Project 333 – Round Two

I have decided to dip my toe back into the Project 333 pool beginning this month.  For those of you who are new to my blog, I took on the Project 333 minimalist wardrobe challenge back in April through June of 2013.  I did this in order to cultivate more appreciation for what I had in my closet, as well as to assist me in further paring down my wardrobe.   I also hoped to spend less time thinking about what I wore and shopping for new clothing.  I achieved those benefits and more (see “My Top 8 Lessons from Project 333”) and hope to learn and grow even more the second time around!

Project 333

You can learn more about the challenge here, but here’s how it works in a nutshell…  For three months, you get dressed using only 33 items.  Project 333 “purists” include shoes, accessories, and outerwear among their 33 items, but I chose to include only my standard clothing pieces, as that was more than enough of a challenge for me at the time.   The creator of Project 333, Courtney Carver, clearly states that it’s not a project in suffering and that it’s perfectly okay to modify the rules to suit your needs, so long as you’re stretching yourself in the process.

Why I’m Doing Project 333 Again

As I mentioned above and in my recap post, I learned a number of powerful lessons through pushing myself to dress with less for three months.  When I finished that Project 333 term, I wasn’t sure if I would ever do it again.  While Project 333 becomes a way of life for many participants, I didn’t see that as my path at the time.  I definitely wanted to continue to challenge myself in terms of my wardrobe, shopping, and style, but I didn’t feel compelled to dive back into Project 333 until now.

I’m in the process of compiling all of my 2013 wardrobe and shopping data and I realize that I still have a long way to go until I’m where I want to be in both areas.  I have continued to shop too much and I’m still not properly utilizing all of the items in my closet.   I still feel the emotional need to shop on a regular basis and keep bringing a steady flow of new garments into the mix.  While one of my lessons from Project 333 was an increased appreciation for my current wardrobe, I am still suffering from “FOMO” (fear of missing out) and wanting more.

For that reason and because I’ve become a bit complacent in terms of stretching myself with how I dress, I’ve decided to take on Project 333 yet again.  It is my hope that I will spend less time thinking about and managing my wardrobe as a result and that I will also infuse more imagination into my outfit creation process.  Because I won’t have as many garments to work from, I plan to incorporate more of my scarves and jewelry into the mix.  Many of these items have been gathering dust as of late, so I look forward to shopping my accessories wardrobe in the coming months and rediscovering previous favorites.

What’s Different This Time Around

When I did Project 333 the first time, I did not include shoes, outerwear, or accessories in my capsule wardrobe.  While I still won’t count accessories or outerwear pieces this time, I have decided to push myself a bit and include shoes among my 33 items.  Over the course of 2013, I purged a lot of uncomfortable and impractical shoes from my closet, as well as determined which shoes work best for my feet, my style aesthetic, and my lifestyle.  I have included some personal favorites in my 33, as well as two newly acquired pairs of shoes.

In my first term of Project 333, I took photos of all of my outfits and included them in my weekly update blog posts.  This time, I will not be posting my outfit photos, although I may share my favorites each month or at the end of the challenge.   I have several reasons for omitting the outfit photos:

Reason #1:  This is not a style blog

This blog is more about wardrobe and shopping-related concepts than about concrete style advice.  I do not profess to be a style expert (yes, I previously worked as a wardrobe consultant, but I was really more of a coach and a guide than someone who laid down fashion edicts), I am not preoccupied with fashion trends, and I do not believe there is one right way to dress.  While some people might have liked and appreciated my outfits, I certainly never posted them as a “You should dress like me” or “Aren’t I stylish?” sort of message.  I posted them as a representation of how one person was doing the challenge, but I think some people may have misconstrued my intentions at the time.

Reason #2:  The photos skewed how I did the challenge

Knowing I was going to post photos each week affected the way I did the Project 333 challenge.  Instead of wearing what I felt most “called” to wear, I thought I needed to create lots of outfit variations to make what I was wearing more interesting for my readers.  This time, I want to just dress for myself instead of for public viewing.  Besides the fact that it was really nerve-wracking for self-conscious and introverted me to share my outfit photos, I’m also in the process of refining my personal style. I want to be able to experiment with different possibilities without feeling any pressure to show what I’m wearing to others (besides those I see in my regular life, of course).  It will be intriguing to see how the lack of pressure affects not only what I wear but how I end up feeling about dressing with less.  I will definitely report on what I discover!

A Shorter Term

I am also going to change the duration of the challenge from three months to two months.  I found myself feeling bored and frustrated with Project 333 during the third month last time, so I’m only committing to two months of wearing the wardrobe pictured below. One woman I know did a full year of two-month Project 333 terms (well, I guess it was more like Project 233 for her…) and I am toying with the idea of following suit.  It would be a great way for me to really solidify the lessons of “dressing with less,” but I am going to hold off on committing until at least mid-February.

