What Is It?
I first learned about Project 333 when we screened the movie Minimalism on the Acropolis Roof Deck this summer. The movie is all about how simplifying your life makes you happier. One of the trends that it featured was Project 333—a fashion challenge that dares you to narrow your wardrobe down to 33 items for 3 months. The challenge is designed to raise awareness around consumerism and to illustrate how you can actually be happier with less. Most of us conceptually understand we have more than we need. This challenge sets out to prove it. The trend started in the United States, but it’s gaining momentum worldwide.
33 items. 3 months. It seemed possible so I thought I’d try it for 30 days as an experiment. So for me, it was Project 133. ☺
When: Every three months starting whenever you want. In my case, it was one month starting Oct 25.
What: 33 items including clothing, accessories, jewelry, outerwear and shoes.
What not: The following items are not counted as part of the 33 items – wedding ring or another sentimental piece of jewelry that you never take off, underwear, sleepwear, in-home loungewear, and workout clothing (but your workout clothes have to workout).
How: Choose your 33 items, set aside the remainder of your clothes/accessories and put them out of sight.
What else: Consider that you are creating a wardrobe that you can live, work and play in for three months. Remember that this is not a project in suffering. If your clothes don’t fit or are in poor condition, replace them.
How Did It Go?
I just completed my 30 days, and it wasn’t a huge struggle. The challenge turned out to be fun, and it made me focus on what I was wearing much more than I usually do. It wasn’t such a burden to narrow my wardrobe down and in some ways, it made life easier… I’ve included the list of my 33 items below.
Other people who have done the challenge had the following comments, and I would echo the same…
“The challenge changes your outlook on not just clothing, but life period.”
“I’m happier because I have less stuff.”
“Getting dressed in the morning isn’t the chore that it once was. I feel refreshed with less.”
“My wardrobe became so simple, but it was all the clothing that made me feel great.”
How Did I Do It?
The common guidance is to make your selections at the beginning so you know what you are working with. I took a different approach and just wore what I’d normally wear for the first four days and then counted and made selections after that. My fashion formula is pretty simple–I don’t wear jewelry so that part was easy. I prefer solids over patterns which helped since it gave me more mixing and matching options. I like dark or vibrant colors, and probably 50% of my wardrobe is black. If you are thinking of doing this, this handy guide gives you lots of tips on how to make your selections.
My Challenges With This Challenge
I tried to do the challenge with just three pairs of shoes, but that wasn’t really working. I added a fourth pair after three weeks, and that fixed it. If I had continued for the full 3 months, I think I would have wanted more shoes…
Wear and tear.
Some of my Project 333 selections were already old—like my favorite white Converse shoes. I think I got them 5 years ago…In my regular life, I probably wear them once a week. But here, I was wearing them every two or three days. The shoes are now *really* worn out, and probably need to be replaced… If you do this challenge, make sure your items are in good condition.
Except for that, it went fine. It seems 33 items is enough… ☺
Did It Work?
On the 31st day, when I was free to wear whatever I wanted, I wore an outfit that was “Project 333 friendly”—all the items were from the list. So yes, I guess it did work since I didn’t feel desperate to wear different clothes. I will say I am looking forward to adding back a bit more, but overall, I didn’t really feel deprived.
1) black tank top (Zara)
2) army green bomber jacket (Sisley)
3) burgundy top (Ioanna Kourbela)
4) black sweatershirt (H&M)
5) green and white striped crop sweater (Ioanna Kourbela)
6) rose tank top (Zara)
7) white wrap (Ioanna Kourbela)
8) cream/white sweatshirt (Ioanna Kourbela)
9) burgundy/white wrap (Ioanna Kourbela)
10) black wrap (Pete)
11) black wool coat (Benetton)
12) white t-shirt (generic)
13) rust wrap (Ioanna Kourbela)
14) black reversible yoga pants (Lululemon)
15) cut off jeans (J Brand)
16) jeans (Levi’s)
17) long black skirt (generic)
18) jeans (7 for All Mankind)
19) black skirt (Parallel)
20) black dress (Weston Wear)
21) long blue tank dress (generic)
22) red dress (UKO)
23) white tennis shoes (Converse)
24) black long boots (Kesli Dagger Brooklyn)
25) black ankle boots (Franco Sarto)
26) black sandals (Gabor)
27) white scarf (generic)
28) navy blue arm warmers (Ioanna Kourbela)
29) black stockings (H&M)
30) black belt (Benetton)
31) sunglasses (Carolina Herrera)
I left two items “open” because, well, you just never know… For example, maybe a big book publisher will want to fly me to New York to meet with me about my new book. I would like to have a different outfit for that meeting. I left a few items open because you can never tell what life is going to throw at you… It’s good to be prepared. ☺
Now that I’ve got the hang of it, I’m thinking of doing the full Project 333 for 3 months during the summer. I mainly wear flip flops and shorts in the summer anyway so I think it will be even easier…We’ll see.
Should You Try It?
Yes, why not? You can always stop if you don’t like it. And it is an interesting exercise in awareness and gratitude. I focused more energy on what I was wearing. And I felt grateful for the things that I had in a way that I hadn’t before. I didn’t take clothing for granted as much.
If anyone does want to try this, you can send me pictures of your first 30 days and I’ll create a gallery here just for you. You can be part of Project 133.
The full month day by day: