Project 333 Week Nine Update

It’s time for another Project 333 update…  Nine weeks down, four to go!  During Week Nine, I wore six outfits, completed my May shopping hiatus, and delved back into the world of shopping (big surprise…).  In this post, I share my wins, challenges, outfit photos, and a few links to other bloggers who have written about the Project 333 challenge.

Wins for Week Nine

In short, the following are what I see as my wins for week nine:

  • More Outfits:  I “got dressed” on six of the seven days last week.  Included among these outfits are two skirt/dress outfits and lots of black, burgundy, and grey.  I also experimented with more advanced pattern mixing in my third outfit.  I’m trying new things to break up the boredom of dressing with only 33 garments.  I think the combination worked out okay…
  • No Shopping in May:  I successfully completed my challenge to not buy any new clothes, shoes, or accessories during the month of May.  In order to do so, I had to resist the temptation of the Nordstrom Half-Yearly Sale.  I’m proud of myself for seeing my shopping hiatus through and not giving in to the siren call of the sale!
  • Repeats are Okay:  When I was processing my week nine outfit photos, I noticed that I wore one of my cardigans and a pair of my jeans on two of the days.  I used to go out of my way not to do “repeats,” even if I didn’t think I’d see the same people on the day of the encore wearing.  This past week, I didn’t care.  I see this shift as progress.  I’m caring less about what others think and concentrating more on how I feel and what I want to wear.

Week Nine Challenges

I experienced fewer challenges this past week than during week eight, but there were still a few bumps in the road:

  • Quality Issues:  My olive and black striped t-shirt may be a “goner.”  It seems to have stretched out such that it now requires a lot of fussing and adjusting throughout the day.  I’ve noticed similar issues with my blue print and coral tees.  I think I used to wear my tops so infrequently that it would take me much longer to notice problems, but Project 333 is really pushing me to want to find higher quality tops that will stand the test of time.
  • Lack of Shopping Diversity:  I finally went back to the shops (more on this below) and found a lot of “sameness” among the stores’ offerings.  As one example, almost all pants are tapered and cropped (to that unflattering length a few inches above the ankle) and most jeans are either skinny or “boyfriend” styles.  I was hoping to find full-length pants (a “tall order” for me) that have a fair amount of stretch (I’m tired of uncomfortable pants!).  I suspect it may take me a while to find what I want and I may have to resort to buying online for a larger selection.
  • Lack of Self-Trust:   I don’t trust myself to buy the right things when I shop.  I’m great when I shop for other people, but I seem to make terrible choices when buying for myself.  I have a number of clothing ruts that I’m trying to break and I’m finding that old habits die hard.  I have to push myself to get out of my comfort zone and try other things besides what I’m most drawn to.  I still feel the pull toward the familiar and I’m feeling a lot of anxiety around breaking into new sartorial territory.
  • Continued Boredom:  I continue to feel bored with my Project 333 wardrobe capsule.  I’m sick to death of the open cardigans, but it’s too cold to just wear my t-shirts and tank tops by themselves.  I also feel bored with my t-shirts and wish I had more exciting short-sleeved tops to wear during the month of June.  The silver lining is that my shopping list is now more targeted and I plan to buy more non-knit tops and special styles moving forward.

Week Nine Outfits

Below are the six outfits I wore during week nine of Project 333.

Project 333 Week Nine - Outfits #1 and #2 Project 333 Week Nine - Outfits #3 and #4 Project 333 Week Nine - Outfits #5 and #6

Delving Back Into Shopping…

Following my May shopping hiatus, I didn’t wait long to venture back into the stores.  While I didn’t rush out to shop on the morning of June 1st, I did hit the shops on June 2nd (yesterday).  However, I didn’t just go back and shop “willy-nilly.”  I took a few moments to consult my shopping list, which I maintain and update regularly.  I wanted to remind myself of my priorities so I would be less likely to grab whatever caught my eye.

