Tag Archives: clothing

Project 333: Quality Over Quantity

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Writers Note: I know things have been really quiet here lately, I’ve been slacking in the writing department big time! I hope you’ll hang in here with me though, because I’ve been working on making this a much nicer experience for you guys. I’m nearly finished redesigning my own website – www.snazzyturtle.com – and then I’ll be working on the design and branding for the new blog. I’m also building up some content so there won’t be so much downtime in between posts when life gets busy. Exciting things are coming soon!

Have I ever told you about my clearance t-shirt addiction? It used to be a bit of a problem.

Academy Sports, which is like kryptonite to my frugality, always has a clearance section. Always.  They set up rack after rack of t-shirts, running shorts, cargo pants, skorts, and other wonderfulness at deep discounts. Now, I’m not a skort lover, and I really only need the standard amount of pockets on my pants, but the t-shirts get me every time. Especially on the $4.88 or less rack. I mean, who can argue with a $2 t-shirt? Honestly for $2 I might have even bought a skort, it was that bad.

So every time we went, which at times was more frequent than it probably should have been, I would load up on cheap shirts. I might only spend $30 but I would leave with an armload of new clothes. It was a wonderful thing.

The problem was this… for every one shirt out of the bunch that I loved there were usually 5 that didn’t fit quite right. Or after a month or two they started wearing thin, because there’s usually a reason a shirt has been marked down to less than the price of a gallon of milk. Academy really doesn’t have bad clothes, they sell great stuff and I love the store, but the ones they put on the lowest priced clearance rack are probably not made by the really dedicated clothes-making elves. More like the disgruntled elf who really wanted to be a leprechaun but had overly involved parents.

But I would keep them, because who wants to get rid of a brand new shirt? I’m sure I’ll wear it sometime, my tastes will probably change and the odd cut of that neckline will be very flattering in a few months. No, not so much. And so I eventually ended up with a wardrobe that I only wore about 50% of.

That was pretty easy to ignore though… until we started decluttering. I mean really decluttering, the last round or two before we sold it all and moved. That was when I couldn’t avoid the cheap t-shirts any longer. I only had so much room in the closet of the Turtle, and I didn’t want it taken up with clothes I didn’t wear. But I still tried to sneak some of the newer not flattering shirts into the bunch, because I might take up painting or catfish noodling and need something to wear.

Shortly after that I found out about Project 333 and decided to give it a shot, so you basically know the rest of the story. I pared down to 33 articles of clothing, including shoes, purses, hats, and sunglasses, for the first 3 months we were here. Obviously there wasn’t any room for stuff I didn’t like, so all of them went to Goodwill. That in itself was freeing in an odd way.

And then a funny thing happened. I started looking at the price tags on clothes a little different. I still want a deal, but it has to be worth it at full price for me to want it at a discount. The cheapest clearance rack still gets a look through, but now I usually pass up the $2 shirts. After all, 10 $2 shirts that I don’t wear would pay for 1 really nice shirt that I’ll wear for years.

In fact I even bought a $50 hoodie the other day. It was on clearance, retail price of $75. I bought it to replace all of the hoodies that are sitting in my tote waiting for the fall swap. The reason I paid $50 for a hoodie when I obviously could have found a cheaper alternative? Quality and comfort, obviously. The neck of this one was wide and comfy (my biggest complaint usually), the cut was loose but flattering, the fabric was super soft, and it was a brand that I know and love. It’ll last me years in good shape. Because of all those things, combined with the fact that now I have fewer clothes in general, I didn’t mind spending a little extra money for one item.

Quality doesn’t have to mean more expensive, you can shop around and find brands that are well made and not quite as expensive, or you can buy as you find things on clearance, which is what I try to do. But the plain and simple truth is that if you aren’t buying as much you can afford to pay more per item, that’s just math. In the end you might even find you’ve saved a little money while getting nicer stuff, which is a pretty cool bonus.

So, I think that’s been one of the biggest lessons I’ve learned from this project so far, the lesson of quality over quantity. And once you apply it to one area of your life it’s easy to extend the thinking elsewhere… household items, time, fitness, relationships, even food. I think we can all agree that one really nice sandwich made at home trumps 5 gas station corn dogs any day. Right?

