Saturday, January 31, 2009

How To Edit and Build Your Wardrobe Step IV: 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...

  • 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.

  • 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.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

How To Edit and Build Your Wardrobe Step III: 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.

  • 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.

Last step, Shopping Smart...

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

How To Edit and Build Your Wardrobe Step II: 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.

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

  • 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.
  • 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. A work 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...

Sunday, January 25, 2009

How To Edit and Build Your Wardrobe Step I: Do Your Homework

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 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.

Once you've done your homework, you're ready for Step #2: Edit With Purpose...

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Living Better With Less

I'm not talking about having only two pairs of pants, a toothbrush and a lamp. It doesn’t just mean having less stuff. It's about having the right stuff.

Living better with less is thinking about what’s important to you and making conscious decisions about what you take into your life. It’s not buying something because it was a great ‘bargain’ if you're never going to use it. It’s not buying something because it’s new and improved when what you had worked perfectly well.

It's a way of life; less searching for things. Less buying things twice and three times because you can’t find the one you have. It's removing the things in your life you don't love and use to make room for the things you do. It's less time cleaning and 'organizing' and more time doing what you actually enjoy doing…. which is what by the way? 

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Living Better With Less... Bad Advice

Rule: "Take 15 minutes at the end of each day to organize your space."

WHY THIS IS BAD ADVICE: If you’re unorganized to begin with, all you can really accomplish in 15 minutes at the end of the day, when you’re likely tired (and cranky), is to simply move things from one spot to another. It’s not enough time to give something a proper home, ensuring you can find it when needed again. Maybe you can hang up your coat in the coat closet if there’s room among the overflowing toolbox, unused sports equipment, and luggage…

GOOD ADVICE: Like anything worth doing, organizing your home requires planning, time, and motivation to have lasting effects. Only after you’ve taken the time to give all your things a proper home, based on how it’s used and how often, does this advice actually work.

There are plenty of quick and easy fixes for all kinds of problems in life. My purpose for this blog is to help you come up with lasting solutions to organizing your home. To help you create a beautiful, functional space to enjoy all that you love in life. And believe me, to do so takes more than 15 minutes…

Monday, January 19, 2009

All Organizing Advice Is Not Equal

There's a lot of organizing advice out there, some good and some bad. Before I give you any of the good, I thought I'd start by pointing out some of the bad. The first one has to do with cleaning out your wardrobe (yes, I say wardrobe not closet but we'll discuss that another time):

Rule: "If you haven't worn it in six months (or three, or a year, whatever) get rid of it."

WHY THIS IS BAD ADVICE: Because it's never said that you should try it on before simply getting rid of it.

GOOD ADVICE: TRY IT ON! Our bodies change over time so if you haven't worn something in a while you need to try it on to see how it fits now. Some things just need an alteration to fit you or your current style (like shortening a skirt's hemline). Maybe you don't know what to wear it with; try mixing it with something new or wear it in a way you hadn't before like pairing a work shirt with something more casual. Or, start wearing that comfy old sweater that has holes around the house. But if you try it on and it doesn't fit and cannot be altered, isn't comfortable, or doesn't suit your taste and lifestyle then it's ok to pass it along to someone else.

I plan on doing a series of how to build and edit a wardrobe step by step as this isn't something that can be summed up in a 'quick tip'. Stay tuned...