French style

How to Dress Like a Thin French Woman If You’re Not Thin Or French

There is just something magical about how women in France dress.

Whether it’s Brigitte Bardot in a black turtleneck, black skinny ankle pants, black flats, and a silk scarf, or Vanessa Paradis in a simple white dress and black blazer, these ladies have an effortless chic that exudes a je ne sais quoi.

And women our size can look just as chic.

Yeah, right, Annie. Both Brigitte and Vanessa are thin Frenchwomen. How am I supposed to look as good as a plus-sized woman?

The answer is très simple, my friend. Read below for French style secrets that will help you look great at any size:

  1. Start with a neutral palette. You will not see many Frenchwomen walking around with a canary yellow shirt and royal blue pants. Their closets are teeming with black, navy, gray, and beige, with a few accent colors in there. I’ve blogged about the importance of a capsule wardrobe, and having a neutral color scheme lays the foundation.
  2. Pick quality over quantity. Many more Frenchwomen see their clothing as investment pieces. Stores in France can only have sales legally in the months of January and July, so finding deals there is rather difficult. They will pay extra for a two-ply cashmere sweater that lasts, rather than a single ply that won’t last an entire winter. They will favor durable leather shoes instead of cheap made-in-China synthetic ones that will last a few months. Choose quality pieces that are well made rather than the fast fashion so prevalent today.
  3. Gym clothes are for the gym. Full disclaimer: I am so guilty of breaking this rule. And often. But Frenchwomen usually aren’t wearing yoga pants, running shorts, tennis shoes, and athleisure wear when they are out running errands. They wear work-out clothes only for the work-out, but otherwise they wear street clothes.
  4. Embrace flats. Of course there are Frenchwomen who love their heels, but you are much more likely to see ballet flats, loafers, moccasins, or oxfords than anything else. And if your feet are as jacked up as mine are with bunions and no arches, your tootsies will thank you.
  5. Fear not the horizontal stripe. I remember working on my fashion badge as a Girl Scout in the 1980s. We had a wardrobe consultant come and talk to us, and I can still remember to this day hearing, “Fat women shouldn’t wear horizontal stripes. It only makes them look fatter.”

It’s 2017. Screw that.

There is nothing more quintessentially French than the classic Breton stripes, especially on a shirt. Who cares if we’re plus-sized? Who cares about the traditional fashion advice? Rock the stripes, and know you look good doing it.

  1. Add a touch of whimsy. Whether it is a concert/band t-shirt under a black blazer, Converse sneakers with the classic Breton shirt and skinny jeans, a vintage piece of costume jewelry with your little black dress, or a leather pencil skirt with a crisp button-down shirt, find a way to communicate your sense of fun through fashion.
  2. Think timeless, not trends. Frenchwomen do buy trendy items, but they are the exception to their wardrobe, not the rule. By all means buy a fun piece every now and again. But you won’t find many Uggs, decorative ponchos, jeans with rhinestones on the back pockets, or super low-rise jeans gathering dust in their closet. Classic, basic pieces stand the test of time.

You don’t have to go and start follow all these rules. Start with one and commit to it for a week, whether it is leaving the running shoes for the treadmill or wearing neutrals with just a pop of color. Find what works best for you and incorporate it into your daily life.

 Which of these rules sounds easiest for you to follow? Comment below!

Project 333 and Me: A Review

As nerdy as it sounds, I am obsessed with simplicity.

I want things easy breezy.

I have long sung the praises of the capsule wardrobe, so when I saw the 333 Project on the Becoming Minimalist Blog, I thought I had to give it a try. I want to introduce you to this super easy minimalist wardrobe, how I did it, and what I learned.

What is Project 333?

Created by Courtney Carver in 2010, the 333 Project is pretty straightforward for those of us ready to leap into the capsule wardrobe:

  • You are limited to 33 items. That includes clothing, accessories, jewelry, outerwear, and shoes.
  • It does not include sentimental jewelry you always wear (I always wear the same necklace and right-hand ring), undergarments, sleepwear, loungewear (leggings, t-shirts), and workout clothes (but you can only wear those when you actually exercise).

How I Did It

You can buy her $19.99 mini-course on how to get started, but here’s what I did for the price of zero dollars:

  • The day after Christmas, I laundered all my clothes and threw them on my bed.
  • I was shocked that I still had quite a few clothes that no longer fit. Except for three shirts, they all went in the donation bag. All of them.
  • After that, I considered which clothes would be best for work and play. I tend to wear my work clothes out, just changing the trousers or skirt for jeans.
  • I only picked what I really, really loved and needed.
  • I don’t know what this says about me, but I gravitated towards my most expensive and/or high-quality clothing.

Here is my list:


  1. Wool coat
  2. Fleece vest


  1. Black flats
  2. Red flats
  3. Converse sneakers
  4. Black knee-high boots
  5. Tan-and-cream Burberry scarf
  6. White gold hoop earrings
  7. Watch


  1. Black work trousers
  2. Black jeans
  3. Black cropped pants
  4. Blue jeans
  5. Leopard-print pencil skirt
  6. Little black dress


  1. White t-shirt
  2. Black t-shirt
  3. Grey t-shirt
  4. White tunic
  5. Denim shirt
  6. Black boyfriend blazer
  7. Igigi shirt
  8. Breton t-shirt
  9. Floral tunic
  10. Black cami
  11. Black cami with lace
  12. Nude cami
  13. Fuschia cami
  14. Leopard print cami
  15. Black flyaway tank top
  16. Cashmere sweater
  17. Lightweight cropped sweater
  18. Black cardigan

Project 333 Hacks

Though it’s not mentioned in the rules, I swapped out items as the weather got warmer. I live in the Great Plains; I’ll be damned if I wear a cashmere sweater or wool coat in March. They were traded for a t-shirt and another pair of cropped pants.

Sunglasses are considered accessories, but since mine are prescription, I cheated a little and didn’t count those.

I also bought new clothes as needed. My black dress was several years old, pilled, and showing signs of wear, so I got a new Igigi dress on mega-sale thanks to eBay. As Courtney says, this is not punishment. This is only taking what you really love and wearing it in heavy rotation.

What I Learned

The 333 Project was super easy to do. Laundry loads were a little smaller, getting dressed was a heckuva lot faster, and I still got tons of compliments on what I wore by people who’d seen me wear them countless times. If my coworkers noticed I was wearing the same things over and over, they never said a word.

I realized it really is OK to spend money on quality items. My stuff from Lane Bryant (about half the clothes) isn’t expensive but still good quality. My Breton shirt and blazer came from Target. But I shouldn’t feel guilty about spending $100 on quality shoes for my poor, deformed feet. I spent a pretty penny on the Burberry scarf, but I’ve gotten more value for wear out of that than any other scarf I own.

The one thing I am scratching my head about is my jewelry collection. I have a lot of silver jewelry. A. LOT. Some of it is from my grandmother so – duh – I’m not giving it up. But I have so many rings and earrings I never wear. I want them to go to a good home, so I am going to have to figure out how to dispose of them. I will keep you posted!

Do you find Project 333 intriguing? Could you live with just 33 items? Comment below!

8 Key Pieces for Your Spring Capsule Wardrobe

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I’m done scraping my windshield, I can actually turn off the damn heat, shaving above the knee is a reality, and I can finally open the windows to let some fresh air in!

With the change of season goes a change of clothes. Bulky sweaters, knits, jackets, and boots give way to t-shirts, pastels, shorter skirts, and sandals.

It’s high time to go through your closet and rotate in clothes for the warmer weather and longer days. As you go through your closet and get rid of old items that either don’t fit or you no longer love, think about what you can do to cultivate a capsule wardrobe and keep only the pieces you really, really love.

I’ve opened my closet doors to give you a sneak peak of what I am rocking this spring to inspire you to examine what would work best for you.

Keep in mind I work full-time in an office, and what I like may not be your style. Feel free to use this as a guideline or template as you decide what you will wear this spring:

  1. Two dresses. I have two dresses for spring—one is all black and the other is this delicious Eliza J shift dress I purchased from Nordstrom’s.


  1. Skinny jeans. I have worn everything from mom jeans to flares and everything in-between. Nothing fits me so well as my Silver Suki skinny jeans. The 2% stretch is just enough. And being apple-shaped, it sits on my stomach well while showing off my comparably thinner legs.
  1. Two pairs of trousers. I have one pair of long black trousers and a pair of navy cropped pants to wear at work. My blouses and the Breton shirt are neutral enough they look great with both pairs of trousers.
  1. Two pencil skirts. I confess to having no less than four pencil skirts because I like the way I look in them, but for the spring, I prefer my grey and khaki-colored ones.
  1. A blazer. I am utterly besotted with this piece I picked up at Lane Bryant in February. It will be light enough to carry me through June and a colorful cami underneath just makes it pop.


