Category Archives: project 333

curating your child’s minimalist wardrobe

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I’ve been busy these past few weeks decluttering my kids’ closet.  They share a very small closet (and a very small room) and because they wear different sizes there tends to always be a lot of stuff floating around in there.  I decided there was not a lot of sense in keeping clothing they don’t like or won’t wear, so I’ve been posting lots of stuff on craigslist this past month and have luckily sold quite a few items.  Their closet is finally becoming manageable, and that’s no small feat – I’m pretty sure it’s been stuffed to the gills since the time I was pregnant with my first child eight years ago.  It really was the last bastion of clutter in our otherwise orderly home.

Here’s a few tips I’ve found useful to keep in mind over the past few weeks as I clear out the kids closet and work towards keeping a minimalist wardrobe for each of my kids:

  1. Do not anticipate a need before it actually arrives.  This is probably the most useful tidbit I can offer on this subject.  Do not buy a winter coat in summer, do not buy a bathing suit in November (unless you’re going on vacation!) and do not buy shoes for your kids in sizes they are not currently wearing.  Kids body shapes change so quickly and differently that you might anticipate – your child might skip a size, or spend an ETERNITY wearing one size, and if you have neatly tucked something away for future use, chances are you will forget it’s even there (ahem, speaking from personal experience).
  2. Do not buy ahead – or if you do, keep a list.  This is something I’ve struggled with since becoming pregnant with my first son.  While I don’t enjoy shopping, I have always enjoyed the thrill of getting a good deal.  This can lead to problems.  Or ten pair of jeans in a size your child won’t be growing into for the next three years.  Buying ahead can lead to clutter, but I can appreciate that there are some savings to be had by shopping this way – so tread carefully and keep stock of what you already own before you get too carried away by the latest sale at your favourite kid’s store.
  3. Consider what your kids will and won’t wear.  I would not have guessed that my kids would be built differently and that one would grow at a MUCH slower pace than the other.  The bonus?  My youngest wears clothing for at least a year longer than his brother was able to.  The downside?  He is much pickier about his clothing choices and would choose the same shirt and pants daily if I would give in and let him.  I’ve decided to stop fighting my little guy’s natural tendencies toward comfort and have pared down considerably for my second child.  This strategy works well in that my oldest has more clothes and will not be able to wear out most of his clothing before it gets passed on to my youngest.  And then my youngest will be able to choose his favourites and we will cull the rest.  Win, win situation, right?
  4. Keep footwear to a minimum.  Buy good shoes.  But not many.  One pair of well-made runners are usually sufficient, and they may be expensive so plan ahead to buy them once a year (I like to buy them in the summer so they are in excellent condition for September.  That and they are also usually on sale in the summer months).  If your children are not school-age yet and are still growing out of shoes quickly, be sure to check thrift stores and craigslist for high-end shoes that have been worn minimally.  Prices are sure to be better than in stores.

What kinds of things are my kids wearing this fall?  Long-sleeve t-shirts on top, and jeans or casual pants on the bottom.  They each have one pair of runners and one pair of rain boots.  They also have a pair of warmer winter boots that we will be breaking out when the weather really gets cold, and one pair of sandals that they’ll be taking on vacation this winter.  In terms of Project 333, my kids could get away with much less than 33 items each in their wardrobe.  Here’s a good list of clothing that I am going to stick very closely to:

  • 10 tops (or less if you can swing it) – these can be short-sleeve tops in the summer or long-sleeve shirts in the winter, and I try to incorporate at least one dress shirt and one nice sweater to wear for special occasions or a night out.
  • 6 bottoms – shorts in the summer and pants in the winter.  Again, at least one pair of dress shorts or pants in the appropriate season for more fancy events would be useful.
  • 2 sweatshirts or hoodies, useful for layering and warmth in the Fall and Spring seasons
  • 1 seasonally appropriate jacket – either a rain jacket or a winter coat, preferably with a hood
  • 1 bathing suit
  • 3 footwear – includes one pair of runners, one pair of rain boots and one pair of summer shoes

I have gone minimalist enough in my own daily routine that finding time to do laundry daily is not an issue.  I am usually doing a load of laundry every day or two, so there is no real need to have more than a handful of clothes in rotation anyway.  Another bonus: I find my kids are less overwhelmed about getting dressed on their own when there is less clothing in their closet, which means less arguing about what to wear.  It’s true that less really is more!

