These are the four things that got filed as part of this month’s review – 3 sleeveless tops and a bolero / shrug style cardigan. I haven’t got rid of them entirely, as they are firm favourites but just not appropriate for winter! I took the opportunity to dig out some woolly jumpers and another pair of jeans to replace them on the rail.
One thing that’s going through my mind is how to ensure I don’t end up wearing dreadfully tatty clothes because I’m wearing my favourites over and over again. They will inevitably start to wear out, but if I haven’t bought any new clothes in a while, there will nothing new in the wardrobe as a contrast.
Maybe I need to add a new step to my monthly review – asking myself questions such as: Are any of the clothes faded, bobbled, stretched, tatty?
Now that I’m about to start packing up the house, it might be a good time to do an overhaul of the clothes that I’m not including in my 33 (keeping in storage) to see if any of them really need to be exited..
January might be interesting, clothes-wise. I am starting a new job, and there’s every chance that the dress code is smarter than where I’m working now. That would mean digging out some old suits (and probably finding that some of them need replacing!!).
The secret to a capsule wardrobe is that as many of the items as possible should be able to mix and match, but I find that very difficult to get right without seeing the clothes on me. So here’s my answer to that conundrum.
The one in Project 331 comes from the fact that I review my capsule wardrobe every month (not every 3 months). The thought of having to decide up front what I am going to need for the next season frightens me a little bit, so I cheat.
At the start of the month, all my hangers are turned backwards (a la Oprah Winfrey, who apparently first came up with this idea).
As clothes are worn, washed and hung back up, they go the right way round at the right end of the rail. When I am choosing what to wear, I tend to start at this right-hand end and move left.
If there’s nothing suitable on the rail, I do occasionally delve into the plastic crates – this month it was so hot I had to dig out some shorts and a couple of lightweight tops to wear. If I do this, the new items get worn and washed and hung at the right end of the rail.
At the end of the month, I:
- do a count up
- add any new items to my “official” list of 33 items
- figure out which items need giving or packing away to get me back to 33 or less and cross them off my official list.
My criteria are not very sophisticated – usually there are a couple of items still at the left-hand end of the rail with their hangers the wrong way around, either because they are out of favour or out of season.
If I try something on and it doesn’t go with what I’m wearing, I put it back away where it came from. Anything that doesn’t get worn very much because it just doesn’t “go” often enough, ends up at the left hand end of my clothes rail and at the end of the month gets considered for chucking. Lack of ability to mix and match on a hanger – solved.
Project 331 is taking shape.. It’s taken me a whole year since I first started thinking (and blogging) about it to really get on board and make it a regular pattern of life..
As I said in my first post on the topic, I’m not really following the proper rules and have adapted them even further (made them easier) for my own purposes, but it’s working well now. For several months I lived with both of the rails shown in the picture above full of clothes, but not all being worn. Now I’ve sorted and folded the remainder into the two big crates you can see above, labelled:
- Summer / Holidays
- Spring / Autumn & Winter
So I now have 33 items of clothing I am currently wearing sitting on the rails, but I haven’t included accessories or shoes in that number any more. Also, the standard gym/sports clothes, PJs don’t count in the number. Adding work clothes into this mix has made it more challenging.
I must admit that in addition to this wardrobe, I also have a cupboard storing shoes, suits and other out of season clothes that need hanging up, a chest of drawers with my underwear, sports clothes, PJs and accessories in, and another cupboard with a stack of evening dresses in. (Oh and a dirty linen basket.)
However, having removed the excess clothes from these rails (that form the basis of my daily clothes decisions) has made such a difference that choosing what I am going to wear the next day is now easy-peasy.
ln a much earlier post, I explained that I was trialling a new method of cutting down on the volume of necessary items.
As a rule, I have found it relatively easy to get rid of belongings that I just don’t use any more, those that are getting old and tatty, and duplicate items of which one will do.
