l’armoire essentielle

Rosemary McGrotha

image via larmoireessentielle.com, photo by peter lindbergh

I had the pleasure of being interviewed by the french blog L’Armoire Essentielle, translated The Wardrobe Essential. The blog takes a pared down approach to dressing which I admire. It’s in french but most posts have an english translation. Luckily for you, they’ve translated my interview.

Read the entire article here.

‘never pay full price’ debate

IMG_1255see, I don’t only have black clothes….
IMG_1259 IMG_1265

We’re taught to value a bargain. To proudly never pay full price and to get excited over sales like they’re never going to happen again. Especially for clothes. The mark-up in fashion is extremely high so I understand why you wouldn’t want to pay full price, but I don’t agree with the way of thinking that what you pay for something is what’s most important.

When I confronted my shopaholic ways (about 10 years ago), I changed the way I looked at clothes. Instead of as individual pieces, I starting thinking of clothes as parts of a wardrobe; a wardrobe that reflects me and my lifestyle. When purchasing something (or when offered something for free) I ask myself if I really love it, does it fit, and then think about how it will work with what I already have; does this piece expand my wardrobe or would I have to buy all new things around it.

Along with that, I saw that how much something cost wasn’t so important. Especially since when I edited my wardrobe, those bargains I never wore were donated; not much of a bargain at all. So now, one of my rules is ‘never buy for price’. While it’s nice when something is on sale, “this was $400 and now it’s $50” isn’t a reason to buy it. The truth is no one cares how much you paid for something when you’re wearing it AND you rarely pull something to wear because of how much you paid for it.

Now I think in terms of cost per wear. For instance, I have $325.00 blouse I bought 6 years ago. I wear it all year round, so if I wore it 8 times a year (which I wear more often than that), 8 wearings per year X 6 years = 48 wearings total.  $325/48 = $6.77 per wear. Take that against something you purchased for $40 and wear maybe 4 times then toss or it doesn’t wash well (like lots of cheap stuff). That’s $40/4 = $10 per wear. 

Only buying pieces you love, that fit you and your lifestyle, regardless of price means you’ll buy less stuff (if you’re truly following those guidelines) so you can pay more for individual pieces. The idea is being more selective when buying means you’ll want to wear them more, curbing your need to constantly buy new things. Imagine, gettng more enjoyment out of the clothes themselves, over getting the enjoyment out of BUYING them. I know it works as I did it and I’m so much happier and better dressed because of it.

At one point to try to save money, I shopped at less expensive places like Zara and Madewell and I always find something I like at a good price. But the truth is I actually don’t LOVE those pieces when I get home. I realize that I like certain pieces over the other pieces at the store, but when I get home, compared to what I have, they’re not so great so I don’t end up wearing them making them quite expensive. 

How do you feel about it??

prepping for closet switch




The weather is warming up so it’s time to think about switching out your closet from fall/winter to spring/summer. I’m actually going to wait a couple weeks as I’m wearing my transitional pieces (things that work all year round), but now is the time to pull those pieces that need be cleaned before storing, whether dry cleaned, laundered, or hand washed.

Did you know that most dry cleaners will store your clothes for the season at no or minimum charge if you’re having them cleaned? Great for large winter coats if you don’t have room to just leave them in your coat closet (like I do).

It’s important to clean things before storing for 2 reasons: stains set over time and  it’s the only way to keep clothes moths away (you must clean the closet itself too…) Moths love those wool sweaters you wear once or twice, toss back into the closet not to see the light of day for months. They love dark, damp, and not much air as they settle in and feast on what you’ve left behind: body oils, hair, and skin cells, animal hair and dander…. Yuk, I know.  

This is also time for a quick edit. Before getting rid of something because you haven’t worn it, try it on and see WHY you haven’t, to see if altering it would make it great which gets me to the examples above. The first two pics are the same style Tucker blouses (in different colors + texture).  The ivory blouse’s arms got slightly ripped but I love it and couldn’t let go so I had my tailor remove the sleeves. Now keep in mind, this particular blouse was tricky but thankfully my tailor is talented and he likes me (considering he’s touched about 90% of my wardrobe he should!).

