What I learned from wearing only 13 pieces of clothing in 31 days

Drawing inspiration from the Fashion Revolution China-led “13in31” capsule wardrobe challenge, Amy Chan from team Redress took on the sartorial experiment of wearing only 13 articles of clothing in 31 days. We asked her to share what she learned during her month-long journey.

Apparently we only wear 20 per cent of our clothes 80 per cent of the time. This definitely rings true for me on those sleepy mornings when I stand in the centre of my room – with my two wardrobe doors and all six of my drawers flung open (not to mention my chairdrobe!) – yet still struggle to find anything to wear, often defaulting to my trusted white shirt and jeans combo.

I was intrigued when I learnt that the “13in31” campaign run by our Shanghai based Fashion Revolution Week colleagues was challenging fashion lovers to only wear 13 articles of clothing in 31 days. I really hoped that this exercise would make me fully appreciate the clothes I have – to the full 100 per cent!

In order for these 13 items to last me for a whole month, I gathered that I would have to mix and match each of the items into at least four to five different outfits. The more versatile the item, the easier to restyle. After careful consideration, here are the final items that made it to my capsule wardrobe:

  1. Navy and white striped dress
  2. White chiffon dress
  3. Black sleeveless knitwear
  4. White t-shirt
  5. White Oxford shirt
  6. Blue skinny jeans
  7. Black culottes
  8. Navy shorts
  9. Classic denim jacket
  10. Army green utility jacket (Secondhand)
  11. Leopard-print cardigan
  12. Red cardigan
  13. Mustard yellow jumper


I have to say some days were easier than others. I had to deal with varied weather throughout April in Hong Kong (we experienced everything from cool and dry, to wet and humid!) and not to mention a blazing hot few days in Dubai. But I survived! And here is what I took away from the experience:

1. Dress outside your comfort zone

I created a total of 30 different and weather-appropriate looks with my 13 core items – which pleasantly surprised me! I enjoyed pushing myself fashionably, daring myself to wear new and some never-worn-before pairings each day. I only repeated my trusted white shirt and jeans combo once – I think that calls for a mini celebration!

2. Everyday can be a special occasion

I love my white chiffon dress but it would always stay at the back in my wardrobe, as I saved it for a more special occasion. This dress definitely belonged to the 80 per cent of my wardrobe that I barely touch (I’ve only worn it twice before this challenge)! Dressing it up and down during April reminded me that truly cherishing an item of clothing also means finding ways to wear it over and over again.

3. Buy less, choose well!

Crafting my capsule wardrobe required proper preparation. I thought about how versatile the pieces were, considering whether it can be mixed and matched, and styled differently. This has really taught me the value of revisiting what I already own before stepping out to buy more. All future purchases will be led by the guideline: “Will this go with the rest of my wardrobe?”

4. “Fast Fashion” is a mentality

So called fast fashion and high street brands made up the bulk of my capsule wardrobe, but in no way do I see them as cheap, throwaway items – in fact a lot of these items have served me loyally for multiple years. I reflect to the time of my purchases and remember that the materials and quality of construction were key consideration factors. I’d also like to find out more about the conditions in which my clothes are made, which is why I asked brands during the challenge - #whomademyclothes? 

5. This experience revitalised my love for all the other clothes I own

When I was done with the capsule wardrobe challenge, I did feel excited about revisiting the rest of my wardrobe. I now realise the amazing potential of outfits that I have within hands reach and would leave the house feeling super positive each time I manage to create a completely new look out of what I already own. It’s really changed my approach to dressing!

6. Capturing your fashion style

Minus the awkward posing and failed selfies on timer mode, I actually found it great fun to play a fashion influencer. Thanks to this great suggestion from Redress’ new book, Dress [with] Sense, I now have a personal lookbook on Instagram to revisit when I’m sartorially stuck for ideas!

7. There are no rules!

If you are interested in doing the 13in31 challenge, I want to remind you that there are no rules in what items you can or cannot include, or even how long you do it for! For example, I opted out for shoes and accessories. Do what you’re comfortable with, you might want to start off with a shorter challenge of 10 x 10 wardrobe! The simple act of trying out a smaller and more selective wardrobe will already make all the difference.