September 17, 2018
Lots of us are used to having at least 40 or 50 garments available for the current season, so the idea of limiting all of our clothing AND accessories to 33 pieces seems daunting! But 1 thing that I’m pretty sure the creator of Project 333 would agree with – you should just start somewhere, and move on as you feel comfortable!
Therefore, I decided to build a wardrobe template that includes 30 garments – still fewer than many of us are used to seeing in our closets, but a pretty comfortable number…
When I look at this template, it seems like a huge number of pieces! But once you start pulling items out of your closet, it could fill pretty quickly.
I’m planning this wardrobe more or less on what I might consider for my own Project 333 this autumn, more or less. When I get my choices settled I will share them, but for now this is a kind of sort of approximation of how I would approach things.
The Essential Cluster
I think of this first cluster as being the pieces of clothing that I would grab in I literally had to cram a few things into a backpack and live in them for a week or two…
There’s not any variety here to speak of, and it’s strictly monochromatic, but one could go for quite a long time with just these 5 pieces, in a pinch… But let’s give more options in our neutral by using our 2nd Cluster as a Supplemental Essentials grouping (which could also be called the Corduroy Cluster!)…
The Corduroy Pants
At this point, you’re going to look pretty somber if this is your wardrobe, but this is an excellent background for amazing jewelry or beautiful scarves. If you traveled with these 10 garments, you’d be in great shape!
But for those of us who live in black, there are still some essentials missing! A simple button-front cardigan, which can be worn over another top, or worn on its own, is SO useful… A couple of button-front shirts (which can be worn over a tee shirt, or under a sweater, or BOTH AT THE SAME TIME!) are useful, a pretty black sweater opens up dressier possibilities, and jeans that aren’t skin-tight… why not?
The Button-Front Cluster
Let’s pause for a moment to see where we are in our wardrobe-building process!
You might absolutely abhor the idea of this much black in your wardrobe, but this is an undeniably versatile assortment…
Still, for most people, it’s way past time to introduce some color! So taking my cue from the plaid flannel shirt above, I’m going to introduce some blue, to brighten things up. This is also a good time to find a white shirt, and maybe another printed or patterned shirt…
The Blue Sweater Cluster
At this point in the wardrobe-choosing process, our mythical heroine has realized that she really wants to include her grey and black marled cardigan in this wardrobe! So she makes a point to choose 5 garments that aren’t black, but which can be worn with her black things.
The Grey Cluster
She’s in a good spot! But she pauses for a bit and thinks about what 3 months is going to include… This wardrobe probably isn’t going to be worn until the beginning of October, so that means the Thanksgiving weekend, and all of the winter holidays around the end of the year. Better include some dressy things! (This mythical heroine has a robust social life…)
The Social Life Cluster
Whew! Choosing these pieces takes quite a bit of time, but there’s a profound tranquility and focus to having such a carefully edited wardrobe:
Is anybody else going to try some sort of edited wardrobe plan for cooler weather (if it ever arrives)? I’m targeting 30 garments, which will include what I’m wearing to a wedding in early October, as well as the very few garments that I’m taking to Paris in December…
Ooh, I like this! For me, the fourth row will be mostly dresses and there will be much less black, with lots of red and a bit of light gray to round it out. What I really like is that there are six “toppers” – jackets and cardigans are a must for me because I’m always cold. Thank you, Janice, for this template! I’m ready to sew up a storm.
Eddie Bauer, jjill
This was supposed to be in reply to Susan M about tall sizes. I could not figure out how to edit the reply.
Susan M. says
Thanks! I have recently discovered the tall sizes at Eddie Bauer, but had no idea about JJill!
Susan M. says
I will be trying a small wardrobe—but mostly because I have recently lost 55 pounds, and literally am starting over with having to purchase everything again! I am working with a color palette of navy, light gray, and white. Thinking of also adding in plum. My biggest challenge is finding tops that are long enough! I am 5’9”, and often need to purchase women’s tall sizes in both pants (fairly easy to find) AND tops—which are scarce as hens teeth to find! Do you have any suggestions of places a tall girl can find tops that are not four inches too short?
Gap and Old Navy online both carry Tall sizes, as does Long Tall Sally.
Susan M. says
Thank you! I didn’t know this about the online sizes, and have never heard of Long Tall Sally!
I do know that Lands’ End sells some of their tops in tall sizes.
Susan M. says
Used to order from Lands End years ago, but didn’t know they were now carrying tall sizes! Yea for me!
Encircled, a Canadian company based out of Toronto, has dresses that can be worn as tops or tunics. Check out the revolve dress and sleevesless revolve dress. I’m not tall, but these versatile pieces keep my butt covered.
Susan M. says
Never heard of them before, but it sounds promising!
For basic tops, Duluth Trading Company offers tops that are 2-3″ longer than most.
