A Capsule Wardrobe // Shaping A New Style Concept & The 5-Piece French Wardrobe

November 26, 2014


A wardrobe full of clothes and nothing to wear… not an uncommon problem by any means. The problem is two-fold: (1) too much stuff; (2) none (or not enough of it), any good. In other words, too much focus on quantity and not enough on quality. My typical solution: plunge in, bag up a bunch of clothes, head down to Oxfam, and then start filling up again with new purchases, only to face the exact same problem a few months down the line. A major wardrobe detox might solve part one, but what about part two?

Before I dived in this time, I decided to look for a solution to both parts of the problem. Like the problem, the solution came in two parts.

First, I stumbled upon the 5-piece French wardrobe. The rules are simple: only 5 new key pieces per season (A/W & S/S). Basics don’t count.

Side note: It’s up to you to define your basics – they will be different for each person (here is one example http://www.theurbanlist.com/brisbane/a-list/5-piece-french-wardrobe). I’d describe them as the building blocks of your wardrobe, generally neutral in colour, items that would complement your statement pieces.

The 5PFW concept centers on creating the perfectly balanced capsule wardrobe of statement and investment pieces, supported by those well-chosen basics: a quality over quantity approach. There are lots of different ways to approach a capsule wardrobe, but I like the strict five-item cap per 6-month season, because this limits impulse purchases. It forces you to really consider whether you love something and whether it will truly complement your wardrobe, and makes you less likely to compromise on fabric and fit.

Implementing this method definitely solves part of the problem – it stops me from thoughtlessly filling my wardrobe with halfhearted and rushed purchases. Win.

However, it was when I set about defining my basics and investment pieces (statement pieces later – first get the foundations right) that things started to get interesting. It became clear that in order to understand the weaknesses in my wardrobe, I needed to redefine my entire style concept. I needed a better idea of what I was actually wearing in my wardrobe, what I wasn’t wearing and why, and what was missing.

I discovered this gem of a blog: Into Mind, by Anuschka Rees. It’s all about defining your personal style and building the perfect capsule wardrobe. It’s full of tonnes of great resources – I read so many different posts and from there began developing my style concept and completely reassessing my wardrobe. And so begins a new series chronicling my journey to a capsule wardrobe…

Here’s a peek at what’s to come:

1. Defining My Style : Creating a Signature Look
2. Wardrobe Detox : how and when to say goodbye
3. Taking Stock : The basics – The “Needs” (30 pieces, 30 ways)
4. Investment Pieces : A Wish List
5. Statement Piece – The “Wants”

Have you ever undertaken a wardrobe revamp?


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