While some might say that New Year’s resolutions are kind of bullshit, it’s undeniable that January is as good a time as any to reflect and set a few intentions for the year ahead. A staple on my annual list of goals is to finally hone in on my personal style and curate a wardrobe that feels timeless and undeniably me. This year is no different.
Nailing down my personal style is but a purchase away, or at least, that’s what I tell myself. But refreshingly, there’s a new trend on TikTok that’s encouraging us to do the opposite, and I’m feeling inspired. The brainchild of analyst and fashion writer, Mandy Lee (@oldloserinbrooklyn), the 75 Hard Style Challenge is all about turning inwards — specifically, to our wardrobes — to get comfortable with the pieces we already own and the styles that we naturally gravitate toward.
The rules of the challenge are simple: get dressed every day for 75 days, document each outfit, don’t buy anything new (yes, that also means pre-loved items), organize and clean out your wardrobe, get creative, and set goals and intentions. “Repetition is what creates personal style — do not be afraid to outfit repeat,” says Lee in a video explaining what her sartorial challenge entails. “The point of the challenge is to get the most out of the clothes you already have and to become more confident when you’re getting dressed.”
@oldloserinbrooklyn Kicking off 2024 with a style challenge! If you want to start the new year off by glowing up, saving money, getting more use out of your closet and firming up your personal style this one’s for you. 75 days of intentionally getting dressed, collecting data, and discovering what you naturally gravitate towards. I’ve used this method many times and it’s one of my favorite easy ways to get back in touch with myself and see my clothes in a new exciting light. Challenge Rules: Get dressed everyday for 75 days Document your daily outfits Do not buy anything new Set your challenge goals/intentions Get creative and rely on your own brain for inspiration Organize + clean out your closet I will be taking part in the challenge and my personal goals are to start wearing pants more, firming up my casual style, and experiment with new shapes and silhouettes. I hope you’ll join me! #personalstyle #fashion #75hardstylechallenge ♬ original sound – Mandy Lee
The benefits of the challenge are plentiful. Not only is it encouraging us to think about what outfit we’re putting on every day (a challenge in and of itself after working from home on and off for much of the last four years), but it also nods to the slow fashion movement by encouraging us to value the pieces we already own, all while nailing down the styles and silhouettes that we actually feel good wearing.
“You’re going to be collecting a data set for what you actually wear,” Lee says. “This acts as a sort of catalogue to track what you’re really, really wearing, so you can enjoy your clothes in a new way and discover any wardrobe gaps that still exist.” Of course, by pausing all buys for 75 days while you thoroughly sift through your wardrobe, you’ll also notice the pieces you find yourself wishing you had in your wardrobe time and again (rather than impulse buying something you don’t need for one specific occasion, or to suit one mood).
Contrary to what you may be thinking, Lee does encourage you to still shop, though without actually purchasing the items you find. “I think shopping without purchasing something is extremely valuable because you are practising self-restriction, but it’s also an opportunity to try things on [and] feel things.” She admits that she has an irrational fear of jeans and hasn’t worn them for four years for this reason. Her hope is that this challenge will help to push her outside her comfort zone and learn how to style trousers before she makes a jeans purchase.
@oldloserinbrooklyn @Mandy Lee #75hardstylechallenge shopping day! You can still shop on a no buy, i think going into a store with the intention to play and discover is so valuable. Thanks to the queen of jeans @pigmami ♬ original sound – Mandy Lee
It’s this tone that makes the 75 Hard Style Challenge feel so approachable (even with the word “hard” in its name). There’s no judgement, and the challenge doesn’t offer lofty and out-of-reach (or out-of-budget) fashion goals, but rather, it’s designed to help us make the simple act of getting dressed easier and more enjoyable.
“If you’re doing the challenge correctly, you’re going to figure out what is really important to you when you’re getting dressed,” Lee explains. “Is it comfort, is it self-expression, is it ease, is it many things?” She adds that as the challenge goes on, you’ll start to tap into what you naturally gravitate towards, and what you want your wardrobe to do for you.
It’s with this in mind that Lee urges us to avoid social media for style inspiration. While it could be tempting to go to Pinterest or social media, this could send you down a doom spiral of “expectation versus reality” and have you feeling disheartened from the jump. She explains that there’s no point in getting caught up in emulating someone else’s personal style when the goal is to lean into what you already own and like (because, hey, you bought the pieces for a reason!).
As for setting goals and intentions for the challenge, Lee explains that she wants to firm up her more casual style and play with volume more. For me, it would be the opposite. I often find myself gravitating towards comfortable and casual clothing, which can make me feel underdressed at work events, or like my style is boring. I’d love to figure out pairings that add interest to my outfit without restricting movement or comfort, and become more confident with layering pieces and mixing textures in my outfits to add interest,
This year is already looking to be the year of “no buys,” whether that’s due to the ongoing cost of living crisis or to reduce the impact we’re having on the environment as the climate crisis worsens. The beauty of this challenge is that you can lessen the pressure in these areas and also get to know yourself and your wardrobe better — all without spending money. And that sounds like a win to us.
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