Last night, my husband and I attended Courtney Carver’s “Tiny Wardrobe Tour.” It was wonderful to finally meet Courtney (after having known her online for over four years) and to hear her speak and answer questions about fashion challenge Project 333. Those who have been following my journey since the beginning may remember that Courtney challenged me to do Project 333 back in 2013. Despite my fear and trepidation, I accepted her dare, blogged weekly about my experiences (beginning here, but you can read all of my Project 333 posts HERE), and reaped many benefits from taking on dressing with less for three months (I later took on the challenge a second time).
I will share some thoughts about and follow-on actions from Courtney’s talk in a future post, but today I want to focus on what I did prior to attending the presentation. Anticipating what she would be talking about – “the hows and whys of starting Project 333 to bring more simplicity, love, and joy into your life,” I got to thinking about my experiences with the challenge back in 2013 and 2014 and how easy or difficult it might be for me to dress with just 33 items today. On a whim, I decided to draft a hypothetical Project 333 list for the summer season that will be drawing to a close soon (where I live, we experience hot weather through at least October). In today’s post, I highlight which items I selected and some insights I gained through doing the exercise.
Selecting the Items
The first time I did the Project 333 challenge, the process of selecting my 33 items (I only included clothing items in that installment) was painstaking and took days to complete. When I created my hypothetical summer 2016 Project 333 capsule yesterday, it took me just 15 minutes – and I included shoes and accessories in the mix in addition to clothes! I hadn’t intended to go beyond just clothing pieces and shoes for my collection, but as I wrote down all of my favorite garments and sandals, I found that I had plenty of spaces left for jewelry as well. I was shocked at this realization but also quite pleased.
I think the fact that I went on two trips in recent months (which I debriefed HERE and HERE) helped make the selection process a lot easier for me. After all, smart travelers pack their closet favorites in their suitcases, so I was well aware of what pieces curried more of my favor. Additionally, I’ve been trying to adhere to the spirit of my 2015 “Love It, Wear It” Challenge and only wear what I’m excited about when I get dressed each day. I’m not always successful in that pursuit, but it has made a big difference in terms of my outfit and style satisfaction.
To make my hypothetical summer Project 333 capsule, I started by writing headings for each category I wanted to include. Since I prefer to wear skirts and dresses during the summer months, I opted not to include any pants in my capsule. This decision alone facilitated an easy selection process, as I struggle with being able to pair the same tops and toppers – and often the same shoes – with both skirts and pants.
I started by listing my “go-to” items, those pieces I consistently reach for again and again. Any items that I was on the fence about for any reason (e.g. fit, style, versatility) didn’t make the cut for my capsule. When I found that I had only reached 20 items after listing all of my favorite summer clothes, I realized that I should push myself to include shoes and accessories in my capsule as well, which ended up being easy to do.
What’s in My Capsule – Clothing
Here’s a bird’s eye view of the clothing pieces that I included in my summer capsule wardrobe (accessories are shown below).
Now let’s take a look at how it breaks down by category:
- 5 dresses (4 maxis, 1 knee-length)
- 4 skirts (2 maxis, 2 asymmetrical)
- 6 tops (5 sleeveless, 1 short-sleeved)
- 5 toppers (1 jacket, 4 cropped/tie cardigans)
All of the tops coordinate well with at least three of the skirts (and the short-sleeved top can also be layered over three of the dresses) and each topper can be worn with at least six of the dresses and skirts, so this is a great mix and match wardrobe with tons of versatility. I can definitely see myself happily getting through the entire summer season (which lasts four or five months, not just three) wearing only the pieces above.
Sure, I have other items in my closet that I love and wear, but I don’t really need to have as many summer pieces (or overall pieces, for that matter) as I own. Now that doesn’t necessarily mean that I should get rid of everything else right now, but it does underscore that fact that it would be a good idea for me to decrease the number of new items that I’m bringing in (which is of course something I already know!).
