The Summer 10×10 challenge. 

As you will hear from advocates of capsule and minimalist wardrobes the world over – removing the vast number of items you have to choose from on a daily basis actually makes the process of getting dressed easier. I know, it’s crazy – how does removing your choices actually give you more outfits to wear and greater happiness wearing them? For me, it’s simple. I lack both confidence in my ability to know what looks good on me and confidence in my body. Fashion, looking on trend and feeling good, that was for other women. The women with bodies made for this trend or that style.

During my search for a miracle ‘how to’ guide to understanding what suits me and what I feel good in, I stumbled across Caroline Rector’s blog Un-Fancy and Lee Vosburgh’s Style Bee blog these were women who were unapologetic about their smaller wardrobes and simpler style choices – and they looked incredible. I poured over the posts, quickly becoming aware of their seasonal 10×10 challenges. They were taking 10 items of clothing and making 10 outfits over 10 days, and they were asking their followers to do the same.

I jumped straight onto Instagram and searched the hashtags #summer10x10, #fall10x10, #winter10x10 and #spring10x10. Women all around the world were showing off items they felt incredible in, some were experimenting with clothing and combinations they weren’t sure they could pull off, and they were learning what worked and what didn’t. I was sold. The community was supportive and every woman was embracing their individual style – and they all looked amazing!

I was excited as I started looking through my own wardrobe, finding 10 pieces I really loved and enjoyed wearing wasn’t as hard as I first thought – it’s a well known fact that no matter how big or small your wardrobe is, you often end up wearing the same small number of trusted pieces. I ended up with 10 pieces and 2 pairs of shoes (shoes are usually included within the main 10 pieces) – not bad for my first shaky attempt at joining in.  I assembled the items onto my clothing rail, snapped a picture, uploaded it to instagram and with that I was ready to go!


I used the same necklace, earrings, watch and handbag everyday. This isn’t unusual though, as I have a limited number of each that I (infrequently) rotate anyway. I also decided to skip all makeup for the challenge, apart from facial moisturiser and lip balm I consciously stayed away from other products. I feel I had been drawn into the trap of believing I needed them to look ‘pretty’ or ‘like a woman’. Actually funny enough it is all those posts on Instagram of women with incredible makeup that started to put me off. More power to them, and they are incredibly talented, however instead of feeling inspired I started to feel envious. That wasn’t a good feeling, and made me think maybe it was time to go back to liking me as me, not as an airbrushed version of me. It certainly saved me a lot of time in the mornings!

Not included in  the challenge were underwear and tights, workout clothes, weekend clothes (this was strictly a Monday-Friday challenge) and outdoor wear

 

Day one: 

What I wore:

  • Black pencil skirt
  • Multi-coloured blouse
  • Blue cardigan
  • Multi-coloured loafers

How I felt: 

I liked the pencil skirt, it’s the perfect length to wear in the office with bare legs during the summer months. The blouse is fun and brightly coloured, but I wasn’t convinced it worked as well as I was hoping with the skirt, it was a bit loose around the waist – but it was the first time I had ever worn it and i’m confident i’ll get used to the knotted tie waist as I style it in different ways. My loafers are a favourite, comfortable to walk around in all day and bright enough to jazz up a plain outfit.

Day two:

What I wore:

  • Slim fit black trousers
  • Blue blouse
  • Blue cardigan
  • Multi-coloured loafers

How I felt:

These trousers are my new favourite ever! The fit is so comfortable, but the tapered slim leg, and ankle grazing length keeps them stylish and flatters my shape nicely. This blouse is lovely but it’s just starting to look a little worn and faded, which makes me very sad as it looks cute when it’s on. I felt pretty comfortable wearing this outfit all day.

img_2169-1

Day Three:

What I wore:

  • Blue, short sleeved sweater top
  • Black pencil skirt
  • Multi-coloured loafers

How I felt:

These loafers have been great for the challenge. As this is my first challenge, and I wasn’t too confident about what I could mix and match with such a small amount of clothing, I mostly stuck to plain and dark items, so the loafers have really helped to make a statement without me needing too much else.

This sweater top is really comfortable, the slightly ruched shoulders are fun, but the fit overall accentuates the curves and hides the lumps and bumps quite well. Teamed with the pencil skirt I was feeling a really ’50s vibe, and was putting myself slightly out of my comfort zone, by wearing a form fitting outfit without the big baggy cardigan I would usually have thrown over it to hide my body away from people. I was nervous at first, and felt very under-dressed, but after a couple of hours in the office I relaxed and realised no-one was looking at me, judging my body or my choice of outfit.

Day Four:

What I wore: 

  • Purple cardigan
  • Flowery dress
  • Brown slide sandals

How I felt: 

I love this dress! It was such a bargain – £7.99 from H&M last year. At first when I got it I wasn’t sure. The neckline is high (not usually great on a larger chested person) and the sleeveless cut is verging on racer-back. However, after a few wears it really grew on me and now I reach for it regularly – in all seasons – it looks as good paired with boots or loafers and tights as it does with slides and sandals. I rarely go out without an upper layer, i’m very self-conscious and feel I have nowhere to hide myself without a cardigan or cover-up. This cardigan is 3/4 sleeved and a fitted length but it both covered me, and accentuated the outfit. The slide sandals are so comfy and versatile I have them in two colours! (I know that’s breaking the rules of minimalism, but when you find something comfortable and classic it just makes sense…)

Day Five: 

What I wore: 

  • Purple cardigan
  • Blue vest top
  • Blue jeans
  • Brown slide sandals

How I felt:

I can’t believe it’s the half-way point of the challenge, the week has flown by and i’ve enjoyed every outfit so far.