Are you and / or your family participating in Project 333?  I love to hear from others who are on the path to living with less, so be sure to share your experience in the comments!

project 333: fall is here!

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I was one of those kids who loved back to school shopping.  I always felt the need to buy several items of clothing before school started, and loved wearing my new gear the very first days of the school year.  Never mind that Fall usually hadn’t arrived by that time, and I would find myself in my new classroom in my new clothes and sweating up a storm because the weather hadn’t cooled yet.

While I’ve been reminiscing fondly about my school years these past weeks, I’m no longer shopping without a purpose or just to have new clothes in my closet.  I’ve moved away from my old back-to-school shopping ways considerably, and I didn’t buy a single article of clothing for myself or my kids for the beginning of their school adventure this year.  While I did buy a few items for the kids at a thrift store in my hometown this summer while I was on vacation, I didn’t go overboard like I did last year.  I have just recently packed away my own summer wardrobe away for the winter, and as I do the same for the kids, I’m struck with how manageable all of our closets are becoming.   I’d like to list the kids’ clothing and having them participate in Project 333 too, but I’ll save that post for another day.

So here’s what I’ll be wearing for the next three months:

  1. Wrap sweater – grey
  2. Bolero-style sweatshirt – grey
  3. Hoodie – grey
  4. Hoodie – grey, faux fur lined
  5. Cowl neck sweatshirt – pink
  6. Cowl neck sweatshirt – blue
  7. Cowl neck sweatshirt – black
  8. Plaid shirt – red and navy
  9. Long sleeved t-shirt – blue
  10. Long sleeved t-shirt – grey
  11. Long sleeved t-shirt – mulberry
  12. Long sleeved t-shirt – pink
  13. Long sleeved t-shirt – pattern
  14. Long sleeved t-shirt – blue
  15. Corduroy skirt – black
  16. Corduroy skirt – grey
  17. Sleeveless dress – black
  18. Short sleeved dress – black
  19. Formal dress – black
  20. Blue jeans, bootcut
  21. Blue jeans, straight leg
  22. Black jeans, skinny
  23. Turquoise jeans, skinny
  24. Lightweight jacket – army green
  25. Fall jacket – black
  26. Winter jacket – black
  27. Rain jacket – black
  28. Infinity scarf – purple
  29. Jersey knit scarf – turquoise
  30. Winter accessories – hat and gloves
  31. Slip on shoes – black
  32. Boots – brown
  33. Rain boots – black

Comfort definitely trumps style for a stay-at-home mom who likes to work out while the kids are at school, so my wardrobe reflects that.  My wardrobe is casual, but so is my lifestyle, so these clothes are what works for me.  I do have one formal dress that I keep on to my Project 333 list, even though it only gets broken out once a year (if that!).  I’m not including my workout clothing, but I’ve limited those items to ten, including shoes.  I’ve packed away all of my tank tops and summer dresses (I think there are about 20 of them – eek!) for when we go away this winter on a family vacation.

It feels great to have a small wardrobe, and to not have succumbed to the pressures of back to school shopping this year, both for myself and the kids.  Stay tuned for a Project 333 post that takes a look at my kids tiny shared closet.

Have you heard of Project 333 and have you considered participating?  Please share your experiences in the comments – I love to hear how others are paring down their closets and living successfully with less!

project 333: shrinking waistline, growing closet

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Confession:  I’ve been doing some shopping lately.  And the size of my wardrobe has increased.  I’ve changed my lifestyle considerably in the last few months – I’ve lost ten pounds, and I hope to lose a bunch more.  Losing extra weight is a great feeling, but looking like a frump in my clothing was not doing a whole lot for my self-esteem or motivating me to lose more weight.  So I went shopping.

And then I forgot to stop.

While I have been very good about giving away the clothing that was too big and no longer looked good on me, I will say that perhaps I did go a bit overboard in the shopping department.

Like 12 tank tops kind of overboard.

Whoops.

Cute tops I found at the mall. Did I mention I bought those sandals too? Double whoops.

