This is my third official cycle of Project 333.
And my first to really struggle with it.
June should be the third month of my second quarter. But because of the struggle, I've decided to learn from my mistakes and start fresh with a new "quarter" for June-July-August.
What's been going on that's made this quarter so difficult?
First, we've had lots of unusually cool, cloudy and rainy (and snowy) weather this spring in Colorado. Which has meant I've been layering like a fiend over summer-ish clothes, or shivering when I don't really need to be, and that's just made me cranky.
Second, after two cycles of winter-wear, I rotated out quite a number of pieces, and rotated in lots that were either brand-new, new-to-me (via a swap), or had been firmly packed away for about a year. As I began to wear them, I realized I didn't actually like them, or they didn't fit quite right. So I'd wear a skirt once, and have a "meh" feeling about it, but put it back in the 33 rotation.
And then I would avoid it, shoving it to the far end of the closet. I did this with numerous items, which meant I really didn't have 33 items to play with anymore.
Third, I've been reading more blogs and books about minimalist wardrobes and lifestyles (including The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo). After seeing the clothing section on Paris To Go, I was both inspired to cut back even more than I already have and appalled that I was struggling with 33 pieces, when she lives with basically 10 core items ... inParis.
In order to be successful with a capsule closet, I've learned a few things.
1. For me, an overwhelming majority of the items in my closet during a cycle must be able to be worn in mix-and-match ways — whether through layering or just shifting tops with different bottoms. I knew this in my head, and having read others' experiences, but it didn't hit home until recently. What it means on a day-to-day basis is that there can really only be two or three outliers in my wardrobe, by style or color; and overall, a complementary color scheme is key.
2. I still love clothing swaps for all the reasons I wrote about in this article for The Simple Dollar, but I'm starting to get more and more enjoyment out of the process of swapping than picking up items for myself. In other words, the connecting with girlfriends, helping them discover new styles, giving them a place to recycle pieces they're having a hard time letting go of, and delivering donations after the fact. Swaps, for me, have mostly become a good place to grab a few outliers. Like that black and turquoise dress in the photo above. (And at my last swap, the most awesome MASH T-shirt ever, perfect for wearing while watching the entire series as part of my #41before42 project. Seriously. Thanks again, Claire.)
3. It's OK to stop, take a deep breath, and shift gears. Yes, I would have liked to have finished off this three-month cycle for a sense of completion. Yes, the J part of my INFJ personality cringes at my "not following the rules." But then, those "rules" were — are — self-imposed, and sometimes it's more beneficial to let go.
I recognize this type of process isn't for everyone, but I really do like it. Even with the slight frustrations of the past two months — and, who knows, that may have had more to do with the heavy clouds hanging overhead more than anything — I enjoy organizing, cleaning out and rethinking my clothing.
So with all that, I'm approaching this June-July-August capsule with a bit of giddy excitement. As of today, I have 28 of my 33 items ready to go, and I'm leaving five spots open so that I can intentionally shop for pieces I would like to add over the summer.
And even though I feel better about my layering options, I'm crossing my fingers that the summery weather that seems to have finally hit our area sticks around for awhile.
P.S. Because people ask me this all the time, I've designed my version of Project 333 to focus on 33 core items for three months. After multiple years of cutting back, and (almost) three fully committed cycles, I no longer include outerwear, shoes or accessories. And as Courtney Carver designed the program in the beginning, I also do not include workout wear (which includes yoga-teaching wear for me), adventuring gear, underwear or pajamas. For this cycle so far I've got 12 tops, one sweater, two jackets, one pair of dressy black pants, three pairs of jeans, three skirts, five dresses and one jumpsuit.