One thing French women appear to have the ability to do time and time again is create a wardrobe that makes chic dressing look effortless. From skinny jeans, via perfect little black dresses to nonchalantly tied trench coats, their wardrobes seem filled with items that communicate two of my very favourite ‘E” words – elegance and ease.
On days when you don’t know what to wear, or you feel frumpy or uninspired or whatever, it can be tempting to think that there is some magic formula that the French received and the rest of us missed out on.
Unless of course it is genetic. Or perhaps there are just better shops in France…
There’s got to be something that can explain the situation, doesn’t there?
Well, let me tell you that you don’t have to be French, live in France or even visit France regularly to create a wardrobe you love.
And while there is no real magic formula, there are a few strategic elements worth mastering. Once you have these sorted, you’ll be well on your way to creating a wardrobe you love. Just like the chicest of those French women.
Develop Your Signature Style
Yes, yes, I know I bang on about the French and their signature styles all the time but really, developing your signature style can be life changing. Spend some time thinking about looks you love. Determine what works for your unique body shape. Getting clear on what suits you as well as what you like is an absolute must for creating a wardrobe you love.
Not sure where to start?
Pinterest is fabulous for identifying looks you are drawn to. Create a ‘Signature Style’ board, start pinning and over time you will begin seeing commonality in your pins. Alternatively, pick up a magazine or two and spend a little time flicking through. Tear out looks you love and keep them in a file. Eventually you will be able see the patterns in the pages you choose. Once you understand the looks you love you can start incorporating elements from these styles into your own wardrobe.
Understand Which Colours Flatter Your Skin Tone
You might be a neutral girl who can wear the Parisian palette. Or perhaps you look better in brighter shades, like some of those girls in the south of France. It really doesn’t matter which colours suit you best, so long as you can narrow things down to a few core colours that complement each other – and you. That way you’ll ensure that you always look your best and you’ll also avoid filling your wardrobe with orphan items that don’t go with anything.
Now, I know many women don’t know where to start when it comes to adding colour to their sartorial choices. I’m sure it is why some wardrobes are filled with black, black and a little more black. And while all black is often considered the epitome of chic in Paris, London and Melbourne, it can also get boring. (And it can be just plain wrong in certain climates.)
A simple way to start playing with colour is to collect some large paint colour swatches from your local hardware store. (Don’t worry, no paint brushes are required for this little DIY project – it’s actually a trick I used before my style studies saw me upgrade to colour capes and wheels). Find yourself a large mirror, position it in good natural lighting and start placing the paint swatches near your face. You will quickly work out which colours make you sparkle and the ones that make you look plain ill. Next time you are in the market for a new item or two, keep an eye out for the colours that work best for you.
Wardrobe Analysis – Or Understanding What You Already Own
French women survive with, generally speaking, far less closet space than those of us in the rest of the world. Yet they always seem to find classy outfits to wear.
Does it ever seem that you have nothing to wear, despite the fact that your large wardrobe is packed with clothing? Or perhaps you find yourself wearing a variation of the same outfit over and over…mainly due to the fact that your wardrobe is full of really similar items that you just seem to buy time and time again?
I have a view that no one should ever go shopping for clothes without a plan and that no clothing should make it into your valuable wardrobe real estate unless it qualifies as a great addition.
What makes an item worthy of the title of great addition?
Well, there are numerous qualities, but as a bare minimum it should:
- Fill a gap in your wardrobe,
- Harmonise with clothing you already own,
- Be an item that you will wear regularly,
- Not require any additional purchases to make it work.
Oh, and ideally it shouldn’t blow your budget.
With these guidelines in mind, you can start adding clothing to your wardrobe that aligns with your strategy. And over time you will find yourself living with a wardrobe that not only works but that you absolutely adore.
One More Thing
However, there is one more hurdle that could stand between you and your ability to get dressed everyday with pleasure and ease.
Actually shopping for the clothes.
Many women have written to me about their concerns with shopping. These concerns range from complete anxiety when it comes to selecting clothes for themselves, right through to a lack of suitable shops near to where they live. And of course time constraints also come up as a reason that women struggle with shopping.
If you feel like shopping is somehow stopping you from creating a wardrobe you love, you might like to try:
- The Internet. Technology has broadened our horizons when it comes to clothing choices. We can now tap into fashion from anywhere in the world from our computers. Personally, I love the convenience of selecting my favourite shoes from London, choosing a handbag from Florence, or a picking up a bargain shirt from Paris and having them delivered right to my door (for what these days are generally reasonable shipping costs – even to Australia). And I’ve learned some tricks along the way which mean I rarely have any issues with my internet purchases. First of all, know your body measurements. Sizing varies wildly around the world, so rather than assume I am a particular size I always consult the sizing charts before making a purchase. Also read as many customer reviews as you can – I find they are generally pretty accurate. And in terms of protecting your finances, using a debit card that you keep just for internet purchases can add in some protection. If that doesn’t appeal, you might like to try Paypal.
- Building a relationship with a local store. If there is a local store that stocks items that match your signature style you can do worse than cultivating a relationship with the store owner. Over time, you’ll come to trust their advice. Furthermore, they may be able to order clothing especially for you. Alternatively, they may start giving you a call when an item they know you will like comes in.
- Using a personal shopping service. A number of the large department stores can offer support when it comes to shopping. Or perhaps you might like to engage a private service.
Do you have any tips for creating a wardrobe you love? Or perhaps you’ve overcome some shopping challenges. Either way, I’d love for you to share your experiences in the comments section below.
And until next time – au revoir.