Over the next 3 months, I’m going to be participating in a minimalist fashion experiment called Project 333.
Project 333 was created by Courtney Carver of Be More With Less a few years ago and since then it has taken off globally. Here is a quick summary of the rules:
- Choose to dress with 33 items or less for 3 months
- 33 items including clothing, accessories, jewellery, outerwear and shoes
- items such as your wedding ring, undergarments, and workout clothes are not counted
These are the “official” rules but many Project 333’ers (including myself) choose to alter them to better suit their lifestyles. For example, I really love my jewellery collection and I don’t want to declutter it anytime soon, so I’m choosing NOT to include it in my 33 things.
At the end of the day, it’s important to remember that Project 333 is an experiment. It’s an opportunity to challenge yourself—not punish yourself— so if the rules don’t work for you, it’s OK to bend them a bit.
Now that you know the rules, keep reading to learn more about my minimalist journey and my Project 333 wardrobe choices (as well as some tips on how to choose your own 33 items).
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The Project 333 Book
If you want to learn more about Project 333, Courtney Carver has since written a book about it!
In the first part, she explains the project in detail and suggests different ways you can experiment with it. Then she moves on to why it’s worth doing, which is something I really appreciate. I think that having a strong “why” is an essential step to minimalist living.
However, my favourite part of the book is definitely the final part. The author breaks down the emotional hurdles to closet decluttering—all the thoughts and beliefs that cause our wardrobe struggles in the first place. Highly recommended!
Add to Your Reading List: Project 333: The Minimalist Fashion Challenge That Proves Less Really is So Much More by Courtney Carver
Why I’m Participating in Project 333
If you’re new here, I’ve been a minimalist for several years now and to be 100% honest, my entire wardrobe isn’t too much bigger than 33 things…
So you might be wondering why I decided to participate in Project 333?
The reason is that I want to show people that there is no “one right way” to create a minimalist wardrobe. You don’t have to wear all black, you don’t have to give up your favourite shoes, and you can still have fun with fashion.
Of course, there are some minimalists who wear the same thing every day and that’s wonderful but it’s not the only way to be a minimalist.
This is because ultimately, minimalism is about aligning your choices with your values. If you enjoy fashion, then enjoy it! But if it stresses you out, then simplify your closet so you have more time and energy for other things. It’s that simple!
The other reason I’m participating in Project 333 is to bring attention to some of the reasons why so many of us struggle with our wardrobes in the first place— more on this in a minute.
My History With Project 333
My minimalist journey actually began with Project 333.
I’m a former shopaholic, so at one point in my life, things were pretty out of hand! I had a closet almost bigger than my current apartment and I easily owned over 100 pairs of shoes. I spent almost all my free time reading fashion magazines, shopping and organising my massive collection.
Back then, I struggled with all types of clutter (both physical and mental) but my wardrobe was the worst of it. I felt like I was drowning in clothes and I knew I had to do something about it but I felt completely overwhelmed.
Then one day, I read about Project 333 and it seemed like a good way to get started—although to be completely honest, I wasn’t really sure what I was getting into.
At the time, I still loved most of my clothes and even though I didn’t wear most of them, I wasn’t ready to get rid of them! Instead, I just wanted a simpler, more functional (and hopefully more stylish) wardrobe.
So I decided to take the leap and oh my goodness, choosing my 33 items was so hard that first time! I agonised over it for hours (days even) before I was ready to commit.
And then to be completely honest, I think I stuck with it for a week or so, before giving up.
WHAT I LEARNED FROM MY FIRST ATTEMPT
My story might not sound very inspiring so far but the truth is my first attempt was exactly what I needed to get the ball rolling.
Over the next few years (yes, years) I continued experimenting with minimalism. During this time, I learned that my struggle with my closet actually had very little to do with my clothes.
Instead, it was about what I was dealing with on the inside.
I was struggling with a ton of things, including self-acceptance, an unhappy marriage, and a lack of purpose or direction. I didn’t feel comfortable in my own skin, so in a sense, I bought a new one—my clothes.
- I bought high heels because I wanted to feel beautiful and powerful.
- I bought cocktail dresses because I imagined an exciting social life (even though I was home on the sofa most Friday nights).
- I bought expensive yoga pants and because I thought they would make me feel calm and centred.
Of course, a pair of pants can’t really change the way you feel about yourself but the connection is still there in your mind. This is a bit part of why decluttering is so hard—when you let go of your stuff, you often have to let go of who you’re pretending to be too.
