A minimalist capsule wardrobe: hints and tips

I’ve been doing The Project 333 for three years now*.

The Project 333 is all about having a wardrobe that contains 33 items of clothing – or less – and working within those limits to find clothing that fits your lifestyle and meets your needs.

When I first began capsuling, I was not convinced that having less would give me more options, but it has. These days, not only do I own less, but what I own must

  • Fit my colour code of blue and green. I then use black and grey as base colours (for bottoms and shoes etc.), and yellow and coral as “contrast colours” for accessories to give a bit of pizazz,
  • Fit my body, as it is, here and now (no clothing for “when I lose weight”). If I can’t fit into it, it doesn’t belong in my wardrobe,
  • Be of good quality. No cheap, crappy design-to-fall-apart items, and
  • Fit my lifestyle – be items I wear on a regular basis, for the way I live and am active.

Sticking to a colour code has helped me be more selective when choosing items for my wardrobe, and helps all my items work well together. Many wardrobe capsulers do the same thing. Commonly selected colours include black, grey and cream, but you can choose whatever colours you like.

Sticking with clothing that fits is a no-brainer. Before I started capsuling a literal majority of items in my wardrobe were stuff that didn’t fit, or that I didn’t wear for various reasons. Life is too short to have a wardrobe full of too-small clothing that makes you feel bad!

Sticking to good quality helps me look my best. I’m not a fashionista and never will be, but at least when I wear good quality clothes I look presentable, neat and tidy. Nobody ever looks great in cheap, tatty clothing. If you can’t afford good quality items new, but good quality items secondhand instead. You’ll look better than new cheap rubbish.

Stick to items that fit your lifestyle. For me, that’s jeans and merino tops (which are a little bit tidier than t-shirts). Have a wardrobe that works.

It’s fine to break the rules too – if you’re a businessperson half the time and a jeans and t-shirt person the other half of the time, have a separate capsule for each part of your life. In my case, I have a separate mini-capsule (10 items or less) of gym clothing that I only wear for working out.

Myths about capsule wardrobes

  • Capsule wardrobes do not have to be black, white and grey. Yes, it looks pretty on YouTube, but if these shades do not suit you, or you don’t like to dress this way, don’t have a wardrobe full of them! My wardrobe is based on shades of blue and green – my favourite colours – and black is limited. I own nothing white.
  • You don’t have to own “classic” anything! You’ll see so many lists telling you about “must-have classics” and “necessary basics”. None of it is true. Own what works, and what you like. For me that’s jeans and leggings, plus 50s style dresses for summer. For you, that might be something completely different. Base your decisions on your lifestyle, your body and your tastes.
  • Making mistakes is fine. Everyone buys clothing they expect to wear then never do. We all make mistakes. Just don’t keep them! Learn from your mistakes, and pass them on to someone who will wear them. Better yet, return them for a refund if you can. But don’t feel guilty. Everyone makes mistakes. I know – I’ve made plenty!
  • If you’re unsure, box it up! Not sure about letting an item go? Box it up! Then, after three months, if you didn’t need it, it’s probably ready to go someplace else. The exception to this is seasonal clothing such as heavy coats, bikinis etc.

Capsuling is a skill that takes time to learn. Be kind to yourself, and you’ll be so glad you gave it a go! I sure am! ๐Ÿ™‚

*You can read what I’m wearing by clicking the Capsule Wardrobe tabs on the top of this blog.

Capsule wardrobes for changing body weights and shapes

Today I’m going to talk about the five keys to successful wardrobe management for changing body weights and shapes.

Your body might change due to age, lifestyle, or you might be going through repeated pregnancies. Some people yoyo up and down a fair bit, and others are athletes whose weight and muscle mass goes up and down as they compete.

Whatever the reason, there are five keys that can help to plan a capsule wardrobe that will keep you looking great at any shape or stage in life.

The five keys to managing a successful capsule wardrobe when your weight fluctuates are:

1. Know your current body shape – and make peace with it.
2. Keep your active wardrobe small and in one place.
3. Use boxing and storage to manage non-fitting clothes.
4. Stick to a colour palette that works for your skin tone.
5. Ignore garment sizes on labels – they can be very misleading!

1. Know your current body shape and make peace with it.

Making peace with your current body shape can be hard, especially if you’ve changed a lot from how you’d like to be, but it is the only way you can ever look your best.

