The 29 piece wardrobe challenge was an experiment I tried over 3 years ago. It was the beginning of a journey, and it really changed my life. I thought I was just making space in my wardrobe, but eventually I learned to start making space in my life. So here's my story...
I heard about this challenge on some blog and was really inspired. The challenge was to have only 29 pieces of clothing in your wardrobe. Pyjamas, shoes, accessories and undergarments were excluded. 29 things that you loved, and were choosing to use on a regular basis. It sounded crazy to me, a person who's always had overflowing wardrobes, and loves shopping. But I was tired of clothes everywhere, the mess in the house, and the constant question every single morning- "What shall I Wear!" So I said, let me try something different- there's no harm.
I decided to not go all the way and give away all my clothes. I decided that I would store everything that was not in my wardrobe and then decide on it later. I started by trying on every single piece of clothing and made a pile of things that I felt that I looked nice in. Things that didn't fit, or that were damaged or worn out were easy to put in the "storage" or "get rid of" piles. At the end of the process, only about half were things that fit well and I loved. But that was still more than 29. So I now had to narrow it down further.
Next, I made some fashion decisions. One was that I was not going to keep a whole range of Indian clothing. I was going to pick pieces that would work with both Indian and western clothing. I live in an Indian city- and while I'm most comfortable in jeans and a t-shirt, there are times when I need Indian clothes. So I picked a dress that works as a kurta too, or a Indian looking top that goes well with Jeans. I picked some pieces that would look Indian and "dressy" if I added some jewelry or accessories. I decided that "fancy Indian clothes" like the kind I would wear for a wedding would just go in storage and not count as part of my 29. I also decided on some complementary colors that I would work with. So I got rid of things that were off color and difficult to match with others (like purple pants). Finally I was left with a set of clothes that perfectly matched each other- almost all tops worked with all bottoms. And the biggest surprise is that I hadn't even hit 29!
After that I had to make some practical decisions. To do my laundry more regularly and to put things away properly. I had to decide that if I ever bought something new, I would have to give away something old.
I loved that wardrobe. I knew I looked good in any item in that wardrobe because I had tried them all. So on a morning, I could just pull out a couple things and they would work great. The color-coordinated themes made sure that my clothes always matched and my assembled outfits looked great together- which is not a very natural thing for someone like me who's not so great with fashion!! That 29 wardrobe challenge gave me so much freedom. From that I went to de-cluttering my accessories, and then my cosmetics.. and so on.
Every 6 months or so, when the season changed, I would pick up a new set of 29 clothes for the next season. Over time I was less attached to things and started to give away clothes that I hadn't worn for a while. Slowly and steadily, the number of clothes I kept in storage reduced too.
I think I have a little more than 29 pieces of clothing in my wardrobe right now, but three years down the line, I continue to learn to keep only what I need. The challenge changed much more than my wardrobe and dressing style. It has made me realize that I don't need so many things. I shop more intentionally, and I'm able to walk through a sale and not buy anything. I give away my things more easily, and take better care of what I have. I value space in the home for the activities we love- over objects and furniture that take up that space. I've come a long way, but there's so much more to learn and grow in.
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