Project 333 – First Round!

project333Jul14
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

wardrobe333

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.

Hmm.

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.)

Expectations

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 🙂

shoerack

Laundry – A Simple System

laundry
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?

Fantastic.

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.

The Loft Is Done

loft2

I have cleared out the loft, hurrah!

The loft now contains:

  • suitcases
  • christmas stuff
  • empty boxes for more expensive in-use items (we always save these in case we sell the item at a later date)
  • a collection of baby things
  • some framed photos (I have a photo wall project planned at some point)
  • my sewing machine
  • some of Mr Tech’s bits and bobs
  • a box of our wedding memorabilia
  • tax paperwork
  • the pedestal for the bathroom sink (long story. the bathroom has been half-finished for about 6 years)

Hmm. Actually, that’s still quite a long list, but considering how much space we have up there it doesn’t feel cluttered at all.

Everything is stacked neatly and labelled where necessary, and it feels AMAZING.

It hasn’t been this clear and tidy at any point in the entire 7 years we have lived here.

The weird thing is, I can’t even see it when I’m just pottering around the house, but I feel SO much better for knowing that it’s done.

Hidden clutter is maybe the most emotionally draining of all.

loft1

Just for comparison, here’s how it looked when I started:

loft

Loft Clearout Update

Well, it definitely has to get worse before it gets better!

Clearing out the loft really has been a bit of a Pandora’s Box.

I took Boy1’s cot out of the loft this morning, along with all the toys I’d shoved up there previously. This of course means that the house is *temporarily* more full of stuff than ever.

I’ve also cleaned off the old baby gates that were in the garage and dusted down the double buggy (my boys are 21 months apart, so it got good use. I had planned a third before Boy2 was out of it, but, well, you know).

It feels great to be letting these big items go.

I have an evening on eBay planned tonight, which will help pay off the overdraft, and the loft is looking like it did before we had children. I am feeling strangely excited about it finally being empty of things I need to deal with. I’m even thinking of going through the baby items again just to make sure I’m only keeping those things I love.

There’s something symbolic about the space over our heads being free of things that clutter up our minds.

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