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The Five-Piece French Wardrobe, Explained

Have you heard of the 5-Piece French wardrobe

This is not just any wardrobe. It’s the secret to attaining that effortlessly chic Paris style we all swoon over. Plus, it’s the best way to build a capsule wardrobe that is both fun and functional, and helps you get the most out of every piece you purchase. 

Have you ever woken up in the morning, stared at a huge closet packed with clothes, and thought, “I’ve got nothing to wear?!”

Do you keep buying more stuff each season, and need a way to curb those bank-draining spending habits?

If you find yourself nodding your head, this French wardrobe philosophy might be a match made in heaven for you. 

Organized closet with Eifel tower on shelf

Don’t panic over the whole “five-piece” scenario. It’s not a wardrobe built of just five pieces—that would be crazy. 

 

All will be revealed in this article.

The ins and outs of a five-piece French wardrobe

Minimalist French style is all about investing in fewer pieces that are higher in quality, and will hopefully last you a long time. It’s focused on longevity rather than trends. And this is exactly where this French wardrobe philosophy stems from. 

There isn’t a set number of pieces or a timetable to follow. 

To start, you build a solid collection of basic pieces. Things like plain t-shirts, black tailored pants, and a classic white shirt—simple items that can be mixed and matched with everything in your wardrobe. If you find any gaps, fill these in with new staples. 

Tidy closet with clothes nicely folded

Each season (four times per year), you’re allowed to purchase 5 new investment pieces to help you build your collection. These should be non-basic pieces. You can take as much time as you like choosing these—there’s no rush!

The point of this is to refresh your look with each passing season, but to also focus on investing in pieces you truly love and will wear for years to come. 

Five might not sound like much, but trust us on this one; coupled with your trusty basics, this will give you endless outfit combos that will embody that French I-just-woke-up-like-this look.

The rules:

The 5-piece French wardrobe can be a little tricky to understand at first. So, here are some of the rules you need to know before you get started.

  • Basics don’t count towards your five pieces, and can always be replaced.
  • Makeup doesn’t count.
  • Accessories, socks, and underwear don’t count (unless they’re particularly pricey purchases.)
  • Shoes do count.

And everything else that’s not mentioned above counts. 

How to get started creating your 5-piece French wardrobe

The secret to rolling out of bed and looking like one of those impeccably dressed French women you see on Instagram is focusing on fit. 

The reason these women look so good in simple clothing like jeans and a plain white tee is because of the fit. They wear flattering cuts and silhouettes. Instead of following the trends, they stick to what works for their unique shape. 

Young woman in a white T-shirt and jeans

So the message is, it’s not what you buy, it’s how it fits you.

Remember, you’ll only be purchasing 20 new non-basic items each year, so choose wisely. 

Out with the old

Get started by clearing out your wardrobe. Donate anything that no longer fits you, or that you haven’t worn in the past year. Chances are if you haven’t worn it by now, you never will!

Hold on to any basics that fit you well, and part ways with the rest. Be ruthless through this process. 

If you notice any gaps, make a list of what you need and start shopping. Don’t rush to buy everything at once. Take your time, be considerate, and choose quality items that feel good against your skin. Because when you feel good, you will look good.  

Back to basics

We touched on basic pieces a little earlier, but what exactly is a “basic” item of clothing? 

Generally, it’s a functional piece of clothing that you don’t need to spend a ton of money on.

Basics will generally be plain or block colored, practical, and go with those fancier, statement pieces in your wardrobe. 

French outfit essentials: Items every woman should have in her wardrobe

Here are some of the pieces you should think about stocking up on to make sure your wardrobe game is on fire. 

  • Tops: block colored t-shirts, button-up white shirts, silk camis.
  • Pants: well-fitting straight-leg jeans, tailored pants
  • Skirts: pencil skirt, white linen skirt, block colored mini skirts
  • Dresses: a little black dress
  • Shorts: jean shorts, linen shorts
  • Sweaters: cashmere sweaters, oversized wool sweaters, cozy cardigans
  • Outerwear: a trench coat, a classic blazer, a leather jacket
  • Shoes: ballet pumps, brown/black heeled boots, sandals, court shoes.

