Experimenting With Project 333: My Approach & What I Discovered

You may recall back in August I minimized all my clothing… again. I’ve said before that minimizing can be downright addictive. So naturally, I wanted to take it a step further. With a new season approaching, I decided it was perfect timing to do some experimenting with Project 333.

As I mentioned in my last post, Project 333 is a minimalist fashion challenge that invites you to dress with 33 items or less for 3 months. So you break your wardrobe down into four “seasons” and decide which 33 things you want to mix and match for that season.

I learned a lot experimenting with Project 333, a minimalist fashion challenge that invites you to dress with 33 items or less for 3 months. Read how I approached the challenge and what I discovered.

Project 333 items include:

  • Clothing
  • Accessories (scarves, handbags)
  • Jewelry
  • Outerwear
  • Shoes

Project 333 items don’t include:

  • Undergarments, lounge wear, active wear, sleep wear (but if you plan on making a late night ice cream run in your lounge wear, then you have to count it.)
  • Your wedding ring or other jewelry you wear every single day

Experimenting with Project 333: My Approach

 

1. First I made sure all my laundry was done and picked up from the cleaners so I had everything to work with in front of me.

 

2. Next I pulled everything I considered a fall garment from my closet.

This was my base to work with. Obviously, it was far more than I needed for this challenge.

 

3. I began to narrow down my choices, starting with the most obvious.

There was no question that I needed jeans, my black and navy work pants, black blazer, etc. So I began assembling what would become the base of my Project 333 fall wardrobe.

 

4. From there, I added on, making sure that every garment would work with a few different options.

If I paired a colorful silk shell with a navy blazer, I’d see what else the shell would pair with. Once I paired it with a blue/green cardigan as well, I’d see what other top could go with the cardigan. With a project like this, there’s no room for a top that only pairs with one thing.

 

5. Once satisfied with work and casual clothing, I started on shoes & accessories.

First, came the shoes. I have great shoes in boxes, but have a bad habit of wearing the same few pairs over and over. You’d think that would be good for a challenge like this, but I decided that if I’m going to wear the same things for three months, I better step up my shoe game. So I assembled nine pairs of shoes, including two pairs of great fall boots, designer black booties, and a few other pairs I’d feel good about. A brand new pair of burgundy suede booties I picked up on sale (impulse buy) last year went straight into the yard sale pile. They didn’t work with a single thing I picked out. Therefore, they were pointless.

Next I selected one scarf, three handbags, and began assembling my jewelry. Despite getting rid of lots of jewelry, I still have more than I need. But I like it, and coordinating jewelry is something I get from my Mom. To say she loves jewelry would be an understatement. So I pulled a few necklaces that paired well and then some earrings. And this is where I identified my first need. I try to only wear sterling silver earrings because my ears are sensitive. I clearly needed more “everyday” sterling silver earrings.

I then took the jewelry I decided on and cleaned it with silver cleaner. Wow, what a difference! Again, this was an area where I found myself wearing the same few things over and over. But with strategically choosing a limited selection, I was excited to begin switching out my jewelry.

 

6. I counted it at all up and wrote everything down. 

With nine pairs of shoes and a variety of jewelry, I’m sure it comes as no surprise that I didn’t make it down to 33. No, my final tally came to 64. This is my final list:

  • Clothes (34)
    • Two layering tanks
    • Two t-shirts
    • Two pairs of jeans
    • Three pairs of work pants
    • Formal dress (two weddings this season)
    • Two work dresses
    • Green dress
    • Black pencil skirt
    • Three blouses
    • Burgundy tunic
    • Two blazers
    • Gray cashmere sweater
    • Blue/green cardigan
    • Four shell tanks
    • Seven casual shirts
    • Casual knit cardigan
  • Shoes (8)
    • Two pairs of black boots; black heels; black booties; three pairs of black flats, black knit casual shoe
  • Accessories (4)
    • One scarf
    • Blue leather handbag
    • Black leather handbag
    • Floral Vera Bradley bag
  • Outerwear (4)
    • Rain boots
    • Red rain jacket
    • Lightweight jacket
    • Lightweight jacket
  • Jewelry (14)
    • Fake Tahitian pearl necklace & earrings
    • Fake Tiffany necklace
    • Fancy necklace
    • Peacock necklace
    • Tourmaline necklace
    • Tree necklace & earrings
    • Three pairs sterling silver earrings
    • Three pairs of stud earrings for second hole

