Project 333 – First Round!

My 33 items.

This summer I’m joining in with Courtney Carver’s inspiring Project 333 (or, live for 3 months, with 33 items of clothing).

My wardrobe: from stuffed to zen

In the last 5 years I’ve had two children.  After the birth of my second son, nearly three years ago, my wardrobe had reached crisis point.

At its worst, I had an extensive collection of pre-kids going-out clothes, smart work clothes, more casual work clothes, next-size up clothes (for the early months of pregnancy when maternity clothes didn’t work), maternity clothes (my own, and friends’ kind donations), and then post-pregnancy clothes – I put on 3 stone with my first child and nothing in my wardrobe fitted me after I’d had him. Over the next year I lost most of the weight and then got pregnant again. Clothes burst out of my wardrobe in sizes from 8 to 16.

Once I’d had my second son, I knew something had to give (or my wardrobe would). In one fell swoop I donated almost everything that didn’t fit me to charity. Then I donated and returned all the maternity clothes I’d worn. That still left a huge collection of stuff.

In a final massive purge of my wardrobe last year, detailed in Part 1, Part 2, Part 3Part 4 and here, I reduced my wardrobe to 131 items, including accessories, underwear, nightwear and sportswear.

And that’s how I’ve lived for the last year.

Reducing an already minimal wardrobe

Having less clothes has been brilliant. For starters, I can see everything in one go. And I don’t have to rake through piles of stuff in drawers to find a cardigan that’s so creased I then decide not to wear it.

But, a few extra things have crept in over the last year. I bought a handful of items, and I also found a box right at the back of the loft a while back that was full of clothes, which I added to my wardrobe to be dealt with later (I hate having stuff boxed up – keeping like with like is my favourite way of storing everything).

So I probably had closer to 200 items all in before starting this.

However, the challenge doesn’t include nightwear, underwear or sportswear, so cutting back to 33 hasn’t been too difficult.

I started with about 60 pieces of clothing hanging in the wardrobe and 15 pairs of shoes.

How I chose my capsule wardrobe

First I removed everything that I hadn’t worn in the last year. That was probably half of it. Then I took away some things that I didn’t really like, but occassionally wore them anyway. Then I finished off by removing several wintery items that I (hopefully!) won’t need before the end of September.

My 333 Wardrobe

This is what I ended up with:

  • 6 sleeveless tops
  • 8 t-shirts
  • 2 long-sleeved t-shirts
  • 3 jumpers
  • 1 shirt
  • 3 pairs jeans
  • 1 pair black trousers
  • 1 pair boots
  • 1 pair sandals
  • 3 pairs flats
  • 2 bags
  • 1 belt
  • 1 rain jacket


Are my clothes going to last 3 months??

On Courtney’s rules page, she does state that things should be in a good state of repair and able to last the course.


The thing is, I tend to wear my clothes until they are threadbare – literally. And since I’ve only bought a few things in an already small wardrobe over the last 12 months, you can imagine that most of my clothes have already seen better days.

So, I have chucked away a few things that I was still wearing (decrepit old flip flops, ancient t-shirts, and jeans threatening to rip open across the bum), and decided that if this 3 months results in having to replace a few items, I’m OK with that.

love the idea of using up and wearing out our things – even our best things. Nothing in life should be saved only for ultra special occasions – every day you live and breath is a special occassion!

(Hmm, I can feel a post about that coming on.)


So, for starters, I clearly don’t have enough bottoms. I only have 4 pairs of trousers that fit me properly (and one of those is questionable). If anything wears out, I will be putting trousers back in 🙂

Secondly, a LOT of my clothes, as I said above, are really worn out already – so I may actually have to go shopping (shock!).

Thirdly, I can already see lots of combinations I wouldn’t normally have chosen, simply because the options are more limited.

Finally I have become painfully aware of just how bad my sense of style is. It’s not just bad, it’s absent. Maybe the next three months will give me a way of finding a bit more dress-sense, especially because I will be keeping a watch out for how other 333-ers are dressing to make it through the challenge.

So there we have it. 33 items, 3 months, and a wonderfully clear wardrobe 🙂


What Would Happen If You Stripped Your Life Bare?

beach california

Recently, I re-read Dusti Arab’s ebook Conquer The Clutter (now free on Amazon!).

I love her no-crap approach to paring down. She is on the extreme end of minimalism, and you can see that in her writing. She suggests (with few exceptions) that anything you haven’t used in 30 days needs to go.

She really made me think though. In her book, she states that you only really need four things:

  • clothing
  • hygiene items
  • kitchenware
  • a bed

And essentially, she’s right. Assuming you have a roof over your head, those are the bare essentials for living.

For most of us, being this extreme is not practical, or even desirable, but put aside judgement for a moment and think about what it would be like.

Imaging your house bare of everything except those things above.

Aside from the massive space you would suddenly find yourself living in (see also Your House Is Not Too Small), what would happen to your life?

You’d need to do something with your time, so what would you do?

You would probably end up buying things, so what would you buy?

What kind of life would you build if you started all over again?

Would it look anything like what you currently have, or would it be something completely different?

