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building a classic french minimalist wardrobe

classic french 5 piece wardrobe building


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-HEREAnd 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.

how to build a french 5 piece wardrobe
building a classic wardrobe
build a wardrobe from scratch
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 island

Long 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 ignorant

I 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 doctor bag for everyday: I find myself drooling over the Givenchy Lucrezia Duffel and Celine Mini Luggage, but the vegan leather Matt & Natt Malone is just as satisfying for my needs
*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:

thrifted jeans 
6 inch heels (which also fed into the neon trend, go figure)
80's style boxy blazer (seen above)
diamond studs (was a gift, and they are ethically synthetic)

no longer on the wishlist:

animal print something or another what was I thinking? works only as a heel for me, and even then I shiver with discomfort
skinny jeans or leggings I read long ago that tight clothing renders our bodily functions inadequate, and since its no longer autumn, I have no need to tuck jeans into tight boots!








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.









Fall Basics


Winter Basics


Spring Basics


Summer Basics

13 comments

  1. Lovely post, good luck on your curating journey!

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  2. Love the colours of this outfit!

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  3. Hi:)
    Thanks for the lovely comment!
    I like colours from your outfit:)
    You look great!
    Let me know if you want follow each other!
    Kisses x
    http://fashiongirlfromtown.blogspot.co.uk/

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  4. I'm actually considering writing a post in which I ask the French women who read my blog to comment on what they think of non-French people's view of French style. I mean, we all know the archetype of French style, and it is a beautiful thing to behold, and it's understandable that so many people are influenced and inspired by it, and it typically entails an edited and concise wardrobe (which can be beneficial in reducing consumption), but... I would just love to get a French woman's opinion on it. Like, does that archetype represent the average French woman? Or is it kind of a mythical creature (probably best embodied by Ines de la Fressange!)? Or do lots of French women not care about that paragon-of-style image? How many French women actually have the "classic" French wardrobe? I'd like to know more about the whole thing.

    That Givenchy Lucrezia is gorgeous and I love the practicality of a bag that has both handles and a shoulder strap. I used to frequent the Celine sub-forum on thePurseForum quite a bit, and I'd say that the mini Luggage is best given second thoughts unless you are perfectly happy to always carry the bag in the crook of your elbow or by hand, because apparently the handle drop is too short for it to really work as a shoulder bag (which is a huge deal-breaker for me personally, but your criteria for the perfect bag might very well differ!). It's also a pretty heavy bag in general, even when it's empty, so that's something else to keep in mind if you're considering becoming a proud Céline owner. ;) (Sorry if you've been doing research and know all of this already!)

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  5. Great post! I just discovered your blog and i'll definitely take a look at the archives. It is indeed interesting to see how non-French people view our wardrobe and style habits.

    These ethical questions are very interesting as well, the problem today being that there is a fog around the reality of manufacturing even for "ethical" brands. For example, a jewelry artisan friend works at an atelier in France where she polishes jewelry from a well known brand, made in China and polished in France just so they can call them "made in France". Also, in Italy, for shoes, there are a lot of ateliers with Chinese workers exported to Italy in horrible conditions, just to have the "made in Italy" seal. So this is a vast question indeed...

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  6. I learned about the french wardrobe a couple months ago and I love the idea of it. I think a closet full of quality classic pieces will make dressing well so effortless. I love seeing your take on the concept (way more colorful than other people's versions)!

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  7. Like yor shoes!


    mary-tur.blogspot.com

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  8. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  9. Read "Wear No Evil" by Greta Eagan!

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    Replies
    1. Thanks Roxy! Will do. Love her blog :)

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  10. Anonymous6:46 PM EDT

    I know this is an older post, but I've recently been trying to have a more minimalistic wardrobe. I feel like before my wardrobe was all over the place, and I had a lot of items that I didn't love in it. I made my own check list but this one on your blog gave me more ideas then I already had. I will definitely be using your check list when I go shopping.

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  11. I am working on introducing minimalism into my life. Thank you for some ideas :)

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