how to edit and build your wardrobe step 1: do your homework

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Building your wardrobe is like anything else important in your life: it’s best with a clear plan that allows for flexibility over time, with the understanding that it’s not going to be perfect overnight.

 Your wardrobe should be a collection of your favorite pieces, to be mixed and matched allowing you to look and feel your best. The following steps done in this order will help you achieve this:
 
1. DO YOUR HOMEWORK: Determine your desired image
2. EDIT WITH PURPOSE: Remove what doesn’t work
3. LEARN FROM YOUR MISTAKES: Create personal shopping rules
4. SHOPPING SMART: Buy only what you love and fits your desired image and lifestyle
 
Step #1. DO YOUR HOMEWORK: Determine your desired image
you need: pad and a pencil
 
Before you edit your existing wardrobe, you need to know your desired image. Make a list of adjectives you want your look to project for casual, business, and dressy outfits.These may be the same or completely different for each category. For example, when casual you’d like to look sporty and fun, but for work you want to look well put together and chic. Be honest and thoughtful with yourself; your style should reflect your personality and lifestyle.
 
Know your lifestyle. Being realistic about your lifestyle makes it easier to shop for it. Are you a stay-at-home parent taking care of a baby or toddler or are you running around with older children to various activities and school functions? Do you attend many social functions? Are you a business owner who doesn’t need to dress in formal business attire? Note: A common mistake people make when they don’t have a strict dress code at work is dressing too casually. Remember: “Dress for the job you want, not the job you have.”
 
Start an inspiration file or board to help you achieve your desired look. There are no rules for finding inspiration; look at everyday people, celebrities, characters from movies, places and/or eras in time. Look at nature and art for colors and color and texture combinations. Find designers whose look you like and follow their work season to season. (Go to style.com to see pictures and videos from all the runway shows.) Note: When looking at other people, make sure they have your body type or similar shape. What looks good on a tall, thin person won’t necessarily work on someone shorter with curves.
 
 

how to edit and build your wardrobe step 2: edit with purpose


Step #2. EDIT WITH PURPOSE

you need: full length mirror, large bags or boxes, marker, pad and pencil, and digital camera (optional)
If you have a friend who understands the image you’re trying to project, will be honest about how you look, and is knowledgeable about tailoring (bonus), invite them to help you through the process. If you don’t, then do it on your own.
 
Label your bags or boxes KEEP, MAYBE, SELL, DONATE, DISCARD, DRY CLEAN/TAILORING.
Pull everything out of your closet, piece by piece and ask yourself in the following order:
  • Does this fit my desired image? If yes, continue
  • Does this fit my lifestyle? If yes, continue
  • How do I feel in this? If positive, continue
  • Does this fit, or can it be altered? If yes, it’s a keeper

 
DON’T
  • Feel bad about wanting to dress better. You deserve to feel and look your best.
  • Let guilt make you keep something based on the amount of money you’ve paid for it, or because of who gave it to you.
  • Keep anything that you don’t feel comfortable wearing.
  • Rush the process. If you are unsure about something keep it until you can decide for sure, once it’s gone, it’s gone.
DO
  • Make immediate decisions first. Put anything you’re unsure about in the maybe pile and keep moving.
  • Try everything on!! Your body changes over time, something that may not have fit properly the last time you wore it may fit nicely now (and vice-versa).
  • Downgrade. Awork shirt is now for whatever reason, not appropriate for work anymore but still fits and you feel good in it. Designate it for weekend or to wear around the house.
  • Have something tailored or altered in a way to make it wearable. Shortening a hem or having sleeves shortened to 3/4 length, or having a dress made into a top or skirt.
  • Separate out sentimental pieces that you’re keeping but won’t wear again. These pieces need to be properly stored away, not taking up valuable space in your closet.
Go through bags, shoes, accessories, and undergarments last. Anything that doesn’t fit, has holes or stains should be discarded. Some things can be repurposed; cotton socks are great for polishing or as rags for general cleaning.
 
