Project 333 Week Eight Update

I have now completed almost two months of Project 333.  Amazingly, I continue to learn more and more about my wardrobe and myself as I navigate this challenge.  As those who have been following my journey know, it’s really been a roller coaster ride for me. Case in point… While week seven was quite easy and smooth-sailing, week eight had me feeling confronted at times.

I sometimes wonder if would have stayed the course with the challenge if I were not blogging about it.  While I hope I would have honored my commitment to myself in any event, it definitely helps to have a group of readers who are routing for me to succeed.  Knowing I’ll be writing about my experience also helps me to think more deeply about what I’m learning and pushes me to find wins to report even in the more difficult weeks.

Wins for Week Eight

While I had to wrack my brain a bit more this week to find the positives, I do have some wins to report.

Still no shopping!

I continue to honor my promise to you (and to myself) not to shop at all during the month of May.  I have to admit that I found it more challenging this past week, as notifications of Memorial Day sales were everywhere!  Every time I looked at my television, email, or Facebook page, I saw yet another notice of “amazing deals” to be found in stores over this holiday weekend.

I had to harness all of the willpower within me to resist temptation this week, especially for the all-too-easy online shopping. But I’m proud to report that I did it!  I’m pretty much taking it one day at a time at this point and reminding myself that May is almost over.

I really want to shop, but I know that it’s more due to the reasons I outlined in “The Reasons We Shop Too Much(mainly boredom, avoidance, and anxiety) than from a genuine need for something new.  In my heart, I know that buying new clothes or shoes won’t cure my inner turmoil, but rationality doesn’t always quell my hunger to shop.  I just hope that as I continue to explore my internal motivations and take on challenges like Project 333, my desire to buy will decrease.

Is the thrill gone?

Saturday surprised me, however.  That day, I took my recent wardrobe cast-offs to the local consignment store.  As per usual, I had to wait fifteen to twenty minutes for the staff to go through my items to decide which pieces to take.  While I waited, I browsed the shop a bit.  Business was hopping and many women were frantically perusing the racks.  I saw the fervor in many of their eyes and the hurried, frenzied way in which they moved reminded me of how I behaved during previous visits to that store.

Meanwhile, I noticed a shift in myself. I’m not sure how much of my change was due to my May shopping hiatus and my general feeling of malaise on Saturday, but I was not all that tempted to look through what the shop had to offer, let alone buy anything.  I browsed through a few racks, but not very much caught my eye.

I wondered if perhaps the spell had been broken.  Was I no longer tantalized by the hunt for consignment “diamonds in the rough,” or was the mere knowledge that I couldn’t buy quelling my enthusiasm?  Time will tell, I guess, but I do count my Saturday consignment store experience in the win column for the week.

Scarf love

During my Project 333 stint, I have rediscovered my love of scarves.  I have quite a large scarf collection but hadn’t been wearing them much over the past year or two.  Instead, I’ve been relying more on prints, patterns, and layering as means for varying my look.  However, my limited Project 333 wardrobe has led me to turn more to scarves to mix things up a bit.

I’m enjoying rediscovering my scarves over the weeks of Project 333.  This past week, I included scarves in three of my outfits.  While I feel the third look fell a bit flat (and the scarf may hit the donation bag), I really liked the first two scarf outfits.  I believe that the scarves raise my “uniform” of pants, knit top, and open cardigan up a notch to create a more stylish ensemble.

My next challenge with scarves is to learn new ways of tying them.  I tend to use the same few tying methods over and over again, but I’d like to discover alternative ways to wear this versatile accessory.  I found a few fun links which I’m sharing here for my fellow scarf enthusiasts:

Challenges from Week Eight

And then there were the challenges… Two of my week eight challenges have been mentioned before, so I’ll keep those rants brief.  My third difficulty is not new to me, but I don’t believe I’ve broached this embarrassing subject before on the blog.  I’m sure some of you can relate, so I’d appreciate any tips or words of wisdom you can provide.

This again?

I continue to experience boredom with my lack of garment choices during Project 333.  In particular, I really wish I had more tops to choose from.  If I do Project 333 again, I will likely include more tops and fewer jackets and cardigans within my capsule. I wanted to add more variety to the mix through layering, but in doing so, I chose fewer and less exciting tops, something I now consider a mistake.   I feel like I’m suffering from basic knit overload and sometimes it’s not very fun!

“May Gray” a.k.a. When Will Summer Arrive?

