Style Diet: I Wore Only 8 Pieces Over 8 Days

Credits: Photo - Anonymous, Styling - Sarah G. Schmidt, Location - Hexagon Cafe Kensignton

Ever feel like you need to try something out just to be sure you personally don’t like it? I often do and a lot of the time that something is a style experiment something. Sometimes I wear a garment just to see if I can pull it off. Other times I wear something to rule it out. Other times I set goals to see what I can learn.

Capsule wardrobes are very popular. I’ve recommended the capsule approach to applicable clients and friends that could benefit from the method but I had yet to try it. That’s where you meet me now.

Real talk. For the last eight days I have worn the same eight items on repeat. Over the years I’ve read countless articles, social media posts, and books that sing the capsule wardrobe praises. There are tonnes of benefits. Reduce your clothing imprint, reducing time wasted wondering what to wear, and choosing select, yet appropriate-to-your-lifestyle-pieces that let your spirit soar to name a few.

I decided now was the time to try it for myself. I’ll admit I was not pumped. Choice, control, and lots of variety are near and dear to my black heart. Because I dress based on a delicious (delirious?) mix of weather, what my day holds, and mood, being confined to just eight pieces seemed harsh. Limiting at the very least.

“Do one thing a day that scares you,” requests the LuLuLemon garment bag. Thus, I mustered a rally cry to myself, Sarah the Style Scaredy Cat reporting for duty. Here to sacrifice myself for the sake of an experimental style diet. Yes you can and yes you will. To make this elective "study" a bit more palatable - like a true A-Typer - I made up my own rules.

Rule 1: Pick eight pieces and wear those for the eight days.

Rule 2: Underwear and PJs do not count. This included base layer on cold days.

Rule 3: Outerwear did not count towards the eight either, because, Calgary.

Rule 4: YOLO on accessories. One has to have a little fun.

Rule 5: Work out gear was excluded, too, but could only wear to exercise, never outside of that.

I picked my eight pieces based on the cold week we had on the horizon as well as what I had going on that week. My eight day agenda included:

  • Working on the costume department of a film set. One day was an indoor setup, while the other was outdoor.
  • Volunteer styling at a non-profit that assists women in choosing an outfit for corporate interviews.
  • At my home office working on tax preparation, prizing for a charity auction, and writing.
  • Attending a metal concert.
  • Cleaning my home for Chinese New Year. Gung Hay Fat Choy!
  • Going to business meetings where the dress code not specified yet I always feel the need make a sincere impression.
  • Appearing at a women’s networking business luncheon with a strict corporate dress code.
  • Watching Black Panther – Wakanda Forever – at the theatre.
  • Hanging with a girlfriend which included going window shopping, cleaning the car, and running errands.

As random as this sounds, this is actually a pretty typical week in my life. With these moments on the schedule I chose a simple wardrobe with cool tone colour neutrals as the base and red and pink as my accent colour. My eight pieces were: a wool jumper, two blouses, a blazer, a kimono, a wool sweater dress, a skirt, and my denim overalls. Mix, match, and repeat.

One week later and tiny bit wiser. I have a few key takeaways:

Takeaway 1: Once you select few key pieces you love – ones that fit and flatter - and that go together with the other pieces, the combinations are quite extensive. We westerners own a lot of stuff. Once you’re into the double digits of garments in your closet per season, it’s no longer about necessity; it’s simply desire verging on gluttony. 

Takeaway 2: One can go on vacation right at home. To put a fun spin on things, I tricked myself into thinking it was a bit like dressing from a suitcase. Except in this case I was in the comfort of my own home and not away on vacation. Simply put, yes of course one can do this paired down wardrobe. One could – and should – ask themselves if they truly want to.

Takeaway 3: When constrained, one can creatively flourish within those same constraints. Though you may be wearing the same base things over and over again, how you pair them with accessories and styling can be sartorially titillating. Getting creative with layering and which way your wear garments can extend nearly any wardrobe. Do your makeup more dramatic, tie a scarf, wear cheeky hats, mix up your shoes. Backwards, forwards, or tied in half. Do whatever you need to do to make it feel fresh.

Takeaway 4: It’s important to try new things. While a restricted closet wasn’t a life or death situation, I did learn some new things. Even if your experiment is small, it can yield big lessons.

Takeaway 5: I miss the rest of my clothes. Because I set an accent palate of red and pink, I can’t stop thinking about all my green and blue things I’ve put on the sidelines. And yellow. And orange. And what about purple? Needless to say, as a proud maximalist, I’m not ready to edit down my wardrobe to a capsule worthy quantity level. But I theoretically could.

Have you tried a restricted clothing diet? Do tell.