People always look their best in clothing that fits. If it’s too tight or too loose, or simply feels the wrong shape, it needs to be moved out of your active wardrobe.

Clothing that doesn’t fit properly never looks great. It’s that simple.

You might find you need to go up or down a size or two since you last bought new items. That’s fine. Everyone changes over our lifetimes. That’s normal.

Make peace. Accept your body as it is. It’s the only body you’ll ever have, after all! ๐Ÿ™‚

2. Keep your active wardrobe small.

The concept of an active wardrobe is central to those of us who change shape, or whose weight fluctuates.

An active wardrobe consists of everyday clothing items that are relevant to you, who you are, and the current time of year, here and now.

Nothing else, no matter how beloved or how beautiful, belongs in your active wardrobe.

Your active wardrobe is the clothing you reach for, day in day out, to look your best and feel comfortable. It’s your core wardrobe.

Your active wardrobe includes all the items you currently wear:

  • that are seasonally appropriate,
  • are relevant to your location i.e. if you live in Singapore, where it’s hot all year round, your beautiful down jacket does not belong in your active wardrobe, even if it looks great!
  • are a great fit,
  • make you feel great when you wear them, and
  • are in good condition.

If any item does not meet all of these requirements, it does not belong in your active wardrobe.

Managing an active wardrobe is simple: If an item doesn’t fit you right here, right now, today, box it, donate it, or throw it away. Then repeat the process every 2-3 months. I schedule my wardrobe checks in my calendar.

I prefer to hang up everything I currently wear – including t-shirts and jeans – keeping drawer space for underwear, sportswear and nightwear only.

That way, I can see at a glance all of my options at the start of the day.

By hanging everything, clothes stay aired and fresh, and un-creased. I like to use cedar wardrobe hangars to keep moths away, and I have a few bags of lavender hanging in my wardrobe to keep everything extra-fresh.

By keeping your active wardrobe small, you can maintain your clothing properly, and make sure everything is well-kept and in good condition.

If anything starts getting too tight or too loose, or looks shabby, put it into one of three piles:

  1. If it’s great and you want to keep wearing it when you change shape again, store it properly.
  2. If it’s in good condition, but you won’t wear it ever again, donate it.
  3. If it’s in poor condition, throw it away or cut it up for dust cloths.

If you’re capsuling – and I strongly recommend this! – your active wardrobe should be no larger than about 30-40 items, including accessories.

I use The Project 333 to guide my wardrobe capsuling, and it’s awesome, but whatever system works for you is fine.

I find that about 30 items of clothing is plenty for me day-to-day, plus a separate sportswear capsule of about 10 items.

2. Use boxing and storage.

If an item doesn’t fit you right here, right now, today, box it, donate it, or throw it away.

I box my clothes that don’t fit in a big plastic crate which I store in my wardrobe, together with my off-season clothing.

I also put lavender bags and some cedar balls in the crate to keep bugs away.

Because we live in a damp climate, I collect those little silica gel sachets from shoe stores, and put them in my storage box too, to keep away damp. They seem to really help keep my clothes in great condition!

Wherever you decide to store your clothing, check it won’t get damp – ruined clothing is no good to anyone!

Go through boxed clothing every three months, and discard anything that wont be worn again.

Sometimes I’ll bring an old item out of storage because it’s seasonable again, or because I’ve dropped a bit of weight and it looks great again. Other times I’ll decide I’m really never going to wear something again, and I donate or throw it away.

Do whatever works for you. But by keeping items that you aren’t currently wearing out of view, your active wardrobe will remain uncluttered and dressing well will be so much easier!

4. Stick to a colour palette that works with your skin tone.

Understanding the tones and hues that work well on you makes a huge difference in looking your best.

Here’s a quick and easy flowchart to help you figure out what “season” you are with the original, four season system by Color Me Beautiful. A quick search online (or on Pinterest) will give you a full palette of colours and tones that will suit you.

color me beautiful 4 season flowchart

An easy way to determine which season you are, with the 4 season flowchart

You can also choose a set palette of colours to work from. My palette is:

BASE COLORS: Black, Denim
ACCENT COLORS: Blue, Purple, Green
POP COLORS: Coral & Warm Red.

(I’m a “Spring” in the Color Me Beautiful system.)

Choose colours that will work well together and that you enjoy.

