I’ve been toying with the idea of trying a daily uniform, and last week I happened upon a combination that will work great for summer.
While I was still in the process of ordering an extra shirt or two, my friend Crystal posted about the ten-item wardrobe. The concept is from Jennifer L. Scott, borrowed from the French, and laid out in her book Lessons from Madame Chic: 20 Stylish Secrets I Learned While Living in Paris and in this great TEDx talk.
When Scott was an exchange student in Paris, she noticed that stylish French women dress differently than their American counterparts. (The tiny closet space was her first clue.) They wore the same high-quality clothes in heavy rotation, and they looked great.
Not only did they look great, but getting ready in the morning was a breeze: the less choice you have, the easier it is to get dressed. A closet full of junk clothes won’t help you decide what to wear in the morning.
Some people might think this topic is superficial, but we all have to get dressed. If you put some thought and organization into this daily task, you can completely change your life.
STEP 1: TAKE OUT ALL THE CLOTHES.
Go through every single piece in your closet and ask yourself the following questions:
- Does this fit me?
- Is this age-appropriate?
- Is this my true style?
- Do I love this?
- Do I wear this?
If a piece doesn’t pass the test, get rid of it.
STEP 2: STORE THE CLOTHES THAT AREN’T SEASONALLY APPROPRIATE.
If you can’t wear that wool sweater or sundress this month, it’s visual clutter. Put off-season clothing out of sight.
STEP 3: BEGIN TO BUILD YOUR CORE 10 ITEMS WITH WHAT YOU HAVE LEFT.
Choose versatile, well-made clothes that you can wear in constant rotation.
Scott’s sample women’s wardrobe contains 1 pair of slacks, 2 pairs of jeans, 3 dresses, and 4 blouses.
STEP 4: ADD THE EXTRAS.
Round out your wardrobe with t-shirts, sweaters, outerwear, special occasion wear, and accessories. These items don’t count towards your ten pieces.
STEP 5: KEEP THE CAPSULE WARDROBE MINDSET.
The fashion police won’t arrest you if you have more than 10 core pieces. It’s okay to end up with 15, or 20: your true goal is to get your wardrobe down to a reasonable size. If you push it too far, you’ll lose the benefits of the ten-piece wardrobe.
When your ten-piece wardrobe is in place, you’ll be able to pick out what to wear with what you have. You’ll simplify your mornings and hone in on your true style. You won’t be prone to impulse buys, because you’ll have what you need (and you’ll know you have it).
(This concept is not that different from the capsule wardrobe, but the ten-item wardrobe doesn’t overwhelm me like the mix-and-match possibilities of the capsule wardrobes do. If you’re ready to simplify your wardrobe, pick whichever concept makes sense to you and run with it.)
Books mentioned in this post: