Surviving Winter – Project 333 Style


So, it’s been such a long time since I’ve written about my Project 333 that most of you reading this don’t even know that I’m doing it or what it is. And those of you who have been with me that long are probably like “….THAT thing? You’re still doing that?!

I took on the Project333 challenge about one year ago after I read about it in Oprah magazine. The premise is simple: you limit your wardrobe to 33 items, INCLUDING shoes, jewelry, and accessories. The project works in 3-month cycles, so every 90 days or so you can create a new 33-item wardrobe, which 333ers refer to as a “capsule wardrobe”.

Under the rallying slogan of “Be More With Less,” P333 founder Courtney Carver and legions of 333ers explore the benefits of bringing simplicity into your life by bringing it into your closet. If you want to learn more about the project or get started on your own and join me in my P333 adventures, check out the official website.

In the meantime, I wanted to bring you an update on my own Project 333 that goes beyond the usual “hey it’s a new season and here’s what’s in my new capsule” (FYI, I will start a new capsule on April 1st).

So, I thought I’d share with you how I’m making P333 work through the most grueling season there is, both for fashion and for spirit. I’ll also address some of the new challenges and changes I’m coming into as I approach my one year anniversary with P333.

First, here are some of the essentials I used to build a Project 333 capsule wardrobe that would survive polar vortexes and beyond.



20150304-221519.jpgWinter and fall are scarf season! Hooray! If you are like me, for some reason you find it much harder to be creative with winter fashion. Scarves are a great way to spice up the same ol’ winter outfit with a pop of color or a dash of pattern AND keep warm!

I make room for PLENTY of scarves in my capsule wardrobe this time of year. 4 of my 33 items are scarves.


Shoe Minimalist

I like to keep my winter shoe collection down to just a few handy pair that I can wear with just about anything. Boring? Maybe. But I view shoes much more as utility than fashion, so I am okay with boring. Including only 2-4 pair of shoes in each of my capsule wardrobes means more room for other things! This is a strategy I use in every seasonย  – in defiance of the stereotype of women as shoe-crazy, I am just not much of a footwear type of gal. However, my shoe collection is more pared down in winter than any other season.



PicMonkey CollageTo get myself more excited about days and weeks of nothing but the same ol’ sweaters and pants or skirts and leggings, I’ve been trying to avoid my usual go-to solid colors and jazz up my wardrobe with fun and bold patterns. I’ve been buying a lot more patterned clothing since I started my project.







20150304-221643.jpgIf you want to wear something besides pants this season, you gotta wear tights or leggings underneath. I made a lot of room in my capsule for multiple pair of leggings/tights because, like scarves, they are a cheap and easy way to spruce up and diversity outfits. Colored tights add pops of color to an outfit, and different colors can really transform an outfit, too. Unfortunately I didn’t find any patterned tights I liked this year (besides, they would have clashed with all my patterned clothes!).



Challenges and Changes

My winter wardrobe is actually very similar to my fall wardrobe – the only changes I made were throwing in a few more sweaters and taking out some lighter things and some items I wasn’t wearing very often.

This is great for simplicity purposes, but the downside is that I’m starting to get a case of wardrobe cabin fever – and I’m not much of a fashionista, so that’s saying a lot. It really does feel like I’ve been wearing the same things forever and boredom is starting to set in. This is my fourth season of P333 and the first time I feel like I’ve had this problem.

Another issue I’ve recently run into is that the balance of my wardrobe is such that I don’t really have a lot to wear outside of work. My workplace is pretty relaxed about wardrobe, which I always thought was an advantage because the things I wear at work can double as things to wear out and about on the weekend, for the most part. But because I wear them at work, I always want to wear something else on weekends and so I never really feel like I have anything to wear when I’m not at work except for 1 or 2 go to outfits. I’m not really sure how to offset this problem – since I spend most of my time at work, that’s where the bulk of my wardrobe needs to focus too.

Finally, one more challenge I’m having is that I’m starting to feel my wardrobe needs sprucing up. Because I’m wearing the same things more often, and I buy those things for modest prices because I can’t afford to spend a ton of money on higher-quality brand name clothing, I notice that they tend to wear out fairly quickly. This in turn means I always have to do a lot more shopping before each new capsule (although I will admit, much of this shopping is more out of “want” than “need” – it’s so hard not to want new clothes for new seasons!). Additionally, I’m starting to feel like my wardrobe needs to be a little bit nicer. I mentioned that I have a pretty casual workplace, which is great. And even though I don’t have a very public-facing position where I need to be out meeting with people a lot, I still often feel like I should be dressing a tad bit nicer.

