5 piece french wardrobe overview 2016

If you’re a fairly new reader, you probably don’t know that I have been planning my purchases according to the 5 piece French wardrobe for many years now (I wrote about it here when I just started blogging). It has proven to be an excellent way of keeping my spending habits under control and to be honest, I even enjoy the process of carefully selecting new additions to my wardrobe. But I have to admit, I’m not looking forward to writing this years 5 piece French wardrobe overview post because the list of purchases seems never-ending. However, the best remedy to overspending and mindless consumption is to come clean and be honest (which seems a rare thing on blogs nowadays. It’s mostly about presenting a perfect image). So here goes.

Main goal of 2016

Since 2010/2011 I have been building my wardrobe according to this principle. I was finally able to splurge on the occasional designer item when I kept my spending habits in check. The excitement of that one Acne Studios cardigan that I bought on sale was much more fulfilling than those three bags of H&M goodies that I used to come home with. As the years passed, I was buying less and less and finally my main goal for 2016 was to limit my purchases to ten pieces including basics and replacements. But unfortunately 2016 came with a few struggles…

5 piece French wardrobe struggles

The main reason I struggled with the 5PFW was my weight loss. For years I knew I was slightly overweight but it wasn’t until May that I actively started to work on it. I dropped three pants sizes and didn’t have much choice but to spend money on new clothes. The process of losing weight also meant I didn’t want to invest a lot of money on things I needed because chances were they weren’t going to fit me in the long run. So instead of following my resolution to only buy into slow fashion, I ended up at Zara etc. I also felt happy with my progress and I guess buying things felt like a new start. I’m not proud of it but this way I was able to bridge the gap between my old situation and the new in an affordable way and quickly build a (temporary) wardrobe.

The first six months

5 piece french wardrobe overview 2016

Basics and replacements
Topshop Jamie skinny jeans
&Other Stories silk blouse
Samsoe & Samsoe silk camisole
Massimo Dutti chelsea boots

5 piece purchases
A.P.C. wool Polska scarf
Adidas Stan Smith sneakers
Mango high waisted linen trousers
Isabel Marant trench coat

The first six months started off pretty well as usual. In January I bought two items on sale that I had my eyes on for quite a while; a black A.P.C. wool scarf and a pair of black leather chelsea boots. Both are currently on rotation again now that it’s winter. The Stan Smith sneakers are a variation on the ones that I usually wear. To be honest, I go through them at the same pace Taylor Swift goes through men but what can I say, they’re super comfortable. The &Other Stories silk blouse is a replacement because I had an accident with the previous one (a large fat stain that was sadly impossible to remove). This is one of my go-to options whenever I don’t have time to iron.

The camisole and linen trousers are the result of my summer wardrobe planning post. I still wear the former underneath sweaters and blouses but the trousers won’t come out until summer (will need to get those altered). The Isabel Marant trench coat is safely hanging in my closet as a backup for my current one. I don’t usually buy the same thing twice but it seemed like a smart move when I found it on Vestiaire Collective in mint condition because it’s from the 2010 collection and I have yet to come across another trench coat that fits me so well.

The last six months

5 piece french wardrobe overview 2016

5 piece purchases
H&M wool blazer
Zara rain coat
Isabel Marant Deyissa boots
Zara star body
H&M cashmere jumper
Asos jumpsuit

Now onto the second half of last year. At this point I was in desperate need of new, well-fitting clothes. Hence the numerous pairs of trousers and tops.  A rain coat was on my list for quite a while but it’s one of those things you never get around to actually buy. But apparantly these were pretty trendy last year and I managed to find one that doesn’t make me look like a grandma. It immediately proved itself useful when I visited the Lowlands festival the day after I purchased it.

Two things that are quite out of the ordinary for me are the star printed body and jumpsuit. Both were bought for special occasions; the body for Christmas and the jumpsuit for my wedding. Yes, you read that right. I got married in August and I could’t see myself getting married in a dress. So I opted for a chic black jumpsuit instead. And last but not least, the Isabel Marant Deyissa boots. I was already looking into the Deyis boots last year but I couldn’t get over the brown heel. So when they released an all black pair, I decided to go for it. My shoe size sells out pretty quick and I didn’t want to take the risk of them selling out. To compensate for the number of shoes bought, I plan to sell some older pairs that I no longer wear but are still in good condition.

