I am flattered a reader asked for my thoughts on creating a small and workable wardrobe.
But I'm not sure that I am up to the task!
Anne I hope that this post will help get you started.
By asking yourself the right questions you might get some direction...
I appreciate you having faith in me...and I hope that I do not disappoint you!
Do some homework before going shopping.
On the internet is so quick and easy...
so many fashion savvy bloggers are online I have learned a lot by reading their posts.
Pinterest is another great place to find inspiring fashions..."Parisian Chic" is one of my favourites.
Window shopping and browsing magazines will give you some new ideas.
Observing the way that garments are put together and styled in the fashion magazines inspires me to "make the effort" to keep my wardrobe fresh and feeling current.
Books on the subject can be found in stores and your local library...
Jennifer L. Scott has written several books on this subject and has many videos on You Tube, she's well known for her 10 piece basic wardrobe.
Every Fall and Spring I go through my closet and look carefully at the clothes that I am putting away in storage until next year.
I mend and launder any garments needing attention before hanging them downstairs in the "out of season" closet.
Then proceed to retire and donate anything that is worn or no longer thrills me.
When bringing out the current seasonal wardrobe I look at each piece with a discerning eye, try them on and decide if they are still in good nick or if they need to be replaced.
I'll ask myself how can I wear these garments in a variety of ways so that I get more mileage out of them.
I go through my accessories and look at the scarves, belts, shoes and boots.
Are they looking tired or worn, do the heels need to be replaced at the cobblers?
Can I update an outfit by simply adding a brooch, necklace or pairing it with tights and boots?
Do I have all the basics covered?
Lifestyle factors big in this...I am retired and lead a fairly quiet life.
I need clothes for walking, playing with the grandchildren, playing bridge and MahJongg at the seniors centre, for dinners and lunches out, the theatre, and casual get together's with friends.
(No gala balls or red carpet events!)
Next I make a list of things that I "need" to purchase...
and I make a small list of things that "might be nice to add."
Remembering that I have a tiny closet helps me rein in my tendency to buy too many pieces.
When I am out shopping I consider...
Does the garment fit well?
Is it flattering?
Can it be worn with other things that I currently own?
Is it good value for the price?
Will I love it for the next few years?
Is it easy care? (I rarely buy "dry clean only" garments)
Does the fabric feel nice against the skin?
Are the details like buttons, darts and seams neat and tidy?
Look in a 3 way mirror and be honest...
if the item matches with your criteria it's probably a good choice.
Ask about the store's return policy in case you have second thoughts when you get it home.
If like me, you enjoy shopping in charity and thrift shops you will not be able to return it if you change your mind so be sure...usually the garments are priced reasonably and therefore if you make a mistake you will not be out of pocket too much money.
Consignment shops are a different kettle of fish...each store has it's own policy on returns and you may be able to take it home "on approval" or put it on hold and bring a friend who will give you an honest opinion. Consignment stores are generally more expensive than thrift or charity shops because they carry "higher end labels" and often designer goods.
Another factor to consider is your budget...
Overspending is not advisable...
if you are living within limited means you'll need to mindful of quieting "the wants."
I mix higher end clothing with less expensive brands...
my g21 skinny jeans from Walmart are a prime example.
I regularly wear my Hermes scarves with inexpensive white tees and jeans.
Start with the basics in a neutral colour.
They need to mix and match so that you get more mileage out of them, making many different combinations possible with the same core pieces. CPW...cost per wearing wins here.
Consider your lifestyle.
Opt for simple classics with clean lines...they allow for accessories where you can add a personal touch.
My core basics would be in black with some grey pieces all in solid shades (no patterns) and include:
a classic LBD, skirt, pants, jeans, a cashmere sweater, several tops and Tees, tank tops for layering, and a dressy jacket, and a white shirt. You'll need outer wear and depending on your climate you might need several options.
Once you have your core wardrobe you can add more depending on your budget.
If you are looking to personalize your wardrobe with accessories...
shop in ethnic, museum and gift shops...markets and craft fairs.
Antique malls and charity shops often have unusual pieces of jewelry and scarves.
You will find some fabulous items on ebay and etsy too.
Thank you Anne, for asking for my thoughts on this subject...I like a challenge.
I hope this has given you some ideas and that you have fun searching for those perfect garments!
Please email me and let me know how you are doing with this project.
Readers please share your ideas and perhaps list the fashion blogs you enjoy and follow.
Leave a comment about how you approach putting together a wardrobe and addressing the various challenges that we come up against when starting from scratch. We are all in this together.