A Clutter-free Closet for a Clutter-free Life


Simplifying my closet was one of the first steps I took to simplify my life. The happier I became with fewer clothes, the less I wanted to live with in other areas of my home and life. I used to shop regularly and spend a good chunk of time watching for sales, admiring outfits in advertisements or thinking about what to wear. I can think back to many days where I tried on several outfits before settling on something that was just right. I also remember the days when nothing felt right so I took a trip to the mall to feel better.

I estimate that I own less than a tenth of what I had for clothing, shoes, jewelry and accessories. A little experiment changed everything. Three years ago I started minimalist fashion Project 333 and never looked back.

Instead of getting rid of everything, I experimented with dressing with less by hiding all but 33 items.

My first season (Oct – Dec 2010) included:

  • 4 pairs of shoes
  • 2 pieces of jewelry
  • 6 accessories (purse, sunglasses, hat, gloves, scarves)
  • 12 tops (shirts, sweaters, blazers)
  • 4 pair of pants
  • 1 skirt
  • 2 coats
  • 2 dresses

These items survived a temperature range of 15-95 degrees, a full-time job, holiday parties and even a weekend getaway. I was nervous at first, but once I enjoyed a few decision-free, peaceful mornings knowing exactly what to wear and realized that no one noticed that I was dressing with less, I saw that this wasn’t a project in sacrifice or suffering but actually a joyful change.

At the end of three months, I decided to keep going. Every three months, I’d reassess for a new season. The more I practiced, the more comfortable I became dressing and living with less. Three years later, my shift from season to season is easier and takes less time. Now, instead of several containers full of clothing to rotate in or out of my closet, I have one. When things wear out, I replace them. When something doesn’t fit my body or my lifestyle, I donate it. Over time, a clutter-free closet inspired a clutter-free life.

3 quick steps to a clutter-free closet

  1. Start with a Fashion Party. Invite every piece of clothing you own, from every season, box, closet, drawer and hidden storage area. Invite your shoes, accessories and all the jewelry too. Hold the party in a small space that must be cleared out within 24 hours.
  2. Send the workout clothes home. Remove all of your workout clothes, underwear and sleep wear and put it away. If your yoga pants haven’t been to yoga in a while, this is a great reminder to get back on the mat. Lounge around in your favorite comfy clothes, but by removing sweatpants and pjs from your daily wardrobe you can find clothes that fit and flatter for the real world.
  3. Choose 33 VIPS. Your fashion party is about to get small and intimate. Choose 33 items for the next 3 months. Box everything else up and set it aside, preferably out of sight.

If you are interested in radical change, try the steps above. If you prefer a gentler method, get started here or try the dress with less course for extra support and motivation.

People of all ages and backgrounds, from more than 33 countries and 42 states in the US are practicing Project 333. Dressing with less is changing closets and lives around the world. Are you ready to give it a try?



  1. says

    Thank you for your website. I have been reading it for a while and I have started to implement some things into my daily life. While I am not doing project 333 per se, I have limited my wardrobe down significantly and it has done wonders. Slowly I am getting through the rest of my house!

  2. Paige says

    I like seeing the list broken down into categories. Has the fall list evolved since the first season? Did you find you needed fewer of a category (ie accessories) & more of another category (ie pants)?

    • Courtney Carver says

      Paige, It really changes each season. More outerwear in Winter, and less of everything in summer. My core fall wardrobe has stayed very similar to the original breakdown though.

  3. Shelley says

    Project 333 and Be More with Less has inspired me to do something that I’ve been wanting to do for a long time ~ live with less. I’d been searching for guidance and you have provided that. Thank you. I am beginning my quest on Oct. 1 and have bene whittling my clothes, etc., for days. I was so excited about the project that I couldn’t even sleep the other night!!!

  4. says

    This is so relatable for me. I did a huge closet clean out this last year (after three years of being either pregnant/post pregnant/breastfeeding) and it is exactly what has inspired simplicity in every other area of my life. It’s been so freeing. My closet is probably 1/3 of what it used to be. I’m always up for a challenge though so I may take you up on this one. It sounds like you still use the 333Project guidelines for yourself or have you become more lenient over the years?

  5. Renee says

    Hey Courtney, in honor of your 3rd anniversary, I am curious whether you have any items that have stayed, year round, in your wardrobe for the whole three years? (And if so, what are they?)

  6. says

    I’ve been intrigued with Project 333 for about a months now and yesterday I took a modified leap. I spent quite a bit of time attempting to reduce my wardrobe to the prescribed 33 pieces and settled with 40. I keep telling my self if I was on a European vacation this would seem completely normal. I am mostly interested in defining my style, more energy for important things like relationships…duh and not being so greedy. As I pulled all of my clothes out, I felt like I was in a freakin department store. I look at my now tiny little row of clothes and feel a little… well, “nobel”.

  7. says

    My goal is to clean out my closet this slight rainy Saturday and I’ll follow all your lovely suggestions. Not sure, I’m at 33 still so it’s a good time to check.

  8. says

    Hi Courtney, I read about project 333 a while back and thought I’ll survive ok with an edited wardrobe. Who was I kidding? I really missed the no-decision-process with maternity wear back in the day when all I had to decide was between the maternity jeans or the maternity leggings. How easy and free-ing was that! I want to have that freedom again (without having to be pregnant again of course!). I’m going to jump in your project 333 pool! Wish me luck! Thanks-

  9. says

    Nice post! I started simplifying and minimalizing about a year ago and it started in my closet too. I’ve been blogging about the journey (in German) for just a few weeks and enjoy reading other people’s story who lead a similar life.

  10. says

    Happy blog anniversary! Your blog has really shaped the way I view my wardrobe. For me, it’s ongoing adventure. Weekly things shift and change, maintaining 33 in general. Thank you for all the inspiration!

  11. Amy says

    I love that you are encouraging people to do this. When I moved to my current city for graduate school a little over 8 years ago I had enough clothes to wear a different outfit daily for 9 months. My first semester I got rid of a ton of clothes and books. Now my wardrobe consists only of things I love and wear. This post got me wondering so I counted It’s 33 items total for all seasons including socks, undergarments, workout clothes and shoes. I love that I can grab any top and any bottom and they match.

  12. says

    I’m a fellow “aspiring minimalist” Your site is one of best sites! It’s not cluttered with adds and it’s clearly your passion.
    Looking forward to more inspiring posts on the benefits of having less and living more.

  13. Shawna Johnson says

    I’ve been doing this for years! In fact, fashion editors and clothing aficionados swear by this method. Rather than purchasing lots of mediocre clothes that may only get worn once (or not at all!), invest in quality key pieces in classic designs that will go the extra mile. A few pairs of tailored trousers in black, navy, and beige that fit to perfection, although a bit pricey, will certainly be a far better investment than 10 pair of pants that leave you wondering what to wear! I love this page and all the great ideas it offers!

  14. heather s says

    I was always so impressed with how put together my husband always looked. When we were dating I loved it. In our marriage I couldn’t understand why he always looked so pulled together and polished and I always struggled. I had lots of clothes and he well doesn’t. 5 pairs identical khakis, 2 jeans, a handful of t-shirts, dress shirts and sweaters, and a selection of ties.

    Then it dawned on me – he only keeps what fits and flatters.

    I’m a recovering hoarder. It used to be so hard to let anything. I finally asked for his helped. We pulled out every clothing item, shoe and accessory. If it didn’t fit or flatter it was gone. By the time we were done I was down to under 150 clothing items and about 11 large garbage bags full of donations.

    I recently found your blog and thought it would be so hard to do 33. When I counted I was at under 60 including seasonal and lounge wear