Fashion, Style

The One A Month Challenge


I can’t imagine how it would be possible, but in case you haven’t heard… the concept of a ‘curated closet’ is slowly but surely becoming a thing. Perhaps you’ve heard it called a ‘capsule wardrobe’ (a term first coined in the 1970s), ‘Fashion on the Ration‘, or my favourite – some variation on a ‘5 Piece French Wardrobe‘, but however you want to label it the idea remains the same. Less is more.

In 2009, Forbes.com published a piece on The Secrets of Well-Dressed Women, centred around the themes of ‘shopping selectively’, ‘shopping with a plan’ and my favourite – assessing every purchase on a cost-per-wear basis. It was also in 2009 that the now infamous Uniform Project was born during which founder Sheena Matheiken wore the same dress every day for a year with the stylistic imperative to make it somehow look different, each and every day.

Come 2011, Fashionising.com editor Daniel Dykes wrote that ‘a curated wardrobe is the new luxury‘. The piece is still published as the Fashionising.com manifesto today. The basic premise of the article is that with the proliferation of fast-fashion, anyone in a developed nation can have a wardrobe as bulging as they like, thus careful curation is a luxury that requires great skill and time and can be ‘afforded’ by very few.

Late last year, Jennifer Scott released what went on to become a best-selling book about the very same notion – ‘Lessons from Madame Chic: 20 Stylish Secrets I Learned While Living in Paris‘ ($16.29 USD). Again, buy fewer items of better quality. (Of course, the link with the French way of life is not new, see Parisian Chic: A Style Guide – $24.00 AUD.)

Without a doubt, the idea of a highly edited closet isn’t only one of luxurious style… it also has a serious alignment with eco and ethical thinking. Given as much as 5% of landfill in Australia is made up of unwanted clothing (a figure that is worse again in the UK and US), it stands to reason that if we simply bought – and discarded – at a slower rate, we’d make a dent in that figure. (If you want some more slightly horrifying reading on the subject, I can recommend Lucy Siegle’s 2011 book To Die For: Is Fashion Wearing Out The World? – $20.48 AUD.)

So… where does the One A Month Challenge come in? It’s a kind of mashup of of all of these ideas. It’s not a utilitarian cull, a barely-functional minimalism or a DIY-esque challenge that usually accompanies these sorts of style philosophies. On the contrary, it’s simply about shopping thoughtfully by only buying one clothing item or accessory a month.

The rules are simple

  1. Underwear and basics don’t count toward your tally
  2. Everything else does

I’ve been surprised how well this very simple philosophy works. If you only get to add one new item to your wardrobe each month, you’re far less likely to buy on a whim, on impulse, or on incentive (read: on sale). You will find yourself inherently scrutinising every purchase, much like you might if you were putting together a Burning House collection.

So, is it a challenge you think you could handle? Why or why not?

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  • Reply Amanda J August 27, 2013 at 9:18 am

    OMG – this is absolutely terrible. The economy is already really bad. If we stop buying things to be “luxurious” that’s so selfish! What will happen to all the stores and the people making things and the farmers? I can’t believe how stupid this is.

    • Reply ettap November 18, 2013 at 1:01 am

      You’re kidding, right?

  • Reply suzie k September 7, 2013 at 10:20 pm

    This may be better than an outright ‘ban’ on shopping whereas I still get to carefully select an item of clothing/accessory to purchase for the month. Although I don’t think it means I can go and get 3 basic tee’s all at once 😛
    To Amanda J, does it mean you are mindlessly spending money on clothes that you may never wear just to help out the store and farmers?

  • Reply A 3 Step Beginners Guide To Closet Curation | The Lifestyle Department September 25, 2013 at 3:42 pm

    […] a month. Work through your list at the rate of one new piece a month. If you’re looking to declutter too, a variation on this is one in two out. This means that […]

  • Reply Lara McPherson October 8, 2013 at 1:17 pm

    Wow Amanda J, I’d love to see your wardrobe. Call me crazy, but I’d always prefer a wardrobe of carefully selected quality than a heap of crap stuff. And if you think buying this crap is helping farmers, particularly cotton farmers, you’re entirely deluded.

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