Look around, is there something you’ve been avoiding spending more money on by spending less money more often? Or something you’ve been giving a ton of time to but only halfway doing? I was guilty of it in a lot of areas, but it’s a work in progress!

It’s That Time Again – Project 333 Season Finale

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This will be a two post day as I try to catch up from last week. I’ll post an update on our air conditioner situation and some other things shortly!

The end of June marks the end of my first go at the Project 333 challenge.

In case you haven’t been keeping up with my clothing inventory (And why not?) I decided to try Project 333 after we made the move to the Turtle. After going through our closet to declutter and then move I started to realize I was not the minimalist I originally thought, and it looked like a fun experiment.

So in the beginning of April I laid all my clothes out in the bedroom and painstakingly narrowed them down to what I actually loved and wore. The rest was packed away in a tote and taken to storage. For the last 3 months I’ve worn only 33 items of clothing including my shoes, purse, hats, and superhero costumes.

This first three months have been full of a lot of different temperatures, and I’ve cheated a few times, but I have to say I’ve really enjoyed it. I’ve spent so much less time deciding what to wear, and my closet has never been more organized. And in a bit of an unexpected turn of events I’ve actually learned a few things about myself.

I don’t actually need 33. There were several things that were barely worn this time around. I’m not sure how many, but I’d be willing to bet I actually only wore 25 items on a regular basis. That gives me a little confidence in how little I can get by with.

Choosing wrong isn’t the end of the world. I made a few mistakes when I chose my wardrobe the first time, and the weather wasn’t quite right for certain shirts and dresses. The last few weeks it’s been warm enough, but next time around I’ll save those things for the ‘summer’ cycle. But even though I’ve cheated a few times, nothing bad happened. Courtney Carver didn’t come busting out of the closet and cuff me. It’s just a challenge meant to make you look at part of your life more objectively, to reevaluate your needs. The number almost doesn’t even matter, it’s the process and intention that counts.

The second time was much easier than the first. Part of that might be the similarity in the weather between these two cycles, most of my clothes from last time were already warm weather things. Part of it also has to be that I’m a little more confident in knowing the things I actually wear now. I’ve learned what I really need on a regular basis. The first time around there was an odd amount of fear that I would choose wrong or that I would want the clothes I was putting up. This time was pretty simple… I made sure about half of my shirts were comfortable t-shirts and the other half were nicer looking. I kept out my jeans and all my shorts, and added another dress that would work for a little nicer event.

My spring/summer wardrobe is getting there. I put a few shirts that just weren’t quite right into a donate pile and the rest of my non-33 warm weather stuff went back into the tote headed for storage, but this time it was only a few things. A pair of flip flops and a few t-shirts I might like more for fall than summer, plus a pair of overall shorts I’m not quite ready to let go of yet. I’m hopeful that by next year my 33 will be my actual wardrobe for the season. That might be a bit harder to do for fall and winter, because I have lots of sweaters and boots, but at least I’m narrowing down half the year.

Having a self imposed limit is perfect for me. I tend to hold onto things that I kind of like, or that I might like later on. It really helps to put a cap on that, it makes me re-evaluate every piece I keep out. It has to fit just right, be the right color, not be uncomfortable at all, and look pretty damn good. Otherwise in the tote it goes.

Today marks the start of the next three month cycle, and it was a no brainer for me to keep going. I was actually excited to go through and reset the closet, so I pulled the tote out on Saturday afternoon and chose my next 33 a couple of days early. I’m curious to see what I actually wear out of the bunch, so this time I also turned all my hangers around as I put things up. When I wear something and put it back I’ll turn it’s hanger around the right way and at the end of 3 months it will be obvious what’s been used and what hasn’t.

