Tuesday, January 23, 2018

How to Focus and Refine a Pretty Good Wardrobe

I am asked this question more frequently than I might have expected - it goes kind of like this: "I really like my wardrobe, for the most part, but I feel like I don't really have a good focus or defined style...."

That's tough to address, but I'm going to give it a try!

Let's start with this wardrobe; frankly, it looks pretty nice just like this!

Unfocused and unrefined spring wardrobe from Lands' End
all clothes - Lands' End

My first thought is to sort all of the clothes by function, to see if maybe our heroine doesn't have enough pants, or needs a couple of tee shirts - that sort of solution would be pretty straightforward! But this wardrobe seems pretty well-balanced for functionality...

spring wardrobe sorted by function

My next thought is to see if we can gain some insights into our heroine's preferences by sorting her wardrobe by color... HERE'S where I find that it gets interesting....

(yes, I try to choose these wardrobes are randomly as possible so that I don't go into the analysis with a preconceived answer to the situation...)

I think it's clear that this woman likes navy. LOVES navy, maybe. And that she's comfortable with cool-toned accent colors, including a range of shades of blue and nice accents of hot pink.

When I saw that this heroine owned a handful of warmer-toned pieces, along with a stray grey garment, I could see a path. First step is going to be to consign or donate those six garments, to leave her with a smaller but much more clearly-focused wardrobe for spring.




But realistically, this is a time for our heroine to pause and reflect about how she got her wardrobe to this point. Does she REALLY love navy? Or was she told by a significant other that she looks good in it? Did she wear it as a child and just finds it comfortable? Is this a heart-felt preference, or externally-imposed? This makes all of the difference...

Spring wardrobe sorted by color

That color step is really important, because it's an error that so many of us can make so easily - what's more obvious than a pair of khakis? And what's more appealing than mint green, or pretty shades of coral and apricot? But just because something's pretty, or considered to be a "must-have" item, doesn't mean that you should have it in YOUR wardrobe...

A Refined Spring wardrobe

Now that the wardrobe is more focused, I'm going to build some clusters, so that we can begin to group pieces into outfits. This first cluster is the first one that I saw - that dress with the cardigan over her shoulders, or the capris and striped tee with the cardigan - both perfect outfits!

navy spring wardrobe cluster
Cardigan - Lands' End; dress - Lands' End; tee shirt - Lands' End; pants - Lands' End

Next, I wanted to look at 3 tops, with a pair of pants to wear with them. This would be really nice to pack for a quick overnight trip...

wardrobe cluster of navy pants with 3 tops
pink top - Lands' End; floral & striped top - Lands' End; ivory top - Lands' End; blue pants - Lands' End

Now we want to make sure that her jeans can get worn effectively - a couple of tee shirts, and a sweater to wear with them...

spring wardrobe cluster around a pair of jeans
sweater - Lands' End; pink tee - Lands' End; striped tee - Lands' End; jeans - Lands' End

She has 2 pairs of jeans, so I'm giving her 2 clusters built around her jeans. And yes, if she really loves this floral print, having both a long-sleeved and a short-sleeved top is fine...

wardrobe cluster built around a pair of jeans
floral polo - Lands' End; floral tee - Lands' End; marled sweater - Lands' End; jeans - Lands' End



So far, so good! We now have 9 short-term "orphans." Fear not, they're going to get some care... It's important to note that no dress is ever really orphaned, because they are worn alone, and don't need much wardrobe support...

9 wardrobe orphans
cardigan - Lands' End; blue tunic - Lands' End; blue marled tunic - Lands' End; blue top - Lands' End; black polo - Lands' End; pink long-sleeved top - Lands' End; dotted pants - Lands' End; striped dress - Lands' End; floral dress - Lands' End

You know my long-standing belief that a few neutral pieces can do a TON of work in a wardrobe...

adding 2 neutral garments to utilize some wardrobe orphans
tee shirt - Lands' End; tank top - Lands' End

These 2 tops give us some mileage for those great dotted pants, and worn with navy pants, they're going to look wonderful with that striped cardigan!

Navy wardrobe capsule for spring

So let's see what we can do with these last pieces... I'm seeing tunics, I'm thinking LEGGINGS. I abhor seeing leggings worn as pants, but when worn with a top that comes down to hip-level, they're perfect.

adding leggings to a wardrobe to utilize tunics
leggings - Lands ' End

Maybe 2 pairs of leggings? With 4 tunics, it could make sense...

a wardrobe capsule of leggings with tunics



Now that we've got all of these garments into useful clusters, I'm going to indulge this heroine's love for hot pink and get her another "2nd layer" in a great accent...

a hot pink cardigan
cardigan - Lands' End

This is how her wardrobe looks now - not a lot of big changes, but it all "hangs together" just a little bit more. If you love navy, wear navy. Yes, all of her pants are navy, but there's nothing to apologize for if that's what you like!

Focused and Refined spring wardrobe

In the interest of helping our heroine plan for the future, it's worth taking some time to put together a color palette for her wardrobe. Everything here (except maybe that ivory top with blue piping?) looks just right with this color wheel...

Focused and Refined spring wardrobe with color palette

If you've gone through the exercise of figuring out how many garments you would ideally have, it can be challenging to get to that number. This is one way to take a pretty good wardrobe and polish it up just a bit!

love,
Janice

How to Focus and Refine a Pretty Good Wardrobe
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26 comments:

  1. Excellent post. To focus a wardrobe you could also write a personal life scenario like you often do when creating a post and decide if a piece of clothing fits into the life you actually lead. And if you aspire to up your game -what would those pieces look like. If you wanted people to know you were fun, creative, competent -what would those pieces look like.
    I shop at Lands End because I can search their site for specific colors (& they carry petites and hem pants for free) and know I can easily mix the pieces, but I have found I need to be discerning on cut for my body shape and if an item is appropriate to my life. I wear a lot of blue, but just because it's blue doesn't mean I should to buy it.

