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 😉

 

Selling Versus Donating Your Things

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When I first started getting rid of stuff, I had a preference for selling over donating. Why give something away that could make me some cash?

Partly this was because I was unemployed and living with my Dad, but also it was because I still had a very strong attachment to my things and I needed to somehow feel that I was getting compensation for getting rid of them.

Selling things however – as anyone who’s ever done it will know – takes quite a lot of time. Whether it’s a card in the newsagent’s window, a listing on eBay or the rumour mill of family and friends, there is a big time investment. Descriptions, photos, thinking about pricing, and then collection or packaging up the item to send, or even dropping to someone else’s house… it all adds up.

As time went by I found I would hoard things to sell.

Because my primary method was eBay, I’d end up with piles of things in the corner of a room that needed listing. That pile would grow and grow and it would be in the way and clutter up the floor. It would turn into an annoyance.

Of course, I was always grateful for the cash that I got back.

Once I had children though, selling things became even more of an inconvenience. Not only did I seem to have negative time once my first baby came along, but said baby also enjoyed rummaging around among my selling-pile in the hope of finding a tasty morsel to put in his mouth.

Eventually, on maternity leave, I sat down and thought realistically about the time it took me to photo, list, wrap and post each item (with a baby in tow) and I realised it was working out to less than minimum wage for low value items.

And there was one other big realisation:

As long as I was spending all my free time trying to sell things, I wasn’t spending my free time achieving anything else.

So I stopped. I decided that unless the value of the item secondhand was upwards of £30, or the item itself was particularly unusual (and thus might be appreciated by someone with an interest in that sort of thing), the best option was to just donate it.

Once I started doing this, I discovered something else.

I got a sense of something good from giving things away that I could have made money on. 

A lot of things I bagged up and took to charity shops. It felt good to know for example, that I was giving away decent clothes that I hadn’t really worn for one reason or another. Someone, somewhere, would get a great item at a second-hand price.

But the best feeling came from the things I freecycled. Freecycling is one of THE fastest ways to get rid of stuff you no longer need.

You list the item on the site and within an hour or so you hear from a couple of people who can come and collect it, usually that day.

I have never used Freecycle other than to list our items, but I’ve heard rumours that a lot of the stuff on there is barely in a usable condition. Stinky old sofas and broken furniture can end up being advertised just so that the owners don’t have to take them to the tip.

I don’t know accurate that is, but when I Freecycled our things, people came to our house to collect them and they were so genuinely grateful. We gave a large fridge freezer away to a couple who were so astonished, they seemed hesitant to take it because they thought it wouldn’t work when they got it home.

We gave away items of furniture that were well looked after but we had decided we simply didn’t have room for. I passed on a £200 fish tank and stand. Each time someone came to collect, they were so happy.

It was a great feeling.

And it saved so much time.

Which meant we were moving faster towards our goal of having a house with much less. A more streamlined and less cluttered existence. And that was worth more to me than the money that we could have got for the item.

Now, I wouldn’t recommend that you give away your car, but if you just bag up all those unworn clothes and donate them, wouldn’t it feel good to know that someone out there would benefit?

I think so.

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.

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

loft

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