Here’s what I’m starting with:

1. Aviator sunglasses
2. Brown purse
3. Under Armour visor
4. Strappy brown sandals
5. Reef flip flops (I’ll have to replace these by next year… they’re mostly just decorative at this point)
6. Sneakers
7. Jeans
8. Cutoff denim shorts
9. Regular denim shorts
10. Capris
11. Nike running shorts
12. Hangout t-shirt
13. Jack Daniels t-shirt
14. Yellow Old Navy t-shirt
15. Nike t-shirt #1
16. Nike t-shirt #2
17. Green tank
18. White shirt with leaves
19. Shirt with cool back
20. Blue tank
21. Blue strapless dress
22. Coral sundress
23. Pink dress
24. Blue plaid peasant top
25. Red t-shirt
26. Black floweredy dress
27. Grey kitten heels
28. White shirt with blue flowers
29. Lacy t-shirt
30. Nike t-shirt #3
31. Life is Good t-shirt
32. Green v-neck t-shirt
33. Grey racerback tank

Swap items:
1. White strapless shirt
2. Green flip flops (In case the others don’t make it till next year)

If you haven’t heard of Project 333 you should check it out or create your own version… it’s a neat little challenge that might help you simplify your life a little more. Or at least your closet!

Project 333 – 2 Months In

So, I seem to be doing Project 331… or maybe 313, I’m not sure.

Tomorrow brings the end of my second month living with less clothes. And evidently I’m both better and worse at it than I thought.

I was prepared to confess how big of a cheater I have been, and I still am a bit, but after writing this post and re-writing my list to share with you I realized that during the excessive swapping this month I’ve actually shorted myself by two items. Challenge accepted.

Regardless of the amount I have though, I’ve still swapped more than the three items that were laid out in the original challenge, and I’ve cheated twice as well. So here we go… allow me to rationalize myself to you in order to excuse my terrible cheating.

It’s been one month since my last confession.

First off, there was one pair of jeans that I had originally kept for the sake of variety because I was going into an office every day. With no office in the foreseeable future I decided to nix those, and since the weather has warmed up substantially I decided to swap out my heavier North Face jacket and another jacket for two more t-shirts. Swap Numero Uno.

I’ve also found that my wardrobe changed a bit when we moved to the campground, as you might expect. I started this with one pair of denim shorts, a pair of overall shorts, and a pair of capris. That was my normal summer wardrobe, and last summer it was fine because I was inside working quite a bit, plus we lived on a shady hillside. Here, however, I’m outside a lot more. And while our actual campsite is shaded the rest of the park stays pretty sunny. I walk in the mornings and at night, carry my laundry over to the main building, take my work outside for much of the day, and most evenings we sit outside relaxing until nearly time for bed.

Over the past two months I’ve also discovered the wonder that is silky feeling running shorts. These things are awesome! I started out with just one pair that I walk in (remember workout clothes don’t count), but they’re so extremely comfortable that I wanted a black pair to wear with t-shirts, which led to also finding a pair in grey cotton. So I’ve added two pairs of shorts, and to do so I got rid of more shirts. Swap Numero Dos.

Let me preface the next part of this story by saying that I should know when we leave the house to take a change of clothes, a passport, and an overnight bag. Just sayin’.

Really though, we’re pretty spontaneous, and a short trip to the store sometimes turns into a 14 hour journey. As did our trip to Wal Mart on Saturday. We had already been out all day at yard sales and a little local festival (found a $2 duffel bag for the upcoming trip… woot!). So we came home, spent approximately an hour on an impromptu clean-out-the-basement-and-wipe-bird-crap-off-the-car session, and headed out again about 4 o’clock to pick up a few things from the Mart.

Long story short, Marty ended up playing music with some of his friends at an annual Memorial Day party until nearly 2am. In the gap between watching bands play in the park in Lewisburg and going to the party the temperature changed big time, and I had left in shorts and a tank top! So to avoid freezing to death or having to go the whole opposite direction for a pair of pants and my cardigan the decision was made to steal clothes from the stash of Non-333’s I have in a tote in storage for now. The aforementioned dark jeans and jacket made a much appreciated brief appearance, but I’m happy to say as soon as we got home I stacked them in a dining room chair to head back to storage. Cheat Numero Uno.

