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January 2, 2011 / Justin Hamlin

Project 333: An Experiment in Minimalist Fashion

3 Months

33 Clothing items

Could you do it?

My experiment in minimalism continues.  What started with Operation: Consolidation as a goal to de-clutter my life and my attic, has crept into my closet.

What originally started for me was reading an intriguing concept by Nina Yau, where she decided to push her limits and wear the same clothes to work for 7 weeks straight.  Seems like a strange experiment to most, challenged her mentally.  Best part, almost nobody noticed.

Then I found Project 333 by Courtney Carver of Be More With Less. A challenge to all people dabbling in the minimalist lifestyle to take a long, hard look at their wardrobe.  For herself, she found that she would rely on a few staples in her wardrobe, just like most people.

Project 333 challenges anyone who is interested to take their wardrobe and pare it down to 33 items, and wear only those 33 items for 3 months, with a few notable exceptions:

  • Wedding Ring
  • Sleepwear
  • Underwear
  • Gym Clothes
  • Around the house loungewear

So that means 33 items includes:

  • Work Clothes
  • Weekend Clothes (going out clothes)
  • Shoes
  • Accessories
  • Jackets

While it might seem like a daunting task at first, I think it provides a worthwhile challenge.

The Challenge.

6 months ago I was 9 years into a career in the IT Consulting business and wore slacks/dress shirts on a daily basis, and even the occasional tie.  However, being 30 years old, I am more comfortable in jeans and t-shirts on the weekends and when my wife and I go out.

My break, where Project 333 comes in, is my new job I took in August, which allows me the convenience of wearing jeans/shorts/t-shirts to work every day.  There is no dress code, except for the ridicule and banter if you “over-dress.”

Project 333 provides me with the challenge of taking my entire wardrobe, which consisted of about 6-8′ of closet space, a full 4 drawer dresser, 15 pairs of shoes and 10-12 coats/jackets, and pare that list down to 33 items.  This filtering provides me with the opportunity to take a long, hard look at all of the clothing items that I have amassed over the years, and hung onto, for whatever reason.  It forces me to make decisions of what is important to me.

  • Is having 15-20 pairs of jeans really important?
  • Is having 30-50 t-shirts important to me?
  • Do i really need 15 pairs of shoes?
  • Why do I need 10 jackets/sweatshirts?

These are decisions I face when it comes to starting this project.

The Filtering, Phase 1:Part 1

Phase 1 is basically the filtering through of all of your clothes/accessories.  I began this on the evening of December 30 and made some pretty good progress.  One pile for “not going to wear in 3 months” and the other pile for “would wear in the next 3 months.”

The pile of clothes I like and would wear is definitely more than 33 items, but this is just the first stage of filtering.  Once through part 1 of filtering, I will go back and start to count items, making the hard decisions about what I have to wear, what I will wear around the house, and what I can live without in the next 3 months.

My trusty helper

The Final Decision, Phase 1:Part 2

Now with Part 1 done, the clothes I can live without will be put away into boxes, not to be opened for 3 months.  The only caveat I can I can foresee that might change that would be the unexpected need for warmer weather clothes, but I tried to take that into consideration from the start.

The clothes were then divided up into the 2 piles.

Will not wear pile

The will wear pile

With that in mind, here are my 33 items:

Black everyday shoes

Brown boots

Black/Brown belt

Heavy Sweatshirt

Medium Grey Jacket

Light Green Jacket

Everyday blue jeans

More everyday jeans

Darker wash jeans

Red Fox shirt

White DC shirt

Blue Hurley shirt

White striped shirt

White/Grey-shirt

Blue DC shirt

Black Rockstar shirt

Black Rockstar shirt

Grey Alpinestars shirt

Grey shirt

Grey Alpinestars shirt

White AE shirt

Thermal shirt

Longsleeve DC shirt

Black Longsleeve shirt

Grey Longsleeve shirt

White casual shirt

White casual shirt

Blue Casual shirt

Black casual shirt

Checkered casual shirt

Brown casual shirt

Black dress shirt

Blue dress shirt

Here are my gym clothes:

Gym clothes

Here are my “around the house” loungewear I took a little variation with, as these are multipurpose clothes strictly for around the house, working in the garage, etc:

Around the house

Socks / Underwear

Here is the wreckage

All Boxed Up

Clean closet

Ready to go

Recognizing the Goal

The goal of this experiment for me is not to give away all of my clothes, or wear the same things over and again until they are worn out, the goal for me in this is to recognize what is important to me in life.  I look at the boxes of clothes I packed up and realize that come the different seasons, I might wear 15-20% of those clothes.  But it is the other 80-85% that drives me.

