My Experience Trying Project 333

Cutting down your closet can make you less stressed and more present.
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Cutting down your closet can make you less stressed and more present.
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Graphic by Ashley Coker

Over the last couple of years, minimalism has become all the rage - think neutral tones, simple pieces, and sleek lines everywhere. The issue with the minimalism trend is that it has become a marketing gimmick to get you to buy all the things. Seems a little counterproductive, doesn't it?

After stocking my closet with neutrals and buying mostly blank dorm decor, my closet and my living space didn't feel any less cluttered or jam-packed. That's when I decided to try an exercise in true minimalism: Project 333

What is Project 333?

Created in 2010 by Courtney Carver of Be More With Less, Project 333 is an exercise intended to help you be more engaged in your life by making your wardrobe much simpler. The only hard and fast rule is that you have to choose just 33 items to wear for three months.   

My Experience with Project 333

After I decided to try Project 333, I sat in front of my closet and enthusiastically started packing things away. Some items were easy to ditch (the screen-printed t-shirt with my seven-year-old face superimposed between Mary Kate and Ashley Olson), while others were more difficult (my old favorite jeans that haven't fit right since 5 pounds and countless pizza slices ago). Nonetheless, all but 33 precious items went in cardboard moving boxes.

My chosen 33 items included:

  • 6 dresses, ranging from casual to cocktail hour-appropriate
  • 2 skirts, one maxi and one mini
  • 5 pairs of business casual pants
  • 4 pairs of jeans, two of which I rolled into capris
  • 2 plain white t-shirts
  • 1 plain black t-shirt
  • 1 white camisole
  • 3 jackets including a blazer
  • 1 cardigan
  • 1 necklace
  • 2 rings
  • 1 pair of boots 
  • 1 pair of flats
  • 1 pair of sandals 
  • 2 pairs of heels 

As you can see, the 33 item limit does include shoes (sigh) and jewelry. Thankfully, it does not include underwear or pajamas. 

So... how did it go?

I started my experiment in January, so the hardest part for me was trying to prepare for all of the South's crazy weather between then and March. If you look at my list, you will notice that it does not include a winter coat. This turned out to be a mistake.

Other than being unprepared for cold and snow (!), dressing myself with only 33 items wasn't all that difficult. I picked versatile staples, like solid-colored shirts, dark- and medium-wash jeans and black pants, then used a patterned blazer, a colorful jacket, and a fringed cardigan to dress them up. The only real variable from day-to-day was the outermost layer of my outfit (I did have to add a warm coat when it snowed), but I never got bored, and getting dressed in the morning was a breeze.

Because I knew I looked good in all the pieces I chose, I was less self-conscious and more confident when out and about or giving an important presentation. I found myself fidgeting with my clothes less and taking less time to dress and re-dress before events. It was truly enjoyable and felt great.

Poncho

The Aftermath

Simplifying my wardrobe really did make me more present in my life. I knew it was supposed to, but I didn't truly understand it until I experienced it myself.

I reintroduced the rest of my closet in early March, but I still find myself grabbing for the tried and true outfits I wore during my experiment. Having a few quality pieces really might be better than having a closet full of so-so options.

If you're looking to simplify your wardrobe, take the stress out of your morning routine or just try something new, I highly recommend giving Project 333 a try. Packing away some of your favorites may be difficult at first, but it's true what they say: Out of sight, out of mind. 

What do you think? Let me know in a comment!

Have you tried Project 333? Are you interested in trying it in the future? What would be the hardest thing for you to give up for three months?