It just hasn’t been very warm in the coastal area of San Diego where I live.  I know some of you live in bitterly cold regions and may feel tempted to play the world’s tiniest violins in my honor, so I’ll refrain from any heavy complaints.  Suffice it to say that I should have planned better when selecting my Project 333 wardrobe. I’ve lived here for eleven years now, so I should know that our warm weather doesn’t really arrive until late June or even July.  More long-sleeved tops should have made their way into my capsule and fewer tanks, skirts, and the like.

The Dreaded Water Retention

As I become “more mature” (my mom’s term for aging…), I’ve been experiencing more frequent water retention and weight fluctuations.   I’m not just talking about the weight gain that accompanies the monthly (or in my case, every 21 to 25 days) nemesis here.    That’s bad enough, but at least it’s to be expected.  I now seem to retain water for seemingly no reason at all!  I wore a pair of jeans yesterday (last outfit photo below) that were loose when I last wore them just over a week ago, but they were quite snug this time around.   That made for a less than comfortable day, much to my dismay.

When I have my full pants wardrobe to choose from (which, believe it or not, is not very extensive), I am better able to dress for unexpected water weight gain.  But with Project 333, my choices are more limited. I know I need more pants in general, Project 333 notwithstanding, so I’d love some suggestions for more forgiving choices.  Perhaps if I buy pants with more stretch, they will better accommodate the ups and downs of this “fun” (dripping with irony…) premenopausal time.  Maybe I need two sizes of pants, one for slim Debbie and the other for bloated Debbie.  I don’t know the answer, but I definitely don’t want to feel as uncomfortable as I did yesterday!

Week Eight Outfits

Here are three of my four outfits from last week.  One is shown with and without the jacket I wore as part of the ensemble.

Project 333 Week 8 - Outfits #1 and #2 Project 333 Week 8 - Outfit #3 (with and without jacket)

Outfit “Fussiness”

I liked the way the first three outfits looked (I already discussed the fourth look), but found the skirt outfit to be a bit “fussy.”  I had to continually adjust each piece (skirt waistband and seams, bottom of tank, collar of jacket) and that annoyed me considerably.  Of course, I was in a bad hormonally-charged mood that day anyway, but the outfit fussiness added insult to injury.   I liked the look, but I doubt I’ll wear those three pieces together again.  Perhaps I’ll wear one of my other black skirts instead next time around (I’m down to only six now instead of nine, but I should still have a good alternative in the mix!).

It can be difficult to discern the “wear-ability” of clothes when trying things on.  After all, one can only move around so much in a tiny fitting room.  I do my best to twist and turn to mimic my everyday movements, but the fussiness of some garments simply can’t be predicted.  Some pieces are fine when they’re brand new but stretch out after being worn, while others simply don’t wash well.  This is a frustrating part of shopping that cannot be fully mitigated.  Sometimes garments end up being failures despite our best efforts.  You win some, you lose some…

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 hope these links are useful to you!  If you have suggestions for links to add in future weeks, please send them to me and I will be happy to include them.

30 thoughts on “Project 333 Week Eight Update

  1. Good for you for not shopping this week! I have been painting my kitchen cabinets this week so the interest isn’t as great for me either. I am saving up for a much needed new kitchen countertop. I think that will give me greater joy than a bunch of new clothes that I don’t need. I often deal with weight fluctuation. I tend to wear tunics and legging or an a-dress on the heavier days. I also have a pair of jeans that are stretchy. It’s much nicer to wear your clothes when you are comfortable in them.

    • Tonya, Thanks for your comment and advice. You’re right in that the new kitchen countertop will likely bring you much more joy than a bunch of new clothes. Regarding the weight fluctuation, I think I need to invest in some stretchy clothes (especially pants) for my bloated days. I’ll be much more comfortable that way!

  2. Hi Debbie, I can’t remember whether you have already written about this but have you considered investing in a couple of really good quality adaptable dresses or even one that is really pretty but wearable during the day. I wore a summery dress with a cardigan this weekend and it really lifted my spirits and it was only two garments from my collection. I’ve been tracking how many items I have worn over the last 2 months and it’s close to 33. I have avoided boredom because I have not stuck to the rules of the project – instead I decided to use the first 3 months to work out what works for me and what doesn’t and it has meant that my discard pile has grown and grown but I’m left with the clothes that I love. I have quite a few gaps though – I need more cardigans and I want to chuck out my two denim skirts to replace it with one decent one – which has proved really difficult to find as I have a very specific design in mind. I have become much more exacting about what I want from each piece of clothing I own.

    By going completely cold turkey you have been very tough on yourself but I think the lessons you are learning are amazing. I am so pleased you didn’t succumb to shopping through May – that’s brilliant. I bought one pair of essential shoes for work and a charity shop beautiful versatile dress that I wore for a gig but will stay in my summer wardrobe as it is extremely comfortable and can be worn dressed up or down.

    Keep going you are doing really well, Louise

    • Louise, Thanks for your comments, praise, and suggestions. I do have some dresses and probably should have worn one on Sunday when I was bloated. I didn’t give myself enough time to get ready and ended up not being able to change before I had to leave. Big mistake! I plan to get a few more adaptable dresses as time goes on, as I know I would get a lot of wear from such items. It sounds like you’re doing great with your wardrobe! I started to determine what works for me in my wardrobe this year, but it’s taking me a while to figure it out. I’ve purged quite a few items and know more will leave as the months go on. I hope to have a much better wardrobe by the end of 2013 – and smaller, too!

  3. Debbie- scarves are the mainstay of my wardrobe uniform( I am known as the scarf lady at work) and when I broke my “shopping addiction”, I began to treat myself to scarves instead with my passion becoming Hermes scarves. Yes- they are unbelievably expensive but I limit myself to only those I absolutely love and fortunately Hermes who brings out a new selection 2xs a yr do not always bring out a pattern I am crazy about so that helps to limit how many I may buy per year(on average it is between 1 and 2 a yr). I also can justify the cost of them by searching for resale ones such as on Ebay as well as knowing that my dd loves them and they will be part of her inheritance when I leave and most importantly of all-I can justify a purchase since I no longer spend much on clothing knowing a scarf can bring a ton of mileage to the wardrobe items I have. Anyway point of this post is you mention learning how to tie your scarves in different manners to give them more mileage and produce differing looks and here is an amazing blog that happens to meet this exact challenge- just google: Maitai hermes. She is a Hermes scarf nut and her blog on how to use scarves is amazing but you don’t need to use Hermes scarves exclusively ( For those who don’t know- she is (Lady)Tania nee Brueckman Dundas who lives in France and is the wife of Lord David Dundas- he of the 70s one hit wonder”I put my Ole Blue Jeans on” song). While she has in the last few years altered her blog to become commercial as in selling certain items like scarf rings .fur collars to wear your scarves with,etc- it is the videos and pics with explanations on how to maximize your scarf wearability that remains salient.
    Check it out- I think it is exactly what you are looking for.

    • Abgurl, Thanks so much for the suggestion! Here is the link for others who might be interested: She has lots of great scarf-tying tutorials that I look forward to watching soon. I think it’s great that you’re treating yourself to Hermes scarves and that they have become your signature pieces. You seem to have learned the value of quality over quantity. I’m still learning, but I’m getting there… Thanks for your continued encouragement!

  4. I have done ‘no shopping’ months in the past and it is true, you really do lose the urge to shop after a while. Unfortunately, something has always triggered my spending again and the whole cycle starts up!
    Thanks for recommending the book ‘Spent’ – I am reading it at the moment and it is incredibly insightful.

    • I’m the same way. My no shopping determination wanes after a few months and I get back on the cycle again. Even though I’ve been aware of the root problems that led to my current shopping addiction, I still have phases where I’m back to where I started. It’s been a difficult journey and sometimes it’s better than before and sometimes it’s worse. I think every type of addiction has similar cycles. For me, I’ve accepted the fact that this will probably continue to happen unless I live in an ashram. I do strive to recognise every time I go through a bad phase and keep my impluses under control. Realistically, that’s all I can do and hope each time improves a little bit more.

      • Wendy, I always identify so much with what you write. Like you, I’m striving to just improve a bit more and more as time goes on. I realize that I may continue to struggle with shopping, much as my eating disorder and body image issues have continued to plague me. But those issues have subsided and impacted my life less and less over time and I hope the same will be true with the shopping!

    • Mrs. Madrigal, So glad you got “Spent” and are enjoying it! It is an excellent shopaholic memoir and I saw a lot of myself in the author’s story. You raise a good point about shopping hiatuses. It’s hard to stop the cycle for good. I’m actually scared to shop again now, but I know I can eventually learn to reach a “happy medium” of shopping when I need to but not overdoing it.