I got so excited last month when the summer weather looked like it might make an appearance in Vancouver.  And then… here we are, walking in the rain.  I’m still wearing the same clothing that I wore last fall, and have worn my rain boots more than a couple of times this week.  The tank tops in my closet look at me forlornly every morning when I walk into my closet (okay, they don’t really but it feels like they do!).  I plan outfits in my mind around my recent purchases, and then I don’t get to wear them because the weather is such crap.  Such is life.

So I’ll be holding off on updating my Project 333 page until the summer weather ACTUALLY arrives – until then, I’ll be dreaming of all the bright colours that summer brings and looking forward to any opportunity to wear some of my cute new tank tops that are hanging in my closet.  And when I get the urge to buy anything else for my wardrobe, I’ll be reminding myself of the 12 tank tops I already own.

Has anyone else been tempted by the rainbow of colours that have been appearing in stores lately?  Or have you been on your best behaviour and staying out of stores altogether?

project 333: colour, joy and inspiration

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Lately my Project 333 wardrobe is feeling a little gloomy.  When I left my house this morning, I didn’t realize I was dressed in black from head to toe until I got out to the street. I don’t think it can be argued that we all need a little inspiration sometimes.  I love seeing small, functional wardrobes in action, and if they’re fun, fresh and colourful, all the better!  I’ve whittled my way down to a small but functional wardrobe, but I feel sometimes as though I’m stuck in a rut when it comes to clothing.  One of my goals for the year is to try to remember that when I do have the opportunity to add something different to my wardrobe that I don’t stick with the same tired old shapes and colours.

I recently came across this amazing TED talk by Jessi Arrington, a Brooklyn designer and blogger at Lucky So and So.  Jessi is a passionate second-hand clothing shopper, and after delving into Jessi’s blog a bit further, I came across this post about how she recently decluttered over 400 items from her 500 piece wardrobe.  Wow, that’s a lot of clothes!  What I found most interesting about Jessi and her blog is her apparent passion for colour – for those of us who tend to wear a lot of black (some would say too much!), Jessi’s blog is a great reminder of how wearing colour can be so uplifting.  Knowing that wearing colour can improve my mood, I think it’s worthwhile to make a concerted effort to look beyond the blacks and greys in my own wardrobe, and reach for a splash of colour occasionally.

And an update on my efforts to buy nothing this year:  I will admit to buying a few clothing items for myself and my family this past month.  I’ve been fortunate enough to sell a ton of outgrown kids clothing recently on Craigslist, and have actually decluttered nearly 700 items from my home this year (in addition to the six THOUSAND things that left last year).  The kids needed new underwear, so I bought some.  I have been putting off buying a new winter jacket for the past two winter seasons, and when I found my dream jacket (and at half price!), I scooped it.  My city does have an excellent second hand market for many things, including clothing, but sometimes the time spent looking for a very particular item second hand does weigh heavily against the process.  However, I won’t be buying a new spring wardrobe, nor will I be shopping for summer wares later this year.  I’m planning to taking some clothing items to be updated, re-fashioned and altered to my mom when I go home for a visit this summer, and alterations (rather than shopping) will be top of mind.

Re-Fashion Vancouver 2012
Speaking of Vancouver’s second hand clothing market, an amazing second hand shopping opportunity is coming to our city!  Re-Fashion Vancouver is touted as a “spring cleaning sale” with lots of nearly new, used clothing in a wide variety of sizes.  The Re-Fashion event is taking place at the Roundhouse Community Centre in downtown Vancouver on Saturday, April 21, 2012.  If you’re interested in re-selling some of your own clothing, you can contact Re-Fashion here.

project 333: tackling the kids’ closet

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One of my goals for the year is to consciously participate in Project 333.  The main purpose of Project 333 is to have a complete wardrobe of only 33 items and to wear that wardrobe for a period of three months. You can learn more about Project 333 here

