Last Christmas, I was given ‘Parisian Chic’ by Ines de la Fressange. I started reading it on Boxing Day and was instantly inspired. Apart from the fact that the book transported me to Paris, my favourite city, in my imagination, I was also inspired to revolutionise my wardrobe and create my perfect capsule wardrobe.
In ‘Parisian Chic’, Ines de la Fressange provides a complete style guide detailing essential wardrobe pieces, where to buy them online and in Paris and also letting the reader in on her favourite shops, cafes, bars, restaurants, hotels and museums in the city. She has tips on dressing appropriately for different occasions, interior design (particularly where space is at a premium), timeless beauty and how to avoid making a fashion faux pas.
Since I had stopped breastfeeding in early 2014, I had long been feeling like my wardrobe needed an overhaul to bring it up to date with moving on a stage in being a mum. I no longer needed to wear tops with easy access and I felt like I wanted to cultivate my own style now that the baby days were done with. I went through my drawers and the wardrobe ruthlessly, selling or sending to charity shop under the following guidelines:
- Does it suit me?
- Do I enjoy wearing it and feel confident in it?
- Will I get wear out of this in the future?
- Do I have too many of them already?
Out went a lot of clothes. I sent packing half the jumpers in my drawer that were neither flattering nor ever worn. I think I was keeping them in case an Ice Age descended! I had about five black vests that mostly looked the same. I now have two in slightly different styles. I had dresses that I didn’t intend to wear ever again. Goodbye! And so on.
I took stock of what remained and had a good think about the pieces I would like to own in my wardrobe. I certainly didn’t have the funds to go out and buy them all brand new, so I decided to start frequenting charity shops (something my husband has been doing for years) and gradually build up my wardrobe as I saw the pieces I was looking for.
I bought three items new. I treated myself to a leather satchel from Zatchels, a pair of leather boots from Clarks and a white shirt from Boden, which I knew would be good investments and last a long time. The rest of my list I found in charity shops or was given by my mum, who is luckily the same size as me, has great taste in clothes and often has a wardrobe clear-out herself. My sister bought me a pair of Converse as a gift.
My capsule wardrobe currently consists of:
Jeans and Trousers:
- About four or five pairs of jeans in various styles. Some wide leg for wearing with flats or Converse. Some skinny jeans for wearing with boots.
- Two pairs of black trousers.
- Two pairs of wide-leg tweed trousers for smart occasions.
- One pair of linen trousers for summer.
- Two pairs of shorts for summer.
- One pair of three-quarter length linen trousers for summer.
- One pair of trousers for camping and walking.
- Vests – about six in varying colours.
- T-Shirts – about four in varying colours.
- A couple of long-sleeved tops.
- Two floaty summer tops; one blue, one white.
- Two v-neck jumpers; one navy, one black.
- Two crew-neck jumpers; one grey, one navy.
- One navy cardigan.
- One roll-neck black jumper.
- One or two jumpers in other colours.
- One fisherman’s guernsey sweater that I can’t bear to part with, just in case of that Ice Age I mentioned. It is the warmest jumper ever!
- One sweater for the beach.
- One hoodie.
Skirts and Dresses:
- One very fancy black dress in case we go to somewhere very posh (you never know!).
- Two Little Black Dresses; one that my husband bought me, one wrap-around dress.
- One black fifties-style dress with pink petticoats (my favourite).
- Two summer dresses for everyday wear.
- Four summer dresses for nicer occasions.
- Two fancy dresses for anytime of year.
- Two winter dresses.
- One summer skirt.
- Two winter skirts.
Coats and Jackets:
- Two very warm, smart winter coats.
- One practical 3-in-1 coat for everyday wear and hiking and camping.
- Two blazers; one grey cotton, one tweed-style fabric.
Shoes and Boots:
- One pair tan leather riding-style boots.
- One pair of light tan, very high-heeled, fancy ankle boots.
- One pair of Converse.
- One pair of strappy flat sandals.
- One pair of Birkenstocks for slobbing around in the summer.
- Three pairs of high-heeled court shoes; one black, one brown tan, one green suede.
- One pair of wedge tan leather sandals.
- Three pairs of high-heeled sandals, neither of which I wear anymore, but I keep them for the children to play with so that they don’t wreck my really nice shoes!
- Three pairs of flats.
- One tan leather satchel.
- One black satin clutch.
- One silvery clutch,
- One red leather clutch.
- One tan leather small handbag.
- One grey oilcloth handbag.
- Two belts.
- Four hats; three winter, one summer.
- Five scarves, various fabrics, colours and designs.
- Three pairs of gloves; one for hiking and camping, one fleece, one leather.
- Jewellery and a watch.
- Pyjamas, underwear and socks.
I have clothes for every occasion and season with accessories to finish off outfits and they don’t take up more than a quarter of the clothes rail, a box of shoes and bags in the cupboard and there is room to spare in my drawers.
This November, nearly a year since I started working on my wardrobe, I have been playing the zero waste version of The Minimalism Game with some other like-minded zero wasters on Facebook. The aim is to declutter by one item on the 1st of the month, two items on the 2nd of the month, three on the third and so on. If you keep it up for the whole month, you declutter by 465 items! Since this is the zero waste version, you aren’t allowed to send anything to landfill. It all has to be recycled, sold or given away. I used this game as an opportunity to minimise my wardrobe some more, as well as getting rid of heaps of other stuff cluttering up the house unnecessarily. I’m very happy with my minimised wardrobe and, whilst I think I could probably reduce this some more in time, especially the dresses, for now I’m satisfied.