One of the key lessons I got from Project 333 was that I don’t need nearly as much clothing as I once thought I did. This lesson helped me to downsize my wardrobe by over half (and my jewelry collection by over two-thirds!) since I started this blog back in January 2013 (see my initial wardrobe inventory HERE and my first jewelry count HERE). Perhaps I need to do the challenge more often (or at least create a capsule wardrobe list from time to time) to keep this realization “top of mind” so that I will live more in accordance with it.
What’s in My Capsule – Shoes and Accessories
For someone who used to be really into shoes, it’s hard for me to believe that I could be satisfied wearing just three pairs of shoes all summer long. While I’d ideally like to include five or six pairs in my collection, I could easily get by wearing just the following three pairs:
The two flat pairs of sandals work beautifully with all of my maxi-length dresses and skirts and the wedge sandals look great with the shorter length garments in my capsule. These are the three pairs of shoes that I brought with me to Texas (along with many of the garments pictured above) and I found them all to be comfortable and versatile. These are also the three pairs of shoes I’ve worn most often this summer by far.
In terms of accessories, here are the pieces I selected for my capsule:
As you can see, they can be broken down into the following categories:
- 2 watches
- 1 necklace
- 3 bracelets
- 4 pairs of earrings
It was easy to select these pieces, as they were the ones I’ve worn most often throughout this summer. I was tempted to include a few new items in the mixes (I bought some jewelry pieces on my recent trip), but I opted to go with the “tried and true” instead. I don’t wear necklaces a whole lot during the summer, but the one shown is reversible (the other side is patterned and less shiny) and thus gives me a second option. While two of the bracelets and two pairs of earrings are similar in style, I do wear all of these pieces often and the differences are meaningful to me (including the fact that one pair of earrings is longer and one bracelet is larger).
As I was writing this post, I realized that I had neglected to include hats, scarves, and a purse in my capsule. I’m definitely wearing hats and scarves more often as a result of my gray hair transition, so I would ultimately want to include at least one of each. Of course, I also need a purse and would be satisfied with just one, probably this one:
In order to include one hat (probably black), one scarf (also black), and one purse in the mix, I would let go of one watch (the pewter one), one of the black bracelets, and one of the silver and black pairs of earrings. I like having the additional choices, but I would be okay with just seven pieces of jewelry if push came to shove (the me of two or three years ago would be astounded at my saying this!).
Capsule Wardrobe Outfits
Here are some of outfits I’ve worn this summer which incorporate items from my hypothetical Project 333 capsule wardrobe. Some of the photos are from last year, which is why my appearance is a bit different in terms of weight and hair (I was slimmer last summer and had darker hair), but I wore the same ensembles this year as well. These are definitely some of my favorite outfits and I have worn them all multiple times.
Conclusion and Your Thoughts
Now that I have taken the time to compile this summer capsule wardrobe, I’ve decided to try it out for the month of October, as the summer weather will likely persist at least that long. It will be good to know how well my capsule will work when actually put to the test! I also plan to at least compile a hypothetical Project 333 for the fall season, and I may opt to actually do the challenge at that time as well. But even if I never actually take on Project 333 for summer or fall, I still feel that the exercise of putting a capsule together is instructive in regards to what I love, what I wear, and how little I truly need.
I encourage you to take a bit of time during the coming week to compile your own hypothetical Project 333 capsule wardrobe, even if you never intend to actually use it. If the idea of including shoes and accessories in the mix sounds too scary, limit it to just clothes or add a few additional pieces to your capsule. There’s nothing magical about the number 33, but it can be a useful exercise to at least try to adhere to that number during your first go at creating your capsule. If it ends up feeling too restrictive, you can add a few pieces as necessary or desired.
If you’d like to actually do the Project 333 minimalist fashion challenge, a new season starts on October 1st (but you can start anytime). You can read more about the rules HERE. If you need additional assistance, check out the “Dress with Less” microcourse, a low-cost, self-paced guide to getting started which includes both written and audio lessons, as well as inspiring playlists and worksheets to use while you’re creating your capsule wardrobe.