Make your shopping list for this season.

The great thing about the 5-piece French wardrobe is that each season you get to make a wish list of things you want to add to your collection.

What have you had your eye on for a while?

What are you noticeably missing right now that would take your wardrobe to the next level?

Set yourself a reasonable budget each season for your 5 pieces. It’s okay to spend more on these items than you usually would, because the focus is on quality pieces that last longer. So don’t scrimp, but don’t blow more than you can afford.

 Black sweater and silk skirt with polka dots on a white linen sheet

And that’s how to create a 5-piece French wardrobe!

The only other rule is to have fun creating your capsule collection. It won’t be long before you have a beautifully sustainable and ethical wardrobe that makes getting dressed each morning a joy.

Why not use these principles and apply them to your other purchases too? 

For example, focus on investing in good makeup: a quality mascara, a classic red lipstick, and the perfect shade and texture of foundation for your skin. 

Follow these steps, and you’ll be Paris-ready in no time.

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10 French Outfits That We Love
April 23, 2021
10 French Outfits That We Love

Ever wondered how to dress like a French woman?  There’s something about Parisian style that’s just so captivating. The barely-there makeup, the sophisticated yet comfy clothing, and the carefree attitude to boot.  How do they do it? Since the days of Brigitte Bardot and Jane Birkin, French-style clothing has been firmly on the fashion map. It’s classic at its core, mixed with an element of surprise and freshness. Every outfit appears timeless, yet totally on-trend, which means they never go out of style. French women are known for placing quality over quantity. Less is definitely more. They choose clothing that feels comfortable and will last them years over trendy pieces that come and go.  If you’re looking for some inspiration when it comes to French outfits, you’re in the right place. Here are our favorite traditional French outfits that any woman can try.    Are you ready to master French-girl fashion? Glastonbury chic (day dress & blazer) Every French woman has at least one trusty blazer in her wardrobe. Not sure which one to go for? A classic herringbone will give you a vintage feel, while a block color black or navy will look more formal.  Pro-tip: If you want to save yourself some cash, raid your partner’s or friend's wardrobe instead! An oversized masculine blazer will channel Isabel Marant’s infamous catwalk style. This is a must-have piece in every cool French girl’s closet.  Pair your blazer with your favorite day dress for an eclectic, playful outfit. Finish with tousled hair and some sunglasses, and you’re Paris ready.  Date night (straight-leg cropped jeans & a satin cami) Classic French style is all about surprising people, and blurring the lines between casual and formal wear.  If you’re looking for a casual going-out look, the French-girl go-to is a pair of straight-leg cropped jeans and a glamorous top. Think silky and satin fabrics, lace, and sexy spaghetti straps. If there’s one thing French women love it’s opulent fabrics. Silk is always a must-have. It looks beautiful and feels oh-so-soft against your skin.  When it comes to jeans, French ladies aren’t a big fan of skinnies. They favor a looser fit and cut, creating a more relaxed silhouette.  Complete this look with a pair of strappy sandals—perfect!   Sleek soirée (slip skirt & mules) The slip skirt and mules look became popular a few years ago and hasn’t gone away since.  This look is comfortable, practical, and just a little sexy. Not too sexy though—French women are all about leaving plenty to the imagination. When it comes to choosing a slip skirt, let your imagination run wild. Choose any print, color, or fabric you like.  Pair with a comfy pair of mules that will take you from the office to a cocktail party without having to go home and get changed. That means more time having fun! We love this outfit already.     Summer staple (classic printed wrap dress & tan shoes) The wrap dress originated in the US, but has quickly become synonymous with classic French style.  