I read so many blogs, look at my own photos, always asking myself why I always worry so much about money when we travel.  I realize now that is because I never purposefully save for traveling.  It is always a last minute cost that I typically put on a credit card and then worry about paying off before the next trip, and that is a habit I want to break.

I think that with Operation: Consolidation and Project 333, I realize how much clutter I have in my life, how much excess, and how much excess went into that excess.  Guarantee you that excess which I am selling/donating/boxing up could have translated over the years into a minimum of 4-5 large scale trips for my wife and I.

I want to understand what is important and necessary to me in my life.  I want to then take what is important to me and maximize on it.

Get Involved

If any of this intrigues you, I urge you to get involved in the discussion, either here, or any of the other websites that are involved in this project.  Here are the core websites:

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9 Comments

Leave a Comment
  1. andrewodom / Jan 2 2011 1:41 pm

    Rock on bro! I am so thankful another man joined the challenge. We have different ideas of fashion and necessity and clutter than woman and even though there are already a few guys, another one certainly helps represent! Hope to hear/see more from you. Feel free to post some photos to our Flickr group and get in on the ridiculousness of our photos! Cheers to decluttering our closets, our lives, and our minds!

    • Justin Hamlin / Jan 2 2011 7:37 pm

      Glad to join! It is a very interesting challenge and one that I look forward to participating in. I think it will really prove how much excess I have in my closet, and somewhat, in my life. Time to simplify and stop worrying about the next thing I am going to buy.

  2. Ayngelina / Jan 3 2011 7:41 pm

    This is totally unfair but I live with less traveling right now. 5 undies, 2 pants, 4 shirts, 1 sweater, 1 jacket, 1 pair of socks and 3 pairs of shoes.

    But instead of bragging that I need to do laundry all the time I will say this. It is extremely liberating to have less choice. I look back at when I would get ready for work and just stare aimlessly at the closest because I hated everything. Now if it’s clean and in my backpack I wear it.

    • Justin Hamlin / Jan 7 2011 11:56 am

      A little different situation 🙂

      It is very liberating. I have only found a few times where I have thought about the items that I stored away, but to that point, it is something such as a scarf or a hat. As far as the clothes, I have found that a week’s worth of clothes is the perfect amount.

      But it is a great feeling to not have to choose from 50 shirts and pants and such on a daily basis. It gives me that time in my life back.

  3. Jenny / Jan 6 2011 9:25 pm

    Wow. I like how you took photos of everything and documented it. I like that there is a lot of skate and moto clothes in there. 🙂

    • Justin Hamlin / Jan 7 2011 11:57 am

      Ah, the joys of working for a retail company that sells those shirts!

      The photos took a bit of time to lay it all out, post them on here (lovely limitations of WordPress themes) but it was very worth it.

  4. Tessa Zeng / Jan 27 2011 7:46 am

    This is exciting! I’ve never found a guy before who was trying this kind of wardrobe experiment! I did a slight variation on my blog, the 30-Day challenge (30 items in 30 days to make 30 different outfits) last fall, and it was extremely liberating. I’ve always been a clothes-a-holic (I was a fashion major till recently, for god’s sake), but it made me realize that I could not only work from a limited wardrobe, but it actually made me More creative in how I wore what I did have! I take a rather unusual viewpoint that how we choose what we wear actually reflects how we think, so I think it’s pretty important not to just eliminate that thinking altogether 😉

    My friend Kristin Low is starting a new project in a matter of days, called Man Vs. Fashion. You might find it super interesting. (He’s @kristinlow on Twitter & really just an awesome guy to connect with.)

    Anyway, just found your blog, Justin, and want to wish you lots of luck with your next step! Definitely looks like you’re going to do just great 🙂

    • Justin Hamlin / Jan 27 2011 12:45 pm

      Thanks for dropping by Tessa and thanks for leaving a comment!

      When I undertook this challenge, I had read a few reviews about people’s experiences with it and they intrigued me. It brought a realization of what I really want and like to wear, versus what I keep in my dresser/closet.

      The first day I woke up and didnt sit there looking at my closet, asking myself “what do I want to wear today” I knew I had made the right decision.

      Checking out your blog and Kristin’s twitter right now. Hope to catch you around here again!

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