There are many reasons you may be looking to build your wardrobe from the top. Perhaps you’ve undergone significant bodily changes- Weight gain, a surgery or having a baby are top of the list. Out with the old, in with the new! It’s only natural that you’ll reevaluate what makes you feel confident and comfortable when dressed up. Perhaps you’ve moved to a different climate, accepted a brand spanking new job that calls for smart and sharp office attire or, like me, started a more grown up chapter of your life.
A couple of weeks ago I picked my brother up from school and was stopped by a friend of his who greeted me excitedly. “Hello Haider’s mum!” he says. “Oh my” was my initial thought. “This is the beginning of the end, it must be,” I think in silent mock disbelief. Looking back I’m proud of myself for rocking outfits that scream me, even if an eleven year old kid believes I’m aged a good twenty years by it. Gone are the days of immature cuts and overly funky prints and I couldn’t be happier about it.
While fashion trends are constantly on the rise and decline, you can build a wardrobe that will stand the test of time and spark joy, not daunt. If you’re feeling overwhelmed anticipating the in and out process of building a timeless wardrobe, fear no more. This handy guide will serve you well. The beginning is a unique vantage point filed with endless creative and expressive potential. You now have the chance to curate your wardrobe to a tee with effective, quality pieces that will render the notion of cost per wear irrelevant. Bear in mind that this is a slower process that won’t happen overnight with a beverage of choice and your favourite online shopping destination. You may add to cart, checkout, receive and return.
You may convince yourself that you can work in a regretful purchase of two. After all, you have the extra coat hangers, right? Well, I’m here to tell you that you deserve much better than having to justify shopping the clearance section. The other day I bought a gorgeous Guess handbag. It was on sale from two hundred dollars down to one fifty. I’d just been paid and thought a handbag was a safe investment. When I brought the bag home and removed it from the dust bag, however, I realised that the novelty had worn off and I couldn’t match it with any outfit in my closet. I knew that I wasn’t a fan of splashy branding yet I caved anyway. Lesson learnt and I moved on! Thank God for returns.
You’ll want to find the balance of shopping for who you are now and what suits your current lifestyle whilst also envisioning the endeavours you could enter into and how you wish to be seen. Your home uniform and the outfits you wear when you leave the house are likely different. There’s a saying that rings true in this instance. Dress for the job you want, not the job you have. Since starting my Diploma Course at College in February, I’ve dabbled in formal dress more often and got frequent wear out of my statement pieces. Ideally, your closet should be a reflection of your goals and the future you envision whilst simultaneously serving your current lifestyle. In lockdown I’ve been getting dressed less and am often content to relax. I now have a variety of lounge sets and pyjamas to suit this need.
My aim is not to show anybody up but to prioritise making an impact and stand out amongst others who put in less effort and come in their track pants. I had a lovely professor last trimester who acknowledged this intention and would make a point of complimenting my outfit every week. He appreciated that I took my qualification seriously, wished to make a strong impression and recognised that opportunity could come knocking at any time. I wouldn’t want to be seen in flip flops if a brand representative or renowned speaker happened to drop in on a class I was attending. You never know who could be scouting the next talent. I beam with pride when I reflect on these instances.
Without further ado, let’s begin. This first step is all about reviewing what you’ve currently got going. Spend a few minutes deciding what you’d like to change and how you’re doing well. Give yourself a pat on the back- you’re doing so well already. However you may be feeling personally, cultivate acceptance. This is how you’ll move forward without the weight of regret. Maybe your grievance is a plethora of impulse purchases, therefore leaving you with drawers full of poorly thought out clothing. They may be cheaply made, tatty after a few wears and washes. Alternatively, you may feel regret at misplaced investments. High end designer clothing that is flashy and memorable in that it’s only designed to be worn and seen once. Maybe you’re one of the lucky ones who is entirely comfortable in the clothes they have. In this case, you can work on filling in style gaps. If you look around and decide you’re doing pretty well, that’s great. The bulk of the work is now done for you.
