Project 333 – My Favourite

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I have a fairly streamlined collection of clothes thanks to my participation in Project 333 as well as generally narrowing down the selection of clothes that I own.  I love and wear all of my clothes but I have one stand-out favourite and this is it.

Shirt

The photograph probably does not do it justice but it is a blue and white striped collared shirt with 3/4 sleeves.  It is cotton with a touch of elastane which gives a tiny bit of stretch for wearing ease.  Even ironing this shirt makes me smile.  I just love it.  I bought it several years ago from Rivette & Blair in Melbourne and it must be popular as it is still currently listed on the website as being in stock.  Finding this store has been a godsend for me as they stock lots of the type of clothes I wear and the fit is excellent.  In fact, I have no fewer than 32 items from Rivette & Blair in my current wardrobe.  That is almost half of my total clothing items.

Do you have a favourite item of clothing?  What makes it special for you?

Note:  The opinions in this blog are entirely my own.

Project 333 – An Anniversary

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It is two years since I started my first Project 333.  You can read about it here.  After the the first couple of 3 month periods I decided to take a slightly different approach and work towards having a streamlined wardrobe which covered all seasons.

I think I have been fairly successful in that goal so perhaps it is time to try Project 333 again.

I have not actually set aside 33 items yet so I am going to keep track of what I use until I can work out my 33 items.

2 days into April and so far I have worn 1 pair of shoes, 1 shirt, 1 pair of earrings, 1 pair of trousers and 1 pair of shorts.

Shoes – pewter flats
Shirt – 3/4 sleeve blue and white stripe
Earrings – white pearl studs
Shorts – khaki
Trousers – black cropped pants

Outfit

This is what I wore to work yesterday.  Today I was at home and a friend came for lunch and I also had visitors for afternoon tea.  I teamed the same shirt and shoes with a pair of knee-length shorts.

Have you ever participated in Project 333?  Has it changed how you view your clothes?

 

Project 333 – A Gent’s Perspective

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When I first met The Duke, he owned 6 shirts – one for each day of the week plus one for going out.  His weekend tasks included washing and ironing the shirts ready for the coming week.  Since then the shirt collection has grown substantially and I wash and iron the shirts.  In fact, I managed to score the task of ironing from quite early in our relationship.

Last weekend the ironing did not get done so by the end of the second week his business shirt collection was pretty well exhausted.  Seeing the shirts that The Duke chose not to wear, even when there was almost no choice, helped to confirm that they were shirts that he was not happy with.  In the end these 3 have been earmarked for the op shop.

005
These 2 that were in the wash are also going because, to quote The Duke, “they have seen better days”.

Shirts
We are now back to just 5 business shirts plus perhaps 2 others that could do double-duty as casual /business attire.  I think 2 or 3 more business shirts might be in order, if for no other reason than to take the pressure off me having to get the ironing done every weekend.

That is one aspect of retirement that is quite appealing – not ironing business shirts.

A minimalist wardrobe certainly helps to see exactly what you wear and what stays on the hanger from season to season without being worn.

Bare Necessities

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I am constantly astounded by the size of the handbags which many women carry.  On one hand, I read about travelling overseas with only carry-on luggage, yet in real life I see handbags that look as though they could be used to travel  – at least for a weekend.

I often ponder about what they carry in those huge bags.  Have we been conned by yet another bizarre fashion trend which dictates that we carry these bags?  What is so important that it has to go everywhere with us?

My bag bucks the general trend entirely.  I bought it recently in an attempt to consciously downsize what I carry.  I even went so far as to buy a smaller purse/wallet that would take up less space in the bag.

My bag
The bag has a single strap which I have at its longest length so that I can wear it across my body.  Everything that is in the bag has a purpose and is used regularly and mostly every day.

Contents:

Main compartment – wallet, eco shopping bag, sunglasses in case, pen, handkerchief

Main compartment contents
Secondary compartment – small notebook, extra loyalty cards

Secondary compartment contents
Inside pocket 1 – car keys
Inside pocket 2 – mobile phone, railpass and access pass (work)
Inside compartment (zippered) – internet stick, USB drive, other essential keys, lipstick, migraine medication

Contents of inner pockets
Outside compartment (zippered) – iPod and USB charger, USB phone charger

Outside zippered compartment contents
That is it.  I have made a conscious decision to only carry exactly what I need.   Each item has a specific place so I easily know that I have everything that I need.

This is the bag I use every day.  The only exception is a small evening bag which I use a couple of times per year.

What is in your bag?  Do you have a large bag?

Project 333 – Planning Ahead

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The forecast here is for temperatures to be in the low to mid 30’s (Celsius) for the next week but already my thoughts are turning to my autumn wardrobe.

This photo comes from the original Project 333 post from Courtney Carver.

White shirts

One of the things I would really like is a white shirt, probably linen.  It would be a really useful addition to my existing collection of clothing.  “White shirt” sounds fairly simple but it will need to be just right before I consider adding it to my wardrobe.  In fact I am contemplating making one if I can find/draft the perfect pattern.

