The 5 Piece French Wardrobe

By Melissa Tosetti

The concept of building a wardrobe vs. just buying clothes began for me years ago, when I was working on overhauling my own financial life. I was reading everything I could get my hands on about smart spending in all the different areas of my life. That’s when, I stumbled on a book called Entres Nous The Women’s Guide to Finding Her Inner French Girl.

I found it inspiring; it became the catalyst for me beginning to look at my finances from a full lifestyle perspective.  Through the book, I discovered that culturally, the French live with intention and purpose.  From what and how they eat to the purchases they make.

  • As a rule, they purchase the best quality they can afford – focusing on classic pieces that they will wear for over a decade. Here in the US, disposable fashion is a massive industry.
  • They shop for purpose. We have a habit of shopping to pass the time on a Saturday or to de-stress during our lunch hour with a single click.
  • They build a wardrobe – a collection of clothes that are interconnected and enhanced by accessories. We buy clothes – individual pieces that very often, we’re not sure what to do with and get left hanging in our closets.

One of the most popular classes I teach is on how to build a Savvy Wardrobe, which spends as much time focusing on getting rid of what isn’t working for you, as it does about the tools and techniques for filling your closet only with clothes that you love and look great on you.

However, what happens once your wardrobe is fleshed out?  How do you keep from making random purchases that dilute it again?  One of the shopping techniques you may want to consider is the 5 Piece French Wardrobe.  It’s something I implement and many of my clients have taken and run with.  For the record, I wish I could say I came up with the concept, but I didn’t.  I don’t know the original source, but it’s been around for several years now.

The way the system works is that you focus on purchasing 5 brand new items for your wardrobe every six months.  This does not include replacing items that become worn or foundation garments such as socks and underwear.

The idea is that because you’re zeroing in on just bringing 5 new items into your wardrobe, you become so much more particular about what you purchase.  This ensures everything in your closet is something that you love.  It also allows you to spend a little more on those items because you are limiting what you’re purchasing.

In addition to underwear, one of the other categories that doesn’t count as one of your five pieces is accessories, unless the price is over $100.  In fact, the system encourages you to purchase accessories (that you’ll actually wear) as accessories have been the star of French Wardrobes for decades.

Think of the 5 Piece French Wardrobe as a maintenance method for your closet.

In my own experience, one of the things I love about the system is that it helps me keep my wardrobe fresh. Without some way to systematically add items you love to your wardrobe – it becomes too easy to walk up to your closet one day and be so bored with everything you own that it triggers a binge shopping trip.

Now that you know about the 5 Piece French Wardrobe, start thinking about what you want those first purchases to be.  Give yourself plenty of time to find exactly what you want and ideally, at the best possible price.  Happy shopping!


Melissa Tosetti is the founder of The Savvy Life and author of the international bestseller Living The Savvy Life. For the past eight years, she’s worked with over 525 individuals and families to create Spending Plans.

Melissa also works with financial advisors and their clients doing cash flow planning and has given over 400 Savvy Living presentations via webinar and in-person to audiences across the U.S.

For more information visit: The Savvy Life.