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.
Why I’m Posting My Outfit Photos
I committed to share my Project 333 journey with all of you and I intend to see that promise through to its completion, but I’m feeling a bit uncomfortable with the exposure, particularly in regards to the photos I post. I opted to post outfit photos to clearly show the experience of a real person navigating the challenge. I realized that by doing so, I open myself up to scrutiny and criticism, but I decided to put aside my fear of others’ opinions in the interest of benefiting my readers.
In addition, at age 46, I realized it’s finally time to get over my fear of what other people think of me. There’s an old saying, “What you think of me is none of my business.” Although I consider this a good quote, I’ve never truly embodied its meaning, but perhaps it’s time to do so.
Wardrobe Consultant Doesn’t Always Mean Fashion Expert
While I have a part-time wardrobe consulting business, I don’t consider myself to be a fashion expert (my educational background is in psychology and life coaching). My work with clients primarily focuses on helping them to become more confident and feel better about the way they look. Style is a tool we use to further this pursuit and I assist my clients in cultivating their desired image and a look that will help them become more successful in whatever they’re up to in life.
I started my business because transforming my style has made a big difference in the way I regard myself and my body and I wanted to help others evolve in the same way. While I did work with two stylists a number of years ago, much of my style transformation has been done on my own, through reading books and watching makeover shows – and through trial and error.
This is Not a Fashion Blog
I do not put myself out there as an ultra-fashionable person and I don’t post my photos as a “look at me” or “you should dress like me” statement. My style continues to evolve and while what I wear works well for my lifestyle and personality, I realize it may not be everyone’s cup of tea.
If anyone is inspired by my outfits and chooses to create similar looks for themselves, that’s wonderful. But this is not a fashion blog. It’s my earnest effort to stop the compulsive shopping habit that has limited my happiness for many years. I share myself, my thoughts, and my process in this blog with the profound hope that through doing so, I can help others with similar struggles.
Week Four in a Nutshell
Sorry for the long diatribe, but the above needed to be said before I moved on. Now on to the nuts and bolts of my fourth week of Project 333… I have now worn 30 of my 33 items (91%), and some of the pieces have been worn two or three times. I’ll share more details in my April Accountability / Project 333 Month One Update later this week, but I’m actually surprised I haven’t worn everything by now.
While I still wish I had more garments to choose from when creating outfits, I don’t actually need more clothes to wear. Wanting and needing are two completely different animals! Since I spend a large portion of my time in loungewear, workout wear, and sleepwear, my current need for “regular” clothing isn’t really that high. After all, in four weeks (28 days), I only wore 18 “real outfits,” which means I only “got dressed” 64% of the time.
Items Not Yet Worn
The following items have not yet been worn during Project 333:
- Turquoise blazer
- White embellished tank
- Striped tank
Fingers crossed that they’ll all be worn this week (two were actually worn today!).
Week Four Outfits
Below are my Week Four outfits. One of my photos includes a “photo bomber” in the form of my cat, Sprite. This isn’t his first appearance on the blog, as he likes to be involved in everything I do! My other cat, Coco (nickname “Coke,” so I have Coke and Sprite!), is a bit more camera-shy, but perhaps she’ll make an appearance down the line.
After wearing the grey skirt the other day, I decided to shorten it a few inches and narrow it slightly (it’s at the tailor as I write this…). Although this skirt has been a favorite of mine for a few years, my skirt preferences have gradually shifted to shorter and narrower silhouettes. I think I’ll like the skirt better after the alterations are made. Alterations are a great way to extend the life of our clothes. A small “tweak” can make a big difference! See this article on my business site for more information on the power of alterations.
Some Final Thoughts from Week Four
I tend to think a lot of choices will help me dress better, but that’s not actually the case. Having fewer choices has us think more about the look/image we want to create and can help us be more creative with the pieces we do have. Having too many items in front of us generates extra “noise” we don’t really need.
I think a problem for many with Project 333 is that we look at our 33 items and they don’t “wow” us. If these are our absolute favorite pieces and they aren’t “10”s, then what? We wonder what would be a “10” for us… The three months of Project 333 give us time to consider these questions and more.
I wonder if I should allow myself to shop at all during Project 333 or hold off on buying anything new until the end. Perhaps I’ll learn things about myself that will better inform my future shopping. Maybe I’ll find myself wishing for a particular wardrobe piece that isn’t among my Project 333 capsule or my boxes of stored clothing. Maybe I’ll be more willing to be patient when shopping and wait for those “10” pieces instead of settling for “8”s or “9”s (which, while quite good, aren’t “10”s). My hope is that once Project 333 is behind me, I’ll better understand what a “10” is for me and stop buying anything that’s not that!
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.
Debbie, I like that you are so honest about your journey and feelings, and it has encouraged me to do the same. I was looking forward to seeing what outfits you would post this week, and agree with you about the grey skirt length and fit– too much skirt that detracts from the overall look.
It is interesting to me how sometimes we find ourselves going into a profession that challenges us on a very personal level, as though to conquer our fears and work through to a solution. In my own case, I became an illustrator and graphic designer, yet my vision has always been my Achilles heel. While I can see very nuanced color (my doctor told me upon examination of my eye interior that I have about 30% more rods and cones than average), I have severe astigmatism. Without corrective glasses, I see the world in double and sometimes triple images. I always joke that “I can’t see, so I became a graphic artist.” I think that by using our perceived weaknesses as a tool for challenging ourselves that we reach our highest potential and can influence others in a positive way, as you are doing.
