In part 2 of this series on 6 brilliant strategies to creating the perfect wardrobe I’ll be looking at three of the strategies you really need to consider, both for what you currently own in your wardrobe, plus things to consider before you make any new purchases to add to your closet.
What is the perfect wardrobe? Well, everything in it fits you (covered in part 1 which you can read here), and has the following qualities sorted too, read on …
Is it good quality?
Quality is more than price. You need to consider the quality of the fabric and the construction as well as the fit (here I’m talking fit of the garment on your body). A high quality garment will look better and make you look higher quality (so if you’re going for a promotion, this helps as it says you value yourself and others should too, and so they should pay you more!).
Fabric is one of the key considerations to quality. A good quality fabric will last much longer and look better when worn. Fabrics made from acrylic (or any acrylic content) are just not worth the money. They pill really quickly and look worn and old so fast (I’ve seen jumpers/sweaters in my clients closet and when I’ve said that it looked old and worn they replied “but I’ve only had it for 3 weeks”. Be warned!
Look for good quality fabrics, whether natural fibres like cotton (make sure the weave is closer together and from a finer thread), to wool (you want to look for merino wool as it has a longer fibre which won’t pill quickly and also won’t be scratchy like cheap wool with short fibres will be).
Is the garment well constructed? What do the seams look like? Is there top stitching? Does it look even and neat or shoddy? Are the hems hemmed with a blind hem (you can’t see the sewing on the outside) or not? Are there threads hanging off? Are the buttons well attached? Is it lined? Are the seams all holding together or are they starting to unravel?
Consider all the elements of construction when purchasing a garment or deciding whether or not your current clothes need repair or is it time to let them go.
If it has been in your wardrobe for a while what is it’s current condition? Does it look almost new or like you’ve been wearing it for some time? Is the colour fresh or faded? Is it pilled (you know those little balls that appear under your arms and on sleeves, anywhere that fabric rubs)?
Anything that looks past its prime, will make you look older, sloppy and give the message that you don’t value yourself, or are lazy.
Discover more tips on quality here.
3. Current or Modern
Unless you are vintage maven, I’d suggest that you want your wardrobe to look current and modern.
Looking youthful is very different to trying to look young.
Current means that you are not dated. That your ideas, outfits and life are not stuck in a time warp.
In this fast paced, ever changing world in which we reside, particularly if you work for “the man” you need to be aware that communicating that you are keeping up with all this change is a very positive attribute (and yes I know it’s super hard to do so!).
What’s the difference between a fad, trend or classic?
There are fads that last a season or maybe two at most. They are generally not a shape or colour that is flattering to a wider portion of the population.
There are trends which last 2-5 years in fashion.
There are classics that last up to 10 years. But classics still change. The blazer shape of the 1980s was not the blazer of the 1990s nor is it the blazer shape today. Subtle changes sometimes, but still enough that draw attention to the age of the garments.
When you look at these jackets from the 1980s through the 1990s what do you notice changes? 1980s jackets were often double breasted, had huge shoulder pads and where low hip level and boxy in shape.
In the 1990s the shoulders were no longer padded but the longer length remained common and patch pockets were a frequent feature.
By 2010 the classic jacket of the day was shorter to around the high hip. Definitely fitted through the waist (even if it didn’t have a peplum) and was most commonly single-breasted. So if you’re not sure, read this post on Signs it’s Time to Let it Go – which has a few more tips to help you decide.
I’ve mentioned fabric earlier today, but apart from natural fibres, any of the man-made fabrics will change over time. Early synthetics look very different to the synthetics of today. The fabric alone can date a garment and make it look out of fashion.
More tips on picking what is a fad vs a classic here.
4. Your Personality
Is it Still You?
When you look at garments that may have been favourites (which is why you’re hanging onto them) please ask yourself “Is it still me?”
Sometimes we hold onto things for the memories, as if they will disappear if we no longer own the “thing” to which we attach them. Fortunately we do retain the memories, so you can let the garment go if it’s no longer serving you in the way you want.
