The French Five: a Brief Explanation

Karin Rambo of truncationblog.com gives a brief explanation of the French Five

I’m super intrigued you guys.

Why?

The French Five.

Anyone heard of it?

From what I’ve gathered from my research, the French Five is similar to a capsule wardrobe in that you keep your closet to a minimum and focus on high quality pieces instead of saturating your wardrobe with cheap, low quality clothing.

The difference lies in the blue print of your wardrobe.

In other words, you build your closet around basics that will stay in your closet year round.

When you do shop, you only add seasonal items to your wardrobe twice a year, much like how things used to be done before fast fashion infiltrated our shopping habits.

Like I said: intriguing.

So here is how it works:

  1. Fill your closet with high quality basics that will give you a ton of mileage.
  2. Twice a year (spring/summer, fall/winter) purchase five new high quality statement pieces that are stylish, but not necessarily trendy.
  3. Spend MORE on stylish pieces and LESS on trendy pieces.

As you can see, the French Five still encourages slow decision making when curating your wardrobe, just like a capsule wardrobe does.

But what I think I like about this method a little better is that it has a strong emphasis on the long term. It also gives you a workable plan for how to build a wardrobe that will last.

In other words, each item you add to your wardrobe is something that should be planning on having a long term relationship with.

You know what I love about that?

It is so vastly different than mindlessly consuming fast fashion.

As Debra Ollivier puts it:

Pay attention to quality, not quantity. Buy thoughtfully, never indulge in the impulse buy – unless you know it’s truly you. Throw out or give away every single item of clothing you don’t wear (that’s everything except for exceptional party clothes and things with great sentimental value) and rebuild your wardrobe slowly, piece by piece. Create a streamlined, I-love-everything-I-own collection of clothing and accessories. Avoid outfits and matching clothes. Invest in colors and textures you love. Avoid trends or ‘dressing for success.’

And this, folks, is why French women are so dang stylish.

I’ve been really thinking about what I would like my wardrobe to eventually look like and I came up with a rough draft that I thought I would share with you (I stress that this is a rough draft because I’m still doing research and figuring out what should be included in my own version. K?):

Karin Rambo of truncationblog.com gives a brief explanation of the French Five

This is just a working list for now, but I REALLY think this is the direction I want to go in my journey towards a more minimal wardrobe.

The thing is, I know that it is going to take time.

But you know what? I’m okay with that.

My plan at this point is to integrate this method a little at a time and do a bit of a hybrid of the French Five mixed with a Capsule Wardrobe until I have a solid foundation of basics built up.

What do you think? Have you ever heard of the French Five? Would you try it?

Until next time,

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The blogs I looked at for inspiration for this post:

Who What Wear

Sartreuse 

Better Dressed

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Karin
Karin

Hi there! My name is Karin and I am a lifestyle blogger with a focus on mindful style, clean beauty, and joy filled motherhood. I hope you find some inspiration here!

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34 Comments

  1. February 29, 2016 / 3:55 am

    Hi Karin! I was considering doing the French Wardrobe last Autumn but I don’t think I’m ready for it yet. Though I think I’m getting close, I’m quite happy with my wardrobe these days, there are only a few things I think it needs. So perhaps next autumn, after 2 full years of capsuling and free-form capsuling, I’ll fully commit to the concept. Will definitely be following your journey!

    • Karin
      Author
      February 29, 2016 / 5:02 pm

      Hey Kat! I totally know what you mean about needing to be “ready” for it. I’m sorely lacking in the basics department which is why I think this is a good fit for me. It’s showing me the major holes in my wardrobe. šŸ™‚ I’d love to hear if you get this together!

