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Project 333 updateOctober 28, 2011

I'm into joining things. You might already know that (let's do a marathon after never having run a mile! Let's write a novel in November!). But then I'm into modifying the rules as I see fit (if possible -- it's quite easy to modify NaNo to suit a person, less easy to run a marathon with anything but 26.2 miles).

Project 333 is just up my alley, and easily (too easily?) modified. The goal is simple: for three months, wear only 33 items. That includes shoes, jewelry and accessories (excludes jewelry you never take off, underwear, inhome loungewear, and workout clothes used solely for workouts).

I was drowning in clothes I didn't like. I'm not a big shopper and rarely buy new clothes, but I love a good thrift store run. I can come home with bags of things that, because I didn't try them on, end up fitting badly or not at all. And thrift stores also inspire in me that surety that I can become a new person (like a person who wears overalls! Usually a bad idea!). I'm much more critical when it comes to new clothes, which are usually restricted to jeans, undies, and dresses. If I'm paying $25 for one item? It had better look good. (Yes, I'm cheap, except for certain weaknesses. Fluevogs, I'm looking at you.)

So I had a closet full of bad ideas. I was ready for 333.

I separated my clothes (and shoes) into piles:

1. Junk - 2 trash bags. It was astonishing, really, the amount of clothing I had that needed to be thrown away. Jeans ripped through the crotch. Old tee-shirts with so many holes at the belly-button that the breeze blew through. Broken flip flops. Why was I saving these? Just in case? In case of what? (And yes, I know I could have recycled these items, cut them up for rags or repurposed them somehow. I didn't, though. I barely carved out time for this project -- I had to remain realistic.)

2. Donate - 9 trash bags. This was the bulk of my clothing. If I didn't love it (and I mean LOVE it -- I had to be convinced I would practically die if I got rid of it), even if it still fit and was in good repair, I put it in the donate pile. (My sister Bethany came over that night and made out like a BANDIT, which was nice, since she just got a swank new job and needed new clothes anyway.)

3. Love - large stack. I didn't presort them into the 33 pile, I just piled the love (and treasured sentimental) items.


Then, once the majority of the bags were in the hallway, I started going through the Love items, trying to cull them down to 33. DO YOU KNOW HOW HARD THAT WAS? I had no idea it would be so hard, and I immediately started cheating. Using my cheats, I finally got the items to 33. You see that pink bin up there? It's larger than it looks in the photo. Everything that I loved that didn't make the 33 cut went in that bin and got stored in the top of my closet. In January, I'll donate what I haven't worn in my 33 pile (I'll bet there will be something) and then open the bin and decide if I want to cycle things in/out.

Oh, you want to know my cheats? Okay.

Rachael's Cheats:

Handknits - no WAY do those count, but it's true these are more frequently culled than anything else I own.

Uniform - This felt more like the allowed workout clothing of the project. I have to wear it one place, and one place only.

Jewelry - I don't have much, and it's all costume, but I'm trying to remember to wear it more. I did go through and get rid of a lot of it, everything I didn't love.

Belts - I only have four, but... okay, I have no excuse. I just don't count them.

Bags - I've gone down to carrying only two bags -- a large green shoulder bag when I'm working or writing (the laptop fits in it) and my poppy Queen Bee purse when I need something smaller.

Handmade things made AFTER the project began - The night after I did the culling, I needed to make a skirt from a Hawaiian shirt for my dad's wedding, so I'm enjoying that as a freebie.


Also, from all my wild thrift store purchases, I couldn't quite get rid of this.


Can't you just FEEL the velvety, shiny nap of that astonishingly ugly shirt? Yes, it's actually shiny in real life. It's amazing, right? I actually put the shirt in the bag to donate, thinking I'd never get around to repurposing it, but Bethany made me keep it (the only thing she made me keep) and she was right. It made the cutest skirt.


So this, shown below, is just about what I'm left with. (Two pair of jeans -- that fit -- are to the right of the folded skirts.)


For the extra curious (I always am), a list of everything I kept for the 33 is below in my own cryptic clothing shorthand.

Overall Findings So Far:

I am SO happy with this challenge. It's so enjoyable to go to the closet and love everything in it, to feel good in everything. Everything fits. Everything flatters. And I've been finding this surprising thing: I'm out of my perpetual day-off uniform -- sweatpants and torn tee-shirt. I still own those sweats and a few of the non-holey tees (inhome lounge wear! Honest!) but instead of wearing them around the house, I'm wearing real clothes. When I decide to run to the grocery store, I just grab my wallet and keys, instead of looking down at myself and saying, "Dang. Can't go out like this."

My mother trained me well: when you get home, change into play clothes so you don't ruin the good clothes. I'm 39 and have done this my whole life. But where did that leave me? With a bunch of nice clothes I didn't like and a lot of tee shirts with holes in them.

I should wear what I like, even if the items get covered with pet hair. And eventually (this is hard for me to admit, truly), the things I like will wear out and I will have to buy new things. And that's okay. That's just fine. That's what happens.

So yay. Thumbs up. I'll keep you posted.


Shoes Red cowboy boots
  Red Danskos
  Fluevog pumps
  Ruffle black heels
  Low Aerosole black mary jane
Tops Gray scoop short sleeve cowl
  Purpe scoop short sleeve cowl
  Blue scoop short sleeve cowl
  Red Vee Ruched thin tee shirt
  Slouchy black thin blouse
  B/W thin pattern tee
  Polka dot b/w tank
  Ruffle black tank
Blouses Plaid
  Safari blouse
  Grn/whi polka dot blouse
  Blue denim ruffle blouse
Skirts Martini skirt
  Eddie Bauer plaid gray skirt
  Green/gray polkadot skirt
  simple black skirt
Hoody Lexington
Pants Jeans blue
  Jeans black
Overwear Black thin shrug acrylic
  Gray sweater vest
  Black slouchy thing
  Grn plaid wool jacket
Dresses Navy blue fancy
  Black dress
  Red/black dress
  JLo black dress
  b/w slouchy dress
Not Included: Handknits
  Underwear, belts
  Tanks, tees used in working out
  Sweatpants (lounge)
Made things Hawaiian skirt
  skirt/cape - remake into skirt
  gold skirt


Yay, you! I've been off the project since September, bought a few things I decided I needed to fill wardrobe gaps over the course of the 11 months. I feel like the project changed me: I don't shop the way I used to. When I do buy something, I KNOW I'd better really love it and that it had better be versatile! Bravo!

I cleaned out my closet yesterday and it felt so good to get rid of the duds and the clothes I would fit back into someday...yeah, right. :) Looking forward to seeing where the project takes you.

Inspiring! I have not pledged yet, but it's definitely been on my mind -- niggling. When I replaced most of the tanks & Ts in my closet with turtlenecks a couple of weeks ago, I was much more aware than usual.

I realize you may not need the money (or even more than that, knowing you, the hassle) but have you considered putting up some of the stuff you're getting rid of for sale online? I always love seeing what you wear and I really like your sense of style, so I personally would love to raid your closet :)

And you could put the money into a "Clementine's eaten something dreadful again"/"Digit's got a horrible back end" fund!

After I lost all the weight, I got rid of everything that was too big and made a conscious decision not to buy a ton of new clothes. I don't think I even have 33 items at this point. Yay to you for going for it. It makes decisions about what to wear quicker and a lot easier!

I don't even have 33 things in my closet! I do like that you shop at re-sale stores rather than the department stores (except probably for undies). It's much easier to get dressed when you don't have so many choices.

Wanted to just drop a quick HI! I just finished reading your book & then had to find your blog!!! Loved every page...

I have been doing 333 for about a year, and I totally love it! I hope you enjoy your adventure over the next three months - it looks like you already have a great start!

Dang, that's impressive. I'm inspired. We periodically do a "love it or lose it" project through the whole house, not just clothes, and it's been way too long. (Judging by the small size of my house and the large amount of crap shoved in it.)

This is AWESOME. I am quite proud of you and in awe. You might be inspiring me to do something similar. Yay you!!

I love this. I've been wanting to do it since following Beverly's adventures with it. Hmmm...maybe I'll finally take the plunge.

I do the thrift store thing lots. Shop by feel for silk and rayon. What doesn't fit me or the kids gets made into other stuff.

My wardrobe is pretty limited already, mostly jeans and t-shirts. Not much call for fancy clothes either on the farm or at my job (call center). I do have better work clothes for when I switch jobs. More than 33 items total, but I also live with major seasonal changes (often in the same day!)

Great post!! Good for you!

Prudent. Dear God, I have been trying to tackle my closet since before I moved 45 times last year. This seems to be the weekend for it. I'm scared... and excited... and now inspired by you. Thanks. :)

I request that you wear the "JLo dress" to my next dinner party. Pretty please

I'm definitely going to keep reading your blog! I arrived here from the Facebook Project 333 page and dang, your 333 is so inspiring! Can't wait to start mine! And by the way, your cheats were very acceptable. I also may not count my knits but I'm considering unraveling the ones I'm not particularly in love with. I'd like to reuse the yarn for something more fitting.

Sanna / Finland.

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Rachael loves it when book clubs read her work! She's happy to attend book clubs that read her books either in person or via Skype. Contact her at rachael@rachaelherron.com to make arrangements.


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