Monday, June 20, 2011

Oberation SBAM: the wardrobe edition.


Closet Visit : Claire Cottrell


Closet Visit : Giorgia Tramontano

Last week I found myself standing in my jeans and my bra, hunting through my wardrobe desperately looking for something to cover my top half. I was getting more and more panicky as I realised that there was absolutely nothing to wear. And then I spotted it, my best t-shirt and  breathing a sigh of relief I pulled it over my head then turned to look in the mirror. My best t-shirt had three moth holes in the mid-section. My best t-shirt had been worn all throughout my (twin) pregnancy so said mid-section was thus somewhat misshapen. There was an orange mark on the shoulder, most likely puréed carrot that hadn't come out in the wash. The realisation that despite this litany of embarrassments it was still my best t-shirt was.... enlightening.

For a long time my wardrobe has been 50% clothes that are too fancy for my lifestyle,10% things that I like and that fit and 40% crap. I've mostly been wearing the crap. Trousers that are too tight, t-shirts stretched by a stomach filled with two babies, cardigans with holes in the cuffs, leggings that have become weak at the knees, tops that cling uncomfortably to my new, post-two babies belly, favourite tees that have constellations of moth holes scattered across the chest,  gifts that were given after I had two babies that were very kindly bought in the size I was before I had two babies (thanks guys) but that were new and clean so I wore them anyway. While wearing the crap I would stand and stare at the silk ruffly dresses, the strapless sparkled dresses, the jewel-encrusted tops and think wistfully of a life where I had occasion to wear them and a body that would still fit in them.
No more. 
I've been gradually purging over the last few years, every couple of months filling bags with clothes to either throw out or give to charity and it felt amazing but it wasn't enough, still the shameful ratio remained and still I was wearing things that made me feel uncomfortable, depressed, minging. Something more serious was needed and so I embarked on Project 333. Kind of.

Project 333 is one woman's aim to live for 3 months with 33 items of clothing (including shoes and accessories, not include pyjamas, workout clothes, wedding rings or unders) with the notion that only good things will come from this. (That noise you just heard was my mum rolling her eyes. Or possibly hyperventilating. Maybe both at once. My previous attempts at downsizing my wardrobe have been met with half bemused and half concerned 'why?'s) Those good things include but are not limited to:  more space in your house, less time spent wondering what to wear, no days spent wearing crap for you will have no crap, never looking like you got dressed in the dark because all of your clothes will work together. Also (this isn't mentioned anywhere else and I don't know why because it's THE BEST BIT) no giant piles of laundry because hello, if you don't do the laundry you will have nothing to wear.

It didn't take much more to convince me that this was something I needed to do. Increasingly I have been feeling a frantic urge to live with less, to get rid of stuff and things, to have only what I believe to be beautiful or know to be useful in my life. And there was that time that we went to New York for a month, taking only hand luggage, dressing was such a joy, so easy!  And so I stood at my wardrobe, this time with black bags and storage bags in hand, and made two piles: things I don't love and things I do love but that I don't (or shouldn't) wear. The second pile included things that I either have no occasion to wear or that I have been wearing despite the fact that they don't fit properly and the storage bags were so that I didn't have to get rid of these things permanently, just ensure that they were no longer in my day-to-day life, depressing me with their silky ruffles and small sizes.  I was ruthless about the things I don't love or believe to be eminently useful (which I will, in time, replace with things that are both useful and loved). It was surprisingly easy and completely liberating. Doing it with a number in mind made it a challenge, a game to get rid of as much as possible. If I was dithering about something it went in the pile, there was no room in my life for things I wasn't sure about. And the more I got rid of the lighter I felt and the better my wardrobe looked. What was left started to work together, to look like a considered collection and less like the contents of a charity shop.
I haven't been religious about it though, there are still more than 33 things in my wardrobe (37 not including shoes or accessories at my last count). There are a couple of excuses I've been using: 1) that I live in Scotland and weather-wise any given day can encompass every season. Twice.  And 2) that unlike most people I get vomited on at least once a day, so I need spares. Really though I just haven't found the time to go through all of the extraneous stuff like shoes and jewellery to try and cut it down. I will but if I don't get it down to 33 items I won't worry, I know that I'm embracing the philosophy even if I'm not quite sticking to the rules. It's not about rules for me, it's about living a life and dressing in a way that make me feel lighter, freer, happier.  As Ms Project 333 says "this is not a project in suffering, if you need to create a version of Project 333 that works better for you, do it."
Sometime soon I'll take some pictures and post a breakdown of what now lives in my wardrobe.  If for no other reason than that there are no good photos of minimal wardrobes, none. While the likes of Closet Visit and The Coveteur are beautiful and totally intriguing, they are undeniably dedicated worshippers of excess and filled with pictures of the sort that these days make me feel distinctly anxious.