      • March 2, 2016 / 7:22 am

        Hello! So would you be using the French Wardrobe for those basics? I’d love to know what you consider basics, I think that term means different things for all of us! To me it’s neutral coloured t-shirts (like a simple black tee) or good jeans, comfy tights (though I wouldn’t include those into the count). I think at first I was trying to steer clear of these basics – thinking I want my personal style to show and grow and don’t want my wardrobe to be the same as the next girl’s – but now I’m coming back to them slowly. A few weeks ago I’ve noticed I didn’t have a plain, casual black dress and it felt like a huge hole in my closet, so now it’s one of the additions to my spring wardrobe. Because what I’ve learnt is, you can have the same wardrobe as the next girl, and the great thing about that is that you will wear it differently. Through the power of styling and accessorising, through your own confidence. That’s what’s unique and that’s how your personal style shines through. Great clothes don’t always make a great wardrobe! How’s that for a capsule wardrobe revelation? šŸ™‚ šŸ™‚

        • Karin
          Author
          March 7, 2016 / 3:21 pm

          Yes exactly! Basics to me are pieces that you can add to, to make an outfit. So for example, Neutral colored tees, neutral colored sweaters, basic denim, pants, dresses, etc. Basic, neutral shoes (converse, black booties, etc.). I know what you mean! I kind of did the same thing until I realized that in order for a capsule wardrobe to be successful, you need to have a solid foundation of basics. And I totally agree! The power of a capsule is that it allows your unique voice to shine through how you build outfits. PERFECT wardrobe revelation!!

  2. February 29, 2016 / 7:09 am

    Glad I found your post on Peony. This (and capsule wardrobe) is something I am working toward this year. Glad I can refer to this post and your blog for some direction of how to do this.

    • Karin
      Author
      February 29, 2016 / 5:03 pm

      Hi Simi! Glad you found me too! I’m glad to be of service, and I’d love to hear if you get a capsule together. Keep me posted!

  3. February 29, 2016 / 7:09 am

    Never heard of this. I am intrigued and want to learn more.

    • Karin
      Author
      March 7, 2016 / 3:21 pm

      I’ll continue to post about it Candy!

  4. Heather
    February 29, 2016 / 9:13 am

    This is what I’ve been doing without knowing that it was a “thing”! Guess it kind of validates my decisions, so that’s cool! :p

    • Karin
      Author
      February 29, 2016 / 5:03 pm

      Good for you Heather! You must be one of those women that just looks classy all of the time. šŸ™‚

  5. February 29, 2016 / 9:20 am

    I’ve not heard of this before, but it sounds really interesting and like something I’d like to try. I’d also have to make a list up too to see what I would include. Thanks for sharing this!

    • Karin
      Author
      February 29, 2016 / 5:04 pm

      I’m such a list person Shann it’s not even funny. Ha! I’d love to hear if you do try it out!

  6. February 29, 2016 / 11:20 am

    I’ve been considering this, but now, living out of a suitcase, I don’t have room to add even another five. But still, I look forward to hearing how it goes for you! I love what you said about it taking time… Today’s fast fashion mindset is all about instant gratification and spontaneous purchases. The French Five causes you to slow down and be intentional. Anyway, your comment on my travel capsule wardrobe made my day! I’m always glad to meet another INFJ and I am sure that we would get along splendidly in person. Thanks for your friendship and support!

    • Karin
      Author
      March 7, 2016 / 3:22 pm

      I totally get that Cassandra! You have a very unique situation. šŸ™‚ And yes! This is pretty much the exact opposite of fast fashion and I LOVE that. šŸ™‚ If your travels ever bring you to Minneapolis let me know! We should definitely meet up!

  7. February 29, 2016 / 3:35 pm

    I have heard of ‘the French five’! And I started to work towards this goal a few years ago, though I have cracked a few times along the way… I still do buy some trendy clothes, but I am honestly trying to stick to the quality essentials, and it does pay off. I feel like I’m actually saving money in the long run, and on top of that the good quality clothes just feel and look better. I have also learned to enjoy window shopping way more and don’t even get tempted on a visit to a H&M. No downsides! Go for it.

