What Is Project 333 and Should You Try It?

Wednesday, August 24, 2022

Today's post is from a blogger I have just adored for a while now - Jessalynn Jones from Doable Simplicity
I really love clothes. As a retro boho gal who loves to sew I often dream of my next project and always love putting together fun colorful outfits. But I’m also a minimalist and I needed to find a way to keep my clothing in check. That’s where a minimalist fashion challenge called Project 333 came to the rescue. What is a Project 333 and how did it work for me? Let me tell all! The good, the bad, and the ugly…

How a Fashionista Found Project 333

You may be wondering how I could ever think of trying a minimalist fashion challenge if I love clothes so much. You may even be wondering how I became a minimalist in the first place.

Well, I lived in a 300 square foot studio apartment for almost 10 years and my current living situation is similar, although in a home we share with my parents. When you live in a small space you kind of naturally become a minimalist, unless you want to lose your mind.

And I do a great job of being a minimalist in most parts of my life, but clothes...well clothes have always been my Achilles heel.

In the apartment I had switch out all my clothes twice a year and reorganize my closet mid season because they were packed so tightly.

I have gone through my clothes so many times and every time I do I swear they bred like rabbits when I wasn’t looking! I don’t even shop! But clothes find me. And I love them.

As a minimalist though, I knew I wanted to tackle my addiction and I knew that simplifying my wardrobe with Project 333 would help me detox!

What is Project 333 Anyway?

Have you ever heard of Project 333? It’s a minimalist fashion challenge created by Courtney Carver in an effort to simplify her daily routine. In her book about Project 333 she explained how much she used to shop and how many clothes with tags she had sitting in her closet and storage.

She had a big clothing addiction to tackle but she was done with all the stress and guilt it brought into her life so she put almost all her clothes away for 3 months. Everything but 33 items. The rules were simple.

What are the Project 333 rules? They are as follows:

* You get to wear 33 of your favorite clothing items for 3 months.
* Everything else gets hidden away.
* Your 33 items include jewelry, coats, belts, shoes, hats, etc.
* They do not include pajamas, undies, or workout clothes you work out in.
* At the end of 3 months you may continue or quit or find a middle ground.

It’s really pretty simple. But as I listened to the book I got more and more terrified. And then I put it off for 6 months.

The Selection Process

Finally, at the beginning of 2022 I decided it was time to try Project 333 and I wanted to keep track of the whole process on my blog.

The first thing was the closet clean out. I had always changed my closet from Spring and Summer clothes to Fall and Winter clothes so I had 3 months from October to December to see all of my cold weather clothes and decide what to keep in my 33 item wardrobe for January through March.

I went back and forth and changed my mind a lot but in the end these are the basic criteria I followed to build my Project 333 wardrobe:

* Everything has to fit well and be comfortable.
* Each item must work with at least 3 other items to make a minimum of 3 outfits.
* I love color but I stuck to basically 3 colors and 1 nuetral.
* Shoes had to be functional for multiple scenarios.
* My work clothes (workout clothes cause I clean houses did not count at all.)
* I had one coat that had to work for everything.

I wrote a list of clothes that were going to be with me from January to March. I edited that list every other day in December and then the day finally came to put all my other clothes away.

I got a cup of tea, put on some music, and the job was done before I knew it!

I had thought my clothes were pretty paired down before that but suddenly my closet looked almost terrifyingly empty. It was time to give Project 333 a try!

Month 1 of Project 333

So how was it? Well in the first month I couldn’t believe how much easier it made life. It took so much less time to get ready in the morning! Getting out the door was a breeze because I didn’t have to decide which shoes or coat to wear.

All this time and energy saved went towards other things like practicing my violin and reading. You wouldn’t think that 15 minutes in the morning could make that kind of difference but it definitely felt like I had found real freedom!

I was also pleasantly surprised by the fact that I didn’t even use all 33 items in that first month and I had no duplicate outfits! How was that even possible? But it was!

Sure I used several items multiple times but I never duplicated an outfit in that month and I never even got around to using a couple of my items.

By the end of the first month I was ecstatic! I had finally found freedom in 33 items of clothes!