Last but not least, yesterday I put on the blue and coral running shorts that I usually only walk in, went for my walk, and got so busy I forgot didn’t want to change back out of them. They’re just so comfy… Cheat Numero Dos.

So, 600 words later, I’m a terrible cheater! However, I feel a little justified in the fact that my entire lifestyle changed twice in the last two months. Once when we moved to the campground (we had only been here a week when I started this challenge), and again when I left the office. I feel like future quarters will be a little easier now that I’m settled in.

I do have one problem though, and maybe you guys can help me out. Our weather here is pretty unpredictable, last year it warmed up at the beginning of March and didn’t cool down again until November, this year has been rather cool some days in May still. In April when I started this we were still having 30 degree mornings and mild days, while this month we’ve had a mix of 90 degree days and 60 degree days, some cold nights and some warm. Next month I imagine will be pretty hot.

I needed my North Face jacket when this started, but after about a month it was taking up valuable real estate that I needed for warmer weather attire. It’s probable that I won’t have to swap as much the next time around, so I could keep it as one of my three swap items, but you just never know around here.

So, if you’re doing The Project too, how do you handle the weather changes in spring and fall? Do you live somewhere that summer starts in any random month between March and June?

In case you’re really bored or just curious, I’ve added my updated list below for your perusal.

My Current 33 31

  1. Aviators

  2. Brown leather purse

  3. Reeboks

  4. Brown t-strap sandals

  5. Reef flip flops

  6. Rubber boots – White Nike tee

  7. Favorite Silver jeans

  8. Dark jeans – Black running shorts

  9. Holy capris

  10. Denim Shorts

  11. Denim overalls

  12. Coral sundress

  13. Pink dress

  14. Blue strapless sundress

  15. Dark blue tank

  16. Grey knit tank – Brown and Coral North Face tee

  17. Green racer back tank

  18. Grey racer back tank

  19. White tube top

  20. Green v-neck shirt

  21. Light blue t shirt

  22. Orange baggy T-shirt

  23. White t-shirt with cool back

  24. T-shirt with leaves

  25. Mesh t-shirt

  26. Titans t-shirt

  27. White T-shirt with blue flowers

  28. Brown 1/2 sleeve shirt – Gray running shorts

  29. Brown cardigan

  30. Grey merona pullover

  31. North Face jacket (Will swap out later)

  32. Hangout t shirt

  33. Under Armour visor

Project 333 – Thoughts From Day 22

wpid-IMG_20130327_172538_070.jpgI’m now 22 days into this experiment in paring down my closet, and I thought it might be time for another update.

For those just getting here I started this month by joining Project 333 for the first time, a 3 month long challenge which entailed taking about two thirds of my wardrobe, packing it away in a tote, and moving it to our storage building for now. You can find the original post here.

I wasn’t sure how easy or difficult it would be when I started, even though I didn’t wear a ton of clothes to begin with. It was just a little scary those first few days, looking at the gaping hole in the closet where the rest of my clothes used to live and not having the options I had before.

Now, 22 days in, I have made a few mistakes, learned a few surprising things, and can honestly say I really do enjoy it and will continue on when this 3 months is up. It makes me proud to look at my clothes and realize that I’m really only using what I need, and I’m looking forward to going through a full 4 seasons of this and finding out what my resulting wardrobe looks like.

Here’s a few bullet points… mistakes, surprising revelations, high points, etc.

I think my most surprising realization was the effect that this has had on my overall happiness. I didn’t realize this benefit until about a week and a half in… I looked in the mirror one day, and for about the 4th day in a row said to myself “You look pretty good today, good on ya!”. Because I don’t always talk to myself, but when I do I want to sound like an Englishman from the 1800’s.

The point being, that by having to choose my absolute favorite clothes I now end up wearing something I love every day. By extension, even though I’m wearing the same clothes more often, I feel better about myself. And ya know what else? Nobody notices or cares that I wore that shirt six days go. I logically knew this would be a benefit, but I don’t think I expected it to have an effect on my overall mood and self confidence, so that was a neat surprise.