What is on your wishlist?

You Must Remember This…..

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Remembering, memories and shared experiences all combine to be part of what we are today.

The past helps to shape the future.

For many people, our memories seem to be inextricably linked to things from the past.  It may be the souvenir trinkets you bought on holiday last week, your college sweater from 30 years ago or great-grandma’s fur wrap.

Eiffel Tower

What would happen if you removed all of this stuff from your life?  Would the memories disappear?  The memories will remain because the human brain is so smart that we do not need physical reminders of events and people from our past.

College sweater
Let us take the college sweater as an example.  Does it add value to your life by being stashed in a box in the attic.  Perhaps it is sharing a box with some old text books or the corsage from your debutante ball and the suit you wore to your first job interview?  If you got rid of the sweater, corsage and suit would that mean that you did not attend college or your debutante ball and the job interview didn’t happen?  No, of course not.  Moving items such as this along will not destroy the memories which you have kept alive, despite having no day-to-day physical connection to the item.

The holiday souvenirs are insidious.  The Eiffel Tower keyring, leprechaun fridge magnet and so on – are these the ‘real’ memories of your visit?  Did you need a keyring or fridge magnet?  Will you forget that you visited France and Ireland if these things are no longer stashed in a shoebox in the top of your wardrobe?  Time to move them on and remind yourself not to be sucked in to buying these knickknacks in the future.  Save your time and money for things that really count and add value.

Then there are the family heirlooms such as that fur wrap.  Do you wear it?  Can it be refashioned into something you will use?  If the answer to both these questions is no, then perhaps you could ask other family members but if no-one wants it perhaps it is time to let it go so that someone can gain some benefit from it.  Think of the alternative – the wrap sits in that box in the attic, gathering dust and probably deteriorating until you depart this earth and someone has to go through your possessions.  It will be tossed out without a second thought.

If you are struggling with decluttering stuff, stop and put yourself in the shoes of your children (or others) who are sorting through your stuff when you are gone.  Ask yourself, “What would they do with this?”  Better still, ask them if they would like the item now.  If they don’t, you can be rest assured that they will not want it in 10, 20 or 50 years time when you are gone.

Boxes in attic
I am not saying that you need to get rid of all of your possessions but rather, we need to evaluate what we have and keep that which is useful, we truly love and which adds value to our lives.  Anything that has been stashed in a box or cupboard for more than a year needs a careful re-assessment.  Depending on what it is, put it on display, use it everydayor refashion it so that it fits with your current needs.  If none of these actions are right, move it along to someone who will love and use it.

Don’t let your memories hold you back.  Let go of some stuff, free up time and space, go and create new memories.  Enjoy!

Project 333 – Packing

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For those of you who may be new to reading this blog, it is probably timely to explain about Project 333.  It is a concept developed by Courtney Carver in which you commit to wearing a maximum of 33 items for 3 months.  You can read all about it at her blog, Be More With Less.

I first discovered Project 333 in April 2012 and followed the guidelines carefully for the next 3 months.  Since then, I have continued to streamline the contents of my wardrobe.  I am constantly striving to create a small but effective selection of pieces which work for me.  For ease of searching, I have used “Project 333” in the title of all of my clothes-related posts.  If you have not read them all you can search all posts under this topic to gain a broad understanding of what I am doing.

I have been in Sydney for the past 2 days for work.  I needed to be appropriately dressed on Tuesday when I arrived as well as yesterday and today.  I was meeting friends for dinner on Tuesday evening and attending a work-related dinner last night.  The constraints were that I planned to only take carry-on luggage as well as staying in a hotel and no opportunity to wash clothes.

Here is what I packed.

Trousers
Green jeans, denim jeans and white 3/4 trousers.

Tops
Floral cardigan, teal top, red/white striped tee and black pullover.  These all have 3/4 sleeves.  I find these very practical for a range of weather and they can be worn in a variety of ways.

Extras
I also packed a black camisole, black/white checked short sleeved shirt and leopard print scarf.

Shoes
2 pairs of flat shoes completed the selection.  I try not to wear the same shoes every day.

I chose the items with a specific plan in mind but sufficient versatility to change the choices if my mood or the weather dictated it.  The plan (which I adhered to) was:

Denim jeans, red/white tee and red flats on Tuesday flight.
Green jeans, black pullover and scarf with pewter flats for dinner on Tuesday.
Green jeans, black camisole, floral cardigan and red flats – work on Wednesday
Denim jeans, black camisole, teal top and pewter flats – dinner on Wednesday.
White trousers, checked shirt with black pullover (if needed) and flats – work on Thursday and flight home.

I really only wore each item once , however, the combinations are almost endless.  The only ‘no go zones’ as far as I can see were the green jeans with the teal top, the red flats with the teal top or the the striped top and floral cardigan together!  My maths is not good enough to be able to calculate all of the possible permutations but I know there were plenty of choices.  All of this confirms what I have often said, “You need almost as many clothes for a couple of days as for a few weeks”.

