Thursday, January 13, 2011

Wardrobe Planning

I’ve always been envious of those who have a clear vision of their personal (clothing) style and the appropriate edited wardrobe.

At any one time I will have a couple of different sizes of clothing and if not plentiful styles, more than one. Every time I think of having a huge cleanout I think ‘what if I lose weight, what if I change my mind’.

And I’m constantly thinking of ways I can streamline my wardrobe into its most perfect and purest form, without actually getting rid of anything.

I enjoyed Euro Chic’s post recently where she went through her wardrobe, listing under the bottoms which tops go. This seems a good place to start, and shoes too I think. Different shoes go with different bottoms.

My plan is this:

Pack clothing which is a touch snug but which I still like away, for hopefully some time close in the future.

Box up clothing which, regardless of size, I don’t like and isn’t my style. Give away.

Enjoy the rest, and go through the process of listing tops, bottoms and shoes.

I keep coming back to the French Chic style. It’s a very broad generic term and really covers whatever someone wants to put under that genre. What I choose to put it under are true classics, cut to a flattering fit. Pieces I have already which fit the bill are:

Flattering t-shirts in cotton with a tiny amount of elastane – in white, black and true red. They have a scoop neck (not ‘v’ or crew) with quite short sleeves which flare out a little, so they don’t cling and emphasise the upper arm. No one wants their upper arm emphasised.

Perfectly fitting jeans. Finding a perfectly fitting jean is a work in progress, and sometimes one pair fits better than another. Aesthetic Alternations wrote a post on J Brand and I have to, simply have to find out if they are available in New Zealand.

Flattering and slightly dressy tank/singlet tops. I have a couple that I wear when it’s really hot (it's summer here at the moment). They are sleeveless yet drape slightly over the shoulder so are more work-appropriate than a straight out singlet top.

Beige cotton knee-length trench coat, which I love. I bought it in Paris on my first and only-so-far trip in 2001. Paris is a really, really long way from where I live. Until next time I make do and daydream. And wear my trench.

Short beige cotton trench-style coat. Bought from a très-inexpensive store this year. I unpicked the label, sewed a few loose threads in and haven’t looked back. I wear it more than my long coat even though the long coat has a far better pedigree.

LBD. I wore this to my cousin’s wedding last month with red and white polka dot slingbacks, and a white leather handbag which has a red and white polka dot silk scarf tied around the handle. I asked my husband if I should wear my gold coin necklace or pearls with this ensemble. ‘Well of course the pearls’, he said.

Along with classic clothing goes the classic accessories:

A Cartier Tank Francaise stainless steel and gold small size watch which I have worn every day for the past ten years and will wear every day in the future until I take my last breath.

A small wardrobe of earrings – real pearl studs, faux diamond studs and small yellow gold hoops (about 1cm / ½ inch diameter).

A few necklaces – my main ones are cultured baroque pearls or a chunky gold necklace with French coin attached. I always have the quandary of ‘should I wear earrings and a necklace, and then how do I wear a scarf at the same time. My personal opinion of what I feel comfortable in is earrings and scarf or necklace and nothing else (but then I miss wearing earrings and a scarf!). I know, I have huge problems compared to others.

Shoes. I am happy to have a small number of pairs in rotation.

What actually made me think about my wardrobe as a concise collection was planning what to wear when I go away on a trip. When I travelled to my cousin’s wedding I flew there, so I had to take only what I would definitely be wearing (as opposed to driving there, when you can pack everything including the kitchen sink).

This necessitates a plan, what am I doing for each day and what should I wear, right down to accessories.

It’s actually really fun, and for a staycation we had a while back at the Westin hotel, I even took photos because I was enjoying myself so much. I love those magazine interviews where someone stylish shows their favourite things (they always include Diptyque candles, always!).

My Westin wardrobe was sort of like that, as it wasn’t just the going out clothes, but the lounge wear and what I was going to read. It gave me a flavour for the night we were staying there.

Below is my relaxing outfit, and at the top of this post is my clothing for the evening and the next day.

My plan now is to do this for my everyday wardrobe, which will be a little bigger, granted, but a cohesive look that I want to portray to the world.


  1. Wow. I wish i could do something like this. Infact, i'm going to give it a try. My only problem is that i have an emotional attachment to almost everything in my house even if they don't work anymore :(

  2. I agree with you about the sleeves that flare out...they seem to make arms look more delicate, feminine, graceful.

    Also, you look great in your LBD. Your husband has great taste. I love pearls, too!

