How to Find the Holes in Your Wardrobe

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Yesterday we talked about giving your wardrobe a good purge. Until you’ve done this stage it’s impossible to work out what you do and don’t have, and if you really do have nothing to wear.

Firstly, if your favourites are still wearable, but starting to wear out – put them on your shopping list to start looking for replacements NOW rather than wait until it’s too late!

If something is a light colour, but getting stained can it be dyed a darker colour to give it a new lease of life?

Does anything need to be altered to make it work? I often will help clients pin up hemlines to a more flattering length, change the shape of sleeves, add darts to create shaping – there are all sorts of alteration options available to increase the lifespan and wearability of a garment.

Once you’ve done this, you can start to create outfits, work out wardrobe capsules and see what you need to buy to make your wardrobe work more effectively.

Why not pull out your favourite pants or skirt, then start trying on tops with it – go through all your tops and see if they work with the bottom you’ve chosen, then layer up – if it’s cold can you add another layer or two? Which layers work best together?

Each time you’ve worked out an outfit – either take a photo of yourself in it, or lay a white sheet over your bed and photograph the outfit – for example below are some photos I took for a client who didn’t know what tops to wear with her brown jacket. You can also add jewellery, belts, shoes and bags to these photos too.

Once you’re figured out what works with what and created outfits, you may notice that you can’t layer some pieces and that you need to purchase a jacket, cardigan or sweater to give you these options.
If you have a patterend skirt, you might look at purchasing other tops that pick out colours in the skirt to create more outfit options. Look for colours that will work with a variety of other garments in your wardrobe to get the full benefit.
After you’ve sorted through your clothes, put them back in your wardrobe with clothing categories (pants, skirts, jackets etc.) the same, then each in colour groupings – I like to work my way through the rainbow starting at white and working through to black, then it’s easy to see if you’re very dominant in one colour group, and what other colours you could consider looking for to make your wardrobe more exciting.
If you have still got wire hangers in your closet – get rid of them and replace them with either a wooden or plastic hanger that won’t wreck your clothing. Having all hangers the same size and shape will help you see what is in your wardrobe more easily as they hang at the same height, plus you get that ’boutique’ feel.
Now you have a wardrobe shopping list – take this with you every time you shop – you won’t necessarily find what you want the first time, but if it’s on your list it will focus you on what you need.
Also, keep a pen and paper handy in your wardrobe to keep creating your wardrobe shopping list – every time you get dressed and think “I wish I had a xxxx” write that garment down, and you know that it will fill and important hole in your wardrobe.
What I notice most, is that most people find some clothes easy to buy and others difficult – the holes tend to be what they find hardest. What do you find easy and hard to buy?

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21 Comments

  • I'm good at buying sweaters. Bad at pants. Bad at buying anything cheap. Don't know why. But this is a great thing to think about.

  • A reply for yesterday: I really do have a problem with compliments; am trying hard to learn to accept them.. I too am bad at buying anything reduced or cheap. I get too suspicious about the quality. It is one of the reasons, I play it safe and buy reliable ( ? ) brands. Going out to search for something `specific´, is difficult for me. I mostly end up having bought something totally different. To avoid this, I try to keep the basics ready in my closet.

  • Wendy – and I love the new neckline on your graffiti dress too!

    SPC – pants can be VERY hard to buy – I often suggest my clients have them made by a tailor.

    Metscan – specific is often hard – the shopping gods have to be smiling on us! And your homework is just to say 'thank you' and accept it.

  • That really will help me when I tackle my wardrobe next weekend, thank you!
    Eventhough I usually do excactly what you said, I never took it as far as really photographing my outfits or writing a list for missing items. Will certainly do that this time.

    What I find hardest to buy are dresses and pants. In dresses, I usually think that I just don't have the body to pull them off (which I know is ridiculous, there is a dress for every body…but it's a mind thing!), and with pants, it's always the same. Either they don't fit, or they fit but have horrible design details like a really unfortunate washing (the ones I bought lately, for example. They have those horrible horizontal "stripes" at the crease, but I needed some new jeans and quickly, thus I still bought them. They are a great fit but I know the wash bothers me and I'll replace them as soon as I found the perfect jean).

  • Thoughts in the City – how about getting a packet of navy dye and dying your jeans to get rid of the distressing at the crotch (yep, I hate that too!). Even if it doesn't disappear entirely, it will make it way less noticeable.

    Pants are hard to buy for any woman who is not an I shape!

  • Yes, I'm good at buying tops – EASY, but dreadful at buying skirts and trousers, they fit at the hips and GAPE at the waist. I love the way some people pull their 'look' together, and have to realise they are a different shape to me and have different colouring.

  • I love the idea of colour coding your wardrobe to see what colours you have too many of or too little of.

    Great Post incredibly helpful!

  • so very helpful!! i'll be trying the photos as i work to get my wardrobe (such a big thought for the clothes i wear) under control. thanks.

  • I've been on the hunt for a pair of dark brown trousers to wear with some of my favorite jackets since the dawn of time. Still looking for that perfect pair.

  • Shoes! Forever searching for really good flats/low heels. Formal evening – wear so infrequently I panic.

    Often an alteration is not that pleasing. Now I just bit the bullet and donate or pitch.

    Wire hangers are evil!

  • I struggle to buy shoes, mainly because ones I think are comfortable in the store never are, and then I get mad at the money wasted! I really do need to get some new ones for Fall.

    But I have difficulty buying pants, too – that gaping waist is a perennial problem.

  • I'm bad at spending money on things- and finding really nice shoes.

    But I'm good at finding a bargain and shopping for purses, clothing, and scarves.

  • MaryKathleen – sounds like you need to accept that you need to alter the waistband of all skirts and trousers – don't expect them to fit and just factor the cost of the alteration into the cost of the garment.

    Nettychan – thanks – plus it looks prettier!

    Down the Garden Path – it's one of many options – some like a spreadsheet, but I prefer photos!

    Deja – have some tailored for you!

    Struggler – yes shoes are often very difficult – I have a rule that if the shoe feels even slightly uncomfortable in the shop I don't buy it. Sounds like you need to get into the habit of expecting alterations too!

    Luinae – we all have our strengths and weaknesses!

  • Lower part clothes are hard for me to buy.: Pants, skirts… I have wide hips and need wide flare pantsand skirts. The only ones I wore a lot where black. I am a painter and love color, but am a low contrast ( white skin ginger hair, light eyebrows).I find always wearing a black pant or skirt limitating. Good dresses are my dream! There I can have the color flowing down. Can wear white dress when I'd never put on white pants! A fiftie's dress, that is very close fiting on my chest and rib cage, and then lots of fabric nicely moving while while I walk. I'd wear it every day, with boots, flats of flip flops. I found a few! They are gorgeous but mostly color and playfull. I'd need to find one or two in neutrals, clear brow, green, blue, dark lavender… But then what about when I go fishing or walking in the mountain? Pants are a modern woman must have I guess!

  • I am very specifically good at buying black cardigans. It's getting ridiculous in my closet.

    I'm bad at buying pants because they are too difficult to find (fit and length wise) and I hate spending so much time trying them on and feeling miserable about how I look in them.

    I'm excellent at buying shoes and handbags. Far too excellent!

  • Sweaters in yummy colors are always something I'm prone to buy. Funny, because I don't need that many sweaters since I live in a climate that's hot from March thru November!

    I should really buy more accesories (jewelry esp necklaces, scarves, something to "finish" my look) but it's often an afterthought and I rarely shop specifically for them.

    Imogene, when I buy an important non-neutral piece (jacket or statement blouse, for instance), should I also go ahead and buy items that would "go" with it right then and there? I make sure what I buy already goes with at least 2 or 3 things I already own, but I'm wondering, because often the designer will have pieces that accompany what I've purchased that are perfect color matches, and if I wait until next season to buy say, a skirt to go with the blouse, it's much more difficult to get the colors that "go" or complement perfectly.

    The reason I may not buy several pieces at one time is that I sometimes get buyers remorse for having splurged on that statement piece so I'm reluctant to pile on another purchase if I already have something to wear with it at home.

    But then I'll sometimes regret not getting the other pieces made by that designer that season that were made to be worn as part of a capsule/collection!

  • oh, somehow I missed your comment completely. maybe that really is a good chance to make the jeans even more wearable. I really like it alot but this distressing…horrible.

    I might try that! If I do, I'll definitely report. Thanks for the hint!

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