Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Project 333 All-Season Capsule Wardrobe

Part II of my one-year clothing challenge (Part I is the clothes fast) will be taking a Project 333 capsule wardrobe and making it last for the whole year, not just three months. 

(So Project 333x4 or Project 3312?)

Along with too much time shopping, I spend too much time planning wardrobes, so I want to pick one and be done. I want to find out if I can truly be content with less. Will I be burning up? freezing? criticized? stinky? bored silly? in the days to come... There's only one way to find out!

I'm taking the lessons learned in three previous rounds of Project 333 and come up with a collection to span four seasons ranging from 12 degrees to 102 or higher.

- Layers are essential. Both for warmth and variety
A unified color scheme is key. I've finally settled on blue/green/khaki with accents of raspberry/rose, so pretty much everything goes together - offering extensive mix-n-match outfit possibilities - and is flattering. For a while, I tried to incorporate darker browns as well, but they just didn't play well with my navies.
Comfort is king. Everything's gotta be easy care and easy wear. None of this shoulder-pinching, too-sheer, dry-clean-only nonsense. I am much happier and more relaxed when not in pain or nervous about flashing bystanders when I bend over. Go figure. Comfortable also means I know that what I'm wearing looks good on me.

So I bet you're curious what you're going to be seeing a lot of in the next twelve months....

* = purchased secondhand

Short sleeves & tank tops (6):
- Navy beaded neckline Target tank
- Blue/white pattern Target tank
- Green vintage "Cheers" tee*
- Khaki/blue stripe GAP tee
- Raspberry JCPenney tee
- Navy/white floral Old Navy bohemian-style blouse

Shorts/skirts/dresses (4):
- Blue striped Target sundress
- Off-white Ann Taylor LOFT skirt*
- Teal JCPenney twill shorts
- Navy GAP cargo shorts

Long-sleeved shirts (4):
- Green Ann Taylor sweater*
- Navy/white stripe Old Navy tee
- Turquoise Velvet shirt*
- Floral pattern Old Navy bohemian-style top

Layering tops (4):
- Heather green 3/4 sleeve cardigan
- American Eagle khaki corduroy blazer*
- Land's End blue oxford
- Land's End raspberry cardigan sweater

Pants (4):
- Talbot's ankle skinny jeans*
- Ann Taylor khaki bootcut corduroys*
- GAP stone denim capris*
- JCrew dark-wash bootcut jeans*

Shoes (5):
- Navy Crocband flip-flops
- Brown strappy sandals
- Metallic ballet flats
- Brown sketchers
- Brown cowboy boots*

Accessories and seasonal (6):
- White belt
- Multi-colored scarf
- Dark brown peacoat
- Green & white raincoat
- LLBean bag
- Swimsuit (tankini & swim shorts)

Claimed exemptions:
giving myself a little more leeway on these than in the past since I'm planning for a year
- Underwear, socks (standard Project 333 exemption)
- PJ tee and pants (standard Project 333 exemption)
- White ribbed tank for underneath warmth layer in winter
- Winter gloves and hat
- Sunglasses (I never count these because they aren't optional!)
- Jewelry (6 items): Wedding ring (standard Project 333 exemption)/ Silver star earrings/ Bluegreen chandelier earrings/ Owl earrings/ Silver stud earrings/ Silver necklace

Theoretical exceptions (not planning to claim but leaving myself the option):
- Black dress (in the event of a formal event, I don't expect to have any)
- Workout tank, capris & sneakers (this is a standard Project 333 exemption; I don't currently work out but certainly don't want to be prevented just because they're not on my list ;))

The grand total of all possible items (ignoring underwear) logs in at 49 if I did my math right.

I'd love to keep all of these items in the project for the whole year, but I anticipate having to make some substitutions for items that get worn out from heavy rotation or damaged beyond simple repair - pieces like my Sketchers, green cardigan, navy tank, and navy shorts have already seen a lot of action. Also the basic navy/white stripe Old Navy top I love is NOT built for the long haul; quality will be a higher priority in my purchases after this year! In the meantime, there may be Gentle Cycles and some air drying involved. I'll try to sub in a similar item from my existing spare stock (not buying any new clothes this year is priority numero uno)

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

No new clothes for a year

You read me right:

My goal, effective the day after my birthday, is to buy ZERO clothes for one year

A clothing fast.

By "no new clothes," I mean nothing new to me. Not even second-hand. No socks. No jewelry. Nothing. (I could have titled this post "No clothes for a year" but that might have been misconstrued.)

Project 333 has been phenomenally helpful in paring back my wardrobe and learning what I like to wear. However, I still find myself drawn to shop and browse frequently because I'm hunting for the perfect items to rotate into my wardrobe. Scanning the sundresses at Target, skimming Gap's spring tees, stalking the new postings on Twice, swinging by Goodwill when I'm out on the occasional kid-free errand... I still turn to shopping for entertainment and escape.

The truth is that clothes shopping isn't currently a constructive use of my resources, especially precious time. There are numerous higher priority things to spend on - I have relationships to nurture, good books to read, blogs to write, boys to homeschool, a home to preserve from chaos, a world to explore and a God to know.

There's an elegantly simple solution to the problem of over-shopping: forbid myself from acquiring additional wardrobe items for a year (and tell you I'm forbidden).

The truth is I have enough in my closet and drawers. Way more than enough, truth be told. Maybe not the perfect everything, but no risk of me going naked between now and next April. This is my Enough Experiment.

I'm sure there are going to be some challenges I haven't anticipated, and I have no tennis shoe backups for the pair that have already been in my closet a while.