I also took a moment to think about the items I had bookmarked while browsing the Nordstrom Half-Yearly Sale online.  Surprisingly, out of the more than thirty items bookmarked, I only remembered two things, a jacket and a pair of shoes.  While I may still choose to buy the jacket and/or the shoes, I know I have stronger shopping priorities.  I don’t want to use my entire shopping budget for “fun purchases” and be left without the money to buy what I most need.

Adventures in Resale

My first stop was at the local resale shop where I had consigned many of my 2013 cast-offs.  Through the sales of my pieces, I had built up considerable credit at that store and was hoping to use it.   This store is so large that it often takes over an hour just to peruse their many racks of clothing.   The try-on and decision process often takes just as long or longer, so it’s not a quick place to shop.

As I browsed the racks of clothes, I asked myself, “Do I want to wear this tomorrow?”  If the answer was no, I didn’t even take the item with me to the fitting room.  When I was in the fitting room, I posed these additional questions regarding all pieces I considered buying:

  1. Do I love this item on me?
  2. Do I feel comfortable in it, both physically and emotionally?
  3. Do I already have something very similar in my closet?
  4. Do I see myself wearing this within the next week (i.e. does it fit my lifestyle)?
  5. Would I buy this at regular price?

Weeding Through Prospective Purchases

Asking these questions really helped me to weed through my prospective purchases.  Out of the 34 garments I tried on, I found only three which met my needs:

  • Short black and white polka-dot cardigan (to wear with skirts and dresses)
  • Long grey casual jacket
  • Orange print blouse

I also purchased several accessories, including a pair of Coach sunglasses that were still quite expensive at the resale price.  It has been years since I’ve purchased higher-end sunglasses and I loved this pair, so I decided to take the plunge.  Not buying tons of clothing pieces like I did in the past has made me more open to buying better shoes and accessories.

My remaining purchases at the consignment store were a pair of earrings and two necklaces (NOTE:  photos of my new items will appear in my June accountability post).  I exceeded my accumulated credit by approximately $50, mostly due to the sunglass purchase.  However, I still left the store feeling proud of myself, as I had maintained much higher standards for my purchases.

Retail Disappointment

Next I ventured over to the mall down the street.  I needed to return two jackets and hoped to potentially find some comfortable pants and perhaps a summer skirt or dress.  Unfortunately, I was running out of time after my lengthy resale shopping experience, so I couldn’t visit as many stores as I had hoped.

Sadly, the stores I did visit were devoid of variety, as I mentioned above.  I tried on probably 15 pairs of pants/jeans, but none of them worked for me.  While I can often order tall versions of store styles online, the cuts and styles I tried were not well-suited to my body type.  It seems that most pants these days are cut for women with narrower hips or who don’t have a large difference between their waist and hip measurements (my waist is 10-11 inches smaller than my hips).  I’m used to taking in the waist on my pants, but there are limits to what tailoring can do.

I didn’t fare much better with the skirt and dress search, but admittedly I didn’t try as many of those on.  I believe that with a bit more time and effort, that pursuit will yield fruit, but I’m not as confident about my pants hunt.  I will head back to the mall shortly and continue that search, leaving no retail stone unturned. I will visit stores that aren’t usually on my list and try on as many pants styles as possible.  After all, you never know where you’ll hit “pay dirt,” so to speak.  This type of shopping may not be fun, but it will be worth it if I find some new pants that work well for me.

I did manage to find a few more workout/walk/lounge t-shirts, so my mall visit wasn’t entirely fruitless.  I will finally be able to let go of all of my old, tired at-home t-shirts.   I believe I will address all of my previously neglected wardrobe areas by the end of this year.  After years of neglect, it feels good to pay attention to my loungewear, sleepwear, and lingerie.

Project 333 Growth and Learning

I continue to learn and grow through doing Project 333.  I noticed a difference in the way I approached shopping yesterday compared to how I’ve shopped in the past.  I was much more selective and my brain was running the show rather than my emotions.

When looking at clothing for sale, my lifestyle considerations took precedence over the “excitement factor” for the first time in ages.  I am also more willing to let go of existing wardrobe pieces that don’t work for me.  I now know that I don’t need a large wardrobe in order to meet my needs and dress well.

