Project 333 in Reverse – July Edition

Those who have been reading “Recovering Shopaholic” for a while know that I took on the Project 333 challenge during the months of April through June.  I posted weekly updates and monthly recaps of my Project 333 experience and later summarized my top 8 lessons learned from completing this minimalist fashion challenge.

An Alternate Approach to Project 333

As the end of June approached, I contemplated taking on another term of Project 333 but ultimately decided to do something a bit different.  A member of the Project 333 Facebook group wrote that instead of selecting her 33 items at the beginning of the challenge, she instead selected her garments each day and tracked them as she went along.  Intrigued by this concept, I decided to do the same, at least for the month of July.

Each day when I got dressed, I simply wore what I felt like wearing and wrote everything down on a piece of paper.  I allowed myself to select from my April through June Project 333 capsule, as well as from the other garments I had stored while doing the challenge.  New garments were only added back to my closet after they were worn.  Thus, I avoided the packed closet that overwhelmed me in the months before starting Project 333.

July 2013  – By the Numbers

July has ended and I have tabulated all of my numbers.  Here’s a brief summary of what I wore last month:

  • Number of Garments Worn:  33 (isn’t that amazing?  I didn’t plan it out at all!)
  • Repeat Garments from April-June:  9
  • Number of Shoes Worn:  9
  • Repeat Shoes from April-June:  All of them!  (NOTE:  I did not include shoes and accessories in my April-June Project 333 capsule)

The 33 garments I wore during July were comprised of the following:

  • 4 pairs of pants / jeans
  • 4 skirts
  • 4 jackets / blazers (1 long, 3 short)
  • 6 cardigans (4 long, 2 short)
  • 15 tops

Included below are photos of all of the garments and shoes I wore last month.

I wore these skirts and pants during July 2013:

Skirts and Pants Worn - July 2013

Here are the jackets and cardigans I wore last month:

Jackets and Cardigans Worn - July 2013

I wore 15 tops last month – all one time each!

Tops Worn - July 2013

Shoes worn during July 2013 – all repeats from Project 333!

Shoes Worn -July 2013

Not Too Many Repeat Wears Last Month…

I also kept track of how often I wore each of my garments and shoes during July.  Here’s how those numbers stacked up:

  • Garments Worn 4 Times:  1  (Cabi trouser jeans)
  • Garments Worn 3 Times:  1  (black seamed skirt)
  • Garments Worn Twice:  5 (burgundy cardigan, white/black print skirt, denim jacket, grey embellished cardigan, leopard print skirt)
  • Garments Worn Once:  26
  • Repeat Garments Also in Apr-June P333:   6 of the 7 (leopard print skirt was not part of P333)
  • Shoes Worn Twice:  5  (Clark’s pewter peep toe flats, Raffini sandals, silver Kelly & Katie sandals, Clark’s tan sandals, leopard print flats)
  • Shoes Worn Once:  4 (all of the others)

Some Insights from July…

As July began, I found myself feeling overwhelmed with my wardrobe.  Since I opted not to start an official new term of Project 333, my entire wardrobe was open to me once again and I felt challenged by the overabundance of choices.  When my husband and I took an overnight trip for our anniversary on July 4th, I had no idea what to pack.  Tears actually welled up in my eyes as I contemplated what to take with me on even that very short trip.  There were just far too many garments to choose from, and the fact that most of them were still in boxes only served to complicate things further!

In getting dressed during July, I decided to start with my favorite pieces from my Project 333 capsule and add in one new garment at a time.   The new garment was generally a top, as I felt my Project 333 capsule was light on tops and I desired more variety in that area.  As the month went on, I sometimes created outfits using two or more new pieces, but I needed to keep things simple early on to avoid anxiety.

Raising My Standards

A few of the tops I wore during July are either slated for donation/consignment or “on the bubble” in terms of their fate, meaning they may not make the cut.  In these cases, I love the color and style, but the fit and comfort level may be a bit off.  You may have tops like that, too. You know the ones that are fabulous when you’re standing still, but “fussy” and require continued adjustment as you go about your day?  They’re kind of like the “taxi shoes” of garments.  Lovely to look at, but not exactly functional…  As I write this, I’m beginning to think they should just go!

