WVU shirts

I had to switch out my WVU shirt…am I cheating?  I got an email saying that game time had been announced and they were making it a “gold rush” game  – which means everyone has to wear gold!  I turned in my grey t-shirt for a gold one and can’t wait to cheer the team on!  Otherwise, I haven’t noticed any “constraints” that P333 has put on me.  I still get excited when I see a sparse closet!

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Random Ramblings

Coats:  I love leather coats.  I think that a leather coat is my signature item, as I have worn them every winter since I was able to purchase my first one with saved up Christmas money in…2001?  So that’s over a decade of leather coats!  I am trying to decide if I should part with my black leather coat during “the purge”, as I never wear it – and I have a medium brown leather coat and a red leather coat hanging in the closet.  My leather coat style preference has always been more “moto”, as I like where the coat hits right at my hip, plus the tailoring always flatters me (I think), and I am a big fan of mandarin type collars on myself.

Last year, I was beginning to try to cultivate the “perfect wardrobe” and looked at a lot of “must have” lists.  I went out and bought the proverbial trench coat.  I love how they look on other women – so classy but versatile (and practical in Seattle!).  However, I have no defined waist – my dad called me a 2×4 for years – and I feel like my trench coat must me look boxy and frumpy.  It has hung in the closet for over a year and never been worn.  I believe it will go during “the purge”.  I do have another trench that I like the cut and fabric, but its black and pewter plaid, so it will probably not make the cut either.  I just can’t mix a black coat with brown shoes…call me neurotic.  I have a olive green Anorak, that I ordered right before the shopping hiatus and should be waiting for me when I get home.  My plan is to waterproof it and use it for a three season light jacket.  Speaking of waterproof – I have a greyish brown soft-shell wind/rain jacket and my “parka” is an ivory and the same greyish brown (I think it is called weimaraner – like the dog).  Oh, I also have a denim jacket that I have had for years, but refuse to part with!

Let’s talk shoes.  I have pared down my shoes since beginning this project as well.  Since I am working really hard to purge black from my closet – I realize that I no longer need black footwear to match the black outfits!  I am donating my black heels, black tall boots, and black flats.

My “true” shoe collection includes:  nude pumps, camel pumps, dark brown pumps, medium brown moto boots, metallic gold flats, and orangey brown sandals.  I also wear a couple pair of minimal tennis shoes for casual wear (one is teal and light grey and the other is pink and dark grey).  Additionally, I have a pair of hiking sandals that aren’t the prettiest, but they are very practical!

Mistakes learned from following those every popular “10 Items Every Woman Must Own” type lists.  Those lists do not work for everyone – you have to consider your lifestyle and your personal preferences.  Every list I see suggests a black suit.  I spent a lot of money on black suits and suiting separates.  I have worn NONE of them, as I always reach for my brown suiting separates when the need arises.  Same with a black sheath dress – if you don’t like black or don’t feel your best in black, don’t spend the money on a black sheath dress.  Mine was worn once – to a funeral, and I felt like dear grandma (who was a Color Me Beautiful consultant during the early 1990’s) was shaking her head at the fact that I was wearing black to her funeral, when it is clearly not a good color for me.  I did try to brighten it up with a teal pashmina – and could feel her approval for that.  I decided that my “little black dress” would be the “little brown dress” and pride myself on the fact that I stand out in a room when everyone else is wearing black.  (Same with the brown suit and interviews…I remember interviewing for my current position and I was the only person not wearing a black suit – and one of only two people that were offered the position.  Coincidence?)  The trench coat has already been touched on – but I am not totally ready to abandon that idea, as it would be nice to have a coat that would go with more formal wear.  I am just going to be more selective about which coat I buy and hold out for the perfectly cut trench for my figure.  Maybe something shorter would be more flattering?  The crisp white shirt, again – same as the black article, if you don’t feel your best in crisp white, try to find something softer, like ivory.  However, be warned that it’s difficult to find and I am still searching for a crisp, ivory, button up.

P33 – My Choices

These ramblings are more to keep myself on track, and be able to reference my thought process at a later date, but feel free to take away anything useful from it!

