Minimalist Fashion Project 333 Begins

Our closets are full of empty hangers to mark the beginning of minimalist fashion Project 333. I was tweaking my list up until last night. Now that I’ve settled on my 33 items for 3 months, my closet looks bare, simple and surprisingly, inspiring.

Speaking of inspiring, your participation has really given this challenge wings. You are tweeting, facebooking and blogging about what you will wear for the next three months. I really look forward to hearing about your individual journeys and to connecting with you along the way. Keep in touch with me and each other using #project333 on Twitter and contribute to the FB page!

A few years ago, I used to dream about a big, beautiful walk in closet to hold more stuff. Today, I could easily store my clothing and accessories without a closet. (and I am so much happier) Following is my list, links to your lists and other helpful information. Here we go!

My List

  1. Jeans
  2. Black Skinny Pants
  3. Black Dress Pants
  4. Denim Dress Pants
  5. Black Short Sleeve Shirt – Black Flowers on Collar
  6. Black Tank – Wheat Flowers on Collar
  7. Wheat Colored Ruffled Sweater
  8. Red Dressy Cami
  9. Black Buttoned Down Shirt- Silver Buttons
  10. Black Sweater
  11. Gray Blazer
  12. Brown Leather Bomber Jacket
  13. Classic Tan Trench Coat
  14. Black Gray Sleeveless Dress
  15. Black Sleeveless Dress
  16. Black Skirt
  17. Black/White Long Sleeve Shirt
  18. Black Long Sleeve Shirt
  19. White Long Sleeve Shirt
  20. White Wrap Shirt
  21. Gray Wrap Sweater
  22. Bracelet
  23. Necklace
  24. Purple Scarf
  25. Gray Pashmina
  26. Purse
  27. Sunglasses
  28. Hat
  29. Gloves
  30. Black Boots – No Heel
  31. Black Suede Short Boots
  32. Purple Heels
  33. Black Flats

Original rules

  • When: October 1 – December 31 (It’s never too late to start so join in 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, underwear, sleep, in-home lounge wear,  and workout clothing (you can only wear your workout clothing to workout)
  • How: over the next two months, outline your 33 items, by the 1st of October, 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. If you purchase items for project 333, stick with the one in, two out approach. Consider the essentials and stick to 33.

Update: Since I wrote this post in 2010, Project 333 continues to grow and simplify wardrobes around the world. Learn more and join in …

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Comments

  1. says

    Yea! I’m excited!

    I’ll be blogging about this at everythingishomemade.com, but I haven’t done my official list post yet. I was too tired last night after cleaning out my closet!

  2. says

    It feels weird already!!!! My side of the closet looks so sparse. All my tops fit in one small drawer. It will be interesting to see if I will indeed be ready to live forever with so few items after the next three months, or if I will run screaming from those 33 things and grab for the things I didn’t choose as if they were water in a desert.

    Here’s a male/female thing for ya: while I’m living with 33 clothing things, my husband has promised to INCREASE his everyday wardrobe (which pretty much consists of the same 10 things) to 33 things, which would probably make him a dandy by his normal sartorial standards!

  3. Anita_UK says

    Hi there, have my 33 things. Whilst selecting them managed to discard a few ‘old’ things and will probabably manage to chuck a load more by the time i’ve finished. Exciting times.

    Do I post my list here?

  4. says

    Very excited to start. Funny that you mentioned make up in this post…I realized today as I was getting ready for work that I have many tubes of makeup that I don’t actually use. Think my make up bag will get a makeover, too!

  5. says

    This looks like a great challenge. I’ll have a page up on my Web site on Monday. Right now I’m waiting for the washers in my apartment complex to finish before the final cut to the clothing list. I don’t want to start short on clean clothes.

  6. says

    I just heard of this today, but I am SO in. I should have my list together by Monday, and will post on my blog. Thanks for the inspiration!

    • e says

      Hey – I just heard about it today, too! So we can be late joiners together. I am trying to get my list together tonight but until I do all the laundry this weekend, I might cheat a little. I just got back from work and I have been clearing out my closet – mostly I’m just putting the “extra” and “sentimental” clothes in a box for storage, but I’ve actually found about 10 things so far that I’m willing to part with for good. FUN!

  7. Heather says

    I found this challenge today, but I have been cutting back my wardrobe for a while now. I have to dress professionally at work, and I think in a way it makes it easier to stick to the classics. Nobody notices if the black pants I wore today were the same black pants that I wore two days ago. I don’t need 10 white shirts, or 15 pairs of jeans. After I finish the laundry tonight, I am going to count out my items and post them.

  8. says

    I may have missed these answers if the questions have already been asked, but what about regular glasses and hair accessories (headbands, barrettes, hairbands)?

    Also, what about identical sets of required work attire (so I don’t have to do laundry multiple times a week, I have 5 identical work shirts and 5 identical work skirts- would I count those as 10 or 2? They usually get dirty enough to disallow them from being reworn. I also never wear them outside of work unless I don’t have time to go home and change. Fwiw, if you say 10, I’m only keeping 2 shirts and 2 skirts and handwashing them?)

    Lastly, if I lose weight can I sub an item that fits for one on my list that has become too big?

    I realize I could make my own rules and still participate, but I would feel like I was cheating.

    L

    • Courtney Carver says

      I am not counting hair accessories as part of the 33, but only using simple stuff. In terms of work clothes, that is up to you. If you have a specific uniform then I would not count that at as part of the 33 but if you wear a pair of pants to work, that you would also wear other places, I would count them.

      I think it is so important to wear clothes that fit so of course, if you lose enough weight that something doesn’t fit replace it.

  9. says

    Btw, today I wore clothes I knew for sure would make my list so I could start before I knew the answers. I’ll post my list as soon as I find out the answers.

    L

  10. says

    Courtney,
    I think this is an awesome challenge. As a new member of the minimalist movement, it seems a ‘little’ extreme for me and where I am at. So while I will not officially join the challenge, I will be challenging myslef to see just how much I can do away with. My last job required an image that led to accumulation of quite a bit! Since leaving the job and now working at home, I am ready to lighten my load!
    Bernice
    http://bernicewood.wordpress.com/2010/09/28/pruning-away-to-be-more/

  11. says

    Courtney, I’m a day and a half late. I’m so sorry. My daughter’s wedding was today and I have been neck deep in wedding plans. I am excited about the challenge!

  12. says

    Very last minute joiner from the UK! I have been wanting to bring the concept a capsule wardrobe to my chaotic sartorial life for ages and this is just the spur I needed!

    I haven’t had much time at all to think out my choices, so might need to tweak over the next few days. Feeling quite excited actually! Belinda

  13. says

    “We are just getting started, but can we apply this to other areas of our lives?”

    Absolutely! I did it quite naturally when I was going through my wardrobe. There were all sorts of other things stored in there which I decided to pack up as well. Then I moved onto the bathroom and packed up things like the hair straightener/curler which I use about once or twice each year!

  14. says

    Courtney,
    Having a busy busy weekend at home. Again. If I can, I’ll post about this on Monday. I am planning to ‘interpret’ workout clothes and work in the garden clothes as exempt because they’re the same set of pants and old t shirts. But I won’t wear them any other times. On Thursday and Friday, I went back through my wardrobe and pulled out a couple more items each day thinking, “Why did I want to keep ‘that thing’ in?”

    • Courtney Carver says

      Kris, Of course it’s worthy! I added your link to the post today. Please join the Facebook Page and share your blog there too!

  15. says

    You guys aren’t going to believe this, but when I went to choose my 33 things, it quickly became apparent that I didn’t even own that many things, LOL. In fact, I barely made it past 20, so I guess I don’t need to do this project after all!

    Now if you do a project to pare down books, I’m there. :)

  16. cindy says

    Hi, I have just joined the project. I just read about it yesterday and last night I lightened my closet. I have to wear scrubs to work (medical facility) so I did not count them in my 33 items, but I did pare them down a bit also. I found out some interesting things while deciding what I wanted to keep out.
    1. Everything had to comfortable or make me feel good while wearing it.
    2. The items I kept had to be versatile.
    3. The items had to represent my authentic style.
    4. I really was holding onto a lot of things that had sentimental/emotional ties instead of being useful.

    I took the sample wardrobe list above and tweeked it for myself and at one point I didn’t even have 33 items. This also made me think and plan ahead for the holidays. The outfits I would need and the accessories. I am very excited about the changes in attitude that this will bring about. I am also looking forward to doing the same in other areas of my home, especially my quilting studio. It will give me space to breathe and create. Thanks ahead of time for all the encouragement and motivation that is coming out during this challenge. I believe that this will be life changing for me, and in a good way.

  17. says

    LOVE your blog! I’ve been reading a while and this challenge was just what I needed to purge my wardrobe once and for all! I got a slightly late start as my husband & I just returned from a trip the end of last week, but did use the weekend to cull my wardrobe. I plan on posting about my 33 items on Monday. Would love to read/see more about how you find this fashion challenge. My husband & I are taking steps to live abundantly with less.Your place here in blogland is inspirational–thank you! :o)

  18. says

    Courtney, I loved the premise of this Project as soon as I heard about it last month (from Meg at Minimalist Woman). I also realized I needed a shorter version in order to participate.

    You inspired me to create The Black Dress Challenge, in which I will be wearing the same black (washable!) dress every day for the month of October. Thank goodness for accessories, :) !

    To help me stay on track, I’ve set up a site to post a photo of my daily ensemble: http://blackdresschallenge.com

    Thanks for the terrific inspiration!

  19. says

    The thing that worries me about this is that it was 78F here last week (unusual, yes) but we will have feet of snow by the end of December.

    Another benefit that I see is that I’m a cyclist, so a lot of my workout clothes can double as gym clothing or outdoor workout apparel. Yet another chance to minimalize!

    I am planning on going at this as if I am traveling and living out of one suitcase which should help things.

    I’ll post my list soon. It’s going to take some stewing over.

    • Anne. A. says

      How did you deal with the weather??

      This was my concern, where I live, I do not have the luxury of wearing the same 33 items year round, I would literally need a spring/summer/winter/fall 33 items per season.

      How does everyone handle the seasonal change?

  20. says

    My list is posted at my blog! This is an awesome project. I had to think hard to come up with 33 things, because I don’t wear very much on a daily basis. I included hair and face cosmetics as well :)

  21. says

    I love this idea! I just saw it last night and had to start today, even though the project started 2 weeks ago. Making the list was a lot harder than I thought it would be, I was actually surprised that I had more than 33 items in my fall/winter wardrobe. At the end of the 3 months, it will be interesting to see if I missed anything that didn’t make the cut!

  22. says

    I just posted my 333 list on my blog! I tweaked the rules a little bit to reflect my own personal values (I couldn’t give up my jewlery that was given to me as a honeymoon gift or my family pearls), but I am so excited to begin this project. As a new mama, I can use all of the simplicity I can get. Thank you for this great idea :)

  23. hannahk says

    this looks interesting ~ I’m ready to give it a go… I cannot get my new purchases into my wardrobe… so need to clear some space

  24. Diana Marie Prince says

    Very excited to start, have been revamping my list for 2 days, oh how I wish for 40 items, I will start February 1, 2011, what a great Idea.

  25. Betty Sheridan says

    OK, I typed in my list, and it seems to have gone out into cyberspace, so I’ll try again. If it eventually gets on here twice, I apologize. My items were chosen from mostly stuff I use all the time, anyway, so it wasn’t too difficult, and on looking it over, it coordinates pretty well, so I can make several outfits from the same stuff:
    1. Snow boots 2. Tan heels 3. Tan boots 4. Tennis shoes 5. Black clogs 6. Burgandy car coat 7. Green long coat 8. Black gloves 9. White knit hat 10.Black dressy cardigan 11. Dark green cardigan 12. Orange sweater (my favorite can’t do without in winter top) 13. Gray sweatshirt 14. White/black sweater 15. Brown/green stripe sweater 16. Blue/black sweater 17. Red/black knit jacket 18. White/blue pullover l/s tee 19. White turtleneck 20. White cami 21. White L/S button down shirt 22. Red l/s button down shirt 23. Black long skirt 24. Tan skirt 25. Blue jeans 26. Blue corduroy pants 27. Black pants 28. Tan pants 29. Yellow sweat pants 30. Gold/brown bead necklace 31. Blue/gold necklace 32. Green scrub top 33 Green scrub bottom.

  26. philosophotarian says

    wow. this was revelatory: I tried making a list of 33 things based on what I wear all the time. I got to 15 and am stumped. My wardrobe is already pretty darn small! There are a few things I could weed out (some spring-fall shirts I don’t wear but keep because I don’t have any spring-fall shirts), but I wear what I have and my year-round wardrobe fits into 1 average-sized closet. cool!

  27. says

    I noticed, a lot of 33-sets have a lot of black. Black does not suit me. I wonder, if it is easier to go with the 33 when black is your colour. Om the other hand I could probably chose camel als “my black”, at least for tops. :-)

  28. says

    I guess I’m coming into the 333project quite late. I have a deep burning desire to become an extreme minimalist. This is not new or compulsive. I’ve been sitting with these desires for several years and talking with my family. I find it difficult to even start the process because of how they have responded. Every time I begin (in small baby steps) they respond in a way I can’t even describe. Anyhow, today, My birthday and two weeks after my mom has passed, I’ve decided to start with transforming my life and not allowing any personalities to stop me. With that all said, I have one question about project333, because that is where I intend on starting. What about the four Seasons, I live in New England, South of Boston about 1.5hrs. The weather can be extreme and I tend to be a very cold person. With the 33items are they supposed to encompass all seasons or do I divide seasonal clothes?

  29. Thera says

    I am not an expert by any means, the original rules say 3 months (http://www.theproject333.com/getting-started/), but also being in a cold/hot climate here in Canada I did include my winter coat, boots, gloves. One of the ways I incorporated my cold/warm wardrobe was by considering “winterizing” what I have. So start with a basic sundress, this is good for summer, with a cardigan over top it can now do for spring and fall and with a woolly pair of tights and the same cardigan it is now winterized.

  30. Layla says

    Wow, this is interesting! Just discovered it too, via One dress protest :)

    Paula, I think you can choose any color you want – most of my wardrobe used to be in blue, so it was easy to accessorize/combine it together, also easier for washing etc.
    Black clothes usually don’t stain and can be worn more & washed less :) I think that’s some of the idea behind it, hehe..

    Since black is not a very environmentally friendly color (a fashion designer told me it’s one of the least environmentally friendly colors) going with non-black is probably awesome! (just make sure to take care of any stains etc, make a list of eco-friendly ways to remove different ones/maybe experiment with fabrics on a ‘not seen’ part/ and remove them asap) If you do already have black/dark colors, it’s less of an impact to just use those than buy new ones… (!) The idea is to use what you got.. :)

    Thera, good tips about the 4 seasons! A short-sleeved dress can also look good over a T-shirt with long sleeves (if they match well) or with a shirt over it, etc. A summer sleeveless top can look good under a spring shirt too (and vary the colors/outfit a bit).. Experiment, try out combinations.. see what looks good..

  31. Layla says

    Oh, and I think it’s also better to store what you’re not sure about in boxes and take out as needed, than to just ‘donate all’ and then have to buy new stuff… (You might wanna check what exactly happens to donated stuff too, it may vary according to where you live..) So, re-use would actually come first…

  32. Alyssa says

    I love the whole idea of Project 333! What are your thoughts on how many items for the entire year? Specific numbers aren’t terribly important, afterall it’s not a competition, just a personal challenge. I’m curious as to how much less challenge participants feel they can still manage. Would you have a completely new set of items for each season, and thus end up with a full wardrobe of 132 items? How much overlap would there be between seasons? Just food for thought, I’d love to hear your thoughts.

    • Courtney Carver says

      Alyssa,

      I will have to answer that question after I’ve completed a year. While much of my Fall/Winter wardrobe overlapped, I think Summer will be it’s own animal!

      Stay tuned at theproject333.com

  33. says

    I just spent two days cleaning out my closet! I had 507 items and have ended up with 150 for all seasons! The majority of the items are in bags to go for donation. I will call for a pickup in a day or so. I’ve put aprox. 25 items in a box for a spring yard sale. I have 35 items in a box for after the 3 month run to trade into my wordrobe or donate. I found it easier at this moment to purge considering all seasons, now I need to break it down to my 33 items and hope to purge more as the seasons change. It was a bit difficult because I had so much, but I find taking it in baby steps it’s allowing me to be able to get closer to the 33 with a better comfort level. I’ve taken before photos of my closet and am almost ready to take after photos. This process feels awesome, I’ve even purged our coat closet and donated some great coats. Thanks for your blog.

    • e says

      Wow – that is an inspiring story for the other P33 folks out here (like me). I wouldn’t call your first step a “baby step” – you have done a MAJOR purge of clothing! It will get easier and easier to pare down as you go forward. I am in my second round of P33 (and I feel silly, because I promised to post my 33 items and never did) and I purged once before the first round, boxed up a LOT of clothing, and then once before the second round, and got rid of 2/3 of the boxed up clothing. This weekend, I am planning on doing another purge with the goal of having one SMALL box of off-season clothes and accessories to rotate in and out as seasons change. i.e., my goal is to have 50-60 items TOTAL, 33 at any given time.

      -e

  34. Heidi says

    Went to my closet – discovered I have 23 pieces of clothes hanging. Now, I do have a couple of shirts on the clothesline outside, but I think I’ll skip this challenge. I’m glad I tried though, b/c in the process I realized the 4 lovely wool vests a friend gave me the other day didn’t fit. I had assumed I would have to lose 10 lbs, but I discovered I would have to lose 5 inches in height too! So they were very easy to purge.

  35. Min says

    I just found your blog a couple of days ago, and I’ve already purged one closet and created my first 333 Project wardrobe. Today is Day 1, and I’m very excited about it.

    My only cheat is that I wear hats, and I have given myself a little latitude on Sunday in order to be able to wear a hat to church. After all, it is Lent, and Sunday is a feast day. ;-) Other than that, I am keeping strictly to the 33 items.

  36. says

    Hi everyone…. after my purge of 507 down to 150, I’ve been purging down even further. I am finding the clothes that I did keep are just too many. I am very glad I feel that way, but I am allowing myself to purge as I use. If I have an item in question I will wear it for a day and if it’s still in question It gets cleaned and donated asap. I don’t allow myself time to rethink that item. I am slowly working my way through and getting ready to set a solid 33. I am not rushing myself because I want this to be enjoyable and an everlasting way of life, not just a short run. I’ve been going through my entire house the same way and loving it. In my kitchen you can open all the cabinets and see that a minimalist definitely lives here. I’ve boxed enough stuff for my son to completely set up his kitchen in his new apartment. Well, enough for now, I know this is a little off the path but I wanted you all to know how wonderful this has been for me. Thank you so much for your blog.
    Lisa, Massachusetts

  37. says

    Lovely Courtney, I have got more shirts than your items shown, and that is no promo on this site is it?
    Still, I have an absolute minimum in trend-information. It does not make me uncool, because I chat with those trendwatchers, but reading it over and over again (too late) is worse.