While I usually close out each month with my “grab bag” of useful links (see previous editions here), I’m skipping it this month because I took a two-week blogging break while I was away on my recent trip. Instead, I will close my next few posts with a handful of links to articles you might enjoy reading. Here are some articles for you to dive into this weekend:
- “A New Plan – Every Other Week Purchase” (MOderate Wardrobe) – This is a sensible idea for shopping more moderately and mindfully that I plan to take on for 2017. For those of us who enjoy shopping, we’ll still get to do it 26 times over the course of the year, but just one item at a time.
- “Loving Style vs. Minimalism” (Grechen’s Closet) – Can you love fashion and style and still have a minimalist wardrobe? Grechen offers her thoughts on this topic and invites input from others. Be sure to read the comments on this post.
- “Nancy Dilts on Textile Recyling” (Already Pretty) – Should we consign, donate, or recycle our clothing castoffs? A wardrobe consultant who specializes in practicing sustainable consumerism offers her advice on this subject.
- “3 Easy Tests to Know if You Should Keep it or Let it Go” (Inside Out Style) – Sometimes it’s hard to know whether or not to get rid of things in our closets. Pick one or more of these quick tests to evaluate some of your “on the bubble” items.
I like the idea of the “hypothetical” capsule wardrobe. It takes some of the fear of deprivation out of it for me! I am going to create one this afternoon and see what happens. Thanks for the inspiration.
I’m glad you were inspired by this post, Lori, and I hope you were able to put together a hypothetical capsule wardrobe and got something out of doing the exercise. I do think there can be benefits gained even without actually dressing with a capsule for a period of time (but even trying it out for a week or two could add some useful learning). Best wishes!
Great article, Debbie! It’s amazing how full our closets can get – Project 333 is what got me down the path of examining my wardrobe and lifestyle – so we really need to stop and take a look sometimes, and curate what the best of the best really is. Love the idea of your summer wardrobe, what creative ways to mix and match. Thanks again for featuring me on your blog as well! What a great community you’ve fostered.
It was my pleasure to feature you on the blog, Chau, and I really enjoyed reading your insights. Your post inspired me to challenge once again my ideas about how much I truly need. Project 333 definitely helps with curating a workable wardrobe. When we have a lot of clothes, we don’t necessarily notice when things are sub-par, but when we push ourselves to choose the best of what we have, it can be eye-opening for sure.
Wow! 15 mins to chose 33 items! That’s real progress! When I look back over 3 months I often find that I haven’t worn many more, but I’d feel restricted if I chose in advance. Having said that I think Project 333 is brilliant for making you think about where to spend your money, and what your ‘go to’ uniforms are. I just need a separate capsule of different outfits for when I’m bored with the bretton tops with jeans, tunic dresses with bootees, and neat skirts with tops uniforms. A hypothetical project 333 is a great tool for wardrobe management, the real thing just seems to limit real life.
One alternate way to do Project 333 is to build your list as you go, Lynn. That is, to write down what you wear as the month goes on and create your 33 (or whatever number) that way. I keep a list of the things I wear every month, but most of the time I don’t limit myself. I just do this to increase awareness – and it really helps. I agree with you the some of us need or even just like to have more variety than a capsule of 33 items affords us, and that’s okay. I don’t think I would do a strict Project 333 all the time, but doing this type of thing every so often helps me to see that I don’t need as many items as I think I do and it can be a good exercise. The hypothetical version is something I highly recommend for pretty much anyone. There is really no downside to it!
p.s .I’m now putting together a capsule of ‘wildcard’ outfits for when I feel bored with my usual wardrobe. It may be a good opportunity to give orphans, and lesser worn items a place and purpose.
I love the idea of a “wildcard” capsule and I can see how it would be a beneficial thing to have. I may give this a try!