Project 333 for the Grad student

by Anna Blanch on January 8, 2012

Living on 3 continents over the course of 5 years has enforced a kind of ‘less is more’ approach to life. Yet a  focus on minimalism isn’t about scarcity, nor is it about not enjoying the things/stuff/art I have. There are some special objects that have made all moves with me. It is about knowing what is enough. There are others that were important at one time and not others.

As part of preparing for the next big adventure, I’ve decided to participate in Project 333. I’m actually hoping that my entire #project333 wardrobe will fit in my allowed 50lbs of luggage when I get on that plane in March and then back again in May! Now, that would be a good move toward being way less stressful!

The Project 333 website has a getting started section, which i’ve drawn from, that gives you more information.

If you’ve never heard of Project 333, here are the details:

The Skinny

  • When: Jan 1 – March 30. But you can start anytime.
  • What: 33 items including clothing, accessories, jewelry, outerwear and shoes.
  • What not: these items are not counted as part of the 33 items – wedding ring or another sentimental piece of jewelry that you never take off, underwear, sleep wear, in-home lounge wear,  and workout clothing (you can only wear your workout clothing to workout)
  • How: Choose your 33 items, box up the remainder of your fashion statement, seal it with tape and put it out of site.
  • What else: consider that you are creating a wardrobe that you can live, work and play in for three months. Remember that this is not a project in suffering. If your clothes don’t fit or are in poor condition, replace them

Let me know in the comments if you’re planning on participating or you have advice for me!

I am a first timer so Project 333 recommends the following:

  • Take inventory.

The How to Make Space approach can be helpful. I use a simple I love/give/store for 1 month/throw away method which loosely correlates to most decluttering books out there.

  • Start to build your wardrobe from the  “I Love” pile of clothing, Make a list on paper.

You might even like to go old school with a polaroid camera (or any kind of camera) and make a little look book.

  • Consider signature items. You will find that having one well made version of something will be far better than 10 of the knock-off.

Project333 recommends a trench coat or pair of boots or  sunglasses.

  • Once you start dressing with less, pay less attention to what you are wearing, or not wearing and more attention to something more important.
  • Take note of the bonus rules. But start with the basics (what i called the skinny)

The Bonus Rules

  1. Use the first week of each phase if necessary it to finish your collection and donation process. [I did this.]
  2. Choose three additional items and put them aside in your closet. You may rotate these items in during the next three months, but three other items have to rotated out, and donated. [I did this too]
  3. You may swap clothing with others participating in Project333. [I haven’t done this]

It  felt really good to start by choosing the things I love to wear. Perhaps unsurprisingly I came across some tops (in particular) that I love but haven’t seen in a while, mainly because I was dressing out of the clean clothes coming straight off the clothesline. It was a little version of Christmas to myself. I also discovered that I have alot of scarves. At least 20. I blame living in a place where you wear the same coat so much that a scarf is sometimes all you have to change up the outer look! But, even these have to be limited for the purposes of Project 333.

Okay, so here’s some in process photos.

Here’s a before image of part of my wardrobe.

It actually looks worse than it was.

 I actually didn’t take a photo of my closet shelving or my dresser before I started, because i was keen to just get stuck in. I started by laying out the entire contents of my wardrobe and closet on my bed in piles of related items, jackets, trousers, tops, shirts etc.

I ended up with 4 boxes of clothes I’m keeping and two bags of clothes I’m giving away. Much of what I boxed up were clothes that I can’t or don’t wear in the winter of the Scotttish climate. but not all. I had to make some decisions based just on the next 3 months. It is likely that i’ll unpack and repack these boxes before they are shipped to Australia. I’ll probably end up redoing my Project 333 before the end of the 3 months as a consequence of the crossing of climates. Even though I might have to repack these boxes, it also feels good to know that I’ve started the process of packing for the big move.

About halfway through the process I moved everything to my guest room, partly because I realised that the extra couple of loads of laundry wouldn’t be dry for a couple of days, and also because I still had some editing to do and I wanted to let things sit overnight so I had time too make some of the more difficult decisions. Here’s a photo of what that looked like:

The next morning I edited again, going through each pile and being quite tough on trying to edit out at least one item. At that point, I had 58 items – and that wasn’t counting my pile of scarves (i think there were 7 or 8). I tried to rationalise the necessity for a scarf exception or the fact that this was only 1/3 of my collection. I’ve decided to finish with the last load of laundry — it can take a couple of days for things to dry here — before I did the final edit (partly because i know a couple of my favourite pieces were in there). I now have 63 items before sorting through the last load (currently drying). They look like this:

Finally, a warning. Once you start on this project, you will want to declutter everything else. your storage cupboards, your dresser, your bookshelves, your fridge, your external harddrive. Believe me. I know.

Anyway, the plan is to revisit this topic every couple of weeks, though i’ll be back again this week to share the rest of the set-up process. Especially in light of how to apply this to  life within the academic and university context. That is, if i can actually get myself to the 33 items to start with. The next post will hopefully declare my list and share a few more photos about the process.

So what about you? does project333 attract/sound good to you? have you done #project333 before?


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