A snapshot from Color Me Beautiful. Learning what colors suit you can make a huge difference in looking your best.

A snapshot from Color Me Beautiful. Learning what colors suit you can make a huge difference in looking your best.

5. Ignore sizes on garments – they can be very misleading!

Clothing can vary a huge amount, regardless of the size on the label. This can make shopping online really tricky.

In most cases, when shopping online, you’ll find a “Contact Us” link – feel free to contact the sales staff and ask for more information about the garment, including length, waist size etc. Some brands are known to run large while other run very tight.

As a general rule, American sizes are much larger than European, which are much larger again than Asian sizes. Australian and New Zealand manufacturers are somewhere between the US and the UK in sizing and fit.

Summary

Anyone can capsule, and capsuling works particularly well for people who have a changing body shape to deal with, because so many of our clothes may not fit us at any given time.

The concept of an active wardrobe can make a huge difference. Give it a go, and see how it makes things easier for you!

Happy capsuling!

minimalist wardrobe

My current capsule wardrobe.

What two years of minimalism has taught me

I’ve been minimalist for two years, so I wanted to talk about how everything is going and where I’m at.

Peace and calm can come from having less.

Peace and calm can come from having less.

Where I was

I used to have a garage stuffed with belongings and broken things.
I had a wardrobe stuffed with clothing I never wore, yet nothing seemed to fit me.
I had huge amounts of jewelry I never wore.
I had heaps of kid toys I needed to get rid of, and outgrown kid clothing that was still hanging around. I couldn’t seem to get rid of baby items either!
My kitchen drawers could barely open and I couldn’t find anything.

I didn’t realise how much the mess was making me depressed. Everywhere I looked, I saw clutter instead of calm, and it got me down.

I started avoiding dealing with any sort of cleaning, simply because it was too much. Which made everything worse of course.

The mess was a vicious cycle that was bad for my mental health and physical well-being. They do say that people who live in cluttered homes have more illness. Upon reflection, I can understand why.

Where I’m at

The garage

The garage is no longer stuffed.

The amount of stuff in it is still dropping. I’m still clearing belongings out, still selling stuff, but the progress is slow now, as we’re down to the dregs of it.

We live on a farm, so our garage hosts everything from animal feed and lamb crooks to our washer and dryer and a huge deep freeze. Our laundry is also out here. Two years ago, it was piled high with stuff we never used! These days we have much less stuff in our garage than we had when we lived in an apartment.

We live on a farm, so our garage hosts everything from animal feed and lamb crooks to our washer and dryer and a huge deep freeze. Our laundry is also out here. Two years ago, it was piled high with stuff we never used! These days, we have much less stuff in our garage than we had when we lived in an apartment.

Once we sell the farm, we’ll also sell the farm equipment we’ll no longer need, keeping only a few standard gardening and house maintenance items.

My wardrobe

I only have clothing I wear. I clear items out regularly if I find I’m not wearing them. I still make shopping mistakes, but I’d say I’m a recovering shopaholic now, on her way to healing. I’ve been doing the Project 333 for three years now, and I’m where I want to be.

minimalist wardrobe

My current capsule wardrobe.

Jewellery

I gave away most of my jewellery. Cheap pieces went to charity, and valuable pieces went to friends who I thought would enjoy them. It’s nice to see a friend wear an item that I never wore.

Jewellery should be passed on, shared and enjoyed – not hidden away. And I found jewellery is rarely worth much to sell secondhand.

My bedroom

My bedroom is tidy. I have some rules that help me to do that, such as three belongings only per surface and if it ain’t a “display item”, don’t display it! These rules help me keep life in control, and keep my room as an oasis of calm and peace.

I’ll talk about my rules to help me stay organised and keep the clutter away in a separate, upcoming post.

My room is a haven for me. It never used to be this way.

My room is a haven for me. It never used to be this way.

Baby items…and sentimental items

All the large baby items and general baby stuff is all gone.

I created a “treasures box” to keep precious children’s stuff in – their first baby outfits, and their first baby rugs. The box also holds other small sentimental items I want to keep safe. It’s about twice the size of a shoebox, and I find that’s all the space I need.

Then I sold big items at a low price to a friend whose baby was coming soon, and gave the rest to charity. It made me feel good to know I was helping other parents at this special time in life, when everything is so expensive.

