Minimalist Style | Wardrobe Update & Project 333


I stand in my closet nearly every morning and thumb through my clothes. My office is casual and tends to be pretty cold. I need something warm. And comfy because I’ll be sitting all day. I have a handful of jeans and a pair of black ankle pants. A solid foundation. But then comes my top half. My trusty striped top. A few long sleeves that I should transition out for the season.  A smattering of shell blouses. A t-shirt that’s a little too casual for my taste. And a boldly printed green silk blouse that needs to be ironed rounds out the collection.

For warmth, I have a few cardigans in the rotation. Two grey, one black, one navy, and one yellow print. This is actually a replacement black sweater because I wore holes that couldn’t be darned into my old one. I also have a navy and a black blazer to add a little variety, and though while versatile, they feel a bit too stuffy in an office full of fun and interesting twenty- and thirty-somethings.

Turn to your left and you’ll see my extensive dress collection. Two long sleeves, one short sleeve, three cap sleeve, entirely too many shift dresses, and a few strappy numbers to finish the collection. Most of them need to have the wrinkles steamed out of them after being packed away from the winter. A lot of them look great when standing, but are impossible to breathe in when sitting. Another few look great when I’m a few pounds lighter while others can transition through the poundage up and downs. I stare at them and think I should get rid of a few. But I don’t. And then I remember I would have a lot less trouble getting dressed if I actually took the time to get the wrinkles out. Turn a little farther and you’ll see the three skirts I have, two that need to be ironed. Navy, black, and grey.

It doesn’t sound like a lot and it really isn’t compared to the average wardrobe. But still I find that I’m in this flux between having too many choices—many of which I’m not completely satisfied with—and too few. I’m used to never wearing the same thing twice, let alone wearing the same thing within a two week time span. I worry what my coworkers must think about me. I worry that they think I’m not stylish enough. Or worse, that I’m not clean because I obviously couldn’t have done laundry in a two week time span that would mean my clothes have been washed.

As these anxieties scurry through my mind, I see them for what they are. Irrational. I obviously know I’m clean and most days I’m pretty stylish, even if it is in an understated way. Curbing my impulse shopping hasn’t been easy.  My retail therapy urges are still strong and having to think of new outfit combinations can be hard. I’ve banned myself from looking at my favorite retailers’ emails. I don’t scroll through the Women’s Fashion section on Pinterest.

Project 333

In an effort to really work toward a capsule wardrobe, I decided to participate in Project 333. Essentially the rules are you wear 33 items for 3 months. Some obvious things are excluded like undergarments and workout clothes, but overall, you have to rely on 33 key items, ranging from shoes to outerwear. I haven’t gotten rid of any of my excess clothing so far; instead, I just moved what remained into an empty closet. I’m three days into the project and have somewhere around 33 pieces—I’ve changed my mind on what to include a few times. Here’s what I have for the moment:

  1. Striped long sleeve top
  2. Black ankle pants
  3. Black cardigan
  4. Navy cardigan
  5. Navy/metallic thread pencil skirt
  6. "Celfie" t-shirt
  7. Navy cardigan
  8. Green dress
  9. Grey cardigan
  10. Green utility tank
  11. Navy blazer
  12. Floral shell
  13. Long sleeve black dress
  14. Black & white wrap dress
  15. Short sleeve blue dress
  16. Black and white polka dot blouse
  17. Black blazer
  18. Black t-shirt
  19. Black boots
  20. Black flats
  21. Rose gold sandals
  22. Black heels
  23. Kate Spade butterfly bag
  24. Black statement belt
  25. Black Longchamp
  26. Ankle Jeans
  27. Comfy jeans
  28. Skinny Jeans
  29. Trench coat
  30. Silver dollar earrings
  31. Filigree earrings
  32. Blue stone studs
  33. Diamond studs

I’m planning on trying this for at least a month, acknowledging that I might not make it through the entire 3 right off the bat. I may also switch out some pieces as the weather gets warmer (and hopefully my office warms up too). During this first week, it’s been great. I was able to plan my outfits out for the entire week and put together some looks that were a little out of my comfort zone. It’s a process and not an easy one, but admittedly not having a choice is usually the easiest choice to make. 

Photo by Ellen Borza

Styled WellSarah Walsh