  5. I don’t really “shop” any more — I buy. This means I occasionally purchase a garment that is part of a long-term plan — i.e., replacing a basic but wilted white t-shirt with another. I go directly to the t-shirt section of the store, find my size, and then purchase. No browsing, no pawing through racks of clothes. Just like people on a diet are told to shop the perimeter of the store (produce, dairy, etc.) I stay focused on my planned purchase. I work in retail and see people combing sales racks looking for “bargains” and buying a mishmash of clothing. Even with my employee discount I am seldom tempted to “shop.” (Interesting to watch male customers and how they approach the business of buying a wardrobe. They come into the store, ask for a blue button-down dress shirt in XX size, take the unopened package to the sales counter, and purchase it. They don’t take 15-20 shirts of various colors, styles, and sizes into the dressing room to try them on. They have a laser-like focus on their needs and stick to a game plan.)

    • Dottie, Congrats on getting to a good place around shopping! It sounds like you’re doing very well. You raised some good points about how men usually shop. There ARE male shopaholics (I used to date one – that was a disaster!), but most men shop to meet genuine needs rather than due to emotional issues. I hope to shop like a guy someday…

  6. My shopping habits have changed too, and I’m glad to hear you mention having a similar shift. I am shopping more like the man customer that Dottie describes. I decide what I want to purchase before I ever get to the store, and if they don’t have it, I leave. I don’t browse over the deep discounted clearance racks at Macy’s anymore looking for JNY separates, etc! It just seems kind of boring now that I am on a track.

    However, as I am continuing to cull through my closet, I find that some favorite items are looking a little tired, so I am shopping to replace and update. A few times, I have been able to replace two garments with one multitasking garment (such as replacing a cardigan/tee combo with a single top), so while I have made several purchases in recent weeks, I have sent more items to the consignment and thrift store, and my overall number of garments is continuing to go down.

    Debbie, when I look at your outfits, it seems you need more bottoms rather than more tops. I think if you got another pair of pants in a different color, that your tops and cardigans would make new combinations with, and you wouldn’t feel like you don’t have enough tops.

    • Deby, Congrats on all of the great progess you’ve made around shopping and your wardrobe! You’re right that I need more bottoms than tops. I have plenty of tops but wish I had more in my Project 333 capsule. In general, though, I definitely need more bottoms, especially pants. I am soon going to make a targeted effort to find more pants, even though I HATE shopping for pants and don’t think it’s fun at all. I know I have to bite the bullet, though, as having better pants will lead me to be much happier with my wardrobe overall.

  7. Good post Debbie!
    When I’m staying well within the guidelines of Project 333 I also sometimes crave a bit more variety. I also view a scarf, or a pair of wonderful earrings, or a beautifully hand knit sweater – as wearable art. And I feel we shouldn’t be too hard on ourselves on those days when we feel we want just a little something extra with a bit more color or texture than what is included in our 33 capsule. So for this reason I believe in rotating an item in when I feel the call. I have a couple of favorite things that I never count as part of my 33, and are kept in reserve, and yet I will always seek one of these items out when I need to be perked up a bit.

    • Terra, I agree with you that accessories (and sometimes clothes, too) are really “wearable art.” I enjoy expressing myself through what I wear. Your idea of having a few “reserve items” is a really good one. Perhaps I will allow myself to cycle another piece or two in during June if I get really bored. Thanks for your suggestions!

  8. I too have experienced the bloating problem you mentioned. Mine turned out to be due to food sensitivities and other allergies. I don’t know if this might be relevant in your case. As for clothes I did keep a couple of things in a bigger size and I also relied heavily on very forgiving stretch pants. They were comfortable but still quite tailored looking – navy pinstripe with skinny legs. I wore them with tunic tops and a scarf. In an emergency you could use an elastic waistband extender and cover it with a long top.

    • Marion, Thanks so much for your suggestions! I think my bloating is due to hormones, but other things may also be at play. I need to investigate further at some point. For now, though, I like your ideas for comfortable clothes to wear during my bloated times. I usually opt for pants that are quite fitted, but that doesn’t always serve me. Having a few looser or stretchier pieces will be helpful and much more comfortable!

