I’m wearing just 44 items in February

On my minimalism journey, I’ve found that my wardrobe has been one of the hardest areas to to pare down. But it’s not because I am a fashion queen or love shopping and keeping up with the latest trends. I’ve found this difficult because I have so many sub-wardrobes within my closet–daytime clothes, workout outfits, professional suits and dresses, golf clothes, loungewear, etc. When the appropriate time comes, I need clothes for all of these different occasions! And much as I want to adopt a Silicon Valley startup style wardrobe and have 7 of the same black shirts to wear everyday, I still want to be fashionable and dressed appropriately and comfortably for the many scenarios I experience in my everyday life.

The task then, is to minimize not the type of clothes that I have, but the amount of items within each category. How many formal events will I attend this year? How many workout shirts do I need to exercise everyday and have enough before it comes time to do laundry again?

This is where my experiment comes in–I will wear only 44 items of clothing for 4 weeks. I’m conveniently starting this challenge on February 1st, 2021 and the month of February is perfectly filled with exactly 4 weeks, making it a wholistic monthly challenge. This idea is a spinoff of Project 333, developed by minimalist and fashion enthusiast Courtney Carver where she advises wearing only 33 items for 3 months.

Now, it might seem that I’m taking the easy road by having 44 items–but using her guidelines I would have ended up with way more items in total use for the month. Let me explain. Her item count rules including clothing, outerwear, shoes, and accessories but do not count workout clothes, loungewear, pajamas, or undergarments. While I also won’t be counting undergarments, I’ve decided to count workout clothes, loungewear, and pajamas in my item count. I’m doing this because my loungewear and pajamas generally merges with my day to day wear clothes given then I’m still spending a lot of time at home. For workout clothes, I consider it a key part of my wardrobe and want to see how far I can minimize for an activity that I do very regularly. Increasing my count to include these items, I think it’s a pretty fair exchange.

One additional change I’m making to the classic Project 333 challenge is shortening the duration from 3 months to 4 weeks. This is definitely a decrease in intensity but I want to reevaluate how this minimalist wardrobe is working out for me after a month, as well as my clothing needs might change if I start to spend less time at home.

So yesterday I chose my 44 items: 3 pairs of pants, 7 day shirts, 1 vest, 8 workout shirts, 2 pairs of leggings, 4 jackets, 1 sweatshirt, 1 short sleeve t-shirt, 1 long sleeve t-shirt, 2 pairs of sweatpants, 2 pajama tops, 1 running watch, 1 winter headband, 1 pair of gloves, 5 pairs of shoes, 2 pairs of earrings, 1 necklace, and 1 robe. That’s it! I didn’t include underwear, bras, socks, or masks.

I’m hoping to get two main benefits out of this 28-day challenge:

  1. Productivity improvements. Most Americans, myself included, spent too much time thinking about what to wear in the morning. I stare deeply into my closet waiting for my senses to tell me whether to pick the blue sweater or the pink one, or the jeans or the leggings. If I only have 7 choices of shirts to wear each day, I’ll have a few harder decisions earlier in the week, but by the end of the week, I’ll only have a few clean items left making the choice quite simple. I’m hoping to save time by eliminating these grueling morning wardrobe choices.
  2. Another closet purge. I’ve gotten rid of a considerable amount of clothes in the past year, but minimalism is a continual process. I like every item in my closet, but of course only one item can be the chosen one each day, and I still think I have too many second choice items that I like, but probably wouldn’t actually put on my body when given the option. I’m starting a new job in August, so many of the clothes that I’m not wearing now will be put on reserve until then. At that point, I’ll see what kind of clothes my coworkers are wearing and match their balance of professional and casual dress. I’ll probably end up filling up a few boxes at that point with college clothes that are no longer serving a purpose in my professional career.

I’m genuinely excited for this challenge and how it will help me grow as a minimalist and as a person. Let Project 444 begin!

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