Out of the closet: why 33 is the magic number

Nothing to wear? How changing seasons can cause havoc with our wardrobe choices!
Nothing to wear? How changing seasons can cause havoc with our wardrobe choices!

I hope you got some time to enjoy the unusually warm Easter.

Freakishly warm for the time of year, it reminded me of the Easters of my childhood when picnics were taken on a day out to Newcastle and chocolate Easter eggs melted in the sunshine while we rolled our hard-boiled and hand-decorated eggs down a hill at Tollymore Forest Park.

It’s great to be able to wear lighter clothes again, and that’s quite an achievement for someone who hasn’t gone out of the house since around October without boots and warm socks on. Apart from a couple of Sundays ago, that is, when we had a family celebration on account of my mother’s birthday (the finer details of which birthday it was are to remain a secret except to a few).

Anyway, as would make my mum happy on her special day, I put on a nice dress with a smart pair of peep toe shoes and carried a matching handbag.

What a mistake. My peeping toes, right up to my ankles and knees, were frozen. Perhaps it was a bit too optimistic to think the sun that came out for the first day of British Summer Time would bring any degree of warmth with it.

By Monday morning, I was back in boots.

But these past few days have been warm enough to have me rummaging through a bedroom drawer trying to find some of last year’s nice bright summer t-shirts, keen to let those rays of Vitamin D do their happy-mood-inducing thing in this sunny weather that’s taken us by surprise.

Only for pottering about in the garden, you understand. I wasn’t doing anything special, which was fortunate, because I am in the place many women find themselves from season to season, wailing as I look into my wardrobe: “I’ve nothing to wear!”

What I see before me is a collection of clothing that resembles fifty shades of black, and not exactly the ‘capsule wardrobe’ I’ve read about in women’s magazines. You know, those ‘key pieces’ fashion stylists talk about; a ‘signature style’ of around 15 items that will take you anywhere. (Fifteen? Seriously?)

The fashionistas say that we wear 20 per cent of our clothes 80 percent of the time, which probably sounds about right as I gaze at my black leggings that have seen me faithfully through the winter.

So time for a fashion makeover, I think, but where to start? Courtney Carver is an American lady who started something called Project 333. A plan for your own capsule wardrobe made up of just 33 items which you’ll wear for three months or less. Three or four pairs of shoes, three or four bottoms – trousers or skirts – and the rest made up of tops, shirts, jackets and statement jewellery pieces. She calls it ‘dressing with less’.

So it’s time to be brave and chuck out anything I haven’t worn for two years – a process which could, actually, leave me with that capsule wardrobe without really even trying.

The key question, she says, before you buy something new or make a decision about something you already have in your wardrobe, is: “Can you use the item to create at least three outfits you’d be happy to wear?”

The answer for me at the moment is yes – as long as it’s black – so I can see this aspiration to a capsule wardrobe is going to take a little time. Let’s not toss those black leggings out just yet…