Curating the French Wardrobe


One of my 2013 resolutions was to make thoughtful decisions about my wardrobe. I tried to do this with a budget and while I became more aware of my spending habits, I felt a certain amount pressure to get as much as possible for the dollar. I should have been focused on what I really wanted: fewer items that were high quality and ultra versatile.

I started to weed through my closet, axing anything that was unflattering (pencil skirts) or that I just didn’t love anymore. This included a lot of H&M items. I’m not immune to the cheap thrill, but I’m rarely giddy about the purchase once the checkout-counter euphoria wears off. Given that, it can’t be a surprise that my favorite items are the pieces I thought about endlessly and saved up for: Ferragamo flats, a DVF wrap dress, the Hermes bracelet, and even the two items in the photo above. 

This motivated me to look into the French Wardrobe concept. (Yeah, it does sound a little gimmicky.) Basically, you start with a solid foundation of basic clothing and purchase five standout items each season (Fall/Winter and Spring/Summer) to update your wardrobe. Accessories are always fair game, which is dangerous for a jewelry lover like me.


  1. Quality over quantity.
  2. Basics don’t count.
  3. Accessories don’t count, unless you’re spending a lot more than usual.
  4. Socks and underwear don’t count.
  5. Shoes do count.


  • T-shirts in black, grey and white (I’m also adding stripes)
  • Tank tops in black, grey and white
  • Blouse in white or cream
  • Black dress
  • Black blazer
  • Black cardigan or sweater
  • Black pants
  • Jeans
  • Black skirt
  • Leather jacket
  • Trench coat
  • Winter coat 
  • Black suit
  • Black pumps
  • Ankle boots
  • Ballet flats
  • Sneakers
  • Watch in gold or silver
  • Black leather bag

Use these as general guidelines to build your foundation wardrobe. Personally, I don’t need a suit and won’t wear a leather jacket. Purchase what works best for you. 

Knowing that you can only purchase five items forces you to be honest about why you’re shopping and what you’re looking for. When we were in D.C., I kept asking myself, “Do I want this to be one of my five?” The answer was always no. (But I do want this Kate Spade coat to be one of my spring five.)

Since we’ve been back, I did make my first purchase for Fall/Winter: a beautiful T by Alexander Wang black skirt. I’m not sure if it should be a basic (it is black, after all) or one of my five (it’s made of neoprene). We’ll wait and see how this is going in a couple of months and then decide! 

Does anyone else want to embark on this challenge with me? I’m planning to recap my progress each month and would love to link up!