My Project 333 Round Two Wardrobe

With all the reasons and explanations out of the way, it’s time to move on to my Project 333 (or 233, if you will …) capsule wardrobe.  I found it much easier to make my selections this time around.  Last time, I was consumed with anxiety and fearful that I would make the wrong decisions.  This time, it took me less than thirty minutes to decide which clothes and shoes to include.  I made one last-minute substitution before I wrote this post, but otherwise my original selections remained and I feel good about them.

Project 333 - January 2014

My Project 333 Round Two Wardrobe (plastic bin not included!)

The Selection Process Then and Now

One thing that made it much easier this time was that I decided to only wear pants and not include any skirts or dresses in my capsule wardrobe.  Since it’s much cooler during January and February, I rarely wear skirts and dresses this time of year anyway.   Sure, we get some unseasonably warm winter days where I live, but I opted not to plan for those “just in case” scenarios. The garments I’ve selected should serve me well regardless of weather variations and I don’t have any upcoming trips planned to consider.

What made the selection process difficult last time was the inclusion of pants, skirts, and dresses.   I know many people wear the same tops and topper pieces with all their bottoms, but I’m very picky about my outfit proportions.  Perhaps I need to tone down my anal-retentive nature if I really want to cultivate a smaller and more workable wardrobe.   This is something I’ll be considering and working on, but I won’t need to worry about it during January and February with my all-pants wardrobe capsule.  I’m keeping things simpler for now, which is in line with my “Simplicity and Joy” theme for 2014 (more on that soon).

By the Categories and a Few Tidbits…

Here is how my wardrobe capsule breaks down by categories:

  • 6 Pants/Jeans
  • 3 Sleeveless Tops
  • 5 Short-Sleeved Tops
  • 8 Long-Sleeved Tops
  • 4 Cardigans
  • 7 Pairs of Shoes

I have included both printed and solid pieces in my capsule and a number of colors are represented.  My core neutrals are black and grey, which work well with the jewel-toned colors (my favorites!) that I’ve also included.

Here are a few other tidbits about my Project 333 items:

  • 5 of these items were also included in my April through June 2013 Project 333 wardrobe (noted with asterisks).
  • 4 of my 6 pairs of pants/jeans were purchased in the last two months (so happy to be finding new pants and jeans!).
  • 14 of my 33 items were purchased during 2013 (noted with “N”s).  The rest are from 2012 or earlier.

The Individual Items

Below is my actual list of 33, along with photos below each category (items are listed from left to right, top to bottom per photos).  Hopefully, I won’t need to make any substitutions along the way, but I reserve the right to do so if necessary. After all, this isn’t a project in suffering!

1. Black knit pants (N)
2. Black trousers *
3. Black jeans *
4. Grey pants (N)
5. Medium denim jeans -for flats (N)
6. Dark denim jeans – for heels (N)

P333 Round Two Pants & Jeans

Pants and Jeans

7. Black tank with sequins
8. Black tee with white polka dots *
9. Cobalt blue tee (N)
10. Emerald green tee (N)
11. Grey tank
12. Grey print tank *
13. Radiant orchid tee (N)
14. White tee with black stripes (N)

P333 Round Two - Tanks & Tees

Tanks and Short-Sleeved Tees

15. Black wrap-style top with zipper detail (N)
16. Blue print Henley (N)
17. Burgundy print Henley (N)
18. Black and white striped top with ruffle detail
19. Fuchsia Henley with grey details
20. Dark green Henley with light-green details
21. Purple crew-neck
22. Purple and grey striped Henley

P333 Round Two - Long-Sleeved Tops

Long-Sleeved Tops

23. Black cardigan
24. Burgundy cardigan *
25. Red cardigan with belt detail (N)
26. Grey cardigan

Project 333 Round Two - Cardigans


27. Black AGL flats (N)
28. Black Clark’s medium-heel boots
29. Black Cole Haan low-heel wedges (N)
30. Pewter flats
31. Leopard print flats
32. Grey Naot Mary-Jane pumps
33. Black Paul Green low-heel boots

Project 333 Round Two - Shoes & Boots

Shoes and Boots

A Note about the Shoes

I know that the two pairs of black boots and two pairs of black shoes look quite similar. The reason I’m including similar-looking shoes is because of their heel heights.  I will wear the higher-heeled boots and black shoes with my longer pants and jeans.  The grey Mary Janes will also be worn with the longer pants, while the pewter flats and leopard print flats will be worn with shorter pants.  I’m very picky about my pants lengths (so is Angie of “You Look Fab” – see her post on this topic).