I’ve been busy this past week posting outgrown clothing from my kids’ closet on Craigslist, and having sold two large lots of clothing, their closet is feeling manageable again.  After buying a ton of clothing for my kids at the end of last summer in a $1 sale, the contents of their closet ballooned, but I was thrilled to have gotten some great clothing at amazing prices.  However, the time had come to pare down again – my youngest is quickly moving into size 4, so it was time to start strategizing about how all his size 3T clothing was going to make an exit from the building.  Funnily enough, it all sold very quickly after I posted a couple of bundles of clothing on our local Craigslist, and I didn’t have to think too much about what I would have to do with it all if it ended up sitting around for too long.  I managed to recoup $125, which is almost exactly what I paid for it all, and some of it was worn by two kids!  I really does pay to take a little time and effort to re-sell kids clothing – they grow out of everything far too quickly to do much damage, and a lot of what I managed to sell on Craigslist was in nearly new condition.  I’m especially thrilled when the buyer as excited about the deal they are getting as I am happy to have it sold!

Thankfully, my kids never get this dirty - so I don't have to worry about them being too careful in their clothes!

As I mentioned in a previous post, I’m not going to be buying any clothing for my children this year.  They have enough, more than enough, and my oldest is also getting to an age where clothing fits him longer than a season or two.  My boys are three years apart in age, but I see a time in the not-so-distant future when they will be very close in size and might even be able to share some of their clothes.  Wouldn’t that be a boon in the minimalist wardrobe department?  In an effort to stay true to the spirit of buying no more clothing for my kids, I’ve created my own version of a family closet.  Since I am using only about one third of my own closet space in my bedroom walk-in-closet, I’ve used the remaining space to hang all of my kids clothing that is either out of season or too large for them at this time.  I am a very visual person and so instead of having any extra clothing tucked away in storage where I can’t see it, it’s all out in plain sight and is a good reminder for me to shop in the closet if there’s something they need.

Here’s what I’m aiming for in terms of wardrobe size for each of my children (ages 6 and 3):

  • 7 shirts, including at least one dress shirt
  • 5 pair of pants or shorts (depending on the season), including at least one pair of bottoms that can be worn for dressier occasions
  • 1 sweatshirt
  • 1 sweater
  • 6 pair of socks
  • 6 pair of underwear
  • 1 pair of well-made runners or hikers
  • 1 pair of rain boots
  • 1 pair of sandals / flip flops
  • 1 swim outfit – 1 pair of swim trunks, 1 UV swim shirt and 1 pair of swim shoes
  • 1 jacket, either a winter or lightweight coat depending on the season
  • 1 baseball cap
  • 1 summer hat

I’m finally in a place where I am happier to NOT shop for my kids than I am to spend money on cute clothing that no one appreciates but me.  Paring down on their clothing has already resulted in less clothing being strewn around their room, and has made choosing what to wear for the day easier on my youngest, as there are simply less choices now that there is less clothing to choose from.  And what could be more enjoyable that NOT having to listen to a three year old whine about too many choices?  Not much, I say.

project 333: a new way of living

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One of my goals for the year is to consciously participate in Project 333.  The main purpose of Project 333 is to have a complete wardrobe of only 33 items and to wear that wardrobe for a period of three months. You can learn more about Project 333 here

When I embarked on the process of decluttering my home at the beginning of this year, my closet, and more specifically my wardrobe, was an area that needed a lot of attention.  My closet housed over 200 pieces of clothing for myself alone and I wasn’t wearing most of them on a regular basis.  There was maternity clothing that I had no plans to ever wear again, dress pants left over from a previous career in the corporate world, and a ton of stuff I had bought on sale but never really loved enough to wear with any frequency.  The bulk of my wardrobe was filled with items that were purchased at deep, deep discounts.  Over the past year, I’ve strived to develop an immunity to marketing that includes the words “SALE!” and “75% OFF!” because I’ve come to realize that what I really liked about things that were on sale was the price more than anything else.  And when you get an item home and take the price tags off, if you don’t really love it what really was the point in buying it in the first place?  I’ve tried to replace the high of shopping the sales with a contentedness around what I already have in my closet.  I’ve got myself a list of basics that work really well with my current lifestyle (stay-at-home mother with two children) and that I feel are stylish enough for me to feel put together when I leave my home.

