So, now that we’ve established where we want to be, we need to start taking action toward getting there!
1) Get clear on your “brand” and what you really need.
Ask yourself, What do you want your clothing to say about you? What do you want that first impression to be? Give yourself some time to daydream and think…
Then ask, What sort of clothing do you need in your life? For example, the person who needs a suit for work has very different needs than the person who works in a casual office or is a stay-at-home mom. Or maybe, like me, you’re often cold, even in summer, so you need to be aware of sleeve length and having your legs covered. If you go to a lot of parties or have a hobby where more formal attire is required, you’ll need to factor that in as well.
This is also an opportunity for you to radically change your answer to both of those questions, so if you’ve ever wanted to, now is that time! Maybe you wish you had more sparkling party dresses. Maybe you hate being underdressed. Factor that in here.
2) Clean out your current closet.
Take an afternoon, get yourself your favorite non-alcoholic beverage (you need to be of sound mind for this process!) and a friend or some fantastic music and go through everything and put it in three piles: love, TLC and other.
- What do you love that loves you back? Make sure it’s hung and well cared for. Make a note of it in a notebook so that you’re aware of it and can remove it from your possible lists of needs.
- Anything you love that needs a little TLC? Show it the love and either fix it yourself (you’d be surprised how easy a button is to fix) or send it to someone who can fix it for you. Again, add it to the list of haves and move on.
- Not right? Doesn’t fit? It goes into the other pile. Grab some big black garbage bags and get rid of it. Either give it to a friend who will love it or donate it to charity. I always tell myself, “oh, I’ll put it on eBay or etsy!” but realistically, the time I put into it never pays out. If you have some fantastic vintage finds that make a killing on one or the other, go ahead but 99.9% of the time, it’s better to just give it away and get it out of the closet.
BTW, this is directly applicable to anywhere else in your life, including but not limited to your computer, your jewelry drawer, your cosmetics case… the list goes on and on!
3) Ask yourself, What would best serve you right now?
When I gave the massive list last Wednesday, you may have thought to yourself (like I did), “Oh my goodness… I like this idea, but rebuilding? That’s going to get really expensive!” and it potentially can. But, here are three questions you can ask yourself to help:
- What can you spend right now? Give yourself a number.
- When’s the next time you’ll be able to spend another big chunk?
- What pieces do I really need between then and now?
Answer these three questions honestly and that will give you an idea of what you should start window shopping for.
I’ll use myself as an example here:
I like to use my tagline, “sweet geek chic”, as an easy description of my brand. What does that mean? Feminine clothes that are easy to wear and look great on me. Ideally, I’d have things that are soft, fun, pastel and vintage-inspired.
My lifestyle is pretty casual. On the weekdays, I only leave the house to go on my morning walk with the hubby and the dog or to the grocery store to pick up an item or two. The rest of my time is spent in the home, either at my computer, crafting or keeping the house. So, day dresses that I can move around in are best for my everyday wear. In addition, a few house dresses and pinafore aprons will keep me set for messier times.
My weekend plans generally include having a meal out at a casual place or entertaining at home. It’s rare that I have a fancy occasion but they do happen from time to time. One nice dress that I could wear different accessories with to change the look of would fit my needs just fine, especially combined with a proper fitting suit.
My specific needs are changed a bit by two things. First, I live in Los Angeles, so it’s warm enough to not require a coat to leave the house all but about two months out of the year. Secondly, I’m the type of person who’s always cold, especially in the ubiquitous air conditioning. So I need to consider covering my arms and legs, even into August!
What would best serve me right now?
At this point, I’m assuming I’m starting from zero. My style before this was very different. It was incredibly casual and I wore a lot of dark colors. Even most of my undergarments are in black! Old goth habits die hard 🙂 However, I have a few pieces that will work fine for a transition period. In addition, I currently have the materials required to make myself 4-6 day dresses so I can get started with that.
I’ve got anywhere from $600-1300 to spend right now thanks to some freelance projects I took on. I should be able to shop again as it starts to get cool, so I really just need things for warmer weather. Let’s go through the list:
Coats: I’ll just be looking for deals in this category. If I can find myself a camel colored trench that fits well or find a fantastic coat on end-of-season sale, I may grab it but I don’t need anything here.
Suit: This is a must-get, ideally in tan or navy with a full skirt. Pencil skirts look cleaner, but I find them too binding. This will help me be prepared for dressier occasions that may happen over the warmer months.
Blouses: I’d like to get or make a few day to day blouses, esp. ones that look good with my suit skirt and any other skirts I buy or make. I’ll probably only go with one dressy blouse, maybe two if I find another one I can’t walk away from.
Sweaters: I’ll probably go heavy with these since I tend to prefer them over blouses. Sweater sets are more my style! I’d like to have at least one nice cashmere set, probably from J.Crew, and then will go cheaper with the others. Target’s great for little cardigans and maybe I’ll be able to find a vintage set or two. I do actually have my Hufflepuff sweaters (both v-neck, one vest and one with sleeves) and they’re nice and lightweight, though mostly a darker heather gray. They’re probably too dark to wear with a lighter color suit.
Skirts: These I can probably make or purchase pretty easily. Again, full skirt is better than pencil or a-line. It’s cuter, in my opinion, and less restrictive so I’ll get more wear out of them.
Casual dresses: Ignoring the winter ones for obvious reasons. I’d like to get a few that I can throw into my rotation that match my color palette and will look good along with my sweaters since I’ll probably be wearing those over them until May or June.
Formal dresses: If I can find or find fabric for them, I’d like to have at least two “formal daytime” dresses. My husband’s company usually takes everyone and their significant other on a weekend excursion in the spring to a warm place and I’ll want at least one nice dress for that. I could probably get away with blouses and skirts for the rest of the weekend. Additionally, my sister’s engaged and at some point, I’ll need a dress for that but I think that can wait until my fall/winter shopping.
Sports: I don’t really need anything specific for sports but I would like to get a new bathing suit!
On top of that, I’m really short in the accessories department! Back to the list!
Handbags: I really like my navy dot Cath Kidston day bag for just wandering around town. It’s just the right size for everything I need. I could probably use a nice big leather bag if I end up returning to school or the office for any reason, but for walking the dog or the grocery store, it’s fine. Additionally, once my suit color is chosen, I should get or make a generously-sized clutch bag in a similar or complementary color for dates or times when dressier is better.
Shoes (five or more pair): Since all I own outside of sneakers right now are two pair of very dressy heels, I need to put a lot into this. I’d love to find a quality pair of oxford heels and ankle boots that I could rotate as my day to day shoes. I ordered myself a pair of the TOMS Shabby Chic wedges, so those will do just fine once it gets warm. I could probably also use one pair of non-sparkly dress shoes.
Hats (two or more): I’d like to introduce hats to my wardrobe, so once I know what my main wardrobe colors are, I’ll select at least one formal and an additional one or two casual hats.
Though I have what looks like a high budget, because I’m starting from scratch with next to nothing, I need to make priorities. I think my first priority is finding which color scheme I want to use. I think I’ll go seasonal and plan for the spring and summer to do a tan suit and pastel colors for my other pieces. So, from there I think:
1) The suit, probably made for me since the chance of finding one vintage is next to none.
2) Brown shoes. A pair of oxfords and ankle boots in brown are key here.
3) One sweater set and two blouses.
That will eat up the low end of my budget very easily! Once I put the time into making the dresses I have material for, I’ll be pretty set and can start branching out a bit more into less necessary items to help create more possible outfits.
I’d love to hear where you get with this. Feel free to comment below or blog about it and leave the address in a comment!