Do I own my clothes or do my clothes own me? Capsule Wardrobe Challenge

I’ve decided to make February the month to declutter the wardrobe. I wanted to make this a priority as clothes are the bulk of what I own and they are one of the easiest things to keep adding to or replacing without thinking.

As inspiration for this I decided to take on the Project 333 challenge. The idea is to have 33 items for 3 months of the year, i.e. each season. This is supposed to include shoes and accessories but I decided to start with getting my clothes in order first as this felt like a big task on it’s own.dsc_0781

 

First thing first I put all my clothes into a big pile on my bed. I expected to be appalled but it actually didn’t look too bad to me!

 

 

 

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The Project 333 strategy is to not include pyjamas and workout clothes (unless you don’t use them) so I do still have this drawer full, though it’s been sorted and unused items removed…

 

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Then I separated everything into seasons. Spring and Autumn are more or less the same so I just split things across the two seasons.

I removed the items I could easily let go of and then I counted up what I had in each pile by separating them into tops, dresses etc. The aim is to have 33 items per season but I actually found that for winter, spring and autumn this number was much less than 33. Summer had 44 items however so this was the season I needed to work on. It was simple to separate a few summer items to spring and autumn- layers are important in the most changeable seasons after all but really the number of dresses was unnecessary. Unfortunately since moving back to Yorkshire my summer dresses rarely see the light of day and beachwear isn’t much use here either. I pared these items down using my declutter mantras and general practical thinking. If I’m saving this item for something, e.g. the beach, then is there something else I can use on a beach and also wear on a day-to-day basis in Yorkshire?

I confess I found this process much harder than expected. What it highlighted to me was how much I attach a sense of self to my clothes.

I know that people judge on appearance and I have certain items that I associate with an idea of how people will view me in it. I own formal clothes that I rarely wear (the wedding season time of life seems to have passed now, thankfully for my bank balance) but they make me feel sophisticated. I have dance training tops for ‘fat days’, ‘thin days’ and ‘I really don’t care days’. I own things for specific activities like hiking, dancing, yoga, running and weddings. These often overlapped into different parts of my wardrobe and it was this that challenged me most- deciding whether something had a genuine use to me
or not.

The conclusion was that actually 33 items per season does not fit with my lifestyle or in fact the unreliable British weather meaning a ‘season’ is a loose term. Perhaps dividing the year into two halves and having, say, 60 items might be more attainable and practical for me.

Feeling like a failure I decided this wouldn’t do until I had at least attempted to live with the 33 items. So, this month I am wearing 33 items that I have selected for my winter wardrobe, below. dsc_0838

The phrase that keeps coming to minds is ‘does this add value?‘. In the Minimalists’ documentary they reference someone who found letting go of his library too hard because he just loved everything about books so much. To this they said, keep them then! They add value! Now, I don’t love everything about clothes but I do like to have the right clothes for the activity I’m doing and I do do a wide range of activities! For my lifestyle having a selection of clothes adds value but what I can do is work on which clothes I own to maximise the co-ordination of all items I own and the activities I can use them for.

For now dsc_0860I’m satisfied that my final tally of 33 winter items, 29 summer items, 22 autumn items and 18 spring items, (102 in total) is a pretty good outcome before I tackle shoes, accessories and jewellery. Already I feel that less choice is helping reduce decision fatigue- though time will tell how much more I’ll have to use the washing machine…

I’ll be donating these items (left) to the Leeds Community Clothes Exchange- a fantastic way to change up your wardrobe sustainably! I’ll be writing a post about this very soon!

 

Have you done your own Project 333? Or do you have a capsule wardrobe? I love to know how you’re getting on and what your recommendations are for ideal capsule wardrobe items.

Leeds Community Clothes Exchange: www.facebook.com/LeedsCommunityClothesExchange

Project 333: http://bemorewithless.com/project-333/

 

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