Despite not really thinking of myself as a particularly fashion- or even style-minded person, I found the “30 for 30” challenge to be quite educational overall. Looking at the list with a tally of the number of times I actually wore each item (way down at the bottom), I’m pleased to report that I did, in fact, work everything I included into the mix, but that — as I’d stated several times during the challenge — I could definitely have used fewer tops. So, aside from that my planning wasn’t quite spot on, what did I learn?
1 – Accessories matter.
For me, this basically boils down to belts or scarves (or both, if I’m feeling particularly sassy that day). While I love my jewellery, I don’t have all that many “focal pieces” or whatever the fashionistas are calling them these days. While I might one day be able to sport nifty brooches or crazy chunky bracelets with flair, usually I’m happy to call myself put together if I have a scarf jazzing up an otherwise plain outfit.
On the belt front, I have to say that pretty much every belt in this challenge (all but one) came from my mom, who recently rooted through her stash, and donated everything she didn’t want to me. Since the belts weren’t always all that visible in the pictures I took, I figured I’d take a moment to showcase them here, because some of them are super-fun. I present, my mom’s belt parade:
What am I taking out of this on a more, uh, acquisitive level? Definitely I could use a couple more square scarves (notably in navy, red or any jewel colour, really) and that I desperately miss my silver hoops. (The Boy? Are you paying attention? Actually, never mind. I’m so picky about the weight of my earrings, it’s probably best not to try to buy me jewellery. You’re off the hook.) If I were in the market for another chunky necklace, I’d check out one in red or maybe bronze colours.
2 – Summer casual bottoms matter.
I’m not saying that a lack of comfortable, flattering casual pants is the only reason I tend to default to jeans, but this challenge definitely made it obvious to me that I have limited options in my wardrobe for clothing that allows me to run around and Do Stuff (read: not most skirts) but that I also wouldn’t be horrified to be seen in.
To my surprise, my beige skort turned out to be a favourite in this department. I also did a good deal more Stuff (gardening! biking!) in dresses and skirts but… from a purely practical front, grabbing a couple extra skorts for future summers would likely be prudent. While we’re still being acquisitive though… how is it that I don’t own a jean skirt?! Something to add to my to-sew list forthwith!
3 – Less is more. (Take that, acquisitiveness!)
I actually felt bewildered the morning of August 1st, running my fingertips over the clothes I’d neglected for the past month. I riffled through my drawers, a little lost, before pulling out a t-shirt and cotton skirt. I know every fashion advice article starts with an admonition to “get organized” and to clear out your closet, I’d just… never assumed that actually applied to me. (To my credit, I did reorganize all of the closet/drawers, as well as rounding up a pretty sizeable donation when I was choosing my 30 items.) I do, in fact, wear all the clothes I have (I do that reverse hanger thing every year, to check), and generally I’m pretty good about remembering what I own.
With that said, it was definitely a lot easier to get dressed in the morning in July because, let’s face it, there were only so many options available. I’m not saying I want to live permanently with that kind of austerity, but it does seem that my listed goal of reducing my wardrobe by half was a good one. (While I’ve been pretty good about dropping stuff off at Goodwill on a fairly regular basis, I am also the lucky recipient of a lot of gifted clothing, so it pretty much evens out.)
One thing I’m thinking of trying is leaving the closet division for the “30” clothes where it is, and just moving in clothes that I think “deserve” to be in an oft-worn pool, as I wear them. I’m not going to punish special occasion clothes by throwing them out or anything, but for day-to-day stuff, I think this might be a good way to help me sort through the clothes I wear once a year (because I know I should wear what I own) vs the items that I really love and reach for often.
4 – Boring works.
When I was picking out my 30, I often put back some of the items, on the notion that they were too “boring”, and reached instead for clothing with stripes, or a pattern or… more pizzazz. And yet, looking at the tally for tops (see below), my top 3 were a plain white top, a plain black top, and a fairly plain dark green top. The results are in, folks, and they show that (for me, anyway), boring beats awesome. This makes sense, especially in the context of the modular wardrobe, as you can always dress up a basic garment (see Lesson #1), but crazy patterns are a little tough to “remix”. A good example? That patterned navy shirt I made and love — it’s definitely a favourite shirt, but I couldn’t manage to wear it more than once in July, mostly because I had a hard time getting it to play nicely with the other items I’d chosen for the month.
Sleeveless white knit (3)
|Jacket-type things (5)
Thigh-length navy blazer (2)
Awesome red vintage sleeveless
Purple pencil (2)
“Dressy” jeans (4)
Purple flats (7) Brown Sketchers (7)
This doesn’t mean I’m going to expunge my snazzy clothes, but it’s nice to know that if I am looking for something that’s “missing” in my closet, it’s most likely something simple, plain and… well, boring. Actually, the only two victims of the challenge are good examples of that — my beloved black tank top is pretty much at the end of its life now and, as mentioned before, my black mary janes are starting to show some wear. Both are items I should be able to buy pretty much anywhere, no matter what’s fashionable this year (or next, given how often I shop).
5 – On the subject of shoes.
I’m not as dependant on shoes as I think. That doesn’t mean I don’t like having the variety (believe me, I missed my black pumps, my black slides, and oh, I missed real running shoes!) but it surprised me to find that for my personal “style” (if you can apply that word to me), shoes are not nearly as important to my overall look as I’d feared.
I’d always held this notion that shoes can “make or break” an outfit and that might well be true, but… at least in my case, it seems that the shoes I own are either generic enough that they blend well with my clothing, or I’m so style-challenged as to not be able to tell when my shoes are ruining my getup. In either case, it’s a happy lesson!
Looking at the tally (above), my heavy favouring of the slides leads me to believe that my best substitution would have been to remove one top (probably the 3/4-length sleeve collared shirt) in favour of my black leather slides (normally a summer office favourite of mine). I don’t regret any of my shoe choices (obviously!) but I do think I should have catered more to my preference for “slip on” shoes in the summer.
And… that’s it! Nothing revolutionary or ground-breaking, but some nice ideas for me to take away. We’ll see if I actually manage to keep up the desire to take a little more time to put myself together in the mornings and remember the occasional accessory!