– I lost my cardigan for several days (it fell to the bottom of the closet behind Marty’s shoes, and I didn’t look for it hard enough apparently) which really messed up some outfit choices! I did eventually find it, but the whole ordeal confirmed that for me, in this season, it’s a staple of my wardrobe.

– There have been a couple of times that I’ve gotten a little frustrated because something I wanted to wear was in storage. It was never a style issue, it was actually all weather based… we had a really cold snap and I ended up being outside for extended periods twice during it. But, other than my one cheat (see below) I managed to get by. And I realize that the frustration wasn’t at the challenge itself, or the lack of enough clothes, but at my own failure in choosing the right clothes for our weather. I’ll know better next time around hopefully.

– I did end up cheating once. I didn’t keep a long sleeved shirt out originally, I had a pullover and a cardigan, but there are times in early spring that a long sleeved shirt layered under a t-shirt is the best choice. We had a ballgame to go to on a particularly nasty cold evening, and I didn’t want to freeze to death for the sake of my experiment. So I found a long sleeved shirt that I hadn’t taken to storage yet (it was in the wash at the time), I had thrown it in the back of the closet to take later. Even with the long sleeve, my pullover, and the North Face jacket I still froze! I hated to cheat, but not enough to be even colder for those couple of hours. That also reaffirmed the fact that I need a long sleeve at all times, just in case!

– I bought a few things yesterday, which were mostly upgrades to things I already had, but two of them did have to be swapped into the closet and something else removed. I took out my North Face jacket until this fall and replaced it with a bit lighter weight zip up sweatshirt that I bought on clearance. I also swapped out a strapless shirt for a long sleeve shirt I picked up (also on clearance). The strapless shirt will probably come back out for the summer round, but I really won’t have much chance to wear it until then. I’ll be better equipped to make realistic choices based on the weather from now on I think.

I don’t buy clothes very often, but I’d like to eventually have a smaller wardrobe made of higher quality pieces… so I picked these two well made shirts up on after season clearance, as well as a pair of really nice, thick, comfy lounge pants, and a nice running shorts/tank set (did I mention it was a great clearance sale?!). I then swapped out two pairs of pajama pants that worn out or didn’t fit, a pair of running shorts that didn’t fit well, and several pairs of pajamas and a few workout shirts. I think all in all I came out with less items and more quality, so no buyers remorse here.

So far my overall impression of Project 33 = really positive. I’ll be joining up again at the end of this season for sure… hopefully you’ll join in if you haven’t already!

Project 333 – Cleaning out the closet… again

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Have you heard of Project 333?

If not, the quick and dirty of it is you choose 33 items from your wardrobe – including shoes and jewelry, but excluding underwear, workout clothes, and pajamas – and box up the remainder to be placed out of sight for the next 3 months. You then live with what you’ve chosen as your sole wardrobe, with the exception of a few items you may swap out if you feel like you made a mistake initially. So basically, you’re dressing every day using some combination of the same 33 items. You can find out all you ever wanted to know and more over at the Project 333 website. It’s really a very cool idea I think.

I’ve known about the project for some time but never took the steps to join in before due to laziness or busyness, or some combination of the two. Then today some random clicking of links led me back to the project page, and I realized a new phase of the challenge was starting April 1st… what great timing! Especially considering my closet just went through a rather large purge anyway, and I’m still not entirely happy with the amount of clothes I kept. I think this challenge will be a great way to pare down further and make myself look at my clothes differently. There are still a few things that I’ve kept because I like them, albeit don’t wear them very much. I’m also a bit curious as to how many items of clothing I actually have now, and I think it will help me with my goal of only owning things I love and wear regularly.

I also like the idea of joining a group of people nationwide (worldwide?) all working towards a common goal. So, starting April 1st, I’ll be joining in on Project 333 for the first time! I’ll take a count this weekend, with pictures, and post how many items I have to begin with and what I’m keeping. The weather will be an interesting opponent, it’s snowing and frigid today but looking at 70’s next week, but I think with some creative layering I can get past that.

Does anybody else want to join? Have you done something similar? If you know how many items you own and use now let us know!