How to build a wardrobe part 1 – The Foundation

by Sylvia

How to build a wardrobe part 1 - The Foundation | 40plusstyle.com

Creating a wardrobe that will always give you something to wear can be a challenge.  Therefore in this mini series, I will outline a process that will make creating that perfect wardrobe easier.

I have split this series into 3 parts:

  1. Identifying what looks best on you, suits your lifestyle and represents your taste
  2. How to organise and build your wardrobe
  3. How to color in your style

Today is part one where we will look at the foundation of your wardrobe.

Step One: Assess your body type, lifestyle, and style personality

Before rushing into the process of putting all the clothes for your wardrobe together, it is important to get to the heart of what your needs are. You can divide this step into three categories.

  1. First, assess your body type and what cuts and styles look best on your body.
  2. Second, examine your lifestyle to decide what types of clothes you need to invest in most.
  3. Third, identify your style personality.

1. Assess your body type

dress your body shape type capsule | 40plusstyle.com

Knowing your body shape can be very beneficial when it comes to selecting the best clothes. You can have all the clothes in the world and not be as well dressed as a woman with 10 pieces in her closet that are tailored to perfection for her body shape.

At 40+Style we identify 5 main body shapes:

Hourglass body shapes: Typical hourglass body shapes tend to have a well defined or narrow waist. As the bust and hip are almost the same width, the narrower waist creates an hourglass like silhouette.

Pear body shapes: The typical pear body shape is characterized by hips that are wider than the shoulder. For this particular body shape, fat tends to accumulate on the hips and buttocks.

Inverted triangle body shapes: Inverted triangle body shapes have broader shoulders, which are wider than the hip and buttocks areas. For this shape, the bust usually tends to be proportionally large with smaller hips.

Rectangle body shapes: Typical rectangle body shapes tend to not have a defined waist and are characterized by hips that have a similar width to the shoulders. This particular body type is not necessarily curvy with a small to average sized bust.

Apple body shapes: Apple body shapes have no defined waists. They tend to hold weight on their stomach and typically have a small to average bust size.

To determine your body type please visit this article which also includes a handy calculator.

2. Examine your lifestyle

If you often find yourself having nothing to wear for the most common activities in your life, it is most likely that you do not have a wardrobe that is well aligned with your lifestyle. This can be problematic, as you will usually buy one off pieces for random events and create a wardrobe that is not coordinated with other pieces.

One of the best ways to create a more effective wardrobe is by taking an assessment of your lifestyle and the activities you engage in the most. There are four main categories of lifestyle activities that tend to encapsulate what your entire week looks like:

Professional activities

These activities require clothes that convey a professional image, and are mostly worn to the office or wherever professional aspects of your life may take you.

lifestyle professional office looks | 40plusstyle.com

Daytime social activities

Not quite casual, daytime social activities consists of outings like brunches and lunches, religious services, and or any other type of event that is social in nature and requires more than a very casual and laid back look.

day chic dress outfits | 40plusstyle.com

Evening social activities

These activities are pretty self explanatory. They consist of evening socializing to events like dinners, drinks with friends, parties, etc. Clothing is usually more eye catching and intended to make a statement.

capsule wardrobe: evening dress and skirts | 40plusstyle.com

Casual activities

Casual activities can range from a day spent at home to a day spent running errands around your town or city. The goal is usually to be as comfortable as possible, while still looking stylish.

lifestyle capsule looks: chic casual looks | 40plusstyle.com

As mentioned above, if you find that most of your time is spent in professional settings and you always struggle to find something to wear, then this might be a clear indication that your wardrobe and lifestyle are misaligned. Now that you have the various lifestyle activities in mind, let’s create a lifestyle assessment in 3 steps:

  • Step One: Either keep a diary of activities for 1-2 weeks or take an hour one day to assess what your activities look like for a period of 1 to 2 weeks.
  • Step Two: Take 8 to 10 hours a day for your activities and multiply this by 7 for the week. This leaves you with 56 to 70 hours of the week to determine how and where you spend the majority of your time.
  • Step Three: Rank your activities from most to least according to the number of hours/time spent on that activity. As an example, if you work 8 hours a day 5 days a week, 40 hours of your 56 to 70 hours a week is spent at the office (or wherever you work).

Once you have a ranking of your weekly activities, you have a good sense of what you need most. This does not necessarily translate to a strict percentage for your closet, but it does indicate that your wardrobe should favor versatile pieces for the activities you engage in the most. This goes a long way in minimizing the “I have nothing to wear” syndrome.