 

7. I put everything that didn’t make the cut into one closet, and everything else into another. All I had to work with was in one place. Everything else was out of sight (and out of mind.)

 

Experimenting with Project 333: What I Discovered

 

1. First and foremost, I didn’t think I’d have everything I needed to pull off my first attempt at a capsule wardrobe. I discovered I had far more than I realized.

This was all I felt was still missing: one pair of brown or burgundy work pants, a casual fall shoe to wear with jeans, sterling silver earrings.

 

2. Shopping was a very different experience.

I headed out with my small list. Fall is my favorite season and I saw a lot of things I LOVED. But knowing I was already well over my 33 item limit, I restrained myself from buying lots of new clothes. I did find a pair of burgundy work pants and a matching work blouse I really liked. I also found a great casual long-sleeved shirt to wear with jeans. I stopped myself at those two shirts and didn’t even go in clothing stores after that. I was done. I found a great pair of knit Skechers so I picked those up. And then Macy’s had sterling silver earrings on clearance so I saved a fortune on those.

The Labor Day sales, outlet prices, and summer clearance was very tempting. But I stayed focused and didn’t give in to impulse buying.

 

3. I dress better now.

I don’t know about you, but I always tended to wear the same few things over and over despite having more than I needed. I wore the same jewelry, same outfits, same shoes, same black cardigan. It’s like I was unintentionally practicing Project 333 in a lazy way. But now I’m experimenting with Project 333 intentionally. So that means I’m taking advantage of my new limited wardrobe. I’m changing up my shoes and jewelry and switching out my purse. I didn’t include any leisure wear in my final list, so I’m actually wearing jeans to my Sunday evening meditation meetings instead of something closer to pajamas. And since I only included two t-shirts, I’m wearing nicer casual tops.

As for the black cardigan, I thought for sure it would make the final list. Nope. I actually threw it out. It was clearly time to step up my game and branch out. No more clothes that took the form of a safety blanket. That cardigan was one of those things. In fact, despite minimizing all my clothing only two weeks earlier, I got rid of ten more things after experimenting with Project 333.

 

4. I feel better about myself, have more time, and feel less stressed.

Dressing better has given me more confidence. Having a limited number of rotating outfits has freed up time, cut back on laundry, and eliminated outfit decision making stress.

 

5. I did slip up and also forgot some things.

Sitting in the allergist’s office I looked down at my feet and thought, “damn!” In a rush I slipped on my Nike slides that weren’t supposed to be worn out of the house. And today I’m wearing tan flats I didn’t realize I’d need to go with the outfit I’m wearing. I have a work event this Saturday and forgot to include the black clutch I’ll need. I also forgot to include a formal handbag for the two weddings I’m going to.

I’m keeping track of everything so I’m better prepared for next time.

 

6. I bet I can get closer to 33 next time.

I get to do this again for winter (December/January/February) and I have a feeling I will have learned enough from this experiment to get closer to 33 total items.

It’s only been a little over a week since I started dressing with a Project 333 capsule wardrobe, but I love it. I’ll be sure to write an update in late November with my findings after the full three months.


Have you tried Project 333? What was your experience? Are you inspired to try it? Do you think you could do it? I’d love to hear from you.

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I learned a lot experimenting with Project 333, a minimalist fashion challenge that invites you to dress with 33 items or less for 3 months. Read how I approached the challenge and what I discovered.

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