Seventeen years of Treehouse talk

Seventeen years of Treehouse talk

Project 333, Fall 2016: Ordinary Clothes for Ordinary Life

Last updated November 7, 2016

"I love that Project 333 gives me permission to wear my favorite things every day." ~~ Courtney Carver, BeMoreWithLess

Homepage for BeMoreWithLess/Project 333 #project333
My first Project 333 page (Late Winter/Spring 2016)
My Summer 2016 Project 333 page

(Additional updates and notes are at the bottom of the page)

Life Stuff

For years I was a stay-at-home-mom of homeschoolers. Now I'm a part-time work-from-home writer, with a teenager who's headed back to high school, and a husband who also works from home. Our lifestyle is casual; our typical dinner out comes with  fries; and we don't have a lot of clothing demands. Still, over the past year I've been trying to move my mostly-thrifted wardrobe from cheap-and-haphazard to still-cheap-but-smarter, smarter in both senses of the word; and Project 333 has added some parameters to that.  I'm shopping and dressing more by choice and less by default.

In a typical week I might walk to the library on a quiet morning, or go out for coffee with my husband (between stops at Canadian Tire and the Euro-grocery); attend a school event or a study night at someone's house (think book club); and go to church on Sunday (not very formal). There are only a couple of less-usual events planned for this fall. One is a weekend conference at the end of October; the other is a possible trip away for a couple of days with my husband.

Closet Ethics

I've been a thrifter since high school, when I discovered a charity store that (at that time) sold '60's suits, Indian cottons, and cowboy boots, all at amazing prices. I've continued to buy used clothing mainly out of frugality, and also for the fun of finding unusual or better-quality items. Lately, thrifting has been given an extra boost by the growing issue of "fast fashion," or less-than-positive global production and merchandising methods. While I still think that the bigger answer is "less" rather than "where," I am also trying to put more of my clothing dollars into places where they can do good things.

Twilight Twirl scarf from Ten Thousand Villages (my big item for this fall)

How many items?

Since I hadn't done a Project 333 list for fall before, and because some of last winter's clothes had worn out or been donated, I thought I might have to buy more things than I did. Surprise: almost everything I needed was already in the closet or the storage bin, except for jeans,  footwear, and a couple of sweaters. I thrift-found a grey and white tweed blazer that went with all of my tops but none of the bottoms (other than jeans) so I decided a pair of grey pants would be a good idea too. I was going to replace last winter's teal jacket with a charcoal-grey cardigan, which seemed more sensible, but the cardigan was actually harder to layer with my other clothes, and it was also a bit too dark and sombre, so I re-donated it. It was the same with the really-dark-charcoal longer skirt from my summer list. I was hoping to wear that through the fall, but the shape and colour fought with my other clothes, so it's off the list. There isn't much point in having a skirt that should go with everything but doesn't really go with anything.

With the extremes in weather that we get here through the fall (in south-central Ontario), I had to either work in some midseason swaps, which got complicated; or just not count accessories beyond shoes. I went with Plan B: 33 basic items (31 32 in the closet, two one on the wish list), plus scarves, purses and things like that. I also have a few extra stay-at-home clothes (like a sweatshirt and backup pair of jeans) that get classed as "lounge wear."

Clothes that haven't been on the list before are marked as *NEW*.


Is this the most difficult or the most fun part? It's like menu planning and grocery shopping. Some people have meals that are company-only; others take what they were already going to eat and dress it up for a guest or a celebration. Some eat the same favourite meals, use the same recipes every week; others mix, match, and hardly ever repeat the same thing exactly.

If you look at my list, the basic combinations are pretty obvious. This top, those pants or that skirt. Most of what I have can be pulled together quickly, and I could get through this fall without giving clothes much further thought. (More ponderings on this: 7 Tips To Help You Create a Capsule Wardrobe, at BeMoreWithLess)

But the fun side of having a small wardrobe is realizing that you could wear something differently, or put things together in a new way, without any extra spending or storing. I have a denim shirt, and a tweed blazer. I would never have thought to wear them both at once, but I saw a photo and thought, if they can layer, I can layer.
My dark teal top is the close to the green of the Chrysalis Cardi, so the already-versatile Cardi can become either a dress layered under the top, or a scarf worn on top of the top.
If I get hung up on overthinking or overwishing, something out there always brings me up short and reminds me that I don't live in my closet. But I'm thankful for what I have, and I try to have fun with it.

The List

Clothing and Shoes (33 items)


Everglade Green Chrysalis Cardi from Encircled, which can be a sleeveless dress, wrap/cape/poncho, scarf, or cocoon cardigan, among other things. (My review is here) *NEW*

Smoke Revolve Dress from Encircled, a long-sleeved dress which can also be pulled up to be a top or tunic. (My review is here.) *NEW*


Dark-wash jeans (thrifted) *NEW*

Grey dress pants (thrifted) *NEW*

Khaki pants, heavier than my summer pair (thrifted) *NEW*

Charcoal-grey pull-on pants (thrifted) *NEW*

Short dark brown (sort of burgundy) skirt (thrifted, shortened)

Burgundy tank top

Navy short-sleeved T-shirt (thrifted)

Charcoal long-sleeved t-shirt (thrifted)

Green long-sleeved jersey t-shirt (thrifted)

Grey-blue long-sleeved t-shirt with pockets (consignment store) *NEW*

Grey and brown plaid pullover top (thrifted)

Blue cowlneck sweater, short sleeves (thrifted)
Green-grey pullover (thrifted addition: see updates for October)

Revolve dress worn as a a top or tunic (see the multipurpose section)

Teal jersey top with embroidered neckline (consignment store)

Blue button-up heavier shirt, 3/4 length sleeves (thrifted) *NEW*

Navy turtleneck top *NEW*

Raspberry cotton-blend pullover (consignment store) *NEW*

ADDED: Grey and burgundy plaid shirt (consignment store) *NEW*


Purple and pink wrap-style dress (thrifted), plus dark pink tank worn as a camisole (counting as one item)

Grey-blue sweater dress (thrifted)
Sage-green sleeveless dress, for the end-of-summer weather (thrifted)
(This was a nice dress for summer, but I ended up not wearing it in the fall. I've replaced it for fall/winter with a Revolve dress--see the multipurpose section above.)

(Chrysalis Cardi worn as sleeveless dress)

Third Layers

Grey and white tweed blazer (thrifted) *NEW*
Teal open-front jacket

Navy blazer (consignment store, handmade) *NEW*

Grey short sleeved long cardigan (thrifted) (which I just discovered can also be worn upside down)

Denim shirt, worn as jean jacket (thrifted)

(Chrysalis Cardi worn as cocoon cardigan or poncho)

Purple faux-suede dress-length coat (thrifted, handmade)

Sage-green outdoor jacket (thrifted, shortened) (to be switched with a snow jacket when necessary)

Shoes and Boots
Short brown/grey boots (thrifted) *NEW* 
Navy espadrilles (for the end of summer) or purple sneakers
Grey suede-type short boots (bought last spring on clearance)
Grey wedge-heeled dress shoes (thrifted) *NEW*

(I don't even count snow boots, the kind that get abused, soaked, and salt-stained. They're just a fact of life, and by the time I need those,  I won't be wearing any other shoes outdoors, so you can call it a swap.)

    • Brown braided belt, silver braided belt (thrifted)
    • Charcoal leather handbag (thrifted) *NEW*
    • Floral tote bag (yard-saled)
    • Small grey-blue purse (thrifted)
    • Wool/silk scarf, striped blue, teal, and silver *NEW*
    • Indigo print silk scarf (thrifted, from Living Blue)
    • (Chrysalis Cardi worn as scarf)
    • Other scarves, jewelry, tights and leggings, knitted hats and gloves


Late September mini-update: It's hard to believe I'm already a month into this one. We had a long run of hot weather, so it's only lately that I've even been able to wear some of my fall clothes. So far most of what I planned out is working, with the exception of one blue sweater that I keep passing over--I thought I'd wear it, but it just looks strange, so I'll keep my eyes open for something to replace it, maybe a blouse. I am hoping to add a few more updates to this page soon, like some photos, so stay tuned.

Post-Thanksgiving mini-update, with the first real frosts coming: My teenage daughter recently had an occasion where she needed a "serious" dress for a daytime event. After watching her struggle to find something appropriate (because serious dresses aren't always part of a teenager's wardrobe), I realized that I didn't own any fall/winter, "serious" dresses either (an "LBD," if you like). I had been thinking about saving up for a Revolve dress from Encircled, so that I would have it for my winter clothes list. But when things came together to order one sooner, I decided to do it (and  not be the next one stuck searching for a dress). The dress (in Smoke grey) arrived today, and since I'm under 33 pieces right now, I'm going to add it to the list. The Revolve dress can also work as a top or a tunic, so it won't be hanging around waiting for a special occasion.

October update: I added a sweater from the thrift store; my shopping thoughts are here.

October 30th update on why this is now a fall/winter list: The simplest reason for this is that I am already, almost without exception, wearing everything I own except for packed-away summer clothes. I don't have any special winter clothes to swap in or add to my fall list, other than the Revolve dress I just bought and which is already added. At some point I might decide that it's time for a re-do, but for now I'll just add any new ideas or updates to this page.

October 31 update: My first season with Project 333 was all about multi-use sweaters and turning things into other things. I have gotten away from that somewhat (except for the Encircled pieces which are meant to morph), but yesterday I found out something new to do with my short-sleeved, dress-length grey cardigan. Basically, it can be worn upside down, which gives it a shorter length and that cape-y, drapy look that seems to be popular right now. (My inspiration to wear things upside down.)  I like having a completely different way to wear something familiar! When I get a chance I'll post a photo.

Last update, November 7th: I changed my mind and created a new winter list. See you over there!


Ash@Dliche said...

Love the boots and your yay!

Mama Squirrel said...

Thanks, Ash!

Unknown said...

Nice! I love getting to see the full details of other women's Capsules!

Mama Squirrel said...

Thanks, Lesley!