Fun fact: when you become a minimalist you don’t automatically become a different person. You’re just you- now with less stuff! Sure, as I made changes, I grew and adapted and I am now a very different person than I was 3 years ago. But in the moment between deciding to go from an overflowing wardrobe, to a Project 333 approach? Aside from sorting through piles of stuff, nothing happened that day. I was exactly the same. My clothes were exactly the same, there were just fewer of them. My wardrobe of flowery patterns, hot pink dresses and red sweaters didn’t transform into white button-ups and blue jeans. And here’s the thing- I don’t want it to.
Ever since I can remember, my tastes were not “the classics”. I have never in my life owned a pair of khakis, and I do not own black dress pants. I have zero button downs, and very few things without patterns, or in a “neutral” color. I love loud colors and prints. I love dresses. I don’t own many “separates”- think about it: a dress is one and done. It doesn’t get simpler than that!
Prior to trying this out, I was really intrigued by smaller wardrobes. I knew that I had way too many clothes, and the famous problem of “nothing to wear”. But everything I found about capsule wardrobes showed images of simple cuts, classics in navy, white, beige and black. This was not a style I was attracted to, therefore clearly, simplifying wasn’t for me. I didn’t recognize myself in the results portrayed. I felt like maybe, if I wanted to keep things simple, I needed to throw out everything I owned and replace it with the new “right” stuff. However, that approach felt drastic and wrong.
One day, in December of 2016, I decided to give Project 333 a try anyway and see what would happen. I pulled out all of my clothes, sorted through them, narrowed it down to 33 items and boxed up the remaining pieces I wanted to keep. Surprisingly, the system worked wonderfully, even though I was wearing my original clothes, reflecting my colorful style. I was able to put together several outfits, and not once has anybody mentioned that I wear the same stuff over and over again. I have been at this for over three years, and I keep downsizing constantly. I’ve never sacrificed my style though.
What do I wear? The staple of my wardrobe are 5 colorful/ patterned dresses. In the winter I wear these with a sweater and black leggings, in the summer, by themselves. I also own a pair of red jeans and a pair of blue jeans, which I typically wear with a patterned top and a sweater or blazer. I have exactly one black T shirt, which I pair with my patterned sweater. For the non-lounging portions of my life, I predominantly wear dresses. It’s Sunday, and it’s my first day this week in pants. I pretty much wear the same accessories all the time. I never take off my rings. I haven’t swapped earrings in at least 6 months and I always wear the same necklace. Occasionally, typically when I’ve worn a dress more than twice in the same week, I’ll play interference by adding one of my other 3 necklace options. I do laundry at least once a month, probably a bit more often in the summer than winter.
The system works. There is one, probably rather predictable, caveat. My clothes, the bulk of which were purchased prior to December 2016, all come from fast fashion merchandise. They were not made to last. A lot of these I’ve had for 8-10 years. Almost everything I own is at some level showing wear and tear. After all, I wear these things and launder them A LOT. Some items are getting to the point where they should be retired. Sooner or later (and with some items definitely sooner) I will be faced with the need to purchase replacements. This is where I hit a dilemma- do I buy a quality item, made to last, or do I purchase something (ideally from the thrift store) cheaply priced and cheaply made?
Of course, the first thing to reevaluate is when does something “need” to be replaced? Even if I wear through a dress, do I need a new one, or can I do with one less? My basics, like jeans or black sweaters would be more of a “need”. The blue jeans I have now are a more recent purchase, as my old ones were ripped to shreds. I got the “new” ones for $7 thrifting, so I’m pretty pleased with them. My leggings get a lot of wear so I replace them constantly- most often from Walmart. Currently, my pink dress is looking ratty. If I find something else like it, I might replace it.
I’m not running out and making any purchases right away, but I am on the look out. There is a thrift store right next to our laundromat, and right before laundry is a perfect time to pop in. That way, if you get anything, you can wash it right away. I’m very good at not buying things I don’t need, as storage is at a premium for me. I have to operate by the “one in, one out” rule, and currently I really like all of my things. In spite of loving colors and patterns, I managed to curate a minimalist wardrobe that I really love, and that works very well for me.
How about you? What’s your style? What do you love/ hate about your wardrobe? Where do you source new things?