The beauty of this kind of exercise is it temporarily frees us from everything we have and allows us to imagine something completely different.

Who would you be? Would you still be the same without all of your things?

As much as I love the idea of giving away almost everything, I am not yet able to be so ruthless. However, thinking about what I would do with my time and energy if I lived in an almost empty house makes it easier for me to look at my things with fresh eyes and let them go.

You would still end up doing something, even if you had nothing.

So what would you do?

Laundry – A Simple System

My washing baskets. Yep, I really did label them.

We are a family of four, and we have a lot of washing.

My children are 4 and almost 3 at the time of writing, and there are still many days where they require a change of clothes half way through. They also need fresh pyjamas almost every day because they can’t yet keep breakfast confined to the table.

Add to that the hubby’s daily work shirts, towels, tea towels and uncountable pairs of pants and socks… well, you get the picture.

I use a really simple laundry system in our house.

This is how it works:

  1. We probably have less clothes than you would expect. This means keeping on top of the washing is a priority, so it never gets left.
  2. We have three labelled baskets for washing: dark colours, light colours and whites. I never have to pre-sort (I always hated sorting through piles of dirty clothes to make sure that a red sock didn’t go in the white wash – eugh – gone are those days!).
  3. I put a load on most days, first thing in the morning. I check the baskets and take one downstairs with me when I go for breakfast.
  4. Everyone in the house knows where dirty clothes go. Even my 2 year old.
  5. I wash everything at 40°, even the dry cleaning. Generally, I try not to buy clothes that have special instructions. If something doesn’t survive its first wash, it’s not tough enough for our house.
  6. I tumble dry everything on low, or hang it on the line if the weather allows.
  7. As soon as it is dry I fold everything carefully into a basket. Shirts get put on hangers slightly damp. I rarely iron.
  8. Clothes get put away the same day (Hmm. OK. Sometimes that doesn’t quite happen).

That’s it.

I never feel that the washing is a chore or bind. In fact, given the result (fresh clean clothes almost daily), for the effort (a few minutes each day), a part of me actually likes getting it done.

By eliminating all the things I hated (doing all the washing on one day, leaving clothes in bunched up piles to iron later, sorting through heaps of dirty clothes, checking washing instructions), it has turned drudgery into a happy job.

So there you go. Minimalist laundry 😉


My Minimalist Desk – Ten Months On

minimalist desk

I posted about finally getting to a completely clear desk in August 2013. I wanted to do a quick update today.

Some changes:

  • My desk is now upstairs in the spare room (it used to live downstairs, in the conservatory). This works better for us as we tend to use that downstairs space as more of a children’s play area.
  • I have relocated my in-tray to a bookshelf. It keeps my paperwork out of my eye-line when I am writing.
  • We have a house back-up drive running on the right (soon to be relocated), and a small photo printer on the left.

And how have the last ten months been?


Firstly, I love not having my in-tray hanging around in the area where I am working – so much nicer than when I had to look at bits and bobs floating around in there that needed doing.

Secondly, It has been pretty straightforward keeping it this way – especially now that it is upstairs, as I am less likely to use the surface as a dumping ground for letters and paperwork that comes in through the door.

Most of all, I find it so peaceful to sit and work without any visual distractions – just lovely.

Minimalism Isn’t About Deprivation


You may be wondering if minimalism is right for you. Or you may have already dismissed it as something you’d never want to get close to.

But if you’re reading this, I’m willing to bet that a part of you is wondering about it. Wondering if it’s possible to pare things down and not feel somehow… deprived.

Remember this always:

Minimalism isn’t about depriving yourself of anything.

Minimalism doesn’t equal poverty.

Minimalism is not about giving everything away and going to live in a monastery.

Instead, you should look at minimalism as a tool to help you. To prevent and cure overwhelm in all areas of life: work, home, leisure (leisure? what leisure? I hear you cry).

Having less has so many benefits

  • Less stuff to tidy up
  • Easier to clean
  • More space
  • Easier to find things
  • A calmer environment
  • Greater focus
  • Greater clarity
  • Less distraction
  • Easier to prioritise
  • Easier to be spontaneous

I have found that it also spills over into other areas, giving you better control of your money, more relaxation time and even better sleep.

The best thing about it is that you don’t actually have to get rid of anything that you don’t want to. YOU define what your needs are and what you want to keep in your life and your home.

And there is nothing to say that you can’t chose single items of luxury instead of multiple cheaper versions. Have one beautiful watch that goes with everything instead of several cheaper ones. Buy less clothes, but make them better quality.

Minimalism doesn’t have a direct relationship with money, so don’t build a bridge where there isn’t one.

It provides guidelines for a journey that can take you out of stagnation and forward onto achieving goals that you didn’t know you could attain.

In fact, as far as deprivation goes, minimalism can give you the opposite: abundance (hows that for a hippy word?). Clearing the decks not only allows you to appreciate what you do have, but it clears the way for new things (not necessarily physical) to come into your life.

And who would argue with that?

Action points

  • Think about the things that you do not need anymore. What is genuinely never going to be used again – these are the things to start letting go.
  • Think about who you really are. When you define yourself and your values, it becomes easier to know what you do and don’t need in your life.
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