Final thoughts on the 5 piece French wardrobe

I will continue the 5 piece French wardrobe approach when it comes to shopping and wardrobe building, albeit a lot more strict than last year. I would still like to lose some extra pounds but that most likely won’t influence my current wardrobe. In fact, my wardrobe has even grown a bit as I’m able to fit some older things that I held onto like an Isabel Marant jacket that I bought on Ebay a few years ago. I’m pleased to see my style has remained cohesive over the years. I’m able to easily mix newly acquired items with older things that I haven’t worn for a long time. Although the things that I bought last year pretty much function as a wardrobe on its own. So I’m looking to sell quite a few things that have either become too large or are no longer pieces of interest.

Now that I feel happier in my skin, I do feel like experimenting a little more. Nothing too crazy but looking back on the last two to three years I do notice a pattern of wanting to dress safe and boring, mainly to go unnoticed. So in conclusion, I didn’t do so well regarding the 5 piece French wardrobe but mentally and physically I’m doing great. Therefore I’m not going to be too hard on myself (which is quite surprising coming from me, haha) and will just look forward to another year of wardrobe planning. I hope you guys will stick with me throughout the process.

essie wicked nail polish daarboven

I have never had a professional manicure. I always walk past this one nail salon before and after work but spending €15 on a manicure that will undoubtedly last me only a few days (clumsy as I am), seems a bit outrageous. But practice makes perfect and it seems as though I do a pretty good job myself as of late. I only allow myself to wear two shades of nail polish; Mademoiselle and Wicked, both by Essie. Mademoiselle is a classic sheer pink suitable for all occassions while Wicked is a very chic deep and dark red. The latter is also a perfect dupe for Chanel’s Rouge Noir. And in case you’re wondering, I never wear my nails longer than this. While I do admire longer nails on others, the look isn’t for me. But I find as long as your hands look well cared for, it doesn’t really matter how long your nails are.

an ethical and sustainable gift guide

This blog is by no means an example on how to lead a sustainable lifestyle. While I do spend a good amount of time reading about ethical brands and slow fashion and try to invest in quality items that will last a long time, I unfortunately, on occassion, still give in to fast fashion and things which may not be produced under the best circumstances. That said, I thought it would be a nice idea to challenge myself to come up with a gift guide that is slightly different from most other gift guides that are currently taking over the blogosphere. All products are cruelty free, sustainable, ethically produced or focus on slow fashion.

  1. Everlane continues to be one of my favourite brands. I bought one of their cashmere turtlenecks last year and am very happy with the quality. Too bad that the shipping and taxes are so high. But if you don’t mind or live in the US, this leather wallet would make a great gift option.
  2. A collaboration between two great brands; Aesop and A.P.C, this fabric wash is specifically designed for hand washing delicate garments. Formulated by Aesop chemists, it contains extracts of Pettigrain, Lemon and Cedarwood. The latter a great natural moth repellant. For any wool or cashmere items that don’t need immediate cleaning but you would like to keep fresh between washes, check The Laundress wool and cashmere spray. Made with natural ingredients, non-toxic and fully biodegradable.
  3. The Merchant & Mills Rapid Repair kit contains everything you need for the occasional fashion emergency. There’s no need to throw something away just because you lost a button of a coat or tore a small hole in a knitted sweater.
  4. I wrote about this particular lipstick before. For all of you Dutch people who love MAC’s Ruby Woo but are looking for a cruelty free alternative, make sure you try HEMA’s Longer Lasting lipstick in 06. It’s absolutely spot on and less drying than the ‘original’.
  5. The kiss stud earrings by jewelry line Winden are designed and handmade in New York City. The materials used are almost exclusively manufactured in the USA, the majority of which are recycled.
  6. This palm leaf print bikini by Danish brand Underprotection is made from eco-friendly material, certified by the Fair Wear Foundation. All of their styles are ethically produced in New Delhi, India, in collaboration with a small local factory.
  7. Kiko’s bright lift serum is one of my current favourite skincare products. It gives your face an instant glow. Paraben free and not tested on animals.
  8. In The Kinfolk Home: Interiors for slow living, Kinfolk founder Nathan Williams showcases how embracing that same ethos—of slowing down, simplifying your life, and cultivating community—allows you to create a more considered, beautiful, and intimate living space.
an ode to my balenciaga city bag

