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HEY GIRL, HEY!

Thanks for stopping by! Here on BECOMING LOLA I share stories on becoming minimalist, as well as living a pure clean life as a style-obsessed digital nomad with a no BS approach to ethical fashion + travel. Grab a glass of wine and start here: Building A Minimalist Wardrobe.

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how to curate a minimalist wardrobe like a french girl




This isn't going to work. And it's not you, its me. I'm just not as gracefully elegant, waify, and elusive as I once thought. I have no 'je ne sais quoi' to speak of. Perhaps I'm too young. For certain I'm too American. But if the last month and a half has taught me anything, its that the effortlessness of minimalist dressing is a false proposition. It's a paradox bordering on utopian thought. If only we lived in a world where women never have to try, but sadly that world does not exist, even for the femme fatales overseas who simply look like they don't try. My inside sources tell me that is completely untrue. 






When I decided to venture into the 5 Piece French Wardrobe experiment, the fashion editor and stylist within me had an ego the size of Texas. I thought to myself, surely my experience would not fail me once I slash my closet in half and practically reinvent my personal style to that of a classic uniform. And believe me, no one craves minimalism in their epiphany-laden life more so than me right now, but the very concept has been more rut-producing than liberating. And honestly, it might just be the notion of "classics" to begin with. Is it really a closed circle concept in black and white? Perhaps we all jumped too quickly at thinking this was a saving grace alternative to mass consumerism. As Jess once pointed out on her insightful blog, classics are really only classics in a context of time, events, and culture. A Breton striped shirt was not always the must-have we make it out to be now, but rather an indicator of lower class and peasantry in England. Lest we forget that as exceptionally classic and well made as an item is, eventually everything will become worn out, especially when one's wardrobe is infact limited to a handful of tightly edited options. Even Ivania from Love Aesthics is the first to point out the many frayed edges, ripped seams, and fizzling vibrancy of the minimalistic pieces she wears to death. For me, life is not a movie. In real life, my wonderfully tailored white shirts have sweat stains. I wonder if French women sweat. Ever.

With more thought and time I am sure I will discover the captivating essence of this classic wardrobe business, but what I really can’t wrap my mind around at the moment is how we can curb our enthusiasm for fashion while nurturing a desire to acquire less of it. Is the idea of having a classic wardrobe that we will buy less AND want less? I mean I feel as if I could survive this cold turkey lifestyle change, but that's not to say I've completely abandoned my Pandora's box of emotions as a woman. Pretty things are my Achilles heel, and the lust for a new dress or handbag will hardly cease to exist. Where is there room for experimentation and evolution in our classic wardrobes? A minimal life is not necessarily one of deprivation. Frankly, I’m not interested in depriving myself at all. On the other hand, abundance and having EVERYTHING one desires or has the means to get, isn’t necessarily a life of luxury at all. It can be overwhelming to have too many things. Don't you think?



CLASSICS ARE WHAT YOU MAKE THEM


Whether your aesthetic leans towards master of the mix or classic with a twist, the elements of singular personal style have three things in common:
Confidence. Getting dressed without regard for what others might think takes a certain inner strength and self-awareness. In matters of personal style, what really counts is owning and loving your look.
An aversion to authority. Fashion empires are built around telling women what items they must have in their wardrobes, what’s in or out and exactly what trends to follow. While there’s nothing inherently wrong with this, the fearless among us usually don’t like to be told what to do. We’ll wear what we want, when we want and how we want….thank you very much. Rule breaking is the name of the game.
Playfulness. Experimentation and embracing a sense of humor are surefire catalysts to sartorial innovation. Nothing’s more boring than an overall look that’s too precious or over-thought. Relax, its just fashion. Already have a signature look established? Tweaking a favorite ensemble every so often keep things fresh. A new accessory here, a different shoe there…No major surgery required.
source: real simple



What’s your recipe for classic minimalist style?


18 comments

  1. "Fashion empires are built around telling women what items they must have in their wardrobes"

    So true, and that's a major reason why I'm taking some time out from participating much in the fashion/style blogosphere at the moment - I'm kind of tired of the sentiment that there is any such thing as a must-have item, whether it's a classic item or whether it's whatever the magazine editors are pushing as the trend item of the season. I'm so over seeing phrases like "[insert item] is something every woman should have in her wardrobe" or "every woman needs a [insert item]" (and men are told this too, albeit usually about a more conventional range of items). I just feel like it does a disservice to the diversity and depth of identity that exists in the world, to tell people that it is *essential* for them to have a white Oxford shirt or a pair of classic dark blue jeans or whatever. No, nobody *needs* any given item - it depends on their tastes and preferences, their personality, their lifestyle, their budget, etc. Telling people what they *must* have is boring and lazy. I mean, there's definite sense in recommendations and discussions about what items might be particularly versatile or practical in particular contexts, but I personally think it should never boil down to "must-have".

    So I really like your tips about personal style: confidence, a certain disregard for authority and playfulness are (IMHO) a very excellent basis for putting together a wardrobe!

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    1. I had to take a vacation from this post to peter out my feelings on the matter as I mentioned, because truly I cannot extinguish my enthusiasm for fashion, not just because its my job, but because I'm a creative person that thrives in expressing myself in many mediums. But I'm back to it and feel I can comment again.

      On that pestering notion that anyone should and does have the authority to tell women what the must-have, I agree its growing tiresome. How can one even keep up? Much less compete with peers, an epidemic that shows no signs of stopping thanks to style bloggers. And not only is it indeed a disservice, especially if you're an editor and it leads to tons of waste, but its just so damn redundant. So we need a white shirt and oxfords, got it! Where enters individuality? Yes, I'm aware the way Diane Keaton wears a white shirt and Dita Von Teese wears one will never be the same, but those are also two women who clearly don't need an "Essentials" list.

      So the real question is, where does it leave us in regard to recommendations and discussion?

      PS- I do miss your blog though. Checking the feed endlessly. Do come back.

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  2. CLASSICS ARE WHAT YOU MAKE THEM - easy as that. i doubt it that closets of most average women on the streets of paris reflect the classic french 5 piece blabla. it's a concept well worth studying and then not applying but interpreting the best way it suits a person. i read a lot about it and felt elated at first, i followed strictly, then felt extremely constrained and finally started modelling and reshaping my wardrobe to my needs, changed and learned a lot in past few years. it helps but as everything else only if it can be adjusted. classics are rules to be bent and then you get personal style.
    i love everything you said and that you pointed to this topic. sometimes i feel that some bloggers get really grumpy and actually unsatisfied writing about this subject :)

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  3. I totally second Jess on this one, I think the first tip about personal style is to remember that it is personal, and even though there are pools of inspirations, tips and ideas to be found out there, one shouldn't be ashamed to just follow their own taste and ideas.

    PS: yes, French women sweat as well. At least, those I know, including myself. I don't have any particular sweat mark removing tips though... Deodorant in hand bag maybe? French women have tons of "emergency stuff" in their bags...

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    Replies
    1. Kali I want to know what those emergency things are haha! But yes, I agree with you both and will be doing a post about capsule wardrobes versus classic ones. I feel women need reminding they are individuals, not hangers.

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  4. Oh Letitia. This post is sheer perfection. When I read through everything you've written I couldn't help but nod along after every line. As much as I wish I could walk the streets of Sydney with the effortless minimal style of a Parisian girl, I will never be able to pull it off quite like they do. I've also just taken out about half of my wardrobe, with many of the items that I'm throwing out being ones that I've held onto for a while because of their 'classic' status even though I didn't really love them.

    I absolutely adore your statement 'classics are what you make them' and your tips are spot on. I will definitely be sharing the link to this in my next blog post, whatever it may be about (stuck in a creative rut at the moment!).


    Emily xx

    ohmygilded.blogspot.com

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    1. Thank you Emily, this truly means allot to see younger women like yourself sharing their thoughts on building an ideal wardrobe in spite of so much media direction. I'd be interested in hearing what classic status those pieces you tossed out had...
      Sweet of you to share the post, thanks ;)

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  5. Re: sweat stains, it's the Aluminum Z-(????) ingredient that causes the yellowing. Check Whole Foods for ones without it. Personally I like the Earth Science brand.

    It's true that classics change over time. The black pumps of the 80s/90s is not the same as the black pump of today. And some things can look incredibly dated after a year (I blame celebrities and now blogs for this!) due to overexposure.

    My recipe for style is knowing what silhouettes suit me, as I'm drawn to a variety of styles. I'm minimalist in other areas of my life but my wardrobe is definitely NOT one of them.

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    1. Wow do you really think so? I never noticed. But I have been using TOMS for about a year now, so not sure its that entirely. Will have to pay more attention to which shirts have the stains and what deodarant I used at that time. Thanks for the reccom!

      Not a minimalist in your wardrobe eh? ;)

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

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  7. As a parisian, I think classics are pieces that you could match with everything. So, yes, a trench is a classic, but I agree that you can make your owns and that a pair of grey glitter pumps can match with pretty much eveything for example.
    If you are interested in advices on how to dress like a parisian, have a look at my last blog post on how to wear heels: http://dresslikeaparisian.com/how-to-wear-heels/

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  8. I just came across your blog on IFB and I have to say that I love love love everything about it. Such great content!! keep up the good work :)

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  9. Wow, thank you so much for this wonderful piece of articulate writing! It is like a breath of fresh air. Intelligent and considered thoughts from yourself and the comments that followed. I was getting extremely frustrated with looking at blogs about fashion and trying to "fit" into some sort of stereotype. I am of the older brigade, only 51, however and unfortunately, rules do slightly change as you age, but the advice being given is ludicrous for my age group! The sad thing is I was actually beginning to believe it, when during my life I have never felt the need to conform. The truth is, we possibly all have an image, no matter what age, of what we would and could aspire to, nothing wrong with that, but why along the way do we lose trusting our own judgement and preferences? As women we should support each other, not try to tear down each others confidence by being judgemental, ( this was a blog I read earlier, terribly mean girls attitude!) Please carry on with this wonderful insight of yours, I will follow with much interest. Best wishes. Suzie.

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  10. Classics are how you interpret them, I think. My "good" pieces are all black or red, and don't show stains and wear & tear, because I layer them with inexpensive items like tee shirts, tanks, tights, leggings, and scarves. All those might get stained or ripped, but are easy to replace because I can buy them for $4-12 each. I wear my skinny jeans, casual pants, shorts, and leggings daily, and keep the cost below $20 so they are also easy to replace.

    Thrifts stores are my first stop, and the Kohl's sales racks are my second. My skinny jeans cost $4 there! I paid a few hundred dollars for my good black suit with a skirt, and will pay up to $50 for a good cardigan. I do not own a white button down shirt, and never have because white clothes and I don't get along very well. My two button down shirts are black and red.

    I look for good cut, comfortable fabrics, and follow a "uniform" rule that fits my body type. I'm petite, short waisted, large busted, and have longer legs in proportion to my height. I always wear dark colors on the bottom, with solid color shoes that match, so as not to cut up the line. I wear tops that fit either right above my waist, or can tuck in sleekly, or can fit right below my buttocks (fitting sleekly). I generally wear v necks, without collars. I wear plenty of colors in my tops & scarves. In fact, I am getting ready to go on an Alaska Cruise and will be gone for a month. I've planned a minimal wardrobe I using polyvore.com: http://www.polyvore.com/cgi/set?id=135680422.

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