Having a “treasures box” helps me take care of these extra-special keepsakes. I sometimes open it up, and hold these soft, beautiful things for a while…and have a bit of a cry ๐Ÿ™‚

Kids rooms

I go through the kids’ rooms regularly too.

They have nothing but clothes that fit and items they use, plus a few keepsakes. Their rooms are tidy all the time now (mostly!) because their rooms aren’t crammed with stuff.

My 9 year old daughter's room. No, I didn't tidy it. She keeps it neat, and cleans it herself.

My 9 year old daughter’s room. No, I didn’t tidy it. She keeps it neat, and cleans it herself.

My kitchen is easy to navigate these days, and the drawers are all uncluttered. Life is easier as a result, and cooking is less of a chore. Keeping food stocks to fewer items helps.

Clearing out the kitchen was a long process that took months, one cupboard at a time. Kitchens are prone to clutter!

Clearing out the kitchen was a long process that took months, one cupboard at a time. Kitchens are prone to clutter!

I’ve accepted that I’m not a gourmet chef and will never have my place on Master Chef New Zealand! You know what? I’m okay with that ๐Ÿ™‚

Instead, I cook healthy, simple food for my family, and that’s good enough. The media dumps a lot of expectations of us, and realising that many of these are unrealistic is a key part of learning minimalism and being happy with who we are.

I’m not saying things are perfect…

Far from it! Life is still a work in progress. But every month feels better and better, and I feel more on top of my life with every step, not less.

I didn’t realise how much my problems had to do with simply owning too much stuff. I couldn’t ever clean the house because picking up the junk was a mission before I could even begin to clean!

Looking at the mess made me feel so tired, and I didn’t really know how or where to start. I didn’t know how to cope. I felt lost at sea within my own home, and a place that should have been a safe space of rest and contentment was a disaster area of chaos and noise and clutter.

I thought that maybe buying better stuff would help, or maybe buying the right stuff. But what I have learned is the key to sanity is having less stuff altogether.

Through minimalism, I’m learning that…

I’m not a fashion model, but I can look great.

I’m not a home decorating expert, but my home can be a friendly, welcoming oasis for my family and friends.

I’m not a crafty person who knits and sews and…well, I’m just NOT! But I have other skills ๐Ÿ˜‰

I’m not a Supermum, but I can encourage and support my kids in getting organised and keeping their rooms, bodies and lives neat, clean and planned.

I’m not a Master Chef, but I can prepare great, healthy food for my loved ones 3 meals a day, 7 days a week, 52 weeks a year, and that’s pretty special!

Minimalism is teaching me that it’s okay to just be Me. With all my imperfections, and all my not-quite-rights.

You know, the mass media teaches us to believe that every aspect of our lives much be exceptional in a way that requires lots and lots of stuff, and then it tries to sell us all kinds of products to create that exceptional, stuff-filled life.

But that’s wrong. Being pretty much okay in a whole stack of areas can add up to being pretty exceptional overall.

Minimalism teaches me that it’s time to stop looking at what we’re supposed to be, and instead take a good look in the mirror at who we actually are.

Usually that’s pretty good. And if we’re loving partners, caring parents, and thoughtful citizens, then we’re probably doing all right.

So that’s where I’m at.
I’m doing all right.
With less stuff, and more calm.

5 benefits of a minimalist capsule wardrobe

There are lots of benefits of having a minimalist capsule wardrobe. Whether you stop at 33 items, like I do with The Project 333, or you go to something smaller with the 10 item wardrobe, it’s up to you.

But one thing is certain: you probably won’t go back once you’ve tried it!

5 benefits of a minimalist capsule wardrobe

More money. I don’t shop for a hobby any more. Instead, I shop when I need to, and I know what I need because I don’t have clutter in my cupboards that prevents me figuring out what I actually need.

A better wardrobe overall. I’m no fashion guru. At all. I don’t get fashion. But these days my wardrobe is manageable, and everything I have in my wardrobe fits me and looks good. I dress better, and I’m not afraid to spend money on good quality items because I know I’ll wear them when I buy them.

Better wear from my clothing. Because I have fewer clothes, I get better value from the items I have, as I wear each item more often.

Fewer mistakes. I still make mistakes, but there are less of them, as I have a better sense of what works for me now. De-cluttering my wardrobe really helped me get a better sense of my own style.

