If you want to simplify your closet (and your life), consider Project 333.
You may have heard of minimalist fashion challenge Project 333 before. It’s been featured in O, the Oprah Magazine, Real Simple, on the BBC, CNN and countless blogs and podcasts over the last nine years. And, I can’t stop talking about it. It’s made such a difference in my closet and my life and closets and lives of thousands of people from around the world.
Even almost a decade later, I’m still amazed (and proud) that something so simple is so powerful.
When I started the challenge in 2010, I never thought it would be anything other than a fun experiment. Since then, it’s taken on a life of its own. It’s even become a book! Project 333, The Minimalist Fashion Challenge that Proves Less Really is So Much More is available now.
Project 333: Q & A to Help You Simplify Your Closet
I recently asked the Be More with Less Instagram Community what they wanted to know about Project 333. I responded to a few of the questions on Instagram but the questions kept pouring in so I thought you might be interested too.
We are going to start with a question that comes up frequently …
What is Project 333? Tell me everything.
Project 333 is a minimalist fashion challenge inviting you to dress with 33 items or less for 3 months. Those items include:
- shoes (yes, shoes too)
You don’t have to count underwear, sleepwear, lounge wear — clothes you only wear around the house for lounging/cleaning/gardening etc. or workout clothes (but your workout clothes have to workout). You don’t have to count your wedding ring OR one other piece of meaningful jewelry you always wear either.
A new season is starting now! Jump in and join us.
You really don’t wear lounge clothes outside of the house?
The only clothes I wear outside of my home are workout clothes to workout or items from my 33. My lounge clothes (like sweat pants and t-shirt) are for lounging.
Is a pair of shoes one item or two?
Can I have 33 pieces per season so 132 items in my closet?
You could do it that way, but I don’t recommend it. 50-90% of my seasonal 33 moves forward to the next season. There isn’t one magical number but this challenge will help you decide what “enough” means to you.
Do you ever regret donating or getting rid of things?
Not one time. That said, I didn’t get rid of everything all at once. It took time.
What do you wear to do chores?
I don’t do chores.
Just kidding! If I’m cleaning, I’ll usually wear a t-shirt and sweats but if I’m putting laundry or dishes away in between work, I just wear whatever I have on.
If I do a clothing subscription program like Rent the Runway, can I swap items in and out?
As a lifestyle choice, that’s totally up to you but for the purposes of this challenge, no. One of the benefits of a true Project 333 is not having to spend time, money, or energy on your wardrobe for three months.
How do you do this when you have extreme weather shifts?
I plan for weather shifts when choosing my 33 items. There are some items I only wear at the very beginning of a season and some I only wear at the end.
How do you organize your non-33 clothing items? Do you limit them?
During my first three months, I had boxes and boxes stored away. I let go of more and more each season and now I have one small container that houses my out of season clothing. I don’t count them or limit them but if I ever need an extra container, that will be a sign that things are building up.
Are there any exceptions to the rules you’ve made over the years and seasons of doing Project 333?
One time while traveling, I spilled coffee all over a white shirt waiting for a train. I bought another shirt that day so I didn’t have to walk around New York City in a wet, stained white shirt. Technically, I broke the rules but this isn’t a project in suffering.
What about special clothes like a party dress or ski clothes?
I’d consider a fancy dress part of the 33 and ski clothes as workout clothes.
Do you examples of wardrobes for toddlers?
This will help.
Do you know any pregnant/nursing moms with young kids who do this challenge?
Not personally, but they are out there.
Once, I shared that, I received so many messages from pregnant/nursing moms with kids! Here’s what some of them said:
- I wanted to let you know how awesome Project 333 (and minimalism) has been since I’ve become pregnant.
- Without Project 333, I would have bought a lot of different maternity pieces and spent a lot of time and money trying to assemble outfits.
- I’m a nursing mom with young kids and have found no problem at all with Project 333.
- I started my first season at the end of a pregnancy, gave birth and nursed during that season. I had been postponing Project 333 due to pregnancies and nursing clothes issues, but in the end I decided to start and it was perfectly fine and possible! Thank you for this challenge.
- I’m a nursing mom with 3 year old twins. This has made my life so much simpler and I love looking in my calm closet.
What about vacation clothes?
If you are going to the beach in the middle of winter or on a ski trip in middle of summer, dip into your off season clothes for what you need.
How do you incorporate more color, not just black, blue and grey clothes?
I enjoy wearing black, blue and grey clothes but you can create a colorful capsule wardrobe. This video might help.
What do you recommend when work is business casual but life is casual casual?
Dress down your work wear 10% and dress up your life wear 10%. I did this. It works! No one cared or noticed.
What are the must-haves for each season?
These are my top five.
What if I don’t have room to put the other clothes out of sight because I have a small apartment with one closet?
Work with what you have. Perhaps you could store the out of season clothes in a box and cover the box with a blanket/tablecloth and let it serve as a table or shelf in your closet?
What do you do with the stuff you aren’t counting or wearing?
Hide it and then revisit in three months to make better decisions about what to keep and what to sell or donate.
What if you wear a uniform to work?
I recommend counting your uniforms as one items or counting each piece of the uniform as one piece. Then, after the first three months, you can decide how to proceed.
Why did you start Project 333?
I started the challenge as a personal experiment because I wanted some peace. I was tired of thinking about what to wear, what to buy, how to organize my closet and making countless decisions everyday about wardrobe. I wanted to figure out what enough meant to me.
The challenge over delivered. Not only did I get the peace I wanted and the relief from decision fatigue, but I got so much more. I got my mornings back. I saved a bunch of money and redirected my resources (time, money, energy, attention) to things I actually care about.
Lastly, even though I had been simplifying my life before I started Project 333, dressing with less gave me the confidence and motivation to live with less clutter and less space (moved from big house to small apartment).
If you want to simplify your closet, simplify your life and find a little peace, try Project 333.
Get your copy of Project 333, The Minimalist Fashion Challenge That Proves Less Really Is So Much More and trade stress and excess for a little peace.