Project 333 Fall/Winter 2014

It’s that time of year again! The time when I start planning out my minimalist capsule wardrobe for Project 333. A new round of the project starts November 1 (so yes,I’m planning ahead a bit….)  Are you thinking about trying it? Here’s Courtney’s invitation to start small.
I find that my wardrobes are getting simpler with each round of this project. I’m wearing fewer patterns, and more easy-to-coordinate basic pieces (compared, say, to my second round of the project last summer, or to my wardrobe from around this time last year). I don’t shop much, but when I do, I gravitate toward simpler, better constructed items. I’ve made a few changes to how I go about this project. I’ve stopped counting all of my exercise clothes toward my total. I have a drawer of sports bras and yoga pants and old t-shirts, and I wear them only to work out at the YMCA. Unlike the rest of my day, I put essentially no thought into what I wear to the Y. I realized that for me, simplicity in my exercise routine means doing laundry a bit less frequently and not overthinking my workout wardrobe, so I limit that space to one drawer, and that’s as much thought as I give it these days.
What I do think about is my work wardrobe. I want to look like a professional, but a big part of my job is playing on the floor with little kids, so wash and wear is a must for me. Project 333 has helped me learn to keep a minimalist, easy-to-coordinate set of work and casual clothes so that I can get dressed in the morning without angst, be presentable at work, shop less, reduce my impact on the planet, and be part of a community that is striving to do the same.
Sources: Most of these are items I already have, but the bag is the satchel I’ve had my eye on for quite some time, from Cambridge Satchel Co. If I make a new purchase for this round of the project, that’ll be it. Yet I doubt I’ll buy it; it’s mostly a daydream. My clothes are mostly from J. Crew and Madewell, purchased at the occasional clearance sale, or from clothing swaps with friends. A few of my more colorful items are vintage or, in the case of this dress, from Modcloth. I find it most helpful to include a variety of simple wash-and-wear tops, a few dressier ones (and a few dresses), cords and trousers, and some comfy sweaters…and to keep accessories as minimal as possible. Also, I always include a colorful coat and (at this time of year) an old-fashioned ladies’ hat, because I love them, and because it’s such a nice way to brighten up a basic wardrobe and make it my own. I always include at least one fancy dress, because in a three month span, odds are I’ll go to a wedding or some other fancy event, and a simple cardigan and flats let me dress it down enough to wear it to work in the day-to-day (on an office day. Not on a playing-on-the-floor-with-kids day. I’m not that ridiculous).
So with no further ado, here’s my wintery take on Project 333:

Project 333 Fall 2014

  • 3 t-shirts (grey. navy. black.)
  • 2 button up blouses (black. chambray.)
  • 2 dressy tops (black camisole. white peplum.)
  • 1 pencil skirt
  • 2 pairs work trousers (khaki. black.)
  • 3 pairs casual pants (dark green. denim. yoga pants.)
  • 5 sweaters (2 pullovers. 2 cardigans. 1 hoodie.)
  • 2 dresses: a formal floral number, and a more casual vintage-y grey one
  • 2 coats (black down coat. coral dress coat.)
  • 4 pairs shoes (sneakers. loafers. ballet flats. boots.)
  • 7 accessories (hat. scarf. gloves. necklace. earrings. belt. satchel.)

And that’s all, folks! It really is enough – more than enough – for three months of daily wear. Don’t take my word for it. Try it out!

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All I want for Christmas

All I want for Christmas

I’ve been thinking about our tradition of handmade gifts, and about when to just lighten up. What got me thinking was a friend who remarked that she’s upset when people buy her children toys for Christmas. I understand her feelings, in that she doesn’t want to cultivate the notion that Christmas is about getting a bunch of cheap plastic crap, or more generally, that it’s about consumerism and greed. She wants to give her children things that are handmade, and to teach them to appreciate this miraculous season rather than stuff. But to buy someone’s child a toy for Christmas is a generous impulse, one that deserves to be met with something better than frustration or resentment. And if we’re being honest, we should admit that kids are all about cheap plastic crap. They love it. It brings them joy. Once it’s been gifted to them, it is really darn hard to take it away from them. So I say, if it’s not dangerous, let them keep it, and help them compose a thank you note – that, too, is an opportunity for teaching gratitude and graciousness.

I think that like most things in life, Christmas must offer a middle path. If the point of Christmas is to enjoy the time with family and friends, to celebrate faith and love and grace, then let’s not stress over gifts at all. Let’s be generous in accordance with our own values, when it comes to gift giving, and let us be equally gracious with our gift receiving, and accept things in the spirit with which they are offered.

Here’s my confession: there are actually a few material things that I want for Christmas. They’re all things that need replacing, in my life. I wore out my brown loafers. My wonderful calendar, with which I decorate our bedroom, and which was in itself a gift, is about to expire. I lost my very favorite hat, a lovely grey cashmere thing, on my Portland trip. Moths got all the way into my cedar chest last winter, and munched right through some favorite sweaters. And I shrunk a dress in the dryer, leaving it about three inches too short. Finally, there’s a ukulele, not because I had one that needs replacing, but because I need to change the way I allocate my time, and spend it on something useful, like learning an instrument! With no further ado, here are the material things that I am wishing for this Christmastime (I promise to get back to the homemade posts after this one):

And because I think it’s lovely, even though I have all the jewelry I could ever want, this olive branch necklace makes the list as well.

What about you readers? What’s your plan for presents this year?

My wishlist, for those who are wondering: