Thursday, May 02, 2013

"You're So French" - the most recent addition to the Style Shelf

I love the irony of an English language title on an otherwise ENTIRELY French book...

As soon as I saw this available for sale, I knew it was going to go onto the Style Shelf. Aside from the fact that I'm terribly tired of book covers in hot pink (every "chic lit" novel in Ireland had either a pink or a lavender cover, I swear...), this is an interesting addition to the wee library.

So here, in my less than expert translation, is what the authors have to say about cleaning out closets:


"We have a tendency to choose the first clothes that are on top of the pile. It's easy, one does not waste time, and takes no risks, and one gets dressed automatically.  What a pity for all of those treasures which have been sleeping for years, and upon which you lavished such care at the time of purchase.  And what a pity also for you, who could boost your allure.  Look for your archaeological gear, and start digging.  Twice a year, at the time of the major season changes, undertake a major triage.  It's a bit compulsive/obsessive, but it's worth the effort.  First off, forget the famous "two-year rule" which tells us to get rid of everything that hasn't been worn for two years. That archaic law doesn't help you build a complete wardrobe.


  • Clothing which is not your size: even if the style comes back, the proportions will change. Toss tee shirts sized for a teenager (they DO make them larger), anything of the wrong length (argh! pants that are too short), jackets with huge shoulder pads (like anything from 1990), and any jeans which are sausage tight, or that flow around you inappropriately.
  • Worn-out things: unless the wear takes the form of a lovely patina, as some leather good will. Otherwise, worn out gives you an air of neglect,which is not good for your self-image.  Get rid of coats and jackets that are worn around the collar, or that have saggy linings, get rid of snagged and pilled sweaters, tee shirts and blouses which don't even remember how to BE white any more, tights with snags, shoes with beaten heels made of leather which isn't worth saving...
  • Cheap clothes with no personality:  The little short dresses that look like they're styled for a child, the badly cut coat that you bought in a hurry on a cold day, the sexy little dress, worn once to a romantic rendezvous that turned out badly, the old suit that you bought at the end of the last century, the leather jacket that you bought in a resale shop, and which has always smelled of it's former owner, the scarf with the "spirit" of Hermes, and only the spirit, high-heels that still channel their 90's sensibility, "ethnic" jewelry made in China, duty-free purchases made at the end of a trip..."

I don't necessarily agree with all of this advice; I would probably try to salvage things that only had lining issues, or a sweater that was just pilled.  But the ruthlessness of their approach is amusing and accurate, and their understanding of how some of these things came to be in our closets in the first place is spot on.

They also tell us what to keep - in the next few days, I'll share those with you!


  1. I have read only a few style books, and I find them so very amusing. Nothing more relaxing after a busy day than worrying about these things ;}

    That said, there is something to be said for a clean closet filled with things you wear and feel good in. After my big cleanout last year, I have hung onto a few 'questionables', but most of these will go to the next charity sale at church. Likewise, I finally gave myself permission to wear my 'good' clothes daily at my more casual office, and not saving them for some imaginary 'ladies-who-lunch-lifestyle' that is not ever going to happen again.

    Anyway, I am looking forward to your sage advise, tongue in cheek, and all.

  2. I'd add, get rid of
    - odd colours that never worked with more than one thing
    - anything itchy or otherwise uncomfortable
    - gifts you only wore to please the giver
    - black that isn't deep anymore (or re-day)
    - jewelry that's too bitsy and girly for a grown woman

    And- learn how to de-pill cashmere! Style books are always so assertive and good clothes expensive.

    1. Duchesse,
      I use the Gleener Fuzz Remover. Any other advice?

    2. I have a little Remington shaver that annoys the dickens out of me, but does a good job. You just have to clean it out about every 45 seconds, and it's made of plastic that's so flimsy it feels like it will shatter in my hand. But if it keeps my sweaters looking better, I will tolerate its flaws!

    3. And Duchesse, as always, you're right on target. Especially with itchy - that's a deal-killer right away for me!

    4. I pull them off by hand. I've tried the stone (too abrasive) and the shaver, but on fine cashmere, by hand is gentlest and I'm fast!

    5. i use a very fine toothed comb and skim it across the sweater underneath the pills to pull them off w/o damaging the sweater. Works like a dream and no cut yarns! Plastic teeth may break - metal comb is great if you can find one.
      Living well is the best revenge - from Jan!

  3. A cathartic clean out is good for the soul, too. It's refreshing and empowering to (a) accomplish a large job and (b) have a pile of clothing that looks good and helps you feel good about yourself.

  4. Regarding colors -- I'd add anything that's not really your color. I used have a gorgeous camel cashmere sweater (a present) but camel is not really my color. Fortunately, it's a great color for my sister and she is now the proud owner -- it looks fabulous on her. Also, clothing for a maybe occasion/life (someone used the term "aspirational life) -- ballgowns for just in case, etc. I am semi-retired so I pared down my business attire wardrobe and donated a lot of suits & related attire to Dress for Success. I still have one very business-like suit for interviews, presentations, etc. Thanks for such good info!!!

  5. Janice, this book is the French (and original) version of "Paris Street Style: A Guide to Effortless Chic," which was translated into English and released in the U.S. earlier this spring.

    The names of the authors seemed familiar, so I checked against my copy of PSS. The bit you translated is on p. 14 of the American edition.

    It's a fun book. I'm enjoying it; it seems like there are a few new (to me) tips and tidbits I hadn't heard before.


    1. Oooh, I'm SUCH a rocket-scientist... But this would save me a bit of (bad) translating!

      thanks a ton,

  6. I agree that any grown adult (notice this includes men) need to learn how to de-pill sweaters, sew buttons, and have pants/cuffs hemmed when their stitching has come undone. What I believe the book is trying to say is, if the material is so worn and shoddy that de-pilling or re-lining won't rescue the garment, get rid of the damn thing. Where I fall down in my closet maintenance is keeping nice dresses for work that look best with non-sensible heels. Ok when I'm sitting and not racing around to meetings, but not practical. Yet I love them, and even love the shoes, so they sit there, unworn. I think I need to pull them out, even if only once a month, if for no reason than to shock my colleagues that I would own such things. Once I retire, i may keep one or two for "special events," but even that might go by the wayside.

  7. Old house;small closets. I purge regularly and ruthlessly.

    I don't have any problems getting rid of items that are worn and don't fit. But I do struggle when contemplating getting rid of items that are not currently my style but are still nice. I'll admit that how expensive the items originally were plays a role in this.

    Fortunately, I have a little attic space and have some rubbermaid type boxes up there for out of season and the "unsure" pile. A couple of years ago I went through the "unsure" pile and got rid of 90% of it. But I guess it was worth keeping for that 10% I did decide to reincorporate into my wardrobe.

  8. Good practice to translate! I'm not sure I could do it. Am also interested in the French book you had in your travel post a few days ago.

  9. This book is the original French language version of "Paris Street Style" by Isabelle Thomas and Frederique Veysset, which is available in English