This is a guest post from Debbie Roes of Recovering Shopaholic. (pictured above in her pre-P333 closet)
I first learned about Project 333 about a year ago when it was mentioned by a blogger I follow. Although I was intrigued by the project and spent quite a bit of time reading the website, I never seriously considered taking it on for myself. As a longtime “clothes horse,” I neither wanted to dress with only 33 items nor believed it would be possible for me to do so. Sure, I wanted to stop shopping so much and pare my closet down to a more “normal” size, but why would I want to do anything as drastic as Project 333?
As the months went by and I actually got to know Courtney through her blogs and my participation in her Goodblog Project course, my curiosity about the challenge and how it might personally benefit me grew. At the beginning of 2013, I decided to address my compulsive shopping problems head on and began my Recovering Shopaholic blog to chronicle my journey and hopefully inspire others along the way. While I’ve already made good progress in facing my shopping dragons, I believe a challenge like Project 333 could definitely accelerate my momentum. Yet fear has stopped me from diving in.
Four Big Fears
What am I afraid of? Mostly, my fears fall into the following categories:
- How could I possibly pick just 33 things?
- What would I do with everything else in my closet?
- Could I still be stylish dressing with so few pieces?
- Will I really be able to do it?
As with all fears, there are ways to address them and move forward. Moving through fear can definitely be growth-inducing and I am as much a personal growth junkie as I am a shopaholic! So here is how I will deal with the four fears above so I can begin Project 333 on April 1st (yes, of 2013!).
Selecting the Items
I know it will be difficult to pare down my wardrobe and select what I will wear for the next three months. I’m worried I’ll choose the wrong things and regret the decisions I made. It’s similar to packing for a trip and making some bad choices. In that case, you simply make do with what you have or buy what you need to fill in the gaps.
With Project 333, my other clothes will still be available and I’ll give myself the freedom to make a few necessary swaps along the way. I’ll put a few “alternates” aside as suggested in the project guidelines. If I totally blow it with my selections, I can course-correct as the project progresses. Knowing this will help me to dive in, do the best I can in selecting my April through June wardrobe, and have some fun along the way.
Dealing with Everything Else
I live in a two-bedroom apartment and space is at a premium. I wonder where I’d store the garments and shoes that don’t make the cut for Project 333. I also have a system in place to track what I wear through tags on my garment hangers. I don’t want to abandon the 2013 tracking when storing everything I won’t be using for Project 333.
My wonderful engineer husband came up with a few suggestions, as he always does. He recommended that I pin the tracking tags to each garment and store my cast-offs in boxes within my main closet. Since I’ll be dressing with less, I won’t need as much hanging space and the boxes can be stored on one side of my closet. Garments that might become excessively wrinkled by folding can be stored in our second closet next to the dress shirts and suits that my husband never wears. Problem solved!
I worry that I won’t be stylish if I only have a small number of things to wear. Objectively, I know this isn’t true. After all, the participants of “What Not to Wear” only buy 35-50 items (I’ve actually paused my recording to count!) with the $5000 they receive on the show and they are all dressed beautifully at the end of the process. Why should I need hundreds of garments to look fabulous each day?
I know I need to trust the process – and myself. I need to have faith that I can still appear fashionable and stylish without a jam-packed closet. After all, I am a closet “mix master” and love to remix my garments to create fresh new looks. Sure, I’ve always had far more than 33 items to work with, but I love a challenge. Who knows, I may even be more stylish with a smaller wardrobe!
Can I Really Do It?
My final fear is that I won’t be successful in actually doing Project 333. I mentioned above that I’m a “personal growth junkie”… Ten years ago, my husband and I did a Tony Robbins seminar in Fiji. On the first day, we were given a physical challenge to climb up a tall telephone pole (harnessed, of course), stand on top of it and jump out ten feet or so to grab a trapeze bar.
For a few people, this challenge was a piece of cake. It wasn’t even a challenge for them. For one lady, climbing halfway up the pole was a major triumph. For me, it took tremendous courage to stand on top of the pole as it teetered back and forth. The seminar leaders told us that the challenge was about facing our fears and reaching beyond our comfort zone. Successfully facing the challenge was not about grabbing onto the trapeze; it was about expanding our views of our capabilities and what’s possible.
For some, Project 333 would be a cake walk. Many people already dress with 33 items or less. While my husband definitely has more than 33 pieces in his closet, I’m confident he could take on Project 333 with very little difficulty. By contrast, I would struggle to dress with fewer than 100 items for three months and I believe I would still grow and learn from taking on that as a challenge.
Like the Tony Robbins telephone pole exercise, Project 333 is about challenge and growth, and the rules and instructions are merely tools to aid the process. The rules clearly state that it’s neither a project in suffering nor an all or nothing proposition. As long as we push our boundaries, we will grow and learn from participating in the challenge. Therefore, I have decided to only count clothing in my 33 pieces, not shoes or accessories.
Modifying the rules helps me to feel more comfortable and safe with the process and will increase my chances for success. As someone with over 300 garments in my closet, it will definitely be a stretch for me to select just 33 pieces. I get nervous even thinking about it. That’s how I know that taking on Project 333 is the right thing for me to do! If the mere thought of starting the challenge scares you, perhaps it would be perfect for you, too.
I’m Ready to Go
So I’ve now addressed all of my fears surrounding Project 333. I’m ready to take on the challenge of dressing with less for the next three months. Am I still scared? Of course I am, but I am going to feel the fear and do it anyway! Not only will I take on Project 333, but I’ll also share my experiences along the way on my blog, “Recovering Shopaholic.” I will chronicle it all – the good, the bad, and the ugly. I know I’ll learn a great deal through dressing with much less over three months and that I’ll emerge with a new perspective on my clothes and how much I really need.
Who wants to join me?
If you want to join Debbie, face your fears and start Project 333, ask any questions in the comment section below and join her in the Dress with Less microcourse to discover the real beauty of less.