    • Karin
      Author
      March 7, 2016 / 3:25 pm

      Hi Sara! I do think that trendy items still do have their place in a French Five wardrobe. I think the key is to have them as extras and to not have a closet full of them! And I think you’re right about saving money in the long run… not to mention being much more sustainable! I know what you mean about window shopping! Shopping is still a very social thing for me, but I can go with others and not feel like I have to buy something to be participating in the activity.

  8. February 29, 2016 / 4:29 pm

    This is great advice! I used to be really bad for buying trendy items when I was in high school but thankfully I learned to focus on more quality pieces that could be switched around in my wardrobe. Great post!

    • Karin
      Author
      March 7, 2016 / 3:26 pm

      That’s great Cara! High school and College were definitely my hay day of trend shopping. šŸ™‚

  9. February 29, 2016 / 4:48 pm

    Oh, this is so neat! I’ve never heard of it before, but I definitely jive with the concept. Can’t wait to see what you come up with as you learn more!

    • Karin
      Author
      March 7, 2016 / 3:26 pm

      I felt the same way when I first heard of it too Ali! It just clicked for me because it fit with my instincts. šŸ™‚

  10. February 29, 2016 / 5:53 pm

    I like the mentality of purchasing fewer, quality, classic pieces. Capsule wardrobes don’t quite work for me because I don’t rotate clothes with the seasons. I wear most of what’s in my closet most of the year. I love looking on Pinterest at “French style”. Classy.

    • Karin
      Author
      March 7, 2016 / 3:27 pm

      The French Five definitely takes care of that problem Christine! I’d eventually also like to move away from rotating seasons which is why I want to move in this direction.

  11. February 29, 2016 / 7:18 pm

    I really like this idea. I’m going to have to look into this some more. šŸ™‚

    • Karin
      Author
      March 7, 2016 / 3:28 pm

      It’s a great way of doing things Crystal!

  12. February 29, 2016 / 7:40 pm

    This is a really interesting concept! I’ve heard of the five piece French wardrobe, but I didn’t quite grasp the idea until this post. It’s kind of similar to an all-seasons capsule. I think I would like to move towards the five piece wardrobe albeit very slowly. Maybe when my shopping ban ends, I’ll purchase 5 summer items for my S/S capsule.

    • Karin
      Author
      March 7, 2016 / 3:28 pm

      It totally is Lauren! Which is what I’ve been hoping to move towards all along. And yes! I’ll be moving very slowly.

  13. February 29, 2016 / 9:46 pm

    I totally love this philosophy! I hate fast fashion and I always try to buy pieces I think I can wear forever. I cry when pieces I’ve owned for 15 years finally fall apart and I have to find a replacement! It means though that there are still gaps in my wardrobe that I still struggle to fill because I can’t find the perfect piece!

    • Karin
      Author
      March 7, 2016 / 3:29 pm

      I do too Anita! I know exactly how you feel. I have some shoes that I know I will cry over when they finally all apart. šŸ™‚

  14. February 29, 2016 / 11:28 pm

    Interesting! I’ve never heard of this but it is intriguing. I’m trying to stay away from buying trendy pieces and leaning toward a more neutral and casual style. But every now and then I need a little floral in my life! HA

    • Karin
      Author
      March 7, 2016 / 3:30 pm

      This might be a good message for you Kerry! And nothing wrong with accenting those basics with floral!

  15. March 1, 2016 / 6:20 am

    I’ve never heard of this but it sounds like such a neat idea. I always try to think quantity over quality in terms of my wardrobe and this seems like a great way to stick to that.

    LiveLifeWell,
    Allison

    • Karin
      Author
      March 7, 2016 / 3:30 pm

      Definitely Allison!

  16. March 1, 2016 / 10:17 am

    I totally do a version of this and love it! Every piece is special and its helped me really focus. I only buy what I absolutely love now.

    • Karin
      Author
      March 7, 2016 / 3:30 pm

      I love that January! I can’t wait to get to a point where every piece in my wardrobe is special. šŸ™‚

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