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!
Week One Outfits
I only “got dressed” on four of the seven days last week. It’s actually normal for me to spend one or two days per week at home in loungewear, only leaving the house to go on a walk or to the gym. I often “stack” my business and personal appointments for better time management. I find I get more done if I’m able to focus in my home office a few days per week.
This week was a bit abnormal in that I was at home sick on Thursday and Friday. I only have four outfits to share today, but on most weeks, there will be five to six outfit photos in my Project 333 updates.
Here are my outfits from last week. One outfit is shown both with and without my jacket, as I wore both looks during the day (it was actually quite warm here last week).
Week One Insights
Although I only created four outfits during my first week of Project 333, the challenge has already uncovered an issue for me. I am keenly aware of the need for better bottom pieces in my wardrobe. I have few skirts that I really love and even fewer pants which fit into that category. I selected what I consider my best pieces for Project 333, but I’m not sure I have any pants which are an “8” on a scale of 1-10. In contrast, I have many tops, jackets, and cardigans that I dearly love. In fact, it was difficult to select my favorites to include in my April through June wardrobe.
As I mentioned in “The Reasons We Shop Too Much,” those of us with compulsive shopping issues often shop for reasons other than actual wardrobe needs and a love of style and fashion. My shopping is frequently motivated by a desire to lift my spirits and escape from problems or negative emotions. In essence, I shop to experience a “high,” similar to the way an alcoholic drinks or a gambling addict gambles.
Shopping and Body Dysmorphia
Although I actually need to buy new pants and jeans, shopping for these items leads to frustration rather than the escape or high I crave. It’s very difficult for me to find pants which fit well and which I believe look good on me. I’m very tall, have a waist that’s much smaller than my hips, and suffer from body image issues surrounding my lower half.
I constantly lament my “big hips and thighs” and overly fixate on these flaws, whether real or imagined. In contrast, I like the top half of my body and find it very easy to find tops I love and which fit well. Consequently, I amassed well over 100 tops while continuing to wear the same few pairs of pants over the past few years.
Doing the Right Thing, Not the Easy Thing
Since I gave myself a clothing purchase limit during 2013, I should have focused on buying pants and maybe skirts (although I have better skirts than pants by far). But so far, I have only purchased top pieces this year – because it’s easier, more fun, and gives me more of a “high.” The downside is that I continue to experience frustration with my wardrobe because my bottoms are old, mediocre, or both.
Part of my journey as a recovering shopaholic involves finding new ways to meet my needs so I don’t need to shop to experience pleasure or sooth my anxiety. Another element is to curate a minimalist wardrobe filled with clothes I love and wear frequently. In order to accomplish the latter goal, I need to “bite the bullet” and force myself to shop for pants, no matter how challenging or frustrating it is. If I find pants or jeans I love during Project 333, I give myself permission to swap the new garments for existing items in my capsule wardrobe.
Project 333 – Mostly Good So Far
It’s not all bad. I do love most of my Project 333 wardrobe and like the outfits I wore so far. While it’s true that my jeans in outfit #4 could be better, I still felt attractive in the ensemble. I’m happy with the majority of my Project 333 selections, but am considering one early substitution for a top I haven’t yet worn. I will likely swap the leopard print tee in my capsule for a white tee in a similar shape. If I decide to do this, I will report it in next week’s update.
For those who are also doing Project 333, I hope it’s going well for you. I’m pleasantly surprised that it’s easier than I thought it would be. Of course, it’s “early days,” but my initial impression is mostly positive. I will post my week two update early next week, but stay tuned for another post later this week on a different topic.
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.
I Love Your Comments!
I welcome comments from fellow Project 333 participants and other readers. I’ve very much enjoyed and appreciated the comments I’ve received thus far. I’m delighted to be inspiring others through my journey and hope to continue to do so.