X10 CHALLENGE?
One of the most basic principles of slow fashion is the idea of buying less – the exact opposite of the fast fashion system, which has trained us to believe we need to be constantly updating our wardrobes in order to stay up to date with the latest trends. However, this very profitable but ultimately very damaging business model isn’t only resulting in far more clothes than we could ever wear, with millions of tonnes of clothing ending up in landfill every year – it’s also making us lose the ability to develop our own sense of personal style and get creative with the pieces we already own.
The 10×10 challenge is a way of reclaiming our clothing, rediscovering pieces we had forgotten about and finding new ways to reinvent the ones we wear the most often. January’s version was led by capsule wardrobe bloggers Lee Vosburgh of Style Bee and Caroline Joy of unfancy.com, but the challenge has been hashtagged in thousands of different forms to date, with ethical label People Tree also being inspired to create their own #5lookschallenge.
HOW I CHOSE MY TEN PIECES
January in Berlin usually equates to freezing temperatures and/or snow, so unlike some of the other bloggers also taking part in the challenge, I decided to leave shoes, coats and warm extras like vests and scarves off my list of ten pieces, otherwise I would have been left with only one outfit for the whole ten days! In practice, the cold weather meant that I ended up wearing the same scarf, winter coats and boots almost every day anyway, with the exception of the Ethical Fashion Show, when it was nice to make a bit of an effort during Fashion Week with a
smarter coat and my new Veja V10s.
I chose the following pieces, sticking to a reasonably monochrome colour palette of black, navy, grey, purple and white:
1. Black silky camisole (secondhand, originally H&M)
2. Grey ruffled jumper (H&M Conscious Collection)
3. Cut-off blue jeans (Fashion Revolution swap party, originally Mango)
4. Navy ribbed polo neck jumper (M&S, bought in the January sale)
5. Black polka dot opaque shirt (Zara, bought about 5 years ago)
6. Grey polo neck top (Primark, bought about 3 years ago)
7. White shirt with back split (M&S, bought in the January sale)
8. Black midi ribbed knit dress (Asos Eco Edit, 50% recycled materials)
9. Purple high neck jumper (H&M Conscious Collection)
10. Black high-waisted jeans (Kings of Indigo, organic cotton)
MY FAVOURITE LOOKS
I probably couldn’t have chosen a more difficult time to take on the 10×10 challenge – freezing temperatures, Fashion Week and various work and personal events during the evening meant that my new capsule wardrobe had to work really hard and I didn’t always feel appropriately dressed. Case in point: when I wore jeans, a grey jumpers and my winter boots to a fancy stage show (a Christmas present) because I hadn’t included any smart trousers or a more sophisticated dress in my ten pieces.
However, I did manage to put together a few favourite looks throughout the week, which I ended up repeating in slightly different forms – such as a white split-back shirt worn with a navy high neck jumper and cut-off jeans (I dressed this up with a different coat and my new Vejas for Fashion Week) or a black scrappy camisole worn over a grey polo neck and black jeans, for a versatile office-to-bar outfit.
KNOW YOUR STYLE, BUT TRY TO STEP OUT OF YOUR COMFORT ZONE
Documenting my outfits every day was a useful way of discovering which looks I tend to gravitate towards and feel most comfortable in, and had the added bonus of revealing my own “style blueprint”, which I can now think about when adding new items to my wardrobe – does this fill a gap, does it work with key pieces, how often am I likely to wear it? On the flip side, it was also interesting to observe that I wore some items far more often than others, suggesting that I either picked the wrong pieces or need to be bolder with my styling choices.
Next time I repeat the experiment (in warmer weather!), I would love to include a couple of stand-out pieces in brighter colours or patterns, and challenge myself to incorporate them into at least two outfits over the ten days. I’d also totally restrict myself to only wearing the pieces on my list, this time including shoes and accessories, hopefully without the need for a coat in summer.
Has the 10×10 challenge inspired you to take a fresh look at your wardrobe? Will you be taking part next time around?
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