The idea of putting together a concise and thought-out capsule wardrobe that encourages outfit repeating is nothing new. Whether it be for sustainability reasons or to finally nail down your personal style, a wardrobe that's on the smaller side (but still filled with items that you genuinely love) is an ethos we can't help but subscribe to.
It takes the guesswork out of getting dressed in the mornings. But the reality of having a capsule wardrobe is that repeating the same tried and tested outfit formulas day after day can also start to feel a bit... stale. There are only so many times you can pair your favourite jeans with a white button-down shirt and a pair of trainers before you become a bit bored and look for your next dopamine hit via an impulse purchase.
Enter: the '333' method. Coined by TikToker and self-proclaimed fashion girlie, Rachel Spencer (@rachspeed), the '333' method challenges you to select nine items from your wardrobe (specifically, three tops, three bottoms, and three pairs of shoes) and create as many outfits as you can, using only these items.
@rachspeed Replying to @specialdakota another one!! this time i did an oversized blazer, pointy toe boots, cardigans and more to mix it up #tryon #falloutfits #fitcheck ♬ This Will Be (An Everlasting Love) - Natalie Cole
Her videos have already racked up 679K video views, with many commenters asking for more videos with different colour and style combinations, and noting that this method will help them to find fun new ways to wear their existing clothes.
You might think that nine items couldn't possibly create more than a week's worth of outfits, but the results are pretty impressive. In one video, Spencer manages to create 19 different outfit combinations with her selected nine pieces, proving that even the smallest of wardrobes still offer plenty of options to spice up your outfits for day and night.
"When I created the '333' outfit challenge, I was styling myself for a trip to London," Spencer says in a video. "Obviously I was working with a limited amount of space and realised the potential we all have in our wardrobes and how we can get so creative with it."
We can all be tempted to buy new items to fill our wardrobes, all in the hopes of breathing new life into our daily rotations and figuring out what we like, but the '333' method offers an alternative. "The more you actually do something like this, the more you start figuring out what your personal style actually is, and what you like to wear," she explains in another.
Perhaps what's so refreshing about Spencer's challenge is that she doesn't take it too seriously. The key here is to play with the pieces that you've invested in — with the '333' method not only encouraging you to pair pieces that you might not normally, but it also to re-think the way you actually wear each piece. For example, a button up cardigan can be worn buttoned or loose, but it can also be worn off the shoulder, or flipped back to front for a high-neck style. And voila! That cardigan that you always wear with strictly two buttons done up suddenly has a whole new vibe for any day of the week.
Spencer also creates videos with wild card additions that prove a capsule wardrobe doesn't have to be boring or restrictive. One example is a pair of leopard print pants, which works perfectly because the brown colour palette of the classic leopard makes the bold print a timeless neutral that pairs well with almost any colour. Other great options would be adding a graphic t-shirt, a cardigan with a geometric print, or a statement shoe (for example, a red ballet flat).
But perhaps the most genius way to harness the '333' method in your wardrobe for good is when packing for a summer holiday. We're all guilty of overpacking and then ignoring half the clothes in our suitcase, in favour of wearing the same pieces over and over. By using the '333' method before packing, you're ensuring that you don't overpack, but also have plenty of outfit combinations to last you a week (or more). Suddenly a one-piece swimming costume is also a body suit for a day trip, and a maxi slip skirt is a strapless dress.
If you've launched into 2024 and taken a good, long look at your own wardrobe, only to feel bored by your options, we suggest pulling out nine items and playing with them until you find new and unique outfits that you never thought of before. Fashion is supposed to be fun, after all, and buying wardrobe items that you'll only wear once isn't cute.
This article was originally published on Refinery29 Australia.