Here’s a short list of items that have become true staples in my cute little wardrobe:

  1. A pair of dark wash jeans
  2. A pair of black leggings
  3. A dress that can transition from summer to winter with some strategic layering
  4. A cardigan or wrap style sweater/sweatshirt
  5. A pair of black yoga pants
  6. A pair of really great boots
  7. A pair of comfortable yet stylish flats
If I throw in a couple of t-shirts (either long sleeve or short sleeve, depending on the season), I can have a really great small and functional wardrobe.  This will be my last update for my own personal Project 333, as I’ve succeeded in incorporating this challenge into my life for the long term (but I will continue to update my own Project 333 page so as to keep myself motivated in maintaining a small wardrobe).  My goal was to have a wardrobe that was no bigger than 33 items for all seasons, and although I’ve not quite succeeded, I do currently have less than 33 items in my wardrobe in rotation (including shoes) and I plan to have even less for the summer months.  I have about 10 items that are currently in storage until the warmer months reappear, but for right now I am content with the few things hanging in my closet.  I’ve discovered a love of accessorizing my outfits with jewellery I already own, as well as a handful of scarves that were spared from the decluttering I’ve done this year.

Thankfully, I’ve found it’s easier to be content with less, and to appreciate more what I already have when I’m not constantly looking for the next big sale.  Another bonus of being committed to maintaining a small wardrobe is that I’m not spending money (or time!) searching for the next elusive “perfect thing” to add to my wardrobe.  Because, as my husband likes to say, the only way to truly save money is to not spend it in the first place.

project 333: update for October

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One of my goals for the year is to consciously participate in Project 333.  The main purpose of Project 333 is to have a complete wardrobe with only 33 items in it and wear that wardrobe for a period of three months.  I’m hoping that this project will motivate me to have no more than 33 items in my wardrobe at any given moment.  You can learn more about Project 333 here

My already small wardrobe is shrinking.  The amazing thing that has happened for me in having a wardrobe of only 33 items is that I am finding myself wanting less in my closet, not more.  I have subtracted two more items from my closet, having decided that the hemline on my corduroy skirts was a little too short for this 35 year old mom of two.  Also, a pair of leggings that I bought last year bit the dust this past week and I have no hankering to replace them, seeing as I already have three other pair of leggings in my closet (along with a couple of pair of tights).  I’m also considering donating my two hoodies back to My Sister’s Closet (I bought them there this past spring), as I feel a tad frumpy when I wear them and that’s hardly a feeling I want to embrace.  And so, a short update for a quiet month in the Project 333 department.

If you are participating in Project 333, be sure to get in touch in the comments section – I love to hear about others’ experiments with living with less!

project 333: inspiration for a fun, stylish and simple wardrobe

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I think for many people it’s hard to imagine that you can have a fun, stylish and simple wardrobe, all without breaking the bank.  This past week, I discovered a great blog written by a fellow Vancouver mom who has a passion for dressing well and incorporating classic, comfortable style into her wardrobe.  I particularly love her posts about her outfits that have included thrifted, traded or found items of clothing!  How fun!  She is not afraid to shop at thrift stores and garage sales to outfit her stylish closet, or trade with friends – she even admits to finding a lot of great pieces that have been donated in her community laundry room!  I admire the fact that she is able to participate in recycling (that sounds so weird when it comes to clothes) and reusing pieces that clearly have a lot of life left in them.  So if you’re looking for some inspiration for a simple, yet stylish wardrobe, be sure to check out Simply Stylish Mom!

project 333: update for September

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One of my goals for the year is to consciously participate in Project 333.  The main purpose of Project 333 is to have a complete wardrobe with only 33 items in it and wear that wardrobe for a period of three months.  I’m hoping that once I get started, I’ll be able to have no more than 33 items in my wardrobe at any given moment.  You can learn more about Project 333 here

As far as clothing goes, Europeans have us beat in both style and function.  A minimalist wardrobe is part of the European mentality, as clothing is not only more expensive in Europe, but is often more well made and follows more classic styles.  Also, Europeans tend to have less access to washing machines and dryers, unlike us North American energy hogs, so it just makes sense for them to have more simple wardrobes.  With two kids, I find myself running my washing machine daily just to wash clothing, and I’d hazard a guess that I’m not alone in this practice.

