Project 333: Year 2 / Phase 3

Courtney Carver's challenge to join the Project 333 Capsule Wardrobe Blog Tour has inspired me to finally write an updated post about living with only 33 items in my wardrobe.  This post has been in my thoughts for a while but I have lacked the motivation to write it out.  There have been many changes in my personal life over the past few months, and my clothing and wardrobe choices have mirrored the chaos around me.  Since June I have been living with roughly 33 things, but I hadn't really been keeping track of my clothing and jewelry and I hadn't yet "officially" made the switch from phase 2 to phase 3 of the project.  Today I finally sat down, sorted through my stuff, and refined things down to 33 items.

I have been practicing a modified version of Project 333 since February of 2013, and I have blogged about my journey during each phase.  Every season has brought new insights and challenges.  My lifestyle has changed, my body has changed, and my relationship to clothing has changed over the past 18 months.  I have let the project be fluid, changing the rules to meet the evolving needs of real life.  Today, as I prepared my 33 items to last until the end of September, I struggled with the following dilemmas:
  • I am currently between jobs.  For the past decade I have been a public high school teacher, but I recently decided to make a radical life change and search for a new career.  I have no idea what my new job will be or what wardrobe it will require.  Until the right job comes along, I am working as a substitute teacher, so I chose my clothing accordingly.  When I do find the right job, I may have to switch up my wardrobe.
  • I rarely buy new clothes anymore, but I did go to a clothing swap for the first time last month.  It was awesome, and I found some great "new to me" clothes, but it resulted in me having more than 33 things in my closet.  I decided to put a good number of things away for the next phase, to be rediscovered when I open my clothing storage box in September.
  • I am probably going to return to working at at least one job site where the average temperature can be 20-30 degrees hotter than where I live.  I chose clothing that can be easily layered and included lots of dresses (which I can add some leggings to if I'm cold at home) and cardigans (for the early morning chill before I get to work).
These are just a few of the factors that go into developing a functional capsule wardrobe.  Since I have been living this way for a while, I'm not concerned about making the project work for me.  I have blogged about the benefits of the project before, but I think that there are some key factors that can help to promote the spirit of the project, which is to have fun and be free of a burdensome relationship to too much stuff, including clothing.  Here are some things I have learned that help to make the project a success in my life:
  • Be flexible!  If something doesn't work, swap it out for something that does.  If an item wears out, replace it.  If you change jobs, or move, or have another major life event don't be afraid to reevaluate your closet along with everything else that is bound to be changing in your life during a time of transition.  
  • Be surprised!  If you are afraid of releasing seasonal clothing that you won't include in this year's wardrobe, and you have the space, just tuck it away until next time.  You might find, as I did, that you don't need to buy new clothing when you open your storage bin next spring, or fall, and delightedly find several items that you literally forgot you owned.
  • Be creative!  Having only 33 items means that you wear EVERYTHING.  You won't get stuck in a rut, but you will find out what works for you, your body type, and your personal style.  If you find yourself avoiding that same sweater or pair of pants each time you get dressed, that piece of clothing is not your friend and should probably be passed on to a better home.
  • Change the rules!  I have made modifications to the project that make it work for me.  For example, I no longer count my sunglasses or purse in my 33 items.  I don't count layering pieces such as leggings, tights, or tank tops.  I don't include outerwear like sun hats or rain gear in the total, either.  And I have about 6-8 pieces of decent "loungewear" (yoga pants, tank dresses, older T-shirts) that I can throw on to run to the store or wear around the house during the weekend or after work.  You can even modify the dates of each phase to meet your needs: when I was teaching full time I changed my clothes more with the changing school year than with the quarterly seasonal change.
Doing Project 333 has been a cornerstone in the continuing process of transformation for me as I release clutter from all corners of my existence and move toward a simpler life.  Realizing that I am happier with less clothing has led me to understand that I can be happier with less in other areas as well: fewer items in my home, fewer commitments and obligations, a better work life balance, a simpler diet... the list goes on. Living with less allows me to focus on the things that are important to me, without the stress of extra distraction and mental and physical clutter.

Thank you Courtney for inviting all of us to join you on this journey!  

Now, on to the details for this phase of the project.  Here is my list and photos for Year 2, Phase 3 (July 1 - September 30, 2014).  I have used the same coding system for the list below.  Items in bold on the list are ones that I kept in my wardrobe from the previous phase (April-June). An asterisk (*) indicates items that were purchased or that I plan to purchase during this phase, as opposed to taken from my off-season storage box. Most of the new stuff this time came from the clothing swap I attended last monthEnjoy!

1silver hoops
2blue dangle earrings
3turquoise and coral earrings
4coral beaded earrings
5silver bracelet (*gift from mom)
6abalone necklace
7leopard print scarf
8flower scarf
9light blue scarf (*swap)
10white ss tee
11grey ss tee
12black tank
13blue jeans (*swap)
14black dockers pants (*new)
15long black skirt
16denim skirt
17tan skirt (*swap)
18red sailboat skirt
19black dress
20pink dress
21brown and white dress
22denim dress
23blue and white dress
24blue long tank dress
25tan loose knit shrug
26black tie front shrug
27denim crop jacket
28coral crop sweater
29blue long loose cardigan
30tan cardigan
31black cardigan
32cork mary janes
33blue converse


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