Clothing Challenges

Can you resist a challenge?

Lots of people can’t. That’s why making a game out of pursuing a goal makes the pursuit more engaging and entertaining. And if you’re having fun, that makes it more likely you’ll achieve the goal.

With minimalism challenges, no one really loses if you fail. By your very participation, you learn and grow in your journey. So when you try the challenge again, you’ll be better prepared for the obstacles you may face.

As I researched how to purge through my clothes, I found several clothing challenges designed to help budding minimalists cope with having smaller wardrobes. I haven’t tried any of these so I can’t vouch for their effectiveness, but given the comments I’ve read on web sites and on Facebook, there are lots of people out there who would and do vouch for them.

All of these challenges require planning and forethought because the goal is to make it through the challenge period (if there is one) without going into your storage closet for more clothes or going shopping. So you’ll need to take the time to mix and match the different pieces you choose to make the maximum number of outfits while staying within the confines of the challenge.

Without further ado, here are four minimalism clothing challenges.

1. Project 333

Project 333, in a nut shell, is where you choose 33 items of clothing from your existing wardrobe and you’ll wear nothing but those 33 items for a three month period.

The 33 items will include all accessories, jewelry, outerwear, and shoes. It does not include jewelry you don’t take off (such as a wedding ring), lounge wear, sleepwear, underwear, and workout gear. I’ll add yard work gear because you’re not going to mow your lawn in a business suit or a little black dress, are you?

Everything not chosen to be part of the 33 items should be boxed up and put away until the next three month period. If something gets worn out or damaged in some way during the three month period, you are allowed to replace it, preferably with something from your storage. Your overall goal is to reduce your belongings, so you’ll want to refrain from running out to the store to buy something new.

At the end of the three months, you’ll start the process again, bringing your clothes out of storage and creating another capsule wardrobe to last you through the next three months.

Most participants find it easiest to change with the seasons. As I’m writing this, the fall season arrived about three weeks ago, so now would be the best time to put together a fall/early winter wardrobe and see if you can make it last through the end of the calendar year.

There are a number of web sites that have more information about Project 333. One such web site is Be More With Less. Another can be found at Becoming Minimalist. You can also find users posting their wardrobes on Instagram and Pintrest, and Facebook groups can offer tips and encouragement.

2. Clothes Sudoku

When I first heard about this challenge, I was intrigued because I enjoy doing Sudoku puzzles. I was also interested in the correlation someone managed to devise between clothes and a pencil puzzle. Once I saw it, though, it made perfect sense.

When you do an internet search for this challenge, you may find this under several names, such as Fashion Sudoku or Capsule Wardrobe Sudoku/Bingo. They follow the same basic format.

In Sudoku pencil puzzles, the idea is that each number 1-9 will fit into a 9 x 9 grid in such a way that each number will appear only once in each line horizontally, vertically, and diagonally, and within each 3 x 3 square.






In this clothing challenge, you’ll utilize a 4 x 4 grid to plan out your wardrobe using a total of 16 items.

See? Each row, column, and diagonal line contains one each top, bottom, shoes, and accessory for a total of 10 different outfits. You then choose which of the ten possible combinations you want to wear that day.



Here are a couple examples:


Again, this will take planning to make sure each line contains a coordinating wardrobe piece and that they all work together. One of the keys to making this challenge work is to limit your color palette, say browns and yellows or blues and whites. Unlike Project 333, there is no time limit as to when you can switch out your wardrobe, so if you put together three or four collections, you could devise your own schedule to rotate your wardrobes.

I found the above sample pictures on the Polyvore site

3. 10 Item Wardrobe

An entire wardrobe consisting of 10 items? Seriously? And I thought Clothes Sudoku was a snug fit.

The 10 item wardrobe is just that, 10 items of clothing, plus a small collection of extras, such as jackets, t-shirts, and accessories that you can use to put your outfits together.

Here’s an example:

Start with a neutral base, like black, gray, or khaki for your foundation pieces. These are your slacks, skirts, and suits. Then choose a few colors that compliment your skin tone. These are your blouses and sweaters and maybe a single dress. Plan your accessories (handbag, shoes) to match all potential outfits–a neutral color like black would work best. Plan your outfits so that you can layer pieces and everything will mix/match together. Stick to classic designs—trendy styles change with the season and you’re trying to avoid adding unnecessary garments to your wardrobe. And, of course, make sure everything you choose fits and looks good on you.

Here’s a great blog post from Miss Minimalist that explains her personal 10 Item Wardrobe.

4. 6 Items or Less

Okay, now this is a challenge!

It’s basically the 10 item challenge, reduced to 6 items. It started as an experiment between friends and spread like wildfire across the internet. The original challenge gave a time limit of one month, after which items could be swapped out as needed.

Here’s one post from Jezebel that explains the challenge nicely.


As with all of these challenges, some clothing items are considered exempt, such as underwear, workout gear, and work uniforms. The 6 and 10 item challenges and the Sudoku challenge don’t count accessories and jewelry, while Project 333 does include them.

Probably the most important thing to remember in all of these challenges is to not be intimidated by the prescribed number of clothing articles. While 33 may seem doable, 16, 10, and 6 might feel impossible, so feel free to add one or two additional core items of clothing if you feel the need. The point of these challenges is to help free you from an overcrowded wardrobe and to help you focus your attention on clothes you truly enjoy wearing. And by having having a wardrobe consisting of only classic, well-chosen pieces, you’re more likely to look your best every day, not to mention getting dressed quicker in the morning because your decision-making options are greatly reduced.

How about you? Are you interested in trying any of these challenges? Have you tried any of these? Feel free to leave a note in the comments.

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