capsule wardrobe thoughts, project 333 & more

January 17, 2018

On yesterday’s podcast episode (#24), Laura and I discussed clothing and wardrobe selection.   We had the opportunity to interview Courtney Carver, a leader in the minimalism sphere best known for her wardrobe strategy, Project 333.  In essence, she recommends limiting the number of in-rotation clothing items to 33 — and that includes shoes, bags, and other accessories (jewelry & sunglasses).

I’ll admit it — I have been intrigued by this project for some time, but was always intimidated by the specificity of the number.  Why . . . 33?  I’ve been much more inclined to follow the Kondo way:  if it currently sparks joy it stays, and if it doesn’t — thank you and goodbye.

However, there is something to be said for Courtney’s idea of having some items officially out in circulation (33?  or more, or less; she essentially admitted the number is not necessarily right for all!) and others packed out of sight.  Currently, I have a number of pieces that DO spark joy, but they don’t actually fit.  Or perhaps ‘fit’ isn’t the right word — I can get them on, but they don’t look good.  While I am not far from my pre-preg weight, I have plateaued at a few lbs over (and since breastfeeding makes me STARVING all the time, I don’t see the number dropping any time soon) and my body is definitely not back to ‘normal’.  I’m actually much more patient this time, having gone through two rounds of this before and finally understanding that YES, things will shift eventually, but it takes time (and often I don’t completely ‘deflate’ in certain areas until weaning, which is months away — hopefully even a year!).

Anyway.  So given my current situation, strict Kondo-ing doesn’t quite work as well as it usually does.  There are items that do not spark joy now because I cannot wear them, but they are worth keeping because in this particular scenario, there really is a good chance I will want to wear them in the future.  I am NOT a clothing pack rat — I will show you in pictures below — but still, the number of items definitely exceeds 33.

I’ve played with the idea of a sort-of-capsule before, inspired by Caroline of un-fancy (currently on hiatus; come back Caroline!).  But I never got all official about it with any physical demarkation of which clothes were in rotation and which were not.  It seems like now is the time to try it!

Clothing currently in circulation:

hanging: tops + dresses
my only drawer (excluding workout / loungewear / sleepwear / underwear):
jeans, shorts, sweaters, tees

Daily uniform – skinny jeans of some kind (4 options), button down shirt (1) or t-shirts (6, including 2 long-sleeved) OR empire-waist tunic with leggings (2 tunics, 1 leggings)
Alternatives – shorts (2), sweaters (2)
Dressing up – nicer tops (about 8 options) (with jeans) or wrap dress (3)
Shoes – sandals OR sneakers OR casual platforms OR short boots (2 pairs) = 5
Accessories – rose-colored Lotuff purse, black diaper backpack bag, my Chanel sunglasses (birthday gift purchased with a gift card in 2016 and worn constantly since then — example of a splurge that definitely was worth it!), one pair earrings, one necklace

Total = 39

Assessment: close enough.  I could certainly pare down the tees or tops more, but this seems like a reasonable and manageable assortment.  I wish I had more button downs/easy nursing access outfits, but I don’t feel like purchasing things just for this short time, so I’ll just lift up my t-shirts and tunics and/or use covers in public!   I would definitely need more work-appropriate items if I were currently working.  (That said, once I am back at work I won’t need so many jeans + tees!).

The only thing missing is a pair of black skinny jeans (such a versatile item!) because my go-to pair doesn’t really fit well yet.  I am thinking of ordering an interim pair (a size up from usual) of these on Ana‘s recommendation.

I don’t have any special occasion wear on this list — nothing really works now anyway, so it was easy to leave out.  We actually do have a big family wedding this coming weekend and I decided to Rent the Runway rather than invest in anything.  Hopefully my chosen piece will work out!

Clothing in hibernation for future capsules:

everything in this clear box sparks joy but nothing actually fits
(box above it contains extra sheets/blanket)
((yes it has actually been cold enough to wear the slippers on the left!))

In the box –>
Work pants
Tops that do not accommodate current chest or are too fitted
Dresses that don’t currently fit / flatter
Other bottoms / shorts / skirts that don’t currently fit

While Project 333 uses 3-month windows for each capsule, I’m going to use my Quintiles (for further explanation see this post) as they seem like more natural/logical divisions for me this year.  Notably, climate doesn’t come into play much here, but there’s definitely a ~4 month “winter” (Nov – March) where one can wear sweaters for layering at times, and we’re in it now.   The rest of the year is basically just hot & hotter.

Favorite brands / stores:
Over time I have noticed that items from these stores/brands tends to stick around:

– Madewell
– AG Jeans
– Boden (especially work clothes)
– Anthropologie IF I do NOT look at the sale section or price tags and instead only buy pieces that . . . truly spark joy
– Nordstrom Trunk Club (example haul here) especially for work items
– Camper shoes

Exceptions to capsule:
I recently went through loungewear / underwear / pajamas / workout-wear, #konmari-style, but I don’t consider these a ‘capsule’.  That said, I am very happy with my culled-down collections.  I do eventually want to get a few more lounge pieces for warmer weather, but I’ll wait until spring!

Interestingly, going through this process has not made me want to shop at all.  I may feel differently when I am back to ‘normal’ though, I guess.

Thoughts?  Has anyone tried a capsule approach?  Does 33 sound like a reasonable number to you?  Are there specific brands/stores you swear by?  Kids clothes are another fun topic – to be addressed in a future post!

capsulation process