Some garments I considered wearing didn’t even make it out the door, as my standards continue to increase as I become more comfortable with a smaller wardrobe.  Knowing I just don’t need that many clothes is helping me to let go of anything that is sub-standard in terms of fit, style, color, comfort, or the “love factor.”  Why should I hold on to anything I don’t really love?

I did manage to pare my wardrobe down further during July.  I’ll share those numbers in my next post, which will be my accountability update for June and July.  I’ll also let you know what I bought, how much I spent, and how I’m doing with my 2013 budget.  These are usually monthly posts, but I got a bit off-track with wrapping up Project 333, doing a mid-year closet inventory, and reporting on my progress with the “wardrobe benchwarmer project” last month.

What I’m Doing in August

I’ve decided to continue wearing what I want and tracking what I wear during August.  It will be interesting to see if the August numbers bear similarity to my July counts.  In addition to carrying on with my sort of “Project 333 in reverse,” I’ll also be making decisions on all of my remaining “wardrobe benchwarmers” as I promised at the end of my July update.  To help me decide, I’ll likely try to incorporate the items in question into some of my August outfits.  But no matter what, I commit to either embracing or letting go of all of my benchwarmers by the end of this month.  It will feel good to remove that albatross from around my neck!

At this point, I’m considering doing another term of Project 333 beginning in September. I believe continuing on that path will help me reach my wardrobe goals.  I believe that we best grow by doing things that are difficult or scare us.  It still scares me a bit to dress with less, which tells me I should probably keep doing it.   I haven’t decided yet, but I’ll definitely keep you posted!  I also welcome your thoughts and suggestions.

What Others are Saying About Project 333

In many of my weekly Project 333 updates, I included links to what others were writing about doing the challenge.  Since my last update, I’ve read a number of new Project 333 posts, so I’m sharing a few of the best ones with you here.  Enjoy!

14 thoughts on “Project 333 in Reverse – July Edition

  1. Oh I laughed in delight at Caitlin’s methods–because I do a similar thing. One way I decide if a garment is truly figure flattering is to try it on without undergarments. If it looks good on you au naturel underneath–when you have on your underwear you will look truly fabulous! Its a foolproof way I’ve found to evaluate fit. I didnt realize someone else was doing he same thing!

    • I’ve never thought to try this method, but now that you and Caitlin have given it a ringing endorsement, perhaps I’ll have to give it a try! There are many methods for evaluating clothes, so it’s worthwhile to try them out to see what works best for us.

  2. Hi Debbie! One thing that struck me as I read through this is that comfort seems to play a large part in your clothing choices. On the items that don’t seem to make the cut what is it that makes them fussy and uncomfortable? Is this a repeat problem with other items that you’ve gotten rid of? The reason I ask is I have identified a few reasons why I kept getting rid of certain clothes and kept replacing them. I am fairly short, 5’3″, but petites can be a touch too short and regular can be too long. I now pay close attention to the length of sleeves and try pants on with shoes that I will be wearing them with. Also I would buy jeans or pants with “stretch”. Some of them would stretch out while I was wearing them and they would be baggy and lumpy by the end of the day. I thought I would avoid the problem by just buying a smaller size. Those didn’t seem to stretch out at all and would be too tight. Now I’m the one looking silly doing squats and stretches in the dressing room, but I don’t think that I have been surprised by how something wears throughout the day since. This has helped me not to buy things that I would be weeding out down the road. Oh and a tip for fussy necklines-put a piece of double sided fashion tape on each bra strap, let the shirt fall naturally and press down. This has worked great for me with traveling necklines 🙂

    • I have also gotten rid of some knits that were fussy and uncomfortable. Its not that they don’t stretch–it’s that they stretch in strange ways, or they travel around your body (skirts especially) so you constantly have to be adjusting them. Another thing I have found with polyester knits, especially ones that are 5 years old or more–is that the fabric doesn’t breathe, so can be like wearing a plastic bag! The newer polyester fabrics are more breathable and comfortable.

