Project 333 Week Thirteen Update

I finished Project 333!

I did it! I completed Project 333!

This is it – my final Project 333 update!  Well, it may not be my final update forever more, but it’s the last one for now.  I have completed thirteen weeks of dressing with only 33 garments, which was something I never thought I’d be able to do.  When I first heard about Project 333 about a year ago, I was intrigued but I didn’t even think of taking on the challenge myself.  Then in March, Courtney Carver (creator of Project 333) challenged me to do it, and you know the rest of the story!

My Project 333 Journey

If you’re new to my blog and my journey, you may be interested in reading “Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway,” my guest post on the Project 333 site in which I voiced my four big fears about doing the challenge and the ways I planned to overcome them.  Since that time, I’ve been posting weekly Project 333 updates on my blog, including photos of all of the outfits I’ve worn along the way.

I’ve experienced many ups and downs as the weeks progressed, but I’m very glad I decided to do Project 333.  I’ve learned a great deal about my wardrobe, my evolving sense of style, and myself.  It was definitely a good thing for me to do!

Full “Debrief” and Closet Inventory Coming Soon…

Next week, I will post a full “debrief” on my Project 333 experience – what I learned, what I’d do differently, and how I’ll approach my wardrobe in the future.  Later this week, I’ll share the results of my mid-year “closet audit,” which is still underway.  I know I’ve made excellent progress in paring down my overly large wardrobe, but I don’t know the specific numbers just yet.

For today, though, I’ll just focus on Week 13…  In this post, I share my final Project 333 outfits, as well as my evolving thought process on what’s next in my wardrobe journey.  I’ll close with a few links to other bloggers’ posts about Project 333.  As the new season of Project 333 gets going, I’ve read some excellent posts on selecting items for the challenge and alternate ways of approaching the rules.

Week 13 Outfits

I have a confession to make…  I cheated on Project 333 during my final week!  On Monday evening, my husband and I made a rare outing to a baseball game and I opted to wear a top that was not in my P333 wardrobe capsule.  Believe it or not, it gets pretty chilly in the evenings in San Diego and I wanted to be warm.  None of my Project 333 tops were sufficiently warm, so I pulled out a waffle-weave long-sleeved shirt to wear to the game, along with a warm jacket.  I may have broken the rules (not that I didn’t break them from the get-go by not including shoes and accessories in the mix!), but I was comfortable and happy during the game.

My three other outfits were all repeats of previous ensembles.  There’s only so much mixing and matching one can do with 33 garments!   However, I unknowingly repeated a very recent outfit (outfit #3), which shows that I’m focusing on wearing what I like instead of having to be different all the time. That’s a definite step in the right direction!

P333 Week 13 - Outfits #1 and #2 P333 Week 13 - Outfit #3 Two Versions (with jacket and different shoes) P333 Week 13 - Outfit #4 (the last outfit!)

July and Beyond

In last week’s update, I wrote about my post-Project 333 plans.  Although I haven’t changed my mind about any of the actions mentioned, I’m wondering if perhaps I should continue with Project 333 or a variation thereof.   As I was going through all of my clothes yesterday evening (still not done yet!), I began to feel overwhelmed by the sheer volume of my wardrobe.  While I’m proud to have purged a large number of items since the beginning of 2013, there’s still too much there!

I know I complained a lot about feeling bored with my Project 333 capsule, but there was a refreshing element to having such a small wardrobe.  I liked having fewer items to choose from and found it much easier to get dressed each day.   I definitely want to pare my wardrobe down to a more minimalist state, although I am still somewhat unclear on the specific number of items I’d like to ultimately own.  I just know it’s more than 33 but less than the 272 garments I had back in January.

I believe it is possible to be happy and stylish dressing with only 33 garments, or even 33 total wardrobe items. I just didn’t select the right items and my overall wardrobe includes too many lower-quality knit pieces.  I didn’t realize that when I was shopping constantly and wearing my clothes so infrequently, but I now understand the error of my ways.  It may take a while to cultivate a wardrobe I truly love, but I believe I will get there eventually.

For Now, I’m Non-Committal

I’m not prepared to commit to another season of Project 333 at this point.  I’m going to play it by ear, wear what I feel “called” to wear, release anything that isn’t an “8” or higher, and only bring garments back into my closet after I wear them.

As I wear things, I will make a list and see what’s there when I reach 33 (I can’t take credit for this idea, as I read about it in the Project 333 Facebook group).  At that point, I may decide to dip my toe in the Project 333 pool yet again.  I will definitely keep you all posted!

