Each month, I answer your questions and share news about future projects. Enjoy the monthly update for August! basic wardrobe
“I’d like to have a simple, cohesive wardrobe instead of a mishmash of different stuff. What pieces can be used to mix and match many outfits?”
Excellent question. When I searched online, I found several articles with “basics” checklists. The problem was, I didn’t agree with some of the items. Not everyone wants to wear a white button-down shirt. (Like me!)
I’d rather create a basic wardrobe that feels amazing to wear. Here are 5 simple guidelines to follow:
1. Black and blue (jean) bottoms go with everything.
If I could start from scratch, I’d only buy pants and skirts in black or blue jean material. Mixing it up with dark brown, khaki, white or army green is unnecessary. My plan is to only buy black or blue bottoms from now on, since every top in my wardrobe matches one or both of these colors.
- Try it: Take out a pair of blue jeans and black bottoms. Do all your tops match these two colors? If not, you might choose a different color pair, like gray bottoms and blue jeans. Pick a pair and make shopping for new bottoms a lot easier.
2. Forget the checklists. Dress to flatter your body shape and coloring.
Plain white shirts look terrible on me, but bright fuschia flatters my skin tone and hair color. If you’re going to have a simple wardrobe, create it with clothes you actually like. Your tops can be a wide array of colors and still help you build a basic wardrobe.
- Read more: Get style advice on dressing for your body shape here. Customize a Google search on “best clothing colors for …” (blondes, olive skin tone, you fill in the blanks).
3. Thoroughly inspect each piece before you buy.
Start with the seams. Are the threads coming loose? Is it all in a straight, even line? When you tug at the seam, does it loosen or keep the shape? Next, scrunch the fabric in your hand to see how easily it wrinkles. Be picky and you’ll avoid a closet full of wrinkly, seam-torn clothing.
- Exercise: Are you storing poor quality clothing in your closet already? If you don’t plan to fix torn hems and take up ironing, donate those pieces and replace with quality items as your budget allows.
4. Get a good foundation in four to five categories.
All clothing falls into these categories:
If you work in an office, you can add “business” to the list, or combine it with dressy. A couple outfits in each category – or one spectacular dress in the formal category – is all you need.
- Exercise: Using the categories above, see if your wardrobe is set up to accomodate your lifestyle. For instance, I might need five casual outfits and only one or two dressy. Take the pain out of dressing by knowing the right look is always available. If you’re on a tight budget, write a list of items you’d want to buy down the road and watch for sales.
5. Choose a core color (like black).
My friend and minimalist fashionista Courtney Carver of Be More with Less chose black as her core color for the following:
- ballet flats
- one pair of sunglasses
- one purse
- tank top
- pencil skirt
“The colors on all of the above could be gray, or another basic color,” she said, “but keeping the core items the same makes it easy to mix in limited items for a complete wardrobe.”
- Exercise: Do you choose colorful pieces over plain? My eye is drawn to colors too, but I’m learning black is the best way to keep my wardrobe both simple and stunning. It’s awesome for traveling, too. One black sweater is all I need to pack for the whole trip.
It’s disheartening to realize your wardrobe – and the money you spent on it – doesn’t exactly work together. Simplifying it is more like a marathon than a sprint. Start small – get rid of items you don’t wear. Write down the colors and styles that work best for your body type and put the list in your wallet. Settle on a couple color combinations to avoid pieces that only match with one or two other items.
With a few simple guidelines, you can create a wardrobe that’s both stunning and small.
Where do you shop for quality basics?
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Just for you … Here’s the monthly update:
Reader favorites in August
In case you missed them:
- How to Reduce Your Clothes in 2 Weeks (with Almost No Effort)
- 4 Practices that Will Help You Have a Good Morning
- Stuff I Buy
- School is back in session! Writing will be my daily most important thing. I have big ideas swimming around my head from summer … new blog ideas, projects and finishing The Channels. I can’t wait to dig in.
- I made my own body lotion in August. I love it! I’ve used it for about a month. I’m curious to see how it will hold up against the cooler temps ahead. My elbows and knees seem a bit dry these days, so I reapply as needed.
- I’d love to know your comments and questions. You can connect with me on Facebook, Twitter or email melissa [at] peaceandprojects [dot] com.
Photo by kelby93