A minimalist wardrobe?

September 10, 2014

To enter my *** GIVEAWAY ***, please click here. Thank you all for the thoughtful comments on my blogging question. I will announce the winner on Monday, September 15. I'll also announce the unofficial "results," which are unclear at this point as there have been some widely varying views.


Perhaps some of you have heard of Project 333. It's been around for several years. The basic idea of it is to choose 33 items of clothing and accessories and wear only those for three months. Everything else you own is boxed up and put away. Three months later, you can re-assess, based on what did or didn't work, or on seasonal needs, and choose your 33 for the next three months. And so on.

My scarf collection is getting out of hand. 

The original project idea is that the 33 items include all clothing, accessories like jewelry and scarves, shoes, and outer wear. It does not include jewelry that you wear every day like a wedding ring or other sentimental item, underpinnings, pajamas, or workout gear.

Before you freak out, or click away, bear with me.

Have you ever stood in front of a closet full of clothes, frustrated because there is nothing to wear? When you are going somewhere special, do you routinely try on several outfits, unsure of which works the best? Do you find yourself buying clothes on impulse or because of a trend, and later wondering what you were thinking?

I am working toward this 33 items at a time, and believe me, it is a brilliant idea. Brilliant, I tell you.

No one could ever accuse me of being a minimalist. Just look at the number of teacups and linens I own. Or books. 

But I also really dislike clutter and disorganization and waste.

I think this system will work for me because:

** I no longer wear anything that is uncomfortable, doesn't fit, is the wrong color on me, is too young for me, or shows more skin than I want. All of those clothes have been donated. Bonus: everything in my closet fits and makes me smile.

I love this bustier, but let's face it; I'm at a point where less skin is more. But it's cute! I paid good money for it! I only wore it twice! But . . . I have a picture of me wearing it, and it has hung there, unworn, for several years now. It's time to let it go. Somebody else will be happy to have it. 
** I've learned to stick to a color palette that allows a lot of mixing and matching. Many people find black, gray, and white, with two pops of color (say red and cobalt) works for them. I am working with navy, gray, and white as my primary colors, with pink and lavender as accents.

** I'm staying away from cheap clothes that pill and fade, and saving up for the best I can afford that will be workhorses for me. One beautiful sweater that lasts for years and looks and feels wonderful on, is so much better than 10 cheap and trendy tops.

** I have started to feel okay about wearing something a couple times a week. That's what I did before anyway, when I had hundreds of things to choose from. Don't you find yourself reaching for the same things? They should be part of your 33.

** I've begun to think of my life as it really is, rather than how I picture it. Do I really need two dozen pairs of heels when I only wear them once, maybe twice a week for a few hours? Just because they're super cute and on sale, doesn't mean they should come home with me.

** It's low risk. You don't have to get rid of everything. In fact, don't. It's only three months. All your other clothes are safe and sound, just boxed up for now. No need to panic.

Perfectly good clothes, but they didn't make the cut. I'll look at them again in December.

** It's flexible. The whole point of this is not suffering; it's freedom. Some people count 33 items of clothing only, and don't count accessories or shoes as part of the 33. Do what works for you.

The interesting thing about this project is that people report that the longer they do this, several things happen: 

* they shop way less, saving oodles of money
* their closet becomes even more curated (and thus, perfect for them) over time
* dressing becomes easy and quick, freeing them to focus on other things
* they actually receive more compliments, I think because they have more style and confidence

There are a number of websites out there with helpful information and encouragement. 

 Project 333 is discussed here. A very helpful website, especially in seeing how a palette of five colors can work together, is The Vivienne Files here. If you really are hardcore, find out how a stylish Francophile lives with a 10-item wardrobe at The Daily Connoisseur here.

I only just embraced this concept after a couple years of hearing about it, and a lot of research on colors and styles that work for me. I still have a ways to go. The time you spend up front, though, is more than paid back in time and money saved later.

I will show what my 33-item wardrobe looks like next week. I've even worked the jewelry and shoes into the total number, which has me panicking a little. (Is this all I get?)

Anybody want to join me?


  1. Fabulous idea - I don't know that I have enough clothes in my closet to actually do this with...maybe jeans! :-) Thinking on it...you're good, girl - I look forward to hearing about how this works out. Darling little bustier - I would have to give that one to my daughter, I'm afraid! Happy Thursday - tomorrow! XOXO

  2. I just went through my clothes over the weekend to get rid of some. I have a few bags of clothing and even a bag of handbags to donate. I need to wear the things I never wear instead of my favorites. That's my goal for the Fall! But what you are doing sounds interesting, too! I wear more of a variety of jewelry than clothes! lol I love my jewelry! Hugs, Diane

  3. You go first Deborah. :-) I purged my shoes a few years back and can count on one hand what I have to wear, not counting flip flops.
    I guess I haven't thought long enough about this project to wrap my head around it like you but I'll read the links you've supplied, follow what you have to share as you progress and lend my support.

  4. Hi Deborah,

    I am in our civic women's club here in my town and our first kick off of the year's new "season" was all about colors and wardrobing - seriously this post has perfect timing, thank you for your inspiration and for the great hints!

  5. Neat idea! I have a set of clothes I wear just about all the time, which I'm guessing would be less than 33 items, but I do have quite a few of what I call "closet decorators"--items that I never wear, but I bought because they were inexpensive and lovely...ahh!

  6. I love this idea! I've been paring down my wardrobe recently anyway, but I really want to go all the way, with this 333 idea.