How do you decide what to pack? Have you ever travelled for an extended period of time with only one bag?

STREAMLINE – Everyday Maintenance

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After you have worked through all of the other steps in the ‘STREAMLINE’ process, it is important not to lapse back into old ways.  Just like changing eating (or any other) habits, if your version of minimalism is to be successful it needs to be an ongoing process.  You will have to work at it constantly and be vigilant at every turn.  Clutter in all its forms is insidious and will soon overwhelm you if you do not have strategies in place to stop it at the door, the mailbox and even your email inbox.

Well-meaning friends and relatives may feel sorry for you when they see your empty spaces and want to give you stuff to fill the gaps.

You did not set out to create a cluttered, over-burdened life – it just happened.  So, it could easily happen again.

“No, thank you” is one of the most powerful things you can say in your quest to keep your stuff at the level which suits you best.  Whether it is a freebie bag at a conference, a loyalty card from a store, a copy of recipe or your great aunt’s tea-set – if it does not fit your goals you can politely refuse the offer.

Dining table

I have refused, decluttered and minimised for several years and still know that there is more to go.  I keep a bag/box in the spare room and as I find things to go they are moved to the box which then goes to the op shop when it is full.  Sometimes it takes ages to gather enough to send off and other times there is a flurry of activity and I take several bags in one weekend.  Having a dedicated receptacle for things that are to be re-homed helps me to keep focused.

I hope you have enjoyed this series and would strongly recommend reading “The Joy of Less” by Francine Jay for more inspiration.  Please share your thoughts on decluttering and minimalism in general and as well as your personal achievements.

STREAMLINE – Narrow it Down

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This is where it starts to get really challenging.  Now we need to ask ourselves the question, “What is the minimum that I need to live?”  Francine notes that you do not need to worry that you will be expected to sleep on the floor or live in a tent but you do need to challenge yourself.  It is not enough to wave your magic wand and say that you need everything that you have.

There is no magic number of items or even a formula that you can apply.  Everyone’s ‘enough’ is different.  It can depend on your location, family, children, hobbies, upbringing and experiences.

Embracing minimalism is a personal choice.  It is not about depriving yourself but giving yourself the freedom to live and enjoy the moment.  There is a liberating lightness which comes from letting go of possessions so take the time to look around you and decide what you can live without.

Contents of cupboard

Some of things you could consider when attempting to narrow down your possessions:

  • Duplicates – these are easy – you don’t really need 2 (or more) do you?
  • Sentimental stuff – Francine suggests ‘minituarising’ as a way of dealing with these – an example could be a place card, photo, swatch of dress fabric and a dried flower from the bouquet all in a simple frame as a wedding memento rather than keeping a wedding dress and all the trimmings.
  • Digitising – scanned photos in files on the computer rather than shelves full of albums that gather dust.  If the digitised files are well catalogued they are actually more accessible than hard copies.  You can also keep back-ups in different locations in case of disaster.

I do not purport to be perfect in any of these ways but am certainly working on it.  What about you?

STREAMLINE – If One Comes In, One Goes Out

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This is a fairly simple strategy – for every item that you welcome into your home another one needs to leave.  Whilst this strategy will not turn you into a minimalist overnight, it will certainly maintain the status quo.

One of the most popular applications of the ‘one in, one out’ rule is clothes.  Buy a new shirt and then choose one that you can move on.  If you are having trouble letting one go, perhaps it is time to ask yourself why you bought the new shirt in the first place.  Did you really need it?  The last time I looked, we can only wear one shirt at a time so why do we need a wardrobe bulging with clothes?

Appliances are another area where we can tend to buy a new version yet retain the old one.  It is usually consigned to the back of the cupboard or the garage ‘just in case’.  Just in case the bright new shiny one breaks down?  Do we really buy things expecting them to fail?  If the previous one needed replacing it is time for it to go.

We recently purchased a new refrigerator.  After a considerable time spent looking and debating the various options available this is the one we bought.

RefrigeratorOf course, there was the question of what to do with the old one.  The Duke briefly canvassed the option of keeping it downstairs as a ‘beer fridge’ but we realised that it was completely unnecessary and would use up space and electricity.  I advertised it on Freecycle and am pleased to say that it has gone to a young couple who were trying to set up a home with very little in the way of resources.

Old refrigerator

Most of us live in relative affluence and virtually everything we buy is an upgrade/replacement/newer version of something we already own.  Therefore, there will be something to move out of your home.  If the previous item was broken it should be consigned to the rubbish/recycling.  If it is still functional someone else may benefit from having it.  No-one benefits from it being stashed away to deteriorate in your garage or basement.

As an aside, I find this principle of ‘one in, one out’ a fantastic disincentive to shop.  “Why spend my hard-earned cash on something when I have a perfectly good one at home?” is the question I often ask myself.

How effective are you at ‘one in, one out’?