2.01.2015

Ten-Item Wardrobe Check-In Fall/ Winter



This year's fall/ winter ten-item wardrobe was a bit of an experiment as I built the body of the core pieces primarily on budget finds from mid-level retailers. In this week's video I share with you my experience so far with these clothes. Which ones were good purchases and which ones were not?

One of the many benefits of the ten-item wardrobe is that you are so conscious about the items you bring into your closet, that each one becomes a case-study. If you go through the season and one of the garments didn't work out (shrunk, you never wore it, you realized you don't like its style) you can analyze the problem and not make the mistake of buying a similar item again!

In this week's video, I do not go through each of the ten items in my wardrobe, but share highlights of what worked and what didn't work. One of the Loft dresses, if you will remember from my ten-item talk-through, was of concern to me because I thought it might shrink and become too short. Lo and behold... it did!

I knew this at the time... I had the instinct that the length of the dress might be a problem, yet I purchased it anyway. Why I didn't listen to my instinct, I'm not quite sure. But now I know to not purchase anything in the future that has a questionable length. I've learned my lesson!

Higher vs. Lower Brands

So, what's the crux of my thesis regarding high-quality vs. budget fashion? Purchasing higher-end brands like my favorite A.P.C. has it's major benefits. The clothes are of supreme quality and last a long time. I'm finding that they last around 3 times longer than the less expensive brands like Loft.

On the other hand, Loft is more affordable. Also, some women might get bored of wearing the same garment for many years in a row and prefer more "temporary" pieces.

Regarding budget, you must be able to completely afford the higher-end brand at the point of purchase as I never advocate incurring debt due to clothes shopping.

If you can afford the higher-end, higher quality purchase and are prepared (and excited!) to have your garment last more than one or two seasons, then it's worth considering the investment piece.

If you cannot afford the higher-end brand right off the bat, then I do recommend the less expensive brands. If you shop carefully, your clothes can last past the season, ending up providing excellent savings in the end.

Ultimately the best choice for many people, I believe, is a healthy mix of the two. Have one or two high-end pieces in your wardrobe and supplement with more affordable brands.


Be sure to check out this week's video for more of my insight on this subject. If you are unable to see the video above, click here, look in the sidebar of this blog, or visit my channel: www.youtube.com/TheDailyConnoisseur
News

Katie Lauren Parker gives At Home With Madame Chic an excellent review

Driven Woman blog cites my TEDx talk on the ten-item wardrobe as inspiration for her post, Wardrobe Secrets of a Driven Woman.



Madame Chic Inspiring Thought
This week, go through the garments in your fall/ winter wardrobe and examine why some pieces worked and some pieces didn't. For the ones that didn't work, figure out why and make a note to learn that style lesson and make a better choice in the future. Just imagine, one day, you will be so in tune with your true style and make such wise wardrobe purchases, all of your pieces will live in harmony and integrity.

Question of the Week
Lisa writes:

I need self discipline to challenge myself to seek out the arts. Too often, I let these chances for life enrichment pass me by! Please, could you devote some time this year to tips in this area?

Dear Lisa,

I am going post a future video on the dumbing-down of popular culture and how we can escape it. Please look for this in the near future!

Testimonial
The testimonial of the week comes from Marija, who writes:

Hi Jennifer,

As always, it is a pleasure to watch your weekly video!
With regards to self-discipline, I have you to thank for assisting me with shopping - mainly clothes shopping with the 10 Item Wardrobe, but other things too.

The other day, I was walking through a department store on sale, when I passed two women, with one saying to the other:' Get me out of here, I can't stop myself!'
It then hit me that I no longer feel like this when shopping. I now go out with firm ideas of what it is that I am buying, and I am in control, sale or no sale.

As I was walking away, I smiled to myself, and wished I had your book with me to give to the two ladies...

With the warmest regards,
Marija


Thank you Marija!

Arts Recommendation
If you are looking for a good, thought-provoking, realistic film, I highly recommend Force Majeure, a Sweedish film, directed by Ruben Östlund. This marital drama follows a young Sweedish family as they vacation in the French Alps. I don't want to give anything else away but highly recommend you view it! It's the first film I've seen in a long time that really impressed me.

See you soon!

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30 comments:

Evaline said...

Hi Jennifer...thanks for the wardrobe update. I really like the black and white patterned dress that shrunk in length. If the top still fits, I wonder if it might be worth taking the dress to have hemmed even shorter to be worn as a tunic with your black pants. It might be cute.

I myself have had very good experiences with the quality of Talbots clothing. I am very selective though, with the fabrics of the garments I buy there. I have done well with their merino wool and their cotton sweaters as well as all of their pants and jeans, plus their dressier cotton blouses and their 3/4 length sleeve fine cotton t-shirts. As always, a very helpful post.

