The Top 20 Things I Learned While Living in Paris- #16- The 10 Item Wardrobe
I’ll never forget the moment I saw my bedroom for the first time chez Famille Chic. Madame Chic led me to my room and I eagerly took it all in. There was a single bed with a charming velvet coverlet, stately floor to ceiling windows that looked out over a picturesque courtyard, a perfectly adequate desk for me to study French on and a very tiny freestanding wardrobe in which to store my clothes.
A tiny freestanding wardrobe?
It had all been going so well until that moment. I remember panicking slightly as I regarded my two largely overstuffed suitcases. Where was the closet? I opened the wardrobe doors- there were only a handful of hangers inside. Now I really panicked. Was this where I was suppose to keep all of my clothes for the next six months?
Well I was in denial at the time, but the answer to that question was undoubtedly Oui.
I quickly learned that that tiny space is about all the average French person needs as they generally have a wardrobe of around 10 items. Famille Chic definitely did- Monsieur Chic, Madame Chic and their son all had really nice clothes- they just happened to wear the same things in rotation- over and over again (a concept that is very foreign to us in America- most of us have enough clothes to never repeat the same outfit twice in an entire year).
For example, Madame Chic’s 10 item wardrobe roughly consisted of two wool skirts, one cotton skirt, 2 cashmere sweaters, 3 or 4 lightweight blouses, 2 coats (one for winter, one for spring) and a couple of pairs of Ferragamo-esque flats. (Madame Chic never wore trousers remember).
Monsieur Chic’s wardrobe roughly consisted of 2 grey suits, 1 navy suit, 2 or 3 sweaters, about 4 collared shirts and a couple of ties. The same went for their son (although he rarely wore suits- mainly collard shirts and sweaters. Their son was the only one in the family to occasionally wear jeans).
Now I’m not trying to claim that I myself have a 10 item wardrobe (far from it- I probably have a 40 item wardrobe) but I am a lot better than I used to be. I edit a lot more these days, am much more discerning and try to only bring in well thought-out, high quality pieces into my space. And if I buy something new- I usually get rid of something old…
I do dream of a day when I can get my look together enough to have a 10 item wardrobe. Think of all of the money and aggravation that would be saved! Not to mention never having to ask myself “What on earth am I going to wear today?”
Maybe one day…
Won’t you stay tuned for #15?
The above picture is of the desk and window in my Paris bedroom. I did not have the foresight at the time to take a photo of the tiny wardrobe. Perhaps I was still in shock!
My book, Lessons from Madame Chic: The Top 20 Things I Learned While Living in Paris will be published by Simon & Schuster and re-released in the fall of 2012.