  3. Great post! I have such issues with clothes. I always see clothes that I love in the stores and envision beautiful outfits put together but I often to purchase or wear clothes I love haha I purchase and wear clothes that make me feel/look slimmer around the middle. I am also always drawn to accessories that don't go with anything in my wardrobe haha. I actually don't really much of my clothing, a few tops here and there. I mostly express myself through safe things like makeup, handbags and shoes. This post is inspiring though. I would love to get to a point where I purchase things I love and have a signature style, that way most things will go together.

  4. Great post!
    What shoes are those in the lower right corner of the first photo?

    All the outfits look great!

  5. It's wonderful seeing the process various people have to building their wardrobe. I've been so much happier since finding great jeans. Indeed--to give another plug for J Brand--within a month I acquired four pairs. Best purchases of 2010!

    It might be crazy, but I don't own a LBD. Nope. And I don't think I want one, despite all the black that's now in my wardrobe. It may be that I think of dresses as "fun" wear--the place to shout out with colors like orange or patterns that don't make it into my separates. I have a couple of pairs of black pants and a couple of black jackets--so that will be my LBD for now.

    The capsule wardrobe--it's different for everyone.

  6. That is a very cute LBD. I love wearing black with red shoes or leopard print ones.

    I am a little jealous of your watch. My inner French girl is whining while my Minimalist self is saying, "get a grip."

    Thanks for the link to Euro Chic's post--somehow I had missed that one.

    I always, always wear earrings (nothing ever large). If I wear a scarf around my neck, then I usually forego the necklace (but I have worn pearls with a scarf in the past). If I feel like I still need a scarf, I will tie it on my handbag. I LOVE accessories.

    So refreshing to read of a husband that is well trained in the finer art of French Chic.

    I am impressed that you have a small shoe wardrobe considering your day job. That would be a constant test for me.

    Lovely post, my dear! xo-Bliss

  7. Fiona,

    While I've slowly been paring down my wardrobe over the last year, I've discovered that I have very few things I truly like. I adore my khaki trench coat, black pants, black tall boots and booties, black turtleneck and some of my jewelry - my watch and diamond studs that I wear daily - but that's about it!

    I would be perfectly happy to get rid of everything else, except I'd have only one outfit! And it wouldn't be a comfortable one to wear in summer months!

    You look chic and lovely in your LBD. Great post.


  8. Great post Fiona!
    and so much in the way of the New Year Fresh Start approach...
    I just finished reading Living the Savvy Life by Melissa Tosetti and she touches on this wardrobe culling...wear 80% of your wardrobe 80% of the getting rid of the things that don't fit and flatter are imperative.

    Love the French Chic theme...I aspire to this standard of dressing.

    Thank you so much for your wonderful thoughts.

  9. I love this post. It really is great to edit your wardrobe and really weed out the things you don't love.

    As for the J Brand jeans, I got really lucky and last year found a pair in my size in very good condition for $4 at a local thrift store. Obviously the store had no idea their worth so it was a win for me. I loved the way they fit so much they're on my list to buy once all the weight is off (hopefully before G comes home later this next summer).

  10. I went thur my wardrobe last week and did some editing on felt so good!! Wonderful post, Fiona! xxoo :)

  11. You look gorgeous in the LBD and I love the shoes xx

  12. hi fiona,

    you and i are on the same wavelength right now. i guess it is a new year thing. and for me a space issue. i love all your choices. i love the shoes with the black dress, i would never have thought to pair those. but they look really cute.


  13. Wonderful post! I am finding more and more I am drawn to my basic black and dress it up with my scarves and accessories. I love your list and am diligently working to weed out the things just taking up space in my closet. I wish in America I could get away with the minimal wardrobe with just a few pieces, but I'm afraid my co-workers and friends would think I was now living in a van down by the river. Someday...when I move to France...

  14. I love your approach. I think when you get the other sizes out and donated stuff out of your closet, you can see what is left and work with that rather than faced with that question every single morning of "do I fit in that" or "I don't' really like that". It's going to clear your head and choosing will be easier. I love hearing how other people go about this and always learn something new.

    You look smashing in the photo!

  15. Hermine, I hear you. It takes a lot for me to get rid of something. There's the memory of money spent, the guilt, the 'will I need it' or if you're lucky all three are combined.

