Taking mindfulness more seriously this year has led me down some interesting paths, from running, to abstaining from caffeine and television and looking into minimalism. That final part, a growing interest in the concept of minimalism, has led me to ‘Project 333’ and I thought this sounded like the perfect project for someone trying to make significant changes to their way of being.
Project 333 is a modern fad for limiting your clothes to 33 items for three months and has been popularised by several celebrities I don’t know…and Oprah. Everyone knows Oprah, right? This includes shoes, bags, accessories and outerwear.
Below is the link to the main site I have based my ‘Project 333’ Knowledge on:
The Selection Process
I look at my clothes. I would have thought the hardest part would have been trying to whittle things down. Wrong.
I am a breast-feeding, 31 year old, mother of two. I haven’t left the house after 6:00pm since… 2012. I need clothes which fit an ever-changing body shape, which can stand the test of paint and glue and all of the bodily excretions that come with having two children under 4. I need to be able to access my boobs in public without needing to fully strip at the drop of a hat….or rather strap. You’re getting the image. It’s not high fashion. It’s not even fashion. It’s comfortable, stretchy, supermarket-y and high street-y utility wear. Hot. Not!
I pull out all of the shit I’ve been clinging onto in the hopes of a night out or a miracle happening that suddenly makes my arms more Michelle Obama than Honey BooBoo’s mum’s. The pile of stuff I don’t wear is becoming ridiculous. 70% of which I don’t actually like but having nothing to replace the it with, I’ve kept in case I need a wedding outfit that screams ‘generic wedding outfit’ or a t-shirt that has been washed so many times the washing instructions are faded into non-existence.
Part of the Project 333 rules state that you can put your excess items into storage, if you aren’t ready to give them to charity, sell or recycle them.
I sent the things I didn’t like but were in a reasonable condition off to Oxfam and recycled a few items I couldn’t bare the thought of anyone else seeing! But I was still left with a large bag of stuff outside of the 33 items (see image above). Im hoping I will feel less attached to them in three month’s time when it’s time to either select another 33 items for the summer months or to end the project.
I found it really hard to settle on the items to keep but I was roughly there (once I’d allowed some room for the items still in the washing cycle) and I felt quite relieved to have finally said goodbye (or see you later) to some clothes that I have been wearing, or at least carting around, throughout my 20s. A decade’s worth of weight had been lifted from my clothes rail and I can’t deny that I felt liberated.
18 Day’s Later – BORED!!!!!
I have been taking part in this experiment for 18 days and I am so bored of my uninspiring, empty drawers. I had not realised how much of my identity was tied up in what I wear.
My choice of outfit is based on a series of variables I had neglected to realise:
To name but a few.
Yesterday was a particularly low point when I realised it was St Patrick’s Day and I hadn’t kept a single green item within my 33. Insert sad face. I went with my mustardy Sainsbury’s t-shirt and told myself it was celebratory gold.
Feeling like my creativity is being tapered, I’ve spent the day reflecting on the Project and my relationship with my clothes.
An appealing part of the project is being able to replace anything that is worn out and I took the opportunity to make a new purchase. An ethically sourced, fairtrade cotton t-shirt…for £38!
£38! Why does having a conscious always cost so much. Half of the clothes I have just put into storage probably didn’t cost that, combined!
My Cousin-in-law (if that’s a thing) pointed out that clothes shouldn’t be cheap, which made me feel a bit better. But £38! Wowsers.
That £38 has, however introduced me to a whole new level of smug consumerism that goes far beyond the feelings of achievement when I buy free range eggs or chicken. I have also found a new desire to take better care of this one item. I went as far as locating the iron and using it on it today. The last time I used it was to iron my brother’s shirt for my Grandmother’s funeral, in October.
Reflections to Date
I have successfully cleared my wardrobe of clothes I didn’t actually like or no longer fit. I should have done this a long time ago, but there was something about realising we don’t intend to have any more babies, and being in a fitness regime that is keeping me at a stable weight, this was the right time to take back a bit of ownership over what image I present to the world.
I have had a massive rethink about ethical clothing, including the sourcing, materials and the human as well as the financial cost of what I choose to wear. I was already cynical about ‘throw-away’ fashion and ‘on-trend’ items, but now I am feeling almost militant about the need to be accountable for how we spend our money.
I am enjoying being able to see my clothes at a glance in my sparse drawers. I also appreciate that the clothes that remain are ones that most closely reflect my current notions of style and suit my daily life. I loved being able to completely by-pass all of the highstreet clothing shops when I was out looking for some gift ideas. It felt liberating to not care less about what was on offer this season, not just for my mind but also for my purse.
For these few important changes, I am very grateful to Project 333.
Potential Future Negative Impacts
I am already finding it quite tricky to keep up with the washing. I can see how having 33 items (including coats and shoes!) might be a stretch too far. Especially with young children who like to projectile vomit, sneeze and spread glitter all over you, several times a day.
I’m also becoming increasingly uninspired by my lack of choice. In order to be able to mix and match from this capsule wardrobe, everything needs to be relatively plain and neutral. Yawn. As underwear doesn’t count I am resorting to adding colour through my choice of tights. I hope this isn’t cheating! I can see an expensive, jazzy, ethical shopping spree on the horizon! 1st June 2017, to be precise.
In a temperate climate like that of the UK, you need to be prepared for a 5-10 degree variation in temperature within any given day. The best way to tackle this is usually layers. But if you have only 33 items, you could end up wearing a third of your stash in one morning putting more pressure on the finely balanced washing routine.
For all of it’s faults, I am getting quite a lot out of Project 333. Reflecting on my consumer habits has the potential to change my and my family’s global footprint for the rest of our lives. This thought alone is what is going to keep be powering through the next two and a half months. I hope!
Have you ever tried this or a similar project? I’d love to hear your thoughts on it.