Two Girls, A Guy, and a Fashion Project

Minimalist fashion Project 333 is being embraced by readers around the world!

If this is the first time you’ve heard about Project 333, you can see how it all started here, learn more about the kickoff day and even join the facebook page.

More than 300 people are part of the Project333 facebook page and over 30 bloggers are writing about their experience. While the project lasts for three months, you can start anytime.

Because I believe that our story is the most powerful thing we can offer the world, I thought it would be great to hear your stories of living with less. Beverly, Drew and Meg were kind enough to share…

Beverly –

I joined Project 333 because I love clothes, but I suspected I was wearing the same ones over and over, and had a crowded closet for no good reason.

My suspicions are right.  As I cleaned out my closet and bureau, I sorted those items that don’t fit well or that I don’t like as much as I did in the store.  I shared bags of clothes with co-workers and deposited lots in the charity bin.  How freeing it was to go through my gigantic stack of tank tops and get rid of those with holes or stains that I couldn’t remove.  I would like to feel that every piece of clothing fits as though it is custom-made for me, and I want to feel like a rock star when I get dressed.

Over the past two weeks, my mornings have changed. Instead of trying on three different outfits and feeling a little unhappy about them all, I take a glance in my closet, decide if I want to wear dress, skirt, slacks, or jeans, select a sweater and shoes, and I’m on my way.  I’ve had more fun getting dressed and have felt more put together in the last two weeks than I can remember.

When I find myself longing for an item that is boxed up in the basement, I make note.  I think about why I miss the item.  I think about whether it would be as flexible as the gray cardigan that I have reached for over and over.  What I see happening is that I am getting a blueprint of what a well-appointed minimalist wardrobe looks like for me.

I have been getting plenty of compliments on my clothes and outfits, mainly because they are truly my style, not the style that I bought just for fun. That’s an important, key thing about this for me. I’ve found a way to let my clothes reflect my authentic self.

I’m very excited to see what happens when I bring all of my clothes back into rotation. I’m certain I will pare down my jewelry to the sentimental pieces and get rid of most of the costume jewelry; the sentimental pieces are classic and will be appropriate in any situation. I’ll probably consider keeping one pair of tan slacks and one other pair, perhaps gray. I like wearing dresses, so I will have 3-4 of those. I’m not sure what else. I will have to sort and think and really be honest with myself and what I’m going to wear, not what I think I’m going to wear.

Drew –

Just 3 years ago I was in Paris attending some of the hottest runway shows that season. In fact, the night before I attended the John Paul Guatierre show, I was having coffee with J. Alexander, also known as Miss J of Project Runway fame and talking about how fashion had become a four-letter word to most American men.

It has long been my feeling that fashion is such a large part of who we are and it encompasses so much more than the shoes on our feet and the shirts on our back. Fashion is also conveyed through the way we carry ourselves, our personalities and our views of the world. But a few days ago as I stood in front of a pile of empty hangers that were once backbones for Brooks Brothers suits, Armani khakis, 7 for all Mankind jeans, and Dior sweaters, I began to think that perhaps fashion really is about learning to do more with less.

In preparing to tape up my box of eight clothing items that I would not need for the next 10 weeks or so I got to thinking that as a society we spend so much time thinking about what we wear. And why? Like so many other things we allow our clothes to clutter our minds, our homes, and our thoughts. Now, I am not saying it is suddenly okay to wear fluffy slippers to the market or ratty t-shirts to a dinner engagement. Rather, I am saying that we should take the principles of minimalism and apply them to our closets and drawers.

My wife and I are preparing to build a Tiny House that is just at 200 sq. ft. We will have little room for extraneous clothing and through Project 333, I am realizing I have little tolerance for such clutter either. I am not my clothes. I am not defined by labels and “looks.” And in just two weeks I have quickly found out that khaki pants can say lots of different things and be involved in a number of different conversations. Here’s to the vanity of simplification!

