Acquiring the French Wardrobe
The French woman is not known for her massive wardrobe – in fact the opposite is true. Because she knows what looks right on her, she doesn’t need to buy the 80% of items that we have in our closets and never wear. (Plus their closets are really freakin’ small!)
It’s liberating to know that everything in your closet is something you love, fits you perfectly, goes with pretty much everything else, and is something you will actually wear. Here’s how to get there.
First go shopping in your closet. Pour yourself a nice glass of wine (or bring the bottle) and start trying on everything. Make sure you’ve got a good full-length mirror to check out every angle, and try on with the right shoes and accessories for the outfit. This is your Sex and the City, Carrie Bradshaw time to throw clothes all over the room and have fun. Try combinations you haven’t thought of before. Some will work, some will not. If something looks good and makes you feel great, keep it; if it doesn’t, get rid of it no matter how “nice” it is or how much you paid for it. If it’s stained or damaged and can’t/won’t be repaired, get rid of it. If it’s still “good” but completely outdated, get rid of it. If it doesn’t fit or flatter you, get rid of it.
Doesn’t that feel better?
Speaking of outdated – what about that? Well in the first place, that’s why we spend the big bucks on classic pieces – they never go out of style. The few trendy pieces you add should be bought on the cheap and gotten rid of regret-free when their time has come. Throw out the trendy, dated stuff and keep your classic building blocks forever.
After you’ve thoroughly raped and pillaged your wardrobe, determine what you need. Notice I didn’t say want … NEED.
For a French wardrobe you need the essential basics. You don’t have to acquire everything at once (unless you can, lucky girl), but do buy quality because they are worth every precious penny and with proper care you will have them the rest of your life. These are:
- Trench coat
- Leather jacket
- Tailored black jacket
- Striped Breton T-shirt
- Loose fitting white T-shirt
- Skinny jeans
- Black slacks
- White menswear-type shirt
- Navy (preferably cashmere) sweater
- Black pumps
- Black flats
- And of course, the LBD
With these pieces alone can be built innumerable outfits fit for any occasion, just add a few scarves and other accessories – one at a time please.
I keep a “Need List”. Any missing basics, along with other pieces you need/want to turn your basic pieces into new outfits, can go on this list. That way, when the funds or opportunities arise to shop, I can be certain that I’m building my wardrobe and not re-accumulating the 80% never-to-be-worn pieces.
One other note on shopping – a French woman never buys something she wouldn’t wear right then – that day or night. That little gem has saved me from many an impulse buy. I also enjoy obsessing over things. If I see something I think I want, especially if it’s a little on the spendy side, I’ll give it a day or two (or three). If I’m still obsessing over it, I buy it. Very often in a day or two I’m over it.
I hope you have fun building your fantastic French wardrobe – let me know how it goes!
Bonjour! Je suis Kelley
Hi, I’m Kelley – thrower of parties, drinker of wine, and lover of all things French. I hope you enjoy my Lessons in Becoming French!