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Finding the right 10 pieces for the perfect wardrobe

By Sheon Wilson
Correspondent

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    The basics

    How do you build a wardrobe with just a few pieces? Based on Jennifer L. Scott’s “Lessons from Madame Chic,” stylist Sheon Wilson assembled a capsule wardrobe of pieces from J McLaughlin, a national retailer with stores on Providence Road in Charlotte and at North Hills Shopping Center in Raleigh.

    • 3 pencil skirts

    • 3 slim pants

    • 1 checked blouse

    • 1 striped sweater

    • 1 patchwork sweater

    • 1 little black dress

    The extras: two cardigans, a sweater, a white blouse, two handbags, two silk scarves, a skinny belt, pumps and jewelry.


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    Getting started on your new look

    The key to the 10-item wardrobe is a clutter-free closet that “looks like a store has merchandised it,” says author Jennifer L. Scott.

    • Start by clearing everything out of your closet. Lay it all on a table, bed or sheet in another room.

    • Pick your 10 core items, along with a few extras that make outfits to fit your life.

    • Bring back only clothes that fit, reflect your personality and flatter your figure.

    The 10-item wardrobe

    • It has 10 basic pieces (tops, bottoms, dresses), give or take a few.

    • Don’t panic: the 10 pieces don’t include outerwear (coats, blazers, cardigans), special occasion (tuxes, cocktail dresses), accessories (shoes, scarves, purses) or undershirts (T-shirts, tanks).

    • Core items should be in neutral colors so everything coordinates.

    • The extras should be in colors that go together and coordinate with the basics.

    • Tailor your 10 items to your life. A stay-at-home parent won’t have the same 10 pieces as a retiree, office worker or pastor’s wife.

    • Your 10 items will vary by season.



Author Jennifer L. Scott lugged two overstuffed suitcases to France when she was a foreign exchange student, only to realize she had nothing to wear.

That’s when she discovered the beauty of the 10-item wardrobe.

The author of the recently released book “Lessons from Madame Chic: 20 Stylish Secrets I Learned While Living in Paris” (Simon & Schuster) noticed that each member of the chic, aristocratic family she lived with wore a few beautifully tailored, classic pieces in heavy rotation. They always looked elegant and polished.

Scott’s mishmash of unflattering sweaters, sloppy sweats, tees and ill-fitting pieces didn’t measure up.

“I came to realize French women have a capsule wardrobe,” Scott said in a phone interview from her home in Santa Monica, Calif. “With them, the goal is always to have higher quality clothes and less quantity. And they can get dressed very easily. It was life-changing for me.”

Scott’s book encourages American women to live simply and beautifully by eating well, slowing down, simplifying their lives and enjoying life. She wants us to give up the Carrie Bradshaw/“Sex in the City” ideal of a packed closet of underused clothes.

“Your ultimate goal is to create a wardrobe that you love, in which every item of clothing speaks to who you are,” she writes, “and to create a space for your clothes to breathe by eliminating clutter.”

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