The weekend that I left my job with CGI back at the beginning of April, I decided to take a closer look at my clothing situation. My new role doesn’t require me to wear a suit or shirts, so it felt like a good opportunity to take stock of what I had in my wardrobe.
In April, I was still going through my coathanger system every six months or so, but as I no longer needed my ‘work’ wardrobe, it felt like I had more in there than was really necessary. As I was starting a new job anyway, I figured it would be a good time to give myself this minimalist challenge: Project 333.
The target of Project 333 is to wear only 33 items for three months, which sounds fairly restrictive at first, although the rules of what to include are fairly broad. Among other rules listed out at Be More With Less, the main constraints of this experiment are as follows:
- The 33 items must include clothing, accessories, jewelry, outerwear and footwear.
- Sentimental jewelry that is never taken off is not included, nor is underwear, sleepwear, in-home loungewear, or workout/sports clothing (provided they’re only worn for working out or sports). I took a little liberty with this, and included my FitBit as “sentimental jewelry” along with my St Christopher pendant.
- All other clothing must be removed: out of sight, out of mind. I moved my ‘unused’ clothes to the other side of the split wardrobe, although moving everything else into boxes is a common method.
- Navy Sherwood t-shirt
- Pull&Bear t-shirt
- White Hard Rock Café Gdansk t-shirt
- Black Hard Rock Café Istanbul t-shirt
- Black Hard Rock Café Barcelona t-shirt
- Navy Hard Rock Café Brussels t-shirt
- Navy Hard Rock Café Copenhagen t-shirt
- Red Hard Rock Café Madrid t-shirt
- Red Hard Rock Café Venice t-shirt
- Blue Hard Rock Café Bucharest t-shirt
- Blue Hard Rock Café Rome t-shirt
- Grey Hard Rock Café Rome t-shirt
- White Uniqlo t-shirt
- Cream Jack & Jones t-shirt *
Shirts & Jumpers (8)
- Cream Jack & Jones checked shirt
- Blue Drift King checked shirt
- Black/blue Uniqlo checked shirt
- Blue Superdry checked shirt
- Blue/red Uniqlo checked shirt
- Green checked shirt
- Plain black shirt
- Blue wool jumper
- Blue denim jeans *
- Blue denim jeans *
- Black denim jeans
- Black shorts
Footwear / Outerwear (5)
- Black peacoat
- Grey hoodie *
- Grey running shoes
- Black trainers *
- Grey boots *
- Black leather belt
- Black Armani watch
- St. Christopher pendant necklace (permanently worn)
- Fitbit Charge 2 (permanently worn)
- Running shoes / clothes
- Football boots / kit
When it’s written down, that actually looks like quite a lot of stuff, but I did have to live with this for a full three months. First of all, there’s an obvious pattern to the wardrobe I’ve chosen. Even before starting Project 333, my ‘style’ consisted almost entirely of Hard Rock Café t-shirts and checked / plaid shirts. I know what I like; why change it? Also, before I actually wrote it all down, I didn’t realise quite how much running gear I had and used.
Almost immediately, I failed my challenge. On Day 4, I was invited to an anniversary dinner with my new employers - dress code: black-tie. As you can see, I didn’t include a suit, or even a formal shirt in my list of 33 items, but rather than waste ~10% of my allowance on a single night, I just went ahead and wore my grey suit for the night anyway. Sue me.
I also wore my gardening trousers and an old hoodie when I laid the patio in the front garden back in April, and while doing various gardening / maintenance tasks around the flat. I didn’t include these either, because while I technically did leave the house wearing them, they’re close enough to the ‘lounge wear’ definition that I chose not to include them.
The items in my original list with asterisks didn’t make it to the end of the challenge with me. Both pairs of jeans were replaced like-for-like after wearing holes in them within a week of each other. I also replaced my grey boots with a new, fairly similar, black pair, and likewise with my black Nikes, swapped out for a pair of black Adidas after the heel split in one of them. While I was in Seattle, I bought a new hoodie and donated my old one to a homeless guy living outside my hostel. Finally, I replaced my Jack & Jones t-shirt with the new Hard Rock shirt I bought in Seattle, after I spilled the inside of a kebab wrap down myself while drunk. No idea what they made that kebab out of, but the stain was practically luminous, and would not come out at all. Never mind.
Despite all of this, with the exception of my suit issue, I haven’t really felt like the challenge constrained me too much. It helps a lot that I don’t have a massive variety in what I typically wear day-to-day, but nobody has even noticed (or at least, nobody has commented) that I’ve only worn the same 33 items for the past three months, and I haven’t truly felt like I had to change my habits in any meaningful way. Now that the challenge is over, I’ve taken stock of my remaining clothes and filled another charity bag of items I really didn’t miss over the last few months. I’ve reopened my wardrobe now to be restriction-free; although I’ll probably try this experiment again soon, as it helped a lot in deciding which clothes I actually like.