Project 333 Week Eleven Update

With Week Eleven behind me, I’m now down to my final two weeks of Project 333.  In some ways, the time has gone by very quickly, yet it also seems like a long time ago that I was putting together my wardrobe capsule in late March.  I’ve experienced a number of wins and challenges in my eleven weeks of Project 333 and have learned a great deal about myself, my wardrobe, my shopping habits, and my personal style.  I will write a lot more about this in early July, as the growth and learning is still sinking in!

In today’s post, I share my Week Eleven outfit photos and a few insights, and leave you with some useful links to articles from other bloggers on their Project 333 journeys.  I also encapsulate a few of my thoughts on what’s next for me after Project 333 concludes.  I’m still formulating my plan at this point, so I’m open to your suggestions!

Ringing Endorsement for Project 333

If you’re considering doing Project 333 yourself, I highly recommend it!  While I may not be a lifelong convert to this minimalist way of dressing, I can’t recommend it enough as a growth and learning tool.  Even though I’ve modified the rules and made a number of swaps, I’ve still gotten a tremendous amount of value from doing Project 333 in my own imperfect way!

If you need some guidance on starting the challenge, you might want to check out the “Dress with Less” microcourse from Courtney Carver, the creator of Project 333.  As June draws to a close and with the next term of Project 333 beginning on July 1st, now is the perfect time to take this self-guided course and prepare your closet (and your mind!) for the challenge.

Week Eleven Outfits

I only have three outfits to share this week.  While I was definitely busy with a lot of projects this past week, I only ventured out to appointments and social gatherings on three of the days.  Some weeks are just like that for me and that’s okay.   It’s nice to be able to mix it up a bit in terms of time at home and being out and about.

Over the past few months, I’ve been replacing my lounge wear and workout clothing with new and higher quality versions.  Consequently, I now feel much better in what I wear around the house, on walks with my husband, and during my jaunts to the gym.  I can’t believe I neglected this area of my wardrobe for so long!   I’ve also started to track how often I wear these casual wardrobe pieces and it’s been an enlightening experience.  I’m sure I’ll write a post on that topic before too long…

Here are my three outfits from Week Eleven.  Two are shown both with and without the jackets I wore those days.  Fortunately, the weather has been warming up, so sometimes a jacket isn’t even required for a wimpy California girl like me!

P333 Week 11 - Outfit #1 (with and without jacket) P333 Week 11 - Outfit #2 P333 Week 11 - Outfit #3 (with and without jacket)

A Different Shopping Experience

Yesterday my husband and I went shopping.  The objective was mostly to buy him some new shorts, as the ones he’s been wearing are on their last legs (pun intended!).  My husband is much better at wearing the clothes in his wardrobe than I am (although he still has too many shirts, as I wrote about here).  As a result, the clothes he gets rid of are generally worn out after a long and fruitful life in his closet.

Both of us are interested in buying more ethically and sustainably produced clothing, so instead of venturing to Old Navy or The Gap, we went to a local independent shop that carries quality casual clothing from more reputable brands like Patagonia.  While my husband was trying on shorts, I perused the women’s clothing selection and decided to try on a few pieces as well.

I tried on a few casual jackets (the type I wear on our nightly walks and to the gym), as well as some skirts and pants.  I was pleased to find a skirt that was made of cotton instead of polyester, and I liked the feel of the natural fibers against my skin.  Surprisingly, I found several items that I really liked and which fit well.  In addition to the skirt mentioned above, I found two jackets and a pair of pants that were at least “8”s on a scale of 1-10.   The pants were too short (the story of my life…), but a longer pair is available through the manufacturer.

I Left the Store Empty-Handed!

While my husband purchased two pairs of shorts, I left the store empty-handed.   Since the items I liked were of higher-quality, they were also more expensive than the clothes I’m used to buying.  I decided it would be a good idea to take some time to consider which pieces I liked most and what would be the best buys for my wardrobe and lifestyle.

