April Project 333 Summary & Accountability Update

For those who are new to my blog, I’ve committed to posting monthly accountability summaries in which I share what came into my wardrobe, what left, and how well I adhered to my budget and other shopping-related rules.  Knowing I will have to share this information with my readers every month helps to keep me on track.  As I’m doing Project 333 during April, May, and June, I’ll also include a summary for that challenge in my accountability updates for those months.

NOTE:  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.

Project 333 Summary

Since many of my readers found me via Project 333 and I know interest for that topic is high, I’ll start with the summary for my first month of the challenge.  Here are my numbers in a nutshell (click here for photos of my Project 333 garments):

  • Number of Garments Worn:  32
  • Garments Worn 4 Times:  1  (black jeans)
  • Garments Worn 3 Times:   4  (navy pants, Cabi jeans, burgundy cardigan, grey cardigan)
  • Garments Worn Twice:   9
  • Garments Worn Once:  18
  • Garments Not Worn:  1  (white embellished tank)

Shoes and Accessories Summary

As most of you know, I did not include shoes and accessories within my 33 items, but I did agree to track my wearing of those items.  I will continue to track the shoes and accessories I wear during May and June.   We’ll see how many new pieces I reach for over the new two months.  At the end of June, I will aim to donate or consign part of my shoe and jewelry collection based upon what I love and wear.

Below are the numbers and photos for each category.

Shoes Worn:  11  (one pair worn 4 times, one pair 3 times, four pairs twice, others once)

Shoes Worn - April 2013

Earrings Worn:  13  (one pair worn 4 times, 3 pairs worn twice, the rest once)

Earrings Worn - April 2013

Watches Worn:  2  (one 11 times, the other 8 times)
Bracelets Worn:  6  (two worn 5 times, one worn 4 times, one worn twice, the rest once)

Watches and Bracelets Worn - April 2013

Necklaces Worn:  4  (all worn once)

Necklaces Worn - April 2013

Scarves Worn: 5  (all worn once)

Scarves Worn - April 2013

Purses Used:  Just One!  (Brighton Pewter Andie Bag)

Purse Carried - April 2013

I also wore three rings every day, but I do not have a photo of these items (will include next month).

What Left My Closet

Let’s start with the best news… I was able to purge 25 items from my wardrobe in April!  Many of these pieces were “wardrobe benchwarmers” which I didn’t love, weren’t being worn, and were just taking up valuable real estate in my closet.  Good riddance, I say!  About half of the items were placed on consignment and the others were donated to charity.  In any event, I hope they will bring the joy to other women that they failed to bring to me.

Here’s a snapshot view of the garments which left my closet during April:

Left My Closet in April 2013

What Came Into My Closet

Here’s where I have a bit of “egg on my face,” so to speak.  Six new items entered my closet during April, five garments and one pair of shoes.  Yes, I broke the rules a bit this past month…  Three of the new garments are replacements for staple items (okay as per my rules), but two were extras.

Since I eliminated so many pieces in April, I won’t be too hard on myself, but I do need to be honest and stay mindful of my goal to cultivate a more minimalist wardrobe.  Continuing to buy a lot of new items won’t help me reach that goal!

Here’s what I bought during April and why, followed by a composite photo of the six new pieces:

  1. Cobalt/blue striped knit blazer (impulse item bought on sale at Nordstrom, but I really like it and look forward to wearing after Project 333!)
  2. Green scoop-neck t-shirt (staple item, replacement for similar t-shirt recently consigned)
  3. Metallic t-strap sandals (accessory buy of the month, have already worn twice, will likely be an “all-star” item)
  4. Black/white striped tank (bought as potential replacement for similar tank in Project 333 capsule, now plan to swap out and donate existing tank)
  5. Black linen Ralph Lauren skirt (found at resale shop, bought because it fit well and seemed to be of good quality)
  6. Black knit straight skirt (also found at resale shop, bought as replacement for current skirt that is too thin and flimsy)

New Items - April 2013

Too Many Black Skirts

I have too many black skirts!  I keep buying new ones because the ones I have are not all that great.  I purged three sub-standard black skirts from my closet this year, but then I brought two new ones in (the proverbial three steps forward, two steps back…).  Yes, I feel the new ones represent a vast improvement, but how many black skirts does one woman need?  I just counted and I have nine!

Clearly, nine black skirts is at least a few too many.  After Project 333 is over and I re-evaluate my full wardrobe, I commit to letting go of at least four more black skirts.  While five may still be more than I need, it’s a definite step in the right direction.

