I’ve been skirting around this issue for years. I’m not a fashion expert and I don’t know (or care) where to get the perfect pair of jeans. I started minimalist fashion challenge Project 333 to figure out what enough meant to me because when it came to fashion, I had no idea. I just kept buying and adding and buying and adding (for decades). In addition to wall to wall clothes in more than one closet, I had drawers full of things plus containers of clothes stored away that I hadn’t worn for years.
When I pared down to 33 items including clothing, jewelry, accessories and shoes for 3 months, I thought it was all about the fashion. I wondered about what outfits I could create. I considered all the items I was boxing up. Would I need them? Crave them? Miss them? I worried people would notice I was wearing the same things. I even considered buying new items in case mine weren’t good enough. I got caught up in the colors, patterns, and combinations and stayed very focused on fashion, clothes, and all the things.
Wait, what’s Project 333?
Project 333 is the minimalist fashion challenge I created in 2010 that invites you to dress with 33 items or less for 3 months including clothes, jewelry, accessories, and shoes for 3 months. Tens of thousands of people have tried it and it’s been featured in Real Simple Magazine, O, The Oprah Magazine, on CNN, The BBC, and in Minimalism, a documentary about the important things.
The first time I saw my 33 items neatly placed in my empty closet, I panicked a little. Would it be enough? Did I pick the right things? Is this crazy?
The best things are never things
After a week of dressing with fewer items, I felt something different. When I opened my closet, I didn’t notice the clothes first. I noticed space; physical space, mental space, and more space to breathe. After a few more days, I realized I wasn’t rushing around as much in the mornings. I wasn’t frustrated with the daily question, “what am I going to wear today?” There was a new sense of calm I hadn’t noticed before. A few more weeks went by, and I stopped thinking about the clothes.
Once I turned my attention away from the stores and the sales, and from finding the best little black dress, or the perfect pair of boots, I realized the best things are never things. Now that I wasn’t giving all my money, time, and attention to what I was wearing, I could start thinking about what I was really interested in, and how I wanted to spend my time.
It wasn’t just me who was noticing remarkable changes. People who tried Project 333 noticed less anxiety, more clarity and focus. They reported they had more patience with their children and that they were sleeping better. The shifts that were happening in my life, and that I was hearing from others had nothing to do with shirts, shoes, or any other things.
The changes we noticed were heart-shifts.
How less became so much more
I did define what enough meant to me and I gained so much more by dressing with less.
When I discovered that my fears about dressing with less were all in my head, I developed more courage to try new things, even things that scared me.
For a long time, I tried to prove who I was by what I was wearing. When I stopped relying on my clothes to speak for me, I found confidence in who I was instead of what I was wearing.
I had no idea what to expect from dressing with 33 items or less, but when the unexpected benefits revealed themselves, I started wondering, “wouldn’t it be crazy if …?” about many other things.
You have to start somewhere
Minimalist fashion challenge Project 333 isn’t about fashion or clothes, but that’s where it starts. When you realize how much stress you can release, how much space you can create, how much money you can save, and how much joy you will experience simply by reducing the number of items in your closet, you’ll wonder why you didn’t start sooner.
I bring my 33 item wardrobe on the Tiny Wardrobe Tour because that’s where it starts. It starts with a few hangers, but after 23 cities, I know the conversations we have go far beyond clothes and fashion.We laugh, cry, and connect when we realize how much we have in common each time someone nods and thinks “you too?”