Thursday, 19 December 2013

From a Common Wardrobe to Project 333

Hopefully I've persuaded you that it's possible to have a versatile wardrobe with just twelve items of clothing, as shown in my Common Wardrobe series of posts. These were inspired by Janice's "A Common Wardrobe" in The Vivienne Files. The link is to one of her posts giving a variation in pink and navy, which seemed the most relevant one after I'd written "The Common Wardrobe: Pretty in Pink?"

Now I am going to be generous to you - after all it's the season of goodwill! - and allow you to have another 21 garments, giving  you a grand total of 33.  I am talking of course of taking part in Project 333 and what better time to begin than January 1st? I know there are almost two weeks to go, but you need to start planning it as soon as possible. Briefly, the idea of Project 333 is to select just 33 items of clothing to wear over three months. The official version includes accessories and jewellery in the 33, however I have bent the rules slightly.

When I first started doing my own version of Project 333 last year I did include shoes and bags, however I found it a bit limiting.  I suspect that this was partly because my wardrobe at the time was rather haphazard with lots of different colours, not all of which went well with the other colours. There was an occasional wardrobe crisis if I let the washing pile up and realised that nothing in my wardrobe went with anything else in it. By the second season I realised I needed to exclude accessories if it was to work for me. My wardrobe has changed over the last twelve months and is starting to look more coordinated so maybe one day I will be able to manage with less.

To start with, this is my Common Wardrobe, based on neutrals of black, grey and navy, with a touch of red.

Your neutrals don't have to be the same as mine: you may look better in dark brown, khaki and taupe for example. The idea though is to have a core wardrobe based around neutral colours that flatter you and then,  if you wish, build on that with more colourful clothes that go well with your neutrals.

As I said earlier, if you are going to take part in Project 333 from 1st January, you need to start going through your existing wardrobe now! You are aiming to keep only those clothes that fit you, look good on you and suit your lifestyle - then get rid of the rest. If that seems too drastic, then box them up and put them away until the end of March.

My wardrobe is obviously a lot more casual than the wardrobe of anyone who goes out to work. My preferred style is casual chic. Other over 60s may go for a more classic, romantic or dramatic look. Whatever your preferences, it helps to identify your personal style before creating any capsule. You may discover some gaps in your wardrobe once you  have cut it back to only those items that you enjoy wearing, however if you start your clear-out now, you should have time to drop a few hints to family and friends regarding possible Christmas presents.

It's been bitterly cold here recently so I've not been wearing the navy trench-coat, however it's ideal over layers on a sunny day so it will still be part of my Winter 33. The indigo jacket is lightweight but very warm and therefore will definitely be packed for my forthcoming trip to London.

My final three neutrals are a black pencil skirt, a grey jacket that fits well under my trench-coat and a charcoal dress. I don't wear skirts that often, but this one won't date and is good for a dressier than usual night out, which is why I've included it, as is the dress that I wore for a charity dinner last Friday. Now for a bit of colour! I've included fifteen colourful items in my total of thirty-three, but colour is optional if you're a fan of neutrals.

During my recent colour analysis with Fiona of House of Colour in London, my best colours were identified as Royal Purple, Royal Blue, Electric Blue, Lobelia, Fuchsia, Raspberry, Carmine and Dark Emerald. I'm what's known as a Jewel Winter, which suits me as it includes some of my favourite colours. I decided to use these brighter colours wherever possible when working towards my Winter 33. Your own best colours may be totally different, however the principle is the same: try and wear your most flattering colours near your face.  This is particularly important for those of us who are women of a certain age - youthful faces are far more forgiving! Some colours that I could wear when I was younger now look dreadful on me, which I discovered when I was doing my initial wardrobe purge for Project 333 and also during my colour analysis.

I just had to start with pink, didn't I? Interestingly enough, when Janice commented on my previous post, she said that she liked the pale pink best on me, however I've not included it in my Winter 33. It may make a re-appearance in Spring though. These bright pink trousers clearly aren't as versatile as the dark grey pair or my navy and black jeans, however they are there because I love the colour and because I do have some dark tops that go well with them.

I've chosen lots of green plus some blue and purple tops, all of which will go well with most of my skirts and trousers. That's the beauty of starting with a Common Wardrobe based on neutrals: you can still indulge in your favourite colours for tops and accessories.

My final three are a lovely warm jumper that I've owned for several years (however it's good for at least one more winter), a red jumper (red is another favourite colour of mine, especially for accessories) and a dark grey waistcoat. Yes, I admit that it's not colourful, however it makes an ideal extra layer on colder days and blends in with any outfit.

To finish, here are a few calculations. For everyday wear I have 16 tops and jumpers plus two pairs of jeans and one pair of trousers, which gives me 48 possible outfits. Add in the pink jeans, which can be worn with at least half a dozen tops, the two skirts and a dress for smarter occasions and of course there are four cardigans and a jacket ready to swap around - and I haven't even mentioned accessories and jewellery. I hope that you can see how versatile a wardrobe of 33 items of clothing can be. I don't think I'm in any danger of running out of different outfits to wear for the next three months, do you?


  1. I'm going to encourage my readers to start Project 333 for the start of the year also - I think it's a great idea. And your colors are SOOOOO beautiful.... Love your choices!

  2. Thank you Janice! As you can tell from my recent comment on your blog, I'm always tempted by lovely bright colours, though women of a certain age do have to make sure they choose their most flattering shades.

  3. I really like these ideas. I retired from a high-pace, demanding career that required a lot of organization and multi-tasking. After I retired, I kind of just came to a stop (could also be the mental fog of menopause or the new challenges of eldercare). It's hard to get organized (and motivated) now, but these kinds of challenges help. But then I get distracted and quit. The way you describe your approach and show polyvores makes sense and helps me get back on track.

    I'm aiming for a versatile mix and match wardrobe that fits the travel lifestyle we'd like to get back into. Hard to find the right colors/fabrics/styles but I'm getting there.

  4. Robin, a capsule wardrobe is just what you need for travel - I will be creating one soon for my trip to London as I'm going hand luggage only! Why don't you create a polyvore based on your favourite wardrobe pieces then play around with it to find other versatile pieces that will go with them? You never know, you may find something similar already in your wardrobe! I think fabrics are particularly important for travel wardrobes, unless you're going somewhere where you can hand wash and iron!

  5. Sue
    I had a go-to travel wardrobe until I got too..I mean, until it shrank. :)
    My attempts to find replacements have met with some real adventures. The perfect neutral animal-print shirt that kept shifting down at the front, resulting in a little peep show. Not to mention the pretty beading on--just a little!--set off the security alerts!

    The black pants that fit so well--except on a plane where they creep up...the perfect gray pants that made me too hot. I'd love to wear a skirt but I do sometimes end up walking across the tarmac to the plane and THAT doesn't go the way it does in the movies!

    I'm in transition now from wearing the wrong colors, and finding good deep soft summer colors in flattering styles is also a problem (as you probably know, finding petite clothes is a pain). I just bought a new shirt with lots of texture to it--will have to see how that goes. Should dry easily too--a real necessity for my travels.

  6. Oh, and I think it's some kind of law that if your clothing is going to give you a wedgie on a plane, it will be at its worst just as the plane hits turbulence and the flight attendant insists you fasten your seatbelt.


  7. Great and useful article. Creating content regularly is very tough. Your points are motivated me to move on.

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