For me, their dedication to quality in everyday life is one of the things I love most about the French. In their world, food has to be spot on, regardless of whether they are dishing up a simple meal of ham, cheese and bread or indulging in a celebration dinner. A lacklustre wine won’t be drunk, or even purchased in the first place. And high quality clothing is a must. With closet space at a premium, a French woman cannot afford to let any old thing into her wardrobe.
And given how much I admire the commitment of the French, I’ve been very pleased by how often the concept of quality has been popping up in my life lately.
In my day job, we’ve been increasing expectations and redefining what ‘great work’ looks like from the perspectives of both our customers and our staff. We’ve looking to step things up at every level – and the results have been enlightening..
Similarly, I’ve been excited by the depth and the honesty of some of the conversations in my personal life. Rather than just skim over the surface, it seems the time has come for me to dig deep with friends and family, and delve into some things that really matter. These quality conversations have bought a richness to my relationships that I feel has been missing for a while.
On the home front, Scott and I have spent much of the year updating items, large and small, around our house. It’s funny how getting around to fixing all those ‘little defects’ you live with for way too long makes a big difference to your life.. And we, like our friends, have been making other upgrades in our lives. Things like shorter stays in better hotels and investing in excellent design rather mass made pieces.
A Return To Quality In The World Of Style
One area where I’ve been very happy to see a return to quality is in style and fashion. While I feel like I must bore regular readers by banging on about it all the time, I really do believe that high quality is one of the true foundational building blocks for a stylish wardrobe. The sort of wardrobe that leaves you feeling confident and elegant, ready to take on the world. A wardrobe a French woman would be happy to have.
I started noticing a return to quality in this particular space a few years back as the ethical fashion movement began to take off. And books like Wardrobe Crisis by the fabulous Clare Press reinforced the fact that we haven’t been doing ourselves any favours with our fast fashion cycles and throw away culture.
More recently, I’ve been seeing other signs. Extremely talented seamstresses like my mother and her friends are dusting off their sewing machines. They’d put them away a few years back when it became cheaper to buy clothing rather than craft it. But they’ve realised that the clothing they create not only lasts longer than the cheap stuff but it looks better too.
And many of those in my circle are avoiding the sales, choosing instead to mindfully research and invest in items that will not only stand the test of time but make them feel special every time they wear them. For years to come.
If you are looking to return to quality in your own life – or perhaps introduce it – I have a few tips for you.
Firstly, make the decision to buy less but better. She who has the most shoes (or jackets or shirts) does not necessarily win. In fact, a massive amount of ‘meh’ choices is likely to leave you feeling overwhelmed, disappointed and perhaps even guilty whenever you open your cupboard doors. You deserve to feel great about your outfit choice every day. Fill your wardrobe with a small number of quality items that you love and you are a long way towards achieving that feeling.
As an aside, this tip works equally well for what you put into your body as it does for what you put on it.
Secondly, get clear on what quality means to you. And as I say (time and time again) quality doesn’t have to be super expensive. Do some research into your clothing choices. Understand the differences between fabrics. Work out where your clothes are made and who is responsible for making them. Set some standards for your wardrobe and see if that changes how you feel about getting dressed every day.
Finally, be ready to change your mindset and your habits. If you’ve been someone who has gone for quantity over quality up until now, it might take a while to feel satisfied with buying just an item or two. And you may well be tempted by the false economy of 2 for 1 deals and the like. Discernment takes practice but it also leads to a wardrobe full of wonderful.
Have you also been seeing a return to quality in your life? What would introducing a little more quality do for your life? Please join the conversation and share your thoughts in the comments section below.
And until next time – au revoir
2 thoughts on “A Return To Quality”
Better to have a few nice things than a closet full of junk.
Knowing how to sew is a big plus because it helps one to see whether a garment is well-constructed.
On my last stop at the fabric store, I saw quite a few young women. If you want to be unique, making your own creations is a sure way not to see yourself coming and going.
As always, a thoughtful and enjoyable post!
Two years ago, I spent enough time in Paris to notice the way French women shop: when Americans were taking armloads of things into the dressing room (it was the July sales!), our French counterparts had one item, or perhaps two. And unlike in America, I saw most French shoppers examining the buttonholes, the stitching, the drape – the things that mean a garment is well-made – even in the inexpensive chain stores such as Camaïeu, where I saw beautifully made featherweight sweaters with full-fashioning for about 13 euros.
This summer, I was again in Paris for an extended stay and made a point to observe more shopping behavior and do a little bit of eavesdropping. French shoppers quickly dismissed things that were not exactly what they were already looking for – there was very little browsing behavior. In the US, shopping (i.e. cruising the mall) is seen as a legitimate hobby; in France, shopping is time spent on a necessary aspect of life, and it may be enjoyable, but it is not viewed as a pastime. Think ‘hunting and gathering’.
And when your apartment is very small, each item needs to ‘earn’ its place. Every time I come home from Paris, I purge a few more things from my closets and I am feeling better and better about my much smaller wardrobe!
Thank you for your posts that really underscore the importance of this and keep my resolve strong!