September 7, 2018
Wednesday I experimented with a different approach to Project 333 – in which I built a template for 4 5-piece “clusters” of clothing:
Partly to showcase 2 of Eileen Fisher’s “new” fall colors (Midnight and Nutmeg), I pulled together this wardrobe:
If we’re going to be really strict with Project 333, this would only leave us 13 accessories for this wardrobe! But let’s bear in mind the LAST thing the creator of Project 333 wants is for us to feel limited or constrained by this process – she just wants us to be thoughtful…
That said, I’m going to see what I can accomplish with only 13 accessories, just as an exercise in planning and in limits! If nothing else, it’s educational to see what you really want to include in your wardrobe, or conversely what you find that you can live without…
Please note that the categories within this template are completely arbitrary – if you want 5 pairs of shoes and six scarves – go for it!
This is how I envisioned this working:
And I chose a ruana, because a lot of these outfits are pretty monochromatic (or bi-chromatic) and can stand the large splash of pattern. If you’re not comfortable wearing a shawl like this, it could easily be replaced by another more “normal” scarf, or maybe a necklace that included gold links with navy and rust enamel beads?
The following is exactly the same outfits that you saw on Wednesday from this wardrobe; note how much more complete and polished they look with just the minimum of accessories:
So do you have a plan to put some limits on your wardrobe for the upcoming season? I think I’m going to choose 20 garments, and then just wear whatever accessories catch my eye. This might be a way to start weeding through my mountains of scarves, so that I can begin to declutter and sell a few things…
This has been so lovely to see come together! I think the addition of 2 coats would be amazing, maybe a trenchcoat in nutmeg and a warmer/waterproof navy one…
It actually inspired me to start working on my fall/winter capsule. I’m leaning towards a black/grey/teal combination.
But in the original project 333 was also outerwear included in the 33 items, wasn’t it? I think it would be difficult for me to only have 33 items including EVERYTHING. I sorter out a lot of things and pairen down my wardrobe so i know have a capsule wardobe, but doesn’t include accessories, footwear or outerwear in my capsule but have sorted out some there too
Outerwear may have been included, but that’s really going to make life difficult for many of us! I can cycle through 3 or 4 different jackets and coats in a month – 3 months with just 2 or 3 pieces of outwear might freeze me to death!
Yes same here in Sweden. This September is really warm and I don’t even use outerwear at all yet, or maybe just a puffer if the wind is chilly. But pretty soon I will need a raincoat, a wool jacket, maybe my Parkas in November, and perhaps a fleece jacket somewhere in between to, or in combination with the raincoat ?
Yes, I agree. The plan including outerwear is probably all right for summer, and year-round for those living in California or Florida, for example, but for those of us living in areas where September and October can range from 90 degrees and sunny, to 50 degrees and rainy, to 20 degrees with snow, we need more outerwear!
We went away in our caravan for 8 weeks over the summer. I took plenty with me, then when I got back, made a Pinterest board of what I actually wore. 34 items, and some were hardly worn, so I could have easily managed a few more weeks with that number. So, obviously, it can be done, this Project 333. However, I like to have my whole wardrobe available when I’m at home. I enjoy deciding what to wear every morning, even though usually it’s just jeans, tee and cardigan. Still, I do think much harder now about what I buy, and have no orphans in my wardrobe, just maybe a few things which would be more versatile if I had another pair of shoes☺☺☺
Chris from Indu says
From what I’ve read, the original creator of this wardrobe was a purist, but there are sooo many other stories of people who tried this and tweaked it to fit their needs.
The point is is that this is an experiment for you and me to break those habits of always needing something new to scratch some itch unrelated to need.
I’ve read blogs where people have included or excluded outerwear, included or excluded accessories, included casual and business wear, on and on.
It’s not a whole lot different than the idealogical basis for the Whole 30 diet, where for 30 days participants eat a very restricted diet.
It’s easy to get wrapped up in the numbers (I’m an accountant-I can understand that!) so do or don’t, depending on your personal goals.
Here in the Midwest, there’s a very good chance that we will have mild weather up until Thanksgiving. However, there is also a good chance that will have snow. Or Rain. Or a heat wave. Different parts of the world already started their winter season with snow on the ground and bitter temperatures. Or are anticipating a warm spring.