I wanted to make sure not to exceed my June budget, but I found it difficult to choose from among the pieces I liked.  In the past, I would have bought everything I liked, reasoning that I could either return something later or spend less next month to get back on budget.  Then I may or may not have returned anything or cut my spending the following month (you know the story…).  However, I’m really trying to shop and buy smarter these days, so I decided to wait.  I’ll likely return to the store soon to buy at least of the items I liked.

Learning to Trust Myself

It’s unusual for me to leave a store empty-handed, but I’m happy to be doing this more often. I am working on better understanding what I really like and need, as well as trusting myself to make the right decisions.  I still doubt my ability to buy things that will really work well for me, so it’s helpful to take a “power pause” (term borrowed from Jill Chivers of “Shop Your Wardrobe”) to allow myself to consider my options away from the emotional charge of the shopping experience.

Eventually, I hope to be able to make better decisions in the moment so I won’t have to make two trips to a store to either buy something later or return an item purchased in haste.   That will save me a lot of time and headaches, but I’m not there yet…

Project 333 Useful Links

I’ve been finding a lot of interesting articles written by other bloggers who are doing – or have done – Project 333.   Here’s a few more for your reading enjoyment:

What’s Next for Me?

As Project 333 winds down, I’ve started to consider what to do next to challenge myself with my wardrobe.   While some people opt to continue Project 333 for multiple terms or even have it become a permanent way of life, I’m not sure that’s what I want to do now. I still have so many items in my wardrobe and I really need to pare things down.  Simply trying things on isn’t usually enough for me to make the “keep or purge” decision.  I need to actually take my clothes out for a test drive in order to really know if something works for me or not.

I recently read an article (I wish I could remember the source!) about a man who had too many clothes and devised a novel method for solving this problem.  He moved all of his clothes to another closet in his house and could only move an item back to the main closet after he had worn it.  At the end of a certain time period, whatever hadn’t been worn was donated to charity.  I thought it might be fun for me to try this method, especially since most of my clothes were packed up or moved for Project 333 anyway.

July and Beyond…

At this point, I plan to try the method above for at least the month of July – and perhaps longer.  I may opt to do another full or abbreviated term of Project 333 during the summer (our summers are really late here and last until at least late October).  But first I want to get a better handle on my wardrobe and weed though some of those pesky “benchwarmers” to see if I can excavate more “diamonds in the rough.”  If I do opt to do Project 333 again, I’ll likely do less frequent updates and probably won’t post outfit photos (or maybe just monthly favorites like I did for January or an update at the end) .

As I said, I’m open to your suggestions for what I should do next.  What’s most important to me are accomplishing my goals and keeping things interesting for my readers.  I’d like to continue to challenge myself and write about my experiences.  I even like the idea of weekly or monthly challenges as opposed to longer challenges like Project 333.   If you have ideas, please mention them in the comments section or connect with me to share your ideas.

23 thoughts on “Project 333 Week Eleven Update

  1. I like the sound of your possible next challenge as it sounds perfect for your situation. Have you thought about doing it by season? I mean, put only clothes appropriate for the season in that 2nd closet and set a deadline for them and then do it for the other 3 seasons as well. That way you will be thinning your wardrobe more quickly and end up with the one you love for each season no matter how many items are in it.

    • Good idea, Juhli! We don’t have four distinct seasons here – it’s more like two. But our summer is basically July through October, so if I don’t wear my summer items by the end of October, they should be out! Also, if I wear something and don’t love it, out it will go, too. I’m becoming more ruthless with editing these days – a nice benefit of Project 333!

      • I love San Diego weather and lived there for a few years late ’70s – early ’80s. We lived further inland though near the state college and it got quite hot!

      • I’m in Point Loma right by the bay. Lots of overcast weather here, but I love my walks by the water! Inland is MUCH warmer than where I am, that’s for sure!

  2. Thanks for including me in this post! I am so grateful to Project 333 for changing my life, and it is fun to see how it is working in yours!!

    • You’re welcome, Beverly! You have some great insights and I wanted my readers to see them (as well as your nice outfits and fun photos). I’m getting a lot out of Project 333. I’m glad Courtney pushed (well more like nudged…) me to do it!

