Editor’s Note: This is a guest post from Beverly of PoMo Golightly.
Toss a pebble in a pond, and you’ll see dainty ripples spread across the water.
Throw a boulder in a pond, and you’re sure to get wet.
On August 9, 2010, I threw a boulder into my life’s pond when I committed to Project 333.
I’m a woman who loves a good project. I’m also a woman who had far more clothes than I needed. For ages I’ve told myself that I needed to get my act (and closet) together to create a simple, elegant wardrobe that would fit perfectly and be easy to maintain. As soon as I read about Courtney’s fashion brainchild, I started making lists.
Then I shared my lists. What to keep? How many cardis did I need? Could I do without those baby blue sling backs? As soon as I started talking about Project 333 with friends and family, the ripple effect began; I just had no idea just how big the ripples would be. They fall into a few different categories.
Within a month of my participating in Project 333, my husband took on a project of his own: Project Basement. For the first time in years, he cleaned out items he’d held on to but never used again, and he attributed it to my boldness in boxing up or giving away clothes that didn’t make my initial cut.
There’s more space in our little house now, and my closet, tiny by many standards, has room to spare with only 33 items inside. The extra room in the basement? Part of it is being transformed into a pantry for the vegetables I like to preserve, and part of it will be a dedicated workout space.
Physical space is great. Even better is the newly freed space in my schedule. I don’t try on multiple outfits every morning. There are only so many permutations possible with 33 items, after all. I figure that I have probably given myself about 30 minutes a week to do something instead of thinking about what fits and looks nice. That’s time I can use for biking, reading, writing, learning something new.
Boxes and bags of clothes have left my house since October. Some were easy to pack away. Others less so, but it feels good to know that the clothes that once cluttered my life are now being enjoyed by others. I had a blast donating some clothes to charity and sharing other items with my colleagues and friends. I even bartered a beautiful handbag that I rarely carried for a massage.
Project 333 incites some interesting conversations. Whenever I receive a compliment on my outfits (which happens more often now than before Project 333), after expressing my thanks, I usually say a little about the project. “I could never do that,” is often the first reaction I hear. But then something turns. People think how living with fewer clothes could be a good thing. One of the women in my knitting group, Katie, instead paring down her wardrobe to 33 items committed to eliminating 33 items, and in the process has become more mindful when shopping.
One of my colleagues, upon reading about my plan to wear only 33 items throughout most of the fall semester asked me how I was going to keep myself honest. Easily, I said. Everything not on the list is out of my closet. She encouraged me to take a photo a day to document how I could style those 33 items. I took a picture every day during Phase 1, tweeted links to the images, and wrote a weekly review of the Project. Through those moves, I made new friends, engaged in fascinating conversations, and learned even more about how my on-line friends were simplifying their lives.
Even people who aren’t clothes horses like me have embraced the project. As Penny said, “When you first started doing the project I couldn’t understand how I, a non-fashionista, could benefit. Then I realized that I loved the idea that there was a project saying it’s ok not to have closets full of different outfits and that there were some basic pieces that could be mixed and matched to great effect. I love the uniform idea. I’m no longer apologizing for how I dress. This is who I am.”
The Big, Wide World
Some of the big changes in my life is reflected in the comments of others influenced by the Project as well: buying less, buying better quality, recycling more. Christina noted that she’s found it much easier to resist buying sale items simply because they were on sale, and that this mindfulness is better for the environment. Inspired by her, Christina’s best friend and sister-in-law have undertaken closet purges, sharing unwanted items with others.
What started as a fun way to challenge my fashion-happy self ended up changing my life, and seeing my life change has inspired others to challenge themselves. I know I’m not alone in this. Imagine. Thousands of people have tried Project 333. If each one shares the excitement with two friends, and each of those two friends tells two more friends, before long we’ll see a tremendous fashion revolution where authentic, minimal wardrobes lead to more time and space, better health, and stronger communities.
How has Project 333 been a boulder in your pond?