9.15.2009

Wardrobe- Comme les Français


The tour of my bedroom given to me on my first day in Paris by Madame Chic was something I had greatly anticipated. After a brief cup of tea and introductions to the Famille Chic, Madame Chic took me to my room. She gave me the tour (in French, bien sur):

“This is where you will sleep” (a twin bed with a velvet coverlet… charming), “Here is your desk for your studies” (a stately desk facing the window with plenty of workspace… perfect), “This window opens out onto the courtyard for fresh air” (beautiful floor to ceiling windows- the likes I had never seen before… nice view too!), and “You may place your clothes here”.

It was all going so well until that moment. “You may place your clothes here.” I instantly felt hot and started to panic. Madame Chic was referring to a tiny wardrobe- a piece of furniture that looked like it might fit about ten items. I had brought a suitcase packed with clothes to last me six months! (I clearly had not discovered the art of packing yet). Where was the closet?! The ample storage for my ridiculously large collection of clothing?!

At the time I thought I was being subjected to some cruel experiment- a fabulously chic room with no closet space. It was like being on survivor. The next day, sitting in a café with my other friends from California I lamented about my lack of closet space. I then learned that the tiny wardrobe was not just unique to me- my friends all had the same amount of closet space in their French families’ homes too!

And that is when I had my light bulb moment. That tiny amount of closet space is all most French women require. Forget walk in closets or wardrobes stuffed to the brim with clothes. The French revere quality over quantity and would rather have 10 fabulous and chic articles of clothing, than 30 average ones. I learned the hard way and literally lived partly out of my suitcase for the next six months (not chic). Now I try to cull and edit my wardrobe on a regular basis.

Now, I believe if you live in a mansion and have a walk in closet… live it up! (I know I would). But if you live in the city, are pressed for space and are interested in having a minimalistic (but chic) wardrobe, let the quality over quantity adage be your rule.

B and I recently had custom closets built (see picture above). Since we live in a townhome there isn’t much space to be had so I am practically forced to enforce this oh-so- French rule whether I like it or not. One rule I live by is if I buy something new, I donate something to charity in order to make room for the new item.

So, I would love to know… what is your closet like?

18 comments:

M.Lane said...

Mine is a total fiasco. I form unfortunate emotional attachments to garments if they take part in some memorable event or another. Then I find it hard to discard them.

What I need is a clothing mausoleum!!!

ML
mlanesepic.blogspot.com

The Machinist's Wife said...

I am a controlled clothes fanatic and now limit my garments to one hanging amoire-type cupboard with four deep drawers. I agree with the French, though - quality over quantity, and what helped me cull my collection was whenever a friend would say "oooh, I like that", I would then say "you can have it".
The temptation is still there, though - especially when I see French- style clothing...

Rebecca said...

I always keep a bag of clothes to go to the thrift store in my closet. Unfortunately if it stays too long I start rummaging through it and discover something I want. I guess that can be a good or bad thing depending on how you look at it!

The Daily Connoisseur said...

M. Lane- I think a clothing mausoleum is in order for you! I do have some pieces that I can't get rid of though so I understand. The way I deal with these is is seal them into those vacuum tight storage bags and tuck them out of harms way :)

The Daily Connoisseur said...

Helen- Wow it sounds like you really embody the French philosophy. I love it! I have trouble with temptation too... which is why I force myself to give away as many items as I add. Sometimes easier said than done...

The Daily Connoisseur said...

Hi Rebecca- I keep a bag of clothes to give away at all times too and often find myself tempted to take something out of it- like you!

I do have to admit I've given clothes away in manic fits on several occasions where I regret getting rid of some of them. Sometimes I think I am too stringent with this rule! A lot of the times with the items I am really not sure about- I store them for six months. If i haven't thought about them or needed them in that time I just give the whole lot away...

Polly-Vous Francais said...

Thanks for stopping by my blog!

As far as minimizing clothing goes, I find that I go in spurts. You know, give away or consign 80% of my clothing, then spend months grieving for departed items.

Then I start sniffing around TJMaxx for designer bargains to console myself for the loss. And then I read Bill Cunningham's NYT column where he extols the women who have kept their "statement" articles of clothing and proudly wear them in an economic downturn. So the keep/toss dilemma starts all over again...

If -- when -- I return to Paris, if I can afford it I'll take almost no clothing at all. After my first month there, I didn't wear any of my US clothes. And I brought 5 suitcases.