    • Beverly, nice pages you have, I enjoyed reading your posts. As an aside, 52 items. hmm. Maybe.
      I ‘m sure I could do it in the winter because my winter wardrobe is tiny. But in the warm weather months that’s where I tend towards over abundance and have to work at keeping at around 33.
      I’m looking forward to reading about your 52/52 journey.

  3. Hi Debbie! Thank you for linking to my Project 333 Spring selection 🙂
    And congratulations on leaving the store empty handed! Taking the time to reflect will surely help you make a wise purchase.
    The challenge that you referred seems like a great (and fun) way to further pare down your wardrobe.
    Great post! 😉

    • You’re welcome, Mopsa! I liked the way you laid out your outfits and it was nice to see an outfit on you there, too! Glad you liked the post. I’m definitely leaning toward doing the challenge I mentioned, but may combine it with some of the suggestions I’m getting from readers privately. Stay tuned!

  4. Debbie, your pages here are beautifully written, sharing a deep rich journey, and I believe your writing will take you where you need to go.

    • Thanks so much for your kind words, Terra! I hope you’re right about my writing taking me where I need to go. It’s definitely helping a lot!

  5. Your new challenge sounds great, and perhaps better suited for your particular needs than Project 333! And bravo, well done at Patagonia!

    I’ve completed almost a month of doing the shopping journal of Dr Benson’s ‘To buy or not to buy’ (daily or almost daily – 3/10 chapters completed) and the change has been profound! The early stages of the journaling were painful, but now I think I understand my motivations, triggers and thought patterns much better. The journaling has helped me to directly address the underlying issues that make me shop – my life is already much fuller and the shopping urges are almost completely gone (the sale is on in my favorite store, and I haven’t even bothered to look!). I feel more alive – I’m not as scared of my emotions, and have found a lot of fulfilling, relaxing and social activities and also see myself in a much more compassionate way. I know the book sounds scary and work intensive, but it approaches overshopping from a different angle, and may work for you if your next goal is working on the ‘fuller life’ part. Anyway, I can recommend it.

    • Thanks for your input on my proposed challenge. I think I will give it a go, along with a few other things. Congrats on doing so well with “To Buy or Not to Buy“! I have decided that working on this book will be part of the next phase of my journey. I really need to get at the underlying issues for my shopping and the book and journaling process seems like it will help me get there. I will likely base at least a few blog posts on what comes up for me while working through the book. I definitely want to start working more on the “fuller life” part of my journey, as it will be difficult to stop shopping so much when I don’t have enough to replace what shopping was providing for me emotionally. I’m having to use a lot of willpower not to shop, but if I find other ways of meeting my emotional needs, I’m sure it will be a lot easier. Thanks for nudging me toward working the book! I’ve already started to re-read it and will do the work this time around.

      • So happy you will do this too! Best of luck! Really hope it will help you! I felt queasy about the journaling, I anticipated it to be dull, repetitive and overdemanding, but am actually now looking forward to it every day! I see myself differently now, definitely from a more compassionate angle. There are good reasons that explain why I did what I was doing – I learned to overshop growing up, and I also overrelied on it as a recovery tool when I was recovering from post-natal depression and was really scared of negative emotions. But the reasons to stop are even more compelling, and I’ve decided to do so, choosing to assess the difficult emotions and states more directly. And I think it’s definitely working!

      • I’m so glad to read that you are progressing so well, and it hasn’t been very long, either! I hope I will end up looking forward to the journaling. It feels a bit overwhelming to me now, but hopefully I will get into a “groove” with it. Plus, I DO love to write!

  6. I have been doing the book “To Buy or Not to Buy” also. I’m almost done with the first chapter and I am seeing changes as well. What a different it has made writing things out. I just got back from a trip to Asheville, NC that I took with a friend. We were there a couple of days and did a decent amount of shopping. I didn’t buy anything and I was not even very interested in looking. That is so unlike me! I feel much more content with what I own lately.

    • SO proud of you, Tonya! What a major accomplishment not to buy in that situation. You are definitely changing! Between you and FrugalFashionista, I’m now convinced the “To Buy or Not to Buy” will help me if I REALLY work the exercises. I read most of the book in the past, but one needs to engage with the material for it to have a true impact. Congrats on your wonderful progress!

