2.20.2011

My Observations on the 10 Item Wardrobe



The following are my thoughts and observations on the experience of the 10 Item Wardrobe:

Opening my closet in the morning makes me happy. Not only is it wonderful to see my items hanging so luxuriously in their own space (not jam packed next to each other) but it makes me inordinately happy to not wonder what to wear for the day. There are so few options, the choice only takes me a minute to figure out. Also, having a clutter-free closet boosts my mood. (It must be the feng shui of it all).

My desire to shop has not been strong. I did not expect this reaction in the slightest. I thought that after the first week with my 10 item wardrobe I would be begging for someone to take me to Nordstrom’s. Not so. There is something marvelous about having so little hanging in my closet- I am not in a rush to drop a lot of money and fill it up with clutter anytime soon. I know the urge to shop will return, but when it does I am hoping that I will peruse the shops with a very discerning eye and not over-purchase.

When I do go shopping I note that shopping is freeing. I normally never leave a shopping trip without purchasing something. I am interested in more expensive, quality pieces. I am more comfortable with window shopping for research purposes and not purchasing. I know that the next purchase I make will be a high quality choice and that I need to take my time to find what that is.

Acknowledging when an article of clothing is past its prime becomes easier. Last week I spotted a woman, who was wearing leggings, bend over and hug an acquaintance. She was in a room full of people and when she bent over she revealed three rather large holes in her leggings that exposed her backside! Clearly this is a woman who could benefit from analyzing her wardrobe. If she did so, she might have realized that her leggings were past their prime and could have avoided such an embarrassing situation. This poor woman’s ‘wardrobe malfunction’ has scared me into analyzing my own wardrobe. For example, I noticed that one of my favorite ‘extra’ shirts, a grey t from Splendid, was starting to look a bit sad. After one too many washings, it hung on my body in a very unflattering shape and just looked a little worse for wear. I believe the pre-10-Item-Wardrobe-me would have ignored the fact and stored it away just because it was kind of expensive (for a t shirt), but the post-10-Item-Wardrobe-me recognized that for my little grey t, retirement was imminent- and I got rid of it!

The ability to mix and match your clothing and create many possibilities is of the utmost importance. You should be able to pair almost everything together in your 10 Item Wardrobe- this is the only way to stave off boredom, eventually grow to loathe your clothing and utter those familiar words “I have nothing to wear!”

If you choose your 10 Item Wardrobe carefully, you literally force yourself to only use the best things you have and over time you become accustomed to it and can trick yourself out of ‘saving your best for later’.

To preserve your nice clothing while doing housework or other chores, wear an apron around the house. This was Madame Chic’s secret to keeping her clothes looking fresh while simultaneously taking on a lot of housework and cooking.

Getting behind in doing the laundry or dropping off the dry cleaning is not really an option- which can be a problem if you’re having a hectic week. I had a week where I got very behind with household chores (laundry included) and was ‘running on empty’ with regards to my wardrobe. I had to pull some items from my reserves to get by. Also- dropping off dry cleaning must be coordinated so that all of your dry cleaning is not out at the same time. If you do not have the laundry/ dry cleaning routine under control, adding more than 10 core items (20, for example) is probably the best solution.

If your fashion budget is on the lower end, avoid over-spending on the core items of your wardrobe.
Purchase the best that you can afford (which I will explain in greater detail in a future post entitled: Quality Wardrobe- How Much to Spend) but you do not need to make all of your 10 items ‘investment pieces’. Save the big splurges for the following items: coats, shoes, sunglasses, handbags, cocktail dresses, jeans, watches and jewelry. These items will last you a long time so quality is of the utmost importance. Also if the above mentioned items are quality, they can really dress up a moderately priced outfit and make it look quite expensive.

If you are still feeling resistance towards the 10 Item Wardrobe but are curious about its benefits, try it out the next time you go on vacation.
Scale your packing towards the length of your trip. For example, if you are going away for a long weekend, only bring 2 or 3 outfits. If you are going away 2 weeks, try packing your own 10 item wardrobe. You will experience the same benefit of doing the challenge in your own home and will have much less luggage to tote around (always a good thing).