* images by Jeana Sohn of closetvisit.com 

26 comments:

  1. I too have sparodic wardrobe cleansing moments. And reading this has inspired me to have another. As I was reading in a flash I thought of 3 sweaters alone that bring on those same 'urgh' feelings you described.

    33 items though!... even your 37 (excl shoes/acessories) would leave me in a tizz! But even a small cleanse is good for the soul! I'm not sure I could even get my shoe collection down to 33! eek. But thats my one little extravagance I can allow myself. ;)

    Better go and find those bin bags...

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  2. I'm a big fan of closet cleansing myself. It's taken me more than five years and four babies to finally accept that I should no longer be wearing/can no longer fit into clothes from my early twenties. Every year I try to purge my wardrobe of clothes I don't wear anymore or that I shouldn't wear because of misfit, etc. I like the sound of this Project 333 - will definitely check it out! (The baby vomit thing - totally with you there.)
    Ronnie

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  3. This is SUCH a great idea! I've been trying to get rid of things over the last few months but am nowhere near the point you're at. I just can't bear to put away all of my pretty things let alone get rid of them.
    I am sick to death of wearing tracksuits and manky jeans just because they're easy to pull on in the morning when I'm half asleep. It does nothing for my self esteem.

    I'd read something about a capsule wardrobe but had no idea how to do it, you're right having a number helps heaps, thanks for posting this!

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  4. I realised a few months ago that I needed to have a clearout. There is no point holding on to clothes which are too young for me, unless there is an exceptional sentimental reason. I am getting there slowly.

    If I did project 333, which is tempting, I would need to have two wardrobes - one for work and one for not work.


    I'm going to a charity clothing swap next week where I hope to offload some bits and not come back with much in exchange.

    Websites wise, have you seen show me your wardrobe?

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  5. You are awesome.

    I have been doing *way* better at buying much less and better stuff over the last couple of years, but I still have so. much. stuff. Hard to chuck anything when you see yourself growing and shrinking a couple more times over the coming years. One day, though.

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  6. I'm glad you've kept a few things just for beauty. I have been so happy to have kept a Caroline Charles long dress for 33 years, even though my waistline told it goodbye 24 years ago:). That said, I have been dressing from a limited closet for ages and find it to be a very good thing.

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  7. About two years ago i made a massive change to my wardrobe and started wearing dresses for absolutely everything -- i think i have one pair of trousers around for going on walking holidays, but other than that, i don't wear any jeans, any trousers, any shorts, nada. It's totally liberating - i can make any outfit i want with the right pair of tights and shoes, and tights are a lot easier to store than jeans! It's also a hell of a lot easier to get dressed in the morning.

    Now, i still do buy too many dresses, but that's another story...

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  8. I've had the very same jeans and bra moment, in fact I'd say it happens most days. My body shape has just changed since having a baby despite loosing the weight. Nothing pre-baby fits like it did before. I love the sound of this project 333, thank you for introducing it to me. X

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  9. Jewelry/accessories also included in the 33 items? Now that is difficult.

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  10. hooray!




    p.s. i do not like the yellow sweater in that photo. one bit.

