In two days my husband and I will begin driving across the country to our new home. As I write this, our apartment is riddled with boxes, trash bags, heaps of items to be taken to the Goodwill, and a good deal of stress. Over the last few weeks, as I’ve had to go through and physically touch EVERY item of clothing I own in order to pack, the idea of owning LESS has become more and more appealing.
Fashion minimalism is something I’ve been intrigued by for years but have shied away from actually pursuing because I’ve always felt the itch of “what if.” What if I fit into this dress again? What if I have an event to go to? What if my other 6 pairs of jeans are in the wash? I had an entire closet of “what ifs,” but it’s time for me to face reality.
Whether we consciously think about it or not, what we put on our bodies is a reflection of the self--who we are and how we want the world to see us. For many of us, this is a very real concern and something we spend more time and effort on than we care to admit. We want to look our best, feel beautiful, be ourselves, etc. Yet, even though we want all of that, most of the women I know (myself included) keep buying clothes and then complaining that we have nothing to wear, even as our closets overflow.
So, what’s a girl to do? Well, if you’re me, you research the crap out of the problem. Which is exactly what I’ve been doing (I become a very dedicated researcher when I have other things that need to be done…packing, what packing?). I read books and blogs, listened to podcasts, and watched documentaries, all with the hope of figuring out how clothes can become a source of joy instead of stress.
Enter, Courtney Carver (@bemorewithless). She is the creator of Project 333, a fashion minimalism challenge that’s had an active following since its inception in 2010. The challenge includes choosing only 33 items of clothing to wear for 3 months (say what now?) though many participants say they continue the challenge long after the 3 months are up.
Originally, the whole goal behind Project 333 was to remove stress from the equation. In 2006 Courtney Carver was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis, so she actively set out to remove as much stress from her life as possible in order to improve her health. This included less clutter, less busyness, less debt, and of course, fewer clothes in her closet.
What she discovered in pursuing this pared down lifestyle was that owning less stuff not only relieved stress, but ultimately brought her back to herself.
On her website, bemorewithless.com, she writes, “Be more with less means: Be more you. Give yourself all the space, time and love to remember who you are. Living with less clutter, busyness, and stress will help you make the room to do what you need to do. Simplifying my life gave me the space, time, and love to be more me.”
She is not alone in expressing this idea. As I read blogs and books, I found over and over again this idea that when we eliminate the bullshit around us, we are better able to see and appreciate ourselves.
In her ebook, Secrets of the Capsule Wardrobe: How to Find Your Personal Style & Create a Happy Confident Closet, Sarah Eliza Louderback says that she is passionate about making a minimalist wardrobe work “because I’m tired of the fashion industry yanking us around, telling us we have to dance to their tune each season to be beautiful. You are already uniquely beautiful! You deserve to feel at-ease in your own skin.” Amen to that!
What I’m taking away from all this is that fashion minimalism doesn’t mean only wearing one color or denying ourselves those amazing new pair of shoes. It means surrounding ourselves with beautiful items and loving ourselves enough to adorn this body of ours in what feels good right now, not what felt good 10 pounds ago or what will feel good in a month.
It’s about grounding ourselves in the present and being grateful for what we have. In other words, fashion minimalism can be a road to self love and body acceptance.
Inspired by these women, and determined to not start this new chapter weighed down by clothes I never wear or can’t fit in anymore, I donated, sold, or gave away a significant portion of my closet and plan to try Project 333 once I’m settled in my new home (eek, now it’s in writing!).
If you’re curious or want to explore this world of fashion minimalism with me, the rules and how-tos of the Project 333 challenge can be found on Courtney’s website. Or search the hashtag #project333 to see all the awesomeness on IG.