Making a tiny wardrobe is one of the healthiest things I’ve ever done for myself. I’ve been doing Project 333 for a couple of years now (read about my experience when I still had 50 items in my capsule, here).
Project 333 is the minimalist fashion challenge by Be More With Less that invites you to dress with 33 items or less for 3 months.
What is a Tiny Wardrobe?
Many people would say that 33 items is a tiny wardrobe. It takes some time to get past the feeling of ‘not enough’ when limiting your clothing choices, but for me it was worth the growing pains. There was a time in the not too distant past when I needed to try on a dozen outfits before getting out the door (and still not feel satisfied with my choice), and I wouldn’t say it was because my wardrobe choices were huge. (The ‘why’ is a deeper question, perhaps for another time).
Project 333 has been hugely freeing, and the amazing thing is, I have discovered that paring down further is becoming even more powerful. As I pull together my clothing for the upcoming season, it helps when I focus on an even tinier wardrobe, with ‘mini capsules’ of 10-12 articles of clothing. Here’s why I like it:
- When I see how many combinations I can create with 10 items of clothing it becomes very clear see how little I really need.
- At the end of the season, I can see what was hardly worn, and yes, people with a minimalist closet sometimes (often?) wear 20% of their garments, 80% of the time. I still have one or two things that see light wear (but that’s okay).
- Decision fatigue is eliminated because everything ‘goes’ together.
- I really like every single piece so it gives me more value for my money.
- It saves time and energy since I don’t have to think more than a few seconds about what to wear (and, really, I’d much prefer to do something else with my time than obsess over how I look).
Through my tiny wardrobe experiments I learned that with 10 pieces (and how I wear them) I can wear something different for 40 days – and that is just including the clothes – not shoes, jewellery or any other accessories – just the basic 10.
Of course I have more than 10 items in my closet because, laundry! Even if I decided to go uniform-style I would need duplicates – or very similar pieces – so creating 2 tiny capsules gives me time to get the laundry done, and to give an item I’ve been wearing frequently a bit of a rest. Having some versatility (not uniform-style dressing, for example) gives me some pieces that are slightly out-of-season, because there are bound to be days that aren’t typical weather, days where you need something warmer, or something lighter.
With 2 tiny capsules and 20 pieces of clothes, that is 80 unique outfits, and (if that is not already interesting enough) here is where it gets really interesting: when those two capsules are blended, or accessories are added, the number of unique combinations explodes. It would give me more combinations than there are in the 90 odd days in a 3 month season.
A Tiny Wardrobe Example
Here is an example of a 10-piece mini-capsule I put together for a summer vacation that gives me enough options for pretty much anything with some accessories added: shoes, purse, hat, sunglasses, jewellery, a shawl or sweater, swimsuit and under garments.
Carry on luggage, here I come!
Summer Resort Capsule
- Jacket (dark neutral)
- Jeans (light neutral)
- Shorts (light neutral)
- Dress 1 (tank style for layering, knee Length)
- Dress 2 (tank style for layering, knee length)
- Skirt (dark, longer than the dresses)
- T-Shirt 1 (solid, cap sleeves)
- T-Shirt 2 (printed, cap sleeves)
- Top 1 (solid, dark, elbow sleeve)
- Top 2 (solid, light, long sleeves)
40 Outfits From 10 Pieces
2. Jeans, t-shirt 2
38. Dress 2 + jeans (tunic style – optional belt to shorten the dress
40. Dress 2 + Longer Skirt (worn under, like a slip).
(I could actually continue this…t-shirts plus dress plus skirt underneath (etc.) or worn with the jacket, but I’m sure, Dear Reader, you get the idea).
Those 40 combinations are further extended by adding a few extras: a cardigan and shawl, a swimsuit you could (perhaps) wear as a top, or even a piece of jewellery that transforms a day dress into an evening dress. One begins to quickly see how adding even 1 piece of clothing increases the possibilities!
Have you come across the article, How 33 Articles of Clothing can Equal 25,176 Different Outfits? This is a marvelous example of the power of a small number of clothes, but for me it is an overwhelming number of possibilities to deal with. I know that with the same number of items in my closet, that is the number of possibilities and unique choices I could make, but I’m sticking with my tiny wardrobe and mini capsules, and the numbers that I can get my head around!