Calm from Chaos

As a dyed in the wool minimalist, when Courtney Carver came to Boise on her Tiny Wardrobe Tour, you can be sure I was in the audience.

Famously coining her wardrobe lifestyle “Project 333,” Courtney wears 33 pieces of clothing (including shoes/accessories) for 3 months (a season), and then repeats the process for the next season, and so on.

I wear 25 pieces of clothing (including shoes/accessories) for 6 months (fall/winter) and then repeat the process for the next two seasons (spring/summer).

And while this certainly isn’t everyone’s ideal, for people who are interested, but leery because it sounds difficult, it’s not. In fact, it’s fun and oh so liberating! I had to laugh when Courtney explained it the way that I describe it to people, “It’s like Garanimals for adults.”

Is your closet a place of calm?



68 thoughts on “Calm from Chaos

  1. I have 7 pairs of underwear, 9 pairs of sox, 9 T shirts, 4 dress shirts, 2 pair of shoes, 2 of sneakers, tramp boots, work boots, cycle shoes, gum boots, waders, 3 jackets (light, med, heavy), 3 singlets, 2 hoodies, 2 jerseys, 2 sets of wet weather gear (one heavy, one light). All of these I have had for at least a year – most of them for over 5 years.

  2. Thanks, Laurie. I have seen her mentioned but haven’t read anything in detail before (I’m moving soon, so anything that mentions wardrobes sounds interesting). I am all for making life less complicated, so I will check, but as a concept I love it. Thanks again!

  3. Last year I took every last thing out of my closet and didn’t put anything back in that I didn’t love, or that didn’t fit. It cleared up space and made everything easier to access. It also made it easier to choose what to wear because I loved everything. That was liberating. But for me, I don’t think I would find counting my clothes liberating. That feels like a rule, and I don’t want to follow rules with my clothing. I think I’ll stick with a regular clean-up.

  4. Hmm real interesting, Laurie. I don’t have much clothes and certainly do not wear much, being in the tropics and all. But I hate clutter and junk. My wardrobe is actually sparse. It is Hubby who is the clothes and shoes addict. I have only two pairs, one for church and one flat slippers for work and casual. And this is because of health issues which gives me pains in the feet all the time. Still, I have always owned at most three pairs of shoes at a time. 🙂

  5. Let’s look in my closet, Laurie–I organize my clothes by color and by sleeve length. Oh, dear is that OCD? 🙂 My dresser drawers are the same. I might have a bit more than 25 pieces that I rotate out, but if you need a long sleeve light blue T-shirt, it will be bottom o’ the heap (descending order by sleeve length)!

  6. I’m interested in the mix of items for Project 333 or your wardrobe.I may be close to a minimalist in this arena. Winter weather necessitates a few extras, dress boots, boots for walking, and what I call deep snow boots plus a casual and dress coat. For spring/summer and fall/winter I currently own, per each 6 month period, two low heels, and one pair of flats plus a very old pair of walking shoes (which need to be replaced). I have a pretty lean clothes wardrobe. In fact, because I’ve been tossing very old/out of date items or donating others, I’m actually in need of a few new business and casual items. I’m planning to add a bit more creative flair to the mix, especially in color choices as ell as softer hues! Oh, and one new item I plan to add to my possessions, is a pair of trekking sticks (not wardrobe really), good for balance and aerobic benefit on planned longer walks this year.

    • Audrey — What you’ve described sounds ideal to me. And when I’m in the market to buy, the first place I check is online at — they’re a high end resale store. Many of their items still have the tags on them. My LL Bean front-zip sweater just died. I replaced it at ThredUP with a tag-still-on Pierre Cardin front-zip sweater for UNDER $20 🙂

  7. I am all for that. We have survived quite happily for nearly 6 months on what we can fit in our single wardrobe in the motorhome, including footwear. As you can guess, this is not very much at all. 👍😃

  8. A good idea. I did have to cut back when we moved to Spain but still need to cull some more. I get bored with my clothing so fast though and have trouble getting rid of shoes. Working on it!

  9. You would gasp at what’s in my closet, which I have organized (loosely) by color and season. I believe I belong more in the Bernadette-Arlene-Janet camp though I try to go through the wardrobe monthly and pull out items to re-cycle. My husband adds to the joy when he gives me shirts that don’t fit anymore. Ah, right now there are two items in my car on the way to the donation center. Minimalism is not my goal; downsizing is!

  10. Yes, I do this. I have three or four standard outfits for each season. I keep “nice” pajamas, dress shoes and a bathing suit in a suitcase for travel. Not and then, I have to get into my closet for a dress. Otherwise, all of my clothing – from socks and underwear to cardigan sweaters for an added layer – fit into two drawers in the laundry room.

