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Joining the 333 club

Dawn, A.K.A. The Minimal Mom, offered a fantastic end-of-year decluttering challenge and we learned about Project 333 by Courtney Carver. In a nutshell, Project 333 is a clothing challenge to limit your wardrobe to 33 items for three months. The 33 items include clothing, outerwear shoes, and accessories, including purses, jewelry, and scarves.

It sounds a bit extreme, doesn’t it? Maybe it even sounds impossible! But when you consider that people wear only about 20% of their wardrobe 80% of the time, it’s not unrealistic to just go ahead and pare your closet down to the actual 20% that you wear. Courtney admits that there’s nothing magical about 33 items. When she first tried to limit her wardrobe, she had 45 items. But then she said, “Hey, this is a challenge!” and went for an even smaller number of items.

The idea here is that you don’t necessarily have to get rid of all your clothes to start. Instead, you sort everything, give away things that you are ready to part with, move the off-season stuff that you would wear and put it out of sight, and then box up the other things that you’re not wearing. That way, if there’s something you need or something you realize that you do want, you can retrieve it. The Minimal Mom calls this the “time will tell” bin. You box up anything you aren’t sure about in a bin or a box and you label it with a date. If you haven’t missed anything after a prescribed time: 3 months, six months, etc., then you give it away.

Early morning decision-making made easier
One of the important ideas and Project 333 is the idea of reducing not just clutter, but also decision fatigue. When we have a closet full of stuff that isn’t quite right, we spend a lot of time deciding what to wear. So instead, if you take the time to pare down your closet to the things you wear that you feel good in, it’s a much much smaller number of items. It’s very empowering to get to a place where everything in your closet is something you love wearing and are happy to put on any day. If you are a project management aficionado, you might recognize one of the five Ss of Lean project management in play in this process: the first S, Sort, entails removing all unnecessary items from your workspace.

What’s included
The 33 items don’t include underwear, socks, workout wear, or pajamas. I left hoodies out of this list, too, but I did reduce the number of hoodies in my wardrobe. We wear hoodies almost every day in the colder months and we have some hoodies that we use for painting (art and house painting). I also have a handful of special occasion items. I don’t wear those very often, so I kept those in a separate category. I also made a special category of sentimental items and I am trying to limit that to just a few items.

I don’t know what to do about shoes. Some of my shoes I haven’t worn in years. I work from home so my typical footwear is slippers. (I feel like I am revealing what is behind the curtain!) But I wear three pairs of shoes outside and rotate through them pretty regularly. I need two pairs to walk the dogs because it rains buckets during certain times of the year. When my shoes get wet, I need another pair while the first dries out. (Same thing with coats which are not included). I have a couple of pairs of shoes that are nicer and are more for going out, which I rarely do. So I added one pair to my list of 33 items, kept two with my off-season clothes, and will donate the rest.

Here’s my winter capsule wardrobe. I think you will see my uniform pretty clearly! Jeans, t-shirt, sweater/jacket. You can see other lists on the Project 333 website.

  1. Light wash jeans
  2. Dark wash jeans
  3. Medium wash jeans
  4. Pull-over sweater, black
  5. Pull-over sweater, navy
  6. Pull-over sweater, rust
  7. Tunic-length sweatshirt, rustic rose
  8. Cardigan, indigo
  9. Cardigan, black
  10. Cardigan, rust
  11. Long-sleeve white T-shirt
  12. Long-sleeve gray T-shirt
  13. Long-sleeve black T-shirt
  14. Long-sleeve navy T-shirt
  15. Long-sleeve rust T-shirt
  16. Long-sleeve green t-shirt
  17. Long-sleeve oatmeal t-shirt
  18. Tunic-length denim jacket
  19. Gray button-up tunic
  20. White and blue striped button-down shirt
  21. Denim button-down shirt
  22. Black plaid corduroy shirt
  23. Rust plaid flannel shirt
  24. Green flannel shirt
  25. Striped silky tunic
  26. Artsy embroidered jacket
  27. Artsy black and red jacket
  28. Black wool suit jacket
  29. Gray puffer vest
  30. Black belt
  31. Green stone necklace
  32. Black shoes
  33. Black and green scarf

You can get started here: I also recommend the book. I found a copy at the library. She explains how to sort through your wardrobe and get it down to seasonal capsules of 33 items. The idea is progress over perfection. I’ll leave you with this quote from Courtney Carver from her book:

“Your capsule wardrobe won’t be perfect. Do it anyway. Each season, you’ll make it a little better. Never perfect, but better. Less perfection equals more happiness, more risk-taking, and better relationships, including the one that you have with yourself.”

(P.S. Courtney Carver has one of the best author bios that I have ever read.)

Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash