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Jennifer L. Scott Headshot

The Ten-Item Wardrobe (VIDEO)

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When I lived in Paris on a study abroad program, I arrived with two enormous suitcases, filled to the brim with clothes. When my French host mother, Madame Chic, showed me my closet for the next six months, I was taken aback. It was a tiny armoire with around ten hangers hanging inside.

At the time I was annoyed (where was I going to put all of my clothes?) but looking back, that tiny, freestanding armoire did me a world of good. It forced me to only hang the ten core items I valued the most in my wardrobe and keep the rest folded in my suitcase. What I learned was that I didn't need so many clothes. These core items I had picked were the garments I wore the most anyway. The ones that were stored away, I hardly looked at while I was there.

When I got back to America and back to my substantially larger closet I temporarily forgot the wisdom I learned in Paris of the ten-item capsule wardrobe. I once again crammed my closet with vast amounts of clothes. I shopped constantly and never paid much attention to whether my new purchases really fit in with the rest of my wardrobe. I would buy clothes because they were on sale, or because they were trendy. I had amassed a large amount of clothing yet also couldn't part with anything. I kept clothes I literally never wore "just in case."

Morning after morning I would open my closet to dress for the day and frustratingly declare that I had "nothing to wear." How could this be when I had so many clothes? I decided to do some sartorial soul searching. Remembering my tiny Paris armoire, I decided to get rid of three quarters of my wardrobe. A lot of it I gave to charity and the pieces I couldn't yet part with, I stored in space bags under my bed. I pared my closet down to ten everyday core items plus extra pieces that pulled each look together. (Extras can include tee shirts, cardigans, outerwear, blazers, special occasion dresses and accessories.) What resulted was a beautiful, capsule wardrobe where everything went together.

There are so many benefits to living with a ten-item wardrobe. I never wake up and wonder what to wear. Eliminating all of those extraneous garments makes the choice an easy one each day. I am no longer consumed by clothes shopping. Each purchase I make is well thought out. If it doesn't fit in my capsule wardrobe, I don't buy it. I've become more discerning about the clothes I bring in and because I'm shopping less, the quality of clothing I'm able to buy is much higher.

I've had women from around the world write to me asking about the ten-item wardrobe. Many are interested but think it is too extreme for them. Perhaps your curiosity is piqued as well. I urge you to try the ten-item wardrobe out for one month. Store your extra garments away and really think about how you'd like to express yourself with your clothes. I bet you will find yourself liberated. Be sure to watch my instructional video above on how to get started with your own Parisian-inspired ten-item wardrobe. Bonne chance!