There has certainly been a shift in the cultural zeitgeist these past few years – Marie Kondo is taking over the internet with her decluttering advice, tiny houses are rising in popularity, and capsule wardrobes are in.
I have been increasingly more interested in minimalism, fewer possessions, buying less stuff, and living more simply for a while now. But ideas are not always easy to put into practice, especially when you have bad habits embedded into your behaviour.
As a teenager, I shopped for the bulk of my clothes from a catalogue (hey, no judging, it was cool – sort of) but as I wore a uniform for school, clothes didn’t matter so much to me. They were just comfier things I could change into after a day of polyester shirts and Schrödinger’s tights that rode up and fell down simultaneously.
When I finally had to dress myself 24 hours a day (and pay for my own clothes) my buying habits became vastly more erratic. The questions I would ask myself when shopping were “is this cheap enough to justify to myself?” and “do I like it?” not “does this fit with the rest of my things?” or “will I wear this often?”. I’ve never been a shopaholic per se, but I have used shopping as a means to perk myself up, so my clothes throughout my 20s have been a mishmash of whatever random things I liked that day, what was in the sale/cheap, and what I could find that would fit my shape (fat legs, small waist = no trousers will ever fit you). Putting on weight didn’t help, and I found it harder to find things that I thought made me look good… so I pretty much gave up.
Losing some weight has been a big motivator for me to start re evaluating my wardrobe, because I was sick of investing so much energy in deciding what to wear, sick of wasting money on bad purchases, and sick of looking like a fabric shop vomited on me.
I came across Project 333 and the idea fascinated me, so I decided that along with culling my wardrobe in general, I would start planning out a capsule wardrobe for 3 months (roughly March – May, but starting from whenever Spring finally springs). The idea is that for 3 months you wear only 33 items. This includes tops, bottoms, dresses, outerwear, and shoes. Of course you can set any rules you want and the number 33 is totally arbitrary.
Having decided to give it a go for Spring/Summer, I got rid of anything that didn’t fit (quite a large amount now) and anything that I didn’t really like any more.
I ended up with around 40 items, which was great! Until I actually looked more closely and tried to make outfits with the items.
As you can see there are patterns and colours all over the place, none of which really go with each other. This is what happens when I just pick out stuff I like without thinking about what it will go with. Lesson learned.
Showing this to a couple of friends who I consider quite stylish helped me identify the gaps, which were primarily plain and neutral tops. And the shoe situation was also a bit sad…
So I ordered a few different plain tees and a cardigan from Uniqlo. Stuff from there tends to last pretty well considering the price.
I also went shoe shopping, which is one of my least favourite things in the world. I have flat, narrow and shallow feet. Dainty little footsies and chicken ankles. Literally nothing is comfortable, and having to get the assistant to go back to the storeroom again and again raises my stress levels like nothing else.
But I did it, and ended up coming home with two (!) new pairs of boots. So I spent about €200 in total for the season (for two pairs of boots, 2 tank tops, 3 t-shirts and 1 cardigan) but in theory I shouldn’t have to buy anything else until summer arrives.
I also realised that I was making things too difficult for myself by trying to do a combined Spring and Summer capsule. So I put aside the things I won’t need until actual summer, and focussed on the slightly less exciting prospect of clothes for temperatures between 14-20C (for people who work in Fahrenheit that’s roughly in the 60s).
Once I’d bought the basics, got the right boots, and got rid of the warm weather stuff, things started to come together.
(Not shown: my black leather jacket and 2 pairs of Toms. I may also carry a pair of black skinny jeans over from winter, but I’ll see how it goes first)
It’s not perfect by any means (and at 39 items, it’s a little larger than Project 333 called for) but I think once Spring comes and I start wearing the items I will be able to see what is working and what isn’t working.
However, consider my reasons for doing this in the first place:
- Spend my money more efficiently
- Have clothes that go with other things I own
- Be able to get dressed with more ease and less agonising
- Look more put together
- Own less stuff, and be a more responsible consumer
I feel like I’ve achieved what I set out to do, even if there are still improvements to be made.
My next step will be to look at my accessories (scarves, jewellery, belts, bags) and purge the excess, although I have never been a massive accessory shopper, the things I have don’t necessarily match with my clothes.
So hopefully I’ll report back in the summer and tell you how it went!