A Bonus Rule for My Challenge

I decided to include a “bonus rule” for my second round of Project 333.  This bonus rule relates to my “wardrobe benchwarmers” (items worn only once or not at all during a given year – read more here, most recent update here).  Although I wanted to end 2013 with no “benchwarmers” in my closet, I didn’t quite accomplish that goal.  I made tremendous progress (which I will report soon), but there were still a handful of items that weren’t worn at least twice last year.

Since I’ve decided to keep those pieces for various reasons, at least for the time-being, I don’t want there to be any impediments in the way of my wearing them this year.  Consequently, my “bonus rule” is that I can wear the benchwarmers anytime I want even though they are not part of my Project 333 capsule wardrobe.

I likely won’t end up wearing all that many “benchwarmers” during January and February, as many of them are warmer weather pieces (we had a shorter summer last year, which is part of the reason for the benchwarmers).  However, I want to have the option to wear these items should the desire and the occasion arise.  I will share the results of this bonus rule at the end of the challenge.

Off and Running with the Challenge!

As it’s almost a week into January, I’m already off and running with my new term of Project 333. So far, so good…  While I haven’t committed to regular weekly updates, I do plan to occasionally post on how I’m doing with the challenge and what I’m learning.  And I will definitely do a recap in late February or early March.

If what I’ve written has intrigued you, it’s not too late to start Project 333 yourself.  To learn more, either check out the rules for getting started or purchase the “Dress with Less” microcourse for additional support (not only is this inexpensive course chock full of great information, it also includes membership in an active private Facebook group, where you can ask questions and share insights).  Remember, the challenge is for you and you can modify the rules as needed for your individual situation. I’ve seen lots of people just count clothing items like I did, include more than 33 items, or do terms that were longer or shorter than three months. The important thing is to challenge yourself and we all have different needs and are beginning from different starting points.

Please Share Your Project 333 Experiences

If you’ve done Project 333 in the past or are doing it right now, please share whatever you’re comfortable with about your experience and insights.  Many people out there are benefiting in various ways from dressing with less and I always love to read about what they’re learning and how they’re growing through stretching themselves.  So I invite you to share it all – the good, the bad, and the ugly. You can also ask me questions about the challenge, my wardrobe capsule, or whatever you want to know. I love all of the interaction we’ve been having in the comments section, so keep it coming!

60 thoughts on “Project 333 – Round Two

  1. My post today is how I have given myself until Easter to clear all my clothing schmatter. After that if it doesn’t fit me, it’s going.I have had so many sizes for so long that it can’t wait much longer. IfI don’tlose the weight between now and then, my punishment is put into place!

    • This sounds like a good plan! I know it can be frustrating to have a lot of clothing that doesn’t fit. I used to always recommend to my clients that they get rid of whatever likely will never fit again. I also recommended that they get rid of the so-called “fat clothes” (I didn’t like that term but it was often used) because you don’t want to tell your subconscious mind that you might go there again. For things that might fit again, I recommended that they be stored in boxes or in another closet. Just keep what fits now (and that you like and wear!) in your main closet. Best of luck to you with your goal and please let us know how it works out for you!

  2. I am very happy to hear both that you found new jeans and that picking out the clothes for Project 333 was much easier. I know both things caused you a bit a stress in the past. Good luck and I hope that you get the growth and wisdom that you are looking for from it.

    • Thanks, Tonya! It was your suggestion that I look for jeans at Lucky that helped me to find jeans that fit me well. I am thrilled to have two new pairs of jeans, as it had literally been YEARS since I’d bought new jeans (and it showed!). So thanks so much for the helpful tip!

      • I am very glad that it worked out! Also, I wanted to add that I am looking forward to your post on the full life side of things. This year my main goal is to not focus as much on what I DON’T want to do-shopping, but on what I DO want to do-hobbies, trips, projects around the house, social time, spirituality, etc.

      • Judging from the other comments on this post, many others are also looking forward to more “full life” posts. That topic has definitely been on my mind and I think this will be the year when I make that more of a priority and focus. Like you, I want to focus less on shopping and clothes and more on other things. I’m not sure WHAT things yet, but that will come if I spend time and attention there!

  3. Good luck on your 333 (or 233) project! I did one back in 2012 but I was confronted to the problem that weather changes a lot in 3 months here in Paris. Maybe I should do like you and shorten the time period according to climate! I’m looking forward to reading what you will learn from this second round 🙂

    • I understand that variable weather can make Project 333 more challenging, Kali. I’ve seen some people change the timing of the seasons as well as shortening (or even lengthening) the time frame. I know one woman who is doing P333 in Finland starts her winter season in December instead of January, as one example. Project 333 is a tool and if we are going to use it, it’s in our best interest to modify it to make it work best for us!