    Ani, yes! With flared sleeves - twigs, with fitted sleeves - fat sausages.

    Jennifer, you sound like you've got the right idea - a compact wardrobe of very basic items, zazzed up with accessories. There's nothing wrong with being a work in progress!

    Hi Sunny, the shoes are a New Zealand brand - Softflex, style name 'Hattie'. They're from our shop (although the other ones aren't, they pre-date our shop, which we've had for six years!)

    AA, I enjoyed reading your post and it made me think of my own wardrobe.

    Bliss, I bought the watch when I got divorced at 30. Had to buy my own birthday present as my husband had run off! You'd think I'd have millions of pairs of shoes owning a shoe shop, but the opposite is true. I want to wear what is current, as people look at what I'm wearing when I'm serving them. There's no point in wearing shoes we don't sell anymore. So I have a small number in rotation and pass them on when we've sold out in the shop.

    Adrienne, looking at what we wear daily tells us what we really like in our clothing and jewellery wardrobe.

    L, I really love reading your wardrobe posts and think your choices are what I might choose too. I must re-read the Savvy Life wardrobe section.

    Kalee, your lucky thrift-shopping star was looking down on you!

    Cathi, editing and decluttering does feel great doesn't it?

    Thanks J!

    Janet, it's always a space issue but at the moment it is definitely a new year itch. I want to clean out EVERYTHING.

    Beth, how many work outfits would you need for a five day week? If you repeated the same five outfits each week would they comment? You could say you were doing a wardrobe experiment or project to shut them up. There are lots of those around at the moment. Black with accessories sounds tres chic and French.

    Stephanie, those are the exact two questions! Flicking through the rail - 'too tight', 'don't like on', 'a bit funny around the neck' etc. Morning fun, not!

  16. Fiona,

    My homage to you, Janet and Adrienne entailed trudging about four bags of clothing to Goodwill this week. It felt nice to bid some of my clothes farewell. I only wish I had your organization. Just a smidgen would do.

  17. Julia, well done you! I probably don't have as much organisation as you think, but I aspire to have lots. That keeps me going.

  18. Awww, I am not jealous of your watch anymore. You so deserve it and I am glad you got it when you did. (I had a friend who once she found out her husband cheated on her, went out and bought diamond earrings for herself, her mother and sister --among other things--on his charge card...Don't mess with a woman scorned). xo, Bliss

  19. Bliss, please don't feel sorry for me! It was all very amicable and really, the best thing that could have happened. The real me was bending to fit in around him (it's ok if two of you are doing this, not if only one is). Three years later I was lucky enough to meet someone who loved every part of me, not just tolerated.

    At the time I took the opportunity to buy my dream watch out of my half. So far I've worn it every day for ten years and enjoy it every single time. I'd definitely recommend it, even if your husband still loves you. And it could be considered minimalist too, as a watch is a useful item, not just decoration. Imagine having one fabulous watch, and wearing little else in the way of adornment. Now that's minimalism.

  20. Enjoyed this post! I'm finally coming out of hiding to comment. My personal style is somewhat conflicted. I call it "funky world traveller." In the winter it has more of a French influence. I definitely need a trench coat.
    To help myself minimize, I started a carry-on closet challenge on my blog. Shoes are the only thing posing a problem at the moment.

    The story of your watch is interesting! And I agree that it was practical purchase. I have a few very expensive wardrobe accessories that I love and use on a daily basis despite calling myself a minimalist. ;)

  21. Elle, packing carry-on luggage is a great idea!

  22. We have so much of the same style basics, and it's fun to see a different chic femme put her own personal twist on wardrobe basics.

    I'm planning to purchase a Cartier tank watch for my 40th birthday (only 8 more months!). I've been looking for a good pre-owned piece, but I need to be prepared to march down and pay retail (gulp).

    Paring down a wardrobe is a constant process, especially when you can note how your tastes become more refined as you age into the femme d'un certain age you were destined to be!

  23. Lovely list. I especially love that you've thrown a book in as well. :) I absolutely agree that the most feminine and flattering cut on a T-shirt is a boat neck.

  24. I'm a new reader/follower of your blog, and this is such a great post! Like you, I'm drawn to a more French Style, and I'm trying to perfect and downsize my wardrobe. Seems like I'll find a lot of inspiration here! Have a wonderful weekend!

  25. Good stuff. It is interesting to read comment.


Merci for your comment. Wishing you a chic day!

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