3. Identify your style personality

Now that you know what types of clothes fit your body shape best and the type of activities you engage in the most, it’s key to think about your style personality. Knowing your style personality makes building an ideal capsule wardrobe significantly easier, as it allows you to know the clothing you are most comfortable in and feel most beautiful wearing.

There are many ways to get clearer on your personality and you can describe yourself in terms of clothing style (eg. classic, bohomian) or characteristic (elegant, casual) but for today we will just limit ourselves to 5 main categories of styles. Please note though that most women are often a combination of two to three types of these styles.

Classic 

The classic style is usually timeless and classic as the name suggests. These are the pieces that usually last the longest in your wardrobe and are often the anchors of capsule wardrobes.

These are often the best bet when it comes to investing in high quality and long lasting pieces that you will wear again and again. Examples of women who identify with this look include Jackie O, Marlene Dietrich, Lauren Bacall, Jodie Foster, and Oprah.

timeless style capsule: classic blazer | 40plusstyle.com

Bohemian 

The bohemian style is characterized by loose and flowy pieces with much movement, color and and sometimes some sparkle. It is an unconforming style that tends to be associated with the hippie era. Celebrities and styles within this style include Ali MacGraw, Mary Kate & Ashley Olsen, Isabel Marant, and Diane von Furstenberg.

bohemian fringe | 40plusstyle.com

Minimalist

Minimalist style is all about exuding a less is more attitude.  Clothes are extremely well tailored and high quality, and the simplest pieces make the biggest impact. Calvin Klein, Sofia Coppola, Angelina Jolie, and Audrey Hepburn are designers and/or celebrities that fall into this style category.

minimalist clean modern style | 40plusstyle.com

Trendy/Fashionable

The trendy and fashionable style is an embrace of seasonal trends. These fresh of the runway looks are about taking risks and gladly standing out. While the looks can be a lot of fun, they are often outdated pretty soon and are often not as timeless as classic or minimalist styles. Trendy and fashionable style mavens include Isabella Blow, Beyonce, and Diana Ross.

trendy runway fashion style | 40plusstyle.com

Eclectic 

The eclectic style is one that is very hard to capture in words, but you usually know it when you see it. This style is really a mixture of all kinds of styles that create a very unique and hard to emulate look depending on the wearer.  The key to making this style work is knowing what suits you the best, following what you love, absolute confidence, and a good measure of creativity. You see this often with street style blogs. Eclectic style mavens include Lady Gaga and Laura Bailey.

eclectic creative and artsy style | 40plusstyle.com

Are you happy with your current wardrobe? What do you need help with?

 

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P.S. Want help creating your ideal wardrobe? Our Style Course will help you create the perfect wardrobe for your style so you always will have something fabulous to wear!

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{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Britta

I loved your suggestions! There are a few pieces that I might just have to try out. Have a wonderful time abroad!

Reply

Sylvia

Thank you Britta!

Reply

ELLEN DAYAN

I just found you and I am so excited! I love the items you’ve chosen to highlight here. I have a love for boho, artsy, and eclectic stuff and I rarely see any of that for women my age or size. I actually opened my own online boutique so I could have a place to shop, LOL! Your articles about body shape are so helpful and I love that you’re not shying away from including all of us in your discussions about fashion. Great!!! Love you!!!

Reply

Sylvia

Thanks for your very kind feedback Ellen and welcome!

Reply

laura

Absolutely love this series. I took your course on accessories which was terrific, but this is so helpful putting the steps together to create the right wardrobe. I’m looking forward you your next installments!

Reply

Sylvia

That’s great to hear Laura! Thanks so much for your feedback.

Reply

Greetje

Great article. I think I know what style I am: “all over the place” haha. No you already gave a lovely definition of my style in your accessory course.

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Heystella

I wish you would link to pieces that have more of a size range available – everything I clicked thru on was either sold out or tiny sizes or foreign websites.

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Tammy

I have loved your articles. When taking the style quiz one of the styles is feminine. But you often do not include that style. You use classic, minimalist, eclectic and bohemian. Are we not to be feminine after 40?

Reply

Sylvia

Of course we are. I think that many of the outfits are still feminine 🙂 However, you are right that there will be fewer of the precise feminine style personality outfits as that is not my personal style.

Reply

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