  1. A Breton nautical t-shirt. These are fun shirts, usually cream-colored with navy or black stripes and a bateau neckline. They are an iconic piece to most Frenchwomen’s wardrobes. They can be worn under a blazer or paired with jeans for the weekend. I dare you to find a chic-er, more versatile top for your wardrobe.
  1. Two blouses. One of my spring blouses is from Igigi, which is a favorite label of mine for both dresses and tops. After years of searching for The Perfect White Button-Down Blouse, I actually found it at CJ Banks, of all places! I just love it.


  1. Two light cardigans. The ones I am rocking this spring are both from Lane Bryant. I usually wear camis underneath, but I also do wear them with t-shirts.

Of course there are other things I have that I rotate into my capsule wardrobe: camisoles (I have a serious cami addiction), t-shirts, colorful flats, and scarves.

Even if you don’t buy into the idea of a capsule wardrobe, it is definitely empowering to go through your wardrobe and take stock of what you own. If you can edit your wardrobe to a few key pieces that you love, I guarantee you will never play the “I have nothing to wear” game this spring.

What’s in your closet this spring? Have you purchased anything new this year? Let me know by commenting below!

Title image credit: Aussiegall @ Wikimedia Commons,


What Is a Capsule Wardrobe and Why You Need One Right Now

ALEX-2There are women in my closet hanging on hangers, a different woman for each suit, each dress, each pair of shoes. I hoard clothes. –Marya Hornbacher

Does this quote sound like a familiar refrain in your life? Is your closet crammed so full of clothes that it’s taken on a life of its own? It’s OK if it does. Let me introduce you to the capsule wardrobe, and why taming your closet is one of the biggest favors you will ever do for yourself.

A capsule wardrobe can be defined as only having a few set items in your closet—between 10 and 20, depending on what works best for you. It usually means dresses, shirts, pants, and skirts. It does not include shoes, accessories, outerwear, t-shirts, camis, jammies, or workout clothes.

Here are the greatest advantages of the capsule wardrobe

  1. Getting dressed in the morning is a snap. How much time do you spend fussing over what to wear in the morning? Because I only have 15 items to choose from, it makes my morning routine a breeze.
  1. You become much more intentional in your clothing purchases. I have a very specific list of items I need and I don’t deviate from it. If you hate shopping, you will really find this liberating.
  1. You have the opportunity to invest in quality pieces. Yes, my jeans cost almost $100 at a department store. But because they are my only pair of jeans, I have worn them so much more and they have held up so much better than jeans of a lesser quality.
  1. It saves you money in the long run. Have you ever done the math on the cost per wear for your clothes? I have worn my $100 jeans well over 100 times, which is well less than $1 per wear. If I bought I $40 pair of jeans and wore them 20 times…$2 means I haven’t gotten my money’s worth out of it.
  1. Accessories steal the show. Because my clothes tend to be solids, I have lots of fun with accessories. Scarves, jewelry, and shoes provide that pop of color or element of surprise to ensure no two outfits are exactly the same.
  1. Shopping with a purpose is oh-so-easy. I don’t buy something “just because” it’s on sale or get something at Target that I kinda-sorta-not-really like. Because I have a very specific list, I don’t settle for “like.” I only buy what I LOVE.
  1. There is a freedom in owning less. I can’t even begin to describe the joy I derive from owning less. My life is defined by the experiences I have in these clothes; I am not a slave to worrying about my out-of-control closet. Retail therapy doesn’t hold as much power over me. (Don’t get me wrong—I still love to shop!)
  1. Editing your wardrobe allows you to express your true (fashion) self. I was all over the map before I switched to a capsule wardrobe…a little bohemian, a little trendy, a little classic. But after I found my fashion voice, I realized I prefer classic pieces more than anything else, and this helps me even more when I go shopping.
  1. You will love each and every thing in your closet. I can honestly say there is nothing in my closet I am “meh” about. Each and every thing fits beautifully and I love it. If I haven’t worn in a year—out it goes.

I had first heard of capsule wardrobes when I was a little squirt in the 1980s, working on my Fashion badge as a little Girl Scout. It was always in the back of my mind, but I didn’t actually drink the Kool-Aid until I read Jennifer L. Scott’s Madame Chic: 20 Stylish Secrets I Learned Living in Paris. I cannot recommend that book highly enough to teach you the how and why of editing your wardrobe.

Think about a clutter-free closet, easy fashion decisions, and targeted shopping trips. If these appeal to you, I urge you to consider incorporating the capsule wardrobe into your life. You won’t regret it.

How full is your closet? Is a capsule wardrobe something you are willing to try? Comment below and stop by next week for a sneak peek at what I am wearing this spring!