How do I decide on my 36 pieces?

First off, I want to let you know what counts as a piece of clothing.  Because I don’t want to re-invent the wheel, I’m using Courtney Carver‘s definition of what counts for a piece of clothing. From the Project 333 website:

  • The 36 items include  “clothing, accessories, jewelry, outerwear and shoes.”
  • You don’t have to include a “wedding ring or another sentimental piece of jewelry that you never take off, underwear, sleep wear, in-home lounge wear,  and workout clothing (you can only wear your workout clothing to workout)”.

The first thing that you need to do is to decide on a base color in your wardrobe.  Black, brown, gray and khaki are common choices.  You can read more about the base color on the Miss Minimalist website here.  The reason to choose a base color is that it makes it much easier to choose a wardrobe where everything matches.  It makes it much easier to choose versatile accessories.  It also will simplify the shoes you will need.  Let’s suppose that you choose brown as your base color.   If you purchase some cute, comfortable brown shoes, they should go with most of your clothing.  As a side benefit, it will make packing for trips much easier.

Now, choose a few complimentary colors to go with your base colors.  I love wearing rust and gray, so they will be two of my complimentary colors.  They both go well with black, which is my base color.  If I choose my accessories carefully, then everything will match.

I don’t want to minimize this task of choosing a base color.  I wanted to choose brown as a base color.  I had a hard time finding brown clothing that was flattering on me.  Because there is so much more cute, flattering black clothing available, I decided to choose black as my base color instead.

Now, you need to make a list with 36 spaces on it.  List the base pieces that you have which you’re certain will stay on your list.  Mine include a pair of jeans, a long black skirt, my chaco sandals ( which I live in during the summer) and my tennis shoes.  Into a box go all of your clothing which won’t work with your base color, along with shoes that you won’t be using for the next year (I’ll come back to the box). List the accessories that you love and that you wear regularly.  Mine include a pair of silver dangling earrings and a scarf that I already wear at least once a week.  Now, think about what you’ll need for a year.  What’s your lifestyle?  What are your roles, and what activities do you regularly engage in?  Are you a professional?  A stay-at-home mom?  An entrepreneur?  What kinds of clothing will you need for those roles and activities?  What’s the weather like in January?  In June?  What outer wear will you need?  Start filling the 36 spaces with the items you know will be work horses.

Once you have your list shaped up, it seems like a good idea to get all your clothing out to make sure that it all works together.  I’m going to lay all of my clothing out on my bed when the time come.

Back to the box- any items that you won’t be wearing for the next year should go into a box.  Tape the box up and put it away- where you won’t have access to it.  If you put it where it’s easy to get to, you’re more likely to get it back out.  Mine will be in a rubbermaid container in the garage.  Donate those items that you are ready to part with.

I know that this is a huge task.  I’m in process here- I definitely haven’t arrived.  I’ll be sharing more about my list in the next week as I begin to fill it out.  But first, I need to get my behind in gear and clean out my closet.


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