How to create a wardrobe that will always give you something to wear?

by Sylvia

versatile wardrobe
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Marc by Marc Jacobs coatCuff: Jennifer Elisabeth, l.a.m.b. jacket, Lauren Ralph Lauren bag,  Pencey standard dress, topshop hat, Donald J Pliner boots

How many times do we stand in front of our closets and exclaim: ” I have nothing to wear”. A statement rather ridiculous as a whole cupboard full of clothes is staring back at you. So why does nothing seem suitable?

There could be many reasons for this:

  • You have not done any proper editing, so many clothes in your cupboard are just not suitable anymore or too old.
  • Nothing really ‘goes’ with each other and you are tired of the initial outfit combination that you initially bought.
  • Your clothes don’t really reflect how you have evolved as a person. This can happen to a lot of women who are getting older and just want different things from their clothes.
  • You got tired of your old neutral colours or have recently found out that different colours suit you much better.
  • You can’t actually ‘see’ many of your clothes, because your wardrobe is in such a mess or just too full.

Remember one of Stephanie’s statement from my style series: how to look great with a minimal wardrobe, “Now virtually everything in my closet goes with everything”. How can we do this?

Creating a wardrobe where everything goes with everything?

That is one of the keys to creating a wardrobe that is very manageable, will always give you something to wear and gives you lot of flexibility. In order to achieve this, you will not need to do something as radical as Stephanie who basically sticks to black and white. You can also create consistency with a colour palette, a certain style or a signature look.

So how to achieve this. I believe there are a few key steps to take:

1. Understand your style

It is much easier to create a closet full of clothes that work for you if you understand your style. That is no easy task which is why I spend a lot of time on this site on articles that will help you to find your style. Start with how to find your style in 10 steps and 15 steps to acquiring style if are not born with it. Also the Style statement book or the dressing your truth test can help you get a clearer idea of who you are and how you would like to present yourself to the world.

2. Decide what your major cohesive element is

A cohesive element is something that makes the outfit really YOU. Here are some examples of cohesive elements:

Colour

One cohesive element could be colour. Stephanie sticks to a very neutral palette of mainly black, with a bit of white thrown in, but you could also have a colour palette of black and white with brights, or autumn colours. The huge advantage of sticking to a colour palette is that you can mix and match your clothes with everything. You can also continue to wear different styles, but your colour palette brings it all together and makes each outfit still very much ‘YOU’

Style

If you find sticking to one colour palette too restrictive you can also opt to use a specific style as your cohesive element. For example retro, or classic, or edgy. That way you can still wear all the colours and patterns you like but the specific way in which it is worn is very much ‘YOU’. Be careful though that you don’t select too many different patterns or colours, so you can still mix and match your clothes.

Signature look

You could create a signature element to your style. For example, you can decide that most of your outfits need to be accompanied by a scarf, hat or a particular kind of jewellery. You ‘signature’ can thus become a guide for your other clothes. This cohesive element can be a bit trickier as it does not provide clear guidelines in terms of style and colour. But if your signature is a hat, you can build your wardrobe around your current hat collection.

3. Start creating wardrobe capsules around your cohesive element

If you have a good idea about your style and your desired cohesive element, you can start planning your wardrobe. The smart way to do this, is to create wardrobe capsules. Create a capsule for every part of your life (work, play, sport, evening out, etc). Of course these capsules don’t have to be rigid. Clothes of your ‘play’ capsule may very well be used for your work capsule as well. Start with clothes you already have and identify the gaps. I will give you more ideas and guidelines on how to do this next week.

I believe that this process can help you achieve a more versatile wardrobe with less clothes, while at the same time give you a very clear style that completely represents YOU.

I would love to get your feedback and any ideas that you may have!

ps. this article is part of my wardrobe editing series. Earlier we discussed a minimal wardrobe,  how to edit your clothes,  how to find out if a garment should stay in your closet) and  how to store your clothes and accessories.

The whole purpose of this series is to get you to shop your own closet or shop smarter, so you look more fabulous without breaking your bank balance. If you like a complete course on this subject you can try the My Year Without Clothes Shopping program from Jill, which offers advice and actionable tips from many experts.

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traceyliz65

This is all so relevant to my current journey. I literally had nothing to wear and didn’t take care of myself for 7 years when my mother was ill and passed away. Her death sparked me to build a wardrobe and much of what you wrote, is exactly what I said to myself during this process. You put it so well and I am sure this is something so many of us can relate to.
The key word I used to myself was versatility, hence the name for my blog!

Sylvia

Thanks Tracey. Yes you are right it’s all about versatility!

Greetje

Slowly getting there…… I am cleaning out all my cupboards at home. And the garden and the shed etc. Gives me a lovely clear feeling. I have started on my wardrobe as well, but this is a huge task. Nevertheless I shall, I will eliminate and donate in order to see more clearly what I do have and love. As you are so right in that.
Knowing my style is perhaps the most difficult thing as I like so many. But I already have eliminated “bohemien”. That is not me and with that in mind I cleared out a couple of clothes already. Handy to have such a touchstone.

Sylvia

You are still going strong Greetje!

Charlotta, Afternoon Apparel

Great tips! I think I just try to go with having a bunch of solid colours that go well in colour with some prints I’ve got, in case I want to mix and match I can then go with neutrals and add a solid or a pattern, or go with a solid and add a pattern that has something in the same colour. If I go wild and wear two big patterned pieces at once, I tend to look for similar tones, like soft reddish brown in both. So colour is the way I think!

Sylvia

Sounds like a good plan Charlotta!

Buckle Button Zip

Great reminders. I feel like I’m in an evolution period being in my mid-40s, honing my style and tweaking (and re-tweaking) what looks good on my body. At least shopping goes a bit faster when you’ve got your favorite colors down. Thanks for another great post.
x Laura

Sylvia

I know. It’s a time for change! Thanks for leaving your feedback Laura!

Karen

I had my ‘colors done’ a decade ago and still have the palette that contains shades of the colors that look best on me. But really, I just stick with a few colors and dress in capsules — separates that go with everything else. I have a lot of a blue shade that highlights my eyes, various camel things to blend in with my hair, light yellow, light gray, cream, and a few peachy pinks. It all seems to go together and I don’t obsess over winter and summer outfits. When it’s cold I just layer up. I really don’t have anything in my closet that I don’t wear.

You might be interested in a website The Vivienne Files blog that gives color capsules ideas.
http://theviviennefiles.blogspot.com/

Sylvia

Sounds like you are a smart shopper Karen!

Heather Fonseca

I think I just need a bigger closet. I seem to be in a more is better phase and want to try lots of new things. I supposes eventually ill go back to a more limited wardrobe but right now I just want more space for my clothes!

Sylvia

Have fun Heather. But if you ever feel overwhelmed you know what to do!

Sarah Nicholson

So many times the impulsive shopper (like myself) comes home all excited with a new ‘must have’ or “that’s such a bargain I gotta have it” addition to the wardrobe and the damn thing doesn’t go with anything! How to avoid this problem…discipline. Every month I save a fixed amount of money into my ‘clothes account’ and every quarter or 6 months, I look at my wardrobe, observe gaps or opportunities and then I spend on what I need for the wardrobe not what I need from my impulses. When I get home from the shopping trip, it’s far more satisfiying.

Sylvia

That seems like a very good structured plan Sarah!

Greetje

If I could only find this kind of discpline. I envy Sarah.
I have lots and lots of discipline, only not in the shopping area. Sigh.

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