My experience with Project 333

slow living Feb 10, 2021

Recently I wrote an article about the impact a pair of jeans has on our environment and through my research I discovered that the average American owns 7 pairs of jeans. One for each day of the week. Yikes!

So I did an audit of how many pairs of jeans I owned, and I was appalled to discover that I owned 8 pairs of jeans! I always considered myself to be a mindful shopper, and quite frugal with my clothing purchases, so you can imagine just how surprised I was when I realised that I owned so many pairs. In my defense, all pairs were second hand when I bought them, with the exception of two pairs that are made with Australian wool by the Australian company Tooralie. My Grandfather was a sheep farmer and I like to support  Australian wool whenever I can.

So, with this in mind, I decided that I wanted to try out Project 333. I had heard an interview with Courtney Carver about it on the Slow Home podcast. Courtney has written a couple of books, the first one titled ‘Soulful Simplicity’ which was written in response to being diagnosed with Multiple sclerosis and she was looking for a way to heal herself. She discovered that through simplifying her life she dramatically improved her health. She believes living with less creates time and space to discover what really matters. Through decluttering, and focusing on the best things instead of all the things, you can create a life with more savings and less no debt, more health and less stress, more space and less stuff, and more joy with less obligation.

Simplifying my life gave me the space, time, and love to be more me.
— Courtney Carver

Which sounds like an awesome way to approach life, and it is in line with my word of the year ‘simplify’. 

But what is Project 333 you ask? Well, what you need to do is select 33 items from your wardrobe, including shoes and jewellery, and package up all your other clothes. For the next 3 months you simply wear just these 33 items. 

The Rules

  • When: Every three months (It’s never too late to start so join in anytime!)

  • What: 33 items including clothing, accessories, jewelry, outerwear and shoes.

  • What not: these items are not counted as part of the 33 items – wedding ring or another sentimental piece of jewelry that you never take off, underwear, sleep wear, in-home lounge wear,  and workout clothing (but your workout clothes have to workout).

  • How: Choose your 33 items, box up the remainder of your fashion statement, seal it with tape and put it 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.


I had always been intrigued by this concept, along with the capsule wardrobe idea (you know, the ones you see in magazine where you pack 24 items of clothes and you have 100 outfits to wear).

Via The Capsule

So, I decided to give it a try. 

Because we were going into winter, starting was easy because I could pack away my summer clothes and then I could start selecting my winter wardrobe. I put my other clothes away in October / November last year. (I actually can't remember the date) AND I can't remember what else I put away! Goes to show that what is out of sight is out of mind!

After a couple of months of living with Project 333 this is what I discovered:

Neat and Tidy

I loved looking at my minimal wardrobe. It is very easy on the eye. It's neat and tidy and I can find everything with a glance. I bought myself some lovely wooden clothes hangers, so I actually feel like I'm in a boutique clothing store when I select what I wear for the day.


Less is More

Choosing my outfit is a lot less onerous. I like to rotate my clothes, to allow the other ones to ‘rest’ (a la Marie Kondo) and I have found that even with only 30 items I still wear perhaps half of them most of the time. They say that we wear 20% of our clothes 80% of the time. And thats true! 

Some of the clothes that I don't wear are because I bought them and whilst they are fashionable, they are not practical for me. Anything with wide sleeves simply catches on door handles, or drapes into paint when I am in the studio, or in food whilst I am cooking. So I discovered that poncho’s are not my style. I like clean minimalist lines, a little like Audrey Hepburn’s Breakfast at Tiffany’s (who by the way, in the movie wears the same black dress to every party).

Creating routines that require little to no decision making is a daily act of self-compassion.
— Lisa Avellan

Reduces Decision Fatigue

They say that by having less clothes to choose from dramatically reduces decision fatigue - a very real thing where it is thought we make over 35,000 on a daily basis. A Cornell University study estimated we make 221 decisions each day regarding food alone! So removing decisions like ‘what should I wear?’  means I can focus my mental energy on more important things.

A classic example of this is Apple Mastermind Steve Jobs minimized his wardrobe to minimize his decision making process. Steve Jobs famously wore the same black turtleneck, blue jeans and New Balance sneakers every day. This quickly became his signature look as well as a part of the overall brand of Apple. Steve also understood that he had a finite capacity of brainpower to make well thought out decisions. A minute more a day using his brainpower to decide which T-shirt to wear is less brainpower he would have to think about his company.


Easy to find

The other benefit I had from cleaning out my wardrobe was that I also put aside an outfit that I would wear camping (we have a tendency to go camping every weekend when the weather is warm). I put all these items on one shelf of my cleaned out closet, and I can instantly grab them when we head out for the weekend. No more rummaging around through different drawers to get all the things that I will need, and then realising I had forgotten something. Incidentally, workout clothing is not included so I figured camping/outdoor gear is in this category.


I have my own unique style

I also realised that I shouldn't buy (or make) clothes because they are fashionable . I have a style that suits my lifestyle, and I need to consider this when making a purchase.  I like clean lines where the simplicity of the garment speaks for itself and solid colours (most of my clothes are monochromatic, blacks and greys). All my clothes are made from 100% natural fibres (this had been a shopping criteria of mine for a number of years now) 

I discovered I felt lighter when not being faced with a full and messy wardrobe, and having made the decision previously about reducing my clothing selection actually made it easier. I discovered I did have a signature style! Which means that I can be more considered when I make my next purchase. 


How to enjoy a Canadian winter

I also realised that one way I enjoy the Canadian winter is through wearing a hand knitted jumper. It keeps me nice and toasty, and I also enjoy the knitting process. I am currently knitting a jumper by Caidree which subscribes to the minimalistic lines and I can't wait to wear it.

I also realised that I will be unravelling some of my other knitted jumpers and they will be remade into garments that I will actually wear (ie, no big sleeves). This is fun because I can reuse and repurpose wool I already have, and extend the joy of knitting.


Do I miss any of the clothes I put away? 

If I'm honest, no. I cant even remember what got put away.

One thing I am trying to figure out is what to do with a poncho I made from wool fabric with a houndstooth check. It's got big sleeves, so I won't actually wear it (despite selecting it as part of my 333 I still haven't worn it), I know that gifting it to a second hand store does not guarantee that it will be sold again. So I want to repurpose it. Perhaps cushion covers? Maybe a rag doll? Hot water bottle cover? 


What did I realise after 3 months of this project

  1. I realise I don't need a whole lot of clothes and the clothes I have I can mend, which extends their life. 

  2. Less clothes means I actually am a lot closer to living a zen life. This means increased sense of inner calm and self-acceptance, less stress and better relationships (with myself and others).  

  3. In accordance with my word of the year, which is simplify, I have simplified my closet, and I look forward to doing this to all areas of my life.

  4. I now realise that I have a style, which means I keep this in mind when shopping. I know my body type, and have come to realise what suits me.

  5. I love the freedom of not having to make decisions on what clothes to wear. 

  6. I will save money, and make better purchase decisions when I do need to buy something new. I choose quality over quantity. 

  7. I can let go of trends dictating my wardrobe 

Hi, I'm Kate!

I am a strong believer in starting where you are and using what you have, wherever and whatever that may be.

Everyone should get to experience the joy of connecting to others through learning, experimenting, and creating.

Creativity doesn’t have to be expensive or wasteful. Whether we’re using natural materials, reusing materials, or shopping our own stashes first, creating mindfully goes beyond being present in the moment - it extends to being mindful of our environment and the other communities around us, too.