Understanding the Ten-Item Wardrobe

You may have heard about capsule wardrobes. They are all over Pinterest. For those of you who don’t know, it is a collection of clothes that can be mixed and matched into countless outfits, and there are separate capsules for Spring/Summer. I love this concept, but have you heard about the ten-item wardrobe? It’s a micro wardrobe adopted from French lifestyle. Let’s take a look.

Très Chic, Toujours

Jennifer L. Scott, one of my favorite writers and bloggers, was an exchange student in France. Like most Americans traveling, she brought a huge suitcase full of clothes. When her host mother showed her room, she wondered where her closet was…then she realized the tiny armoire in her bedroom WAS her closet. How on earth would all her clothes fit? Simply, they wouldn’t.

She began to observe what her host mother, Madame Chic wore day-to-day. Often, it was the same dress with only accessories switched out, but she looked très chic, toujours (so stylish, always.) She discussed the tiny closet phenomenon with her fellow exchange students. Apparently, they were also going through the same thing. This only fueled her curiosity about the ten-item wardrobe concept.

In France, people don’t have a large disposable income nor do they have a huge closet. This drives them to value quality over quantity. They have a small wardrobe which they mix and match and take excellent care of. Because of these constraints, they have a keen sense of style. They also strive to be presentable, always. Jennifer talks about how her host parents were dressed when she met them in their home – they looked like they were about to do something very important! This made Jennifer feel like she was an honored guest. There is power in how we present ourselves.

Here is Jennifer’s TEDx talk on the subject:

The Beauty of the Ten-Item Wardrobe

I love this concept. I find it to be so freeing and it inspires my creativity. It also inspires virtue. Here are some more reasons why, it:

  • Fits any budget. Anyone can create a ten-item wardrobe.
  • Saves time.
  • Saves money.
  • Saves space.
  • Creates less waste.
  • Uses up less mental energy. (Steve Jobs anyone?)
  • Looks nicer in the closet.
  • Helps you curate your own specific style and really narrow it down.
  • Is so useful during life transitions like pregnancy, post-partum and nursing
  • Customizable for any lifestyle.
  • Helps spiritual growth by offsetting the desire for more, more, more.

For more thoughts on how the ten-item wardrobe is freeing, check out what Jennifer L. Scott has to say here.

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Creating My Own Parameters

Even though the ten-item wardrobe excites me, something has kept me from fully adopting this way of looking at my wardrobe. I just didn’t understand which pieces would make up the ten items, and which would be extras. So I decided to make up my own parameters. The ten items must be:

  • Tops and bottoms in classic shape and neutral color. No t-shirts. Makes everything presentable and easy to mix-and-match.
  • Dresses in a color or print that flatters me.
  • Everything else is extra.
  • Presentable clothes that work for everyday wear.
  • Seasonal items must be packed away.

I’m sure Jennifer L. Scott addresses my issue with the ten-item wardrobe, but I never have come across it in my research so I just answered my own question.

My Spring/Summer 10-Item Wardrobe

So, with these parameters I organized my closet. My ten item wardrobe is on the left and my extras are on the right. I got a plastic tub to pack away my Fall/Winter only clothes. It really help me visualize how many extras I actually have and it has inspired so much creativity in my outfit choices. I even wore the same dress for 5 days straight! (Talk about creativity through constraints!) I have also realized I really don’t need to go shopping for anything. When you organize your wardrobe in this way, it really highlights if anything is missing or needs to be replaced,

Here is my Spring/Summer Ten-item wardrobe:

Let’s Clarify Something

You still may be thinking…how on earth could I pare my wardrobe down to ten items? What you need to understand is these items make up the core of my wardrobe. I have much more than ten items. I have formal wear, shoes ,accessories, jewelry, t-shirts, pants in different colors, and more to make up my extras. There is no number of extras you can have! Just make sure you love them, you feel good in them, they fit, and they are in good shape. If not, find them a new home. Also, your core wardrobe can be bigger than ten pieces, just follow the same parameters you used to draft your ten-items.

Similar but Different

You may be thinking, this all sounds a bit like the Konmari method, and it is similar. Keeping only what sparks joy, however, one of the main differences is Jennifer suggests storing away seasonal items which I prefer, I don’t want to see turtlenecks in the summer – it makes me hot thinking about it and it is just visual clutter. This does take discipline, however, to remember you have things stored away and to not accidentally purchase more things you don’t actually need.

Don’t Wait, You Deserve It

You might be thinking, what if I am losing weight? I will deal with my wardrobe when I get to my goal weight, for now I will just wear whatever. I think loving what you wear will only help you get to your goal weight faster because you will feel good about yourself.

The Results

Getting dressed has become a breeze, even if I’m in a hurry. If I want to wear my extras, I can, but I can rest assured that I can just wear pieces from my ten-item wardrobe, my uniform, and I will look presentable without taking mental energy thinking about what should go together because I have already done that work ahead of time. I also don’t end up with a bunch of clothes strewn about the room because I decided against them.

How about you?

How do you organize your wardrobe? Are you happy with it? Would you be willing to try out the ten-item wardrobe concept? Let me know in the comments below!

One Reply to “Understanding the Ten-Item Wardrobe”

  1. I love this idea! One issue we have is with an over abundance of clothes for the kids (hand-me-downs and gifts). I would love to try to apply this concept to their wardrobe as well.

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