Amber said...

do you have any advice for those of us in a longer term weight loss period and how we can tailor the 10 item wardrobe philosophy to this. I have been attempting to loose some weight (I like to call it my Nursing School weight) slowly, and have been having slow but sure success. however this seems to be making my 10 item wardrobe planning more complicated. As much as i would love to go out and buy for next winter I have no idea what size I will be then. Also I sometimes struggle with buying more expensive pieces for my size now knowing that I am probably not going to be in that size for much longer. Can you give me any tips for this situation?

Ami Ocampo said...

Hi Jennifer- great video. I can relate to the dresses being too short issue you brought up. Although it doesn't sound like you loved the dress that shrunk, did you ever think of layering? I had the same problem with an Express dress until I layered - I put a longer Banana Republic skirt underneath the dress. The skirt is silk and is a similar cut to the dress. Layering is a great idea for warmth in winter.

CARRIE said...

Hi Jennifer, I was wondering if you've ever tried the British brand Boden? Everything I've ordered from them has been wonderful quality for a mid-level brand (their long sleeve tees always last me a few years of very regular wear) and most of their dresses have modest hemlines. Plus their style is classic and cute- very Kate Middleton worthy! Just make sure to follow their size charts, even for the US store. For example: I'm usually a US size 4, but I'm their US size 6. Cheers!

Suzi Queue said...

I have two Equipment silk blouses (which run really large, IMO. Had I known, I would have sized down, but I digress). I assume you wash yours. How, please? Thanks in advance, Jennifer.

Best regards, Suzi

Rose said...

Hi Jennifer, it's great to see your analysis of your winter wardrobe, I am now doing the same with my summer one. I understand what you mean when you say that each item becomes a "case study", having fewer items means you pay more attention to fit, comfort and appearance.

I like your suggestions about end of season sales. For your southern hemisphere readers I would like to point out that winter items on sale online in the northern hemisphere at the moment are ready for our winter!

I have been wanting an Eric Bompard cashmere jumper (sweater), I bought a v-neck 2ply cashmere grey one yesterday at 70% off. Next year I'll be another in a different colour.

Rose said...

PS I am so glad you have the art recommendation here, I have had enormous pleasure from your morning/afternoon/evening music recommendations in At Home with Madame Chic.

mimimanderly said...

I like to shop in consignment shops because there are a few in my area that sell really high-end clothing at prices I can afford. Granted, it's hit or miss, and sometimes it can take years to find some piece that I am looking for in my size. But when I do, it is such a coup! While I am waiting for the "perfect" piece, I shop at good quality mid-level stores like Loft, Anthropologie, and J Crew. I can get lovely, good quality pieces at an affordable price. And when I do find the perfect high-end piece in that category, I can recycle the mid-level piece to Goodwill. In this way, gradually, my entire wardrobe will be high quality, high-end one day.

Christina Durborow said...

Very helpful and timely video as always--I'm really motivated to both actively evaluate my winter wardrobe (which is probably closer to 15 items than 10) and stick to my decision not to buy anything else this season to supplement it (as those purchases are not in my budget). Thanks Jennifer!

I second Carrie's recommendation of Boden--I only discovered them last summer but the items I have purchased are of great quality and I really love the brand's retro aesthetic.

Suzi Queue--Jennifer did a great video on handwashing silk clothes a few months back. It's probably still available to view if you can find it!

Beth25 said...

After two months with my 10 piece waredrobe, I love how I am using my clothes. 2) I feel so well-dressed. Every time I leave the house, someone says I love your outfit!!!
I am doing a case study today. I know my jeans must be replaced immediately-- they are NYDJ so I have worn them for 2 plus years. My white tee has a red wine stain on it-- club soda didn't take it out-- so it must go.. 3) we are just starting our 8 weeks of really cold weather here, so I have pieces that I am just starting to wear-- I will know about them later. 4) I hit the sales and found a wonderful navy shirt dress, which I will wear in the spring and next fall/ winter. It is from the Gap and I paid $21 for it-- it is long enough-yeh,, thank you.

Amanda Ring said...

Good morning, Jennifer! I just had to compliment your hair in this video. I don't don't recalling having seen it in this style in your videos before, but I thought it looked really wonderful on you. Thank you for another great video!

oursmallspace said...

The number nerd in me quickly caught on to something. I think you're saying in the video that your ATL/mid-level mall clothes were 1/3 the price of higher-end brands, and that high end brands last 3 times as long. So for those of us who take cost-per-wear into account when budgeting for clothes it would seem they work out about the same.

