Project Awesome

Making my life more awesome

If you see me wearing a funny black hat, you’ll know I’ve gone too far

on July 4, 2014

My friend Rachel introduced the idea of Project 333 while posting about positive things on Facebook.  As I love slightly ridiculous ways of complicating my life in the name of making things easier, this appealed to me. For three months, your entire wardrobe – coats, shoes, accessories, jewellery, jeans, tops, dresses, everything – consists of 33 items.  Underwear, pyjamas, things you would never willingly leave the house in: these are not included.  This 33-item capsule wardrobe should see you through a whole season, and then you can change it to another 33-item wardrobe.  Rachel is blogging about her experience and the challenges she’s facing here.

Apparently you wear 20% of your wardrobe 80% of the time (not your actual, literal, made-of-wood wardrobe.  That would be silly.) so Project 333 aims to simplify your life by removing from consideration all the things you don’t wear anyway.  All the things which don’t fit, or don’t really suit you, or the things you are going to wear when you just lose a little bit of weight.  All those things go away, either into storage or a charity shop or somewhere else where they do not fill up your brain with choices first thing in the morning.

I like this idea.  It appeals to me because it’s quirky and a bit extreme.  I went through my wardrobe and took out the things I don’t wear.  Bye-bye skirt that I’ve never found a top to match, and which was a present from my ex-sister-in-law.  And the skirt I love but which is too big.  And the work top which is actually a maternity top and therefore doesn’t fit me because I’m not pregnant.  Some things went in a bag to get rid of immediately (or, more realistically, to put in the cellar, where they are likely to remain until I die).  Others went in a bag of things I’m not quite sure I want to get rid of, which I will keep for a while until I make my mind up (let’s face it, they’ll be found next to the other bag upon the event of my death).  I’m left with 24 items of clothes to wear: one coat, three pairs of shoes, two pairs of jeans, a skirt, a dress, work trousers and some tops, and a few jumpers and a cardigan.

One thing I’ve realised is quite how strict my demarcation between ‘work clothes’ and ‘home clothes’ has been.  I do have clothes I wear outside work which I *could* wear to work, but I’ve liked to maintain the distinction.  I’ve been resistant to the idea that I might *like* clothes which are suitable for wearing at work, thus being a real grown-up with grown-up tastes, rather than still being a student in jeans and a t-shirt.  I’m not sure I can justify having four tops I don’t really like in my minimalist wardrobe, and, well, it wouldn’t be a complete betrayal of myself to wear clothes I actually like when I’m at work.  So it’s time to do some shopping.

I’ve been thinking about living more simply, particularly since going to Quaker meetings.  And dressing simply has always been a part of Quakerism – probably one of the images most associated with Quakers is those funny hats and very plain clothes. And I have wondered how this kind of project fits with Quaker ideas about simplicity – does it focus too much on what you wear and how you look?

I think it’s possible for that to happen. Obviously there’s nothing to stop you going out and buying 33 new items of clothing four times a year.  But I hope that having a collection of clothes which is put together with more thought will mean I don’t have to think about it so much on a day-to-day basis.  And that the clothes I do buy will be better quality and, ideally, more ethically-sourced, so they will last rather than needing to be replaced.  And the clothes I don’t wear can go to someone who will use them.

So far, I haven’t felt any huge effects from my reduced wardrobe – just a vague sense that I should probably keep on top of the laundry.  But I think I’m enjoying the experiment so far.

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2 responses to “If you see me wearing a funny black hat, you’ll know I’ve gone too far

  1. nights7 says:

    This sounds like an interesting experiment; I’m curious to see how it goes. There’s a lot in my wardrobe that I don’t wear but I don’t dress up for work. If I got rid of the stuff I hardly ever wear I’d have to face the fact that my life is sadly casual.
    Actually, one upside of the whole divorce process was that I got to wear a lot of my nicer clothes for all those obnoxious court appearances & interviews. At least that was a little fun.

    • We wear ‘smart casual office-wear’ at work, though it’s interesting to see the range of interpretations: I have actually been looking at what my female colleagues wear this week to try to work out how it works.

      It is true that thinking about what clothes I actually need for my life at the moment made me realise I don’t go out enough!

      I was fortunate with my divorce that I didn’t have to go to court. I have bought some new clothes for the little bit of dating I’ve done, and I really like that now I only dress for myself – I don’t have to take anyone else’s opinions or preferences into consideration – it feels quite liberating.

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