April Budget Report

My monthly budget for clothing, shoes, accessories, and alterations is $250.  I’m still struggling to stay within that parameter, but I’m doing far better in sticking to my budget than I have in the past ten years.  During April, I spent $293.25, which means I exceeded my budget by $43.25.

In addition to purchasing the items outlined above, I’ve been upgrading my loungewear and workout wear over the past two months.  I haven’t included those types of items in my overall closet count, but I know I have eliminated more of these pieces this year than I’ve brought in.  Since I spend so much of my time in such garments, I decided it was high time I paid more attention to these wardrobe categories when shopping. I feel much better about myself now when at the gym, out on walks in the neighborhood, or sitting in front of my computer.

So far this year, I’ve spent $1,111.69 on clothing and related items.  I’ve overspent my budget by $111.69 at this point, so I really need to catch up this month. Let’s see if I can end the month of May at or below $138.31 so I can get back on track.  That’s my goal, so I’m putting it out there in black and white!

In Closing

It’s very time-consuming to do all of the tracking I’m doing, but it’s definitely worth it!  Without the numbers staring me in the face, I tend to misjudge what I wear and how often I wear it.  Even with Project 333 this past month, I thought I wore the pieces more often, but the numbers don’t lie.

When I originally decided to track what I wear, I thought I would just do it for the year of 2011, but it’s now my third year of tracking and I don’t see myself stopping anytime soon.  As I think about it now, I will continue to track what I wear until I have no more “wardrobe benchwarmers” and everything in my closet is a “wardrobe all-star.”

26 thoughts on “April Project 333 Summary & Accountability Update

  1. I am in awe how organized you are concerning the clothes you buy, have, and wear. But, if I may play devil’s advocate here for a moment, would it not be better to purchase one truly fine item instead of six if the goal is to move to a smaller but more functional wardrobe? I have a hard time wrapping my head around having nine black skirts.

    • Cornelia, You are so right! It would definitely be better to buy fewer items of higher quality and I am working toward that goal. I slipped up this past month, which is why I made the “egg on my face” comment. The fact that I have nine black skirts is pretty ridiculous, isn’t it? I think that two or three would be enough, allowing for varying styles. Fortunately, I don’t have too many other multiples like this, but I decided to own up to the skirts so I’ll push myself to make a change.

      • I certainly didn’t mean to criticize you. If anything, I have great respect for you that you put yourself out here for all of us to follow along. Lord knows, I have made more than a few unneccesary clothes purchases in my time. Also, I am about ten years older than you, so ‘been there, done that’. Have a nice weekend.

      • Cornelia, I took no offense in what you wrote. Your comment was right on! Sometimes we know the right thing to do, but we don’t always do it. That’s part of my reason for blogging. If I didn’t know I’d have to cop to my purchases here, I might have bought 16 items instead of 6! I look forward to being in your shoes and not making so many shopping mistakes. I know I’ll get there, but I’m sure there will be ups and downs along the way… I wish you a nice weekend, too!

  2. Hi Debbie! I really enjoy reading your blog and am following your Project 333 journey with great interest. Even though here in Sydney Australia we have the opposite season to you it’s the idea behind it that appeals. The nine black skirts is something I can relate to – I’ve managed to get down to five 🙂
    At the moment I’m doing the reverse hanger system of discovering what I’m not wearing – I had quite a few benchwarmers!

    • Megan, Wonderful to have readers in Australia. Can’t wait to visit your beautiful country! Congrats on paring down your black skirts! I will be down to five or less by the end of the year (please call me on it if I’m not, okay?).

      Isn’t the reverse hanger system great? That was my first step toward recovery, as I was able to see how little I wore my clothes. Even so, I thought I was doing better, but then I had 146 benchwarmers last year! I knew I needed to take some drastic steps… I’m glad I decided to take on Project 333, even though it is challenging for me.

      Here’s to fewer benchwarmers for both of us moving forward!

      • Debbie I read in one of your earlier posts about your wish to travel to Australia so that is certainly a goal I’d like to see you achieve:)
        Although I’ve managed to reduce the number of clothes I have in my closet I struggle with being attracted to items that no longer fit my lifestyle (I’m retired). Also like San Diego we are quite casual here in Sydney and although my husband and I go often to the theatre and ballet I don’t get so dressed up anymore. (Refuse to wear jeans though!)

      • Megan, We definitely plan to make it to Australia sometime soon! I’ve seen so many beautiful photos and have heard great things.