It’s been a little over a week and I am happy to report that I haven’t even noticed that I culled my wardrobe.  This isn’t a shocking revelation for me, as I stated earlier – I usually wear a uniform four days out of the week and change into pajamas or lounge clothing when I get home.  Since I have two slobbery fur factories, it’s just in my clothes’ best interest to remove them for something more forgiving, like a set of flannel pjs.

So, let’s get into what my Project 333 Capsule looks like and how I decided on what to wear.  The Vivienne Files are my saving grace in this project, as I wouldn’t have had the first idea of how to decide what to keep for the next three months.  I had to consider a couple things for my choices:  what do I need for MY life (not the life I wish I had) and how do I deal with unpredictable transitional weather (going from September – it was 90 degrees yesterday- to December).  For the latter, I have learned that lots of lighter layers is as warm or warmer than one bulky layer, so I kept reminding myself of that as I made my choices.  For the former question – as much as I want to be a classic, chic, sophisticated dresser to attend all sorts of dinner parties, teas, theaters, etc. – I have to realize that my life revolves around work (uniformed, so no need for all my suiting separates), taking care of the fur factories (trips to the park, trails, walks), and personal entertainment which involves lots of sporting events and more casual environments.

Ideally, each category should have four items (and steps one and two should be two bottoms and two tops – but this isn’t hard and fast, at least for me).  I adapted the list to make it work for ME – as I am a jeans girl most of the time; some of the bottoms were removed in steps one and two to make room for jeans.

According to Vivienne, I need to start with a “core of four, in a dark neutral”.  As much as I wish I could wear black to simplify everything, I can’t (well I can, but it really drains all my color), so my dark neutral is dark brown.  I chose a short sleeve (s/s) knit top, a turtleneck sweater, a Blazer, and heather brown slacks.

Next, I need another core of four, but in a lighter neutral.  I chose to use  an oatmeal brown and went with a pair of tan boot cut jeans, sleeveless shirt, a ½ sleeve scoop neck t-shirt, and a long sleeve (l/s) t-shirt.

Step three is an accent color that works with both neutrals, and I chose a rust orange.  My choices were a ½ sleeve faux wrap shirt, a sleeveless shirt, a pullover, and a cardigan.

Step four involved a mid-tone neutral and I chose tan.  I originally had a tan patterned sun dress and a button up shirt in this category.   I decided that I’d rather use a purple dress, as it is solid – and frankly, I just felt that my options needed a bit more color, as I had A LOT of brown in the closet.

Next up is “lights”, and I chose ivory, as I cannot pull of a crisp white very well.  I went with a l/s shirt, a chunky cardigan, and a sleeveless ruffled blouse.

Step six is to add prints and textures, which I did by choosing a tan lace l/s shirt, a turquoise and cream striped shirt, and a turquoise and purple plaid flannel.

My signature color, step seven, is teal.  I added a teal cardigan, a button up shirt, a sleeveless shirt, a s/s shirt, a l/s shirt, a (more an of emerald teal) Henley, a teal and cream “french sailor shirt” and a pullover sweater.

Step eight is essentials and gaps.  I added in dark wash skinny jeans, dark wash boot cut jeans, medium wash boot cut jeans, a cream and navy striped shirt,  a purple Henley, a college football t-shirt and a college football full zip l/s shirt.

These items can take me almost anywhere this season.  I know I can make the outfits even more versatile with the strategic use of accessories – but I am terrified of accessories and don’t have the first idea of how to use them.  I wear the same two-tone, diamond and mother of pearl watch daily. I also prefer a simple gold chain over big statement necklaces, but I would love to get a couple of statement necklaces and learn to wear them confidently.  My earrings are almost always a small pair of diamond studs and/or a small pair of diamond accented hoops.  Sometimes I swap things out for pearls, but I always do studs and/or hoops – nothing too exciting.  My belts err on the side of practical and I rotate out two different ones (but pretty much the same) of dark brown, plain leather with a plain buckle.

Unforeseen consequence to having less “stuff”:  I know instantly when I missing something!  I have each hanger in a slat (?) in my wire shelf closet.  Makes it easy to not expand – I plan to not add something unless I can make room for it…by emptying the hanger!  There won’t be a whole lot of room for frivolous purchases, as there are only so many slats.  I think its genius!