Dress down Fridays at work are always a tricky affair. I was hesitant about including the vest top at first as I feel it’s a bit low cut for the workplace, but a good plain vest is a good staple for layering and an important basic to have, added to the fact most of the team aren’t in and I work reduced hours on a Friday I went for it. I teamed it with a pair of straight leg jeans, with the cuffs rolled up to expose a bit of ankle – which is how I like to wear my jeans. I have very long legs and breaking up the line of the jeans and flashing the ankle is nice and relaxed. I was very conscious of how low the vest was, but otherwise I really enjoyed this look – and once I was out of work I didn’t care about the cut of the top anymore.

Day Six: 

What I wore:

  • Purple cardigan
  • Blue blouse
  • Black pencil skirt
  • Brown slide sandals

How I felt: 

The wash was not kind to my already suffering blouse. I almost considered swapping it out for another blue blouse I have, but I do really love this one and decided to make the challenge another excuse to wear it one last time. I don’t know why it has faded and bobbled the way it has, I’ve taken care of it and it’s not a special material. It was nice to mix up the blue of the blouse with the purple of the cardigan, I usually stick to what is safer – a blue cardigan with this blouse. I think i’ll try mixing colours up a bit more in the future as it can give a different look to an outfit.

Day Seven:

What I wore:

  • Blue, short sleeved sweater top
  • Slim fit black trousers
  • Multi-coloured loafers

How I felt: 

I couldn’t wait to put these trousers on again! And i really wanted to team them with the sweater top, as both were very slimming when worn separately. I felt great wearing them and much less self-conscious about the lack of a cover up top. Both are right up there with some of my favourite items.

Day Eight: 

What I wore:

  • Blue cardigan
  • Blue vest top
  • Black pencil skirt
  • Multi-coloured loafers

How I felt: 

Having been so scared of wearing the vest top to work on a casual Friday I went ahead and pushed myself further out of my comfort zone by wearing it in the middle of the week. I made sure to button up the cardigan so it was more like a blouse, but it didn’t completely hide the lower neckline, so I dithered that morning, wondering if it would be safer to change into one of the blouses. I was worried about the stares or people finding it inappropriate, but again no-one mentioned anything or appeared to notice. It’s not that I think the world revolves around me and everyone should have an opinion on what i’m wearing, but I work with a lot of men and I thought it might make them, or me, uncomfortable, I was pleasantly surprised to discover this was not the case and would consider wearing the buttoned up cardigan / vest top combo again potentially.

Day Nine: 

What I wore:

  • Flowery dress
  • Purple cardigan
  • Brown slide sandals

How I felt:

Having enjoyed the buttoned up cardigan as a blouse trick from the day before I decided to try it with the flowery dress as a sort of top / skirt looking combo. I tried with the blue cardigan I initially planned to wear, but once I got it on I felt it didn’t sit right with the length and cut of the dress. I tried with the purple cardigan and felt much better, although I didn’t feel it looked much like a skirt / top combo! Still very comfortable, if not a little chilly as the temperatures have dropped a couple of degrees over the last couple of days. I would wear this outfit again for sure, and if the weather was like it was on this day, i’d team it with my black tights and tan suede loafers.

Day Ten:

What I wore:

  • Purple cardigan
  • Multi-coloured blouse
  • Blue jeans
  • Brown slide sandals

How I felt:

I was so super comfy in this outfit. I really liked the way the blouse fits with jeans and a fitted cardigan, I much preferred this way of styling it to the way I had the previous week with a more formal skirt.With the cooler temperatures we’ve had at the end of this week this outfit was perfect, although I could have worn the loafers or considered swapping out the sandals for other shoes as it was raining the whole day!

Conclusions: 

I can’t believe the challenge went by so quickly! I really enjoyed myself, and learned a lot more about how clothes work and fit me and what styles i feel most comfortable in. I will definitely be recreating many of these looks, especially days 7, 9 and 10. I even found myself wearing a couple of the pieces at the weekend, which wasn’t even part of the challenge.

I’m already looking forward to the #fall10x10 (or #autumn10x10 if you’re a Brit like me!) as knitwear, woolly clothes and layering are some of my favourite clothing styles. Until then I will continue to work on what I feel the most comfortable in and getting pieces and outfits that flatter my shape.

The most important thing i’ll take away is that I don’t need to be afraid – of what other people think, or of how I feel. I know it’s a cliche but it really does make a difference if you carry yourself with confidence. I want to be confident, and i’m working on fitting into my body in a way that feels natural, but until then i’ll draw inspiration from the stylish, confident, daring, inspirational women (and men!) in the 10×10 world.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s