10 item wardrobe by alexandra gorn

Each morning, I am a very sad Cathy-cartoon cliche, standing in front of my closet and lamenting that I have nothing to wear. ACK! 

Make that silently lamenting. Because I am too embarrassed to say this to my husband, who would raise his eyebrows when he peered inside to see clothes upon clothes stuffed on shelves and falling off hangers. 

I hate all my clothes. After turning 30 and having a baby, nothing fits. You can peel through the layers of my closet to reveal different eras, like an archeological dig. High school, college, my days as a dance teacher/starving artist, career clothes, maternity clothes, and a collection of random crap from the Target clearance rack that I’ve bought since I had Teddy. I probably don’t need to tell you that nothing matches. It makes my head ache. 

Second confession likely to get me kicked out of the feminist club: I saw something awesome on pinterest. A capsule wardrobe, or minimalist wardrobe, or uniform. Whatever you want to call it. Here’s the concept: You own very few items of high-quality clothing that fits well, and all of which can be mixed and matched to create dozens of flattering outfits. 

I want this. I want it so bad. I long for clothes that fit me and flatter me. And I long for organization from the chaos. 

But how does one accomplish this seemingly-hurculean task? Every woman I know has a wardrobe brimming with clothes and simultaneously has nothing to wear. 

I needed a mentor, and I found one on the internet. While searching for info on a minimalist wardrobe, I found Jennifer Scott’s YouTube video on her own 10 item wardrobe. Scott is a blogger and the the author of the book “Lessons from Madame Chic:  20 stylish secrets I learned living in Paris.”

After seeing her incredibly elegant spring wardrobe, I was hooked. I emailed Scott and asked for a copy of the book to review. 

YouTube video

In addition to a chapter about the 10 item wardrobe, the book is filled with a lot of great ideas. Many you’ve heard before, like eating mindfully and staying active, but Scott really pulls them together to create something more than tips and tricks. Her book is about living a beautiful, balanced life, and she couldn’t make it sound easier or more appealing. 
As for the 10-item wardrobe, Scott puts together 10 core items every season, all of which can be mixed and matched to create beautiful clothes. Her spring wardrobe is four dresses, two pairs of jeans, two blouses, two sweaters, a skirt and a few t-shirts (which don’t count toward the 10 items). She looks fabulous in all of it. My first instinct was to try and copy her wardrobe exactly, but I quickly realized that it wouldn’t work. First, she’s quite tall and slim, and second, she seems to be the kind of person who can go through life without constantly spilling stuff on herself, hence her mint-colored silk Equipment blouse. I would have a coffee stain on that guy within 15 minutes and owe more to my dry cleaner than the shirt cost in the first place by the end of the season. Also, she lives in Southern California, where it seems the everyday style is bit more glam than the Second City. 

Scott emphasizes that the wardrobe is about you, not about the current trends and not about looking like someone else. I needed to take stock of what I like, what I want to wear and what looks good on me. Without that, the 10-item wardrobe would just be another flop. 

The first step Scott recommends is clearing out your current closet. For me, that meant not only the many items I had hanging and stuffed in drawers but the several tubs of clothes I had in the basement labeled “too small.” I put them away right after Teddy was born so I could stop trying them on and banging my head against the wall when they didn’t fit. The result? Piles and piles of clothes to be given away and sold at our neighborhood yard sale. I now have dozens of empty hangers and empty shelves. I may even give my husband the bigger side of the closet, because I don’t need it anymore. Crazy town. 

With my closet nearly empty, set out to create my own 10 item wardrobe, and I made a few rules for myself: 

1) The wardrobe should consist of few items of high quality that fit well. 

2) Everything matches. I could essentially get dressed in the dark and still look good. 

3) Every item is something that I love and look forward to wearing. 

4) Everything had to be washable. I can barely get dinner on the table some days, so dry cleaning is out of the question. 

5) Most everything needed to function for both work and home. My work and home life flows seamlessly together, and I need my wardrobe to do the same. 

So, armed with my list of rules, I went shopping. Want to see what I got? With a long day at the mall, some alterations and a few online purchases, I was able to get 10 items that make me ridiculously happy and that I think look fabulous. I’ll show you them in my next mom-drobe installment. 

What do you think of the concept of the 10-item wardrobe? Doable or unrealistic? Let met know what you think and if you’ll be taking the 10-item plunge with me. If you want to learn more about the ten item wardrobe, visit Scott’s blog at the Daily Connoisseur or pick up a copy of her book.

(Photo by Alexandra Gorn on Unsplash)