Thursday, November 29, 2012

Lessons on Style

I recently started a massive closet cleaning after reading 2 books:
  • Lessons from Madame Chic: 20 Stylish Secrets I Learned While Living in Paris by Jennifer L. Scott 
  • Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion by Elizabeth L. Cline
Both books discuss the American consumer's lack of style and insatiable desire for cheap clothing and accessories. Lessons from Madame Chic also addresses the Parisian style of living with less, not only in your home, but what you consume, wear and share...quality over quantity. Frankly neither book is edited all that well but they do make their points and the authors inspired me get my closets in order.

Here are a few lessons learned from "Madame Chic", the very stylish woman that the author lived with while studying in Paris:
  • Always Use The Best Things You Have. Do you own beautiful china and crystal wine glasses? Is there a room in your house reserved for guests only? Are you sleeping in grubby sweatpants and a 20 year old t-shirt? I loved this chapter, it reminded me that the beautiful things I own should be seen and used. So I went a bit nuts and cleaned out every closet in my house, every shelf and every drawer. I had bags of items for donation...old t-shirts from college, sweatshirts, hoodies (ugliest piece of clothing anyone can wear), jeans that had seen better days, shorts (I'm over 40, shorts are ridiculous at my age), old coats, anything ripped or frayed and anything that was of poor quality from a big box store like H&M or TJ Maxx. I also donated boxes of reusable water bottles, unused dishes, odd things I'd saved from my past. And those beautiful items I had in drawers and closets, I am now wearing and using everyday.
  • Liberate Yourself With the 10 Item Wardrobe. This really got me reevaluating what I own and how I shop. As I was fanatically purging my clothes I realized that on a daily basis I wear my quality pieces over and over. Everything else, mostly old comfort clothes, were taking up space in drawers and never worn, so I donated them. The author discusses how Parisians have a limited wardrobe, due to their love of quality and style and their lifestyle, there are no large walk in closets in small Paris apartments. So what is a 10 item closet? Think in 3's for the seasons: winter: 3 sweaters, 3 blouses, 1 good wool skirt, 1 pair of high quality trousers, 1 pair of dark jeans, 1 long sleeve shirt. The 10 list does not include items such as a wool coat, a trench coat, a good blazer, little black dress, shoes etc. One of the best things about having a large vintage clothing collection, the pieces I own and buy are of great quality and style and are meant to last.
  • Other: entertain well, get involved in the arts, walk everywhere, get rid of clutter.
 Pic of my first 3 huge bags of clothes going to Goodwill after a frenzied closet cleaning.

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