Like you, my sweaters are running quite thin at this point. Most of them were from 2-3 years ago to begin with and I have already let most of them go.

Ladylike said...

Hi Jennifer,

Thanks for your question. Surprisingly it's prompted some deep reflection for me, as the question of my new wardrobe is not only a practical one but also an emotional one. In thinking about this, I have to remember my family history which is that I had one grandmother who was a war survivor and who darned our socks as children. Have you noticed no one darns socks anymore? My other grandmother was a factory laborer and union leader. Both my parents grew up very poor for different reasons. They are/were both very intelligent, hardworking, successful and generous. Our family swung from poverty to prosperity and started accumulating too many things. I have only just tried to find a balance. So I have to ask myself how I'm doing emotionally rather than how my clothing us holding up. I've come a long way, reducing my clothes from about 1000 items to probably 100, while still honoring and respecting the gifts my parents worked so hard to give me. It has been a thought provoking journey. I'm excited that my children and I now may know balance, neither deprivation nor excess. Thank you for your help in this effort, Jennifer.
-- Alexa

abeer arain said...

Hi Jenn..
I am your big fan... Love your books and your blog
I have a question for you.. Why do you always wear dull colors? ( I myself love black color), but Still.. sometimes your clothes remind me of some 60-70 year old aunt..
Please don't misunderstand me.. But I guess there is no harm in buying a nice color. There are other dark colors too that we can use in winter..

Christine OBrien said...

Fab article, Jennifer! I have been taking stock of my winter wardrobe as well. One jumper in particular (from Loft!) is not making it back next year. I bought it thinking it would be VERY versatile - wear it with skirts, trousers, jeans, cigarette pants, etc - but it turns out it only really works with one pair of skinny jeans I own! Oh, well. Can't wait to see your Spring wardrobe - yay warm weather!

xx Christine
The Refined Side

Summer Smith said...

I just want to add that it is not only the time to check out clothes on clearance but I was inspired to make a bouquet and rewatched your video about holiday arrangements and there are some fantastic deals at afloral.com which you have recommended. If you want to buy Christmas flowers for next Christmas now is the time to do so too! I just got some steals on flowers I plan to use for arrangements next year.

Thanks for your inspiration again.

Linda Elliott said...

This is a great time to shop for bags also. I just purchased a BCBG black leather tote at 75 percent off at Macy's! The leather is so soft and it is a classic style. I have learned to not buy cheap bags since they just don't last past a year. Love your outfit. The necklace really dresses it up!

Sandra Seidel said...

Happy Tuesday!
Thank you for your encouragement & for sharing your thoughts so graciously. I cleaned out my closet & I have my meager beginnings of my 10 item wardrobe. I'm really excited to get started soon on my spring/summer!
My big question is I wear petites but struggle sometimes with length...they look good on the top though. Any advice? Oops, another question - do you ever buy online? I don't have the great stores in my town but I really like to try on the clothes!
Kind regards, Sandra

Prestigious School said...

Great video as always! I kept my favorite blouse in rotation this year, and I really shouldn't have. I promise to discard it at the end of this season so I'm not tempted next year. Thanks for your encouragement. I enjoy your posts and both books very much.

Kerrie Wallis said...

Hi Jennifer,
I have been analysing my summer wardrobe too. I’m in South East QLD, Australia – this means that we still have A LOT of summer ahead of us yet – at best we get about three weeks of real winter weather. This means that quite a few items from my summer wardrobe will carry over into winter. The main thing I have decided is NOT to buy multiples again – you know, when you like something so much that you buy it in every colour! That works well when you have a large wardrobe to pick & choose from but when the wardrobe is small, you just end up feeling as if you really are wearing the same thing every day. I’ve also decided NOT to have more than one blouse/dress with epaulettes (those annoying tabs that hold up a rolled sleeve). They are painful to iron and, again, can get very repetitive. In trying to simplify my life, things that are difficult to launder/iron have no place. They make me cranky and that is so NOT chic! Xx
Kerrie-ann
(My Little Suitcase)

juliagray19 said...

Please do a blog on how to get regular physical activity in winter. Outdoor walks as I do errands is impossible at -40F in Alaska. Also, can you include advice on exercising during the work week for free? I am so exhausted by the time I come home I cannot summon the energy, nor can I afford a gym membership. Thanks!

Ladylike said...