Why do French women love this item of clothing? It’s universally flattering. No matter what shape or size your body is, a wrap dress will hug you in all the right places and accentuate your fabulous feminine curves.  This is a beautiful spring/summer look. Choose a dress in a gorgeous floral print or in a pop of color. Pair with classic espadrille wedges, a woven bag, a dainty piece of jewelry, and a pinch of pink blusher. And voilà! Classic comfort (marinière & ballet flats) When you think of French clothing, you may picture a blue and white striped top.  Is it a cliché? Yes. But do French women love a blue and white striped top? Yes, they do!  In France, it’s known as a marinière top. It originated from Bretagne where they were first popularized by the label Saint James, who took inspiration from local sailors.  There isn’t a more traditional French outfit than this one right here.  You’ll find blue and white striped tops in so many cuts and fabrics everywhere. Take your pick. Pair this top with a classic and comfy pair of ballet flats. You’ll look like a true local in Paris.  The go-to dress (LBD & your favorite handbag) The little black dress is a staple item in every woman’s wardrobe across the world. But French women get the most wear out of their LBDs. How? They wear this versatile dress on a job interview, in the office, on a date, at a cocktail party, and so much more.  It’s their go-to dress whenever they’re unsure about what to wear. The secret all comes down to accessorizing.  For a daytime look, pop a trench coat or cardigan over your LBD and pair it with ballet flats or sandals.  At night, swipe on some voluminous mascara and a bold red lip (we love this one), step into your favorite heels, grab your favorite handbag, and you’re runway ready! Office chic (button up shirt & tailored trousers) No French-girl’s wardrobe would be complete without a classic white or blue Oxford shirt. This is another staple item inspired by menswear (and another great reason to raid your man’s wardrobe!) Pair with jeans for a more casual look, or with a plaid blazer or tailored trousers for an effortless office outfit.  French women love tailored clothing because of the fit. This is how they always look so chic—they invest in clothing that fits them like a glove.  Bond girl off-duty (a black jacket & plain white tee) A plain white t-shirt is mandatory in every person’s wardrobe. Stock up on a few quality ones that will last a long time and go with pretty much everything in your wardrobe. Looking for a glamorous, off-duty look? Pair your classic white tee with a tailored black smoking jacket. The original one was made by Yves Saint Laurent, but there are plenty of affordable versions to suit your budget.  This jacket is likely to last you forever and is definitely worth investing in.  Cute & cozy (the oversized sweater & a mini skirt) The oversized sweater is an item that French women popularized before anyone else.  It gives you a casual, carefree, masculine-vibe look. It’s sexy because you’re not trying to be sexy at all—this is French women in a nutshell. A comfy oversized sweater is perfect to transition from summer to fall. Be sure to choose a color that will work with lots of other items in your wardrobe.  Pair with a cute mini skirt in faux leather or suede. If you prefer a longer length, a pencil or maxi skirt in a floaty fabric will work too.  A French-girl’s best friend (the beige trench coat & a silk scarf) Finally, on our list of French outfits we love, is the trench coat paired with a classic silk scarf.  A beige trench coat is every French-girl’s best friend all year-round—because the weather is so unpredictable! If the Burberry version is out of your budget, look to the high street for something more affordable. What matters is it’s practical, comfortable, and well-made. You want this coat to last you for years. Silk scarves are a popular accessory with French women, elegantly completing any look. This is one item where you are encouraged to go for a bright color or crazy pattern. It’s a little flash of playfulness that will top off any outfit.  And that’s our ten favorite French outfits! 