  4. I wish you luck and lots of new insights with the new round of Project 333! I think you are onto something when you say that this time you are dressing for yourself, not others, and particularly not for photos! I suspect style blogging is a slippery slope to many (leading to overshopping and the purchase of disposable items). Fashion is and style is such a tough field – no matter what you choose, you are open to criticism – if you experiment with clothes, the experiment can always go wrong; if you wear classic, conservative clothes, you are ‘safe’, ‘frumpy’ and ‘predictable’.

    I’ve dressed quite monotonously all winter, to please and suit myself, not really caring about fashion and what others think. This is my capsule wardrobe for winter – I think it could actually qualify for 333 (although I cannot be bothered with the packing away part, as spring is already on its way) – three pairs of jeans (two indigo blue, one gray), two merino dresses, two sweaters, two white tank tops, three pairs of boots, one pair of suede loafers, one pair of sneakers, two belts, one bracelet, two necklaces, one big rose quartz ring, two scarves, two coats, two bras, one silk slip, a few pairs of cotton/merino/bamboo tights, two pyjamas, two pairs of woolen socks. I’m gravitating towards fairly understated, non-showy items that work with my bare face and natural coloring (I’ve been makeup free for several weeks – a big step for me as I’ve a huge collection of makeup and haven’t gone out barefaced in years). Winter white seems to be a really great color for me!

    Now that clothes play a very minor role in my life, I feel much happier and freer – the pressure to create new outfits and new looks is gone. I can wear what works for me and forget the rest!

    • Like your P333 wardrobe list. I’m curious as to what prompted you to start going makeup-free? I’ve discovered as I’m aging (now 49) that I look better with less or softer makeup.

      • I got perioral dermatitis, most likely triggered by liquid foundation and possibly also moisturizers and toothpaste, and had to rethink all my skincare and makeup routine! I’m 40 and although I don’t have any lines yet, I’ve been increasingly dissatisfied with makeup – it’s either too drying (=ageing) or induces hormonal breakouts. It was really hard to go makep free and I did it over the holidays, but the condition of my skin has dramatically improved… Go for it!

      • Thanks Sarah! I’m going to purchase some as soon as I’m in the US! (Haven’t found a European stockist.)

    • Your comment about style bloggers seems right on, FrugalFashionista. I’ve often thought that many of them are shopaholics, even if they didn’t start out that way. I never wanted to be a style blogger, as I am far too self-conscious and also don’t consider myself an expert in that realm (not that all of them are by any means). I also knew it would likely lead to more problems with overshopping.

      I think it’s wonderful that you’ve created such a workable winter capsule for yourself and that you’re dressing for yourself these days and shopping less. The freedom you describe is something that I’m hoping to create for myself, too. I’d really like to get to the place where shopping and clothing occupy a much more minor role in my life.

      I’m glad that your skin is clearing up – the dermatitis sounds like no fun at all! I’ve been experiencing more breakouts as of late and I don’t think it’s fair to have wrinkles and acne on the same face (I am 47 and DO have lines!). I do find that less makeup has me looking younger, but I need more color on my cheeks and my lips than I used to.

  5. I love that you picked more bright colors this time around. I think color fits very well into you simplicity and joy theme for the new year and I hope you find yourself smiling a lot as you wear these clothes. On a practical side, it looks like a very workable wardrobe for where you live.

    • I am definitely happier with more color, Juhli. I know many women dress in primarily neutral tones and it works well for them, but since I’m looking to have more clothes that make me smile, I need a fair amount of color added to the mix. I do think that what I chose for this round will work well both for where I live and my lifestyle. Time will tell, though, and I will definitely share what I learn!

  6. I’m interested in how P333 works for you but am MORE interested in hearing how you create the second half of your motto (“trade your full closet for a full life”) — I hope you’ll share that with us this year. Thinking about clothes makes me tired — thinking about how to trade shopaholism for something more meaningful is fascinating.

    • Here is another reader who is always interested on updates on the ‘fuller life’ department! Please give us updates every now and then!

    • I definitely need to spend more time and energy on the full life part of the equation, Bette and FrugalFashionista! I was just talking to my husband about that last night, actually, and he gave me a wonderful idea for a future blog post. After I get through my year-end wrap-up posts (a few more), I will delve more into this topic. It will get a lot more focus this year than last year, especially since I’ve made a lot of progress in addressing the full closet part of the picture.

  7. Love your choices for this round of P333 and that you’re going to be doing it “your way.” I bet that works well this time. I completely understand about no photos of what you’re wearing; hopefully you’ll just dress for yourself and not worry about coming up with a “look” for the day. As Bette mentioned above, I too am interested in how you begin trading your full closet for a full life. Mainly because I need to do so as well, for a fuller life. 🙂

    • Thanks for your understanding, Kim. I am actually looking forward to dressing more for myself, especially since the pressure of the “wardrobe stylist” job/title has been removed. As I mentioned in response to Bette, I will definitely be devoting more attention to the “full life” question and quest this year. Perhaps we can help encourage each other in that department!

  8. Forgot to add that I completed Dagmar’s questionnaire. It didn’t take long at all. Thanks for the conversion link!

    • Thanks so much for doing that, Kim! I really look forward to learning her findings. She will do her guest post on this sometime in the spring.

  9. Fear of missing out — now that is an interesting concept! I only shop when I really need something so all of my cues and triggers for shopping come from need and not wants. I don’t read fashion magazines (gave that up in my 30s) and I don’t seem to be motivated by current trends or other external triggers. Yet I can see (and do see in my workaday life in retail) how a fear of missing a bargain or something in the latest trend might (does) lead someone to over-shop. Good luck with your project — looks like you’ve made a good beginning.

    • Thanks, Dottie. I think it’s wise to avoid fashion magazines and other such triggering sources, especially for those of us who struggle with overshopping. But even those who aren’t shopaholics can suffer from FOMO in terms of looking for bargains or even in other areas of their lives. Facebook and other social media sites can really contribute to FOMO, as it can seem as if everyone is having more fun and achieving more success than we are. I think that being self-motivated and looking inward instead of outward can help us to shop less as well as have us feeling happier and more satisfied with our own lives.

      • There definitely is lot more readily available information — and a lot of it so personalized. I am mystified why folks sign up for e-mail and text messages announcing sales and other goodies that spur consumerism. I sound like an aging hippie but I eschewed excess consumption in my 20s and have struggled (as my income increased and “shop” was no longer a 4-letter word) to maintain what is now called a small footprint. For years I owned only two electric appliances — a clock radio and a blender. No TV, no hairdryer, no nothing. Fast forward a few decades, and I now own a lot of stuff with plugs but I still try to control my spending on “things” so I can afford to “buy” the experiences that are so important to me –spending time with family, traveling, etc. If keeping my clothes budget (and thus the amount of clothes I own) in check means I can afford a trip to Europe, then I will keep my spending in check. I try to take to global view when it comes to spending so I don’t succumb to temptation.

  10. You picked your 233 wardrobe in 30 minutes – that is amazing. You have come so far in a short time. You really have to pat yourself on the back. That in itself is proof of how far you have grown in your journey. Although I have not participated in project 333, reading your blog has helped me step back and realize that the items in my closet are just clothes and made donating items an easier emotional process. Keep going I love reading and growing with you:)

    • I appreciate your kind words, Marianne. I’m glad that my blog has helped you to make progress in creating a more manageable and workable wardrobe. Yes, I was amazed at how quickly I selected my 33 items this time around. I thought I would just start to create a list before I went to bed one night last week – and before I knew it, the list was done! I love it when things work like that 🙂

  11. If you made your selection in thirty minutes, you have made great strides indeed. I do remember from your last go-around that the selection process was rife with stress. And good for you not posting pictures. This whole process is supposed to help you with clothing and buying choices and not add stress over public viewing. And as for adding benchwarmers into the mix, I think it is a great idea. This way they have another chance to prove whether they deserve a space in your closet or not. And you, on the other hand, do not feel like you are in a style straight jacket. 🙂 But the first thing I noticed glancing at this post was the coherence of your clothing items. You have come a long way, Debbie.

    • Thanks for following along for so many months now, Cornelia, and for all of your encouraging comments! I just re-read my first Project 333 selection post and I wrote that it took me about 10 hours to finalize my list! Of course, I had far more clothes then and didn’t know what worked and what didn’t, but still, that’s a very long time. I’m glad you can see my progress and I appreciate your letting me know. I’m glad my clothing items look coherent, as that’s definitely my goal!

  12. I’m also considering a project 333 with a shopping hiatus. Or at least a shopping hiatus. I’m not convinced I will benefit from 333 because I’m at a similar number already based on useage and would like to wear other things than my favorites more often. At the same time I wonder what I could learn, particularly if I would be able to calm this ‘want’ beast.

    I’m getting to record small numbers in my wardrobe and I couldn’t be happier. I think I will always ‘want’ but thankfully I can distinguish that from ‘need’ much better than in the past. Want is a strange animal- feed it and it grows, put it on a nice carb free diet and he does shrink!

    • Project 333 is certainly not for everyone, Meli, and I don’t really see myself doing it on an ongoing basis. It sounds like a short shopping hiatus might be more beneficial for you. I say short because longer “fasts” can sometimes lead to overshopping when the time ends. But a shorter time-out can help you get more in touch with what you have and identify any real wardrobe gaps, if indeed there are any to fill. Shopping all the time can lead to a haphazard and unworkable wardrobe. Congrats on your great progress and I wish you more of the same!

      • I think you’re right, a time out is a good idea and I’m making a plan to do it and do it right 🙂 I posted today about the process I use to purge (part 1 anyway lol) and if you have the time and inclination I’d love to hear your thoughts.

      • I was gone all day yesterday, Meli, but I will definitely read your post and comment. Best of luck to you with your time out and purge process!

  13. What great choices, and congrats for only taking 30 minutes to pick your selections. That is impressive. And such a good realization about your need to wear different tops with skirts than you do with pants – that is presumably a goal area to work on too. I spend a lot of time reading about Project 333 on blogs, and daydreaming about doing it, but I am not ready to take the plunge. I don’t even know if it’s something I want to aim to do – I basically live in one season for 11+ months of the year with only a few weeks of cool weather. So there are no big seasonal changes in clothing to be made. But I keep aiming to reduce the overall numbers of clothes in my closet. It is great inspiration even if I never actually do it myself.

    • I read about and pondered Project 333 for a long time (over a year) before jumping in, too, Sarah. Even then, I only did it because the creator of Project 333 basically dared me to do it! But I’m glad I did it because it helped me to realize that I don’t need nearly as many clothes as I once believed I did. It helped me to be able to focus more on quality and to pare down my wardrobe.

      Of course, there are other ways to get this type of awareness, including having a period of time of shopping one’s closet instead of in stores. I think that anything that challenges you wardrobe-wise can help you to grow and change. Project 333 is just one tool of many, but it HAS helped me, which is why I opted to do it again. I’m glad to be playing a part in inspiring you! I wish you the best with paring down your wardrobe this year. You can do it!

  14. I’m still working with my “Project 198” concept–that is to have a grand total of 198 garments to cover the whole year. For minimalists, this may seem like a joke, but I started out with around 500 garments when I began culling my wardrobe in April 2013. I’ve actually exceeded my own expectations because at the moment, instead of 198–I am down to 168 garments. At the end of winter, I’ll further cull out anything that wasn’t worn, and I won’t have any benchwarmers–only garments in active duty.

    • Wow! 500 articles of clothing — that’s like a small boutique! It boggles my mind because I couldn’t manage such a large number of clothing. To knock this down — thoughtfully — by 2/3 is an amazing feat. Congrats!

      • Yes, Dottie–it was like a small boutique! I had every color and style of separates that you could imagine! Most of them I never wore, of course. They were the residual accumulation of a time period going back 10-15 years, defined by a mentality of excess, when my business was booming and “more was better”. (At that time, in my social environment, one’s success was defined by what you wore and drove, and since I was always marketing myself, I felt I had to keep up to attract the right calibre of clients). When I look back on that time now, it seems such a ridiculous and outdated notion. I certainly have had a mental shift! The idea of being burdened with so much unnecessary stuff no longer appeals.

    • I am SO impressed with how far you’ve come in such a short time, Deby! To go from 500 garments to 168 in less than a year is amazing and my hat is off to you! At one time, I had over 500 garments, too, but my pare down process has been much more gradual. I will be doing – and posting – another closet inventory soon, but my total is probably pretty similar to yours at this point. I am very happy with my progress and my wardrobe feels much more manageable. I’m not sure if I will ever be a true wardrobe minimalist, but I’m pleased that I am no longer the wardrobe “maximalist” that I once was. Like you, I feel unburdened and have also experienced a mental shift.

  15. I’m glad you’re returning to the capsule wardrobe. Working in rounds adds something to the “isolated challenge” experience of P333. The lessons have been profound and interesting. Here’s where I am at the moment:

    1. I originally planed to wear only bench-warmers for my final “233” round (about 45 items). This really didn’t work…at all. I replaced about 1/4 of the items this weekend because they were unworkable (too summery/fancy). I’ll donating as I go – I may get DOWN to 33 by 2/28!

    2. I went shopping for the replacements this weekend, buying both new and second-hand. It was eye-opening. I am starting to think about my wardrobe needs as a whole, as well as my needs for a given capsule. I prefer my second-hand purchases: I am happier to resell or donate an item when I tire of it, knowing I gave it a second life. My wallet is happier, too.