Susan M. says
I have heard of Duluth, but never ordered before. I think they will be my next place to try—just found a couple tops I like—thank you!
Eddie Bauer and jjill for tall sizes.
Susan M. says
I actually have a JJill store near me. Going to have to go inside and have a look around now!
For basics like sweaters, I often browse the men’s sections. A grey crew neck sweater isn’t exactly a gender specific item of clothing and men’s items are, as a rule, longer in length and sleeve.
Susan M. says
Good point! I will have to keep my eyes open!
Lynette from Australia says
Hi Susan, Long Tall Sally do mail order and are great for tall women, I have been shopping there for years!! They may be a bit too long for you (at 6ft I sometimes find the sleeves a bit long) but you could always hem them whereas you can’t do anything if the length isn’t there.
Gail Finke says
I wear petite sizes, not tall, but if you do like J Jill (which sells petite sizes also) most of their styles are long lines to begin with, so their talls may really work for you. I don’t know what your budget is, but if you get on their email list they have CONSTANT sales and if you don’t have to have the absolute most up-to-date styles, their clearance sales are pretty great.
Margie from Toronto says
I am definitely working on this type of wardrobe for the Fall. I’m putting my grey pieces away and using black & navy as my neutrals. I have a few print/striped tops but mostly prefer white with my pops of colour coming from my second layers – mostly cardigans. I’m still trying to decide on my accent colours – pink & blue are a definite choice but I think that I’ll still include a few pieces in red as I love it so much.
I have tons of accessory pieces – but – find that I tend to wear the same pieces over and over – can’t decide whether to just stick with those items or to go bold and add extras!
I’d expected to have started on this already but it’s still way too HOT!
Mama Squirrel says
I’m with you, Margie. Extended warm spells are like being in school again and waiting for apples, orange leaves, and the chance to wear our back to school clothes. (also in southern Ontario)
Carrol Woodworth says
It’s difficult for me to focus on the planning here because the color black is so overwhelmingly dominant. Could you repeat this exercise in a neutral palette for those of us who cannot wear black?
I agree. As someone who has high color contrast and low value contrast, a monochromatic wardrobe is not my best look. Incorporating all the color I need is part of what keeps me from being able to pull together a successful capsule wardrobe with a limited number of pieces.
Cathy, can you explain what high color contrast/low value contrast means? Just curious.
Here’s an article to help explain the two types of contrast.
I agree regarding wanting to see this done in lighter neutrals. I look like death in black and dark colors in general, and they also depress my mood. That said, the wardrobe above is beautiful, classy and versatile.
Janice, you are reading my mind! Yesterday I decided that I need 6 columns. I love idea of clusters! That way I can have multiple colour choices. I no longer follow restricted colours but I am working towards building seasonal colour wardrobe so that everything harmonises together. That is how I will apply cluster idea. I am dark autumn. Also being tall, I avoid column of color so that is another reason for mixing different colours within the same cluster as long as it works as cluster.
Please could you make this template with multiple colours?
My neutrals are beige-camel, brown-olive, kinda neutrals plum-burghundy- slate blue, accents dark yellow, burnt orange, hot salmon, red. I tend to wear 2 neutrals and 1 accent. I will not make 2 capsules as before to accommodate all that, instead I will work on filling this template. Curious how it will turn out!
Thanks for putting this together, always appreciate the time taken to put into these inspirational posts. The black is too stark for me so am wondering if you could repeat this using navy and grey.
Well, imagine my surprise! This is exactly what I am attempting this fall – 30 pieces, 6 clusters, even the 2nd layer, 3 tops and a bottom bit. I am having trouble plugging a couple “holes”. I will have to go back and re-read your post concerning colors that don’t exist, lol.
Adonna Holbrooks says
I would love to be able to use this chart for my capsule wardrobe. The problem I have is that the only neutrals that look well on me are a warm, golden camel and a bright navy. These colors are difficult to find and then trying to find the correct fit and proportion only adds to my frustration. I enjoy your blog each week and appreciate the templates you offer us, just wish that my colors would play together.
Thanks for this template, I was trying to do a little wardrobe planning last night and this template will help give me some direction. I was wondering at first if this wardrobe would include dresses and I was happy to see how you incorporated a dressy cluster. What template will you suggest for accessories? Thanks for all you do to make my life easier!
Cheryl Abbley says
I love this and would also like to see it repeated with lots of different colors. For me, my wardrobe consists of lots of color and patterns including colored and printed bottoms. So my clusters would most likely all be a different color with lots of patterns that may or may not play nicely with the rest lol.
Thank you! I’m helping my friend downsize her over-full closet for a move into her son’s house and these 30-piece wardrobe templates literally couldn’t have come at a better time.
I would love to see a wardrobe using black and navy as the neutrals. These are not often paired as base neutrals, so I would love to see your interpretation of it. I would choose white and shades of blue(including denim) to go with it. Also grays with a blue undertone.
