Yes, another book review! The long winter was good for getting my reading up to date. Interestingly, I chose another book that reinforced what I learned from Overdressed. In Lessons from Madame Chic Jennifer Scott shares in this very readable book twenty secrets she learned while in Paris studying abroad from her native California. Jennifer covers insight she gleaned about various aspects of living while spending time with several Parisian families. She also shows how she incorporates these ideas into her life today as a young mother.
Ms. Scott wryly observes some of the differences between the French and American lifestyles – the French walk, Americans drive. The French take their meals a table, Americans eat in front of the TV. The French live in apartments without elevators, Americans work out at the gym, etc. But one of the author’s biggest surprises was that the French as a rule have very small wardrobes and no qualms about “outfit repeating”. Jennifer lugged suitcases stuffed with clothes to last her six months only to find out that a tiny free standing wardrobe was provided to store them in. Her host family (Monsieur, Madame and adult son Chic) had only a skeletal amount of clothing (roughly 12 pieces each) that they washed and wore over and over again. Their clothing all worked well together – all tops colour-coordinated with all bottoms so there was much versatility from few items. The capsule wardrobe of a dozen pieces changed with the seasons and did not include clothing for specific wear only. For instance – formal wear, exercise clothes, undergarments, layering pieces and accessories did not count toward the 12 pieces. The items were of high quality so stood up to repeated washings and wearings.
What nicely tied these two books together for me was that both authors encouraged the reader to buy (or make) fewer clothes but to choose items of higher quality. This makes good sense economically and practically and is greener for the planet, easier on the self (fewer choices to make) and more enjoyable (who doesn’t like higher quality?)
I’m a CCW (constant closet weeder) and found that I already subscribed to a capsule wardrobe. I have hanging in my closet (or ideally on a rolling rack) only items that I will be choosing my daily outfit from. I don’t like to to see clothes that are the wrong size, out of season or that no longer express my identity. On my last visit to Anthropologie I was pleased to see multiple copies of Ms. Scott’s book stacked high amongst their clothing. In fact, I’m planning to add this book to my own library. Jennifer has lots of other good lessons on how to live mindfully.
Keeping me busy now is planning my capsule wardrobe for Spring from my existing clothes. I’ve got a great denim jacket, some camo/flower skinny jeans with ankle zippers, tops in nautical stripes, a few items in a blushy pink and some new black moto boots. I can’t wait to put it all together! I think Jennifer and Madame Chic would approve.