In the past couple years of being a runner, it is slowly transforming me from someone who feels pretty with makeup, styled hair, and nice clothes to someone who feels best sweaty and bare-faced after a great workout. I’ve almost completely stopped wearing makeup (more out of laziness than principle), and I haven’t put as much effort into my physical and material appearance because those things just don’t matter as much to me anymore and don’t feel worth spending my time and money on.

But…lately I am feeling like it wouldn’t hurt – in fact it might even be a good idea – to start putting a little more effort and care into my appearance. I know from my many months of Project 333 that looking better doesn’t have to equal more stuff – just better stuff. Maybe being more pulled-together and professional-looking at work will help me feel more confident and take myself more seriously there, too. Face it, ladies and gents, we’re human – we are biologically wired to want to make ourselves more physically attractive and get a boost from doing so, whether we like that or not.

I have a hair cut coming up next week, so maybe that will help kick me into gear. Hair cuts have this mysterious magical way of whipping me into a productive frenzy of change and improvement and makeover madness.

What are your winter wardrobe essentials?








10 thoughts on “Surviving Winter – Project 333 Style

  1. Love this post! I also try to emulate a capsule wardrobe (it’s the francophile in me) and have been collecting what I believe to be are staples: black skinny jeans, a trench coat, a white button down, black flats, a couple of colorful flats, etc. It makes getting dressed a lot easier when everything goes together! ๐Ÿ˜€

    1. Awesome! I also have a trench coat, and skinny jeans. I’ve had the same skinny jeans from Old Navy since like 2010 and they are STILL GOOD. I hope they never go out of style!

  2. Haircuts make me feel more productive and stylish, too. It’s funny how they do that!

    Why did the founder choose 33 items as the magic number? Isn’t it difficult to find the money to replace your wardrobe every three months?

    1. I remember reading that she said she chose it randomly because it “sounded hard” or something.

      Sorry I should have explained this better: during each capsule, you still keep the rest of your clothes, you just pack them away so you’re not tempted to wear them. Out of sight out of mind kinda thing. Then when you start a new round you can go back through those clothes and add them to your new capsule if you want, and pack away stuff from your old capsule. So you don’t have to buy new clothes every time. That would leave most of us bankrupt!! ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. I’ve been considering doing a capsule wardrobe, but I’ve been putting it off until I travel less. I feel like living out of a suitcase half of the time is basically the same thing anyway, just with the added complication of things always being scattered between here and there.

    I also feel your frustration on wanting to look nicer or more professional but simultaneously being a bit ambivalent about it. 6 (ugh, yes, 6) years of grad school budgets have taken a toll on my wardrobe, and as I’m starting to apply for big people jobs I’ve also been feeling worse and worse about my wardrobe. I’ve been allocating a small amount of money each month for the last year towards improving my professional wardrobe. I’m starting to see some progress, which is nice! By fall I should be able to have a full work-week’s worth of decent business casual.

    1. I hear you. I probably have the money to spend on some nice pieces, but I’d just rather spend it on other things and since I work in such a casual office I can get away with it. And it’s hard to find the motivation because I mostly sit behind a desk all day so it’s like…I’m dressing up WHY? But I really should spruce up a bit. Sometimes I feel like I’m 27 going on 19.

  4. It sounds like a great idea and truthfully I wear the same few things repeatedly but the storage gets me every time. I have nowhere to put the out of season clothing. I have seriously limited space, even the space under my bed is maxed out. As for new clothing, I stalk the the clearance racks at Banana Republic and White House Black Market. It takes time and patience but I usually get things for 60-80% off. I got a new pair of slacks for 12 bucks. Sadly, it will cost me more to dry clean them. ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. Newer-ish reader here! I didn’t know you were doing a capsule wardrobe. I have thought about trying this before, but I never got around to actually implementing it. When I am shopping for new clothes I do tend to stick to basics or pieces that coordinate with what I already have. I have also been spending the last year or so trying to shift my wardrobe from broke college kid to semi professional adult.

  6. This is fascinating! I really like wearing different earrings but if I chose only 10 pair, 33% of my items would be earrings alone haha.

    My winter uniform:

    Work: boots, leggings, a short dress/tunic, sweater, chunky earrings.
    Home: pjs and robe
    Running: I probably wear 33 items on each run these days with the temp hahaha!

  7. This is intriguing. I think I have 2 capsules , summer and winter. But sadly, I mostly rotate between maybe 3 outfits…I just got 2 1/2 inches taken off my hair today– feels good!

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