    3. I agree with Deby that I need less than I thought. I went into this thinking 200 items (50 per season) might be ideal, but now think more like 150 would be sufficient. So, “once it’s over” on 2/28/2014, I think I might…

    4. Modify Project 333 and keep going. I want to incorporate outerwear, accessories, and jewelry, but working in a business casual environment with professional wardrobe days and a VERY casual personal style on evenings and weekends, 33 items isn’t always enough – even without those extras. Further, there are some core items that could just park in my closet year round (certain suits, jeans, etc). I may do a trial project in March, and then go “whole hog” in April when the next round of Courtney’s challenge begins – I’m thinking 50 items for 3 months would be great – 17 core items and 33 rotated ones.

    I love this Project – it’s been brought such a freedom and change to my outlook about my possessions, my wardrobe, and my style. It’s fabulous. Can’t thank Courtney enough, and am also really enjoying the community it has created, and the people I’ve “met” as a result!


    • Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts and plans with us,Rebecca! And thanks for inspiring me to do a 2-month Project 333 (or 233…) stint instead of three months. That feels more right to me, as it did to you. You have made wonderful progress and have learned a lot of valuable things about yourself and your wardrobe. I think your plan for the future sounds very workable and I look forward to learning more as your next round of the project comes around. Best wishes to you with everything!

  16. I like this idea. I wanted to participate, but after i went to count my wardrobe pieces i count about 35 total in my closet including all dressed, warm clothes like sweaters and tops for hot summer in the office. Now it made me think that i dont own enough :8 hmm..

    • Welcome, Irina, and thanks for your comment. If your wardrobe is working well for you, then you have enough! What constitutes the “right” size wardrobe will vary tremendously from person to person, so only you will know what works best for you. No one else can decide for you!

  17. I forgot to mention earlier that I also came to the conclusion that I don’t need very many skirts in the winter, because I always wear jeans, corduroy pants with a variety of tops, or leggings + tunics!

    My skirts languished unworn from winter to winter until it was laughable as well as I felt guilty for not wearing them. To make matters worse, every time I shopped–I was irrevocably drawn to SKIRTS! I think I like the idea of skirts, but I don’t, because opaque tights always seem to inch down so I’m always fussing with them, and its too cold here to go bare legged in the winter. So I had a eureka moment where I got rid of all of my skirts except for two pencil skirts: one black/one grey–and I have a black/grey sweater jacket that turns either of them into a suit look if I need one!

    • I have come to a similar conclusion about skirts, Deby. I pretty much only wear them during the warmer months. However, like you, I am drawn to skirts a lot when shopping. I have pared my skirts wardrobe down tremendously over the past year and feel much better about that area of my wardrobe. I do hope to replace my grey skirt that was an alterations casualty this summer, though. Congrats on your eureka moment and how you streamlined your wardrobe as a result!

  18. I’m just embarking on my second Project 333 and like you I have found it a lot easier. I thought, being winter it would be much harder as I would need more clothes. But I have learned the art of layering and discovered whole new outfits. This time round I followed the Dress with Less programme rather than just doing it myself and that helped too. I so identify with “will I make a mistake” I was terrified. Then I looked at it in perspective and thought what would be the worst that could happen? And I couldn’t think of an answer!

    • Welcome, Gillie, and thanks for your comment! I look forward to checking out your blog, as it looks intriguing… Congrats on your success with Project 333! I agree that the Dress with Less microcourse is very helpful. Your comment on “what’s the worst that could happen?” is a great one. I wonder how many others wouldn’t really be able to come up with an answer to that question…

  19. Hej Debbie,
    what strikes me (and did so when you showed your first P333 wardrobe) is that your clothes seem so much alike. I really do not understand why you feel the need to own so many similar T-shirts/cardigans trousers. Maybe it is only the pictures that make me think that. Have you thought about that?
    I am in my second edition of P333, I started downsizing my wardrobe last May and did the first round in October.

    greetings from Sweden

    • Thanks for your comment, Nina. Congrats on doing Project 333 and making progress in downsizing your wardrobe! Yes, I have a lot of similar clothing, at least in terms of silhouette. For years, I have stuck to similar shapes and have derived variety primarily through colors and patterns, as well as through accessories. There are some differences among my garments, but it is difficult to see in the thumbnail images. Also, I’ve deliberately included similar garments in my P333 capsules for increased mix and match options. One thing I want to challenge myself with this year is to experiment with some different styles and shapes. I don’t want to buy too many new things (I still bought too much in 2013), but a few fresh options could go a long way!