My parents are currently on a three week trip through Italy and Greece.  I received an update from my mom via email this morning about how much fun they’re having on their trip.  Here’s my favourite part of her email:

We have enjoyed four relaxing days on the lake, taking two ferry rides to different towns and driving up the west side to explore the areas up there.  This is a very nice place – I’ve been keeping an eye out for George Clooney, but have come to realize that I am on the wrong lake!

Oh well.  I’m not really dressed for company these days.  Oh, that reminds me:  Erin, your little gold slippers are the height of fashion out here, especially paired with a neutral dress – how perfect is that?  Also, your “biker” boots are in all the stores and on the streets with skinny jeans.  You wouldn’t believe the prices here – we should probably be very thankful that we have loads of clothes coming from China, or we probably would be going around naked.  All I can say is, “Thank goodness for Winners!”

Love the part about George Clooney.  Apparently we have the same taste.

It’s good to know that I can have a minimalist wardrobe and still be fashionable.  I don’t have many clothes, but I still get compliments from friends on my clothing and footwear. Clearly this means that no one is noticing that I only own one pair of jeans.

Here’s a few practices I’ve adopted when it comes to incorporating clothing into my minimalist wardrobe:

  • Look for classic styles that will stand the test of time and trends.
  • Stick to mostly neutral colours, and pick one or two accent colours to jazz things up.
  • If the fit and condition of an item is not perfect, consider foregoing it for something that is.
  • Look for quality made pieces that can withstand your lifestyle.
  • If it’s on sale, great.  But consider buying it only if you would still pay full price for the item.
  • If you’ve lost that loving feeling for an item in your wardrobe, consider recycling or repurposing it.

I’ve added a couple of long-sleeved t-shirts to my wardrobe after culling several heavy weight sweaters from the line-up.  It doesn’t really get cold enough in Vancouver to warrant heavy wool sweaters, so I’ve sent a couple off to the thrift shop and I even managed to sell one on craigslist.  Score!  You can see the list of all my clothing here, and be sure to check out Project 333 for more inspiration.

Are you participating in Project 333?  I’d love to hear how your experiment with less fashion is going!

project 333: update for August

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One of my goals for the year is to consciously participate in Project 333.  The main purpose of Project 333 is to have a complete wardrobe with only 33 items in it and wear that wardrobe for a period of three months.  I’m hoping that once I get started, I’ll be able to have no more than 33 items in my wardrobe at any given moment.  You can learn more about Project 333 here

This last month of Project 333 has by far been the more difficult of the three-month project.  Summer finally arrived in Vancouver in August, and I realized while my wardrobe didn’t change, my satisfaction level with it did.  I got annoyed that most of my clothing fell into the category of “appropriate for the weather in Vancouver the other 11 months out of the year.”  Being a minimalist, I made do with what I already had on hand.  I wore mostly yoga pants with my previously loved, then shrunken, then stretched out tank tops.  The truth about cheap clothing appears to be that if it shrinks, wait five minutes – it just might find its way back to it’s original shape.  Or not.

My bathing suit that I paid $75 for last summer and had high hopes that it would last longer than two seasons has bitten the proverbial bullet.  I hate it when you spring for more expensive pieces and they don’t last.  I did manage to find a bathing suit bottom for $5, and plan on wearing one of my workout tanks with it when I go swimming over the course of the next year.  I can’t stand bathing suit shopping in the best of times, and this will ensure I won’t have to do any for the next year, but will also ensure I stay suitably covered while at the beach or the pool.

For the beginning of another round of Project 333 starting in September, I’ll be adding a couple of items to my wardrobe and subtracting others.  While I’ll be keeping my leggings and skirts, my summer dresses will be going on hiatus until I take a trip to Mexico this winter.  I’ll also be putting away my sandals and ballet flats, and bringing out one pair of boots for colder weather (and maybe my rain boots for when the weather really gets ugly).  I did buy some workout tanks recently (which I will be including in my 33-item total) that are very functional and that will work underneath a lot of my wrap-style tops.  I have plenty of clothing to last me the next three months, and when the weather cools down, I’ll be looking into my cold weather accessories to see me through.  I’ve also got a new-to-me winter jacket that I bought on sale at my neighbourhood thrift shop in May (see?!?!? I told you we have one very long cold season here!), and I am looking forward to keeping warm in it this winter.

Are you participating in your own Project 333?  If not, will you join me for this round?