Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Project 333 Math: Making My Own Rules

Midprocess Project 333 Sorting
Have you read about the Project 333 challenge? Have you seen the beautifully staged pictures from other people's 33-piece 3-month wardrobes? Have you seen the gorgeous Pinterest pins? The blogs, slideshows, and online videos? Have you glimpsed the Polyvore collections?

They all look like the picture-perfect wardrobes of college students, or the wardrobes of people who work at Anthropologie, Urban Outfitters, chic one-off boutiques, or cute little coffee shops on well-manicured street corners.

Nowhere to be seen online are the wardrobes of people like me, who wear clothes to frigid meat-lockeresque workplaces where we have to dress according to a dress code that hearkens back to 1985 (think shoulder pads and Kmart pumps) that contractually binds us into leaving our houses looking like mutant Alaskan well-diggers crossed with our frumpiest old aunties.  Nowhere to be seen are the wardrobes of late-30's professionals who come home, throw the bra in the laundry, and go out to work the garden or head to the dirty local pub.

Well, I decided to give it a try, anyway.

No Fashionista Here

I tried tried tried to build up my wardrobe the "fashionista" way and follow all of the original Project 333 advice and rules, but my wardrobe is too fragmented, and I just couldn't put this Humpty together, again. As a result, there are still 104 articles of clothing hanging in my closet (along with 1 box of vacuum-bagged winter clothes), 22 pairs of shoes and boots in various places around the house, a plethora of jewelry options in a case on my dresser, 23 sweaters and 6 pairs of pants stored in the dresser, 10 scarves on the back of my bedroom door, and, of course, all of that other stuff that gathers, like underwear, socks, pajamas, flannel things, old t-shirts, and yoga pants.  And I'm fine with that.  I call it success!  Did you hear that?


I've met my own guidelines for . . . you know, the challenge of choosing a limited number of items of clothing, shoes, and accessories to wear for a few months and having those and only those hanging in my closet to make my life easier by streamlining my wardrobe options.

Amy Lynn's Project 333 Rules

1. Although the original rules tell me to do so, I'm not boxing up any more of my clothes to have to find a place to store them because that's what closets and dressers are for, and space is a hot commodity in my house. Therefore, all clothes are being stored in my closet and dresser.  The caveat is that they all have to fit in the closet or dresser and on me, or they get donated immediately.  Did I mention how much I love those vacuum-sealing space-saving bags?

1.5 Clothes that are simply being stored in the closet and dresser do not count toward my 333 items.  Did I say 333?  Silly me.

2. Go-to-work clothes that I would never wear out of the house on a non-work day don't count towards my items because I hate them, yet I have to wear them or spend money I don't have replacing them, so it would not be fair to me to have to count them as part of my wardrobe. They really belong to my work persona, not to me.  (Furthermore, if I get rid of them I will get in trouble at work for being partially naked.)

3. Gardening and yard work clothes do not count.  The original rules state that workout wear doesn't count, but I don't "workout." I do garden, and it's good exercise. Therefore, gardening and yard work clothes do not count.

3.5 Gardening and yard work clothes may be worn at any time besides for gardening or yard work, but then they do have to count.  It is strictly against the rules, however, to wear them past my property line (or the neighbors' property lines) unless they have been washed after the previous gardening or yard work session.

4. Clothes that do count as part of the wardrobe must meet three conditions: A) It is something that makes me happy by making me look and feel good about myself, B) it is "in season" and not "being stored," and C) . . . .  There really is no "C)."  I just like to group things by three.

5. Anything new that gets added to my closet or dresser or jewelry box or shoe areas must be offset by a donation of 2 like items.  By the by, I donated a little bit of everything this go-round, and I only came back from the thrift store with 3 items that I really like.  Yay, me!

6. The Oprah Clause is enacted: Anything I do not wear for a year (and isn't sentimental or worn only for special occasions) should be seriously considered for donation.

7. Jewelry doesn't count.  That's just dumb.  I can't count all of that, and even if I did, I wouldn't know whether to count earrings as 1 pair, 2 items, or 4 things.  Right?  Do the backs count?

8.  Anytime sorting of clothing becomes too onerous (such as when piles include gardening/ yard work, gardening/ yard work casual casual,  go-to-work only, go-to-work and maybe church, go-to-work and maybe out, artsy, vacation only, Halloween only, Halloween only except special occasions, special occasions only, really cold days, really hot days at home, really hot days on vacation, really hot outside but really cold at work, long day out, etc.), sorting will be discontinued.

9. Any "feeling bad about myself" for having more than 33 items ready to wear will be discontinued immediately.

10.  When in doubt, rely on my gut feelings about what I "need," and when possible temper that with what I "want."

Your Own Project 333 Rules

In conclusion, what I'm really saying with all of these snarky comments about paring down my own wardrobe, is that no matter our original intentions sometimes of jumping on the minimalist bandwagon, sometimes the time just isn't right for ditching the things we use each and every day. Stressing ourselves out about what we have and what we use and how we can Sudoku and Tetris our wardrobes into someone else's idea of "simplicity" isn't simple at all.  We have complicated lives, and we need to give ourselves the permission to have wardrobes no more or less complicated than having what we need when we need it, and not over-shopping ourselves into disorganization.

Seriously, I am paring down slowly, and replacing items I don't like slowly, without the need to head to the store and shop to replace what I'm giving away.

Have you had a mind-blowing experience trying to follow the Project 333 guidelines (which is great for some people, by the way, and I am in no way saying it isn't a worthwhile endeavor if your life "fits" the rules)?  Share in the comments!

Want to read more blog posts like this one?  Try

Stitch Fix Review: Styling at 40
Life Lessons from a Ukulele Learner
Arts and Crafts and Healing
Using the Nice Dishes
Instead of Watching Television

Copyright Amy Lynn Hess.  Please contact the author for permission to republish.

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