  20. My wardrobe consists of 78 major items: pants, jackets, blouses, sweaters, tees, shorts, suits, Capris, swimsuit, dress shoes, sandals/slides, winter coat, winter jacket, raincoat, lightweight jacket, fleece top, dress shoes, casual shoes, hiking shoes, waterproof hiking shoes, boots (2 pr.), skirts, dresses, dressy outfits, and 6 handbags. I have about another 25 items (undies, sleepwear, robe, slippers, base layer, etc.) to round out my wardrobe. I haven’t included my scarves, a few belts, hats, gloves, etc., which total about 30 additional items for a total of 133 items of clothing. (I bought a few items this year.) I’m able to keep track of all of my clothing because I wear this stuff all the time. I have just one pair of jeans (plus two other pairs of casual pants) but several pairs of black pants because I need them for work. All of this works for my current lifestyle, work, and leisure activities. I purchase the highest quality I can afford (preferably on sale!) and I am very choosy about fabric, fit, and construction. My clothes get work A LOT so everything has to last a long time. I avoid fussy trim, faddy colors and construction, and stick to classically tailored pieces from a variety of sources. Wearing 33 items of clothing for 3 months is a piece of cake!

    • I agree with Frugalscholar that your list is inspiring, Dottie. Of course, the “right” number of garments will vary from person to person, but it seems that what you have works very well for you. As for whether or not dressing with 33 items for 3 months is a “piece of cake,” everyone is in a different place on the journey and what’s easy for one may be highly challenging for another. I was pleased that the selection process for me was MUCH less stressful this time around. That shows I’m making good progress, which I am quite pleased with.

      Your comment about aiming for quality is an important one. As I mentioned to you before, I think you’d be a good person to do a guest post on how to determine good quality from sub-standard quality. What do you think?

      • Great minds think alike — I’ve been working on this for a few week!! Let me know how to get my info to you. (I need to take a few photos to illustrate some ideas).

      • Great, Dottie! I’m glad you’re interested in sharing some of your knowledge with my readers. I will send you an email so we can coordinate things.

  21. Thanks so much for linking to 40PlusStyle Debbie and talking to your readers about the style challenge.

    Your’s is a great challenge! I just asked the participants of the New Year Style Challenge (day 3) to do a mini wardrobe where you need to find 10 pieces to remix for 7 days. I guess that is a start for many people.

    I’m not ready for your much bigger challenge (yet). I like the variety of my clothing too much, but I look forward to following how well you do!

    • It’s great to see you commenting here, Sylvia! It was my pleasure to share your wonderful style challenge. I hope many of my readers decide to join in, either officially or unofficially. Lots of great information, questions, and exercises there!

      I think any type of remixing, whether it be for a week, three months, or anything in between, can be very beneficial in terms of style definition and better using and appreciating what one has. I like having variety with my clothing, too, but because I have a tendency to shop too much (understatement there…), I am revisiting Project 333 to get more in touch with the fact that I don’t need as much as I think I do. Of course, that’s only one of the benefits, but the challenge is definitely not for everyone. I doubt it will become a way of life for me as it has for many others, but I did find it very beneficial the first time around.

  22. This is my first time trying Project 333. I actually only included work/casual clothes in my choices, and I went up to 42. I see myself whittling that down as the months go by. I didn’t include shoes or jewelry/accessories because I am just getting my feet wet and I didn’t want to set myself up for failure.

    Anyway, it’s been a week, and I’ve never felt better. I chose clothes that are comfortable, fit me well, look nice, and mix and match. What a relief to look in my closet and see only my favorite clothes in there. I have chosen my outfit every night this week and got it all ready because it was so easy. I’m saving time in the morning getting dressed, am comfortable in what I’m wearing all day, and I don’t feel bad about myself because my clothes are too tight.

    I’ve got some weight to lose, and because of that, I will save the winter clothes that didn’t make the cut this time around until next year, because I really do like some of them, even though I ate my way out of them. If by next year I haven’t lost the weight, then out they’ll go, just like Frugal in Tasmania.

    So far, I am really enjoying this challenge. Maybe I’ll be ready for a change at the end of March, but for now, I’m rolling with it.

    • Welcome, Undercover Minimalist, and thanks for sharing your Project 333 experience. It’s wonderful that you’re already noticing benefits one week into the challenge and that you’re enjoying it as well. I see that you’re blogging about it, so I hope that some of my readers will follow along. I know I always love reading about how others fare with Project 333. Our experiences are all different, but I’ve seen benefits reported by virtually everyone who’s taken it on. Best of luck to you with the remainder of your Project 333 term!

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