Willingness to Let Go…

I’m finding it easier and easier to let go of items in my closet that don’t serve me.  Project 333 taught me what I should have learned a long time ago, that one doesn’t need a huge wardrobe to dress well and have sufficient sartorial variety.  I may never have a closet full of “10”s, as that’s likely an unachievable goal, but I can certainly open my closet and be greeted by an assortment of “8”s and “9”s (with maybe a “10” or two in the mix).

I Appreciate Your Support

Thank you for following my Project 333 journey!  I might not have completed the process without a wonderful group of readers cheering me on.  I have to say that I’m very proud of myself for sticking it out!  Sure, I made eight swaps and didn’t follow the challenge to the letter of the law, but doing what I did was a major stretch for this longtime “more is more” shopaholic.   I did it and I celebrate the strength and fortitude it took to see it through!

If you also completed Project 333, I salute you.  If you didn’t take on that particular challenge but have faced your shopping demons in other powerful ways, my hat is off to you, too!   I like to think that there is strength in numbers and we inspire each other.  Even those of you who have never commented or contacted me offline, I’ve known you’re out there and your presence has helped me to forge ahead during difficult times.  Thank you all for your support!

Interested in Project 333?

I’ve done a lot of “beating the drum” for Project 333 over the weeks, so you know I’m a big believer.  Although one can definitely get started with the challenge by just reading the rules, I wholeheartedly endorse the “Dress with Less” Microcourse.

In the interest of full disclosure, I’m an affiliate for this course, so I will earn a commission if you make a purchase via the links on my site.  But truth be told, I extolled the virtues of the course long before I signed on as an affiliate.  Here is what’s included in the course:

  • 11 PDF files, including daily activities (the course is designed to be done in a week but you can proceed at your own pace), sample item lists, frequently asked questions, and a form to use when making your list.
  • Audio message of Courtney Carver’s Project 333 story
  • Recorded Q & A webinar
  • 3 additional audio recordings to help with your motivation and process
  • 2 playlists to use while going through your closet and selecting your 33 (Courtney is a real mix-master!)
  • Access to a private Facebook group to use for support, questions, and accountability

I found the microcourse extremely beneficial in preparing me to take on Project 333 and I feel that you will, too.  I think it’s an excellent value at just $15.

Don’t worry that the summer season of Project 333 started today, as you can jump on board with the challenge anytime.  As I mentioned above, I may dive back in, but even if I don’t, I would be happy to answer any questions you have and offer support however I can.

Project 333 Accounts from Other Bloggers

Many other bloggers have written about Project 333, so I’ve been including a link or a few in each of my weekly updates.  Here’s my Week 13 installment – enjoy!

Coming Attractions

In upcoming posts, I’ll share my mid-year closet inventory, an update on my “Wardrobe Benchwarmer Project,” a full debrief on Project 333, and my thoughts on staying true to oneself.  I’ll also be writing more about cultivating a full life and finding other ways to meet emotional needs besides excessive shopping.

If there are any topics you’d like to see covered in “Recovering Shopaholic,” please feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section below or connect with me privately.

22 thoughts on “Project 333 Week Thirteen Update

  1. Yay!! I am so looking forward to your overall debrief, updates in your inventory and benchwarmers project, etc!! Post faster! 😉

    I enjoyed the project too, and although I am out of town on vacation I am using my packing list as the start of my 33. Am considering including accessories but *not* jewelry, so getting closer to the strict version.

    Confession: there has been (passive voice alert!!!) a bit of shopping in the last few weeks. Some new workout purchases (needed new workout capris for summer and am totally loving the Lulu tops that are a sports bra with a loose tank attached) but also new boots and cashmere hoodie for fall, a new maxi skirt for summer and coordinating tank, and sparkly flip flops. Since I am still planning to keep my various totals at 33 and am continuing to cull I feel ok about it (although somewhat foolish for the sparkly flip flops which even at 1/3 of retail still seemed overpriced.).

    Am still waffling about the few remaining black items in my wardrobe which I never wear because black is unflattering on me but which I like and am considering pulling off the goodwill pile even though I know I shouldn’t.

    • Thanks for your comment, Renee. I posted the wardrobe inventory today and the others will come very soon 🙂 I’m so glad you like reading those types of posts. What’s helpful for me with items “on the bubble” (like your black) is to but them somewhere else (one blogger called it a “hidden holding zone”) for a while. Then I revisit the items a month or so later. After my closet inventory yesterday, I had 11 such items. I’m going to look at them again at the end of July. Hope this helps!

  2. Congratulations! It’s been great following your journey in the land of P333. What a brave lady you are. My project hasn’t been at all this dramatic, I don’t think I had more than 33 favourites in my wardrobe to begin with, so it’s been a different type of a journey for me, but it’s interesting how we all come from different backgrounds and still can learn from each other. Your idea of grading the items has been very helpful for me too, and it’s been fun to follow your scientific way of looking at your clothes. I do hope you keep us all posted on your journey (even on the FB-group). One thing this project has done for me is it’s made me notice the excess stuff around the whole of our house. Have you noticed the project spilling into other areas of your home/life?

    • Welcome Anne-Marika! I’m glad you’ve enjoyed reading my updates. I’ve liked yours, too, and I agree that we can still learn a lot from others with very different experiences. To answer your question about P333 spilling over, it has a bit, but my closet is really the last step on my simplification journey (well, there’s still my computer files, too!). My husband and I have been on the minimalism path for about 5 years now and my burgeoning wardrobe started to seem incongruent! Interestingly, though, I’ve gotten even more ruthless about simplifying in other areas since taking on Project 333. Soon, there won’t be much left in our apartment – LOL!

  3. Good for you! That must feel good. I go through things on a regular basis and have always given away or donated quite a bit. Of course the problem was that I was buying so much that the amount of clothing I had never went down. Now that I’m not buying nearly so much I expect that to change. I am feeling happy and content with what I have and I’m just going with that. My main concern is to not buy too much and to only buy things that I love that will get a lot of use. I don’t want to waste my time and money anymore.

    • I had the same problem as you, Tonya! I probably bought 150-200 new things each year (the only year I tracked that was 2011 and the number was 168!). I usually only pared down when my closet got too full. I have the same concerns as you. I’ve wasted SO much time and money and don’t want to do that anymore. I still don’t trust myself fully to even know what I love, but I’m getting there. Hopefully, we’ll both be in a much better place by the end of the year!

  4. Congratulations, you did it! Reading you blog has been very interesting, and I truly command you for having been so candid and open about your reasons for doing Project 333. I’m glad to read how much this has helped you in more ways than one. Keep it up! 🙂

    • Thanks, Anzi! I’m glad you’ve enjoyed my updates. On Monday, I’ll be posting a comprehensive overview of my Project 333 experience – what I learned, all of my numbers, and more! And I may do Project 333 or a variation thereof soon, too 🙂

  5. Thanks for including me in your links, Debbie! I’m really looking forward to the challenge and the things I will earn from it. P333 has already stopped me from buying 3 or 4 clothing items, as well as a $200 bag. I’ve decided that it will be my birthday present to myself in October since I’ve wanted it for a while, but will only purchase it prior to the end of September if it’s on sale, or the site is running a free shipping promo (it comes from the UK, so shipping is about $35 on top of the bag!)

    I’m looking forward to reading your upcoming posts. I’m picking up a lot of tips and tools to help curb my own spending. Congrats on completing the challenge, and I hope you decide to continue in the future!

    • I’m so glad to hear that Project 333 is already helping you, Melissa! I love your idea of getting the bag for yourself as a birthday present at the end of the project. That will be a good incentive! I’m glad my blog has been helpful to you. I will definitely be continuing the blog and may continue Project 333 as well…

  6. Congratulations on making it through! I look forward to your future projects!

    I’ve been doing my own version of Project 333 along with you, and I’ve begun to come up with a different concept that works for me. For right now, I am calling it Project 198 (I may change this magic number!).

    Here’s the gist–after I pared my spring/summer wardrobe down from 289 pieces, I reached a balance point for several weeks of 99 garments (which I have since pared down further to 92!). My 92 garments consist of: 17 hanging tops, 12 pants, 7 hanging dresses, 1 jean jacket, 20 skirts, 16 cardigans and shells, 3 folded maxi dresses, 16 tees in cotton or linen. (The most difficult thing I find about having a smaller wardrobe is not having enough color choices, which is why I could never do 33 garments, but I seem to have achieved a workable mix here that satisfies my eye.)

    Some of my summer garments are wearable 365 days a year, so when the season changes, these pieces will travel into the fall/winter segment. I have not begun to cull through how many winter garments I presently own. Spring/summer has been so emotionally involving and fun, that I can’t wrap my mind around fall/winter just yet!

    Once I start on fall/winter, my target number is 99 pieces or less. The garments from spring/summer will be considered part of the 99, so that ultimately I plan to end up with less than 198 garments for the entire year, I just don’t know yet what that number will be, but for now I am calling it my Project 198!

    How did I get so many clothes? One reason is an inherent sense of frugality, I have come to see. Once I acquire a garment and am fond of it, my loyalty to it goes on for years–it becomes part of my family practically (my Coach briefcase dates from 1983!). I found that I kept garments that were 10 years old or more because I associated pleasant times or I was fond of the color/pattern/style–which I came to realize often looked dated and inappropriate. Where were my eyes?

    While I was keeping all these beloved clothes, I was constantly shopping for newer things, forever seeking to express a different side of myself–because to me that is what a wardrobe has always been about–a closet full of garments to express the different sides of one’s personality! However, I realized it had gotten out of hand when my BF walked in and burst out laughing! But, I’ve been obsessed with fashion since I was a little girl and picked up an issue of my mother’s Vogue, which I would read under the covers with a flashlight from the time I was about 8 years old. (In retrospect, how funny that a 3rd grader would know more about what was being sold through the ads in fashion magazines than many grown women for whom the ads were designed!)

    I was reluctant to get rid of my clothing friends at first, but I realized how much happier I am now having lightened up! As of June 30, I have pared down my spring/summer wardrobe by a whopping 67%! And my payoff at the consignment store has been very nice indeed.

    • Congrats on your amazing progress, Deby! A reduction of your spring/summer wardrobe by 67% is very impressive! I love how you’ve created your own version of Project 333. Perhaps that’s what I will do if I continue on that path. Interestingly, as I’ve gone back to my full wardrobe, it’s felt overwhelming (even though it’s still in boxes and only going back in my closet as I wear things). Project 333 really did change me! More in my Monday blog post (taking the weekend off for the holiday – and my 12- year wedding anniversary, which is tomorrow!). I wish you continued success! I’m glad you’ve a nice payoff for your castoffs at the consignment store.

      • Congratulations on your anniversary! Tell your husband I think he must be a real trooper to help with your intensive tracking! I hope you do something memorable and fun to celebrate!

      • Thanks, Deby! I told my husband that and he smiled. He is definitely blessed with more patience than I have… We took a nice overnight trip. I will share more in a post soon, as I had a nice “aha moment.”

  7. Well done, Debbie, considering that 33 garments represent such a small percentage of your entire wardrobe. I agree though that the magic number lies somewhere between 33 and 300. 😉
    And I don’t know about you, but some days an ‘8’ feels like a ’10’ and vice versa. But once you have found your style sweetspot, you will make fewer purchasing mistakes and buy things that will make you feel great. And that is, what clothing (apart from the obvious) is supposed to do, right? Good luck and congratulations.

    • Thanks, Cornelia! Very true that the rating of a garment will vary from day to day. That’s why I kept a few items that were “on the bubble,” so to speak. I will put them on and rate them again at the end of the month. I am very much looking forward to finding my style sweet spot. I think I was shopping so much that I lost sight of that very important part of the puzzle. I also let myself be too swayed by sales associates and fellow shopaholics. I am gradually learning to listen to my own inner voice…

  8. Congrats on completing Project 333 and moving towards a more fulfilling life!

    I was just wondering – aren’t your benchwarmers automatically “less than an 8”? Can you just scoop them all up and get rid of them?

    • Thanks so much, Chris! Regarding the benchwarmers, I think most of them are now gone. I have to re-evaluate, as most of my clothes were in boxes instead of on the hangers with the binder clips. I think you’re right in that most were less than “8”s. Either that or just all wrong for my lifestyle (most “business clothes” and formal wear are gone because I just don’t wear them). A few “diamonds in the rough” got lost in the shuffle and I’m happy to have rediscovered those. I’m sure I’ll be pleasantly surprised when I evaluate the benchwarmers (hopefully will do that next week).

      • I discovered an interesting thing about my spring/summer “bench warmers”– garments that I like and fit well, but for some reason I wasn’t wearing… I realized I had allocated them to the wrong season! Once I saw that error, I just moved them permanently out of spring/summer to be evaluated for fall, and they ceased to be garments that didn’t quite fit in with the rest of the seasonal team.

      • Great thinking, Deby! Isn’t it great when the solution is that simple? Maybe those benchwarmers will become all-stars yet!

  9. Congratulations on completing Project 333. That’s wonderful! I’m looking forward to catching up on your posts and following along with your post 333 steps.

    • Thanks, Lisa! It wasn’t easy to do Project 333, but I’m glad I stuck with it through the end. I learned a lot, as you will see in my recap posts (especially my “top 8 lessons” post).

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