  11. Can’t match 25 pieces or even 33, but I don’t buy a lot of clothes. What I do buy tends to get worn a lot and for many years. I never thought of my closet as a place of calm, but maybe I’ll try meditating in there someday. 😉


    • Chris — I suspect that many of your clothing items can double as golf course wear, giving you more bang for your buck.

      Your wife may well think you’ve gone round the bend If you decide to meditate in the closet. You may want to give her advance notice 🙂

  12. Since retiring from corporate America, I live in 8 pairs of black yoga pants, a dozen short or long sleeved knit tops and two Columbia fleece jackets and one down coat for colder weather. I own one pair each of snow boots, short boots, athletic shoes, black flats, white flats and loafers. I have one pair of black pants and one long black skirt with two suit jackets and two beaded shirts. This month I will remove the few corporate suits still in the back of my closet.
    Two years ago, my niece gave me a copy of Marie Kondo’s book, “the life changing magic of tidying up… the Japanese art of decluttering and organizing.” Categorizing and discarding are done first. Collect ALL clothes from everywhere in the house (including coat closet downstairs.) While holding each piece of clothing in your hands, determine whether to keep or discard it (feeling the energy?). Then thank the clothes for their service before depositing in the discard pile. (I am a Reiki practitioner so maybe why this speaks to me, but it is a very peaceful process.) All t-shirt type tops are folded and rolled up to be put in drawers. This allows you to see the different colors at a glance and, if folded in the way Ms. Kondo describes, the items do not get wrinkled. The relationship of our clutter and our disposition is interesting.

    • Chris — I’m a fan of Marie Kondo’s book, and delighted to know that you are too. Like you, I’m fascinated with the relationsip between our disposition and our clutter (or lack thereof) 🙂

  13. I haven’t counted, but am certain if I were to count underwear items along with outerwear and shoes, I would be over the 25 items for certain. My winter outerwear (this year) consists of eight pair of leggings and probably that many tunics – with accessories of scarves and shoes. My closet holds many other items of outerwear despite the fact that I do cull periodically. There’s that forever hope that “I might wear that again” next season. And when I don’t, I’ll cull again. My seasons are a lot like yours, 6 months of winter (with under layers determined by temperature – camisoles or 32 degree long sleeved tees), six months of sleeves ranging from 3/4 to sleeveless. Maybe this would be a good time to get rid of a lot of the things I bought for the cruise I went on a few years ago, and apparently will never ever wear again.

    • Carol — There are many people who fall in the category of “I might wear that again.” The difference between you and them is that if by next season you don’t, you cull it. And that’s huge! 🙂

  14. My closet indicates either intensive therapy is required or I am an visionary years currently ahead of my time. Who else would own this “dress up” in corporate along with glam/boho . Calm is not my current closet so yes…some shoe fetish needs to go! Love u Laurie.

  15. I’ve worked hard–and continue to work hard–to reduce. Winter/Fall I have 3 pairs of boots and 2 pairs of shoes. Spring/Summer I have 3 pairs of shoes–but I do need a new pair of joggers. I am actively involved in reducing the other items in my wardrobe as well.

  16. A great post and discussion. How interesting that we have come full circle on the idea of “less is more.” It seems every generation comes to this conclusion. I can only wear one dress at a time… “Contentment comes not so much from great wealth as from few wants.” Epictetus

  17. I wish I had pared down to 33 items before we moved to Pittsburgh! But I do have a limitation of my own. Everything has to fit on one retail rack hanging in our bedroom. No closet. I probably have about 50 items here. More hanging in my closet in VA, however, so I need to become more strenuous in my editing. Clothes, like words, have more impact when only the powerful ones remain. 🙂

    • Shirley — And if I’m not mistaken, you’ve moved bedrooms five times during your current Granny Nanny duties, so your self-imposed limitation has been worth its weight (or lack thereof) in gold. I love what you said:

      “Clothes, like words, have more impact when only the powerful ones remain.”

  18. As you know Laurie, never been much for collecting clothes… though I may have a few more items than you 😉 I have a washing machine load that I wear each week and then wash and wear them again. I do have a few “good clothes” for summer and winter that only get brought out a couple of times a year. Spring and fall are not big changes here. Clothes are for comfort, coolness and warmth in my closet. If an item fails in more than one of these areas at a time, it usually doesn’t get worn and quickly exits the clothes to the painting rags section.