Knowing what to wear when. I stopped living in sports clothes and lounge-wear, because having fewer items enabled me to separate out separate sportswear and home-wear capsules. So now I know that Ugg boots are for home, and yoga pants are for the gym. Yes, I was that clueless about fashion! Even if you’re a fashion diva, having a minimalist wardrobe will help you organise your clothing better.

minimalist wardrobe

My current capsule wardrobe.

My minimalist wardrobe: Capsuling through three years

I’ve been doing The Project 333 – a capsule wardrobe programme – for three years now.

It has been a huge learning experience, and you can follow my capsuling trials – and errors! – in the “Capsule wardrobe” tabs in the menu of this blog.

When I first started The Project, I did as suggested and dragged all the clothes I owned out on to the bedroom floor and counted them. I was stunned to find I owned over 200 items of clothing! Most of it I hadn’t worn in ages, a lot of it didn’t fit me, and some of it even had labels still attached.

It was a mess. It reflected my haphazard approach to shopping, my need to self-medicate by buying stuff, and my general dissatisfaction with my body, plus a whole stack of other issues I’ve been dealing with across the years.

They say a cluttered home is a reflection of a cluttered mind. A cluttered wardrobe is no exception.

These days, now I’m entering my third year doing The Project, my wardrobe is sleek and small, and I wear everything I own. When I make a buying mistake – because I still make buying mistakes – I send them back to the shop or sell them as soon as I can, so they don’t become clutter.

But I make far fewer mistakes than I did three years ago. I shop less. I save money. I dress better. Capsuling works.

So here’s my wardrobe these days:

minimalist wardrobe

I got rid of about 30 hangers, but I still have too many spare hangers in my wardrobe – you can see them hanging in the wardrobe here. So more decluttering still needs to be done. It’s an ongoing process for most people. It certainly has been for me.

And my shoes:

I own four pairs of shoes in my capsule. Probably too many. There's also a pair of uggs (slippers don't count) and crocs for gardening (loungewear / gardening wear doesn't count).

I own four pairs of shoes in my capsule. Probably too many. There’s also a pair of uggs (slippers don’t count) and crocs for gardening (loungewear / gardening wear doesn’t count).

Apart from what you see I have one drawer of t-shirts and jeans I own two pair of jeans and four t-shirts), another drawer for my sportswear capsule (I’ll do a second post on sub-capsules), and a drawer for my underwear. Plus some crocs for gardening and a pair of ugg boots for homewear (neither counts in the capsule, according to The Rules of Project 333).

Lessons I’ve learned from three years of capsuling

There’s still room for improvement. That’s just life! I’m still paring down and still learning. But here are some of the things I’ve learned over the last three years I’d like to share:

Quality counts. Good quality costs more, but it wears better, feels better and last longer. I spend more money on items like jeans, jackets, shoes and belts, and it is worth every cent. Especially with shoes!

Fit counts. These days I don’t worry about the size on the label so much. If the size on the label feels too big, I snip it out! ๐Ÿ™‚ Instead, I pay attention to how an item fits when I put it on, and especially check leg and sleeve length. If it doesn’t fit properly it is never worth keeping.

Life is too short for broken clothes. If you can afford to not wear broken clothes, don’t wear them! Or get them mended. Don’t ever put up with missing buttons, gaping shirts that are too small, stains on shirts, pilled jumpers, shoes that pinch and frayed collars. Don’t look shabby. If money is an issue, you’d be surprised what is available in secondhand shops and charity stores – especially for men. My partner has bought excellent business shirts in as-new condition for very little (NZD$4 each) by buying secondhand. This world is awash in great secondhand clothing in excellent condition – all you have to do is look.

Accept the body you have. Here and now. Face reality, and be your best self today. This is a tough one. I’ve spent most of my life being unhappy with my body in one way or another. It’s something a lot of people are familiar with. But I know this: wearing a size that is too small, or hiding in shapeless clothes while waiting for that magical day when you’re suddenly “the right size” is a waste of who you are, here and now. Make peace with your body, and wear clothes that make the best of your real, current physical self.

Just because you bought it doesn’t mean you have to keep it. I’ve bought lots of “mistakes” in my life – clothes I liked in the store but when I got them home I didn’t like them or didn’t wear them for some reason. If you can, return them. If not, sell or give them away. Everyone makes mistakes but that doesn’t mean you have to house them in your wardrobe forever!