  9. Congratulations Debbie for not shopping at all in May – and the consignment store was a big test. It just might be that the thrill has gone!
    I agree that if an outfit needs adjusting and is “fussy” in any way it is unlikely to be a keeper although it’s not something that is easily discernable in a fitting room. I have had problems with finding a white shirt that feels comfortable and doesn’t need adjusting after a short time. At least you have some other black skirts to wear 🙂

    • Megan, Thanks for the kudos on my not shopping! We’ll see about the consignment store. I definitely plan to shop smarter in such settings in the future. I have trouble with white shirts, too. A white button-down shirt is often listed as a “must have” in many style books, but I haven’t been able to find one that works for me yet. Regarding the black skirts, when I find a really good one, I might let go of the whole lot! I keep buying mediocre ones, but no more!

  10. Hey Debbie, thank you so much for linking to my post! It made my day!

    Firstly, super well done for continuing the shopping hiatus! I can’t really imagine how hard it is to go cold turkey like that, even though I have my own experiences of compulsive behaviour.

    I get bloated too, but for different reasons. I have two pairs of black work trousers, one pair is high waisted and on the snug side, the other allows me room to grow a bit, and I can wear them with/without belts. I say choose stretchy fabrics perhaps. I’ve just been given a lovely skirt with “smocking” around the waist by my mum, a more flattering version of an elasticated waist. Also, like the others say, leggings and tunics. I find the combination super comfortable when I’m having a bloated day.

    I was bored during Season 1 of P333, but it gradually went away. Now I’m so used to having limited choice, that I actually love having fewer items in the wardrobe. I don’t think I could go back to the rammed state it was in before! 🙂

    Keep up the awesome work, love reading your updates on the challenge! 🙂

    • Linda, I was happy to link to your post! I want people to read other perspectives on Project 333, as others have wisdom I don’t on the topic. You are farther along in your journey and have lots of information to share. Thanks for your suggestions and encouragement. Your new skirt sounds very nice. I need to invest in some good comfortable clothes, but as always, I have to be careful not to buy too much!

  11. Amen to the when is summer ever going to get here!?! I have 3 pair of shorts. Honestly, I’m not sure why I have so many.

    • I don’t have ANY shorts, but my husband was recently asking why not. I told him it doesn’t get that warm here and I like to wear dresses and skirts instead. But I can see how having a pair or two of shorts (but maybe not 3) here could be useful.

  12. Hi Debbie!

    I agree that wrap dress, tunic, and/or leggings are good and versatile additions to consider for those “WTF why won’t my pants fit?!?” days. I’m not a huge fan of pants anyway. I just about live in my black maxi skirt — so comfy and can be easily dressed up or down. And in the summer capri leggings and a dress is my unofficial uniform.
    Even though you are experiencing challenges I think you can consider the entire project a huge success because you are becoming more conscious and aware of your relationship to clothes and the role they play in your life. Keep up the good (difficult) work!

    • Your summer “uniform” seems like it would work well for me and my lifestyle, too. Santa Cruz and San Diego aren’t that different in terms of weather and vibe, actually. I wear dresses and skirts all the time when it’s warm out but not so much when it’s cooler. I haven’t gotten into leggings or tights, but perhaps I should give them a try. Thanks for your kind words re: my Project 333 experience. I do feel it’s helped me a lot so far. I’m definitely going to keep challenging myself in the coming months. I may come up with some new challenges, but the challenges will continue, as that is how we grow the most!

  13. Scarves is my favorite way to jazz up an outfit, and they pack easily too. The first scarf with the maroon is quite lovely. I am always cold, so I have learned to purchase very few pieces that cannot layer easily. I’ve wasted plenty of money until I realized that many orphan items were pieces that cannot layer with my blazers or cardigans.

    • Thanks! I love my scarves, although I got rid of the one in the last outfit (looked too cheap and “ratty” – the coat is gone now, too). I’m always cold, too, and need to work more on the layering. I don’t live where it’s really cold, but I’m always the one in a jacket when others are wearing sleeveless tops.

      • We had a very cold winter this year, and my thermals got quite a workout. I sport them daily in the winter underneath everything. Cuddl Duds and Uniqlo heattech are my favorite because they are thin and layer easily. In warmer months, I’ve been known to purchase thermal tank tops, to get a little extra warmth that no one else can see. Perhaps those could work for you too.

      • I will keep Cuddl Duds and Uniqlo heattech in mind, Lisa. It doesn’t get all that cold where I live, but I tend to feel the cold much more than others. Plus I often travel to see family in cold places and I freeze my butt off there. Before my next trip to cold parts (and before next December), I’m going to add some thermals to my closet. Many of my tops are pretty fitted, but it sounds as if the thermals you mentioned would probably still work for me.

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