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First Non-Uniformed Day at Work Thoughts

Today I decided to wear my medium wash boot cut jeans, a heathered purple henley, and teal and purple flannel shirt, and my new (and favorite) brown Gasolina Moto Boots.  I felt awesome – my outfit was super comfortable and very close to my “true” style, or what I feel most like myself in.  

I was met with “going country?” and “Kurt Cobain, much?” today from a few different co-workers.  I shrugged it off, I loved what I was wearing and what do a bunch of middle-aged guys know anyways?  

All the pieces I wore today are definitely 10’s (except for the Henley:  love the cut, the fabric feels a little thin though and I worry about its longevity, so I give it an 8).  But on a mission to have nothing less than 8’s in the closet.  This is an awesome first step!

This is the unveiling of my Project 333 closet.  I moved EVERYTHING out to the spare room and started sorting a bunch of stuff.  I immediately returned my P333 items and my uniforms for work (but I pare those WAY down – I swear, work stuff took up half my closet before).  I then had all this extra room, so I hung up my pajamas and added a sweater hanger, so I could move out the eyesore of an oak dresser that my dear husband brought to our marriage.  I also hang out my work out tops and camisoles, so you will see those in there, too.

I get a great feeling every time I look at what is now my closet, b/c I know I have a use for or LOVE everything that is hanging up there and it is not just a bunch of stuff taking up space.  

I tried on a bunch of sweaters that were being stored in the dresser and decided to part with some and found a couple gems (I really like a sweater dress on me that I have never even tried on before!).  I realized a lot of my sweaters were just either too frumpy or too tight.  I am not 20 anymore and those sweaters still fit – they just don’t fit as flattering as they did when I was 20 and the were new(er).  Also, I realized that I should probably stop buying brown (of any shade) sweaters for a while!  Most of the sweaters that were at least 8’s on me, were of the brown variety!  

So, without further ado, here is what is now my closet:

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I should have taken a before, but didn’t think too.  I split the walk-in with my husband and my stuff was starting to encroach on his side.  I also had that terrible dresser pushed against that back wall that you see, and it was full.  I am pretty happy with my progress so far – I admit, its hard to get rid of so much stuff, since I feel like I am wasting money.  However, that money is already spent and it is not like I wearing any of the things I am donating – let someone else who needs them and will appreciate them have my clothes.  A lot of my stuff still has tags on it!  If I haven’t worn it already, and some stuff is over a year old; I doubt I am ever going to wear it.

My Personal Project 333 Rules

I am adapting my rules to ensure success.  That is, after all, the point of the exercise, right?  Learn to live with less and continue working on evolving into a simpler, but more enjoyable life.

The Rules:

  • No new clothing purchases.  NONE at this point – if a pair of undies wear out – too bad, I have PLENTY.  For every month that I succeed in no new clothing purchases, I get $100 to go into a fund towards purchasing some Kika Paprika clothing (http://www.kikapaprika.com/).  I just found this yesterday and IT IS AMAZING!  Its made in the USA, eco-friendly, gives back, and essentially is all the things that most corporations are not; which I am really digging right now.  I only get to buy things at the end of the 90 day cycle(s).
  • Its been said before, but 33 articles of clothing.  Gymwear, work uniforms, pajamas, underwear and specialized “gear” (such as hiking pants that I only wear while hiking or fishing pants, etc.) do not count towards the 33.
  • Continue “the purge”.  I want everything to fit me well, be a good color for my complexion, and get things tailored finally.  I have a lot of nice black business wear that I haven’t really worn, but bought “in case I need it” and “it was on sale”.  I am boxing up all my black stuff and if I don’t have a need for it in six months, it is going to a local charity to help women enter the workforce.  
  • Work on really honing in style and lifestyle to find a balance.  I tend to buy for the life I want to lead (socialite, business classic, etc.) rather than the life I live.  I am a t-shirt, button up, jeans girl for the most part; so why fight it and buy suiting separates every time I see them on sale.  I really only need ONE good suiting set (Jacket, pants, skirt, and dress).  Maybe in the future, I can find one good set and get rid of all my other separates.  

