20 items | 20 ways

Last month I decided I wanted to whittle my closet down even further just to see how it felt. My goals were to get a better idea of my true style (because when you chose only 20 items it become obvious what your favorites are) and to get more creative with my styling. So, I selected 20 items total to wear for 3 full weeks, which included work clothes, weekend clothes, and shoes. I did not count outerwear, workout gear, PJs, or accessories in the 20.

Here’s a look at what I chose for my mini capsule:

20 piece winter capsule

A lot of these items have been added out of necessity postpartum and Thred Up has been a huge life (and budget) saver. Of my 20, I noticed that 5 items are Thred Up buys…gray jeans, skinny jeans, bootcut jeans, faux moto jacket, and taupe ankle boots! If you’d like to try Thred Up here is link for $10 credit. I just bought another pair of white bootcut jeans to complete my Spring Capsule from the site.

Last week I decided to do one extra week to finish my winter capsule off at a nice “break” point. I only take outfit pics Monday thru Friday, so I have 20 different outfits to share wearing only the 20 items above. Weekends I typically wore the black leggings or black joggers and whatever top wasn’t in the wash.

The Good:

I was really happy with the pieces I selected. They were all very versatile, comfortable, and mixed and matched well together. I feel I got pretty even use of everything and really liked the outfits I put together.

I learned that I can live with less and even better, feel stylish with less. I think for a long time I thought having more is what would make my in style, but that’s not true.

I did take a few risks the last couple weeks with combinations I never would have tried if it hadn’t been for working within the limited wardrobe. I created new looks with layering and one of my favorite outfits was the joggers (I really liked them pushed up to calf height) with the blazer and faux leather.

I didn’t feel bored at all…in fact, the further into the challenge I was, the more inspired I was to create new looks.

I gained more confidence in my style. Simple, classic, and neutral shapes and colors are my thing. I think the challenge also forced me to keep learning how to add small styling details to make my outfits feel more fashionable.

The Bad:

I did miss my shoes. I was happy with the four I selected, but I did find myself wishing I could reach for a different pair. I have always had a large shoe wardrobe, so I think it was more out of the habit of grabbing a different pair every day than anything.

For weekends, I had to get right to the laundry or else I was short on clothes. It’s not the worst thing ever…in fact, I came up with some fun combination and wore my “nice” clothes more on weekends because of it, but no slacking in the laundry department when you have a small wardrobe.

We did have some unusually warm weather for most of this challenge and I felt somewhat limited by the fact that I had included heavier sweaters, but it ended up not being as big of a deal as I thought it would at first. I did cheat one day and wear a pair of Birks to sit outside for a bit because it was so hot! I also didn’t wear any scarves or anything to switch up the looks because of the weather.

In terms of combinations, I think if I were to continue much longer I’d be getting into repeat outfits or at least outfits that looked veeery similar. Again, it’s not the biggest deal, but for blogging purposes it’s not ideal.

I only included one print item – my striped tee – and I really would have liked one more print to make things more interesting. Maybe a gingham shirt for layering or even something with some texture?

Most Worn Items:

  • 6 times: Chambray shirt, skinny jeans, leopard flats, heeled ankle booties
  • 5 times: Striped tee, gray tee, taupe booties
  • 4 times: gray skinny jeans

Least Worn Items:

  • 2 times: pink turtleneck sweater, green cardigan, faux leather jacket, leggings, joggers  ***however, I know the two sweaters were worn at least once each on a weekend and the leggings and joggers were worn every weekend, so the faux leather jacket is the only thing that I wore twice***

Will I Do It Again?

Honestly, I think so. I really think it helped me to be more selective with the items I included. I notice I still talk myself into allowing certain items into my closet/capsules that I don’t 100% love because I feel like I should have that specific type of item or because I’m nervous I might miss it if I don’t.

My spring capsule is almost double this size (close to 40 items) and I’m trying to use the lessons from this mini capsule to scrutinize each piece and make sure every items will make a big contribution to my wardrobe and that it’s in there because I love it, not because I feel it should be. It really was a great feeling this past month to know I was getting so much wear from my clothes.

