Wardrobe 101

How I Choose My French 5

Going from wanting ALL the things to making good choices for me and my wardrobe!

Happy day, reader dear!

There are lots of exciting things happening Chez Closet Play this month! When I get excited, I get what my uber-chill son used to call jumpy-aroundy. Or what might be thought of in the Hundred Acre Wood as Piglet behaviour. Much leaping and Ooooh, oooh, oooh-ing. Which means I will apologize now if this post leaps about a bit and oooh-oooh’s!

What exciting thing(s)? Later today, I’ll be announcing a new way to get more Closet Play in your life! (Here’s where the leaping and ooooh-ing comes in. SOOOOOO excited!) Keep your eyes open later today on Instagram (A little after 1:00 PM Eastern) and YouTube (Time still undetermined.) for the skinny. If you are on my mailing list, you already know what’s coming! (That is if you read your email and watched the video…) 😉

But I digress…

Earlier this season, I wrote a post about how the French 5 Shopping Plan improved my life. If I was writing that post this month, I would probably title it 3 Ways the French 5 Wardrobe Simplified My Life. Because, that’s how those improvements have shaken out. They’ve all created more simplicity. And that’s something I crave. I prefer to save complicated for those things that have to be, like people, relationships, and big ideas. Those aren’t simple. After the article, a reader asked how I choose my French 5, so I thought I’d talk you through that! It’s very similar to the process I use when planning a seasonal capsule. (If it’s not broke… Means more simplicity!) The process takes me from wanting ALL the things to choosing well for my style and my wardrobe.


Collecting is a very open process. Anytime I see something that piques my sartorial interest, I collect it. Collecting is noting, NOT buying! I might drop it on a written wish list. (A Wish List is a great way to track your likes and preferences, and help you through a shopping time-out.) If I see something I want online, I’ll pop in onto a Pinterest Board. Call your board whatever you’d like. I call mine French 5 Lust List to remind me of my limits and proclivities, but Wish List might be more your speed. If I see something fun in a print catalog, or on someone out and about, I might snap a pic for my phone to remind me to add it later. If I can’t be bothered, it hasn’t earned a place on my list or in my wardrobe!

All the things = Chaos!

Creating the collection gives me time to shop my own wardrobe for similar pieces with which I might be just as happy. (I cannot tell you the number of times I thought I simply have to have… Only to find out I had something almost like it at home already!) The collection also allows me to take put distance between impulse and purchase. I’ve collected it, so it feels like it’s mine. If it’s still on my mind later, I know where to find it.


I use PowerPoint to compare. Not very elegant, but I have my reasons! One: If I shopped right off my inspo boards, I would lose track of how many items I want or bought. Two: If I can’t be bothered to copy the image to my slide, I don’t like that piece enough to add it to my wardrobe. I’m the kind of girl that needs to throw some obstacles in my way. Shopping is WAY too easy for me to do mindlessly.

You can clearly see my predilection for bags, shoes, scarves and dresses.
Why? Because for the French 5, basics like jeans and tees don’t count toward the 5.

As the season approaches, I start looking at my French 5 Lust List for images I want to add to my wardrobe. I copy to my slide those pieces I REALLY like and what I have duplicates of… Maybe I’ve pinned 6 pair of white jeans. I’ll take a closer look at the jeans, the details and decide which one I like best. Maybe you’ve pinned three olive jackets! Take a moment to weigh the options and choose the one you like best! (Just think, no running around with bags or waiting for three different deliveries to compare! (Yes, this proved super helpful last year…)

When the slide looks cluttered, it’s time to clear it out.


At the point above, my slide looks like a mini-shopping bag and dressing room combined! The best part? I’m not wandering around ordering from different sites without seeing the items I want together! I duplicate this slide a few times and start editing to see what fits with my Style Cocktail, colors, and the general vibe I want. The five pieces I keep don’t all have to go together, or create one outfit, but seeing them grouped helps me see if they share the same style and color properties. Does one look glaringly out of place? If so, chances are it won’t work well with the rest of my wardrobe, either! (That would be the case of the tote below. It will go with all my basics, though! AND will make much more sense when you see my Summer Capsule Wardrobe in a few more weeks…)

These seem a bit scattered, don’t they?

How About You?

Do you struggle with wanting all the things? How do you decide what you will purchase? Do you find it easy to overshop? If so, is the problem worse online or In Real Life? What do you do to keep overshopping in check? Do you set limits for yourself? How do you do that? Do tell!

Stylishly yours,


  • Sally in St Paul

    I have seen the French 5 concept before, but appreciated you laying out some detail about how you approach it. I would be interested in hearing more about how the French 5 dovetails with your seasonal capsule building process.

    • Liz K

      That’s a conversation to be had over beer and pizza, Sally! I’m thinking this might be better handled in a video. Thank you for suggesting it! I’m glad I’m not the only wardrobe logistics nerd (Said MOST affectionately!) out there…

  • CimmieS

    Smashing idea to have French 5 items that are outside one’s basics.
    Appreciated your question; ‘what do you do to keep overshopping in check?’
    As I ruminated over this query I realised I’ve chosen to view my grouches as positives to limit overshopping.
    In the tiny coastal city in which we live there is a paucity of variety & sizes, yet a dearth of shoddy clothing/accessory items in the few stores. Nearest major city is an hour plane flight away, plus hotel costs. For variety & (hopefully) quality, online shopping is preferable. Yet costs of postage & sadly, returns must be factored into price, as does rate of foreign exchange where applicable, errors in sizing, colour shading etc. These certainly impose limits. You can understand why French 5 items more than appeals!

    • Liz K

      Love this mental shift from grouches to positives, Cimmie! Postage and exchanges can be incredibly frustrating. That’s where knowing what retailers work well for you and getting garment measurements (NOT size charts) from the customer service representatives can save you time, money and frustration when you compare them to items you own that fit well!

  • Carol Karl

    Wow, Liz! You just changed my life! I love the idea of using a Powerpoint to collate items you’re interested in. I pin things and never go back or I make a mental note and if I can’t stop thinking about them then I go back and look again. Even worse though (and this one really erks my husband when he uses my computer or ipad) I leave a gazillion tabs open in Chrome until I decided whether to purchase the item or I don’t want it (usually). This is a great idea. Thank you so much for sharing.

    • Liz K

      You are most welcome, Carol! It seems inelegant considering the apps and technology out there, but a Powerpoint certainly sounds more elegant than a gazillion tabs open… 😉 Glad to help!


    Liz, It ould be so very easy to overshop! I narro don my choices by chosing hat looks the best on me, goes best in my ardrobe, classic pieces and colors, quality and cost. I do better shopping on-line but I’ve never had a issue shopping in stores. I have a budget to spend monthly and I stay ithin that budget amount. I have gone over ith tax before but I only do this hen I super kno that it ill be absolutely perfect in my ardrobe. Have a Blessed Day!!

    • Liz K

      Glad that works for you, Natalie! I prefer to do most of my shopping twice a year. Monthly would keep me tied to the fear-of-missing-out that so many retailers prey upon. And I fall into it easily!

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