I'm with Julia. Exercise that conserves our time and energy is a question. I'm going to share what I've come up with so far. First, I want to mention energy conservation because this doesn't get mentioned in our culture. But in Scott Jurek's book "Eat and Run" he writes about his hike with a group of native South Americans who still live in the traditional way. These folks are so serious about conserving their energy that they lie down on the ground when they're taking a break during their trek. I'm also reading about animals in a book called "What the Robin Knows" by Jon Young. This book says that animals are also very diligent about conserving their precious energy. They don't get into fights unless they have to because it would waste energy and they could get injured and die. It's only domestic dogs and modern humans who no longer understand how to live long and well. (My dog is injured at the moment.) To make a long story short, I believe we do have to be careful about conserving our energy. Exercising in the morning works for me, when I still have energy, but not for so long that I won't have energy for the rest of the day. Jorge Cruise, a personal coach, recommends 20-30 minutes of interval training. Basically this means alternating more aerobic and less aerobic activities. I like to do the following in my home, requires no special equipment: sit ups, leg lifts, plank poses, stairs or steps. You can also add jumping Jack's or jogging around the room. That's it! Good luck!

stephray said...

Jennifer, thank you so much for this video. I enjoyed it as much as all the other ones. I love Loft items so much that most (like 95%) of my wardrobe is from there. But like you, I have found hit and miss items but also some real treasures!! That stores items fall within my budget plus they run 40% off sales all the time, so I will continue to shop from there!!!

wild nettle said...

Very helpful and inspiring :)

mimimanderly said...

I just want to answer Julia's query about finding time to exercise in the winter, and for free. I find it helpful to exercise in smaller segments. I am an early riser, and like to have that chunk of time to myself before anyone else is up. One of the things I do is take about ten minutes to do a few floor exercises. This way I get in some exercise plus it helps to wake me up. If I have time later in the morning or afternoon, I take another ten minutes or so to do some exercises specifically to work on adjusting my posture. I usually manage to find time to do these about three or four days out of the week. Later in the afternoon is my main exercise segment -- about half an hour. Three days a week, I do strength training (I have a machine that I was fortunate enough to get for free at a yard sale, but dumbbells are a cheap option. A good book to refer to is Strong Women Stay Young by Miriam E. Nelson.) and three days I do yoga (You don't have to join a class. There are books and videos that can teach you. A lot of people devote over an hour to each yoga session. I'm not one of them. I do what I can.).

Ladylike said...

Hi Jennifer and Ladies of the blog,
Since I'm having to use my self-discipline at the moment because I'm feeling very distracted by an extremely rude neighbor, I'm going to indulge in a third comment to hopefully get myself back on track with the positive thoughts I was thinking earlier. I was thinking about how I have found it easier to create a ten item signature recipe file than to create a ten item wardrobe. I noticed you happened to mention ten entrees in your book, Jennifer. I find the difference interesting because the selection criteria are essentially the same for me. My two questions are, do I and my family like this enough to eat it over and over/ do I like it enough to wear it again and again, and, is this recipe/ item of clothing cost effective? So why are the recipes easier to settle upon? Is it because I have my family to help me decide what really works? Is it because I'm truly motivated to nourish and please my family and I only have so many opportunities to do so within a given week? Whatever the case may be, since you did an experiment with your clothing this season, Jennifer, I'm going to do an experiment of my own and see whether treating my clothing items as menu items (since I find menu items easier) will help me to create an honest to goodness ten item wardrobe because I really do believe in it as a goal. I will be asking myself, what are the meat and potatoes in my wardrobe and what are the desserts? Btw since I started serving three course meals, thanks to you, Jennifer, I find dessert to be essential, make no mistake! I'm going to have some fun with this for spring and hope for results as good as my dinners! Ever thankfully, Alexandra

Saltysue said...

Good sound advice, I have bought an dress on sale for my next winter wardrobe. I had admired this dress when it first came into the shops but it was more than I was able to spend. You can imagine my jo when browsing the spring collections to come across a sale rail to find the winter dress with a third off. Now purchased and stored ready for later this year. I find with sale shopping a different mind set needs to be employed, don't worry if you find nothing rejoice when you find that longed for piece.

ANNA KRYGOWSKA said...

Wow, I just read on the website of Wydawnictwo Literackie that the Polish premiere of Your newest book is dated on 19th March, 2015. I'm so excited :)

adoringfamily said...

Hi Jennifer, I just want to let you know how I have enjoyed both of your books. I also enjoy these videos and so appreciate the beauty you inspire in our home!

Kat Ogden said...

Do you have any experience with Bead and Reel or Everlane? (http://www.beadandreel.com and https://www.everlane.com, respectively) As I see my wardrobe as an investment, I'm interested in well made items and ethical origins as well. It's part of my "living well" :) I am wondering if anyone has purchased anything from there and what their experience has been? I'm planning out a few purchases, especially from Bead and Reel.

They seem to have a lot of wardrobe staple items at fairly good prices.

 
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