In a way, I think this would be a great way to start every new capsule. By selecting your absolute must haves and living with those for a short period of time it can really help you identify what holes you have in your wardrobe. I know I have put things into my capsule thinking I really needed/wanted them only to find I never wore them. I have a feeling I could reduce that by starting each season really small to get a feel for how the items I have are working together and what would complete the wardrobe. I may still decide to start spring this way…Thank goodness I still have a week to decide!

Thanks for following along on my mini capsule experiment. How did those of you who tried it out like it? What takeaways did you have?

More about Paige


    1. Thank you. I enjoy your blog, as a first time mom of a 15 month old. I’m trying to find a balance between athleisureware and casual dressing. Your blog is an awesome tool for me, and I simply enjoy you’re space here.

      1. Thank you so much! It is definitely a struggle in mom-mode to stay motivated to dress. I know when I’m home on weekends, over breaks, or during summer I get a little relaxed. Maybe too relaxed? I’m glad that athleisure is a trend because cute sweats really go a long way in my book! 🙂

        Thanks for taking the time to read and comment.

    1. Hi Paige. I was looking for a floral watch and came across your website and a pic from April 16,2015 and you wearing a black floral one. Where did you get it and what is the brand name-trying to find it? I then looked through your blog and Instagram and read your story about miscarriage and pregnancy and wanted to contact you about that and I had a few questions. I myself am very similar, we’ve been trying 8 years now and I’ve had 8 miscarriages (8th one in December 2015) and I have a 2 1/2 year old little boy. I soooo want to give him a sibling. Just one. The doctors around here aren’t really helpful, even the one fertility doctor and as I learned in my efforts, a woman really has to do the research herself and help herself because the doctors don’t seem to want to help/figure it out/try anything different than the basics. Sorry for going on so but there really is no one to talk to. How did you learn about needing the heparin and methyl folate? And CONGRATULATIONS on your four little ones?

      1. Hi Mary,
        First, here is a link to those watches!

        Next, I’m so so sorry about your miscarriages. I know that pain all too well and it breaks my heart every time I hear of someone experiencing that heartache. The test that was eventually abnormal was for the MTHFR gene mutation. There are a lot of different viewpoints on if this can cause miscarriages or not (and most of my docs thought no), but I was in a support group of women with RPL and almost all of us had this mutation in some form. I’m a little rusty on all of the reasons, but it has something to do with how your body processes folic acid (hence the methylfolate) and can lead to small blood clots (the heparin). I can’t 100% say that’s what helped me, but I had 6 miscarriages without those treatments and 2 healthy pregnancies with them. What, if any, testing have you had done? Any known cause for the losses?

        Hugs to you,

    1. I heard about this idea on a podcast a few months ago. I haven’t tried it yet, so it was great to see how it worked and didn’t work for you. My wardrobe is so small already, but I still get stumped with outfit ideas. I always think I need to go shopping to solve the problem, but I love what you said about getting more creative with less! Oh and I know it’s shocking, but laundry is my favorite chore!!

      1. Katherine,
        Thanks so much for reading! I have found that it is hugely helpful to be really intentional with my purchases/additions to my closet to be sure it’s an item that will mix easily with others so I have a lot of outfit options. Layering has also been a great way to mix up my looks without needing new pieces.

        And how interesting that you don’t mind laundry! 🙂 I love when I have a closet full of clean clothes ready to go, but I always sort of dread putting them away. Though, much less so now that my closet is so clean and organized!

        Thanks again,

    1. I just discovered your blog from The Lovely Laura Life. I decided to try the 10×10 challenge starting tomorrow. I’ve been doing a capsule since October and was better in the first 4 months but haven’t been so good lately. The warm weather has made me want to change things. I’m hoping the mini challenge helps. I want to try the 20 day one after that.

      1. Hi Andrea!
        Spring has been tough with the weather being so up and down. It has been my largest capsule because I wanted to be sure I covered all types of weather.

        I loved the 10×10 challenge and interestingly have felt more overwhelmed making outfit choices from my full capsule since I stopped. It was so simple to get dressed each day and I loved it!

        Keep me posted and thanks for saying hi,

Comments are closed.