I bought the third top, dark purple Dries Van Noten, and when it went on sale went back for the black one. It’s a size larger which when I put it on (after I bought it final sale…no one’s perfect), the cinch at the waist made the fabric stick out too much. I was going to put it on ebay but thought if I (my tailor actually) took out the elastic it would drape nicer and it does. I’m actually thinking of taking it out of the purple one.


what make-up can’t you leave the house without?

(images courtesy of into the gloss)

Did you see this article in the NY Times “My Lipstick? It’s in Here Somewhere” about what cosmetics people carry with them when they leave the house and what to carry them in?I side with Emily Weiss, the founder of the beauty blog Into the Gloss, who generally only carries lipstick/gloss. And if you haven’t seen her blog, you must right now.

What do you carry with you?

the meaning of wardrobe continued

(bangles by giles + brother, snake bracelet subconscious leathers)

(dkny blouse)


A lot of questions have been coming up onThe Meaning of Wardrobe post so I wanted to do a follow up.
I’ve written a bit on this topic, but to clarify, I mostly write about creating my wardrobe, with the exception of the step by step series ‘Building a Wardrobe’ which is general advice and is a very good read if you’re starting from scratch.
Not a big fan of throwaway fashion, but I understand why others do it. I treat my $25 tops the same as the $300 ones because it’s hard to find things I love so it’s all the same once it’s in my closet. I don’t follow trends too closely and actually try to avoid things that are too popular unless I really love it. For instance, I’m not planning on getting any kind of oxford or lace-up flats but I did get a gorgeous cape a few years ago I look forward to wearing again this season.
Take what applies to you and your lifestyle. There are many ways to do things, including how to build your wardrobe. Readers have posted their approach in the comments of the original post so be sure to check them out, and share any tips of your own if you like!

the meaning of wardrobe

all images thesartorialist.com (i think):

A wardrobe is: a thought out collection of pieces that work together to express a clear point of view.

Before I went through my process (before I was an organizer), I had clothes; individual pieces that had no relationship to each other. Pieces that needed me to purchase new things to make an outfit around it. Pieces that didn’t fit my lifestyle and were never worn. Pieces that stand on their own are nice, but if you cannot wear them, what good are they?
When buying something now, I think of how it relates to my wardrobe as a whole. I get pieces that enhance what I have instead of just ‘oh this is nice’ like I used to do. Pieces that help me wear the things I already have in new ways.
Do you have clothes or an actual wardrobe?

valentino said it best


The other night a friend of a friend made a very astute observationDo you know you only wear neutrals? You need to wear color, you should wear red.” Besides the fact I find it hard taking style advice from someone wearing a pink sweatshirt and running pants to a party, when people say that I should wear color (especially red) I can’t help but think of the moment in Valentino: The Last Emperor, when Valentino said in regards to his signature red gowns, “The red dresses are the most simple and the most stupid!
I wish everyone can agree not to give ‘shoulds’ where they’re not asked. Personally I refrain from giving unsolicited advice because I know I’m tired of hearing how I should wear color, get a tan, wear a push-up bra… Do you get any annoying ‘shoulds’?

packing for a chic getaway





Write out each day you will be away, filling in the events and general things you’ll be doing; walking around, nice dinner, casual lunch. Either write down possible outfits or pull them out so you can see them, including accessories and undergarments.

Start with events/times you have an idea what you’d like to wear and go from there. The idea is to wear individual pieces more than once, but not the same outfit more than once. Think about pieces that can be worn in multiple ways; a fancy top with a skirt and heels then with casual pants and flats. Also think about simple pieces that won’t be obvious you’re wearing more than once. For instance the beaded neck top pictured above would be hard to wear twice unless I’m not seeing the same people.
Pick a color scheme to make it easy to mix pieces and accessories seamlessly. Then at the end, toss in an extra sweater and a couple simple tops for just in case….
The pics are from my wardrobe, but this works for those with color and prints as well. If you’re outfits aren’t layered play around with the accessories to dress an outfit up or down.