Before you buy any piece of clothing there are some questions you need to ask yourself to ensure that what you buy becomes a wardrobe workhorse.
Will it work for more than one season?
Some garments are for mid-summer or deep winter only, they may need to be in your wardrobe, but you don’t want a wardrobe full of them as they are limited if you live in an environment that has four seasons, but is generally more temperate than extreme, you want the majority of your wardrobe to be fairly trans-seasonal. This allows you to wear garments more, getting a better cost-per-wear per garment, so then it’s worthwhile investing more in a piece if you know you can wear it in spring and autumn as well as some of winter and summer.
Will it work for a variety of occasions?
Now the question to ask yourself is can you dress it up and dress it down? Can you wear it to work and out to dinner and out to a movie, lunch or shopping. The more versatile a garment is the more it becomes a great wardrobe workhorse and is worth spending your money on.
How many other pieces in my existing wardrobe can I wear it with?
So now, it may be a versatile piece but does it work with your existing wardrobe? If you need to go and buy a whole bunch of other garments to wear with it, then it’s not good value. Ideally you want any new piece to go with at least 3 to 5 other items you already own so it works as part of a capsule or you can get lots of wear from it.
Do I already own one just like it, wear it all the time and this one is similar but still different?
Now you have a favourite jacket and you wear it all the time and now you’ve found another jacket that has similar qualities to that favourite. Maybe it’s got a similar cut, comfortable fabric, makes you look slimmer and you love the colour and when you wear it you feel smart and feminine and that’s how you love to feel in your clothing. But it’s a different colour and pattern from the one that’s already in your wardrobe, and there a few different details so it doesn’t look like a copy just in a different colour. Well buy it if it also makes you feel smart and feminine too. If it’s another expression of your signature style then go for it.
Now remember not everything has to be like something you already own, but it can be a useful question to ask yourself, if you have pieces that you love and wear and wear and they make you feel great, then that can give you some understanding of what works for you and repeating some of those elements will bring another great item into your wardrobe that you will wear and wear, therefore worth the investment.
Do I already own one just like it that I wear all the time and this is very very similar?
Ok, so you may have found a fabulous new piece that is really similar to one you wear all the time, but we don’t need repeats in our wardrobe, particularly when they are just too much the same. Buying the ‘same garment’ in every colour it comes in won’t make you happy, you will wear the one in your favourite colour and the others will sit around being ignored in your wardrobe as you will find that you are bored if there is too much similarity between pieces, and nobody needs 2,3 5 or 20 replicas of essentially the same garment.
There is never any point in bringing another piece that is the ‘same’ into your wardrobe (unless you have to replace a favourite that is worn out and leaving your wardrobe). Having two pieces that same, and one that is 2nd best isn’t the best way to build a wardrobe.
I can definitly reconize myself in question three A few weeks ago, I found a pair of perfect fitting wool pants that fit my style perfectly, but they were hemmed too short because I have a too slim waist for that particulare store I found them at. I bought the pants and tryied them with all of my shoes existing wardrobe but only working with a combo I wasnt happy with (I wanted them for slight dressier occasions during the colder months, but that looked the way people pair oxfords with boyfriend jeans, not really what i had in mind), So I ended up returned them and later ordered a pair from one of my favorite website for half of their price. These were a bit too long but I have relatives who could fix the hemline so they will work with the shoes I had in mind.
A question about the 2nd question. I often hear people suggest that your should “asses your lifestyle”, but how would you build a wardrobe when you don’t have regulare activities?
For a couple of years Ive switching between school, staying home and internship. (Due to medical reasons, I dont have a “normal” worklife for a time and have a consulant who help me with my internships.) and where I live we dont have any strict dresscodes but even if I can almost dress however I want, there are some situations where my personal style and prefered clothing dont suit the occasion. (not toooo sure about wearing dresspants and pencil skirt when camping or wearing my everyday clothes to more special occasions).
I do have a selection of clothes for the more “less versatile” occasions, but sometimes, I can’t wear these clothes because there are not oppunities for it and some times, Im intrugied to buy some more “festive” clothing (like evening dresses) but because I cant indentify my lifestyle, I always get lost with my decision. Fortunetly I ve no issues with dressing up and down, but its those occasions that are more clothing specific I keep struggling with. :/
I find it helps to identify the first 3 occasions I will actually wear the item (and how), and if I didn’t wear this item what I would wear instead from my existing wardrobe. Often I realise I have something which will do equally well and I won’t actually wear it as often as I first thought.
I do try and buy clothes that I can wear in more than one season, however I live in Spain and it is very hot during the summer months so I need to buy specific items for summer. It’s not so difficult for the rest of the year as I can add layers to my spring and autumn outfits when it is winter, and have one winter coat and a thick jacket for particularly cold days.
This article is particularly timely, as I will be travelling to London next month with a shopping list!
I’ve started wearing some of my sleeveless summer dresses and tops with a thin thermal T shirt underneath (M&S or Uniglo). I sometimes wear a darker cardigan over both for warmth and to ‘tone down’ summer colours and patterns.