the five piece french wardrobe

tanya-handbag-country-roadSo last year we booked a spur of the moment trip to Italy. Excited as we were for good food and wine and exploring the Sistine Chapel, we were both deliriously happy about the opportunity to shop.

After almost a year of no shopping in Kenya, I knew exactly what I wanted and needed. I even had an itemised list! We didn’t go crazy and in hindsight I wish I had bought more – I’m a serial under buyer – but it was so nice to restock our wardrobes.

I recently read about the five piece french wardrobe (here, here and here) – have you heard of it? Apparently French women only add five pieces to their wardrobe each season, focusing on quality investment items that keep things fresh and up-to-date. They work to build a great foundation with various basics and then add five pieces for fall/winter, and five for spring/summer.

There are a couple of rules:

– The basics don’t count, you can always replace these

– Accessories don’t count

– Socks and underwear don’t count

– Shoes do count towards your five pieces

– Everything else counts!

Here’s a list of generally accepted basics, such as black, grey and white tees, dark skinny jeans, a trench coat, a simple cashmere sweater (like the JCrew one below) and so on.


I really like the idea – though I always wonder if French women read something like this and think, ‘That’s not what we do!‘ I don’t like wearing a lot of black, which does seem to feature more prominently on the basics list, but you could substitute in your own neutral/basic colours. One of my girlfriends recently told me my colours were ‘autumn’ and once I got home and checked out my wardrobe I couldn’t believe how right she was!

Without regular access to good shopping, I especially appreciate the focus on planning your wardrobe and then mixing and matching what you have. I already have a wishlist for when we’re next in a great shopping destination:

Five essentials:

1 + Black skinny jeans

2 + Neutral handbag – I love the one pictured above, from Country Road.

3 + A black or neutral pencil skirt

4 + White/creme jeans

5 + Plain, looser fitting tees in white, grey, and navy or dark green (like this JCrew one!)


Five season pieces:

1 + Dark denim bootleg jeans

2 + A neutral or creme midi skirt like this one from Zara


3 + A slouchy knitwear top – maybe in camel or burgundy or pale blue.

4 + A faux fur vest. This one from Witchery looks so cosy.

faux-fur-vest-witchery5 + A pretty dress. Something a little floaty and flirty perhaps..

So… thoughts? Does ten pieces sounds like overkill or not nearly enough?


3 thoughts on “the five piece french wardrobe

  1. I like this. I’m definitely an over-shopper (buy lots of cheap stuff instead of a few quality pieces) and so every season I tell myself “NO SHOPPING! I already have SO many clothes!” but then I don’t last. This is a nice alternative to allow seasonal shopping, but with some criteria to just get the few things to round out the wardrobe. Good ideas!

  2. Pingback: the week that’s been | laura swanson

  3. Pingback: the 30-piece wardrobe experiment | laura swanson

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