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  11. So smart. I've been dipping my toe in the pool by bagging up some extraneous clothes. I realized I mostly live in 4 pairs of jeans, a small stock of perfect tee shirts and tanks, and 4 or 5 cardigans. So why do I have so much other stuff?!

    The closet of dresses remains - I do wear many of them regularly, especially during the fall with tights.

    Not sure I could ever get to 33, but I like the philosophy.

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  12. Allright, FINE. I was sitting here debating going through my drawers, and I pulled up this post to procrastinate a bit longer. Message received!

    And yess.

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  13. Allright, FINE. I was sitting here debating going through my drawers, and I pulled up this post to procrastinate a bit longer. Message received!

    And yess.

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  14. No hyperventilating or rolling of eyes going on. Just relief at no longer spending ages in shops agonising over whether something will a) fit or b) meet with approval. Yay! :-) xx

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  15. I have embarked in a similar project, I have now less than 80 items in my closet (including shoes, coats...)

    I had tried to do the Six Items Or Less experiment, but it was depressing, not because I couldn't wear more than 6 items, but because of having some RULES to follow.

    And now that I think of it, the 333 project might be interesting, because I'm pretty sure that I own less than 33 items of clothing suitable for this summer weather...

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  16. i just counted the items i like to wear and i only got up to 14. granted there are a few things in the hamper, but is it possible i don't have *enough* in rotation??

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  17. I LOVE this post! I should really be doing the same thing. Like most people i probably wear the same 10 things over and over again, so i'm sure i could stand to downsize. Thanks for the inspiration. x

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  18. I really love this idea but every time I do it I end up throwing out everything and then realizing I can't afford to buy anything new!

    The only thing worse than having crap clothes is having no clothes!

    Anyone sympathise?

    http://kartepaper.blogspot.com/

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  19. Sounds like something I need to do. My wardrobe is filled with dresses I can't wear due to having to whip my boobs out a hundred times a day to feed my son. I live in the same two pairs of pants and the same tee shirts I wore while pregnant. It's hard to find clothes that are easy to breastfeed in that would want to wear in the first place!

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  20. Peonies and POLARBEARS!

    Good luck with the wardrobe thing - it sounds bloody difficult.

    Also, I think we need to see the results.

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  21. Such a great idea! I've sort of unknowingly been doing that as well, after getting fed up and going through a huge purge a few months ago.

    Great, great, great inspiration Peonies. x

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  22. I found this hilarious and it sounds so much like me! I too have mountains of clothes that never get worn as they don't fit. I also have a growing number of "going out" dresses even though I don't actually go anywhere that they can be worn. My friends who have social lives have made use of them so that is good... Going to see if I have a 3 item wardrobe. Will let you know if i suceed!

    Emma Phillips
    Our site: Girls Coats

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  23. I am in full agreement with you on this whole post. I am in the middle of purging my closet of all the unnecessary things I have gotten over the last few years. My plan is to donate almost everything and then not replace it. I think the latter will be the hard part!

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  24. as always very beautiful. haven't swung by for ages...and saw the post about taking pictures and not crediting. my heart sunk!? i put 'i love you like a fat pug loves cake" on my blog but i put a link but i didn't email and have been feeling TERRIBLE about it ever since....so i did something wrong I AM SORRY! (knuckles severely wrapped)..and if you want me to remove it i will PRONTO...but i love it! would never put a pic with no link ever...its like cheating BIG time. anyway. i hope you're not angry with me!? love to you and those babiesxxx j

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  25. It's great to get rid of all the stuff you don't need. I did the same thing a few months back, but probably not in a way that as daring as you. I got rid of 30% of my clothes & I haven't missed a thing I got rid of. I fact, I know there are a few more things I can still chuck in the trash/give to charity.

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  26. Genius, I like this. And somehow I missed your Operation SBAM original post -- so motivating! I'm on temp leave from work to take care of my young one, and it seems like October will *never* roll around. But then I think this could be prime time to really get some personal work done! I'll start with this Project 333, yea!

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play nice.