Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Style Resolution 2017: Year End French 5 Reflections

Rick Owens Sphinx jacket

At the beginning of the year, I decided to try out the French 5 Piece Wardrobe, in which I only buy 20-25 pieces per year (5 pieces x 4 seasons = 20) because I noticed that I buy a lot of pieces throughout the year yet seem to wear the same things over and over. I included basics into my count, because black tees are an addiction, but multiples of underwear count as 1 item. Another exclusion—a Longchamps bag gifted to a dear friend.

In August, I did an update where I discussed my indifference to shopping, which after typing that up, a choir of angels descended and Gap Body starting finally making solid black underwear.

But even after Gap Body broke through my shopping malaise, I didn’t fall off the wagon. I shockingly stayed at 20 items for the year:

1. BCBGeneration olive coat
2. Kenneth Cole red snake flats

3. Rick Owens black abito maxi dress


4. H&M black cosmetic clutch

5. Jordanian scarf (eventually want to convert one into a tote bag)
6. Jordanian scarf
7. Target (Who What Wear) black maxi dress

8. F21 black crossbody bag

9. Rick Owens black asymmetric zipper jacket (grown to love this jacket, looks stunning with my Rick Owens dress and skirt)
10. Baccarat Tango Scarabee ring
11. Gap Body black wireless racerback bra
12. Gap Body blue underwear

13. Gap Body black underwear (multiples)
14. Rick Owens black/gold Sphinx jacket

15. Noctex black square hem tank (opaque dupe for Rick Owens beater tanks)

16. H&M black faux leather leggings
17. H&M black faux leather baseball cap


18. Asics black Gel Fit Sana II sneakers (discontinued style, purchased secondhand to have a back up)
19. Rick Owens black draped dress (I now have 3 versions of this style)
20. Verona Collection black crinkle scarf

So, what contributed to my “success” on this challenge? Mainly lifestyle changes. In the beginning of the year, different factors aligned that gave me the much-needed opportunity to take an extended break from the working world. I still managed to add 7 things to my closet and go to Jordan during this time. And then, I very unexpectedly went immediately back to work upon returning to the US.

This time in all black and in what I call “stylish but comfortable” attire. Because my clothes and shoes get chewed up at work, I purchased back ups of my beloved and discontinued Asics (purchased secondhand) and faux leather leggings--my other pair ripped in the butt (but thankfully not through the lining) after 1 day at work. Being that it’s not practical for me to dress too nice to work continued to deter me from excessive buying. I somehow even managed to stay away from amassing even more black tees—which are now ESSENTIAL to my work wardrobe.

Not only did I stick to 20 items for the year, 2017 was also the significantly LOWEST amount I’ve spent on fashion purchases since 2009, the year I began keeping psychotic Excel fashion purchase spreadsheets. As a disclaimer, I don’t maintain spreadsheets on my beauty purchases, which have surged in the last 2 years.

My 2017 MVP of the year was my F21 bag. That’s the bag I use 5-days a week for work. And then, my Rookie of the Year: BCBGeneration olive anorak. After the cold and torrential down pour of Morocco in late 2016, I resolved to buy myself a medium weight hooded rain coat. It’s easy to travel with because it fits into the front pocket of my (matchy-matchy) Bric’s luggage, perfect to throw on over sweat pants for quick errands and not feel mortified, and keeps me warm when its cool but still cool enough to wear when its warm. My 7 year old black combat boots saw a resurrection this year—coming into heavy rotation as a work wear staple. Other observations: I notice that I keep accumulating scarves, more because I’m drawn to the texture or patterns, not necessarily, because I wear them (out). Also, outside of Rick Owens, I’ve reached a point where I’m not compelled or desiring to purchase luxury or fashion brands. With age, I’d rather save or put it towards beauty treatments or travel.

Have you tried the “French 5” before? And how was your experience?


  1. I have never tried the 5 piece wardrobe but have been intrigued by it for years. I'm trying to refrain from unnecessary clothes spending overall this year (those tanks you linked may be an exception, however), so I doubt I'll try it this year, but the future is unwritten! I now wonder if I should just say that's what I'm doing even though I don't intend to buy much of anything; then at least I'll have an official cap for if (when) the tide turns.

    1. When I review my past years, I notice my purchases surge during the summer sales. This helped keep in my check, because while I see things that I want or could make use of--keeping the 20 in mind made me ask "Ok...but can I make do without it?" and made me hesitant not to use up my slots earlier in the year.

  2. Wow - brava! A real success. I adore that RO jacket! I think it's generally good to set yourself a goal and challenge. I've also found that I prefer to channel funds elsewhere and much, much less on new clothes and accessories - which is a big change for me.

    1. Experiences and also mutual funds, 401k, investments, etc... that take on more value in life than accumulating "stuff."

  3. Gosh ! Reading this post made me very happy ! A success story was much needed in my feed. That spinx jacket is stunning. If we ever meet, please do wear it or bring it along so that I may see it in person.

    1. Haha thank you. That's the same reason I purchased the jacket--was to experience the craftsmanship, but I couldn't let her go and kept it. San Diego oddly enough keeps popping up in my life of late so I may have to listen and visit.

  4. Kudos for succeeding the challenge. It's very inspiring to read something like this. I have tried to maintain an excel sheet for items that I purchased but never succeeded because I feel ashamed logging how much I spend on shopping. But this year I'm trying to log what I wear every day so I can understand better what I gravitate towards which helps me to shop carefully.

    1. I've heard of people turning the hangers a different direction to track what gets worn vs what doesn't.

      The surprise outcome of the French 5 was that it is the lowest amount I've spent on clothing in almost a decade. And I bought things I definitely didn't need and 4 pieces from Rick Owens--so I don't feel deprived. But it cut out the t-shirts and accessories here and there that start to accumulate.

  5. That Rick Owens jacket looks really amazing. I've always thought the spirit of the 5 piece French wardrobe method seemed like one of the best ones, at least for my goals for my closet (I generally have, by any stretch of the imagination, everything I actually need, so all shopping is mostly for "fun" and it might as well be more focused on a smaller number of times I really love). I'm not especially confident of my ability to really stick to a small, specific number, but I really like the idea of the approach.

    1. I recommend it for you then. I certainly bought frivolous things so I didn't feel deprived. It just keeps me conscious of having a cap on it.

  6. Okay, After seeing this, I want to do the French 5 Piece wardrobe in this format. Thank you for the inspiration! Shout out to Asics. My husband swears by them for errands and vacations! That Jacket.. pure love and I consider myself lucky for having seen it :)

  7. I have never heard of this before, but it sounds like a really interesting concept. I keep a track of everything I buy, so it could be fun to try and think about 5 per season, because I usually go one year only buying Winter pieces, then another only buying Summer. I definitely could do with a more rounded wardrobe to be honest!

    1. Especially if you live somewhere with actual seasons, which makes it hard for me to justify buying uniqlo heattech.


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