    I'm also becoming minimalist in other ways, specifically in how I spend my time (online and otherwise). I have learned the art of saying "no" and am less stressed as a result. (I'm actually working on a blog post about that subject.)

    I'm so glad your magazines arrived. Have fun with them.


    P.S. Did you think Denver because I said I was a Bronco fan? I meant Boise State Broncos (orange and blue, just like the NFL Broncos). I live in the greater Boise area.

  7. Oh Deborah, I may just challenge myself to do this in 2015. In April of this year, I FINALLY got rid of many, many clothes, shoes and handbags but still need another go round before I can even start to think about Project 333. I took the 40 bags in 40 days challenge (and donated it to the local Women's Shelter resale store that gives vouchers to the residents to shop). Two things I know for sure: 1) this has been my year to organize and 2) Pinterest is really bad for enticing us to hold on to pure junk in some cases!

    I love your idea, and yes, that was a cute top, and hooray to you for letting it go!

  8. Dearest Deborah,
    The way I dress, depends mostly on the weather and where I'm going. When we still did give seminars, of course you dress more business like. There are events that require still you dress in business attire. But for at home I just grab some shorts in summer with a tee and some sandals. No fuss. For all other occasions I always prepare the entire set, the day before, hanging it ready. I don't see any need for boxing up good garments, to make them wrinkle and be put away for one month. Where would you put them?
    What I always have been doing is sorting my wardrobe into business attire and a few formal pieces. Also keeping a summer and winter closet and I can manage to do so whenever we don't have guests in our Rose Suite so I have that small walk in closet to myself.
    I also have learned that narrow, soft hangers are a lot more efficient than the very broad and heavy ones... So there are a lot of things we can do. My sweaters, tops and tees I have all stacked by color. That gives a quick oversight.
    You can click here: {MY CLOSET LOOKS LIKE A NEAT STORE}
    Sending you hugs,

  9. I'm becoming more minimalist as the years pass. I gave away a few things just today and my fall wardrobe is shaping up. I have never counted the items I wear, but it would be an interesting exercise.

  10. I shall certainly watch with interest, not sure I am ready for that step yet. I am certainly willing to par it all down a little. Good luck.

  11. This really is a brilliant challenge!! Count me in... I'm going to try this challenge too!

  12. What a great idea, Deborah! You have inspired me to take a look at my closet and see if maybe I should do the same thing :)

    Hugs to you, sweet lady!

  13. Hi Deborah, this idea is something I think I started already but did not know about. Remember my closet makeover during the spring? I gave bags of clothes, shoes and purses to GoodWill and kept the pieces I wore the most and was comfortable in. I have an assortment of dress clothes to casual and I keep them separate in another closet in the hallway on our second floor. It helps to keep less in our master closet and to choose from. I love jewelry so I change that out with other accessories that give the same outfit a new look. So to some degree, I think I already do this and it makes life super easy in the mornings getting dressed. Thanks for sharing and have fun trying this going forward. Less is working for me.

    Hugs and Blessings

  14. All I can do is agree with all your thoughts about this. I have not done an official Project 333, but I have edited my wardrobe to pieces I love to wear (MOSTLY!). Yes, choosing what to wear is easier; yes, my closet is roomier; yes, I am a more savvy/discerning shopper. The biggest accomplishment has been learning what I like to wear and what clothing styles flatter me. This has saved me from many mistakes that I would have made in the past. After getting rid of items I no longer like or simply never wear, I think twice before impulse buying and repeating mistakes. Go for it and keep us posted on your thoughts and progress!

  15. This sounds like a wonderful project! It is true that we reach for those favorites in our wardrobe over and over and ignore the rest. I seriously need to do a purge. Not sure I could actually commit to the time, though, but it is a great goal to try and achieve. Most of my wardrobe is from consignment and thrift shops these days, where I can buy good quality clothing for minimal outlay. There is something very satisfying in finding a hand knitted Irish sweater that would have originally cost $150, for only $6. If I get tired of it, I just donate it back. I love the idea of sticking to a color palette. Your colors sound dreamy. This is an interesting project. I look forward to seeing what you have chosen in your 33. If I get to cleaning out my closet soon, perhaps I will join you. xo Karen

  16. I don't think I even have 33 things in my closet. I keep things to a minimal as I can't stand digging through clothes I've grown tired of, never really liked, or they don't fit correctly anymore. When it comes to clothes I'm not sentimental. At the end of a season, if I've loved and worn something a lot, I'm usually done with it so it goes in the giveaway box. If I still love, then I keep for next year.

    Have fun with the project...


  17. I think this is a good idea. Guess what, I have no high heels. Gee, they are not good for our feet, especially our toes! Once a month I go through my closet and look for a few clothing items to donate to a truck that drives around our neighborhood.

  18. Its a great idea and I agree with the idea of buying quality that will last longer rather than cheap that looks bad after one season. I have put a stop to buying new clothes as I own far too many that I need to work through first. And I have decided, if I can make it I will do this rather than buy. It takes longer to make and it requires commitment so I think twice!!

    However my grumble is cardigans that pile, it drives me made and I have found the cost doesn't seem to stop the problem. After a season of too, what use to look nice now looks yuk! Any suggestions :))

  19. This is a cool idea! I don't know if I have the guts to do it :) One problem I regularly have is this: I buy a wonderful top or skirt in a pattern or a print, and have no luck finding something in my wardrobe it goes with! It hangs there forever, lonely. Grrr!


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