Take inventory of what’s left. Put all the keepers back in the closet by category (shirts, skirts, pants) in color order light to dark. Put a colorful wardrobe in rainbow order: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet. You can also break it up further separating work, casual, and dressy. The purpose is to make it easy to see what you have and what you may need.
 
Find the holes in your wardrobe. Look to your inspiration file to help you experiment combining colors and pieces you may haven’t in the past. Take pictures of the outfits you put together – believe me, you will forget. Write a detailed list of anything that will supplement what you have left. Example: “This outfit would be great if I had a light cropped fitted black cardigan.”
 
Before you go shopping, you must learn from the previous mistakes you’ve made… That’s Step #3… 

how to edit and build your wardrobe step 3: learn from your mistakes

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Step #3. LEARN FROM YOUR MISTAKES
you need: full length mirror, pad and pencil
 
Make a list of the reasons why you are getting rid of what you’ve edited to create your personal shopping rules. Identifying your bad habits will help you avoid making them in the future. In the next post I’ll give you some basic rules that everyone should adhere to when shopping, but now you need to find those specific to you.
 
BAD HABIT EXAMPLES
  • Continuing to shop a certain brand or at a certain store that you always have, but for whatever reason doesn’t work for you anymore.
  • Buying pieces that are uncomfortable; specific fabrics, style and/or cut like high or low waisted pants, stilettos or too high heals.
  • Buying pieces that don’t flatter you; specific colors, style and/or cut like crew or v-neck tops, cropped pants, certain length skirt/dresses.
  • Buying something you think you’re supposed to have, but actually don’t love wearing; specific colors or type of clothing like button-down shirts, turtlenecks, pinstripes.
  • Shopping with someone who influences/pushes you into buying things you ultimately don’t love.
 
Anyone can give you tips on how to edit your closet. The point of these posts is to help you figure out what does and does not work for you so you don’t continue to edit bags and bags full of clothes every year. To help you save time, energy, and money and to help you look your best.
 
 

how to edit and build your wardrobe step 4: shopping smart

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Step #4. SHOPPING SMART
you need: pencil and your personal shopping rules

 
When shopping, ask yourself the same questions when editing your wardrobe with one addition, does it fit with the rest of my wardrobe. For instance, a top that doesn’t go with anything else in your wardrobe so you’ll have to buy all new pieces to wear it. Just because something is pretty doesn’t mean you have to have it.
 
Building a wardrobe you love takes time and patience. Time to define your image and the patience to break bad habits and stick to your personal shopping rules. The rule that people have the most trouble with at first to buy only what you love. Doing so limits what you buy, forcing you to be more thoughtful when shopping, helping to avoid costly mistakes. This also allows you in time to ‘shop your closet’; instead of buying something when you feel like something new, simply wear something you haven’t in a while and create a new outfit. At some point you go against your rules, simply identify the rule you broke and try to return it (which is why it’s good to shop at places with forgiving return policies), then move on…
 
DON’T
  • Buy something just to have it, even if you need it. You buy a white button-down shirt that’s not quite perfect. Since you don’t love it, it stays in the back of your mind that you need one so you’re likely to buy another one which probably also isn’t perfect. By the time you find the one you do love, you may feel like it’s too much money yet you just wasted money on two that you don’t even like.
  • Buy for price. Buying something expensive thinking “it must be nice” or buying something because it’s on sale is a waste either way if you don’t love it.
  • Get swayed into buying something you don’t love.
  • Feel rushed to ‘finish’ your wardrobe. It will only make you buy impulsively and repeat past mistakes.
 
DO
  • Only buy things you love, that fit you and your lifestyle.
  • Buy things you can afford. Mix high and low pieces to keep your look interesting.
  • Find labels, designers, and stores whose style and clothes fit you and shop them consistently.
  • Find salespeople whose opinion you trust at the stores you frequent.
  • Know how things should fit. Check retailer’s websites or catalogs to see how garments fit the models (J.Crew, Banana Republic). Remember you need to fit the biggest part of your body first, then have the rest taken in if needed.
  • Know your bra size. Be measured by a bra specialist at a nice lingerie shop or higher end department store, not Victoria’s Secret.