With regards to maintaining and going forward you should adapt over time for what is right for you. If you are doing the experiment to the letter and are only using your 10 core items and you are having a wardrobe revelation carry on! If you find that you need to add more pieces into your capsule wardrobe to make it really work for you, then that is OK too. The exercise is extreme and even though Madame Chic and her family truly employed the 10 Item Wardrobe- it might not be right for you. Hopefully, going forward, you will take the best that this challenge has to offer by becoming more discerning towards the clothing you bring into your wardrobe. You will look at your wardrobe like you look at your home and not allow clutter into it. And ultimately, you will get one step closer to defining your true style.

I would love to hear your thoughts and observations on the 10 Item Wardrobe...

I recently visited the Getty Villa in Malibu and took some astonishing photos of ancient Greek and Roman antiquities, which I will be sharing with you in the weeks to come. The Marbury Hall Zeus is pictured above, dating back to 1-100 A.D.



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16 comments:

fojoy said...

I managed to get down to about 20 items, and am loving it. I am finding the same things as you with the calm upon opening my closet and not having a need to shop.
Now I just need to convince my Husband.

steppingmywaytobliss said...

I love that you have done this series and it is encouraging to get your after thoughts too. Like, Fojoy, my goal is 20-25 items. I have already experienced some of what you described as a result of editing my clothes: less desire to shop; more desire to be creative; love looking in my closet and seeing things hanging loosely--not all scrunched together. xxBliss

SheilaLouise said...

I am decluttering and reorganizing my closet. I am starting with my handbags. I must have over 30. How do you organize yours? I need help.... My handbags are pricey and I love them but they take up so much space. Any ideas!

LuxeBytes said...

These are all such great reasons (though you didn't know it at the time) for having a very small wardrobe.

A long time ago, I read that most people wear the same 20 percent of their clothes 80 percent of the time. I've tried to keep that in mind when doing the occasional closet purge, and it sure makes it easier to be pragmatic about what stays and what goes.

This post is really great, original content. Lots of bloggers write about purging closets and having small wardrobes, but what's different with you is the post-game analysis. And there's so much of it!

Marsi

Marguerite said...

Thank you for the wonderful post. I am loving the fact that the older I get, the fewer and finer things I want. So it is happening naturally. Would love to hear more about Madame Chic, my lifestyle muse!

Laura Gail said...

Your posts inspire me to put more thought into my wardrobe. Instead of just buying a top because it's a good deal and is cute - I need to stop and think whether it's going to work with the other pieces hanging in my closet. With a little one, it's too hard to shop these days so I like the idea of starting the season off with the right mix of pieces and then it's done. I'm still working on revamping my closet and my 10 items but i've been making a list of how many dresses, coats, shorts, jeans...that I need, and that helps me to see what I have and what I still need to purchase. But I'm definitely purging my closet and I'm taking a ton of stuff to a consignment shop and hopefully I will earn some $ to help purchase the missing items for my summer wardrobe. Blessings!

Pearl said...

I am working 20 items fairly seamlessly since October. What has changed for me is that when I consider (or buy, sadly) something that is not right, I know it right away. I recently bought a striped blouse that goes beautifully with the entire 20-item wardrobe--but almost immediately I knew the fabric would bother me. Still bought it "for practical reasons" and it is wrong. I'll give it up quicker than I would have, and chalk this up to trusting my gut.

Merveilleux said...

I like the vacation idea. We go on a lot of weekend trips and I try to pack as little as possible. For a 4 day/3 night trip I will bring the pants I'm wearing and 1 other pair along with a few tops and 1 pair of pajamas for all 3 nights. Leaves a lot of space in my suitcase. When we fly I never have to check a bag because it all fits in my carry-on! Now I just need to work on my overall wardrobe!
I hope you make a future post about shoes!

Rebekah said...

I was just remembering how liberating getting dressed in the morning is while on a long vacation. Because packing forces you to plan your wardrobe for a variety of activities with limited articles of clothing, a 10 (or so)-item wardrobe really does focus your attention on wearing the clothes you love all the time. If you want variety from just core pieces, employ a scarf or a piece of statement jewelry.

But just as important as the "limited" choices is the quality of choices. You are so right to emphasize the best quality you can afford. It is a treat to wear high-quality clothes, and you will (and should) reach for them over and over again.

Beth - In My World... said...

I love this series! For the first time ever, I followed the ten item advice to pack for vacation. This has been a dream! At first my husband thought something happened to me - I usually require him to sit on my suitcase to get it to close on all my outfits. This year I didn't require even HALF of the suitcase, each day is so much easier with my items that all work together, and I am enjoying the simplicity and great looks of what I have. As soon as I get home, I am going after the closet...aggressively. Thank you!