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.

Useful Links

In closing, I’ll leave you with a link to another blogger who has written about her Project 333 experience.  I hope you enjoy the words of wisdom from a fellow challenge participant.  If you have other links you’d like me to share, please send them my way.

20 thoughts on “Project 333 Week Nine Update

  1. You must feel good having made it through May without shopping! It sounds like you made some progress in how you were shopping. I’m glad to hear that you got a blouse like you were wanting. I’m still not buying anything. All of our extra money is going in the “countertop fund”. We picked out the kind we wanted and got pricing so I am still very motivated to stay the course. By the end of the week we’ll be 2/3 of the way there. Good luck staying focused on future shopping trips!

    • Thanks, Tonya! Yes, I’ve made progress, but I still have a long way to go. One day at a time… Good luck with your countertop fund! It’s nice to have something to look forward to like that.

  2. You are making great progress! I think you’ve faced really many temptations and have been able to resist them! I still think that as a reward for completing Project 333 you should either see an image consultant or a personal shopper (maybe a colleague whose taste and judgment you trust – you might be able to return the favor in some way). It’s so hard to really see ourselves – what we see is both clouded by feelings of shame and distorted by expectations and aspirations. That’s why so many of us struggle! Another person can sort out many issues in an hour or two, just like you can with your clients! She could edit your wardrobe, style looks on you, you could develop a shopping list, and then slowly find the right items. I’ve been there – I got stuck in the wrong rut on my own, seeing only a limited array of choices, and with help from other people got out of it and started seeing things from a new perspective.

    • I continue to give this idea some thought. I do think it would be valuable for me to shop with an expert, as I have a lot of “blind spots” related to my body and my wardrobe. I would love to have some help in breaking out of my ruts. I’ve made some good progress on my own (which is why I decided to help other people in a similar way), but I still feel a bit “stuck.” I’ve tried shopping with friends, but I think shopping with an expert is better. May opt to do this… If I do, I will definitely blog about it!

  3. I like your criteria of ‘do I want to wear this tomorrow?’. I will add it to another I use (which I can’t remember if I read here or another blog) which is to always wear a good outfit when shopping and to never buy anything that doesn’t look better than what you already have on. I feel sad you are bored with your 33 pieces. I am trying to remember if I felt the same when I first started project 333 – maybe. But I have done this now for over a year and a half and no longer feel that way – instead I sometimes feel sad at the end of my three months as I know some favorite pieces will ‘retire’ until another season. I also have made it a priority to feel happy when I open my closet- my clothes don’t just have to look good on me, but they have to look good hanging together. 🙂 I love the way all my colors blend and the options I have. Its been work, but I am getting there. Good luck with the next steps – its amazing to me the common emotions we all share as we go through this process.

    • That was my tip about wearing a good outfit when shopping! I’ve found it really works… I think I’m bored with my 33 pieces for three reasons – I picked items that are too similar, I included too many warm weather pieces and we haven’t had much warm weather, and I don’t LOVE enough of my wardrobe. I feel I would do a better job with future picks. I may opt to do Project 333 again later in the year, but I want to spend a bit more time wearing and deciding on my “wardrobe benchwarmers” after this season of P333 is done. Congrats on doing so well with your wardrobe! It seems like all of your hard work really paid off.

  4. Congratulations on sticking with your shopping hiatus. Now comes the hard part, as people who have lost weight on crash diets can attest to: stay the course. 🙂 I would like to second what Julie mentioned above. There is something special about a well curated wardrobe. My clothes play well together inside and out of the closet. As a matter of fact, nothing will be bought anymore that does not give me at least 3 (5 is better) different ways to combine it. That’s how I justify spending a lot of money on EF silk Tees, by the way. You made your first successful steps. And once your closet is paired down, there is no looking back.

    • You are Julie are definitely right! That is my main goal for this year – to cultivate a well-curated wardrobe. It will be smaller but more functional and incorporate higher quality pieces. Having a guideline of 3-5 ways for wearing new items is an excellent rule of thumb!

