The first month of Project 333 is almost behind me. In some respects, the time seems to have gone by quickly, but my preparation time in late March feels like ages ago. I’ve experienced a number of wins and challenges in the interim and also learned some important things about myself.
This past week was especially difficult, more internally than in terms of my wardrobe. At one point, I even considered giving up the challenge, but I ultimately decided to carry on, both for the personal growth and because I’ve received such positive feedback from my readers. I’m very happy my journey is helping to inspire others, and knowing that brings me strength when I feel discouraged.
A Life in Flux…
Once again, I only have four outfits to share with you. My life is in a period of flux at present and I’m spending more time at home than I had previously. The shifts in my career path and lifestyle in recent years have led to a lot of shopping mistakes and a large portion of my wardrobe has gone unworn (thus the 146 “wardrobe benchwarmers” in 2012).
As I mentioned in my last post, I often bought things for a potential or imagined life instead of the life I was actually leading. Alternatively, I sometimes purchased garments which reflected someone else’s personality and style aesthetic and never ended up feeling comfortable in those clothes.
I had a realization the other day regarding my Project 333 capsule wardrobe. It occurred to me that many of my 33 garments for April through June have been in my closet for a number of years. Geek that I am, I decided to do the math… I learned that 79% of my Project 333 pieces were purchased in 2011 or earlier, and 55% were bought in or before 2010! Here’s how it breaks down:
Curious about the two garments from 2006? They are a chevron striped tank top and a seamed flared black skirt, bought at consignment stores for $3 and $16, respectively. Even when I factor in the minor alteration fees for these items, their cost per wear is likely pennies!
It’s Monday, so it’s time for another Project 333 update. Week three of the challenge is now behind me and I have a lot to share with you today. I made some additional swaps for items I had not yet worn, and I experienced some wins and some challenges during the week. I also have four new outfits to show.
Some More Swaps Were Made
In last week’s update, I wrote that I’d made one garment swap since the challenge began. This week, I decided to make four additional swaps, all for garments not yet worn in the challenge.
I mentioned last week that I wanted more tops to wear with pants. This week, I started to really doubt the need for so many skirts and tops for skirts in my Project 333 capsule. While I love wearing skirts and dresses, I wear them most often during our warmer months, which are generally July through October (we have strange seasons, such that they are, in San Diego). I primarily wear pants during the other months, including April and May. June is sort of a “wild card” month here in that it can be very cool and overcast and not feel like summer at all (thus the oft-used term, “June Gloom”).
I’ve decided that the inclusion of so many skirt options in my Project 333 capsule was due more to “wishful thinking” than realistic planning. I hope to wear skirts and dresses at least a portion of the term, so I’ll leave some options intact, but I opted to swap some unworn items for tops to wear with pants. I also brought in a favorite dress that can be worn with many of the jackets in my capsule.
In preparation for beginning Project 333 on April 1st, I tried on most of my clothes. I did this so I could select the best 33 garments to wear over the next three months. That process resulted in both good news and bad news…
The Good News – Letting Go
The good news was that I eliminated a number of items in my closet which no longer work for me. Trying things on really helped me to make decisions about the fate of many wardrobe pieces. If you think a garment in your closet is fine but haven’t worn it recently, I highly encourage you to try it on!
Our perceptions of our clothing are often way off! Pieces we may have loved in the past might be all wrong for our current lifestyle, body shape, and sense of style. Trying things on allows us to break through any illusions we may hold about what to keep and what to release.
The Bad News – Weight Gain
Now for the bad news… As I tried on my warm weather clothing, it became abundantly clear that I’d packed on at least a few extra pounds during the cooler months. I almost never weigh myself, as I find the number very “triggering” and bad mood inducing. I allow a simple three-digit figure to mean far too much about me and my worth as a human being. Although I’ve overcome the majority of my eating disorder issues (see “History of a Shopaholic”), the last vestige of my two-decade struggle is negative body image.
My second week of Project 333 is behind me. Two weeks down, eleven to go! In this post, I’ll share how things are going for me with the challenge, the positives and negatives of my experience thus far, and my week two outfits (there are 6 this time).
Only Two Thirds Worn So Far!
Surprisingly, I have only worn 22 of my 33 items thus far. I thought I would have worn almost everything by this point, but I’ve only included two-thirds of my capsule wardrobe in my April outfits. The following items have not yet been worn (see this post for photos of my Project 333 wardrobe):
- Turquoise blazer
- Leopard print cardigan
- Black cardigan
- Black sequined tank (long)
- Striped ¾ sleeve top
- White embellished tank
- Grey/black print sleeveless blouse
- Striped tank
- Black embellished tank (short)
- Black trousers
- Polka-dot skirt
When you shop for clothes, shoes, and accessories, do you always try to find the lowest price? Are you always on the lookout for a “good deal”? While bargain-hunting is common for many shoppers, I’m here to tell you that “cheap” can actually be more expensive.
A Tale of Four Purses
What do I mean by this? I’ll illustrate my point by sharing a tale of four purses. Two of the purses were “expensive” (over $200) and the other two were “cheap” (around $50). The expensive purses were made by Brighton and were purchased in August 2008 and December 2010, respectively. I have carried both bags for at least 300 days, yet they are still in excellent condition and scarcely show their wear.
I bought the “cheap” bags late last year. I carried one for approximately three months (I’m not one to change my bags all that often) and the other for only about a week. I did not stop carrying these bags because I grew tired of them. I stopped carrying them because they lost their shape, began to fray, and started looking terrible. Yes, a $50 bag only lasted for a week! I wish I could return it, but I purchased it months before I began using it and have no way of proving that it started to fall apart after such a short period of time. So I can’t get my money back, but I can learn a powerful lesson and share it with my readers.
Welcome to my first Project 333 update! Each week during April through June, I will post an update on my Project 333 experience. These updates will include photos of my outfits from the previous week, as well as the insights I’ve gained and the challenges I’ve faced from doing Project 333 and dressing with less.
My first week went fairly smoothly overall. As was mentioned by others who have done the challenge, the anxiety and discomfort one experiences while preparing for Project 333 gradually subsides after the project actually begins. When I first saw my dramatically reduced wardrobe, it looked strange to me and I found myself worrying how I’d make due with so few clothes. I wanted to fill in the space, but I forced myself to “be with” the space and emptiness.
As with many things in life, the strangeness of the new dissipates with time. It now feels almost normal for my closet to contain fewer pieces and I no longer feel a rush of anxiety upon opening the doors. The feeling of “only 33” has morphed into more of a sense that I have enough. Even so, I’m glad I didn’t include shoes and accessories in my 33 items, as those pieces will increase my outfit possibilities and satisfy my desire for variety and novelty. I’m tracking the shoes and accessories I wear and will post photos of these items at the end of each month. We’ll see how many I actually wear over the course of three months, as I might not need as many as I think!