Deborah, Thanks for being so open and honest in your comments. Your feedback really adds to the content, as you offer another perspective. I do think that people often choose professions which relate to their past or present personal challenges. I know that when I first decided to major in psychology in college, it was because I had struggled a lot myself with depression and eating disorders and wanted to help others with those and similar issues. The styling business evolved from my own personal style and body image challenges.
It sounds like you have done very well in overcoming your vision issues and I applaud you for those triumphs as well as you openness in sharing them here!
Debbie – GOOD FOR YOU to hang in there, even when you were thinking about giving up the challenge. It’s hard to stick with something when you’re just not sure where it’s heading – when it seems to be heading in so many different directions! Opening so many doors to new ideas! I give you ENORMOUS credit for staying with it all – even in this time of personal change. Don’t be discouraged about supposed “shopping mistakes” from the past. You don’t live there anymore. Clothing is so … so … intrinsic to the way we see ourselves. And you have had the courage to look that situation right in the eye and take big steps towards making it your friend and not your enemy. You go, girl!!
Mary Ann, Thanks so much for your kind words! They are much appreciated. My post tomorrow relates to the shopping mistakes, my feelings about them, and how I’ve chosen to move forward.
I definitely plan to stick with the Project 333 challenge, but I want to be as open and honest as possible about what I’m feeling. I’m sure others who take on Project 333 or other challenges also have doubts and fears. If I can help give voice to these feelings and validate them, I’m all for that. I will likely still experience doubts, but I will keep going, as I feel there will be a lot of growth in the process.
Dear Debbie, I hope very much that you continue on this journey. You are making me think about my problems with my wardrobe. I am not a shopaholic, but order much, then return almost all of it. I too cannot find many ten’s they just don’ t seem to be out there, here in Scotland. I am getting older and its so difficult. I think your photographs are lovely, in my humble opinion I think you have looked very together and charming as the weeks of Project 333 pass. Please keep writing you have helped me very much. Jean.
Jean, Thank you for your kind words and compliments. I’m so happy my writing has helped you and I appreciate your reaching out to tell me so! I will not give up on the Project 333 challenge or my recovering shopaholic journey. I’m in for the long haul, as the alternative is just not acceptable.
As you’ve probably read (see “The Serial Return Phenomenon” if you haven’t already read it), I’ve struggled a lot with returns, too. It can definitely be difficult to find appropriate and flattering clothes as we get older. Manufacturers tend to gear clothing toward the young. None of us want to dress like “old ladies,” either, but navigating the boundaries can be challenging. It takes work, but it’s worth it. I have to remember that, bite the bullet, and find some new pants! Not fun, but it makes a big difference.
Keep going Debbie- the progress that you have made in such a short time alludes to the fact that this is a journey you very much need. Your outfits look great as do you ( and yes- we are our own worst enemy when it comes to truly seeing ourselves physically/esp. those of us with eating disorders). I think that if it were me- I would not yet shop for anything. Its too early yet in the game ( but I still maintain when the time comes , the ankle pant in a slimmer version through the hips & thighs aka straight rather than the pants you have,suit you and your frame to a tee& look amazing with flats and the tops&cardigans(you may want to later purchase a cardigan or 2 in a shorter style which again would suit you perfectly ) you have/again though I will state not the crop version which are the 26 or 27 inch length but the 28 to 29 inch). You have amazing long legs and a slender frame that are made for them.
Perhaps you will have to examine the reasons behind your question about if you should shop now or wait till the end? Are you feeling that you don’t have enough clothes at this moment with the majority out of commission, are you bored with what you have chosen, are you perhaps realizing that what you have chosen isn’t the image or style you want as you move through the project or is it all the reasons and more?
Keep going- you are on the right track and I have absolutely no doubt that at the end of this , the journey will have not been in vain
ABgurl, Thank you so much for acknowledging my progress. I also appreciate your pants suggestions. I will soon dedicate a day to shopping for pants and will try on LOTS of pants, even ones I wouldn’t normally look at. We never know what might work and I know I have some “blinders” on when it comes to my lower half. It’s extra hard for me because I’m so tall and often need tall sizes or long lengths and most pants are only in regular lengths (and maybe petites). But hard does not mean impossible.
I like your questions related to shopping. I will entertain them and may even turn my answers into a future post. Another reader asked me why I was still shopping for more when I still have things in my wardrobe for which a decision has yet to be made. I still have that in the queue for a post, but perhaps I will combine that with your questions. All excellent food for thought!
Thanks for sharing! I like that your outfits look simple and put together.
Although I am a professional organizer, I am still only pondering Project 333.
Thanks for the inspiration!
Carolyn, Thanks for your comment and compliment! I highly recommend Project 333 (or a similar challenge), as it really makes you think. After only a month, I’ve learned a lot about myself and my wardrobe. If nothing else, I realize I don’t need nearly as many clothes as I had before! I often feel like 33 isn’t enough, but I know that for sure I don’t need 300!
Great insights after the first month. I often take outfit photos, even if the only person that sees them, is me. I find it helpful because the camera does not lie for fit, color flattery, and overall outfit proportion. For some reason, outfit photos have a level of objectivity that I don’t seem to get from looking in the mirror. (and store mirrors are the worst, don’t even get me started on that rant.)
I agree that outfit photos can be very helpful. I take them often (or have my husband take them) and usually keep them just for myself. Sharing them during Project 333 was quite nerve-wracking, especially when some of them were cringe-inducing. I sometimes wonder, “Did I really think that looked good enough to leave the house in?” But, live and learn. No one will really remember our sartorial faux pas (unless we wore a swan dress to the Oscars like Bjork did!).