Nobody notices when you wear the same item more than once. They really, really don’t. Think about it: can you honestly describe what your friends were wearing last time you saw them? Or your co-workers? Most people can’t even recall what they had for dinner last night! (I can’t.) While most people will remember a particuarly beautiful dress or a striking top it’s true, they won’t realise how small your wardrobe is when you capsule. They’ll only remember how good you look (or how bad). So take advantage of that fact and…

Own a small number of beautiful, good-quality, comfortable items you love to wear. Don’t waste your time with a huge wardrobe of meaningless clothing. Choose wisely and well. These days I spend my money on a mix of beautiful dresses and ultra-comfy clothing for casual wear. Everything fits. I wear – and like – everything I own.

Happy capsuling!

Capsule wardrobes – for kids!

A capsule wardrobe works particularly well for kids.

Teaching kids to buy fewer items not only enables them to keep their rooms tidier, but it also encourages them to care for their clothing properly and to choose well when buying.

Here’s a basic list, based on the Project 333 capsule wardrobe plan, that will suit most kids aged 2 – 20. I don’t believe that kids need accessories and high fashion items either, not at least until they’re buying their own clothes, so these are purely practical items.

The Project 333 – Kid Style!

Uniform

If your child has a school uniform, here’s a basic list (11 items). This may differ from school to school

  • 2 x shirt / blouse
  • 2 x shorts / skirt
  • 1 x school jersey / jumper
  • 5 x school socks
  • 1 x school tie
  • 1 x school raincoat
  • 1 x school shoes
  • 1 x sports school top
  • 1 x sports school shorts / skirt
  • 1 x sports school shoes

Home – outerwear

Clothing that is all-year-round works best and is better value (19 items)
Raincoat

  • 2 x winter jackets / hoodies
  • 2 x long sleeve t-shirt
  • 2 x jeans
  • 2 x t-shirt
  • 2 x shorts / skirt
  • 2 x summer dress (girls)
  • 1 x winter dress (girls)
  • 1 x swimsuit
  • 1 x sandals
  • 1 x sneakers
  • 1 x jandals or crocs
  • 1 x ugg boots (slippers)
  • 1 x gumboots

Home – underwear and shoes

The Project 333 doesn’t count loungewear, pyjamas or underwear in the 33 item restriction)

  • 5 x socks
  • 7 x undies
  • 3 x pyjamas
  • 2 x onesie

Project 333: What I’ve learned in 1.5 years of The Project

I’ve been doing The Project 333 – a minimalist Capsule Wardrobe Project – for a year and a half now. I started in August 2014, and I’ve nearly come full circle.

I’ve learned a lot, and I want to share it with you. I’ve made some important mistakes along the way, and I hope my mistakes will help others who are trying to simplify their wardrobes and their lives.

When I began

When I started doing The Project 333, I had no idea about:

  • what suited me,
  • what I needed in my wardrobe,
  • what quality meant, and
  • what I needed to buy.

I was a gym junkie living in tracksuit bottoms, t-shirts and hoodies. That was my uniform, day in, day out. I had pretty much nothing else in my wardrobe, and I had no idea how to approach fashion. Fashion confused me, so I hid in sports clothes.

Despite having read countless books and articles on how to assemble a wardrobe, the “classic wardrobe” type articles seemed farย more about what to wear for other peopleย than what might work for me.

Why I found fashion so hard

Fashion was hard for me because I’m hard to fit. I’m tall (5’11”) and broad-shouldered, so even at my leanest I’m a size 16-18 in tops. And I’m long-limbed – finding jeans long enough was (and is) a nightmare. Short people have it easy by comparison – at least they can cut the extra length off!

I wear size 11 shoes, so I couldn’t “just go shoe shopping” when I felt bad about myself either. Most clothing shops had little to fit but, me being muscular rather than chubby, the “plus size” shops had little to offer. What they did have was frumpy and fit poorly, and felt like it belonged on my grandmother rather than me.

In short, I felt like fashion was for everyone except me. If you’ve ever felt uncatered-for by fashion, you’ve probably got a pretty good idea of where I was, two years ago. Lost.

Starting with minimalism

“Because my wardrobe was so crammed full of junk, I never could see what I actually needed. It was covered up by everything I didn’t need…”

I didn’t have much hope for The Project 333, in the beginning. But that quickly changed.