  19. I have a nice outfit for spring and summer and another for Autumn/Winter. I have a set a clothing to wear to Doctor’s appointments that look dressy but are easy to take off and accommodate for the visit. One knows that the best service at medical appointments comes to those who are clean and dressed well – it is very true that clean underwear thing! I am now wearing old go to work clothing everyday and have about 5 outfits. I have 4 pair of shoes (although I added 2 more of my daughter’s stretched out shoes ) because I have to change my shoes often and walking shoes bring a great deal of mess into the house and carpets. My feet are still growing nerves from my fall in 2016! I right now do not have a decent winter coat ( I have a dress work coat, too formal) The unusual part of my wardrobe is the large number of hoodies I own – about 8 mostly fleece lined. I can not get warm when I am reading – sometimes I wear 2 at a time!!! and I keep my trusty heating pad close by also for the truly freezing days. I always dress neatly but very simply and have only a watch and a couple pair of earrings. (Oh and my wedding pearls) Now comes the big dilemma of my life. My daughter wants me to dress up for her wedding August 25th 2018. twilight. Hot then cool river breezes. Other two daughters have cute sundresses to wear. I have nothing that qualifies. I don’t wish to embarrass her. There are just these special occasions that make me want to do better.

    • Patricia — It sounds like you’ve got your wardrobe down to what works just right for you.

      And I’m absolutely confident that if you start now, you’ll find something Mother-Of-The-Bride worthy for your daughter’s August wedding 🙂

  20. For us minimalism is mostly about furniture — we don’t have a lot. When I entertain I have to borrow chairs. But it works for us.

    But clothing? Well… I don’t like shopping and my clothing has always been pretty functional. But I lost 30 pounds last year. I really didn’t want to have to buy new clothes, but when my old ones were actually starting to fall off of me a couple of friends intervened. These are wonderful young ladies in their 80’s who are avid thrift shoppers and have a great sense of style. Living at the lake we mostly wear jeans and sweats in the winter and shorts and capris in the summer.
    Right now I have a closet full of jeans and sweaters and bags of capris and shorts along with some very nice dresses to go through later. When it started getting cold I ended up with 12 coats and jackets. So right now I a abundantly blessed with clothes. That’s been my matra through all this as the clothes kept pouring in — I am abundantly blessed. In time I will sort through them and find a way to share some of my blessings with others, but for now I’m just having fun wearing clothes that make me feel like a kid again.

  21. I got rid of a lot of stuff in my closet when we moved in November. I have more than you do, but I’m happy with it. Seasons around here don’t seem to matter anymore, yesterday it was 52 degrees and Friday it will be in the 60s. Last week it was near zero at night and in the teens during the day.
    I go day by day, not season by season!

  22. I would love to own just a few garments but I’m a clothing junkie . Please don’t think I spend a fortune , I live out of charity shops then me and a friend swap rag bags( as we call them ) . I adore colour ( so you can see how your book appealed to me) On a grey and rainy day ( and that’s only my mood) I can be seen in Hot Orange or Citrus lemon .
    In my sitting room I have three milk white walls and the hearth wall is cranberry…it won’t work said my hubby …I does we love it 😍

  23. Still in my old uniform of white t-shirts, long-sleeved flannel shirts, blue jeans and boots. While I still like to dress up to go out on occassion, comfort and convenience are my guidelines to fashion!

  24. NO, I’ve never heard of the Project 333 and am absolutely fascinated with the idea. So much so that later this morning, I’m going down to my closet and filling up some bags for the Goodwill donation truck. I dislike (really: HATE) to shop so I don’t go to stores or malls. If I need something, I buy it on-line, and then minimally. The winter clothes I have seem to last a lifetime (boots from before 2000, thick socks, sweaters). But I have ‘things’ hanging in my closet that I haven’t worn in a long time, whichvstill seem ‘unworn.’ They are going to a new home as of this afternoon. Thanks for the inspiration!

  25. Laurie, I’m intrigued and can see how this concept can be liberating! Over the past few years I have been clearing my wardrobe and find I tend to wear a certain set of clothes over and over. And yes, these rotate according to the season. Thrown in are items for the extremes – beach wraps for holidays, knitted woolly jumpers knitted by my mother 25 years ago and still the only and best protection during the coldest of winter days! My son has the most minimalist wardrobe; 4 jeans, 4 shorts, several T-shirts and a couple shirts (plus hoodies for winter and now one prom suit for formals). He seems to manage just fine!

  26. I’m well within the Project 333 guidelines – even after having to get a small “winter collection” due to so many cold fronts now reaching down to Florida 🙂

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