I’ll second this request. I think the capsules built in black/navy/grey with lighter blue have been very popular recently (sorry I can’t quickly find the dates), and certainly fitting them to this template would be helpful to me too.
Kathleen Doherty says
LOVE the black! Somehow it works with my coloring. Also love the blue but need to add some red.
Thank you, thank you, thank you
nina t says
ooo! This is a good start to me cleaning up my wardrobe! I spent two months building it based on this site and lately I’ve let it go astray in tidiness and location. It’s everywhere and I spend my weeks in a few pieces – on repeat – and i’m tired of living in that one color.
(This mythical heroine has a robust social life…) For some reason this made me a laugh – a lot.
Love the idea, but all that black makes me want to slit my wrists. Oh well chacun a son goût
Appreciate the template and looking to do some weeding out with the coming cooler months. I don’t have a “robust social life” but preparing for the holidays now is a good idea.
I love this and the concept of the second layer piece. My problem is that it is very hot for most of the year where I live and ‘cold/winter(Nov-Feb)’ means rain and temps in the 50/60s. It is still in the 80s and 90s where I live. How can I incorporate the second layer with this in mind? I used to live where there were seasons and sometimes I really miss corduroy! Keep up the excellent work Janice!!
What perfect timing ! While waiting for a buyer to come along ( anyone out there want to buy a lovely house in eastern PA ?) , I have packed up my Summer clothes into the large blue Rubbermaid containers and have moved them to the closet in the new house, leaving me with deciding on a basic survival wardrobe while waiting for that delayed buyer to come along ! As I have a lot of clothes and like color variety and options, this multiple clusters concept has really resonated with me! I have used it for my browns and darker tans, with Autumn accents of golden yellow, rust, olive green, and denim blue, with a small dash of dark warm red. Thanks so much, terrific format !
I saw these today on Wolf And Badger and thought of you. https://www.wolfandbadger.com/us/natural-baroque-pearls-rhinestones-gift-set/
Thank you for opening my eyes to good accessories. These will be winging their way to me shortly to highlight my face and add spice to my very small 6 pack capsule wardrobe. With my rapidly shrinking size (90 lbs in 7 months) the 6 pack is all I can afford for clothes , and nice accessories have become my rescue.
Thanks for the template. It’s such a good idea to plan this way. It’s a huge number of garments. Project 333 actually includes accessories in that number, doesn’t it?
I love most of your posts, but when I look at this finished wardrobe, it looks so dreary, boring and depressing. Usually your plans are exciting and interesting. Easy and functional for most people I guess.
It must be your monitor. Because I see classic and elegant with lots of yummy texture.
It is intresting! If this were exacly the same clothes, but all cream … all dusty pink… all navy… etc., I guess I would be able to see classic, elegance, textures and yummy. There is something in black color that prevents me from seing any of that. I am only able to see exciting new empty template, and 6 columns of something that I can’t grasp. I can understand there are people who dress like that, that are tired of color…. I guess I look flashy to them. So now if I imagine it all navy…. all burghundy… all brown… not it makes perfectly sense, now I can wrap my head around that! Fascinating! Emotional impact of color is so deep.
Agree with many of the posts… black is absolutely my least favorite thing to wear. I think I have 1 black pair of pants and maybe 2 black skirts. Absolutely no black on the top half.
I’ve been shopping lately for a return to the office (work completely from home right now) and my neutrals are navy and olive or tan. I can tell you, navy is hard to find. It makes me wish I used black as a neutral but I WON’t give in! Lol
As a former large woman, I remember reading in a book about dressing plus sizes and it talked about the myth that black is slimming. She said if you dress head to toe in black to try and look slimmer, you end up looking like a big black blob. ?
Gail Finke says
Just want to chime in and say I like the black!!! But of course you can do the same thing with any neutrals. Or colors that coordinate, if you’re not a “neutral” person.
My travel capsule for a recent 5 day trip was nearly all black, with some denim and some white. It worked great for the trip, with events varying from very casual to nice dinners out. I’m not sure I’d be happy to stay with a limited approach for weeks on end, but getting dressed from my choices was easy, and I had a decent amount of versatility. I take notes on each travel wardrobe for future reference, and usually use the 4×4 template. – nancyo
Linda in Arkansas says
There was a day when I would have worn this much black. There would have been some red and probably white plus denim. Always have denim. This would be a highly versatile wardrobe though. Very easy to mix and match. Great template!
I am still longing for this same template, but filled with 3 different neutrals and 3 different accent colours (if possible -warm), please, please?
Great template but in the mean time I am having difficulties to fill it on my own, since here is all black, apart from a couple of pieces, so nothing here for me to visualise. I swap a color or two in my mind but I can’t do it in this case where I need to swap everything.