You see, The Project 333 worked because it started with what I already had, and encouraged me to question why I wore certain clothes I owned and not others.

Instead of looking at what I couldn’t have and what didn’t work out there in the shops (just about everything!), it began by starting with what I did have, and what did work for me.

In short, it focused on the positives rather than the negatives.

By focusing on a small number of items, The Project 333 also helped me figure out what I actually needed for my day-to-day.

I found for example, in Capsule 1, that despite having great tops I didn’t have jeans that fit! I had precisely one pair of jeans that fit me, once I’d pulled everything out of my wardrobe and done an initial assessment, and those jeans were in bad shape. You’d think it would have been obvious, but no. You see, because my wardrobe was so crammed full of junk, I never could see what I actually needed. It was covered up by everything I didn’t need.

I took a good look at what was in my wardrobe and worked well for me, then focused on those manufacturers, to start with. They were to become my hunting ground.

I made plenty of mistakes, especially at first. I learned, for starters, that there are no clothes that work for me available in Dunedin. I’d love to shop locally, but I can’t. Until this changes, I shop online and mainly overseas, because that is where the clothing that fits me is available.

The Project 333ย made assembling a wardrobe affordable, because it began with what I had. I don’t have the money or inclination to spend thousands of dollars on designer clothing, as suggested in magazines and books. It wasn’t going to happen. The Project 333 was based in reality – my reality. It never told me what to wear – it helped me figure it out, by myself, for myself.

The Project helped me learn that I had – and have – a style of my own.
I learned I love leather, and vintage clothing.
I learned I love jeans.
I learned I love bright colours.
I learned it’s okay to make mistakes – as long as you send them back when you do!
I learned I love clothes that fit and work well.
I learned that cheap is, well, cheap, and you do get what you pay for. And sometimes – more often than I’d like – you don’t even get that.

Over the last two years I’ve learned to love dresses. I experimented with maxi dresses, only to find they didn’t work in the city for me – you know, escalators! More recently, I’ve moved into vintage style knee-length and tea-length dresses. Not only do they feel and look great, they’re very practical for pretty much any event.

What I’d do differently from the start…

No cheap clothes! If I could do the Project over, I wouldn’t buy cheap clothes. Ever. Every time I’ve bought cheap clothes – usually tops – they’ve looked cheap and they’ve not lasted. In two cases, they shrunk ridiculously on first wash (one top shrunk a good six inches in length!) and became unwearable.

Don’t buy just for the sake of buying! I bought a black shirt and a white shirt because “the Experts” told me I had to have both in my wardrobe. Except I don’t. The truth is, I don’t have to have anything in my wardrobe that I don’t choose to put there, that I don’t love and that I don’t want to wear. These days, I ignore “Experts”. I’ve realised they’re just trying to sell me stuff I don’t need or want.

Learn to return! I’d also have returned things that I didn’t really love. I buy a lot of items online – and always have – but when I first started the Project, I kept some items thinking I could grow to love them. That was unwise. If I didn’t love them now, I was unlike to ever love them later.

Stick to 33 items! I’d have stuck more tightly to the number 33 in items. At various points I exceeded 33 in items. I should have stuck to that number more tightly, and been quicker to get rid of items I was never going to wear. I guess I’m just someone who takes a while to accept when I made a mistake! ๐Ÿ˜‰

If I don’t like it now, I’ll never like it in the future! I was slow to get rid of items I’d bought then didn’t wear, at first. I kept on telling myself I’ll wear them…eventually. But “eventually” never came. It took me more than a year to realise that if I don’t like something now, I’m not going to start liking it later. Sometimes I don’t even understand why I don’t like something, but if it’s not me, it won’t ever be me.

And on…

I’m looking forward to continuing my journey with The Project 333. I strongly recommend it. I’m no fashionista – not yet! – but these days I scrub up well.

I don’t step outside in tracksuit bottoms – unless I’m off to the gym or I’m working outside in the garden. I even wear jewelry and a few accessories, which is something I never thought I’d do. And the crusty old t-shirts are long gone.

Are you doing The Project 333 – or some other Capsule Wardrobe project? How is it going, and have you learned anything you’d like to share?

My capsule wardrobe, as it was. Everything is still here 1.5 years on, except the plain blue shirt and the plain white one.

My capsule wardrobe, as it was. Everything is still here 1.5 years on, except the plain blue shirt and the plain white one.