on style and self-possession

“If you strip away the stereotypes and contradictions about her, one of the fundamental qualities associated with the French girl is her sense of self-possession. She is entirely, unequivocally self-contained. She is focused on living her full life, following her own agenda and cultivating her actual self, rather than reinventing herself or pining away to be someone she’s not. Throughout her life, she invests herself in learning and experiencing, not to change who she is, but to become more fundamentally and more fully who she truly is.”

Entre Nous: A Woman’s Guide To Finding Her Inner French Girl

To be honest, I’m completely over those French girl stereotypes but when reading the excerpt above, it reminded me of Archana’s comment on my 5 piece French wardrobe overview post and more specifically the fact that I decided to wear a black jumpsuit instead of a white dress for my wedding: “But I cant help admire the ones who do what they desire.” This has always been something I take pride in: I refuse to give in to the pressure to be someone that I am not. Not only when it comes to style but also in everyday life. From a very young age I knew that it is impossible for everyone to like you and your actions or beliefs. So you might as well just be yourself, follow your own path and surround yourself with people who like and love you for who you truly are.

Style-wise I try to stay away from trends unless they fit my own individual style which is simple and fuss-free. As much as I would like to experiment at times, in the end I usually go back to my trusted uniform; jeans, a simple t-shirt / sweater and sneakers or ankle boots. Which is fine because I aim to build a wardrobe that is functional, timeless and a reflection of my personality. I know that some people consider this blog too intense in terms of shopping, planning etc. but I don’t think there is anything wrong with wanting to dissect your personal style and preferences. The better you get to know yourself, the easier it is to get dressed in the morning and to feel put together, which leaves more time for the things that are truly important in life.

Image: Knobbly Studio x Laurie Franck

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.