Anyway, I became captivated by the idea of a small, curated wardrobe of quality garments in colors, silhouettes, and fabrics I love the most. Actually my interest in things wardrobe-related goes back further than that. Since I read Overdressed: the shockingly high cost of cheap fashion over a year ago, I have become a much pickier fashion consumer. I am tired of cheap fabrics and shoddy workmanship. I want properly-fitting garments that are a pleasure to wear and last longer than a year or two. Project 333 provided a framework and The Vivienne Files showed me how to select items that work well together.
I began my first Project 333 in the middle of the winter season, using clothes I already owned. Like many people, I worried I would not have enough clothes, or I would have the wrong clothes, or I would get bored with my clothes, but instead I found it a freeing and delightful experience to step into my closet and select what I wanted to wear each day. I was eager to set up my Spring, 2014 Project 333 collection for April-June. I identified a few holes in my wardrobe and filled those easily enough. When I put together my Summer, 2014 collection, I found I had many more holes. Almost everything was worn out or didn’t fit.
During these months I found myself adding other fashion advice blogs to my breakfast feedly-reading session. I got brand recommendations and style tips, and when Boden had a good sale with free shipping and free returns in early summer, I was ready to order a bunch of items to try. I was nervous to be ordering so much, knowing most or all of it would be going back. I even phoned the company to make sure they did not mind. They reassured me that they understood I would have to try a variety of styles and sizes. (They have no stores in the US.) I called it research, and it was. It occurred to me that while I was at it I should get some things from some other companies so I could compare. LL Bean always has free shipping and offers free returns to its LL Bean credit card customers. I got their credit card just for that perk and ordered from them, too. I also tried several things from Lands’ End (you can simply return unwanted merchandise to any Sears for no cost), but their quality has diminished considerably over the last few years, and I was disappointed with most of what I received from them.
After trying on all of the possibilities, making lots of notes about what worked and what did not, and analyzing my actual needs, my new-found choosiness and our budget made it relatively easy to ship nearly everything back to the companies. I believe I kept only five out of about 50 items. I felt amazed at myself for ordering so much, for spending the time to figure everything out, and for successfully getting it all sent back to the right places!
It was fun to shop, really fun, but it was over.
Except it wasn’t over. I stayed in the groove of reading fashion blogs, perusing online stores, and adding items to “my” wish lists and shopping bags. I did not spend any money, but I spent plenty of time thinking about my wardrobe. By late August, I was thinking of what I would be wearing in Autumn, 2014 and Winter, 2015. Over the last several months I had decided I wanted to stop using black as my go-to neutral and switch to navy and grey. It is the perfect time to make the change because I still need new pants and some other basics, and this is the year for both of those colors so there are lots of possibilities in the market.
I waited for the Autumn Boden and LL Bean sales and restarted my research, plus I branched out into J. Jill, Nordstrom, Ebay, and thrift stores. This time I have been shopping with xmas money “in hand.” My family is very practical about presents and I know I can spend a certain amount and get my gifts early and according to my desires. If I want to I can ask Mom to wrap some of it and then in late December “I’ll be so surprised!” when I open them — a thing we say about gifts we choose ourselves or already know about — but I think I’m old enough by now to just enjoy them all through Autumn and be pleased for all the good they’ve already done for me when others are opening gifts. As you read, I am just waiting for a couple of straggler shipments — alternate sizes, mostly — to arrive, and then I’ll make my final selections. I have already been wearing a few items I know are absolute keepers; right now I am sitting here in my living room wearing an ebay-find pair of terrific shoes.
I have gone about this process in the way I go about any new project — with lots of musing, tables in Word (They’d be in Excel if I knew how to design them — must learn that soon!), and certainly too much of my time. Where most women find Project 333 to be a simplification tool, I have managed to take it from simple to complex. If you are looking for guilt and repentance from me, though, I am not sure I have any to offer. I do feel some chagrin, but I also know I have enjoyed delving into an area of my life that usually doesn’t get too much attention. I have learned a lot, and while I’m not certain anybody besides my daughter and my mom will notice any real difference in my appearance, I am walking with a new bounce in my step that I think comes from more than my new-old shoes.
What about you? Do you like to shop? Do you research before you buy? Do you wish to simplify your wardrobe? Does Project 333 appeal to you?