My closet was oppressive! Throughout the year I would carefully go through it, I would purge, swap wire hangers out for pretty felt lined ones and organize everything from light to dark within their categories, i.e. pants, shirts, sleeveless shirts, etc., and stow the off-season items. And yet, I would find myself stacking my clothes on a chair or delaying putting away freshly laundered items.
It just felt stuffy, overwhelming – like a basement filled with things one no longer used.
A couple of years ago I was inspired by the minimalists (Ryan Nicodemus and Joshua Fields Millburn) who mentioned that during their speaking tours, some of the best dressed people in the crowd were following the 333 wardrobe challenge by Courtney Carver (www.bemorewithless.com). People doing this strive to wear only 33 pieces for 3 months. Wow, I was impressed, amazed really – and dismissed the challenge with “how could an interior designer reflect the necessary image and be so limited.”
Today, the Minimalists have a podcast of which I eagerly consume as soon as each one is released. And now, I’m ready. Baby steps, though. I disobeyed the 333 rules and reached out to Ann and Holly at AH Collection for help and inspiration. I knew that this would fuel a sense of deprivation and frustration if I had to choose only from my boring winter wardrobe of grey and black drab for the spring transition – a time during which I had always struggled with what to wear.
I was paired up with Mary Ellis at AH Collection and she expertly assessed my needs, personality and style. “No Boho,” I said. “I can’t pull off lace, and yes, I like patterns, but I’m timid at picking them out for myself.” I often remarked “that’s not something I would pick out, but I will give it a try.” Many of the basics I had – so augmentation with some sassy, stylish items and jackets to layer were essential (see the video of how she put it all together).
Dutifully, I followed the order from the 333 challenge to completely empty the closet and sort items by season, donate, throw away, etc. Then I wiped the shelves and rods down and vacuumed the floor and baseboards. I was flooded with the knowing that this was what I’d been wanting.
First, I placed the 33 items in with a glorious amount of space between the hangers. Then the yoga clothes went in one section and the tennis and golf in another. No, I do not golf, but intend to take it up this summer. Adjacent to that, I bundled items that are likely candidates for the summer’s 33 in a hanging canvas storage bag. Gleefully, I photographed my initial outfits to send to the wonderful ladies at AH Collection.
And how am I doing a month into it? I love it! I am far more intentional with adding pops of color with scarves and jewelry. I feel better presented, and can get dressed rapidly. However, I feel even more annoyed at the fickle, cold rainy Indiana weather as I note that I only have one sweater – with a very loose knit. It’s boxy and fun – but not very warm. Next time – maybe two sweaters! Yesterday, I marveled that I had a combination on that I had not yet worn together.
When the daily onslaught of catalogues comes, I just walk them directly to recycle. I avoid clothing stores and easily dump online shopping emails. I am amazed at what a simple commitment has done to clearly instill my goal of living more intentionally with less. When I get compliments on my clothes, I share what I’m doing and note reactions with amusement. They vary from “Wow, I could never do that,” to “Awesome! What is that website?” Who knows how I will feel about my 33 items come June. Will I be ready to burn them? Or will I be ready to part with even more than the 100 or so articles of clothing that I have already released?