Do you want to get more wear out of your handmade garments? Do you feel lost or bored with what hangs in your closet? The 10×10 wardrobe challenge might be just the thing to re-inspire your wardrobe.
By Delphine Colbeau of Sewing Tidbits
Whether you’re a devotee of the capsule wardrobe or you just want to make the most out of your closet, you will benefit from pushing your style boundaries. The 10×10 challenge is extremely simple: Choose 10 garments in your closet and wear them exclusively for 10 days. Prepare for it in less than an hour and garner valuable lessons about your style that will transform the way you approach sewing for yourself.
Sustainable fashion blogger Lee Vosburgh, aka Style Bee, began documenting her 10×10 challenges back in 2015, and although the effort primarily attracted minimalist fashion enthusiasts on Instagram, it’s quickly gathering interest from the online sewing community. The challenge now takes place four times per year, with hundreds of people from all over the world sharing their outfits for those 10 days. Following along the hashtags, you’re guaranteed to feel inspired and discover new makers to follow.
That the challenge has garnered attention from sewists is unsurprising. Dedicating hours to selecting patterns, sourcing fabrics and making your own clothes, helps you to refine your personal style and understand what works for you and what doesn’t. The 10×10 Challenge puts your sewing through a test, and help you discover if you are sewing for your everyday life or not. It gives you invaluable insights on how to better prioritize your to-sew list so you can focus your time and energy sewing garments you will reach for over and over.
The rules of the challenge are simple:
- Pick 10 items from your current closet.
- Create 10 different looks.
- Wear those looks over 10 days.
The categories that count as your 10 items are tops, sweaters, bottoms (pants, shorts, skirts, etc.), dresses, coats and shoes. Undergarments, handbags, scarves, jewelry and other accessories aren’t included, and they play a crucial role in creating a sense of variety for your 10 outfits. These guidelines are very flexible, so customize them for your needs and your lifestyle. For instance, many people decide to exclude weekend days from their 10 days or shoes from their 10 items. The goal is to have fun, so the best way to approach this challenge is the one that makes the most sense for you and what you’d like to learn from this exercise.
Before selecting 10 items, consider the following points:
- Check the weather forecast. It sounds obvious but is often forgotten and makes life a lot easier to know if rain or a heatwave is expected.
- Think about any special occasion or events you’ll attend during those 10 days. If there are several, don’t throw in the towel just yet. Make it work, but be careful with selections and creative with pairings.
- Consider your laundry situation. How often are you ready to do laundry? Do you mind handwashing a few things during the week? If you have certain garments that you prefer to send to the dry-cleaner after only one wear, that may pose an issue.
- Refrain the urge to sew an entire new capsule just for this challenge. It could get in the way of you participating but there are many valuable lessons to learn from your existing clothes. If you can, select only handmade garments; otherwise, aim for a 50/50 ratio of handmade and ready-to-wear.
Here’s an example to help get started. The simplicity of the rules and the limited number of pieces makes this process very quick.
- Pick a closet favorite, a versatile piece you know you won’t be able to do without for 10 days. A versatile camel pleated midi skirt will serve as a core piece around which we’ll build the rest of the selection.
- Choose four tops that are interchangeable with the skirt. Consider a white button-up, a navy T-shirt, a white boxy linen top and a dressier navy bias camisole.
- Add another bottom that is complementary to the tops, for instance, a pair of dark blue skinny jeans.
- Select a layer that works over most of the combinations, such as a gray moto jacket.
- Pick a dress to wear on its own or with the jacket, such as a camel sleeveless wrap dress, that will allow for interesting layering.
- Add two pairs of shoes. Depending on your lifestyle, choose one pair of heels and one pair of flats, or two flats or any combination that’s versatile and suits your lifestyle. In any case, try to have both a casual option, such as white sneakers, and a dressier one, such as a classic navy pump or ballet flats.
That’s it! You’re ready to start putting outfits together. You don’t necessarily need to come up with all 10 looks prior to beginning the challenge. In fact, it’s better if you don’t since it enables you to go beyond your usual associations and combinations.
Color Palette & Proportions
When working with such a small number of garments, it’s simplest to stick to a limited color palette. For this example, neutral colors were selected: navy, white, camel and a touch of gray. It may seem dull, but think of your outfits as a blank canvas on which to mix and match colorful accessories, such as scarves, bags and jewelry. While working with neutrals is slightly easier, if your personal style is all about combining bright colors don’t feel restrained. Go for the clothes you know you love.
In addition to considering your palette, keep in mind the proportions of the clothes and your personal preferences. If you selected boxy tops you prefer to wear with slimmer bottoms, select a pencil skirt instead of culottes. If the selection is right, putting together 10 different looks is easy.
In putting together your outfits, implement some of the following tips. They go a long way in completely changing the feel of your individual outfits.
- Accessories: Play with bags, scarves, belts, hats and jewelry to bring in touches of color or to transform proportions.
- Layers: In addition to classic layering strategies (e.g. jacket over shirt), experiment with new ways to wear your collection of clothes together. Wear a button-up under a sleeveless dress, reenact the 90’s with a simple T-shirt under a spaghetti-strap camisole or wear a looser blouse or shirt over a dress and tucked into a belt to create the look of a skirt.
- Ties & tucks: Use a hair tie to knot a boxy top, tie a button-up shirt at the waist, and experiment with tucking tops in, leaving them out or half-tucking them.
- Cuffs: Roll up shirtsleeves with a traditional or an Italian cuff, add a cuff your jeans, either outwards or inwards (aka a “French” cuff) or push jacket sleeves up at elbow level.
After completing the 10-day challenge, you’ll feel energized to sew clothes that work for you and have a renewed appreciation of the other garments in your closet. You may have missed some garments dearly and others not at all. Use all of this information as a starting point to initiate a more intentional approach to your closet and your sewing.
Let us know how you plan on building your fashion wardrobe. Feel free to give out your favorite tips and tricks below!