For the past six weeks I have dressed from a thirty-three item wardrobe inspired by Project 333. Though you can start anytime, Project 333 participants generally begin their three month terms to coincide with the seasons (January, April, July, October). I began in early March along with Lent, and I “gave up” about three quarters of my wardrobe to try living with less. Some of these items have been donated or will be sold, and others are packed away for the season or because I am not yet ready to part with them.
While I’ve been engaged in this limited wardrobe experiment, I have recorded my outfits with notes and photographs. I am also keeping a “wear count” because I’m curious about which items I wear frequently. Since I have bridged seasons with my time frame, some items have not yet been worn due to weather (i.e., my linen romper–come on already, Spring!), and I have swapped out at least one item that was decidedly Winter (a lined brown tweed jacket) for something more Spring-ish (a half sleeve hooded jacket).
What I’ve found most interesting is that I have not worn the exact same outfit twice. With the twenty-seven clothing items I’ve actually worn, and with an intentionally limited selection of shoes and accessories, I have made a unique outfit every single day. Documenting my outfits has inspired me to find different combinations.
I am more self-aware and less self-conscious. I feel like I have a better idea of which shapes and proportions work for my body, and I feel more confident in what I’m wearing. Viewing my style in photographs has given me slight objectivity, and building outfits from a smaller, preferred selection of items is producing better results for me. I guess it’s similar to cooking with the best ingredients available to you; even simple recipes taste delicious when built from quality ingredients.
Based on my wear count, here are my most popular items:
1. Dark wash skinny jeans (14 wears)
2. Dark wash bootcut jeans (7)
3. (tie) Rust cardigan; denim jacket (6)
4. (tie) Chambray tunic; mustard cropped chinos (5)
5. (tie) Cream lace top; purple dolman tee; striped dress (4)
While I wait for warmer weather so I can actually wear the shorts and skirts that I included, I’ll remain reassured that I have more than enough. I’m not bored with my options yet. Though I committed to the project through Easter, I have decided to extend it through June. I may swap out a couple more items between now and then, but I know I’ll have plenty to wear.(Oh, the possibilities! Here is one sweatshirt, six slightly different ways. I cut the tag out of the sweatshirt, and now it’s reversible. I ended up wearing the combo in the lower right.)
I can comfortably admit that I’m not a minimalist, but I am enjoying living with fewer things in my closet. As I’ve been exploring my relationship with my clothes and belongings, with shopping and consumption, I’ve had some realizations.
Reality is reality, and my wardrobe needs to reflect that.
Here’s a bit of my reality:
– My lifestyle: I spend most of my time parenting a toddler, and the high number of “dry clean only” pieces in my wardrobe does not reflect that. I need pieces that don’t wrinkle like crazy when I get on the floor to play with my daughter, pieces that wash easily if they get peanut butter or marker on them. When I do make clothing purchases, I need to pay extra attention to the care instructions.
– My body: I am average height, I have extraordinarily flat feet, I am a fair-skinned redhead, etc., etc., etc. I want to dress and appreciate the body I have, and I am beginning to accept that some styles and colors (like capri pants, ankle strap shoes, or lemon yellow) aren’t particularly flattering on me. No matter; there are plenty of things that suit me just fine! I can stop eyeing trends that don’t work for me and focus on what does (like bateau necklines, jewel tones, sleeveless tops).
– My budget: If I want to focus on acquiring fewer, higher quality clothes (which I do), I will have to start saving. My years old Target boots are finally falling apart, and I would like to invest in a new pair for Fall/Winter. But I’m not going to be able to do that with a $25 impulse purchase. I want to develop the discipline of saving money so I’ll have a reserve when I want to upgrade or need to replace something.
Clothes won’t fix a fashion crisis.
Before I began this experiment, I regularly found myself going through a pile of clothes in attempt to put together an outfit that I liked and felt good wearing. I refer to this “nothing to wear” moment as a fashion crisis. I used to feel that I didn’t have enough clothes (or good enough clothes) to put together great outfits. Then I started to feel like perhaps I had too many clothes (but still not the right type or fit). Oddly, or perhaps obviously, neither buying more clothes nor limiting my options has solved the problem of the fashion crisis. Even with thirty-three carefully selected, generally well-fitting and favorite items, I have still had instances of running through options and feeling I had nothing good to wear.
I’ve finally realized that the fashion crisis is not an issue of clothing but of self-image. When I find myself surrounded by the pile of rejected clothing, I need to look deeper. Am I lacking confidence, feeling insecure, fearing judgement? I know who I am is not determined by what I wear, and I want to make confident fashion decisions. Even if I have some misses, I am likely the only one who notices.
Having less in my closet gives me space to think.
During college, I bought waaaaaaaaay too many art supplies. I spent countless hours (and dollars) in the art supply store selecting interesting papers, colorful felt-tip pens, all sizes of t-squares, and eight different kinds of erasers. Some of these things were for projects, but many were just impulse buys. On one of these shopping sprees, I apparently acquired tubes of watercolors, cold press paper, and frisket. Today I decided to finally try out these basically untouched watercolor supplies.
Watercolor has always intimidated me a bit. Unlike oil paint, you can’t keep adding until you are satisfied. There is no erasing, and for an inexperienced hand like mine, it is difficult to control and has unpredictable results. You can, however, keep some areas white and paint-free using frisket.
If you are unfamiliar with frisket, it comes as a film or a thick white liquid you apply to the paper. After painting the paper with watercolor, wait for it to dry and remove the frisket. The area underneath retains the white of the page. Frisket peels off like rubber cement, and wow, does it smell terrible when applied. I probably should have opened a window.
I glanced at some watercolor tutorials online and then gave it a go, and I was pleasantly surprised by some of the effects I achieved. I liked the contrast of using a free-flowing medium with my controlled, repetitive mark-making, and I liked how the tones and colors mixed and layered.
Sometimes the vast emptiness of the page and the pressure to create finished, frame-worthy art scare me away from making anything. Using an unfamiliar medium helped me overcome those excuses and just play, and I now have some good ideas I might apply to future work. I’m thinking watercolor could be the start of a fun 2013 desktop calendar or maybe some Spoonflower fabric.
Have you tried a new hobby, medium, or technique recently? Have you seen any gorgeous or unexpected applications of watercolor?
I’m Lauren, a wife, first-time mother, musician, artist/designer, and late adopter of technology. Yes, it’s 2012, and I’m just now starting a blog.
Here I’ll share honest and irreverent thoughts on style, faith, and family. I’ll post home and fashion finds from my treasure hunting excursions, and I may share creative projects currently in progress. I’m sure I’ll also include stories about my bitty baby and things I’m learning along the way.
Since we’re getting to know each other, here are some fun facts about me:
- I am a typography nerd, and I almost stopped watching a show on Netflix because it used Papyrus in the credits.
- Korean Karaoke is one of my favourite outings, and I sing “Paint it Black” nearly every time we go. Unfortunately I do not have moves like Jagger.
- When I was four, I decided I wanted to be British when I grew up. I have not yet achieved my goal, but I do occasionally spell things with that lovely extra “u” (see previous fun fact).
How about you? Leave a comment and introduce yourself with a fun fact!