But I'm giving myself a year of freedom from catalogs, sale emails, clearance racks and thrift stores! (Not 100% free - the boys will need a couple of pairs of pants, socks, and shoes, but those will be fairly straightforward errands) I'm actually toying with the idea of doing all my clothes shopping on my birthday each year, but I'll see how this year goes before I decide anything too drastic ;)

There's a Part II of this challenge that I'll post about next...

Saturday, April 12, 2014

This is 32

She's always lived for tomorrow She's never learned how To live for today Oh, she's dyin' To try something foolish, Do something crazy, Or just get away 

My high school summer P.E. class choreographed a dance to Reba's "Is There Life Out There?" and it's always stuck with me.

Today I turned 32. It's too late for a quarter-life crisis and a smidgen early to be mid-life, so I'll say I have a third-life crisis. Somewhere in the midst of too much reading and too much contemplation, I fell into an Ecclesiastical meaninglessness.

I mean, this is it. This is my life. Hoarding is futile because there is no living in tomorrow, or yesterday. There's today and there's eternity. It's both a free and restless feeling.

From my Instagram - "Heads Carolina, Tails California"

So what's worth doing?

The 30,000 foot view is that the only ultimate meaning is living for God's glory. I believe it. I struggle to understand what exactly that means for me, right here right now.

I can trace lots of swirling thoughts to specific books, like

... I read Embracing Obscurity and it hit hard. Am I OK with living my days out in obscurity? Now that you mention it, no, not really. I want to prove I matter here and now.

... I've been mostly keeping up with Operation World readings; daily I contemplate whether God might be calling us to meet needs overseas.

... Our next door neighbor died on Thursday from pancreatic cancer. We only found out two weeks ago that she was sick. We love her and will miss her. In 32 years I've never been to a funeral; there's a time for everything, right? Death by Living: Life Is Meant to Be Spent

... Our current Bible study book is just flat-out messing with me. The only thing I see clearly is a need to minister to high school students at church through individual relationships.

... Even Divergent has prompted a question on my phone lock screen "What if you weren't afraid?"

Thanks for indulging my existential birthday ramble. I have some much more practical things to say about my next step after Project 333, stay tuned!

Friday, February 28, 2014

The Enjoy Jar

Today I'm sharing the story my "Enjoy Jar." It's just a small, empty pickle jar with "enjoy jar" Sharpied on the lid.

Its contents are a few of my favorite trinkets and mementos, the ones that are enjoyable or interesting to hold, look at, and think about.

Stuff like: a shark tooth found on the beach where our family used to vacation every summer, a kaleidoscope, Micro Machines, my husband's grandfather's dog tags, my high school class ring, a few of my eraser collection erasers, a marble painted like the globe, Bashful the dwarf from my sorority pledging.

I got the idea when reading Stuff; the authors discussed how hoarders seem to have a particular affinity for touching and examining possessions. They see qualities of stuff that others don't.

So, keeping that in mind as I've been sorting memory boxes and other memorabilia, I've been culling a few of the small things that are the most meaningful. They must have visual and/or textural value as well. 

And I'm embracing the enjoying. I put the jar on a bookshelf where I can see it. Every now and then I pull out an item or two for holding or examination. I'll tell my boys about them. 

When you hoard, you can't really savor anything because everything is important and most things are buried. This is way better.

A photo of the inside of the kaleidoscope

Thursday, February 20, 2014

"More or Less" eBook FREE for Kindle

This book has been on my wish list for nearly a year; I was stoked to see it reduced to free today! (Hat tip @eReaderIQ notifications)

  More or Less: Choosing a Lifestyle of Excessive Generosity

It might be a month or two before I get to read it, but I'll let you know what I think!

Monday, January 27, 2014

Clutterfree with Kids is out!

Josh Becker of Becoming Minimalist just published Clutterfree with Kids, and I can't wait to read it! While I enjoy reading minimalist writing by anyone - single, married, empty nest - it's the folks with young kiddos who "get" the challenges of keeping a family's worth of stuff under control and out of complete chaos that resonate the most.

Clutterfree with Kids is written as a comprehensive how-to manual for handling kid clutter. The book defines and outlines the ten most common clutter problems for parents:
Sentimental items
Preparing for baby
It inspires and encourages parents to rethink their approach in each area. Each chapter offers easy to maintain habits. And each ends with personal application questions to make clutterfree living a reality.

Right now, the Kindle version is on sale for $2.99.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

"The State of My Closet"

"The State of My Closet" address:

It was a year ago I jumped into Project333. I finished that three month session, ditched the color black, and have done two more rounds.

Currently, I'm taking an indefinite hiatus but still dressing with the same principles. I have a couple sweaters folded on the shelf above, six pairs of shoes, a belt, a scarf, and coat, fleece, and purse downstairs. Without counting jewelry, my wardrobe may even remain in Project 333 parameters. I'm sticking to blue jeans for the winter, and shades of the blue/green/brown palette for tops.

In celebration of the progress over a year, I purchased 18 wooden hangars to unify and beautify the closet! Having a limited number of matching hangars will also help keep me on track.

My closet feels so fancy. It's like walking into an expensive boutique, you know the ones where there are just a couple clothes spaced reeeeally far apart on wooden hangars on a couple rolling racks where salespeople hover and you're afraid of touching anything and inadvertently leaving a wrinkle or snag, and you can't find any prices or sizes without a lot of touching. I went to one of those once, because I had a Groupon, and, not kidding, there were only two items in the whole place that were my size. "Come back on Thursdays," they told me.

All the same simple, special feel with none of the intimidation. And everything fits!