Project 333 and Cooking in the Closet

The Great Clothing Purge of 2011

I’ve been toying with the idea of taking on Project 333 for a while now. Since my maternity wardrobe is already limited and I’d like to pack away as much as I can for the pending move, this may be the perfect timing. The concept of 333 is simple; for three months (a season) you wear only 33 wardrobe pieces including shoes, outerwear and accessories. Not included are underwear, jammies and work out clothes. Everything else gets stored away for the duration. A challenge for sure.

As our move date gets closer and there is so little I can do to actually help (no painting or heavy lifting with NoelBaby tagging along), I spend a lot of time planing life in the new house in my head. How should the kitchen flow? Will we have a TV? How will our daily routines change when we have more space?

One question I keep grappling with is “where will all our stored stuff go?” Now I realize that we are moving into a three bedroom house from our two-room flat, but hear me out. We have between us 50 odd years of general accumulated stuff. Add to that multiple hobbies, not even three years of baby stuff (why does someone so small have so much?), loads of hand me down housewares from generous family members and our joint weakness, books. Lots of books. Most of these things have been in storage while we’ve lived the last 5 years in tiny, tiny one or two-room apartments.

Now, with a tiny house comes a tiny kitchen and tiny cabinets. I used to rail against our current tiny kitchen. There isn’t room for two people to work together (true). There isn’t enough counter space (true). I can’t fit a full sized cookie sheet into the oven (sigh, true). There isn’t room for all our stuff (false). There would be room if we had less stuff. I fit what I could into the space. Then I took some out; whatever wasn’t getting used. Turns out, I only use the same 6 pots and pans for all my cooking. I didn’t have space for any others, but I didn’t need them. Should I find that I could use another pot I simply shifted my cooking plans until it worked out. I can’t imagine that when we move, even though the space will be larger, that our habits will be come larger, too. Will we need twice as many pots and pans even though we’ve managed just fine with 6? I don’t think so.

But clothes are different somehow. In the last five years I have gone from art student living in a hippy college town, to newly wed, to young professional designer, for about all of two weeks because I was soon to be… pregnant, to stay-at-home-mommy, to doula. Each change demanding a new set of clothes to portray my new identity. Also, my shape has changed so much and so often that it’s hard to keep up with what fits, if I can nurse in it and what is no longer appropriate. So I have a little bit of everything on hand, all those “just in case” pieces which turned into A LOT altogether. Too much.

This spring I went though much of the stored clothes and got serious about what I was comfortable in and what I was likely to wear again. There was no use keeping it if I wasn’t going to wear because it was too tight across the chest, pinched under the arms or didn’t cover my belly button. It is a challenge, to know what to keep and what to pass along. Even with my aggressive purging there’s still so much left. But every time I go through my clothes I find something that fits which I put away a year or two ago, confusing the whole process. I don’t want to be wasteful, but I also don’t want storage boxes filling up my new house and clothes that never get worn spilling from my new closets.

I’m not as brave as Kristy Powell at One Dress Protest  who is wearing the same dress all year long to protest the over-consumerism and under-sustainability of the fashion industry. I feel like no one will make wild overarching judgments about my lifestyle because my pots and pans don’t match (they don’t, so no judging), so why do I feel that way about my clothes? I fear being labeled the wrong thing, but shouldn’t I fear being labeled at all? This is a bit existential, I know, but I’ve had a lot of time to think about it lately. I’ve never considered going out to buy another pot for one fancy meal, because it simply wasn’t worth storing it. Why are clothes so different?

I guess that if we plan on having more kiddlets in the future with my maternity, postpartum and nursing bodies to consider, that my stored collection will be larger than I’d like. This is OK, but I need to learn how to make better choices about what to keep and what to buy.

The next season for P333 starts October 1. I’ll post pictures of my 33 piece wardrobe once I get it pinned down, both for your viewing pleasure and for some extra accountability. I’m hoping that by tackling this project it can help me see just how much my closet is like our kitchen and that I really only need 6 pots and pans to do all my cooking.




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