Last Tuesday I made the Los Angeles journey from Mid-City to Santa Monica for the Tiny Wardrobe Tour. NAPO (National Association of Professional Organizers) Los Angeles Chapter was promoting the event, "Project 333: Be More with Less." that was featuring a minimalist fashion challenge created about six years ago by Courtney Carver, who was looking to simplify her life in every area - including her closet.
I was pretty skeptical about this concept of living with a wardrobe of only 33 items for 3 months (Project 333, get it?), which includes jewelry, accessories, and -gasp- shoes! I even felt justified in my quick judgement as the speaker approached the front of the room clad in a plain, white, v-neck tee and simple black skirt; I was thinking I would have wore something with more pizazz for the presentation. During part of her talk, Courtney mentioned that most people really don't care or notice what you wear, which in that moment, did not ring true for me - just earlier, as I was coming down from the parking garage, I got a complement on my shoes from the woman in the elevator. Not that I get dressed in the morning for compliments, but they're always welcomed, and my fellow lift companion certainly did notice what I was wearing, and was inspired enough to share with me.
It also didn't help my willingness to embrace the presentation that there was a woman in the audience who was loudly and emphatically determined to be a minimalist; she was pushing desperately to get rid of everything in her home. The zealous-like energy and the extreme minimalist mentality upset me and put my guard up. For me, having nothing is just as bad as having too much. It is said that you shouldn't define yourself by how much you have, but I say don't define yourself by what little you have either.
As Courtney was speaking I was stuck thinking, "This 33 thing just can't be possible." I work with a lot of clients that purge so much stuff, and are still left with way more than 33 items. I started tensing up as I imagined my own closet, and envisioned getting by with only 5 pairs of underwear and maybe 2 pairs of socks, to at least allow for some variety of shirts - or what if I went commando and just wore sandals?!? It came as a relief as she explained the project in more detail and revealed that sleepwear and workout clothes are each counted as one, and you don't include undergarments. Phew.
As Courtney went deeper into her story, the tension knot between my shoulder blades eased, and I couldn't help but be inspired by the way her health and happiness had improved, how her family downsized from a house that was too big for them into renting a smaller and more functional unit, and how they are debt-free and she is earning a living by doing what she loves: teaching and inspiring people all over the world. And by now, she's right; I don't care that she is wearing a boring white tee. Courtney inspired me.
I had to investigate my own wardrobe. The next day, I had a friend come over and we started cleaning out, what I felt was already, my paired-down closet. I tried on every dress, shirt, pants, and even every pair of underwear, just to ensure nothing was in my wardrobe that didn't make me feel good or didn't fit properly. I work with my clients on this de-cluttering step all the time, and yet I still had unwanted items lurking in my space. (Skeletons in my closet? No?)
After removing the pieces that did not serve me from my space, I am lighter and freer. I even took inventory of everything that remained. Since Courtney had encouraged us to tailor the project to fit our individual needs, I came up with this: if I group my shoes, outerwear and jewelry as one each, then I can get the number close to 33. Well...ok, maybe not that close, but certainly closer at only 74 items, and if I had a garage or basement to store my off-season pieces, then it would be more like 60 items. Courtney said 33 may not be the number for everyone; 60 is a doable number for me. Instead of dwindling down my wardrobe to 33 items, I actually got rid of 33 items, and it felt great!
In the end what it comes down to is this: love yourself more, and love your stuff less, and always make room for new things to come into your life. Always make space for love.