Project 333 Update to Life is Short, Wear a Dress!

It’s about mid-way in my Project 333 experiment, and a definite pattern has developed. As a starting point, I decided to try the recommended 33 items. But it turned out that I only wear 2 outfits per week, with very few accessories. I have quickly slipped back into a dress version of jeans and t-shirts.

I realized that the core of this problem was the way my closet was organized. Like most people, I organize my wardrobe by garment type, weight, and color. My closet looks like a miniature version of a clothing boutique, designed more for browsing than speed dressing.

However, I don’t live in a boutique. I spend about 5 minutes in the morning picking out my clothes and dressing for the day, hoping to do so without interruption from various needy family members or phone calls. Taking the time to pick various individual garments and match them up requires more time than I allot each day. Thus, I grab the same 2 outfits each week from the clean laundry because it is less work than sifting through my “boutique wardrobe”. This may sound like laziness on my part. But, in reality it reflects a profound lack of organization around the real needs of people. So, I decided to radically reorganize my wardrobe around the reality of my life.

I started with a core clothing concept, in this case a dress, and then added underpinnings like underwear, tights, and slips. I also added over-pinnings like cardigans, shoes, and accessories. Finally, I hung all these items together on one hanger, or 2 joined hangers, so that everything I needed to get dressed for the day was together in one convenient place. All other clothes were hung in an adjoining room to swap out garments as needed for weather changes or social occasions. As the laundry is completed, the garments go back onto their respective hangers along with related under and over-pinnings. It’s as quick and easy to get dressed as before, with more variety.

This core concept can be applied to separates as well. Just treat the top and bottom like one contiguous unit, and build the outfit from there. If your separates are the same color and style, this will be brain-dead simple for you. Just add matching over-pinnings for a monochromatic look, or complementary or contrasting colors for added interest. If your separates are different colors, match the styles and keep the over-pinnings to one color. Outerwear can also be stored this way. I wrap scarves around the top of the hanger, and stuff gloves and hats into the pockets.

Organizing my wardrobe in this way allows me to get more mileage out of the clothing I currently own, and seems to be helping to relieve the feeling of insufficiency that predisposes me to shopping sales in search of another garment I think I might need. Choosing core garments in the same neutral colors and classic styles can also give me more uses per garment as I can adapt them to changing weather and social occasions.

Finally, here are some tips from my Project 333 experiment thus far:

  • Changing accessories is cheaper and faster than changing an entire outfit.
  • Hang slips and tights with dresses and skirts for speedier mornings.
  • Avoid fabrics that require ironing or dry cleaning.
  • Wear an apron while eating or performing messy tasks to reduce laundry loads.
  • Airing out an outfit overnight refreshes it for wear again the next day.

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