Why, you may be wondering, would I undertake such a seemingly difficult and bizarre challenge? I am actually one of many crazy people committed to Project 333.
Throughout my personal journey toward a happier life, the themes of simplification and de-cluttering have appeared repeatedly as obstacles on the road to higher consciousness. I am continually reminded that material things that we don't need, use, or love (our "stuff") takes time and energy to purchase and maintain. This is time that takes away from more valuable, meaningful, or enjoyable pursuits such as spending time with friends or family or helping in the community.
With this idea in mind, I decided to try Project 333, which focuses specifically on simplifying and managing your clothing and wardrobe. 33 items, 3 months. Some call this a minimalist approach, but the idea is not austerity or martyrdom. The goal is to minimize the time you spend on shopping and caring for clothing, as well as time spent deciding what to wear each day.
The basics of the project, started by blogger Courtney Carver, are simple:
I started the project in mid-February, so I have only done the last 6 weeks of the first phase of the challenge for 2013. Still, I have found incredible benefit to doing the project and am excited to continue into the next phase: choosing 33 items to wear April-June.
- When: Every three months (It’s never too late to start so join in anytime!)
- What: 33 items including clothing, accessories, jewelry, outerwear and shoes.
- What not: these items are not counted as part of the 33 items – wedding ring or another sentimental piece of jewelry that you never take off, underwear, sleep wear, in-home lounge wear, and workout clothing (you can only wear your workout clothing to workout)
- How: Choose your 33 items, box up the remainder of your fashion statement, seal it with tape and put it out of site.
- What else: consider that you are creating a wardrobe that you can live, work and play in for three months. Remember that this is not a project in suffering. If your clothes don’t fit or are in poor condition, replace them.
Here are my 33 things for the first phase:
- Short sleeve flower tee
- Navy short sleeve embellished tee
- Coral cardigan
- Navy cardigan
- Stripe sweater
- Turquoise long sleeve tee
- Red ls tee
- Grey ls tee
- Light grey crewneck sweater
- Tan loose knit sweater
- Cream cowl neck sweater
- Levi jeans
- Tan cords
- Skinny blue jeans
- Skinny black jeans
- Denim skirt
- Green short sleeve H&M dress
- Brown long sleeve dress
- Black wool sweater coat
- Sessions all-weather jacket
- Grey wool pea coat
- Coral ombre' scarf
- Turquoise scarf/wrap
- Onyx earrings
- Silver hoops
- Shell flower necklace
- Navy mary jane shoes
- Black mary janes
- Grey Converse sneakers
- Black Doc Martens boots
- Brown boots
If you know me in real life, now that you know what I've been wearing, you probably recognize all the pieces! I has a bit nervous that I wouldn't have enough to wear or that it would be obvious that I was recycling the same pieces repeatedly. Instead, I felt like I had just enough to provide variety without being overwhelming. The time I spent thinking about clothes and how I looked suddenly dropped to a minimum Take choosing a shirt to wear, for example. I have two short sleeved shirts. On a warm spring day, it's either one or the other, or else I have to wear my short sleeved dress. Pretty simple choice!
I have gained many insights from this first round of the project:
- I like dresses. Two pieces in one!
- I might want more jewelry next round, since I missed having choices in that area.
- I may not need as many shoes.
- Scarves are awesome... fashion and function together. I want to get a nice belt for this same reason.
- Quality is more important than quantity in choosing clothing.
- I must keep up with the laundry!!!
- Choosing the right color palette is key.
- Creativity and willingness to take a risk is also key.
- I am shocked at how little time I spend thinking (or worrying) about clothes and appearance now as compared to six weeks ago.
- It is easy to see which items I don't love, since I found myself avoiding them even with limited choices available (I'm looking at you, black skinny jeans! You just don't fit right!)
- I got just as many, if not more, compliments on my appearance during this last 6 weeks than usual.
Another lesson I take away from this process is that simplifying your clothing leads to simplifying other areas of your life. Living with less is a change in attitude and perspective as much as it is a change in the amount of things you possess. Minimizing my wardrobe has allowed me to see excess consumption in other parts of my life, from my diet (I need to work on portion control.) to money management (I am really spending a lot on coffee!) to entertainment (why am I watching the Idol results show, anyway?).
I am excited to start the next phase of the project, since this time I only did 6 weeks and the real challenge is a full 12 weeks. I am more confident this time around that I can choose the correct pieces and that I can face any wardrobe challenge. If the need arises, like it this this during this phase, I'll pull from my "boxed up" reserve or just buy something new. Now that I've "gone public" with the project, I will probably post my choices for the next phase here, and talk a little bit about what I decided to keep, toss, or donate, and why.
If you are interested in starting the project yourself, even for one phase, now is a great time because the second cycle starts on Monday. At Courtney's Project333 website, you can find much more information about getting started. There is also a Project333 community on facebook. The project has been going since 2010, so there are many more followers than one might expect. I love that one person's experiment with living with less has turned into a larger movement and community of like minded people. I am having fun with the challenge. It was a big risk and WAY outside my comfort zone, but the benefits are more than I expected.