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My family used to joke that if more than a few days went by without an order coming to the house then something must have been wrong with me. Now that seems ridiculous. However, that used to be my reality and I wanted to share how I changed that and how you can too.
As I’ve said I had a lot of clothes, my drawers used to bow under the weight of them in fact. But it wasn’t just clothes, it was shoes, bags, jewellery. You name it I had way too much of it. I’d have orders turning up every week, I’d buy a handbag every month — all high street and with a discount code if I could find one but still, I was spending more than I should have, sometimes more than I had to feed my apparent fashion addiction.
I didn’t really discover that I had a problem though until about a year after I moved out. I had some bad luck and ending up moving around a fair bit and the repeated cycle of packing and unpacking my life hit me hard, I had too much stuff and that needed to change.
At this point in my life I’d never heard of minimalism, all I knew was that I wanted to downsize my wardrobe, but how? That’s where Project 333 came in. Project 333 is a 3-month challenge in which you only have 33 items this includes clothing, accessories, jewellery, outerwear and shoes (underwear, pyjamas and workout clothes don’t count). I remember thinking that would be impossible, how could anyone get by with just 33 items for 3 whole months. I decided to see how impossible it really was and started the challenge. I went through everything, picked my 33 items and put the rest away, either in vacuum bags or boxes under my bed, basically just out of sight. As someone with as I’ve said enough times a lot of stuff, picking the 33 items was difficult. I tackled this by creating a simplified version of what I now know to be a capsule wardrobe. A capsule wardrobe is a wardrobe consisting of a limited number of items that coordinate well and can be worn in a number of different ways to cater for multiple occasions. In my opinion it’s the basis of any minimalist wardrobe.
Surprisingly, throughout those initial 3 months I barely missed the rest of my clothes. Getting ready each morning was easier, my laundry was significantly reduced and I actually enjoyed putting together outfits with what I had. When those 3 months were up, it was time for the next step. Yes, I’d “survived” 3 months with only 33 items, but I still had the rest of my clothes and shoes, they were just hiding under the bed. It was time to make the change more permanent. For me this meant once again going through each item, but this time I was deciding whether to keep or donate. I didn’t stick to the 33 limit as this was going to be my wardrobe year-round. Instead I expanded on it to cater for all seasons, I wanted a capsule wardrobe to cover all occasions and all weathers. I didn’t set myself an item limit, but I would say less that 50 is a good amount to aim for.
With the rest of my sizable wardrobe, I was fortunate enough to be able to donate to friends and family meaning that nothing was wasted and it would all probably get worn a lot more often. You can also donate to charities, or if you have anything worth selling, places like Depop are worth checking out.
Initial decluttering is very important, but without steps to keep yourself in check you can easily end up right back where you started. This is how I prevent that from happening.
- Creating my personal style: Finding my personal style allows me to create a timeless wardrobe that reflects my personality. If you’re not sure how to do this, think about what you feel most comfortable in, what colours or patterns do you gravitate towards and what do you want your clothes to say about you.
- Go through my wardrobe periodically: Twice a year I pull everything out and look for anything I haven’t worn (not including seasonal pieces) or anything that’s in bad condition and can’t be repaired. Anything in those categories get donated or repurposed — old clothes make great cleaning cloths.
- Ask myself these three questions before I buy something new: Do I feel good wearing this? Does it go with pieces I already own? Is it well-made, will it last?
I’m about 5 or so years on from my initial Project 333 challenge and I’m happy to say I’ve never looked back.