For most of my life I’ve always considered myself to be a person of few clothes. I’ve often complained about the dearth of clothes I own, especially when compared to the overflowing closets of many of my friends. Many hours of my life life have been occupied deciding on an outfit and depositing my entire closet on the bedroom floor. I always blamed my supposed lack of clothes on why it took me so long to get dressed, but now I realize it’s actually the opposite.
Over the weekend I read a really great article about one woman’s experience wearing the same outfit for an entire year. Even if you have no desire to downsize your closet, I’d recommend reading it. My biggest takeaway from her experience is that our clothing does not define us. When people are not distracted by our clothes, they pay attention to what we have to say, for what we stand for. Clothes, just like objects, are another thing to hide behind, a way to reinvent ourselves.
These thoughts led me to revisit Project 333, which I had read about before but disregarded as something that wasn’t for me. Suddenly though, I had a completely different frame of mind. I was determined to try it and really analyze my closet for what it was.
Saturday night I began to purge my closet. I really analyzed every piece of clothing and anything that I even slightly disliked was put in the resale/donation bin. Clothes that didn’t fit properly, formal dresses I was saving for that one special occasion, the excess of hoodies, socks, underwear: it all got purged. I got more and more brave with every item I put away. By the time I was done more than 90 items of clothing were off the hangers and out of the drawers of my closet. At the end of the night there were actually more clothes in the donation bin than in my closet. More than half of my stuff. Done.
When I was going through all that clothing, I realized that I was holding on to so many items that just didn’t fit my life anymore. Anyone who knew or saw me often in college would know that my uniform was grungy combat boots and mini skirts. It was “my thing” and I didn’t want to get rid of items that were part of my identity*. It was also very apparent to me that my closet was not at all cohesive. Have you ever noticed when someone buys you clothes they push their own style onto whatever they’re buying you? Well at least half of my clothes were actually gifts from a variety of people, combined with clothes I’ve had since high school and impulse buys. I had everything from high tech outdoor gear to high waisted leggings and ridiculous knitwear. No wonder I was taking so long to get dressed in the morning.
So I’ve started to create a much more functional and minimalist closet based on a lot less items. Because all my clothes were so inconsistent, I’ve also decided to buy some new clothes. M called me out on this, since I recently blogged about how reinventing yourself by buying new things defeats the purpose of purging your belongings. To not be a hypocrite, I’m only buying ‘new’ clothes secondhand that I know I’ll be wearing for a long time. I even have a list of what I specifically want just so I don’t make any impulse buys at the store.
I’ll be sharing more of this Project 333 journey as I go on. Although I have a set of 33 items, I’m going to be lenient on myself since I’ve never actually experienced a Minnesotan winter and will probably need to relearn how to dress myself! Besides my need to purchase some snow boots, I think I’ll be fine.
Have you participated in Project 333 or think it's something you'd like to try?
*Feminist side note: I also have changed my dress because I work at a middle school and it is NOT allowed for me to dress like normally would. Although I understand looking professional and put together, dress codes piss me off to no end. They are sexist beyond belief, and in my opinion the TRUE source of victim blaming and rape culture: taught to us when we're nice and young! It annoys me that professional automatically means 'cover up all your skin if you're a woman' and that people will risk thinking I am being a 'bad influence' or provocative around adolescent boys who 'can't control themselves.' I would talk more but I'm making myself mad and I'd rather not. Hrrumph.