La Belette Rouge said...

It is filled with 3/4 of black clothes and 1/4 colour and it is not neat enough. Half wooden hangers and half plastic hangers. It could definitely use a makeover.

Linda H said...

Oh I love less is better and quality over quantity. You have inspired me clean my closet out....again. I am going to change my closet to fall/winter and I am going to try that trick where you turn the hangers one way and if they are the same way in the spring, get rid of it!

The Daily Connoisseur said...

Polly- I am so glad to have found your blog... it is fantastic :) It appears there is a common theme with struggling to get rid of clothes. I didn't want to get rid of four James Perse T-shirts yesterday simply because I paid so much for them! (They were slightly past their prime- faded colors and too many washings). I put them in the "to donate" bag and am forcing myself to not bring them out. When I go to Paris again I will not bring anything too. I plan to fill fill fill my suitcases with finds :)

The Daily Connoisseur said...

Belette- I fluctuate between thinking I wear too much black and thinking I don't wear enough. Sometimes I will do something like buy a deep pink polo t-shirt- thinking I need to wear more color... and then curse the $65 I spent on it- wishing I got a black one instead :)

Linda- Thank you for stopping by my blog and for your lovely comment. I have heard of that trick where you change the hangers... I must try that. Please let me know how it works for you! xo

Josephine Tale Peddler said...

Sigh, Jennifer you do not want to know about my wardrobe at the moment as it has been dismal for years as we are renovating. It is sparse at the best of times as when I have money I do tend to buy books over clothes. I do love vintage clothing and buy a lot of things for the look of them and never end up wearing it! I also love vintage shoes and bags and will happily browse EBay and Op-shops for them for hours. This post has filled my heart with joy - if it's good enough for the French then it's good enough for Josephine! I love the idea of quality over quantity when it comes to everything in life. Except for books of course!
I love your built-ins and we will have to do something in the next six weeks. xx

LA Frog said...

There is an art in mix and match; in accessorizing. Once you've mastered it, you don't need much space (or budget) at all.

Sharon McPherson: AUTHOR / ARTIST said...

Hi!

Thank you so much for leaving lovely comments on my blog.

Now that I have discovered you, I have just began to read your blog and about your adventures: loving it. :)

As for my 'minimalist' wardrobe - you have given me a bright idea as how to describe it to friends - 'French Style', as weirdly I had this crazy compulsion a couple of years ago about wanting to change my life and I threw away (to charity) almost all of my clothes. And now that I have come to my senses, two years later am still trying to fill up my wardrobe again.

The Daily Connoisseur said...

Josephine... Oh books are my weakness too... there was a reason I didn't show you my "book wardrobe"- it's a hot mess! They no longer fit in the allotted two bookshelves and are now spilling out of random drawers, on top of coffee tables etc. I suppose I need a house with a library... I better work on that!

LA Frog- so true. It is an art- one that I am still learning. I think an unorganized or overstuffed closet is the symptom of confusion with fashion identity.

Sharon- Thank you for your kind comment... I have done that too- gotten rid of too much in an attempt to be minimalistic chic and then regretted it. But oh, isn't it fun to go shopping and replace those items again? :)

Easy and Elegant Life said...

Hello. Just popped in from The Epic and I'm glad to have found you.

I have a walk in closet. It's a former trunk room and has three levels of hanging/drawers/shelving. It's also a wreck at the moment. Although I have plenty of space, I subscribe to the quality argument and have a couple of underused shelves at the moment thanks to a purge. All I need now is to reconfigure for hanging trousers by their cuffs. And finish the switch from high to low spaces for fall (hence the wreck of a closet.)

The Daily Connoisseur said...

Easy and Elegant- Thank you for your comment and welcome to the blog!

You are so lucky to have a walk in closet... I would love to have one. Even though I subscribe to the quality vs. quantity I would love to have more space to allow my clothes to just breathe...

I think we all have on-going projects with respect to our homes (I know I have many) I dream of a day when these projects are all sorted out. I always tell myself once (insert project here) is sorted out I'll have to much time to... you know how it goes :)

Bonjour Madame said...

I did a post on my closet titled "vintage closet" as it is the original size closet built in 1944. It's tiny and I just live with it and decorate the inside to make it fun and edit my wardrobe like you do. Great post! Your closet is lovely.

 
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