It’s hard to take the first step, which is why Project 333 was so powerful. It’s more than just a minimalist fashion experiment; it’s also a springboard that can start you down the path to minimalism and intentional living.
Yes, dressing with less meant a streamlined closet (yay!), but it also meant:
- Facing past mistakes, forgiving myself, and moving on
- Making a conscious decision about my values and priorities
- Letting go of my fantasy self and accepting my true self instead
This is why minimalism and Project 333 matter to me, and why I’m sharing these stories with you.
Now let’s talk about clothes and how to get started with your closet!
How To Choose Your 33 Items
CONSIDER YOUR LIFESTYLE
The first step to choosing your 33 items is to consider your lifestyle: what kind of clothing do you need in your everyday life?
Here’s a bit about my lifestyle:
The climate where I live is very mild and even though it’s winter, it still reaches 70°F/21°C most days. However, it does get cool at night, so right now lightweight layers are a must for me.
During the week, I have an office job with a smart casual dress code. I don’t need to wear a suit or anything too formal but I can’t wear jeans to work.
On the weekends, I have a laid back social life (meaning I don’t need cocktail dresses very often!). I like to look put together but casual.
Ask yourself these same questions and be honest about your lifestyle before you choose your 33 items.
NARROW DOWN YOUR STYLE
Next comes the hard part—narrow down your style!
I’ve actually got a few blog posts that will help you with this:
- A Simple Guide to a Simple Wardrobe (my go-to system for decluttering your closet—I highly recommend you read this!)
- 3 Steps to a Minimal, User-Friendly Closet (tips from a stylist)
But in summary, here are a few of my top tips:
Choose your colours. A minimalist wardrobe doesn’t have to be neutral but you should probably choose some sort of colour scheme. My tip is don’t overthink it! What colours are you already wearing all the time? Stick with those.
Choose what you need next. For example, what do you need to wear to work? For me, it’s a pair of black trousers and a black pencil skirt.
What else do you need? A coat? Certain shoes? Think about your lifestyle and think about what you need to get through your week.
Next, what do you wear the most already? One lesson I learned is that everyone already owns a minimalist wardrobe—I promise, it’s already there, underneath all the things you never wear!
Again, don’t overthink this. Pick the things you wear all the time and add them to your 33 items.
Finally, fill in the gaps. What do you need to bring everything together? Some basic t-shirts? A few sweaters for layering? Accessories?
Remember, Project 333 is an experiment so just give it a go! Even if it doesn’t work out, you still took the first step and you might be surprised how far that takes you.
My Project 333 Wardrobe
Say hello to my Project 333 wardrobe!
Not pictured but counted in my 33 items: 3 more black tanks (1 dressy, 2 casual) + 1 more grey tank
Not pictured but not counted in my 33 items: leggings, tights, a black thermal undershirt, raincoat
THE DETAILED LIST
1. Black sleeveless blouse with small grey print
2. Plaid sleeveless blouse
3. Lightweight chambray button-down top
4. Cream and navy striped 3/4 sleeve top
5. Olive green sweater
6. Black 3/4 sleeve cardigan
7. Black racerback tank top
8. Grey racerback tank top
9. Scoopneck black tank top *not pictured
10. Muscle tee black sleeveless tee *not pictured
11. Cropped black sleeveless blouse *not pictured
12. Grey tank top with draped back *not pictured
13. Black trousers
14. Grey casual trousers
15. Black pencil skirt
16. Black skinny jeans
17. Blue skinny jeans
18. Black and white printed mini skirt
19. Black faux leather mini skirt
DRESSES + COAT
20. 3/4 sleeve black printed dress
21. Sleeveless black dress
22. Brown suede coat
BAGS + SHOES
23. Crossbody tan leather bag
24. Brown fringe leather bag
25. Black and gold clutch
26. Black platform high heeled sandals
27. Tan flat sandals
28. Black ballet flats
29. Black trainers (sneakers)
30. Tan leather ankle boots
31. Black high heeled booties
THE MISSING PIECES
Realistically, I think I might need another warm top. I’ve been holding off on buying one because I want to see if I really need it … but it has been pretty chilly lately!
Also, I may need to get another pair of shoes for work. Sometimes I get assigned to work sites that require more sturdy shoes for health and safety reasons. Again, I’m going to hold off until I know for sure before I buy anything.
Will you be participating in Project 333 this year? I hope so!
Dressing with less has made such a difference in my life and I truly believe it can change your life too! I invite you to join me on my Project 333 journey. Comment below and let me know if you’re in!