Month 2

February was exciting too! I finally reached the end of my outfit combinations but I was excited to try new and different outfits I wouldn’t normally put together.

Some of those outfits were hits and some were misses but it was a lot of fun playing with my clothes when I felt creative.

Other days I went for my old standbys and that was great too. I didn’t have to put any thought into my outfit for the day and yet it always looked great.

I was learning that when you only have a few clothes but they all make you look great you don’t even have to try to be stylish. In fact, I felt more stylish than I ever had with my huge closet full of stuff!

At the end of month 2 I loved Project 333 and I thought I would do it for the rest of my life!

Month 3

But then month 3 hit me like a ton of rocks. The first problem finally showed up.

I had only included a black puffer jacket but we were having beautiful days in the 60s. I needed a light jacket instead of a winter coat. It also became apparent that my shoes were not practical for all situations.

Now those problems could probably fixed with a little forethought but I didn’t want to suffer so I just got the things I needed out of storage. So what if I was up to 35 items in the 3rd month.

But then, about half way through the month another problem overwhelmed me. I was so done with all my clothes and every morning getting dressed felt like digging my own grave. It made me so depressed to put those clothes on AGAIN.

By the end of month three I could not wait to change out my closet! All of my creative juices had dried up and I was window shopping online dying for variety!

The Pros

So I did it! I survived Project 333 and despite the last 2 weeks being pretty rough I really did love it! So what were the pros of a 33 item closet?

* Getting ready faster.
* Feeling more stylish cause everything in my closet was awesome!
* Being more confident every day.
* A VERY tidy closet.
* Easier laundry days.
* Less decisions. More brain power for other things.

I can honestly say that if you are a normal person who likes clothes but doesn’t feel like they are a major part of your artistic expression you will love Project 333. In fact, if you try it you will probably never turn back!

The Cons

Now, too be fair their were a few cons for me. But a lot of these cons could have just been first time mistakes.

I can easily see how I could make better decisions the second time around. For example I included two items I really didn’t like that much.

So what were the problems I faced? Only a few:

* I didn’t include good practical shoes that I needed. (Blame the fact that my whole life was on Zoom at the beginning.)
* I did include a couple items that really weren’t that practical.
* If it was summer and not winter I probably would need a couple more bottoms because of sweating. In winter I got plenty of re-wears. 
* My desire to be creative with my clothing was not fully quenched by the outfit combinations I was able to make. (But not till it was almost time to change things out anyway.)

As you can see, it wasn’t that bad. I would really call all of these things “learning curve” rather than problem. If I was more practical I would have been fine.

What I Learned

All in all the Project 333 wardrobe challenge was one of the best things I EVER did! Why do I say that? Because I learned soooo much!

I was amazed at the fear I felt, the feeling of scarcity, when I saw my closet with only 33 items in it. But I was more than stunned at how far those 33 items were able to take me. It taught me that you really don’t need as much you think you do.

Another thing I loved about my experience was really dialing in on my style. I finally let go of skinny jeans, realized that burgundy is my best color, and found I really don’t like anything that is tight. Just think, I’ve been torturing myself for years and now I finally know how to look and feel good!

Breaking the Rules! What is Project 333 Your Way?

So have I continued Project 333? Well...not strictly. I decided to break the rules a little bit. I adjusted the parameters a little bit in ways that Courtney Carver herself actually mentions in her book. How do I bend and break the rules?

* I count a week’s worth of “uniforms” for my professional job as one item.
* Jewelry, outerwear, and shoes aren’t included either.
* Maybe it’s 33 items. Maybe it’s a little bit more.
* The dresses I have sewn for myself (my art) don’t count.

These little fudges make me happy. My closet still has a lot less in it during each season. I still change it out for each season which allows me to play with new styles and colors every three months. And I still love having fewer but better choices!

You can play by the rules or break them but I highly recommend you try Project 333 as soon as you can! It’s only 3 months. What do you have to lose? 


Jessalynn Jones writes her blog Doable Simplicity with the goal of helping you simplify your life so you have time and energy for matters most to you! Her blog will help you declutter your life and home so that you can follow your dreams! 

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1 comment:

  1. I have never heard of this before. I have heard of 30x30. I might have to try this project out in the new year.



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