We all grow and change. Our personalities change over time. Just because we loved it at one time of our life doesn’t mean we still have to love it the same way. If you look at a garment now, even if you’ve loved wearing it in the past, can you see yourself wearing it again today or tomorrow (weather and occasion permitting of course)?
You can also get into a habit of purchasing clothes like the ones you already own, and maybe they no longer really express who you are today? It’s definitely worthwhile every few years revisiting who you are as a person and how you want to be perceived. What is the message you want to communicate to the world about who you are today? What are your values? How are you expressing the authentic you through the medium of your outfits and accessories? (This is something I cover in detail in my 7 Steps to Style program if you want some assistance with decoding clothing 😀 ).
Ideally your wardrobe is going to be full of only clothes that you love and love your right back.
Marvelous read Imogen –
As time goes by I have been getting pickier in my choices.
However, I have to admit that I often keep garments for the memories – but you are so right, the memories stay.
Lovely post. I think it’s very important to look at your closet in a serious way, instead of just buying a bunch of random things and throwing it in there. Actually scrutinizing what you have helps you to shop smart. Loved all the tips here. Thank you!
Thanks – so many people buy the same garments over and over as they don’t realise what they already have. It’s important to know what you have before you shop for what you need.
Thank you so much for pointing out that it is the acrylic content that is keeping me from enjoying sweaters. I love cardigans but find they look pilled and over worn so quickly! Only cotton or wool sweaters for me from now on, and now I can enjoy them again. After I read this post, I looked up a dress cardigan I had been eyeing on LandsEnd.com, found it is made of 100% cotton and it was on sale for the same price as my previous (acrylic-containing) cardigan. So you have added value to my wardrobe choices and again I thank you!
I also love that you used sewing pattern illustrations to show how styles change over time!
Dear Imogen ,
I want to know how to face a clothing SOS (save our sartorial) I faced a visual distress signal.
I am a cool person,with low colors and high contrast,a balanced short waist-ed,proportionate petite, I am a combination of H,A ,V and 8(small busted,broad shoulders,mild saddle bags, high broad hip bone(long rise),and no waist definition and to top them all up I have a little muffin top)
Scenario 1 :I wanted to buy a jacket and loved the fabric,the fit and the structure were flattering,the pattern and the color were looking great on me,the drape and texture were right BUT it had a wide lapel on it .
Scenario 2: I came across a beautiful dress and it was patterned small scale with dolmen sleeves and diagonal pleating on the neckline and knee length,BUT it had a waist belt inserted within the dress like pull up strings .
In both scenario’s I got stuck, How could I determine and make a choice here,I understand one must try things out to find that perfect state of balance that accentuate ones own-self.How can I still work them out specially when it is online .Could you please share your experience on decision making at times of SOS.
Scenario 1 – you can have the lapel made smaller
Scenario 2 – could you replace the string belt with a proper leather belt?
Dear Imogen ,
You are Brilliant !
Now I know a personal stylist can not just personalize style BUT also personify the style themselves.
You are a woman with a double edged-fashion sense !
P.s. I love you and your marvelous work,I love you for who you are and your personality shows up all over this space inside out.
Thanks so much Tintu! There is so much more to style than just wearing the latest fashion and it’s something everyone can learn.
LOVE that you’ve used the sewing patterns! A big thank you for that! I’ve got a huge collection of patterns, that I need to sort through and this post helped immensely. You’re a star Imogen, you are not only adding value to our lives by getting us dressed properly, but you also add value in so many other areas – thank you!
I found that where I have a special memory attached to an item, it helps to take a photo of it – then it is easy to let the actual item go – knowing that I still “have it”, but that it is now only taking up less space, since it is now digital. 😉 And yes, I often flick through my “nostalgia” folder – seeing all my things that I lov and which still gives me joy, but which doesn’t clutter my life anymore.
Thanks Summerdays – really appreciate your comment. I love that you understand that memories don’t disappear just because the thing is gone!