With the first sun kissing the pale faces of us northern dwellers, our minds naturally turn to Spring. With Spring comes renewal and the perfect time for a wardrobe refresh. A popular concept in dressing comes from our Parisienne friends to the south – the Five Piece French Wardrobe. Relax, it has more than five items in it!

The closet is based on building a foundation of basics and essentials and adding five fun items to them to fill out a personal sartorial statement. For example, the French wardrobe advocates having basic tee shirts in three colours; black, white and grey, so in having these staples an outfit can be easily built from them. With a white tee shirt, one could throw on a black fitted blazer, a silk scarf, a gold watch, a pair of boyfriend jeans and top it off with some white leather flats. Simple Parisienne chic.

While the French wardrobe is a fantastic idea, we are not in France! We are in Finland, and frankly the culture and the weather demand an entirely different set of five! In the coming weeks, a Five Piece Finnish wardrobe will be assembled. There will be three options, an investment piece that while expensive will stand the test of time through quality and design and a budget pick that while fun is good for only a few seasons and will thusly fall apart.

The first item is a fun dress. But not just any dress, it must be one that can be repurposed as a tunic over a turtleneck or a button down shirt with a pair of skinnies or with flared jeans. When the blessedly warm weather hits, it can fly solo sans pants or tights.

Yassi Kimono Dress, Anne-Mari Pahkala. Picture: Anne-Mari Pahkala

Yassi Kimono Dress, Anne-Mari Pahkala. Picture: Anne-Mari Pahkala

My investment pick is the Yassi Kimono Dress by Helsinki based designer Anne-Mari Pahkala. How gorgeous will you feel wrapped in rich silk while enjoying a glass of pinot grigio on a posh patio in the Summer months to come? The jewel toned purple silk is literally flattering on everyone, from the raven haired to those with flaxen tresses. One of the best things about this piece? It is WASHABLE silk. Amen! Say goodbye to your neighbourhood dry cleaner! However, what makes this garment extra special is that it is not only designed but made in Finland and it is under 200€. For locally made couture, the quality, wearability and price cannot be beat.

Morgan de Toi, Zalando. Picture: Zalando

Morgan de Toi, Zalando. Picture: Zalando

My budget pick is this fun little ditty by Morgan de Toi. At just under 60€, it is a similar cut to the above Yassi Kimono and is available in two bright tones. (coral and turquoise) It is belted to add accentuation to the waist and can also be worn with leggings and thigh high boots when the temps drop. Like the kimono, it is also washable at home, which makes it easy care. Designed in France, this dress will have a great time showing you around the city in the summer with strappy sandals and an oversized white leather clutch. As the price reflects, it is made in Asia and chances are that it will be good to go for just under a year, as it is 100% polyester and not a natural fiber.

Mailill dress, Marimekko. Picture: Marimekko

Mailill dress, Marimekko. Picture: Marimekko

Can we really talk Finnish dresses and not include one from Marimekko? Granted, Marimekko is not in everyone’s budget. However, with the quality of materials used, it will be a garment that will be in great shape for years and years to come. Moreover, if one keeps one’s eyes open, they are often offered second hand at incredible prices at thrift stores around the country. What I like especially about Marimekko is their range of sizes. Everyone from the demurest to the full figured can find something that fits from this ubiquitous Finnish brand.

My pick is the Mailill dress made of that wonderfully thick cotton that only Marimekko makes their clothes from. Printed in a bold black and white pattern, this machine washable and self-belted dress will have you looking crisp from season to season. Paired with an orange lip and a messy top knot, you will be the very essence of quintessential Finnish chic.

There you have it! My top picks for dresses in the Five Piece Finnish wardrobe. Next week will be another smorgasbord of fun fashion.