      • I know! I had a raincoat that I had bought to wear to Costa Rica about 15 years ago. I was helping someone move a few months ago and it was raining so I put it on. It was like having my own personal sauna! I’m not sure what it was made out of, but I’m thinking lava or maybe fire? I definitely got rid of that one!

      • The “plastic bag” comment really rings true, Deby! I think you might have hit the nail on the head about the older polyesters being like that. Many of my offending garments were purchased at consignment stores, so they are likely that old. I was going to just dismiss polyester outright, but you’re correct in that some of them are better than others. I just have to figure out which ones will be hot and produce tons of static cling (another big reason why some of my skirts and dresses hit the donate/consign pile). If you (or anyone else) have tips for that, please share!

    • You are quite insightful, Tonya! Yes, a big reason why I’ve gotten rid of clothes has been the “fussy factor.” I hate having to re-adjust what I’m wearing every time I get up, bend down, or do pretty much anything other than stand or sit still! I do the moving around in the fitting room, too, but sometimes I don’t find out something doesn’t work until I wear it for a few hours. I am learning more of what to consider, so I hope fewer mistakes will be made as time goes on. Thanks for the tip about the double-sided tape. I love it and will give it a try!

  3. You have inspired me to try this method. The last day of July I sat down and listed every single piece in my cupboard (live in Germany, don’t have closets!) It is rather appalling to see how much it is, even though I think I am pretty good about weeding things out and not over-buying. I have already sorted some things out in the past few days.

    My problem with the Project333 is the season changes. June here was cool, July the sixth hottest ever, August started out hot, is now cooling off ever so slightly, and by September 1 we will probably be back in heavier clothes.

    I love reading your blog and hope to share your journey!

    • Welcome and thanks for your comment, Susan! I’m glad that I’ve inspired you to try Project 333 or a variation thereof. It has made a big difference for me! I admit that it’s easier for me, as I live in a temperate climate, but I know others have made Project 333 work with more variable weather. Some have changed the months, others have used two month terms instead of three, and some have used more than 33 items. The number of items isn’t nearly as important as the practice of dressing with less. Once you do it (even if it’s using 50 or 60 items), you’ll really learn that you don’t need a lot. It’s become infinitely easier for me to let go of things since I did Project 333. Good luck and please let me know how it comes along for you!

  4. Debbie, I am getting ready to pack for a two week trip to Germany and I can attest to how easy it is to pack from a paired down closet. I remember the frustrations of having too much of a selection hanging in my closet, and over packed every single time.
    I laid out everything on a spare bed to make sure that everything goes with everything and then counted 16 items (including 2 cardigans for the ever changing weather there), 3 pairs of shoes , and five scarves. Not included in this are my PJs, yoga pants and shirt, and undergarments. So proud of myself!!!

    • Congrats on your packing success, Cornelia! Your story is an inspiration for me, and I hope to be able to do what you did before too long. You definitely should be proud of yourself! Enjoy your trip and the ease of a streamlined travel wardrobe!

  5. Alas, me too. The other day I tossed out my perfectly good and fairly new Michael Kors shirt because every time I wore it ( 3 times) I felt hot and smothered. I tried wearing it last winter but the shirt looked too summery and when I wore it last summer I sweated buckets. I gave it one more try recently and gave up on it.

    As an aside, I have also completed a number of Project 333 cycles with the result that even though I’m not officially participating currently, I still end up only wearing about 33 items or less. I plan to do another wardrobe edit soon and begin 333 officially again in September because getting dressed, doing laundry and packing is so much easier with less!

    • Terra, I love hearing about your Project 333 success because it inspires me that I will get to a much better place with my wardrobe. It seems like 33 ends up being a “magic number” for many people, which is interesting because it was sort of an arbitrary number when Courtney Carver selected it (she liked the way 333 sounded). But she’s a “wise cookie” and didn’t even know how much she was onto something back then! Sorry to hear about your Michael Kors shirt 😦 It can be hard to know how well a garment will stand up to our real life when we first try it on.

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