The Marie Kondo Method Meets French Beauty
April 15, 2021
The Marie Kondo Method Meets French Beauty

If you love beauty as much as we do, it can be easy to get into a mindset that “more is more.” But after a while, we find ourselves overwhelmed by a large, disorganized makeup collection, with more items than we can ever dream of using!  For French beauty enthusiasts, having too much stuff just isn’t helpful, since the French approach to makeup is simplified and precise.  It turns out that by organizing your makeup collection according to the tips of Japanese tidying guru Marie Kondo, it’s much easier to achieve an effortless French beauty routine!  Follow our guide to learn about the KonMari organizing method and how to apply it to your makeup storage.  The basic elements of KonMari organizing In her book, The Art of Tidying Up, Marie Kondo outlines both her philosophy and methodology for tidying homes. The basic principles of KonMari are fascinating and incredibly helpful.  Tidying is a special event As Marie Kondo explains, tidying is a special event and you should only do it once in your lifetime (or, at least the very least, extremely infrequently), as a total reset. She views it as a life-changing and joyful experience with a spiritual element.  Before beginning the process, she also recommends taking a moment to visualize your ideal life in as much detail as possible. This will help direct and guide you through the process of organizing and decluttering your life.  Working in categories KonMari organizing is done in categories of items, not room by room or drawer by drawer. The categories are precise, but within them, there are more loose subcategories. It’s important to go through them in the order she outlines:  1) Clothes: Tops, bottoms, items that hang, socks, etc.  2) Books: Pleasure reads, practical books, etc.  3) Papers: Documents, receipts, bills, etc.  4) Komono or miscellaneous items: Electronics, office supplies, skincare, makeup, and more. 5) Sentimental items: Photos, keepsakes, love letters, etc.  Discard what doesn’t spark joy Now the tidying really begins! Working in categories (starting with clothes), make a large pile of all of the items within that category that are in your house (as well as in your bag, car, or garage).  One-by-one, take each item, examine it briefly, and see if it “sparks joy.” That’s the only criterion by which you decide whether to keep or discard something. This way, at the end of the process, you’ll feel calm knowing that you only own objects that bring you joy. If you decide to discard something, take a moment to thank it for its service.  Afterward, as a separate process, you can sort through the discarded items to see what you’ll toss, what you’ll recycle, and what you’ll donate.   A place for each item Once you’re left only with objects that spark joy, you need to decide where to store them. While Marie Kondo isn’t a fan of fancy storage solutions, she does emphasize that each object should have its place, usually in a drawer or even an open shoebox.  Knowing where each item belongs simplifies life in two ways: You’ll always know where to find an object, and you’ll always know where to put it once you’re done with it. This is the simple beauty of KonMari organizing  Another one of Marie Kondo’s tips is to store all related items together, like-with-like. Shirts in one drawer, socks in another, pens together, etc. When it comes specifically to clothes, the KonMari folding method is its own organizing marvel.     She doesn’t recommend “flow planning” methods of organization, primarily because they make returning things to the place where they belong a little harder.  Organizing your makeup collection Now that you understand the basics of KonMari organizing, let’s apply it to the task of organizing your makeup collection. Makeup is part of the ‘komono’ category, which includes miscellaneous items you can collect over your lifetime. While you can apply Marie Kondo’s tips just to your makeup bag, it’s better to do the entire process at once.  Visualizing your beauty routine Visualization is especially helpful when it comes to makeup. Before you start gathering everything, take a moment to consider what your ideal makeup routine looks like and how you want to look. This will help you through the whole process. Decluttering your makeup Collect all of the makeup you own (including the lipstick that hides in your car and the pressed powder that lives in your purse), and put it on the floor or counter, to sort through and figure out what sparks joy.  When you do this, also consider how long you’ve owned each product and whether it might be expired. Put all the makeup products that don’t spark joy in a bag or bin, to either discard or donate.  Makeup storage and vanity organization  Finally, make sure to store the items in a way that makes sense, so that products with similar functions are all in the same location. Never pile products one on top of the other. Instead, store them in such a way so that you can see everything at once and quickly find whatever you want to use.  Vertical storage (much like books on a bookcase) is ideal for palettes, foundation bottles can stand upright, while lipsticks and eyeliners can be stored either upside down (so you can see the colors at a glance), or lying down flat.    Keep them all in one vanity or bathroom cabinet. If you don’t have dedicated makeup storage, a transparent drawer set can be incredibly helpful.  Marie Kondo your makeup bag After you’ve whittled down your collection to only include makeup that sparks joy, you can decide which products will go in your makeup bag.  According to KonMari, your purse shouldn’t be another storage space. Instead, she recommends that every morning (or at least every few mornings), you should repack your handbag. We think that should also apply to your makeup bag.  Every morning, after you finish doing your makeup, consider which items you’d like to bring with you, and put them in a dedicated makeup pouch. Once the day ends, take them out and put them back where they belong in your organized makeup vanity.  Goodbye, makeup clutter! KonMari isn’t necessarily a minimalist or anti-consumerist philosophy. It’s not about getting rid of all of your earthly possessions — instead, it’s about ensuring that you truly love everything you own. By organizing your makeup according to Marie Kondo’s tips, you guarantee that your beauty routine will always spark joy. 

