Off and Running with Project 333!

Project 333 Before and After

My closet before Project 333 and my new capsule wardrobe for April through June!

In my last article, I shared my decision to begin the minimalist fashion challenge Project 333 and my reasons for taking this radical (for me) path.  Well, it’s now April 2nd and the challenge is officially under way! In this post, I’ll show you the 33 garments I’ve selected as my April through June wardrobe and provide some highlights from my selection process.

There’s still time to join the challenge if you’ve been on the fence.   Perhaps reading about my process will inspire some of the “bystanders”!

The Numbers in a Nutshell

I’m glad I decided to only include clothing in my 33 wardrobe pieces and leave shoes and accessories out this time around.  As it was, my selection process took over ten hours!   Perfectionist that I am, I wanted to ensure I made the best possible choices, especially since I’d have to live with them for three months.

My first step was to break the 33 down into wardrobe categories.  After a bit of “massaging,” here is what I came up with:

  • 5 Pants/Jeans
  • 3 Skirts
  • 1 Dress
  • 5 Long Cardigans
  • 1 Short Cardigan
  • 4 Blazers/Jackets
  • 6 Short Tops (to wear with skirts)
  • 8 Longer Tops (to wear with pants)

You may wonder why I separated the tops into two categories.  I’ve found that for my body shape, shorter tops that hit around my hipbone are the best length for skirt outfits, while tops that are a few inches longer are ideal for wearing with pants.    For comfort reasons, I prefer to leave my tops out as opposed to tucking them in or belting them.  This is a personal preference and one that I realize gives me fewer options in terms of combining wardrobe pieces.  Of course, when one has a wardrobe upwards of 300 items, this scarcely matters!  But for Project 333, I had to make sure to include tops from both categories, as I plan to wear both pants and skirts during the next three months.

My Selection Process

After determining the number of pieces to include from each category, I took the following steps to select my actual Project 333 garments:

  1. I listed my top 5 items from each category (to make sure to include many of my favorites).
  2. Beginning with neutrals, I decided upon the basic color palette for my capsule wardrobe (I chose black and grey as my primary neutrals and listed a few other colors to optimally include).
  3. I selected my bottom pieces (pants, jeans, skirts, and dress), as these would serve as the foundation of all of my outfits.  I struggled a bit with the pants, as I have very few pairs that I actually love.  This is a difficult category for me in terms of fit due to my height (5’10” with very long legs!).  My frustration with poor selection and fit challenges has led me to avoid shopping for pants.  I now realize that I need to make more of an effort moving forward, as I see the importance of well-fitting and comfortable pants in cultivating a wardrobe I love!
  4. I determined my toppers or “third pieces” (jackets, cardigans) and made sure to include a variety of colors in this category.
  5. My tops were chosen last and I did a fair amount of switching around within this category for optimal variety and versatility.
  6. I included both solid and patterned pieces to keep my wardrobe interesting and in line with my personal style aesthetic (for example, I like stripes, animal print, and polka dots, so I incorporated a bit of each in the mix).
  7. I ensured that each piece could be worn with at least three other garments in the capsule.  When one is working with a smaller number of pieces and desires variety, this is key!

If you’d like to learn more about how to do the Project 333 challenge, I highly recommend the “Dress with Less” microcourse from Courtney Carver, the creator of Project 333. 

The Actual Items

Below is my actual list of 33, along with photos below each category.  Hopefully, since I took so much time and care to make my selections, I won’t need to make any substitutions along the way.  However, I reserve the right to switch a few pieces out if necessary, especially within the first few weeks of the project

UPDATE:  See Project 333 Week Three Update for swap information and photos of new items.

1. Navy cotton pants (look black in the photo, but they are navy!)
2. Black trousers
3. Black jeans
4. Lightweight jeans (shorter, to wear with flats)
5. Trouser jeans (longer, to wear with heels)

Pants and Jeans

Pants and Jeans

6. Grey skirt
7. Polka dot skirt
8. Black skirt
9. Black sleeveless dress (great for layering!)

Three Skirts and One Dress

Three Skirts and One Dress

10. Cream and black striped cardigan
11. Grey embellished cardigan
12. Cobalt blue cardigan
13. Burgundy cardigan
14. Black cardigan

Long cardigans in a variety of colors

Long cardigans in a variety of colors

15. Denim jacket
16. Dark orange blazer
17. Turquoise blazer
18. Black and white striped blazer
19. Leopard print cardigan

Short jackets and cardigan

Short jackets and cardigan

20. White embellished tank
21. Green tank
22. Burgundy embellished tank
23. Black and white striped tank
24. Grey and black print tank
25. Black embellished tank

Short tops to wear with skirts

Short tops to wear with skirts

26. Grey print tank (long)
27. Black embellished tank (long)
28. Black and white striped ¾ sleeve top
29. Blue print tee
30. Leopard print tee
31. Black polka dot tee
32. Orange tee
33. Black tee

Long tops to wear with pants and jeans

Long tops to wear with pants and jeans

Thoughts as I Begin the Project

My selection process was long and laborious, but was made more manageable by spreading it out over a two week period.  Even though I “audit” my closet regularly, I was still able to designate a number of items for donation or consignment, which was both surprising and encouraging.

I definitely want to pare down my wardrobe, so I made a point of trying everything on as part of my Project 333 preparation.   This was an important step for me, as I discovered some items I thought were good were actually either ill-fitting or just not my style anymore.  I find myself becoming more and more willing to purge garments that don’t meet my high standards (at least an 8 on a scale of 1-10).

The clothing I won’t be wearing during the next three months is either boxed up or hidden in the second closet in our apartment.  A small section of garments remains in the main closet but is hidden behind my husband’s clothes.  My husband was delighted that I moved some of his clothing from his cramped armoire into the main closet and we both like the more open feel of the space.

Project 333 “Coming Attractions”

Each week, I will post a Project 333 update complete with outfit photos.  In these posts, I’ll share insights about what I’m learning from doing the project.   I’ll also continue to post articles on other topics, so I promise this won’t be all Project 333, all the time!  At present, it’s a big thing for me, though, so it may take up more blog “real estate” in the short-term.

One last thing… Although I did not include shoes and accessories among my 33 items, I’ll track what I wear from these categories and aim to pare them down over the coming months.  I’ve already added five pairs of shoes to my consignment bag, so I’m making progress!   I’ll also track how often I wear my 33 garments and report those stats along the way.  I’m still unsure how many pieces my ideal wardrobe would include, but I’m sure the numbers calculated through Project 333 will be helpful in determining that figure.

Doing Project 333?  Please Stay in Touch!

If you’re joining me in doing Project 333, I’d love to hear about your journey!  Feel free to comment on the blog or message me via the “Connect” page or on Facebook or Twitter.  I’d love for us to support each other as we aim to shop less, love and wear what we have, and trade our full closets for fuller lives!

15 thoughts on “Off and Running with Project 333!

  1. Bravo Debbie!!!!! You amazed me with the choices of clothing that you decided on and the very fact that you were able to pick just 33 from your closet of over 300. A big pat on the back for yourself as I think this part must of been ( and likely will be ) the toughest step in the project.
    ( I did make comment on your posting “Fear” over at Project 33 the other day and I was on the fence in participating- at the moment I still am but not over the having to pick 33 items- due to our weather here ( Northern Alberta) which currently has spring temps for the next 2 days( spring temps here mean at least a few degrees above zero by mid day although below 0 in the evening and night) and then we are back to snow and lower temps for god knows how long& then it will seesaw again). So I am going to sit this round out but have a feeling I will joining the next round in July. In the meantime I am looking forward to your adventures with this project and how it change your life.
    PS: I wanted to mention that you would look amazing in pants that were ankle length-about 28 or 29 inches inseam so 4 or 5 inches above your ankles and cut straight through the thighs and hips tapering toward the ankle -you have the height and leg length to carry it off- think Ines de la Fressange pant style

    • ABgurl, Good to hear from you again. Thanks for your encouragement! Yes, I do feel that selecting the 33 items will likely be the most difficult part of Project 333 for me. I have heard that from others as well. I actually feel calmer and more peaceful now that the selection process is behind me. I am still a bit nervous about having just 33 garments in my closet, but deep down I know it will all be okay 🙂

      I can understand that it would be especially challenging to do Project 333 with the weather you have in your area. I am lucky in that the temperatures really don’t vary that much here. Of course, you could decide to select MORE than 33 items (maybe 40?) if that would help you to feel more comfortable. Courtney (Project 333 creator) does specify that we should modify the project as needed to meet our needs. But if you feel better waiting until July, that’s okay, too. I waited around a year to start, but I’m glad I finally decided to do it! I hope to inspire others through my journey…

      Thanks for the pants tip. Pants are especially challenging for me and I have body image issues which complicate matters. I used to wear cropped pants all the time, but stopped wearing them when they went out of fashion. Now they are back and I have yet to embrace them, but I will go try some on at your recommendation!

  2. I love your scientific method of thinking about your different categories and clothes-choices 🙂 My wardrobe has never been full, and I haven’t had half as many options as you do to choose for my 33 items, and I’ve just picked about all the things I love and left all the other ones out and it comes to about 33 without thinking much. But I do find the science and the reasoning behind it all very amusing (in a good way) and intriguing. I’d love to have a wardrobe where each piece would be justified rather than just picked or loved. And that’s part of the reason for me being part of the P333, to be able to learn about my wardrobe and to develop it so it all would make sense and not just be a bunch of randomly-chosen goodies for day-to-day wear. And I’m slowly learning 🙂

    • Anne-Marika, Thanks for your comment. I’m glad you enjoyed my post and that you’ve also taken on the challenge of Project 333. Yes, I did have kind of a “scientific method” for choosing my 33 items. It’s possible that I made things harder than they needed to be, but my approach was not really as difficult as it might sound. Since I am a wardrobe stylist, I am used to thinking in the terms described, so it kind of comes naturally to me at this point. I think it’s great that you were able to pick your 33 items intuitively without much of a defined process to it. It sounds like you are happy with your choices, so it’s all good! I wish you the very best of luck with the challenge! I hope you will comment again.

  3. How fascinating.
    One thing I realised from sorting out my clothes and looking at the selections of others is the complete absence of black in my wardrobe, and also that ALL my clothes are solid colours. No patterns at all. Five shades of green, half a dozen browns and taupes, no pink (I really hate pink).
    Isn’t it great that we are all so different?

    • Thanks for taking the time to comment. Glad you liked my post! Yes, differences are what makes the world go round… That’s why blindly following trends can be so dangerous. It’s highly unlikely that most of us will really like much of what’s trendy, so if we buy it anyway, it can tend to just sit in our closets. If you are happy with a wardrobe of all solids and no black, that’s what matters most! And you definitely don’t have to wear pink if you don’t like it 🙂 Best of luck to you with Project 333 (as it sounds like you’re doing it, too).

  4. So proud of you! I love that you made the extra physical effort to put all your unused clothes in other rooms. This project will definitely change the way you look at clothes and precious closet space. You will love having an organized and open space. I find it very interesting that its easier for you to part with clothes now. I hope that continues for you.

  5. This is very inspiring. You have beautiful pieces.

    On pants for tall people. My 22 yr old daughter is 5’10.” She’s started getting pants at Chico’s–even though she is not their target demographic. They have 34 inseams online. Info only–for when your project is complete.

    • Just saw your comment today – it somehow went into the spam folder. Thanks for your suggestion. I wouldn’t have thought to shop for pants at Chico’s even though I might be in their target demographic at this point. I will check it out!

  6. I also have a bit of a shopping problem, and I am *sincerely* enjoying your blog/journey. If you make this into a book, I want to buy a copy! I have an overly-large closet as well (maybe 150+ clothing items? I’m afraid to count) and wear maybe 1/3 of it. My problem is that I LOVE clothes and I LOVE that I am finally expanding into trying new things (no longer ruling out things like I used to) and I don’t want to limit my progress. I feel like I have made LEAPS and BOUNDS in terms of fit, personal fashion, and even for my career, my choices have helped me progress. I WANT to stop with this over consumption though, and spending too much. I regret all the times I bought something on a whim (even recently, a top I bought last month is not working out) and the money I have wasted, and I want to be one of those stylish put together women that you were talking about with fabulous albeit small closets. But I have so much fun with different looks, colors, silhouettes, I don’t know that I can BE that woman.

