What if You Need a Coat in April?

In the midst of the weather changing back to spring, this often leads to us going to our wardrobe to dress for the occasion. A cycle of purging clothes and restocking with new clothes. I for one would go for floral dresses from Target…along with shoes and other accessories.

Another favorite place to hit up were the Goodwill and other thrift shops. I had been thrift shopping since I was a teenager because it was cheap and I could get a lot of decent vintage finds. Online shopping also became a new addiction since I could do it from the comfort of my bed. Most of these items I would wear once, to only see them again when I moved or purged my closet. When I wasn’t shopping, I would scroll for hours through Instagram for new outfit inspiration. Clothes have always been a way for me to express myself.

Instead of going through the usual cycle, I decided to only dress with 33 items for three months and not clothes shop for that duration.

Thirty-three items of clothing seems extreme if not impossible; especially living in a state where we can go through two seasons in one day. With some thought and a day of going through my wardrobe, it is possible to only use 33 items in your wardrobe. Project 333 is a minimalist fashion challenge started by Courtney Carver, blogger and author of Project 333. She originally started the challenge as a way to get a hold of her closet situation. Carver wanted to simplify her wardrobe and not think about it too much.

The rules of Project 333 are pretty straight forward. For three months, you only wear 33 items. This includes clothes, accessories, jewelry, outerwear, and shoes. What is not included is underwear, lounge wear, workout clothes, and sentimental jewelry that you never take off. The rule with workout clothes is you have to actually workout in them. Lounge wear is only to be worn at home. This is where the challenge gets difficult, since if you do wear those outside on those occasions they are to be counted into your wardrobe.

I started Project 333 on February 24th and so far it has been working really well. While there are some mild challenges, I did manage to plan it so I could dress for cold snaps in March until April when I will not need my winter coat. I do have more time in the morning, but it is kind of dangerous because it makes me more inclined to sleep in more. There is also something about having limited choices that brings me more creativity to dressing. I start to mix and match pieces I would have never done had I not started this process. I have broken my rule of purchasing clothes, but they were band t-shirts from shows I attended. As far as I am concerned, I am willing to break that rule to support bands and artists. For those curious as to what the clothing breakdown is here it is:

  • 1 winter coat
  • 2 jackets
  • 1 cardigan
  • 1 indoor jacket
  • 1 sweater
  • 4 turtlenecks
  • 2 pairs of black pants
  • 1 jumper dress
  • 3 dresses
  • 2 skirts
  • 2 t shirts
  • 1 hat
  • 2 scarves
  • 1 pair of sunglasses
  • 1 pair of gloves
  • 4 pairs of shoes
  • 1 necklace
  • 1 purse
  • 1 tote bag

Some of my reasons are more practical, like having more time in the morning and saving money. A shocking statistic Carver shares is that the average woman owns $550 worth of clothing that has never been worn. She also states that we only really wear 20 out of 80 percent of our clothing at a time. Those statistics alone made me want to go through my closet to see what exactly that percentage looked like in my wardrobe. There are also the concerns of the environmental and labor effects the fashion industry causes throughout the world. One quote that caught my eye from Project 333, when confronted with de-cluttering leading to more items in the landfill, Carver says, "You made that contribution from the moment you purchased the item." Whenever I go window shop at Target, I wonder how long it will take for these items to end up at the Goodwill as well.

I also picked Project 333 as a way to simplify my life down to the things that I need and want to do. I am one to struggle with making decisions, especially if I have an infinite amount of options. By setting a limit on my wardrobe, I can free up one decision so I can focus my attention on other things that matter. I am used to shopping as a form of escape; a way to ease any boredom, sadness, or any feeling of stagnation. This goes farther than just the contents of my closet. Carver states that by simplifying your wardrobe, it can set a rippling effect throughout your life.

At one point, I felt if I had the perfect wardrobe, I would feel cool, sophisticated, and beautiful. Once I let go of that thought process, it was liberating. I don’t have to care what people think of my looks. If I like how I look and feel, that is all that matters. There is a phrase I remember my grandma saying, "If I don't look in the mirror, it is someone else's problem."

Project 333

Soulful Simplicity

Let It Go

The True Cost


-Margaret Burke is a Technology Assistant at Lawrence Public Library.