Sunday, November 6, 2011

Halloween=Dress-up Box, aka Project 333: my way

  • The post-Diwali nip in the air is one good reason.
  • A surfeit of overly festive dressing up for various pujas is another.
  • Sheer boredom with the hot-humid-most-of-the-year wardrobe is the most important one, though.
One way or the other, it's a ritual born of necessity — the seasonal wardrobe switcheroo.

And it's a long-standing ritual. Been doing it for over a quarter of a century, in fact.

But this year, I'm ringing in the changes. It's a switch-up that's different from the usual for me, because I'm attempting my version of Project 333. (Which I feel is better called Project 33.3, because I'm a nitpicky super-editor in everyday disguise.)

Why? Because this year... I. Don't. Have. Any. Closet.

That's right — our clothes have been homeless for the last two years, ever since we moved into our new home! And I have grown tired of two stuffed drawers of an old broken dresser and tottering piles in holding pattern through half the rooms.

I want space. I need sanity. So here goes...

The original idea is to pare down your closet collection to precisely 33 items to be used for 3 months, with at most a small switch-in-switch-out box of three more for changing your mind, holding over to find best fits for the fashion-insecure, or for dire emergencies and extra-special occasional occasions. That's 33 items including not just clothes, but also accessories, protective outerwear (raincoats, gumboots, overcoats, even umbrellas), shoes and jewellery.

What it doesn't include:
  • sentimental or other jewellery you never take off: the permanent piece in your piercing, the wedding ring, the locket with a lock of a loved one's hair.
  • undergarments.
  • gym clothes and sportswear (to be worn ONLY for working out).
  • lounge-y, grungy stuff you only wear around the house or in your yard. And I interpret that to mean ratty stuff to paint in, wash the car in, garden in, or blow out cobwebs in — which is probably a whole lot of latitude more than the more rigorous doyennes of minimalism would allow.
The big difference for me: I need two capsules of 33! One for using at home; another for the bag that always stands mostly packed for flying away on work (the travel journalist's assignments, that is).

I found out last year that it was a whole lot saner to get away on short notice when I wasn't rummaging madly through laundry box and ironing pile and seasonal storage to find the things I needed for a transition to a whole other climate and milieu in two days. Especially since I no longer need 'office formals' on a daily basis, now that I work from home!

Now I just add underwear, 'away jewellery', travel-sized transparent cosmetics pouch to my strolley; pick up my big satchel with the notebooks, chargers, and extra pens; and can head out in under an hour!

I've made another change to the 33.3, which is rather huge: I'm giving my jewellery a free pass. Mostly because I already have a jewellery separation system of oft-worn and rarely worn and 'working-holiday' in boxes and drawstring bags that works for me already. Also, because these don't go into my clothes drawers and laundry bags and random stacks and piles, they don't contribute to that clutter that I'm worrying about! And finally, most of the time I don't really add anything to my everyday wedding ring and single ear piercing anyway; even the 'oft-worn' is worn about once or twice a month, so not a lot of time wasted on choices there!

Without further words (and with much behind-the-scenes ado), these are my 33 for the next 3 months (November to January):

Tops, ethnic
1. Kameez, muted blue-and-pink print on white
2. Kameez, bright blue-pink-brown print on white
3. Kameez, white self-check
4. Black batik kurta
5. Kameez, red-and-teal kalamkari
6. Kameez, blue print on off-white
7. White v-neck T-shirt
8. Van Gogh (Cafe Terrace at Night) T-shirt
9. Blue bandhini print T-shirt
10. Blue and red block print T-shirt

Tops, others
11. Black linen top
12. Green tunic/overshirt
13. Long grey knitted top with asymmetrical hem
14. White-on-white printed top
Churidars and salwars
White salwar
15. Light brown (tan?) salwar
16. Beige salwar
17. Blue knitted churidar
18. Off-white knitted churidar
19. Dark brown knitted churidar
Cream-and-brown printed churidar
Pants & skirts
20. Faded blue denim boot-cut jeans
21. Brown flannelette pants
22. Bodo weave stripe-bordered brown pants
23. Grey-brown cotton herringbone pants
24. Grey pinstripe asymmetrical skirt