I first spotted the Balenciaga motorcycle bag on the arms of Kate Moss around 2001. It wasn’t long after that, that the it-girls of the moment, the infamous Olsen twins, Nicole Richie and so on, were seen carrying this buttery soft, structureless bag. Even though I wasn’t necessarily a big fan of their bohemian style at the time, I definitely was intrigued by that bag. Little did I know that the Balenciaga motorcycle bag almost wasn’t taken into production. In a 2011 interview with WWD Accessory Magazine, former creative director Nicolas Ghesquire talks about the 2001 Balenciaga runway show and how the motorcycle bag came close to never being made:

N.G.: And we did this prototype and nobody cared; we had a couple of prototypes for a year. Every girl who was walking [the show], including Kate [Moss] came in and was like, ‘What is that? Is it vintage? Is it something that you found at the flea market?’ I was like ‘No, it’s a handbag that we prototyped but just didn’t produce.’ We didn’t produce it because I think when I showed the prototype to the people who asked me to do it, they weren’t happy with it.

WWD: Too fashiony?
N.G.: Accessories [at the time] were rigid. Luxury leather, especially, was about rigidity. So they were not really happy, and they decided not to produce it. Then when it was in the studio and the models noticed it, I said, ‘I think we should just do 25. Let me just give them to the girls because at least some people will be happy.’ And that product started from a very, very fashion point of view [and extended] to a very, very large, global audience.

WWD: Why do you think it resonated so dramatically?
N.G.: No logo. Very light. Very effective. There is something familiar with the vintage side. Women and girls thought it was something they’d always have. It was a new fresh thing, but it looked like an old, good, friendly thing. And I think the brand also was becoming desirable. People had desire for my goods and [the bag] was the most accessible piece. You could be a Balenciaga girl with that bag.

Several years later I was still a student and definitely not in the position to spend over a $1000 on a designer bag. To be honest, it didn’t even cross my mind that I would ever seriously consider such an expensive purchase. So I did what so many of us on a budget do; look for a cheaper alternative. I was a lot less internet savvy at the time but managed to find an affordable knockoff anyway. Still, it didn’t come close enough to the real deal with its soft, slouchy leather so I kept on dreaming…

Flash forward to the summer of 2012 when I found myself in Paris at the Balenciaga store on Avenue George V with sweaty palms and tears in my eyes. The sales assistent was about to swipe my credit card when I panicked, what was I doing? Was I really about to spend over $1000 on this bag? I couldn’t go through with it and left the store empty handed. An hour or so later I was finally ready to take the plunge. After years of studying and landing my very first serious job just a few months earlier, this would be my ultimate reward.

It’s been four years and I haven’t regretted my purchase for one second. I get excited every time I take it out of its dust bag as it reminds me of a lot of hard work and perseverance. And yes, also because it’s absolutely gorgeous. Ghesquire was right in his observations. The fact that it has no visible logo and looks like an old vintage bag after a while are two of the things I like best about this bag. It’s fairly discrete and hardly anyone recognises it as a designer bag.

Now, after years of intense wear, the handles are slowly starting to fray and the corners are slightly damaged but I don’t mind. Bags are meant to be used, no matter the price. What I love about this particular bag is that it’s super lightweight and made of durable, distressed leather. Unlike most other bags that look their best untarnished, this bag only gets better with time. Its days as an it-bag might be over but I look forward to wearing my Balenciaga city bag for many more years to come.

Do you own a bag with a story?