What Do You Have?

Parts two and three should have left you with a rough mental picture, and possibly a more specific list, of the kind of style you would like to have and how to make that style practical for you. That’s useless, of course, without a wardrobe of clothing to make it a reality.

Before you go anywhere near a shop you need to find out what you already own. Many women have closets and drawers full of clothes they never wear because they don’t suit them or they have nothing to wear them with.

Don’t be scared to get rid of things if it doesn’t fit into your style blueprint. Even if it’s something you wear at the moment.

There are basics that it’s useful to have in your wardrobe. I’ve written about some general basics, and specific summer basics before. If you have these, but they don’t fit into your style then I suggest not getting rid of them until you’ve replaced them, but everything else should be fair game.

I’ve also got some great general advice on cleaning out your wardrobe.

Once you’ve finished clearing out you should have a small core of clothes that you feel really suit you and your style.

The next step is to spend some time trying things on in different combinations. Get out all your accessories, belts and scarves and spend a good hour or so playing around.

Try and put together 2 or 3 outfits from your existing wardrobe that you really like. Go back to Part 3 and think about what your outfits are for. If you have a couple of work outfits and 1 or 2 outfits for your out of work activities then you have the basis of a good wardrobe. Try putting the outfits with different accessories to create a slightly different look and get more wear out of it.

Sticking with my “girly frills” example here the same suit (and an extra pair of trousers) makes 3 outfits with different accessories for work and a skirt, top and cardigan is accessorised for day.

If you get to the end of this process and find you have absolutely nothing that you like then you have 2 options.

One is to go back to the drawing board. If you have never in your life bought a single piece of clothing that fits into your new clearer idea of your style then it’s possible that you don’t actually like it in reality and it’s just the pictures you are drawn to. Make sure you’ve looked properly at your own old photos as well as your lookbook and that you’ve really been realistic.

The other option is to acknowledge that your style up to now just hasn’t been you and that a major shopping trip is necessary. Building a wardrobe that’s really you is going to take time, you can’t walk to the shops and immediately come home with a whole new look. You could try, but it will look forced and unnatural.

If you find you have no outfits that you like try putting together a look you DO using Looklet or Polyvore and keeping that in mind on your next shopping trip. Buying one outfit that you really love and then slowly adding other pieces to it is a great way to start a new wardrobe from scratch.

The next step, in PART FIVE, will be to look at what you now need….

Photo by gail m tang