Shawls & scarves
25. Brown madder-dyed long cotton dupatta
26. Beige woollen stole
Pale blue woollen bandhini shawl
27. Grey woollen shawl

Cardigans & sweaters
28. Pale grey long cardigan

Shoes & bags
29. Lime green handbag
30. Black quilted handbag
31. Blue gladiator-style slip-ons
32. Black strappy mules
33. Red-green-and-brown kitten-heel chappals

The trio of 'extras'
1. Blue-grey blouson tunic with attached slip
2. Fawn khadi kurti
3. White-on-white printed Mughal-style undertunic and overshirt

A few random conclusions:
  • I have a floral block-print favoritism going on. And I like it that way!
  • I have a LOT of blues, solids and print, in my 'home base' mix — to the point where they seem to be my wardrobe 'neutral'! If I ever decide to be less colourful, it's bound to be brown. For me, black seems to be an accent colour for special-occasion clothes where someone else would choose red or pink or purple or yellow!
  • My 'holiday/working' mix, on the other hand, leans on white and cream as its base! (That list in a future post — I'm tired today!)
  • Given the Tropic of Cancer's idea of winter, the 'woollies' are essentially a few shawls and an odd sweater. For the most part, during the day, it's more a matter of longer sleeves and a few thicker natural weaves or synthetic fibres than summer and monsoon and autumn can stand!
  • Even in the cooler weather, the only completely closed shoes I need are the Crocs I use for gardening and similar splashy-messy yardwork; a pair of gym shoes for workouts; and the ankle boots I wear on trips away sometimes. No more boots and sneakers need to be bought! (Note to self: The 'extra shoes' bin needs to be rotated till a few of those pretty old pumps fall apart; nothing more needs to be bought in the tie-up, zip-up, snap-up departments.)
  • I have a whole bunch of mismatched pieces left over from a wardrobe (wardrobes?) belonging to different climes. Some have never had a partner and represent unplanned purchases or gifts that aren't really my style but which I got sentimental about. (Whee! another list to make... It has to be easier to just box it up and drive it over to a charity.)
  • I am really good to my clothes — there are exactly three pieces in the 33 that aren't at least a couple of years old; 15 of the remaining 30 are over five years old and look great, if I do say myself . ALL of my lounging-around, mucking-about and sleeping-in clothes are over three years old and have never seen a seasonal break (that's another tall stack I need to sort down to manageable, and another post!); at least half are over five years old, and the oldest (a pair of warm flannelette pajamas) is over eight years old yet NOT ratty at all!
  • Corollary: I better buy more of the classic stuff. Given their age, a lot of things go to my 'outbox' because either I'm bored with them by now or they look like props from That 70s/80s/90s Show. (And no, I'm not really even aware of what's 'in'.) Yep, the classic stuff is often more expensive, being better tailored and better quality fabric; but the way my wardrobe lasts, it should be fine as long as I don't let myself outgrow garments physically (which I've no business allowing, for health's sake!).
  • I still have enough clothes in storage that I could possibly change the whole 33 on a whim, just because I'm bored or something!
  • Some of the camisoles in my underwear drawer could actually very well claim a place in the 33, seeing as they are nice enough to do double-duty as tanktops! Ergo, I don't need as many T-shirts as I think I do, and certainly need NOT replace the T-shirts that went to the 'outbox'.
  • Similarly, some of the T-shirts I bought last year just for sleeping in are still in decent enough shape to actually wear outdoors in my main 33, and can even go in the travel suitcase. Rinse (mouth out) and repeat: I don't need as many T-shirts as I think I do. (They were also cheap enough to replace as needed, and always available as a store brand; I do NOT have to buy extras to hoard 'just in case' I run through them sometime soon. And yeah, likely story, that...!)
  • Frighteningly, for an inveterate dresser-upper, there isn't a single saree in that set! Which means I have a whole other stack of special occasion garments I can dip in to the moment I feel too constrained. (Not good. Not good at all. For the self-control, don't-think-about-dressing-up-each-day part of this experiment? Disastrous, in fact.)
Now, the in-house clothes bank (night clothes, gym bag, lounge-about garb) desperately needs cleaning out and consolidating. But please, not until tomorrow. Or day after...

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