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    1. Hmmm... a personal life scenario.... I can DO that!
      thanks for the idea,
      hugs,
      Janice

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  2. Your blog is the most helpful blog ever!

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  3. Very useful! Also like the story idea mentioned above!

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  4. Lovely curating.Thanks to what you have taught me, we are leaving for a six day trip and I am carrying a backpack and purse. Unless there are unforecasted weather events, my navy, white and cream , with a few scarves and jewelry clusters, will be just right.

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  5. Thank you, thank you for getting rid of the khaki items! This is such a pretty wardrobe - and casual! Navy, pinks, and florals -oh my!! I'd add in some medium/dark grays, a little purple and green, and be all set. Wonderful job!! When you have time, could you do cool-toned accessories?
    Sue

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    1. Absolutely! I think I'm going to do a post about curating and editing an accessory wardrobe - that should be interesting, eh?
      hugs,
      Janice

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  6. Very interesting. My favorite items were the ones you got rid of, but that doesn't negate your important lessons. In fact, as someone who is all black and grey it makes me think pretty hard about why all my neutrals are black and grey when I love warm pastels the best.

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    1. Maybe shift your neutral to navy, and then you could easily incorporate those pastels? At any rate, DON'T do any shopping until you've sorted this out... Maybe get your "colors done?" Or check out a book from the library that talks about color preferences? OR... a trip to an art museum/gallery? There are lots of ways to isolate color preferences, but I think you must listen to your heart on this question...
      hugs,
      Janice

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  7. Nice wardrobe. Just wanted to let you know the link for the first Landsend blue cardigan is for a blue dress.

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    1. Fixed! I don't know what I'd do without you all! You do know that if I click on the links, the vendor will think that I'm cheating and padding my "link count" - because of COURSE I'm going to cheat for that three cents that I get for a click... sigh.... So it's pretty hard for me to check on the links once they're published!
      hugs,
      Janice

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  8. Very helpful walk-through. i would love to see you create a 6x4 accessory wardrobe for this heroine using the same editting what-she-has into what-she-needs format. Great post!

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  9. Such a great lesson! Being able to see all those pieces makes it so clear - thank you.

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    1. Thanks - I think of this as the digital "take everything out of your closet and lay it on your bed" approach to closet cleaning...
      hugs,
      Janice

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  10. And then she stumbled across a Vivian Files capsule in grey. And she loved it on the screen (even if she can't wear grey). And grey goes so well with navy. And then their was the sea glass pendant at the art fair she just loved, hence the aqua that crept in. And peach and coral look so pretty with a tan. And she found an incredible black leather jacket at Goodwill for $15! And, And, And.

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    1. Isn't that the human experience, for those of us lucky enough to have abundance in our wardrobes and our lives? That's the hardest part - seeing beauty, and refraining from the purchase... It's never mastered; I've got a sweater setting here on my desk that I need to send back to the vendor because I absolutely do NOT need it... We're just moral, and must forgive ourselves for these failings!
      hugs,
      Janice

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  11. I love your posts and ready them daily.

    What about a slightly different scenario -- she has a ton of navy but it's only because it's easy and work appropriate, as well as easy to find? So she buys it only because it's there. How could she focus her wardrobe then? Thanks

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  12. Janice,
    Not my colors, but great methodology, as always !

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  13. As so many have said, this was super helpful! It's interesting that it's not just what you need to take out, it's what you need to add in. I thrifted a grey cardigan this morning (one I like, not my grandpa's sweater), because I have several grey bottoms and tops, but no grey third layers. I was thinking "What would Janice add here? Aha, a cardigan."

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  14. I would enjoy just a whole series on this. And yes, based on lifestyle and seasons and maybe also based on shape (I have a hard time with stuff like will that cardigan fit over that shirt, will the long top work with the flounced skirts, will the sweater work with a shirt under or a 2nd layer).

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  15. THANK you for explaining each step and decision. This is so helpful for me. I struggle figuring out what tops are most flattering on me. They all look so pretty on the page!! I second the idea of choosing wardrobes based somewhat on one’s body shape. Thank you. I love the colors of this particular wardrobe, by the way!

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  16. You peeked into my room, didn't you? This is exactly what I did with my clothes in 2017. I stumbled upon your site back then on my way to others. I knew for years I needed an overhaul but didn't know how to do it. You showed me the way. I studied and compared daily. I passed a handful of not-my-color items to others. I embraced the color my closet showed was clearly me (I was in denial for a long time). I filled in the holes. I was ruthless in gutting the overflowing basket of cheap accessories gathering dust. I created three mini-cores in light, medium, and dark. It's such a relief knowing that no matter what I pull out now, they will work!

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  17. I just love, love, LOVE every post you do! Since the wardrobe you recently did based on Monet's water lilies, I've been obsessed with building a capsule based on navy. It's nice to see another one. Thanks for all the inspiration!

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  18. This is so helpful - I really enjoyed the analysis particularly because my wardrobe really does need to be sorted. The problem I have, unfortunately, is deciding on what's cool and what's warm. I've had a google but haven't found anything helpful. Is there a formula or something to discover or is it just a question of your eye' knowing' the difference?

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  19. As a long term fan of your posts (which often inspire posts on my own blog!) I found this really helpful. Would you be able to repeat this with a focus on the warm colours, as I know I'm not the only one who liked the items your heroine rejected?! Thanks!

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