Before we go further, you should avoid making this style mistake like the plague. Always dress for your current body shape with some give. I’m a healthy Australian size eight to ten or American four to six. I’ve never been more content with my current shape than now. I’m embracing new curves and feeling truly well in my own skin. There are differing opinions as to how you should clothe yourself when in the process of weight loss. A common choice is to buy clothes in smaller sizes. This, you hope, will serve as motivation, keep you accountable and be a marker for progress. However, it could just as easily be a turn off. In the end, you should do what works for you. However, I believe that you’ll be doing yourself a disservice if you refuse to dress for the size you are now. You deserve positive self talk and action no matter what the scale or other people say. You’re in the here and now so why not make the most of it? Keep working on your fitness goals and reevaluate when you meet them.
You don’t have to go all out if you’re anticipating needing a new, smaller wardrobe down the line but allow yourself to feel confident today, not tomorrow. In the grand scheme of things, life is short. Shop intentionally and smartly. I like to buy clothing that has some give and is a little roomy. That way, it can grow with me and a slight natural fluctuation throughout the day won’t crimp my style or get me down. Let’s face it, after you eat and drink, your stomach expands somewhat. You won’t go to bed looking the same as you did in the morning and that’s completely normal. Take this into account and be kind to your body. It allows you to sing, run, walk, talk, dance, love others. What could be more worthy of celebration?
When trying on your clothes, go the full nine yards. Take everything out and give it a long look over. Perhaps you’ll discover items seemingly lost in the ether. Whatever you do, don’t get distracted or overly caught up in the clothes themselves. This isn’t an exercise in sentimentality. Right now you’re being practical, resourceful and running your items through a mental checklist. To find order in the chaos, I like to sort items into their respective piles- tops, bottoms, dresses, intimates, sleepwear. You can be more specific if you’d like, separating items that fall within one big category. Put your different washes of jeans in piles- white, light and dark.
As you try on items, you’ll know instinctively whether it’s a yay or nay. However, it can be helpful to pose the questions out loud. Do I like how this looks on me? Is it comfortable? Can I wear this more than once? Does this item pair nicely in my closet by way of being complimentary and colour palette friendly? If you’re not sure or decide against an item, thank it for what it’s done for you and let it go. Have no regrets- clothing marketplaces exist for a reason and this is your chance to earn a little extra cash on the side for nothing. A total win win. This is your wardrobe and you have full permission to edit it frequently, ruthlessly and to your liking. Just don’t go overboard and feel you have to cull everything.
At this stage you’ll have your piles of clothing still out with one exception. You’re looking at the after, not the before version. Perhaps you’ve folded the clothing you wish to keep and set out baskets for selling, throwing out and giving away. When looking at your items, you should be able to describe your style in a sentence. What catches your eye and evokes a positive mental association? What do you feel like a badass in? Do you like statement pieces, bold colour and cutting edge prints? Do you prefer a more muted, neutral colour scheme? Are you into more dressy or casual styles? You may find that your wardrobe branches out a bit, overlapping and reaching into a few of these categories. When selecting new pieces for your wardrobe, it’s important to choose a few select stores to shop at- this will give your wardrobe a satisfying cohesive feel and increase the chances of you being able to create matches.
Eventually, you’ll want to do a second try on and see what outfits you can pair together. As you go, take photos of your winning combinations and create an album in your phone for them. See what corresponds with the style boards you’ve created on Pinterest. You may choose to print out hero image that really embody your philosophy and aim, then create a wall collage for the inside of your collage. You’ll be surprised by how elucidating this step is. Once you’ve pared your wardrobe down to the necessities, you’ll see your clothes for what they are. Those basic blouses look fabulous paired with two tone denim and sandals. Your favourite red dress, denim jacket and high heels are absolutely banging! Exciting, right? Here’s a well established fact for you. Did you know that, statistically, you don’t wear eighty percent of the clothing you have? Yes, only twenty percent is worn on a regular basis. We each gravitate towards certain pieces and tend to keep them on frequent rotation.
The last step in your wardrobe revamp is to go shopping. Create a list comprised predominantly of staples with room for a few personality infused purchases. Hit the major areas and consider the season you’re in. Don’t forget to update your shoes and accessories too. After your shop, you should feel satisfied for the right reasons. Just remember that you’re not there to fill a void, a common reason most of us consume. We think it will fill what’s empty but we’re mistaken. There is a lot of peace that will find you when you stop wanting so much and start living more with what you’ve already got. There are no hard and fast rules as to what you should have in your closet but you might consider opting for the following classics. You can’t go wrong with a light cardigan, trench coat, crisp white shirt, denim jacket, pair of jeans, boots, trousers, striped tee and dress in a universally flattering midi length.