this is my version of Project 333 (but it isn’t, really)
Have you heard of Project 333? – it’s a way to simplify your wardrobe by wearing only 33 items of clothing for 3 months. Which is not to say you only own 33 items of clothing. At the start of each season you shop your closet for the 33 items you would like to wear for the next 3 months, and take the chance to evaluate your clothing for what might need to be replaced or donated and what should be placed into storage. And then for the next 3 months you dress from your pared down selection.
This weekend I got inspired to pursue something like this for myself. I saw a Project 333 post on instagram, then I read about an unrelated project called “the modesty experiment” (here) which I discussed with some friends, and I also helped a friend move – seeing another person’s belongings in boxes (and physically loading it and unloading it from a truck) always inspires me to re-evaulate my possessions! And this is also the week that Washington State really gets its summer on. We’ve had some hot temperatures on and off lately, but we’ve also had rain and muggy drab days. But July 5th – Sept 1st is usually reliably hot and sunny around here. And so I decided that it might be fun to go through my closet and start by packing away my winter gear. I don’t usually bother because I wear it 8-9 months a year and I have space for it in my closet. But removing it gave me some welcome breathing room.
I pulled out some clothing that I was unlikely to wear during the summer. And I pulled out some things that I was feeling less in love with and some things I was having doubts about. I took down a small storage bin where I keep rarely used items and pulled out the things I knew I wouldn’t need for at least 3 months – only my swimwear stayed in the end. And I pulled out some tshirts that are duplicates – the extra white, black and grey tees I bought the last time I found some that fit well, and some old tees that I haven’t worn lately. I threw my favorite (shredded, 12 year old) tank in the trash.
The idea behind Project 333 is to combine tops and bottoms into versatile mix and match outfits like this – but that’s not how I dress at all. That’s a big part of the reason I have never tried it before.
Most days I wear a dress and some dangly earrings. Sometimes, if it’s cool, I add a cardigan (I have 4 half sleeved and 2 long sleeved). I have about 25 dresses, but only about 9 tank tops, one pair of jeans and a couple of skirts that I wear often. I can’t wear sleeved clothing at work most of the time – it’s just too hot – and I take my cardigan off within minutes of starting work. I don’t own a single blazer or blouse. I don’t really have any way to “style” my dresses for everyday wear in the summer because I can’t add any other layers. I have a denim jacket in my summer wardrobe but I am unlikely to need it until September. I don’t wear tshirts very often lately and I don’t really enjoy wearing anything with a waistband. I mostly wear tshirts around the house with pj pants or with shorts.
I realized I’m not really challenging myself much with what I have done here. I haven’t limited myself in any real way. I didn’t count my items but it’s well over 33 – probably about 50 or 60, not including accessories (mostly earrings, one belt) or my 8ish pairs of shoes. I’m not sure if I will try to take this project a step further – if there’s any point. I have plenty of space in my closet now but my overflow storage bin is full. I don’t want to donate things out of season (it’s easy to get rid of winter things when it’s hot that you realize you really need when it gets cold!) and I don’t really think there’s anything magic about a specific number anyway. Besides the obvious hanging stuff (25 dresses, 4 skirts, 6 cardigans, 9 tops, a few other bits and bobs) I have a basket full of shorts, yoga capris and leggings (about 7 pairs total?) and the bin with about a dozen tshirts. The other 2 baskets hold underthings.
I folded my excess (some of it “sentimental”) and my out of season items into a plastic storage tub and everything fit, but just barely. I put a couple of dresses back in the closet that I might yet donate. And I kept out a couple of pashmina/shawls which I almost certainly don’t need and 4 sarongs which are not essential but which I sometimes use as lounge wear in the summer. I decided to store our winter coats in a suitcase that we haven’t used in years. It lives in the basement on an elevated storage shelf so all I needed to do was line it with some drycleaner’s plastic to protect against dust and then I loosely folded all of our coats into it, still on their hangers, and added my 2 formal dresses and interview suit too.
I think I will try to work with what I have until September at least, but if the weather changes when it usually does I might need some warmer and more waterproof layers before the end of the 3 months. My winter wardrobe is much bigger than my summer because I wear most of my summer dresses to work year round (I am hot all the time at work – it’s always 74 degrees inside and I work hard! I envy people with cool offices) but I need warmer layers for commuting and for when I am not at work. I’m not sure if I would want to limit my wardrobe as much in the winter.
I was actually surprised by how much I had, considering I don’t have a huge wardrobe or closet. I had actually thought all my clothes would fit in a single suitcase, but this showed me that was not the case at all!
The spirit of this project is that you work with what you have to build a capsule wardrobe of items you love that meets 80% of your needs with the 20% of clothing that you actually wear all the time. Clearing out the things that don’t work allows you to see what you have too much of and where you actually have gaps – I realized that I only have one skirt that works with my 3 nicest tank tops – 2 have strong prints which clash with my printed skirts. So I have ordered a lightweight denim skirt to fill in that gap and make the tops more useful when I don’t want to wear jeans.
I hope that what I’ve done here makes getting dressed easier and helps me figure out what I really enjoy wearing and what doesn’t work for me. I think I was already on this path anyway, but I really enjoy seeing my closet looking so neat and clean with a lot of breathing room, and that’s really inspiring me to try to keep up with this idea beyond the summer.