Can I Dress With Only 33 Items for 3 Months?

“You cannot overestimate the unimportance of practically everything.” 
― Greg McKeown, Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less


I am on a journey to simplify my life so that I may focus most on important things. The way of the essentialist, as described by the brilliant Greg McKeown, is not in seeing this in terms of the negative (what do I get rid of?), but in the positive (what do I really want to go big on?). This applies in a powerful way to business, and also to our social and personal lives.


In the latest installment of my journey, I am exploring how this applies to my closet. I have already minimized my clothing a lot in the last 2 years, but recently I've been feeling overwhelmed by my closet (in some ways it's more difficult having a big closet than living out of a backpack). I love to experiment with clothes, so what ends up happening is that with so many items to choose from it takes way too long to get dressed. I wind up wearing ill fitting or poor quality items sometimes, and some of my fave items don't get worn enough. I have tried many times to go over every item and ask 'do I want to get rid of this?' and haven't been very successful. 


So, I've asked myself a different question: what do I want to go big on? 


Answer: I want to go big on looking great and feeling comfortable every single day (with a bonus of spending less time getting dressed so that I may prioritize other things)


In an effort to 'go big' and live with more joy and less overwhelm, I am trying out Project 333.


I will challenge myself to dress with 33 items for the next 3 months. The goal is to acquire and use clothing and accessories more intentionally, and to alleviate the stress of too many options. Long-term, I would like to save money by buying few high-quality items that fit seamlessly into my style. 


The details:


What is Project 333?


Project 333 is a minimalist fashion challenge.

What do I hope to accomplish?


Taking a physical inventory of your life is eye opening, and it helps you get rid of unnecessary items so you can appreciate what you do have.
—The Minimalists


 By trying out this challenge, I would like to:


  • Find out if I will be happier with a smaller wardrobe (setting the stage for a general wardrobe reduction later to reduce clutter)
  • Get more wear out of my favorite items
  • Refine my personal style
  • Be less overwhelmed by laundry piling up
  • Not feel overwhelmed looking at my closet and choosing what to wear in the morning
  • Be more sustainable: invest in fewer, high quality pieces (+ save money)
  • Have more time, and less stress


Rules are made to broken


Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.
-Albert Einstein


I believe that with minimalism, essentialism, or any other life philosophy really, it’s important to make it work for you. This challenge in particular is not about suffering, but about joy. Keeping that in mind I have broken a couple rules:


  • I live in the snow capital of the United States. Literally. Syracuse is the snowiest major city in the country averaging 123 inches per year. While this challenge can be done in any condition, I felt a little unnecessary stress about trying this for the first time in these conditions. So I gave myself a freebie for a pair of gloves and an extra heavy coat (a beautiful Spanish shearling from a vintage market)
  • It’s Christmas and New Year time so I gave myself another freebie for an all-over silver sequin sparkle sweater to wear just for holiday parties
  • I am going to Mexico to see my in-laws for Christmas for 10 days, a drastic weather shift. I have thought carefully about how to make my capsule work for this. To bring it all together, I will pack a navy soft pant just for the trip


My new wardrobe


  • 2 handbags: 1 leather and 1 casual
  • 4 shoes: 1 pair of sneakers, 2 leather boots, 1 casual boot
  • 3 coats: light, mid and heavy weight (see: Syracuse winter)
  • 1 pair of leather gloves
  • 3 dresses
  • 1 necklace
  • 2 fleeces: 1 casual, 1 more dressy
  • 5 button-up shirts: 2 casual, 3 dressy
  • 5 tops: 2 t-shirts, 1 long sleeve, 1 camisole, 1 velvet short sleeve
  • 5 sweaters
  • 2 skirts
  • 2 jeans
  • 1 legging


What do you think of Project 333?

If you would like to take the challenge as well, leave a comment below.