Meg –

So far I’ve made it through nearly record-breaking hot temperatures with only one tank top and one short-sleeved shirt and jeans instead of shorts or cropped pants. And because it was unexpectedly warm and dry, there were home-maintenance projects that were tackled now instead of in the spring, including painting. I’m glad to report that with extreme care I did not splash paint on my jeans or sneakers. I probably would have worn them, anyway, by incorporating accidental paint blobs into a design by adding more paint blobs and strokes. Next job up is replacing the rusting-out hot water heater, and we’ll see how my clothes come out of that.

There have been only two occasions for my good black jeans and only one occasion so far for the only dress. Life may be a little too simple around here!

The longer I do this, the easier it gets. Project 333 is an intensely effective way to dissociate from the palliative nature of covering myself with a wide variety of shaped fabrics. I’m one of those “creative” types with a strong need for self-expression. This used to lead to buying a lot of clothing of various colors and styles, in an attempt to reinvent myself seasonally. Inevitably, though, I’d always end up wearing the same small collection of items which are more or less the same as the ones I’ve chosen for the Project.

So far, the things I miss most are certain pieces of artisan jewelry made out of stones and crinoids, and of course some linen items that would have been very comfortable during the heat wave. Nonetheless, it hasn’t been a hardship in the least, and has definitely simplified my life. Now my choices are so few, that selection is perfunctory and not given another thought once I’m dressed. In a weird way it makes me feel more confident and comfortable in my own skin.

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



  1. says

    I haven’t heard of this and will check it out. Clothes used to be my thing until I stopped the insanity 2 years ago. I still have shoes like crazy because my kids work for an athletic shoe company and I’m the sample size. Our new home has a tiny closet and little extra room so I’m scaling down big time and giving away several unworn pair. After all not only do I not need them, I have no room for them and really how many shoes to I need? LOL
    Movin’ and groovin’ xo

    • Courtney Carver says

      Tess, I have a four pairs of shoes/boots built into my 33 and one pair I have only worn once since Oct. 1. I haven’t missed my big selection!

  2. says

    Great interviews! Doing Project 333 myself, I would agree that dressing in the morning is so simple. And because I took care in choosing the clothing I would wear for these three months, I love every item!

  3. Paula says

    I am so not interested in fashion than doing this Project 333 has become easier than I’ve thought. It seems to me that i’ve been doing it for the past 2 years… I have really down-sized my closet a while back. It made sense since I’ve always seemed to pick the same outfits over and over… I wear very classic clotes that i can miss and match in any season for any occassion. :) I love dressing simply and unlike many women out there, I’m not a big collector of shoes or handbags. I use the one in/one out rule for every single purchase i make.
    I’m soon going away with friends for 7 days and i have packed almost nothing to wear… I know my friends would roll their eyes at me when they see me with my little carry-own and I’ll simply respond what i’ve read recently in one post: “Withe the Freedom we Gain from Living Smaller We Can Accomplish Great Things”. I’m sure I’ll have the best of times!

  4. Anne says

    I’ve been in since the beginning, and am enjoying it so far. I was shocked when I counted out my items because I thought that I had so many fewer clothes than were actually lurking in my drawers and closet. It was challenging to choose the most versatile items.

    • Courtney Carver says

      Anne, I think this will be a big learning experience. Not only in terms of learning to live with less, but learning to build a wardrobe that works!

  5. cindy says

    I am really enjoying this challenge. My closet is so spacious now and it really is a tiny closet. I am hoping that I can get my husband onboard but even if not I think that my efforts will speak for themselves when he sees how organized and put together my outfits are during this time. I have worked (uniforms), travelled, and played during this time so far and have more than enough for everything. I went shopping and looked for a LBD to replace the dress that I did keep for the challenge but didn’t find anything that was really versatile so for now I will keep what I have and now I know what items I will be looking for to make my wardrobe authentic and versatile.

  6. says

    “Inevitably, though, I’d always end up wearing the same small collection of items which are more or less the same as the ones I’ve chosen for the Project.”

    A inside out method of the challenge is to move all your clothes to another room and then slowly add them back to your closet over a month’s time. It can be quite eye opening to see what a small fraction of things actually get used.

    The 333 challenge is such a great way to make us all more aware of our consumerism. It always amazes me how we just blindly participate in our consumer lifestyle without really giving any it thought. Thanks for coming up with such a great idea!