    I’ve been slowly evaluating my items, re-selling items on ebay, and recently set a budget for myself that I am honestly having a hard time sticking to. Long story short, I aspire to what you are doing, and the 33 challenge, but at the same time I am intimidated. I don’t want to ‘waste’ the items I have by limiting my choices, but if I were to count up what i wear in 3 months I bet it isn’t far off from the 33 clothing articles because I wear my favorites over and over while everything else is neglected.

    Sorry for the long comment! I’ll be impatiently waiting for your next posts!

    • Thanks so much for your comments and compliments! I’m glad that my blog and journey are enjoyable and helpful for you. What you describe in terms of your style journey sounds similar to mine. Although I struggled with over-shopping for much of my adult life, it worsened after I discovered “What Not to Wear” and started reading fashion books and magazines. I kept buying more and more in the hopes of finding the RIGHT styles for me and looking fashionable. I think that we often overshoot the mark when making changes. Some of us overshoot it more than others, but I think that many people go too far in the opposite direction when they try to turn things around for themselves.

      I have made TONS of mistakes in terms of what I’ve bought and I shudder to think about how much money I’ve wasted (sounds like a good blog post – stay tuned…). But that is all in the past and I need to focus on the present and future. I think I needed to do something fairly radical to set a new course for myself, as my shopping – and closet – had really gotten out of hand. Project 333 seemed like the right thing to do and I think it will make a big difference for me, but I’m not necessarily advocating it for everyone. I started out just tracking what I wore and that created a lot of awareness for me. Perhaps that would be a good idea for you… Seeing the types of things to which I gravitated helped me to avoid some of my shopping mistakes and showed me that I just had FAR too many things in my closet. I am not sure how much I will get rid of after Project 333. I will see how it goes and decide at the end of the 3 months. I may opt to create a new challenge for myself beginning in July. I like the idea of taking on a variety of challenges to get my shopping and wardrobe in line. It’s fun for people to read about, too. I am open to suggestions!

      I’d love to hear from you again. Please let me know how you’re doing with everything.

  7. I am very slowly making my way through your past posts. I always find it interesting why an item is chosen, whether it is for a closet challenge, or designation as a workhorse, or even why it was purchased or purged. I find it interesting that I can shop for groceries weekly, with a list, stick to the list, and purchase many of the same items again and again. Yet when it comes to clothes, I can shop daily, stray from the list (if I even have one), and not only repeat purchases (same style, same color) but constantly search for new items too. It is very interesting how two different forms of shopping, are treated so differently. And as I learn more of the ‘why’ behind the clothes, I hope to develop shopping habits more in line with my desired wardrobe goals.

    • Very interesting thought about the differences between grocery shopping and clothes shopping. I know I’m far less emotional when I shop for groceries, but I often make impulse buys there, too. At least the grocery mistakes aren’t as costly, but I DO hate to be wasteful… I find that I’m definitely being more purposeful in my clothes shopping. It took a while for it to “kick in,” but toward the end of last year, I feel I turned a corner. Not that I have it all figured out by any means, but I’m doing much better. I’m sure the same will be true for you, too, since you’re taking the time to analyze what you’re buying and wearing. It pays off!

      • At one point, I was just as bad with groceries and I am with clothes. I would stock up on sale items and have cans everywhere. Living in a condo with a working kitchen, we had very little storage space. I used European apartments as my inspiration, you can’t stock up, the fridge and cabinets are too small. And I was shocked to realize, we were doing just fine without me stocking up. I didn’t notice a huge increase or decrease in our food bill and I finally had my countertops back.

        And now I am back to European inspiration, trying to get my closet down to a smaller size, one that would work well in a European setting. And one thing I often read, is how women make purposeful choices (at least some blogs say this about Parisian style). I doubt that is true for all, but purposeful shopping is a skill I am working on.

      • Funny, I used to buy FAR too many groceries, too! I think my “shopaholism” seeped into many areas of my life (I’ve been paring down a large book collection as another example). I’ve read that Europeans often grocery shop every day and only buy what they need for that day. They use far more fresh ingredients than we Americans do and I doubt they waste much at all. I wish I would have been raised with the European philosophy, but now I’m having to work my way towards sanity in my forties!

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