French women have tiny little jewel boxes of wardrobes, or so they would have us think!
But how does that happen?
How do you manage to curate down your clothing into one little neat wardrobe with no more than 25 evenly spaced hangers and a few rolled or folded items?
The key, is space. Or the lack thereof.
In Europe, things all tend to be smaller, not always, but it is true of the apartments for instance. My partner’s apartment in Paris was a tiny but serviceable 400 square feet and that was luxurious!
When he moved to Canada he was amazed at the amount of space for the price, and took a 1200 square foot apartment.
He didn’t have to try and turn his bedroom into a living room and office hybrid, or make do with a tiny little kitchen where you prep with a board over try sink because he had a truly separate room for sleeping and cooking.
The scarcity of space is what makes it all possible. The more space you have, the more you fill it up because you just aren’t used to seeing space.
STUFF TAKES UP SPACE
Just look around your living room right now.
Do you have a couch? Coffee table? End tables? Lamps? A huge bookcase with books and knickknacks? TV? … I’m running out of things to name because I don’t own any of that so I’m just going off pictures I’ve seen and homes I’ve visited.
(Don’t even get me started on your basement or garage!!! I’ve seen some serious ones filled to the ceiling with stuff.)
Imagine if all of that was gone. Wouldn’t you feel a bit strange? Empty even?
That’s space. That is having space, to be more accurate.
When you have less stuff, things look more spacious.
When you have less clutter, you look more organized, or it is easier anyway because there’s not much to shift around.
That’s the real secret to a minimalist wardrobe: the lack of space.
You have to start making decisions about what to keep and you have to constantly clean and edit ruthlessly because you simply don’t have the space.
My rule is with hangers, also known as the “one-in one-out” rule.
If I don’t have a hanger for it, I need to get rid of something to make a hanger available.
The other reason people’s wardrobes are so small and properly curated is the lack of money.
Things cost a lot more money outside of the U.S. because they’re being imported from other countries (shipping, duties and taxes tend to dampen shopping enthusiasm) and when you have to pay good money for things, you think twice.
Not only that, I find the general attitude towards shopping in Europe to buy things locally, and buy quality to last.
You don’t want to spend 10€ on a dress only to have go after a few washes. You’d rather save all the money on those cheap fast fashion dresses, and buy a 100€ dress that is made well and will last through many washes and years.
Now if you’re going to spend 100€ on a dress, you are going to make darn sure it’s a classic piece you can wear for many years to come, right?
That’s how Parisiennes have such small, curated, closets.