18 thoughts on “Introducing Project 333: A Minimalist Fashion Experiment”
Ooo I loved this post! I am interested in project 333 but waiting to get the book from the library. I really like how you said “if you enjoy fashion enjoy it”! I’m a pretty good minimalist in most things but my wardrobe is still a work in progress because I really enjoy clothes and I make dresses as a artistic outlet so it is difficult to let go of those creations. I have found that picking 3-4 colors I love and sticking to them and not have too many of the same color def helps me keep my wardrobe under control but I would like to simplify more
what kind of leather boots are those?
Hi Charlei, they are Acne Pistol Boots. They’re not cheap but they were a great investment – I bought them in 2012 and they are still in great condition. I wear them everywhere in the winter and haven’t felt tempted to buy another pair of boots or an alternative winter shoe since then, so the “dollar per wear” is actually very cheap 🙂 They are also very comfy – I highly recommend! Cheers
Wow! I’ve been decluttering a lot but I’m still not sure if I would be able to have only 33 items. What I have been doing is getting rid of old stuff and not buying another to replace…I guess at some point I will have these 33 items. I really liked your blog!
Hi there! I have a bit more than 33 items total, but this was an experiment for 3 months 🙂 And that’s a great plan for downsizing your wardrobe! I did a big purge at the start (years ago now) and then that’s pretty much what I did for a long time – I just stopped shopping!
Your capsule is so cute! I’ve been needing to hit “reset” on my style so I’ve been thinking of doing one, too. I love how you use mostly neutral colors (I do too) but still make these layered/textured/interesting outfits.
Thanks lovely! My style is pretty simple, but I love everything I have – and it’s such a great feeling to not have any closet related stress. I’d LOVE to see your capsule if you make one! x
I’m keen to see how this works out for you. I’ve been intrigued by capsule wardrobes for a while, but never really taken the plunge because a lot of what I’ve read has included “rules” about sticking to a few colours (difficult when my fave tops are about half a dozen different ones) or “key pieces” like a little black dress, something I’d rarely find a use for with my lifestyle (casual dress code at work, and my main formal events are weddings, where black is generally frowned upon here in the UK, at least by older generations) and therefore would have to buy to even start the challenge.
The idea of picking out clothes from amongst those you already own sounds like a much better way to get started with living with less, rather than trying to stick to a pre-ordained list of things you “need”.
Hi Nicola, I’m going to be posting monthly updates here, but so far it’s working really well! It’s been a little chilly lately, so to be honest I’ve been wearing a lot of the same things over and over, but I feel great about it.
And YES! Don’t worry too much about lists. The idea is most women are already only wearing small parts of their closets, so start with what’s already working for you – and with time you’ll naturally figure out if there’s anything that’s not working or that you really need to add.
Exciting, Jen! I notice you replied to my name twin about attempting Project 333 a few times before. How did you find it and what’s different about your approach this time? 🙂
I first tried Project 333 when I was just getting started with minimalism. The truth is I still had a bit too much emotional baggage – I was experimenting with decluttering but I was applying any other principles of minimalism or intentional living to my life, so I kept falling back into the same old patterns! I wrote a bit about this cycle (and how I broke it) in this post https://www.simplyfiercely.com/struggling-with-minimalism/ ☺️ xo
I’ve been doing a lot of reading about Project 333 slash capsule wardrobes in general and I absolutely love the idea! Since I’ve spent a long time living out of a backpack, my problem isn’t with having too many clothes, it’s having inappropriate, old, ill-fitting clothes that just don’t work in my life anymore. I’m slowly trying to get my mind around investing in a few well made pieces that can carry me through multiple occasions and seasons. I look forward to following your journey.
Thanks Lauren! I’ve been living out of a backpack the past 7+ months … so I can definitely relate! Sometimes spending a bit more money up front can be a big hurdle, but I try and balance higher end pieces with getting things secondhand, so the costs stay down overall. Good luck with your wardrobe + happy travels! xo
I think minimalism naturally starts in the wardrobe (at least for women!). Getting rid of soo many clothes really made a big difference in feeling light and getting organized. Plus, I pretty much love the fact that everything can fit in a large/medium suitcase. Recently, a coworker gifted me with her hand-me-downs and I gotta say, I’m going to toss the majority of it. If it doesn’t make me feel fab, fit right, etc, then why bother? Good luck w/ the project!
Spot on Lani! ?? Thanks for sharing xo
I started capsuling with Project 333. This is SO awesome. So glad you’re doing this, and can’t wait to see how it turns out for you! x
Thanks Daisy! I’ve attempted Project 333 a few times before when I was first discovering minimalism – it’s amazing how many people have been touched by the project! xo