12 French Fashion Statements Parisians Love
April 06, 2021
12 French Fashion Statements Parisians Love

Do you love Parisian style and want to know how to create the perfect French fashion statement?  French women are known for their impeccable, timeless style. Paris street style is effortless, chic, classic, and subtly sexy. The French have mastered the balance between looking dressed up while remaining laid back. Basics are mixed with one statement piece, so nobody ends up looking overdressed. Fashion in France is about clean lines and simplicity.    Want to know the best thing about Parisian style? It values comfort.   We don’t mean heading out the door in sweatpants and sneakers, but French women will never wear something that isn’t comfortable. For example, ballet flats are still chic and look great — comfort and quality are just as important as a piece’s aesthetics.  Don’t you love that? Ditch those heels you can’t walk in and those jeans that are so tight you feel like your circulation is cut off. It’s time to do what the French women do and get comfortable while perfecting the Paris look.    Here are twelve French fashion statements that Parisians love. 1. Sophisticated sunglasses No Paris look is complete without the addition of a sophisticated pair of sunglasses. Parisians favor big, bold style frames over slim ones.  It doesn’t matter if the sun is shining or it’s the middle of winter — sunglasses are a must. They add cool points and help you channel the strut that Paris fashion week is renowned for. When in Paris, always wear sunglasses. Forget about what others may think; after all, French women never worry about such thoughts. 2. Mindful minimalism Nobody knows Parisian style quite like Coco Chanel does. When it comes to any outfit, minimalism is key. Less is always more.  That means build most of your outfit up with simple basics: a plain white t-shirt, a tailored pair of black trousers, a white button-down shirt, a strappy camisole top, a classic trench coat or blazer.  “Before you leave the house, look in the mirror and take one thing off.” - Coco Chanel If you want to wear a statement piece, then stick to one, like an amazing scarf, handbag, or a pair of shoes. This will help streamline your look and keep it refined and elegant.  When it comes to jewelry, the rule is to keep it simple and don’t wear more than three delicate pieces.  Minimalism is the secret to everyday Paris street style. 3. Casual glam Paris outfits are renowned for being sophisticated with a hint of imperfection. And the secret to this is mixing casual pieces with more glamorous evening pieces.  A pair of jeans can be mixed with a silky, lace camisole top or a pair of jewel-encrusted sandals. A lovely printed dress might be paired with some old biker boots. A pencil skirt paired with ballet flats instead of traditional heels. Fashion in France isn’t about perfection, whether it’s your outfit or your hair and makeup. So when in doubt, mix things up.    4. The I-woke-up-like-this look When it comes to makeup, French women are all about highlighting their natural beauty. A good face cream, some SPF, a touch of brow gel, a coat of mascara, a pinch of blusher, some tinted lip balm, and you’re Paris ready.  Remember to keep things relaxed. Go for simple eyeliner looks. Instead of perfectly straightening your hair, try for a natural wave and add a little texture. Classic colors are preferred over anything “in-your-face.” And opt for dewy, matte textures instead of shiny ones. 5. Hardly-there handbags No Parisian wardrobe is complete without a good quality leather handbag. This can be a quality faux leather too. French women strive to look chic rather than rich, which means avoiding big, recognizable logos. It’s okay to keep it subtle. Work with your budget, and invest in something that is small enough it can be hand-held but not too small that you can’t fit anything in it!   6. Have your cake and eat it: style & comfort French-style clothing prioritizes comfort but doesn’t compromise on style. It’s the best of both worlds.  