By the time I finish one cycle, I would like to pare down some more and do the TRUE Project 333 for a cycle.  When I get back to buying items (in theory to fill some gaps in a small, great looking, but functional (for my life) wardrobe that makes me happy, I want to focus on buying USA made goods and higher quality things,  I need to learn to really pay attention to the cost per wear.  I might gulp when I see a higher price tag, but if I wear it more often – it actually costs less than the impulse buy Banana Republic Print shirt on the clearance rack for $9.99 that I wore once.  After my husband said I looked like a 1970’s tile floor, it went into the purge pile ($9.99/wear).  I have a really cute “sailor shirt” that I have worn three times since I bought it (http://www.llbean.com/llb/shop/58620?feat=607-GN1&page=french-sailor-s-shirt-three-quarter-sleeve-boatneck).  It was $35, but the cost per wear is $11.60 right now.  It is part of my 33 items so it will definitely get another wear in the near future, which brings the price down to $8.75/wear.  Terrible example, but the only one I could think of right exact prices right now.  It is also really heavy gauge cotton and nicely dyed and sewed and will last quite a while.  The print/colors/style are classic which means I can wear it in three years!  I like it so much *guilty as charged*, I bought a teal and cream version a couple weeks ago!

Ok, I must go and watch the GREATEST QUARTERBACK EVER, Mr. Peyton Manning, play the first game of the season!

Project 333 and an Exercise in Restraint

Early in my life, I was what you would consider “working class”.  I had a home, food, clothes, etc. but I also had a lot of wants.  I wanted brand name items instead of K-mart fare and I wanted new clothes more than twice a year(August and December).  Now that I am on my own, I make a decent living and don’t have any real financial obligations besides my mortgage.  I don’t have children, student loans, car loans, or anything else to tie up my funds.  Somehow, I am still pretty much broke.  I don’t have any substantial savings, aside from my 401k – so where does my money go?  Clothes.  Usually clearance rack impulse buys, internet flash sales, and some stuff that I really, really like and wear regularly (that category is pretty small though).  I just have disposable income and the urge to BUY EVERYTHING.  However, after getting married and becoming *gasp* responsible(?), I am starting to tire of the consumerism.  I am getting claustrophobic; stressed out by my belongings and really tired of buying cheap, disposable goods.

I go in cycles.  I buy, buy, buy because of the high that I get from it.  My UPS man knows me very well, as he is here daily.  (Thanks, Amazon Prime!)   Then I get stressed when I look at all my “crap” and purge.  A lot.  Then a week later, I get bored and sucked into online flash sales or clearance sales at the outlet mall (I can’t say no to a good deal) and the cycle of buying begins again.

But as I said, I am getting tired of my behavior and my priorities are really starting to shift.  My main wants now include getting my backyard made over into a usable suburban oasis, meant to be enjoyed regularly (instead of just a doggie toilet).  I also love to travel, and while I get some awesome travel opportunities through work, I am without my husband and would really like to enjoy new locations with him.  So I am focusing my life on living with less, but better quality things.  Things that I truly love and being able to have extra money for an awesome yard and great travel experiences.

Which, finally leads me into Project 333 (http://theproject333.com/), which I found last year while looking at the Vivienne Files (http://theviviennefiles.blogspot.com/) during research for packing enough stuff in one carry-on for a three week trip home.  A three week trip home that included a rehearsal dinner, my wedding, and time in two different states (my family and his family).

I decided to begin Project 333; today is the first day of officially participating.  I spent the last few nights culling my closet and picking out 33 garments that I will be wearing for the next 3 months.  I will discuss what I picked out and how I came to those choices in the next post.

I will through out a disclaimer and say that I wear a uniform to work four days a week – so I have it easier than some other participants.  I am also not totally following the rules (as the original includes outerwear, shoes, bags, sunglasses, jewelry, etc.)  I need to ease into this project.  Maybe next cycle I will do it proper, but for now – I chose 33 separate articles of clothing.

So, Day One (September 5, 2013) and I am wearing pajamas (which don’t count as your original 33 items).  Is that cheating?  I don’t know, but I come home every night and take off my uniform, replacing it with some comfy pajamas.