        I struggle with the lifestyle issue a lot, too. I’m attracted to fancier clothes than I really need and although I love high heels, I can’t walk very far in them. It’s good you don’t wear jeans to the theater and the ballet. I see that a lot here, sadly. I wish dressing up would become more popular again… You’ve seen my outfits on the blog and they are quite casual, but I still get asked why I’m so dressed up. Anything beyond jeans and flip-flops is considered “dressy” here (only slightly kidding…).

    • Hi Carolyn, A few people have asked about this, so I will address it soon in a post. For now, though, you can read about my tracking method on my business site: http://debbieroes.com/power-of-tracking-your-wardrobe/

      Since I see you’re a professional organizer, I welcome any suggestions you have for how I can better do my wardrobe tracking. Thanks for your interest in my blog!

      • Thanks! I just started tracking my wardrobe, but found it a bit tedious and gave up after a few days. The checklist looks easy.

      • Carolyn, Glad you found my wardrobe tracking tips helpful! My husband gets much of the credit, as he came up with some of the best tips… Best wishes to you with tracking your clothes. I hope you learn as much through the process as I have!

      • As they say in business school…you can only manage what you measure!

        Being an organizer and a natural minimalist, my wardrobe is rather small. However, there are still lots of things from my corporate days that I rarely (if ever) wear. And I just want to to look better when I go out and about.

      • Carolyn, I like the quote you mentioned (“you can only manage what you measure!”). I think I’ll use it!

        I commend you for having a small wardrobe. I wish I did, but I know I’ll get there. Of course, I could just toss almost everything, but I want to be a bit more prudent about it. I think most people keep some things they don’t wear all that often. As long as one is deliberate with such things, I think it’s okay. But to keep things you haven’t considered and evaluated adds to clutter and can obscure some of the good stuff that’s in there!

  3. Right now I’m doing the “reverse hanger” system to see what I do not wear in the next month. Question: Do you think you could go a month without shopping? I dare ya! 😉

    • Daphne, I think you’ll learn a lot about what you do and don’t wear from doing the “reverse hanger” method. I’ve been using it for a few years and it’s really helped me to see that I have too much stuff! It was the first step in the thought process that ultimately led to this blog.

      I have gone for months at a time without shopping in the past, but that was back when my over-shopping used to put me into debt. I would stop shopping until my credit cards were paid off and then immediately start up again. It was a vicious cycle! I’m sure I could go without shopping for a month now, but I haven’t tried it in a long time. Others have made similar suggestions (including my husband). The thought scares me, so that probably means I need to do it! Will comment on this in a post soon and let you know what I plan to do.

      Thanks for your interest in my blog. Good luck with the hanger system!

  4. Nine black skirts! Well, it’s a process. Your documentation is awesome, and I enjoy reading your updates. Love that you’re doing resale items. I have a few key pieces that are from resale. I’m not doing 333 yet, but am working my own comfortable version of capsule wardrobe dressing. So inspiring. Thanks.

    • Lisa, Welcome! Glad you like my blog and are being inspired by it. Project 333 is definitely challenging and it is confronting me in various ways (more in my next update), but overall I’m glad I’m doing it. Yes, the nine black skirt situation is pretty ridiculous. More about that soon, too, as I think it bears some examination.

      Glad to have you as a reader. Best of luck with your capsule wardrobe. Would love to hear more about it if/when you feel comfortable sharing.

  5. I used to struggle with the black skirt thing but with me it was white shirts. I think what happens is you don’t really need anything but the shopping urge hits and you figure, hey I could always use another . . . fill in your weakness here. You tell yourself it’s a basic that goes with anything and forget that you have it covered. What I found helped was to shop less in the first place and then buy more expensive items. If I spend more I’m much more likely to step back and ask if I really need it. It’s definitely a journey and I think you are making good progress already. good luck!

    • Marion, Thanks for your comment and for sharing some of your experiences. I’ve been thinking about my nice black skirts and I believe I have so many because none of them are quite right. I settled instead of waiting for the right black skirt, but I actually don’t even trust myself to know what that right black skirt is! I’ve gotten caught up in so much “noise” brought on by shopping so much, and my judgment has become very clouded.

      I think what worked for you is what I need to do – shop less and buy more expensive items. Perhaps a $100 black skirt would be one I loved, not the inexpensive sale or consignment pieces I’ve been buying. Thanks for acknowledging my progress! It feels like one step forward and one step back sometimes, but I will continue to soldier on. It’s definitely helping to write about my process and to get feedback and insight from others!

  6. Have you considered the “one in, one out” theory? For every new purchase, an older more neglected item must go. As a Professional Organizer, I often persuade my clients to “use it, or lose it.” There is no real value in holding on to things “just in case,” or for the sake that “you might need it one day.” For the most part, we all favor the new things and the likelihood of wearing the oldie is generally a huge disappointment because not only have YOU changed ( & your lifestyle) but so has your body!
    A great technique for eliminating the overabundance is to sort “like with like.” Once you see the same items together, the older (perhaps ripped or torn) items will pale in comparison. This will also raise the question, “how many black tops are too many?” Try to set limits. If you must buy another fabulous black top, consider purging the less fabulous one. This exercise is especially useful to analyze what you consistently over-acquire; if it’s red dresses, black blazers, silver jewelry, or leopard shoes, your inventory will reflect your soft spots. Here’s the thing…there are endless things to buy, but there is not endless space. You will eventually run out of room. If you evaluate honestly, you can let things go and pass it on to others less fortunate. Having a closet full of things you love and wear is liberating!

    • Nancy, Thank you for sharing your excellent tips with me and my readers! I definitely plan to do “one in, one out” over the long term, but for this year it’s more like “one in, three out.” I have a lot of excess clothes to clear out! Pairing like with like is definitely helpful as well. I did that, but there was so much clutter in my closet that I couldn’t really see everything clearly. I was also blinded by my “need” to shop and keep acquiring more. Over the long term, though, your tips will definitely help to keep a wardrobe under better control. Thanks again!

  7. I presently have 6 black skirts in my entire wardrobe (winter + summer) because I like a variety of skirt silhouettes. I have 2 long narrow knit skirts for summer (one is plain, one has a subtle red pattern) and 1 wool jersey knit for winter, 1 knee length pencil skirt in wool gabardine for winter and 1 cotton for summer, and 1 black denim miniskirt for summer. Its easy to acquire a selection of the ubiquitous black skirt, depending on how you feel like dressing on a particular day. Before I purged 64% of my wardobe, I probably had more than 9 black skirts!

    To me dressing is an adventure even if you have culled back your wardrobe. In fact, now that I have fewer pieces to work with, its really much more fun and creative because I find I don’t fall back on predictable outfits as I did in the past.

    For me, the summer garment of excess is the knee length cotton print skirt worn with a solid color top. I am always falling in love with flirty print skirts, they are so effortless and easy to make outfits with. Because I am “top heavy” but have good legs, these kinds of skirts give me more balanced proportions, drawing your eye down past my chest! But I mindfully got rid of a lot of them in my recent purge though, and only kept the ones that are really “8’s”. And I am happy with having done that.

    I am not so interested in documenting how many times I have worn a particular garment. I evaluate my garments by how happy I feel wearing them, as in their comfort and apropriateness to my activity, whether I feel attractive in them, and whether they are playing well with other separates. To me, the number of times I wear a garment is not necessarily indicative of its value as a wardrobe player.

    For example, I have a pair of dark wash jeans I have worn rather frequently recently, and if I was to make a chart, it would appear that those jeans were among my favorite garments. But in reality, I am not particularly attached to those jeans. I wear them because they serve a purpose and they fit. I would give much higher marks to a really special sweater that I wore with the jeans, because the sweater is unique to my look even though I didn’t wear it as often. I don’t think statistics can tell a complete story all the time.

    • Deborah, As always, you make a lot of sense and I appreciate your sharing useful personal information with me and my readers. You definitely deserve commendation for purging 64% of your wardrobe! It sounds like you have things under much better control. As for black skirts, if they are all distinctive and you wear them all, it’s fine to have six – or even nine. In my case, I don’t wear most of them, so they will need to go!

      You raised a good point about number of wears not always being the best indicator of a garment’s place in a wardrobe. It’s true that we tend to wear our “staple” pieces more often. The things we wear the most aren’t always our favorites, but if we’re not wearing something at all, it’s probably NOT a favorite. Some truly special pieces aren’t worn all that often, but if they ARE special, they will get worn. I have hesitated to purge some unworn items from my wardrobe, so I placed them on a sort of “probation.” I aim to wear them over the next few months and may even place them in a more prominent space in my closet. Once I wear the item, I usually am better able to decide its best fate.

      Thanks for always adding a lot of value to the conversation!

  8. I am not a shopaholic, but I am doing the 333 project as well. I love it, it is so liberating:) I like owning less stuff and this project is great and actually do-able:) Good luck:)

    • Maria, Thanks for your comment! I love hearing from others who are doing Project 333. I have come to enjoy having less stuff, too. I’ve pared down a lot, but my closet is one of the last cluttered hold-outs. The project IS getting easier as time goes on, although I would approach the selection process a bit differently if I had it to do over again. If I decide to do it again, I will definitely apply what I’ve learned. Good luck to you, too!

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