We’ve all occasionally (or daily!) struggled with that feeling that we have nothing to wear, and this week, we’ve covered some strategies for creating a workable wardrobe, from starting with the essentials to shopping in your own closet. And today, I continue this conversation by tackling some of your questions. But first, a few basics.
3 Steps to Preventing “Nothing to Wear” Syndrome
1. Curb Your Enthusiasm
Try to refrain from too many impulse buys. Except for dresses and shoes. A girl can always use more dresses and shoes, and generally the only thing they need to make an outfit is each other and a piece of jewelry. But for all separates, stop before you buy and ask yourself it the item will play well with other pieces in your closet. Ideally, you want it to match with 2-3 other pieces to create a handful of unique looks. If not, and you must have it, then don’t leave the store without something to wear it with.
2. Keep the Tags On
Once you bring the item home, immediately pair it up with a couple of other items and take a picture to save on your phone, or make a note in an outfit planner. And then leave the tags on until you wear the item. We all like to wear our new stuff, so if weeks pass and you haven’t worn the item (and it’s in season), take it back.
3. If you can’t see it…
You won’t wear it. Except for the very basics, like solid color tanks and tees, try to display most items in your closet where you can see them, or use a closet cataloging app, like Stylebook. That way, you can see what you have and expand your wardrobe options.
4 Frequently Asked Questions
1. How do you avoid wearing the same 5 items, over and over again?
This is such a common dilemma that it deserved a spot at the top of the list. Some studies show that most women only wear about 10% of their wardrobes. There are generally 3 reasons why you don’t wear something:
1. You don’t love it.
2. It doesn’t fit.
3. You don’t know how to wear it.
If the problem is #1 and #2, let it go. Here, some ideas to do just that. If you love it, and it doesn’t fit, drop it in an alteration pile now. Or let it go. But if it’s #3, commit to finding a friend for it in your closet. If you have stocked up on the fashion essentials, it shouldn’t be too challenging, but if you’re still stumped, consider the following options.
A. Find a Friend For Your Orphans: Toss all your wardrobe orphans (items that are not currently paired up with anything in your closet) onto the bed, and see if you can make matches. Highly unscientific, but some of my most inspired outfits have come about this way.
B. Google It: Do a Google image search on the item in question, followed by the word “outfit”. For example, floral silk blouse + outfit. You should get tons of ideas that work with items you already own.
C. Decide What’s Missing: If you know that the item really needs a full black skirt, or a printed pair of shorts, add that to a running shopping list, and if you can find other items that work with that piece, then buy it.
Now that you’ve worked this orphan into an outfit, hang the pieces together, just for the first couple of times, so that it’s easy and effortless to grab it when it’s time to get dressed. Repeat this process (lose it, alter it, or find it a mate) you should have a whole closet full of workable options. Now, hang all of your clothes with the hanger facing the wrong way. As you wear an item or an outfit, hang it back with the hanger in the right direction. After 3 months, you will be able to clearly see the items you’ve worn, and those you haven’t worn. Move those items to the front of the closet, and if they still don’t get worn, it might be time to move on.
Outfit planning is also critical to making sure you break out of the same-five-pieces rut and use more of your wardrobe. Each week, maybe on a Sunday night, spend 10-15 minutes assembling outfits for the week and hanging them on your valet rod, or in another specific spot in your closet. Line up the 5 outfits for the 5 days, and you’l be set for the week. You can also put the worn item in the back of the section that it belongs in, and grab outfits from the front, provided they are season-appropriate, so that everything is in rotation. Whenever you create a cute outfit, document it so that you can replicate it later.
2. What are some stylish warm weather outfit ideas?
Hot weather brings with it a unique set of challenges. It can be daunting to find comfortable outfits that defy the heat and won’t wilt or wrinkle. The key is to start with simple, comfortable shapes in lightweight knits, slinky jerseys and washable silks. Steer clear of stifling synthetics, heavy denim and linen – which will always appear rumpled by the end of a long day. Read on for more ideas.
Everyday Casual Outfit Formulas
For a casual day of errands, carpools and playdates, you’ll want comfortable, stylish pieces that will hold up through it all.
1. Dress + Denim Jacket + Flat Sandals
A denim jacket provides needed coverage when the air conditioning is blasting.
2. Dress + Sandals + Crossbody
A light airy dress, open sandals, and fun crossbody bag make this look pretty and practical for a day out with the kids.
3. Black Shorts + Silky Floral Cami + Black Jacket
The black jacket is for coverage and warmth when needed, or lose it for a breezier look. The gold accessories tie this look together.
Business Casual Outfit Ideas
For a full day that involves meetings in heavily air-conditioned room and errands in the sweltering heat, you’ll require an outfit that can transition between both. Bonus points if it doesn’t require ironing! Lose the jacket or a day of running around with the kids, and then slip it on for an evening meeting.