The addition of the ruanna gives one element of outerwear to this lovely wardrobe.
I don’t know that I can afford a closet full of EF, but a girl can dream, and the colorway may be reproducible with other items, for other seasons, or other circumstances.
I’m going to consider giving it a try. I already have cut down my wardrobe, but it might not be bad for a refresh on the whole idea behind wearing up the clothes that I already have.
Virginia Gehrig says
It strikes me that the ruana is the perfect solution for those of us who work in frigid offices. Like a legitimate version of wrapping up in a blanket. :)
Am I allowed 20 outfits rather than 20 garments? Just kidding, but I too like @lindam above having everything to look at. However, I am culling orphans and that feels good! xoxox
You have whatever works for you – that’s the only goal!
hugs, you crazy babe,
Margie from Toronto says
I’ve been doing a mental count as I start to think about changing over my wardrobe from Summer to Winter (today is the first day in about 3 months that there is no humidity to deal with)! I’m dividing up my wardrobe into two sections. One will have a small selection of bottoms & tops that will be put aside in case I end up working in a “dressy” office. This would only be a couple of days a week so not many pieces needed but I want them ready just in case.
The second section will be my main “dressy casual” wardrobe and should come in right at about 33 pieces:
.6 pants (3 black, 3 navy)
.2 white tunics -2 white blouses -3 white shirts -2 white t-shirts -1 white & 1 black turtleneck
.2 black & white tops
.2 blue & white tops
.4 pink sweaters
.2 navy sweaters
.2 blue sweaters
.4 black sweaters = 33 pieces
** If I do need a dressier wardrobe many of these pieces can be combined with the items set aside
I do accessories & outerwear separately:
.5 pairs of shoes
.1 pair of boots
.1 tote bag
.Winter Dressy Coat
.Winter Office Everyday Coat
.2 Winter Sets (hat/scarf/mitts or gloves) I know this is a bit of a cheat but it’s Winter in Canada!
.6 dressy scarves
.3 pairs of earrings (pearl studs/gold hoops/silver hoops)
.3 brooches = 33
I’m actually starting to get anxious to get this into place but it will have to be a gradual process as I’m sure the hot weather isn’t finished with us quite yet.
Perhaps an outwear capsule wardrobe for those of us expecting Winter could be a post?
Yes the weather conditions is really different in different places. I live in southern Sweden and it can range from 18 degrees C and sunny to windy, rainy days to really cold with a lot of snow so I have to be prepared for all kind of weathers
Margie from Toronto says
I know that most of the world thinks of Canada as always being cold but in Toronto we are much like Chicago or NY – we’ve had 3 months of temperatures being above 30C (90F) but feeling more like 40C(110F) but in February it would have been Minus 26C with the windchill factor on many mornings so almost completely separate wardrobes are needed from one season to another.
I live In Belgium and very cold weather is more rare than in Sweden or Canada, we still have some very cold days every year and/or snowy days (and everyone knows rain or snow makes it feel a lot colder then when the sun would be out), while it can also be 10°C in winter. And in Autumn and Spring it can snow and be 25°C in the same month. April and Late October-Early November are the worst! And the summers…Let’s not talk about the summers…Everyone knows what happened this year.
Here’s a thought for those of us with cold winters … Start with a coat! From there, boots/shoes, scarves, brollies, gloves, hats, bags, etc. and build the underlayers from there. I fondly remember going out for afternoon tea with my grandmother in the early 1960s when she would put on one of her two best frocks (also worn to church), and totally matching coat, shoes, hat, gloves and handbag. She looked so smart in her burgundy outfit. And I’ll bet she had those garments for years.
Oooh, I could find an AMAZING coat and do a post like this…
Yes to the comment about varying weather! I live in the southern US near the coast. Fallish weather may begin mid October, but then we may have a sudden day or two of 90 degrees. Then a mild November and December with random cold days thrown into the mix. Christmas is sometimes 70 degrees!
When you see the accessories laid out in the template it reinforces my choice of fewer clothes and more accessories. I would have more shoes and scarves and different jewellery and would not include any outerwear at all. Horses for courses eh?
As for the weather here in the UK, it is predominately wet & damp all year round with short periods of biting winds and snow up north and mild, intermittent sunshine down south. Slight generalisation, but you get my drift. Apart from my thick woollen jumpers, most of my clothes are interchangeable throughout the year – I can’t remember the last time I needed a heavy coat or insulated boots, just waterproofs and a good wind resistant umbrella!
For those of us who work in scrubs, then come home and change into exercise clothes for a good walk, this seems excessive. It is all in one’s perceptive and lifestyle!
I agree with everyone about the weather/climate issues, but just today I was also thinking how very useful it is when one’s clothes accomodate special needs that you may or may not have seen coming… In my case, after my breast cancer surgery in January, I had to wear a special supporting bra that went up much higher then regular bras, and so in spring I went out and bought a couple of summer dresses and tops that were cut in a way that I could wear that bra underneath so it wouldn’t show. It was the perfect move to be comfortable and stylish at the same time! Last week, I had to have my ovaries removed due to risk of ovary cancer – and I found out very quickly that when you have three cuts and stitches in your belly, you want bottoms with an ELASTIC WAISTBAND ;o)))))) Also only shoes that are slip-on, because you just DO NOT want to have to bent down to close them… ;o))) What I’m trying to say is: your wardrobe should really provide you with all sorts of options to deal with all kinds of challenges life throws at you sometimes. Love, Mona (who had the stitches removed today – so hopefully back in belted jeans and skirts soon!)
We’re all here for you Mona – any time you can drop by for some love and positive vibes, just do it!
Dear Janice, thank you so much for your kindness. In fact, reading your blog helped me sooo much to keep up the spirit during my time in hospital. I’m a very spiritual person and believe strongly in everything in life happening for a reason and for us to learn and grow – but at the same time, I don’t mind matching my nail polish to my outfit, look stylish, feel good about myself and have a closet that works ;o)))))). What you do here with your blog is just incredible – educational, heart-warming and life-changing. THANK YOU xoxo Mona
Mona, I too am spiritual and pray for your recovery. Many years ago I too had my ovaries removed. No one ever told me that it would plunge me into an immediate menopause. So be aware of that as it will help you understand what is happening to your body and your emotions.
Katya's Mere says
You don’t know mw, but I wanted to wish you a speedy recovery. You have been through a lot lately. I hope you get to treat yourself to something special. Hugs!
Dear Katya, thank you for your kind words and your support. I actually treated myself to something every time right after I stepped out the doctor’s office… ;o)))))) And I had A LOT of doctor’s appointments this year!! I mean, talking about 33 pieces of clothing for fall, it’s definitely not going to happen chez moi ;o))))) Tomorrow I buy my So-brave-while-having-the-stitches-pulled- outfit – luckily, or should I say unfortunately, I know this little boutique where they will have something that will be just perfect for me… ;o))))))) But you’re so right, and it should apply to everyone: try to make yourself happy as often as you can. Love, Mona
Alison Gunn says
When I’ve travelled in the past 8 years, I have spent 3 months (the extent of my visa in Schengen countries) living out of a suitcase with not a lot of garments. This is easiest to do in the winter (especially in Sweden and other Nordic countries), but I have also done 3 months in Spring, Summer, and Autumn. I grew up wearing uniforms in school, and have long been used to not having a lot of clothes all at once, but this changed once I started travelling for months at a time. My closet at home started to balloon; I was buying without a plan until I found Janice and really accepted that I had to stop picking clothes ‘magpie’ style. The hardest thing to do was focus on solid ‘essentials’. That came last. What happened before that was buying shiny, bright, unwearable things that caught my eye but didn’t go with anything. All I can say now is that it is entirely possible to live out of a suitcase for 3 months at a time; my belief is that we end up wearing outfits we like, rather than individual pieces, but that it’s the individual pieces we have to buy, keeping the ultimate outfit in mind at the same time. Otherwise, you end up with way too many pieces that don’t necessarily work together, and that becomes a huge issue when you’re working with a suitcase of clothes. That’s when you really need for things to work together, so planning and focus becomes essential. But my point is that living out of a suitcase for 3 months is functionally the same as trying to work with one of these “333” ideas. Ultimately, variety becomes less important than cohesion and really liking the outfits you can create.
Judith Greer Essex says
I can so relate! I used to buy clothes for the life I wish I lived; I guess as a lounge singer! Leaning to pare down and have clothes for my actual life and better things has made my life so much easier. I’ve stopped shopping as sport. Thanks to Janice. Her blog of Navy and Rust IS my fall choice! Although I cannot afford some of these lovely beauties, it is inspiring to see a cool color and a warm color paired, which is what I prefer.
Recently I had a real letter (remember those?) from an elderly friend arriving home after 10 weeks of travel with just a carry-on suitcase. Respect! For me the point of Project 333 is to carefully consider current holdings each season (we have about six in Tasmania), and to be mindful about shopping, outfit building, and eventually disposing. Regrettably, I’m still very much a work in progress but there is no better guide than Janice. With spring in prospect here, I’m really looking forward to the next review using this new template.
Deb from Vancouver says
OK, I am hereby making a solemn vow to you ,Janice, and all your readers. This magpie will, for the next year of the roughly 3 seasons in Vancouver, only purchase the best quality I can afford essentials in only solid colours of the nutmeg family ( this includes yummy metallic and leather ) and denim with accents of rich buttermilk. I am trusting that I won’t let my guard down by remembering this vow whenever I am tempted. My sewing allows me to add the “fun” but all of that must work with my 2 foundation colours as above.
Ps Vancouver and area has a much more clement climate than many other places in Canada.
I’ll join you Deb. My commitment is to do NO IMPULSE SHOPPING (my weakness), and when I do shop in a totally planned way to buy only quality items in neutrals of black/grey/white or accents of blue or lavender. Shall we compare notes at the seasonal changeovers? I would love to see your wardrobe at the end of the three seasons – those colours sound delicious for your colouring!
Count me in. I’m committing to sticking to a planned color scheme for 3 months – a first for me. Neutrals will be black and navy (including denim) and accents will be olive and shades of turquoise/aqua. I will also avoid bright white and continue to search for the perfect soft white blouse that is not brighter than the whites of my eyes.
This is great, as I putting together my 333 based on your approach and thinking that 16 pieces seemed a smidge too few. You read my mind! And I am Loving the nutmeg! But I look at the outfit combos here and feel like a 2 color palette starts to look more like a Thing that people are likely to notice (if you care about people noticing.) I love the sweater with the bright pink accents and would be tempted to include a few more pieces in that to break it up or pull another color or two in from the ruana. YMMV, of course. My 333 palette is chocolate, rust/nutmeg, grey (can’t quite bring myself to phase it out), olive, wine and denim.
I think internet shopping is a great help when it comes to avoiding the magpie instincts and improving the cohesion (I like that word) of a wardrobe. I find that most of my mistakes are items I bought in shops. When I have things at home, and can try them on with other things I already own, I’m much less likely to buy an orphan. And of course I can spend several days looking at things online before I order, rather than just a minute in a shop. Also, walking to the post office to return things is exercise, good for me!
Please could you make an article with this template but with several accent colors?
I can’t settle to only one or two accents and I heavily use your templates, esp. starting from scratch. But I find it difficult to fill it with my multiple accents.
In this template I could simply add several columns for more accent colors but that wouldn’t be it any more.
This is awesome.
p.s. my chosen colors for next season are cream, beige, cognac, brown, slate blue, dark yellow, burgundy, and just a few pcs of red & pink.
Janice Collins Coyle says
Just catching up with some of these posts! Such a good reminder. I took out all my winter wardrobe items and realized I’ve been buying items I never wear after trying to stay disciplined. Ok, so I first decided on a color plan (navy/light grey/taupe and various shades of blue/teal/aqua (based on Hèrmes Le Grand Prix du Faubourg -bleu) I shopped my closet for a wardrobe based on Janice’s 4×4 plan. Then, changed it to a 5×5 to accommodate both dressier and casual clothes. Then I saw there were several basic neutral pieces needed and at least one ivory long sleeve tee. I will be very strict and buy only what is needed for the 5×5. I put together outfits for different kinds of activities and and realized I have so many, many options especially because This wardrobe is also a complete whatever’s clean! That’s the best part about it! Janice Collins Coyle, Washington DC