So, if you can’t walk in heels all day without hurting your feet, leave them at home! Most Parisian women prefer classic loafers and ballet shoes as their footwear of choice, or a low block heel.   Cardigans are another French wardrobe staple, in a neutral color and high-quality fabric like wool, cashmere, or angora. Pair over a basic t-shirt or silk cami — you’ll feel oh-so toasty and comfy.   A plain t-shirt in white or light gray is also a must-have item. Pair with a blazer or some high-rise straight jeans for an effortlessly chic look. Be sure to choose t-shirts made from 100% cotton (organic is best) — it will feel soft against your skin, and the quality will show. 7. The modern vintage look View this post on Instagram A post shared by Sabina Socol (@sabinasocol)   If you don’t yet have a classic tailored blazer, you’ll want to add one to your wardrobe to perfect the Paris look. The great thing about a blazer is it goes with just about everything. Wear it with a basic t-shirt, a pair of jeans or tailored trousers, and even a mini dress. French women prefer an oversized blazer that looks like it came out of a man’s closet. Better yet, raid your partner’s wardrobe and see if there’s one you can borrow!  8. Laidback silhouettes Leave your skinny jeans and body-con dresses at home, ladies. Parisian style is centered on a more relaxed silhouette. Think A-line dresses, straight leg jeans, and oversized outerwear.  If you opt for a tight pencil skirt, then pair it with a loose-fitting top to balance your look out. French women express femininity with masculine-inspired silhouettes and laid back shapes. Nothing should ever be too tight or fitted.   9. Timeless outerwear Always inspired by the philosophy that less is more, Parisians splash their cash wisely. They’ll save up and make investments in key pieces that can be worn over and over again. One of the most important pieces for any Parisian wardrobe is timeless outerwear: trench coats, biker jackets, bombers, and blazers.  If there’s one item you must own, it’s a chic long beige trench coat. And given the unpredictable weather in Paris, you’ll certainly make the most out of it. Before making any purchase, ask yourself if this will be something you wear for the next few years. If the answer is yes, you’re thinking like a Parisian.  10. From day to night: the little black dress The little black dress is a classic piece for any woman’s wardrobe worldwide. But Parisians love wearing that LBD day or night. In the day, they’ll pair it with sneakers or some ballet flats with a loose blazer on top, and at night they swipe on some bold red lipstick and some voluminous mascara for a sexier look.  When it comes to the shape, stick to what is most flattering for your figure and something you feel comfortable in. It can be short or long, and with or without sleeves or straps.  11. Head to toe neutral tones When it comes to color, neutral tones are your friend. Head to toe monochrome looks are part of everyday Paris street style — it’s all about discretion.  Neutral tones include white, black, beige, camel, navy blue, gray, and khaki. The great thing about neutral colors is they can easily be mixed and matched with other pieces in your wardrobe.  As a general rule, no French outfit will have more than three colors.   12. It’s not what you wear; it’s how you wear it There’s a reason why Parisian style is so simple yet chic. It’s less about the actual clothing you wear and much more about how you wear it. French style is all about how you mix and layer pieces together, the way you carry your handbag, your posture, and the way you smile.   So the secret to French beauty isn’t about being a slave to the latest trends, but more about finding your unique style and wearing pieces that flatter your figure.  And the most important thing to remember about making a French fashion statement? Have fun with it!