1. Knit Dress + Black Jacket + Leopard Shoes
2. Printed cami + Black pants + Colored blazer
$30 – uniqlo.com
$72 – neimanmarcus.com
3. Pretty Dress + Black Cardigan + Feminine Flats
3. How do I pull together outfits when I have no time?
A common problem, the short answer to this is planning, developing a uniform, and investing in carefree fabrics.
1. Don’t Reinvent the Wheel
The philosophy behind the fashion essentials is effortless fashion. It’s a system designed to help you look great every day, with little thought and planning. If you own and use the 10 essentials, your wardrobe will just work. Using the essentials as a base, develop a few of your own uniforms. Maybe, for example, a playdate always involves skinny dark jeans, a white tee, a black jacket and funky accessories. Or work could always involve a pretty dress, a cardigan and pumps. You do not have to completely recreate yourself and your look every single time you leave the house. If you find an outfit, or a formula, that works for you, stick with it for a while. It will become your signature style, and give you the confidence in knowing that you look your best every day. This is something that French women do so well. They find a look that works for them, and they wear a variation on it, often for the rest of their lives. Knowing yourself is the epitome of chic.
2. Plan a Little
Sometimes, the few minutes of time on a Sunday afternoon to put together outfits for the week just doesn’t happen. Take the time when you can get it, whether it is the first few minutes after the kids are in bed, or a stolen 5 minutes in the morning before they get up, and plan out a couple of days worth of outfits. If you notice that you’re consistently reaching for a basic that you don’t have (and after stocking up on the fashion essentials, this should be less of a problem), keep a running list, and then hop onto Amazon and fill in the gaps in one quick, easy online shopping trip. If you don’t have time to shop at this stage in your life, be honest with yourself, and take advantage of stores with free shipping.
3. Adopt a Signature
Knowing what looks good on you (see #1) and consciously selecting it isn’t the same thing as a rut, because the effect is one of a signature look, and not someone who has lost touch. The key is to revisit it every couple of years and tweak where needed. If you know that red lips and gold jewelry always work for you, make them your signature, and you have one less thing to think about when getting dressed or going shopping.
4. Invest in Knits
Spend less time caring for your clothes and more time wearing them, by selecting pieces in high quality knit fabrics that don’t wrinkle, wear well, and require little maintenance. A silky jersey dress, for example, can be machine washed and hung to dry. So easy.
5. Declutter Your Closet
Often half the time we could spend getting dressed is taken up in sifting through clothes that no longer fit or that we no longer like. If you don’t have time for a full overhaul, keep a bin handy for tossing in rejects as you discover them, and then donate or consign when the bin is full.
6. Take Style Selfies
Every time you put together a cute outfit, take a quick selfie with your phone. Soon, you’ll have a selection of go-to looks for work, weekend, etc. After you’ve assembled several looks, you can use a calendar to map out your outfits and keep everything in rotation, if you’re so inclined, or just put freshly worn outfits to the back of the closet and use that as your rotation system.
7. Hang Outfits Together
I usually recommend hanging pieces separately, as it gives you more options, but the last thing we need when we are pressed for time is options. Create outfits that work, hang everything together (accessories too, if possible), and you’ll be able to get out the door in minutes.
4. How do I look casual and comfortable without appearing sloppy?
There are a few key details that separate a chic casual look from a sloppy one. Let’s examine them.
1. Fit is Critical
A tee and pants can look sleek and sophisticated, casual and fun, or sloppy and lazy. Often, the difference is in the fit. Use bagginess in moderation. For example, a slouchy silk shirt and baggy pants looks sloppy, but pair that same shirt with slim pants and the effect is completely different. Now we know that slouchy can often equal sloppy, but ill-fitting clothes of any kind bring down your look, from gaping buttons on a shirt to pants that are too short or too long.
2. Details, details
Besides fit, quality is another key detail. Spend the bulk of your budget on better quality pieces that hold up and wash well. Faded and stretched out clothes are almost as bad as wearing something with holes or stains. Pick casual pieces with some style. For example, a simple top with an exposed zipper, pretty neckline or subtle ruching will always look a little dressier than that same top sans details.
Simple, casual pieces combined with pretty accessories is part of what makes the fashion essentials so foolproof. Jeans and a tee look chic with the addition of a gold cuff and leopard flats. Invest in some key accessories and wear them with everything. They will become your signature and upgrade everything you wear.
4. Focus on the Shoes and Bag
A casual outfit with a great bag and beautiful shoes is instantly more stylish.
5. Say Yes to the Casual Dress
A knit dress is comfortable, totally effortless and, if it fits and flatters, will never appear sloppy.
Here, 3 examples of stylish, easy casual outfit formulas.
1. Message tee + Dark Jeans + Cool sneakers
2. Skinny Joggers + Striped Tee + Colorful Kicks
$19 – uniqlo.com
$43 – kurtgeiger.com
3. Easy Dress + Pretty Flats + Crossbody
If you only remember one thing (okay, two), let it be this: Outfit formulas (your own personal go-to looks) are the key to a workable wardrobe, and accessories are critical to elevating an everyday look into an exceptional one. I hope the ideas this week have simplified the daily challenge of getting dressed! I’d love to hear your thoughts!