  5. hey!
    this is so cool… just found out you are referring to one of my post in your blog…. I drop by your blog every now and them to look at your progress…. and it amazes me how far you’ve come!!! thanks for the referral…
    happy recovering!

    • Happy to link to your blog! I’m featuring 3 other posts on Project 333 each week and I liked what you had to say. Thanks for your kudos on my progress – much appreciated!

  6. A big pat on the back to you Debbie- you have done amazing these last few months!!!
    Now just a suggestion to you re your comment in the post about “lack of self trust” with respect to making future purchases- although you are by profession able to help others build that perfect wardrobe that suits them, why not invest in yourself and do the same, that is find a good personal wardrobe stylist in your area and let them do for you what you do for others?

    • Thanks for the kudos! Someone else also suggested my hiring a stylist to help me and I’m considering it. Before I got into that line of work myself, I hired two stylists to help me with my closet and to create new outfits, but I didn’t go shopping with either one (didn’t have the budget since I shopped so much – LOL). But now I can see the value of getting some help with my shopping so I can think out of the box a bit more. Still have the money concerns, but I’m going to see if I can swing it, maybe as a birthday gift (August).

  7. I’m new to your blog and I love it.

    I wonder. Is the reason you find your wardrobe blah and boring b/c you’re wearing the wrong colors and styles?

    It wasn’t until I “had my colors done” and realized I should be wearing silver, not gold; cool tones, not warm ones; greys, not blacks; pinks, not oranges; and pearls, not costume jewelry that my wardrobe came together. When I open my closet now, I see clothes in flattering tones, jewelry in the right metals, scarves that highlight my complexion, a handful (vs. a closet full) of shoes that are in the right shades and style, and quality fabrics that complement my age and station.

    I agree with your readers — treat yourself to a few hours w/ a stylist who understands you, your lifestyle, your preferences, your fashion sense, and your color scheme. I think this will make a world of difference to you!

    • Glad you like my blog! I actually really love the colors in my wardrobe. I would like to add some new styles to the mix, though. I think I’m bored because I am used to having 7 to 8 times more clothes to choose from, so 33 feels restrictive to me. But I think my boredom goes deeper than that, as I have often derived a lot of pleasure and excitement from clothes and shopping. I am kind of “detoxing” from that now and haven’t found anything to replace it yet. That will be part of my recovery. I will consider the stylist, as I feel it could have value (it’s hard to style yourself and be fully objective), but that’s just one piece of the puzzle. More on all of this in future posts!

  8. One more thing – you write with exceptional clarity. Have you ever written professionally? Your blog might make a great book – you’ve managed to tap into something that resonates with lots of other people! And you might explore nonfiction writing in other ways too – by writing essays, a self-help guide, or a textbook. You have the gift!

    • Thank you! I have done some freelance writing, plus I’ve had a few jobs in which writing was a large part of my job description. I would definitely love to write a book and I’m open to other types of writing as well. I am definitely enjoying blogging (but I’m not a novice – this is my fourth blog!). I appreciate your kind words!

  9. I also had two wardrobe repeats in the week. I hadn’t worn the clothes that long or gotten them dirty and liked the outfits well enough that I really wanted to wear them again, so I did!

    • Doesn’t it feel good to just wear what you love and not worry about what others think? So what if you wore something just a few days ago? Most people won’t even notice, anyway!

  10. A great first outing back in the shops. For myself, having a smaller wardrobe means I am able to actually remember the similar item I have at home before I purchase a repeat version. When my wardrobe was very large, I would often forget that I had a similar item at home. And I can sympathize on the trouble fitting bottoms issue, as a pear shape I find it much easier to shop for toppers.

    • So right, Lisa. I am FAR more able to remember what I have now that I’ve pared things down. About a year ago, I had 9 black skirts! Now I have just two 🙂 Yes, bottoms are my nemesis, especially pants. Not only am I pear-shaped, I’m also tall. A lot of options (especially those that aren’t basic) just aren’t available in tall sizes. I’m not giving up, though!

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