    So, just before you ban me! I really think information is overrated! you dont need anyone to tell you whats hot whats not. I love the rulings of my dutch friend Patty Golsteijn and she is just like: does it work? if it’s not (working properly) abandon the idea alltogether.

    Love it, but it’s dutch alltogether {*). Have a nice weekend y’all! Rickert

  38. says

    I’m amazed at how some people had trouble even finding 33 items. Kudos to those who are already simplistic! I feel the need to get working in my closets in a serious way. I’m a sucker for clothes shopping, but it’s gotten to the point where I can’t love what I wear because there’s just so much. I used to have very few clothes, loved everything I had, and I felt more iconic. I miss those days, however it’s going to be tough minimalizing!

  39. diTaykan says

    Do socks count as part of the 33 things, or are they lumped in the ‘underwear’ category? What about makeup? I won’t be counting my glasses because, well, I need those to see so they’re more of a necessity than a choice.

  40. says

    I absolutely love this idea. I am definitely going to join in on the 333 project. I am tired of having a large over stuffed closet that I can not find anything in. I can not wait to get started!

  41. ellen says

    I don’t have a blog, but need some serious inspiration here…are you still up and running? willing to do another shot at the minimalist closet? Also, any thoughts on what is ESSENTIAL in a 43 yr old mom’s closet? I could go on and on, but suffice to say that I live in a town where buying quality must be done elsewhere or online…which starts to feel pretty wasteful pretty quickly!

  42. Shelly says

    Hi Courtney. I’m interested in starting Project 333. I’ve see that the current project started 10/1 and goes through 12/31. I also see that you can start anytime. What is your recommendation about when to start and what you should have completed before you do. Do you need to have your 33 items selected before starting the project? Thanks for your help. I’m looking forward to this!

  43. Shelly says

    I’m interested in starting Project 333 in January 2014. Can beginners start during this phase? Also, any tips for selecting the 33 items?

  44. stef says

    Hi – I’m also interested in giving this a try…I’ve been doing a strange clothing thing lately that may work for others as a ‘trial run’ to sort out the lovelies from the dumpies: I realized that I had so many clothes that I decided the only laundry I would do was socks/undies/bras until I’d made it through all my clothes…means I HAVE to wear everything! A great exercise for really deciding if you like something or not.
    Anyway, I’m getting ready now to weed through the remaining items and select 33 things…Thanks for this inspiring concept!

  45. adriana kamphuis says

    o my 33 i have to count most stuf is 30 years old i have house in holland and in usa so i can travel between them and a suitcase foe hot climates. i just like my clotches and hate it when they get holes ,i repair them . i could not get rit of cloches i have for 30 years and stil love wearing them . but yes it is creat when i travel and have only a day pack.with cloches

  46. says

    When I originally commented I clicked the “Notify me when new comments are added” checkbox and now each time a comment is added I get
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  47. lee says

    i think going down to 33 will feel like living out of a suitcase. after every business trip I was always so happy to come home to more choice and wear some thing different!
    right now I’m feeling slightly “claustrophic” because I gained 6 pounds and now only 3 pairs of pants fit OK ( weight gain due to injury will go back down) Every Monday I’m not so excited for the week because Its boring to wear the same 3 pants and 2 skirts every week for months.
    anyone else saying “hey this is not for me.”?

  48. Renica says

    I stumbled upon Project333 and Bemorewithless.com at the right time. I started blogging a little over 2 weeks ago and since my theme is decluttering via The Mind Declutter Project @ reniregoblog.wordpress.com, this was just perfect. I don’t believe in coincidences, so this was destined. Happy to read about and share with like-minded people.

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