building a classic french minimalist wardrobe
Hi. My name is Letitia. I'm a classics addict. (Now everyone unanimously say Hi Letitia! or this doesn't work). Ah, and if you don't remember, I also completely lose myself in anything Parisian, French, or Francophiliac (<-- invented word) as you can see here. And since I too have been thinking about the art of cultivated sustainable style led by a philosophy of minimalism and meaning (re: mindfulness, also known as being a conscious consumer), it was no surprise that I set out to discover there are actual rules for that iconic, somewhat minimalist je ne sais quoi French wardrobe. With fuel to my fire, a few dollars in the bank (don't believe any editor that says they avoid shopping frugally) and incomparable inspiration from Jess and Miss Sophie, I set out to conquer my 3-year-delayed wardrobe culling and establish what would become the quintessential way of being grateful for the quality over quantity I do have and not shitting my knickers every time I see an outfit posted with completely new designer pieces on enter-fashion-blog-name-HERE. And to be completely familiar, redundant, and cliche, I find myself hopping on the bandwagon to launch a Shop My Closet section on this here blog. I don't need your hard earned cash (there's a recession, did you hear?) so do know that the pricing will be spectacularly inexpensive. But if anyone is willing to make like a Brit and just swap some things, I'm all in for that too so leave a comment. But I digress.
WEARING: Thrifted linen blazer that I absolutely adore, but am still probing its masculine qualties (gorgeous similar here), SVILU top, Organic by John Patrick linen skirt, Sprout watch, M. Patmos cashmere scarf that is so soft and dreamy I could cry (okay I did, similar here), Elva Fields statement necklace, and of course those damn Jeffrey Cambell shoes I stole and wrote about here
What exactly is a classic wardrobe, and if you're not French, why should you care?
Ha, for shame. To not be even discreetly interested in the French way of doing things is attempted style suicide, but I forgive you. In all seriousness, we of course have no need to emulate everything that flawless nation does when it comes to fashion, but on my journey of finding peace in my purpose for living, gravitational pull towards material frivolity (I blame society!), dedication to carbon neutrality, and well, being as French as humanly possible while looking as Jamaican as any one Jamaican can, I find their mentality and refined philosophies are always worth exploring. So let me present to you my pre-canvassing plan on how I'll be approaching the classic French 5 piece wardrobe for this spring season and the reasons why.
I am not an islandLong ago, in a sketchbook forever buried in history, there is a horribly amateur fashion sketch I did for an aspirational t-shirt line and the signature time capsule style would be a crew neck that read I Am Not An Island. The intent behind that exact phrase will never resurface, but as it still stands on my Facebook page, I do know that even then, as a nerdy benevolent teenager, my goal was to bring to light the ideas of a global sisterhood (or brotherhood, I'm no sexist) in which we acknowledge that on any given day even the smallest act of our doing can affect someone else miles away. From purchasing a sweater produced by underpaid children in sweatshops where our dollars spent signify an echoed compliance of unethical practices, to never putting forth effort to shop local knowing the environmental ramifications of the inescapable import-dependent world we live in. And I won't even get started on animal cruelty, over consumption for the sake of over consumption, or simply paying the bonus check of some douchey douche who works at a capitalistic fast fashion conglomerate.
I am no longer ignorantI was. This is indisputable. I most certainly was one of the most ignorant women sashaying down fifth avenue in New York City with my designer heels and glamorous publishing job thinking the world revolved around my impulsive desires and need to fit in. But as I always say, that was then and this is now. Why would I insult my own intelligence and acquired awareness by continuing to make fashion choices that I know are only for my benefit when I could so easily benefit others with just a slightly inconvenient amount of additional effort? Sure, in a world of fast coffee and fast fashion and fast everything, taking the time to slow down seems utterly unappealing. But you don't have the last laugh when you end up in my situation (re: everyone, but I'll self deprecate for your sake) of cleaning out a closet the size of a small boutique simply because we thought it was a good idea to buy a bunch of crap that we had no idea where it would be worn, how it was made, and if it even represented our personal style or just someone else's. So while I do still value the notion of judging my shopping habits based upon price, quality, and brand name, there's no need to stop cold at working a little elbow grease to also see that my sustainable and ethical standards are met before swiping that card.
I want to be French dammit!If they can do it so effortlessly, I can too. I am pretty sure the closets of enviable Parisian women are stocked with pieces that have a story to them. I want the rebuilding of my wardrobe to tell a story, don't you? Is it really that satisfying to have a wardrobe full of H&M, Topshop, Zara, Chanel, Dior, or Celine if there's no sense of pride in what you own on every level? I want to know my leather shoes are vegetable tanned, but if not, that they were at least made lovingly in Italy by an old guy paid enough to buy some Gouda cheese for his wife, and then some. I want to know that my basic tees are organic cotton so no one was poisoned irresponsibly simply because there are STILL commercials on television sponsored by Cotton, Inc. that are brainwashing us into thinking traditionally farmed cotton is the best fabric to own (seriously? get real). I want to always know that I don't surrender to trends with an impulsive nature, fawn over an IT bag without being able to articulate why I MUST HAVE IT, and that since I do have the financial freedom (that includes you...anyone who shops has it) to make critical choices that really are not that hard to execute, that I will do so, for the sake of a mindful live well lived, and a wardrobe that won't have to be emptied out again in the near future!
My desired classic Spring wardrobe:
can't help but ponder on these:
*A new silk wrap dress (by Diane Von Furstenberg again maybe) that doesn't show my cookie when the wind blows like my vintage DVF one does. So maybe one by Issa is better and more affordable.
*Organic cotton jeans, most likely roughed up boyfriend style
*The perfect cutoff short, from where, I still have no clue. Help?
purchased with glee:
no longer on the wishlist:
How is your wardrobe culling or building or analyzing coming along?
And just for you, a handy classic wardrobe checklist to print out below after the jump! Choose what's relevant dolls.