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? ridiculed? 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. Or put another way, I have 22 items of basic clothing from which to choose each day.

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)


  1. Wow, congratulations and good luck with your ambitious project! I've wondered what it would be like to do some version of P333 for the whole year, but right now I'm just focused on figuring out my items for my first P333 summer session! I decided to start on May 1, and I'm almost ready, but it's hard to narrow things down. I'm impressed that you got a full year's worth down to just 49 items!

    1. Thanks! I will try to post occasional updates as the year goes on. Enjoyed your P333 post! Good luck with round 1! Totally relate to the lack of awesome clothes, which is how a lot of us end up with too many (not quite right) in the first place.

    2. Thanks for reading! I guess I'll have to work on the too-many-not-quite-right issue as I go along :)
      I look forward to seeing your updates!

  2. I love that you're going for a full year! I think I'm doing something kind of similar after several rounds of Project 333: I have a current wardrobe of about 45 "main" items. I exempt the normal things, but also shoes, coats, and jewelry, which I am working on whittling down. I'm planning to allow myself five substitutions per month, aiming to substitute from my "stash" before shopping when possible. After a year of dressing with less, I can't go back to a full wardrobe. So I'm trying to "use it up / wear it out / make it do / or do without" in my closet full-time. Cheers and good luck!

    1. I know, there's no going back. It's like The Matrix :) You know there's a better way (and a closetful of choices is panic-inducing)

  3. This has made more sense to me than any other post! You go woman, I am encouraged. Still scared, but encouraged. Thanks.

    1. Great, glad to help! You can do it, truly. And then you'll wonder why you waited so long, and never want to go back (see Rebecca's comment above) Reading about other people's experiences and choices, and their enthusiasm after taking the plunge, is what helped me finally commit last winter. Let me know if you have any questions!

  4. This gives me something to aspire to! I'm doing my first P333 (though I've been "in training" for about 6 months) and I love, love, LOVE the idea of whittling things down to just enough for the year.

    1. Hope it's going great! It's quite eye-opening how little we need - once you identify a couple favorite, versatile things from this first set and figure out where the gaps in your basics are, you would be well on your way to a year-round dressing with less wardrobe

  5. This looks amazing - hope to follow along! I'm currently preg-o, so I'm doing my own version of P333 trying to buy as little as possible and wear out any existing maternity clothes before new purchases are made. Will love to see how you do this - great list!

    1. Congrats! It seems like pregnancy opens a lot of women's eyes that it's really not that hard to function with a reduced (maternity) wardrobe. Hope the rest of your pregnancy, and project, go wonderfully!

  6. Thanks for posting about this - this is totally my style to just do it for the whole year! Also I find the seasons don't really fit that neatly into 3 months and that within each quarter I need warmer/cooler stuff anyway. I love that you've described the brand of clothing as well, it helps to bring it alive off the page. Thanks for sharing what you've included - it's really clear and easy-to-understand. Feeling inspired!

    1. Hi Anita, thanks! The most helpful posts to me have been the most detailed, trying to pay it forward. Yeah, by the time you account for weather swings, planning for a year isn't much more than for a few months. I think the boredom factor may be the most salient concern :) Good luck, would love to hear about your experience if you do a project

  7. This is truly inspiring! I so need to get into it too! Looks a bit scaring for me but at the same time the most logical thing to do. Reading all these posts is little by little giving me the courage to start my own P333, even if at first I might need to choose my own number... Keep sending more posts!

  8. I just moved from Maui with a very small temperature change to Fresno CA. I can see a 40degree change in one day. I'm not sure what I will be doing here as far as work or activities but unpacking has really opened my eyes to how much useless stuff I have. I think maybe a slightly expanded version of this might work for me. I look forward to watching this unfold. (pun intended)