I admit l have done a bit of “archiving” (storing things in the garage) of items that we use less often or that I genuinely think I should keep even though l don’t use them at the moment. Examples might be:
The tagine – only used every few months, but you can’t make a tagine without a tagine!!
The emergency kettle (nothing worse than the idea of not being able to start the day with a cup of tea).
The excellent giant hair straighteners l don’t use at the moment since I got my hair cut short.
Anyway, in addition to my feeble excuses regarding archiving, I also hadn’t really tackled the challenge of reducing the volume of essential items of which you really do need more than one.
So, I started with pants – emptying the drawer into a plastic box, continuing with the normal process of putting laundry away in the drawer, and only venturing into the plastic box when there was nothing in the drawer. At the end of a month (that included a week or so’s holiday) I was able to get rid of almost half of my underwear in the confidence that I have enough to get by.
I then did the same thing with pairs of socks and threw away half of those.
Now my collection of wooden spoons, plastic spatulas and other kitchen bits and pieces are undergoing the same treatment.
Several months ago, I had a goal to minimise my wardrobe. It worked quite well and I was pleasantly surprised at how well I managed to dress with a smaller range of clothing. This is an especial surprise given my lack of ability to instinctively tell what goes with what. Then I got a job and that put the suits amongst the pigeons and the discipline round the wardrobe dissolved.
My recent post explains how decluttering isn’t really a priority right now, and so I have decided to try a pants experiment. (For those of you not ofay with British humour, pants means knickers in the UK, and is also used to mean “rubbish” or “not that great” – i.e. “I’m having a really pants day!”)
Anyway, the gist of all of this is that I have alot of underwear I don’t wear and I reckon I could live with less. But how do I tackle this without risking running out of pants? In order to figure it out, I have emptied my underwear drawer into a storage box. As clean pants make it back to my underwear drawer I will only dip into the storage box if the drawer is empty. After a few weeks l can throw away any sets of underwear I haven’t worn..
Once that’s done I might venture to carry out the same experiment with socks!
Clothes shopping and putting outfits together have never been my strong point. There have been days when I’ve walked to the station on the way to work and thought “this outfit really doesn’t match, but it’s too late now”. So to tackle this I got really organised.. I tried on all my clothes and found 2 tops which definitely matched a pair of trousers or a suit and then hung them all on the same hanger – then I could be sure my clothes matched. Where I had trousers with no tops, I went shopping. It works, but it means I probably have more stuff than I need.
Project 333 is an experiment in living with less clothing. Their challenge is to live in 33 items of clothes for 3 months. You are meant to pick out your items in advance and pack all the rest into boxes, put them out of sight and get on with the challenge. (The 33 items don’t include your wedding ring, underwear, PJs, loungewear or gym clothes.)
This is my adaptation of the challenge…
- Instead of choosing all 33 items in advance, I am picking them as I need them – I have saved a few spaces at the end of the list as I know I have a night out in a few weeks that will require a posh top and shoes!
- Instead of wearing them for three months, I am going to review the items after a month and see if I want to replace any with better fitting / more versatile options.
- I am cheating and counting “jewellery” as one item.
Why take / adapt the challenge?
I’m not sure I want to live with as few as 33 items in the long run, but I’m hoping that my adaptation to this challenge will allow me to experiment more with mixing and matching my wardrobe again, but with better results. Taking pictures of the outfits to post on this blog will give me a better idea of what really suits me, and what maybe doesn’t (so I can ditch those things). The items that get switched out in the monthly review could probably get discarded unless there’s a really good reason why not, and the items that never get switched in could also go!
All in all I think this probably amounts to a fun way of gradually minimalising my wardrobe, and hopefully feeling confident about what I’ve kept.
My Capsule Wardrobe So Far
I started this a few days ago, so I’m around halfway with picking the clothes.. Taking photos of my shoes has made me realise I need to shop for some nicer looking replacements – both pairs look very worn!
P.S. As a strange aside, one of the recommended tags for this post was “Johnny Depp” – what?!