Photo: Burcu Avsar

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Rule #3: You Need No More Than 33 Items in Your Closet
In 2006, Courtney Carver, then an advertising executive in Salt Lake City, was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. After learning that stress could worsen her symptoms, she set about ridding her life of things that made her anxious, from her debt to her clutter. Carver had habitually stopped by the mall and also enjoyed shopping online. The result: a closet stuffed with items she barely wore—which made getting dressed time-consuming and overwhelming.

Carver had read that most of us wear only 20 percent of our clothes 80 percent of the time, so she decided to try making do with only 33 items—a number she chose just because it "sounded challenging." First she selected her sunglasses, purse and trenchcoat; next, a few staples that were easy to mix and match, including jeans, a black tank and a gray blazer. Carver wondered whether colleagues would notice her limited wardrobe—but she forged ahead and boxed up the rest of her clothes, planning to rotate them every three months to accommodate the changing seasons. She chronicled her efforts on a blog, Project 333, laying out parameters for those who wanted to try their own experiments: shoes, accessories (even jewelry) and outerwear count toward the 33 items; underwear and exercise clothes do not. ("But those yoga pants have to be going to yoga!" she cautions.)

Carver now says a simpler closet is the gateway to a simpler life. Not only is getting dressed a breeze, but since she sticks to well-fitting basics rather than buying trendy styles, "I get more compliments than ever before." She has donated much of her excess clothing to charity. In 2011, she quit her day job to focus on her website, BeMoreWithLess.com, which offers advice and e-courses to others hoping to pare down. Says Carver, "Not one of my happiest memories is tied to anything I own."
Abbe Wright