Marsha said...

I've been thinking a lot about this lately. Ten items is probably not workable for me at my current stage of life, but I wonder if I could get away with, say, 25? My husband likes me to look a wee bit dressy, my job requires slightly better than "business casual" (ugh, I hate that term) and anything else stands out in an unfavorable way, my kids like me to look nice but too nice and then I have other needs like workout clothes, items gardening/housekeeping tasks and so on.

Now that I think on it...maybe I'll bump that to 30 items! Food for thought!

The Daily Connoisseur said...

Fojoy- Great! I'm glad you were able to get it down to a number that is right for you... with regards to the husband- I totally know where you're coming from! Hopefully if you lead by example and give him a little nudge in the right direction, he'll follow :)

Bliss- That is wonderful! And really those observations of yours are the whole point of the experiment...

Sheila Louise- I only have two handbags- I wish I had more but with handbags I only want high quality and that is all I can afford right now- you are very lucky to have a collection of high quality bags! I would suggest storing the ones you use all the time in a very accessible place- do you have a top 5, for example? And the rest, I would gently stuff with tissue and store in the cloth bags they came in. You can put them in a large canvas storage tote (something like they sell at the Container Store). You can put a few in there and because they will be stuffed and wrapped, they won't lose their shape. This is assuming you don't have a lot of storage space in your home... Let me know how it goes!

Marsi- thank you very much! I think the 'post game analysis' is extremely important. It's always good to weigh the pros and cons and then see what works for you!

Marguerite- Thank you! Madame Chic will find her way into many of my future posts and I am also working on a book with a lot more material than I cover on the blog- all about how Famille Chic lived...

Laura Gail- Yes! I think it is my little one that really got me thinking about all of this in the first place. I want to be a good role model for her and I don't want her to see my (old) overstuffed closet. Best wishes xx

Pearl- me too! I can instantly tell when I've purchased something that is not right... we're heading in the right direction!

Merveilleux- Traveling with the capsule wardrobe is the best. I used to overpack for every trip I went on. Carrying all that baggage around is no fun! And I would find I didn't use almost half of what I brought...

Rebekah- the biggest resistance I faced with this challenge was using the best clothes I had on a daily basis- it's almost as though I felt I didn't deserve to! (Which is rubbish). But I am still breaking through that state of thought- hopefully you are too...

Beth- Wonderful! I'm so glad! Would love to hear your thoughts once you tackle your closet...

Marsha- Yes! Tailor this experience to fit your needs. Whatever is right for your life is the right answer... Best of luck!

suzan said...

hi
i'm enjoying blogs. i don't know where and all i was rooming these days. your blog is full of treasures.
thank u thank u & thank u.
now to the point. i'm a stay at home mom with 2 kids i love cooking & gardening & i'm really scared of wearing good clothes while doing these things. i do wear good in the evening when i go out but as soon as i come home i remove them. what about french women do they have work cloths if not how they take care of clothes. do they wash it after each use. how they take care of good clothes or do they have wash & wear kind of cloths for everyday. pl guide me through this


thank you
suzan

The Daily Connoisseur said...

Suzan- Thank you- I'm glad you've discovered the blog and are enjoying it. The French women I observed in Paris did not change into different clothes when cooking or doing housework. Madame Chic would simply put an apron on over her day clothes so as not to ruin them. They have a very small wardrobe and do laundry around once a week. Try wearing an apron over your clothes next time (a chic one of course! :) and see how it goes. For more information on how French women dress and preserve their style please read my new book Lessons from Madame Chic: The Top 20 Things I Learned While Living in Paris (you can find it on Amazon.com) There is an entire section devoted to this very subject. xo

smilesformiles30 said...

Hello,
I find your blog so inspiring and refreshing.I think you have great style as well!! I am 31 and I am on the search to find my style and also the top 10 item wardrobe.
My question is about handbag.. How did you find your perfect classic everyday handbags that goes well with almost anything? Best, Laura :=)

The Daily Connoisseur said...

HI Laura, Thanks for commenting! I always only have one or two handbags. I like quality ones and because they are so expensive I can only ever have one or two at a time! But I do make them last for years. My black Monserrat de Lucca doctor's bag from London Sole has lasted me almost 4 years now! But I am in the market to find a new bag soon. I pick neutral colors, classic design and high quality construction when choosing a bag. Best of luck. And I hope you'll read my book Lessons From Madame Chic which comes out in November for more tips x

 
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