“Project 333 is the minimalist fashion challenge that invites you to dress with 33 items or less for 3 months.”
That’s the tagline that you can find on the homepage of Project 333. It’s also what first caught my eye about the project.
I don’t consider myself particularly fashionable, but I do try to dress well. And so it struck me as an interesting challenge to keep dressing well while only using 33 items.
The guidelines are simple: Choose 33 items, including clothing, outerwear, shoes, jewelry, and accessories. Do not count undergarments, sleepwear, or highly sentimental items like wedding rings. Then put away everything you didn’t choose. Far away, in boxes in your basement, not just in the back of your closet.
But the guidelines are deceptively simple, because this is your entire wardrobe.
You have to plan for special events, weather and climate, and any other eventualities that seem likely. It’s not necessary to have a hazmat suit “just in case”, but don’t ignore how miserable you’ll be if it rains for a week straight and you didn’t choose a raincoat as one of your items.
At the same time, you can’t choose too many “eventuality” items, because these will be all that you have to work with for three months for everyday outfits. Try to choose colours and patterns that work together and that you like to wear, so you can create many combinations with the same clothing. The closet that remains after this sorting is often referred to as a capsule wardrobe; a set of clothing that can be used to build many different outfits.
These guidelines in mind, I emptied my closet and dresser and chose my 33 items. The very action of assessing my clothing helped me realize just how much I dislike certain pieces of clothing. Why is that shirt still in my closet, honestly? I never wear it voluntarily! It also made me realize just how many redundant pieces of clothing I have. Do I really need five pairs of nearly-identical black jeans?
In the end, I had a list of items that should do me well (read: I hope will do me well) for the next 3 months:
Necklace, ring (not sentimental), 3x pairs of shoes (dress, running, and skate), 2x jackets (rain & leather), 2x hats (flat cap & fedora), 5x pairs of pants, 1x pair of shorts, 9x simple T-shirts, 5x business casual T-shirts, 2x dress shirts (black & white), 1x black blazer, 1x belt. 33 items total.
In that whole ensemble, there are only a couple of combinations that won’t work. The grey t-shirt with grey pants and grey shoes would be fashion suicide (in my opinion). As would the all-black selection. But almost everything else will work together in many different combinations.
I did my best to plan for eventualities. I could dress well enough to attend a funeral or a business dinner. I have rough work clothing for situations when I might need it. I can deal with rain and heat and cold (though not too cold). There are probably circumstances that I haven’t planned for, but I’ll deal with those if they come up. It’s worked for the first couple of weeks, and it makes it a lot easier to get dressed in the morning!