    • Tonya I’m so glad! Well done! You are feeling the same things I am – writing things down helps to get a perspective. The journal has helped me to connect the dots – my background, recent life events, the feelings of emptiness and not belonging. I think I understand myself much better now…

      • Thanks Debbie! I really think you will see a change. FrugalFashionista, I feel the same way. It hasn’t been all together easy, but I think that it will be worth it.

  7. I have been following your blog since April 3 thereabouts, when I first began implementing my own version of Project 333. My life has changed a lot since I started the whole process.

    Very early on I knew I could not downsize to 33 items, so I came up with the idea of 66 items, because in the past I have divided my wardrobe into Fall/Winter (Oct – March) and Spring/Summer (April – Sept)–six month increments. My closet lends itself to this kind of logic, because it is a walk-in with a window at the far end and evenly configured with symmetrical shelving and hanging bars on each side.

    I was not willing to put anything in storage and forget about it. I decided that I had to be able to be face to face with every garment at all times. I began by trying on every single garment in my spring/summer wardrobe and making a decision on it. You know how they say you “only have 30 seconds to make a good first impression”? Well, that’s how I approached it–each garment had 30 seconds in front of a full length mirror to make it or break it. I was ruthless when faced with the truth about how things looked and felt. If it wasn’t an 8, it was out.

    I didn’t do the kind of meticulous tracking that you do, Debbie, but I winnowed Spring/Summer down from 267 garments to 96 since April 3. I am nowhere near 66, but we will see what garments I don’t end up wearing this season, or which ones don’t make the cut in terms of fit.
    At the end of the season, it will be winnowed down to what worked and what didn’t.

    In my version of the project, I did not include bags, shoes or jewelry–although I did winnow these areas down quite a bit as a result of the rest of my closet culling.

    A result for me has been an increased attention to simplifying in other areas of my home. Recently, I have begun going through my home and purging through things like linens/decorative pillows/quilts–and giving away things that really don’t suit my decorating style anymore, but which I kept because I thought maybe I would like them again. My next area of attention is the kitchen, where I have at least six sets of dishes, for starters….!

    • I love how you took the framework of Project 333 and made it your own, Deby! The most important thing is that we learn and grow, not that we follow the rules to the letter of the law. You have made amazing progress and see to have gotten a real handle on your wardrobe in a short period of time. Big congrats to you! And the fact that you are also simplifying other areas of your home is a nice bonus! For me, it worked backwards. I simplified almost every other area of my home and life before I started to REALLY tackle my wardrobe. But I’m glad to be working on that now, too. As I review my entire wardrobe again this week (as I wrote about in my week 12 update), I’m going to use your “30 seconds to make a good first impression” concept. Anything that’s not an “8” will go! I have to practice what I preach, right?

  8. Two empty handed store trips in a row, that’s great progress! I’ve been doing hubby’s clsoet challenge all fall/winter, and found it so helpful now I plan to repeat the process for spring/summer. So all spring/summer items are in a separate closet (in bags, because we still haven’t gotten that shelf fixed yet) and I am slowly pulling pieces for spring/summer. To try and keep the wardrobe small, I’m also trying to use as many fall pieces as I can for spring. The temperatures for those two seasons are pretty much the same, so why not repeat items for both of these seasons right? Not everything will carry over, but there’s no reason to have 4 very large seasonal wardrobes, when I can have a smaller overall wardrobe with more cross seasonal pieces. I think that will give me that ‘European’ or ‘Parisian’ inspired closet I crave.

    • Yes, I amazed myself that I was able to leave some stores without buying anything! I’m getting more and more selective, which is a very good thing. I agree with you that it’s a good idea to have garments carry over to multiple seasons. I wear a lot of my spring pieces in the fall, too. I don’t necessarily adhere to wearing certain colors in certain seasons, so it’s not too difficult for me to do. I do tend to wear some brighter items in warmer weather, but in the moderate weather of spring and fall, I wear my basic color palette (which I continue to refine). I crave that European closet, too, but I think it will be a while before I get there. Having the goal in place is helpful, though.

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