Is There a Process for Putting Stylish Outfits Together?


How do you put your outfits together each day?  What’s your process for getting dressed?

These are questions that Jill Chivers of Shop Your Wardrobe and I have been asked to discuss, our own processes (and we talked about choosing colours here), what we think about, what goes through our heads each day.

A Systematised Approach To Putting Outfits Together

Jill explains how her process has changed over time.  In the past she used dressing charts to ensure that she could dress stylishly and easily for her frequent business trips (for an example of this see my Weekly Outfit Planner and my Capsule Wardrobe Guide if you want to get an idea of how to do this).

Her process now is based around practical creativity, she almost always chooses one item and then bases her outfit around that item.  Jill tends to lay out her outfits the night before if she has something important to do the next day.   On other days, she may just decide that she wants to wear something (it may be an accessory or shoe) that she then builds her days outfit around.  Jill almost never changes her mind once she has an idea of what she’s going to wear as she feels attached to it.

Jill tweaks her outfits, a small adjustment to make the outfit work if something is not quite right, but never is there a ‘floordrobe’ of items that have been tried on and discarded as that would feel overwhelming and chaos in her head she couldn’t put an attractive outfit together under those kinds of circumstances.

Jill’s wardrobe is built around versions of the same thing. It’s an inch wide in styles and colours and a mile deep in options.  She has curated it over time, constantly refining her style over the years.  She has created her own formula for getting dressed and so each day is deciding which pieces of her formula she’ll put together to create her outfit.


Is There a Process for Putting Stylish Outfits Together?

The Inspiration Fairy Approach to Putting Outfits Together

For me, I have a different process, and in fact may change my mind on the entire outfit that I may have thought about the day before (after checking the weather, my diary and what I will be doing), as it just doesn’t feel right, in the way I had hoped it would feel when I thought about wearing it.

I’m waiting for a visit from the inspiration fairy.  I need to put on an outfit that feels mentally right for me that day, so even though my clothes are physically comfortable, they also have to suit my mental mood of the day as well, and that’s not something that is easy to define, but I know it when I feel it.

Matching up an indefinable mood can be tricky, but when I hit it I know it, which is why I will try on and discard items until I hit that match (it’s kind of like the feeling when you hit the jackpot on a fruit machine and all the fruits align).

I like to challenge myself to regularly to create new outfits from all my existing clothing, rather than just wear tried and true combinations.  Inside my head I may think two things will work together, but sometimes the physical reality is not successful and so that outfit idea is discarded.

Then there are the fat days, when the outfit isn’t making me feel good and so then I will want to change and put on something that does make me feel physically attractive.

It can feel like I have a foggy picture in my head that isn’t coming to fruition in the physical world when my outfit idea isn’t working.

When an outfit is not right it becomes a big distraction for me, so much that I can’t think clearly or creatively when I don’t feel right, which is why for me changing my outfit into something that does feel right is worth doing..

My wardrobe is more eclectic than Jill’s, some days I dress dramatic, other days creative, sometimes more classic, and then others feminine or relaxed.  So until I figure out exactly what I’m feeling or want to feel that daI, i can’t pull the right outfit together.

If I strike upon an outfit that I really like, and nobody got to see it that day, I will often wear the same outfit the following day.  This is something that Jill find’s as an idea, something she’d never do.

So there you have it.  A little bit more about how we think about getting dressed each day.  Whether it’s building an outfit around a certain item, or waiting for a feeling and mood to strike and be revealed in clothing form, two very different processes.

The Processes We Both Follow

What both Jill and I do know, is that our wardrobes are full of clothes that work for our figures and colouring, and are an expression of our style recipes.  This work we have done over time and there are thousands of blog posts here to help you get that information, and if you want to know more about what really suits you both physically  – body shape, colouring – and mentally – personality dressing style, then do consider doing my 7 Steps to Style program which will walk you through the “what to wear” to flatter you and help you dig so much deeper into discovering your most fabulous style.

We’d love to know what you think about when putting outfits together? Are you more process driven like Jill, or waiting for a visit from the inspiration fairy like me?

Jill and I also share our thought processes as we get dressed here, we let you know why we chose what we chose in each outfit.

More Tips on Creating Fabulous Outfits

Getting Inside Our Heads with a Step by Step Guide to Putting Outfits Together


Your Ultimate Guide to Creating Wardrobe Capsules

Before You Throw It All Out for a Minimalist Wardrobe Read This

W is for Wardrobe Capsule

This is How to Put Together a Fabulous Outfit In Minutes

How Many Clothes Do You Need in Your Wardrobe?

Bored with Your Style? 5 Solutions to Have You Looking and Feeling Great Again

What’s The One Thing You Must Do to Be Stylish

What Are the Patterns in Your Wardrobe?



I'm not sure if it's for you but how would you feel if you learned all about the colours and styles of clothing that suit your individual personality, shape and style? Just imagine what it would be like when you can open your wardrobe and pull together fabulous outfits that make you look and feel amazing every day? If you'd like to stop wasting money on the wrong clothes and accessories plus join an amazing bunch of very special women also on their style journey - then my 7 Steps to Style program is right for you. Find out more here.

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  • Really interesting- and funny how such a fundamental thing can be SO different, person to person! (And Jill, you look amazing in that necklace!)

    For me- inspiration fairy hits it exactly right, I can never plan ahead- as well as fit. I cannot function if something is binding or pinching or sitting weird. And just normal human variability on that front means my favorite thing last week now feels like torture!

    And some weeks I’m all about necklaces and some weeks even the barest weight of the metal around my neck is bothersome and it means I have to wear a soft scarf instead.

    Now if I could just start hanging things back up when they don’t work! Damn you, floordrobe!

  • I’m an inspiration person. The clothes have to fit the occasion, fit me, and fit my mood. If it doesn’t work, I feel “off” all day and just can’t concentrate properly. My husband just doesn’t understand as he chooses his outfit -the night before and sticks with it–no problem. I envy that simple approach. Much easier than having to re-hang all my discards.

  • I have two dressing modes: 1) anonymous (at home in front of computer all day – it’s all about comfort; when it’s time to get dressed, 30 seconds to decide) & 2) public (family dinner, dr.’s appts. – make an effort. 5 minutes tops to decide with multiple days of unproductive worry beforehand). Like Jill, I would be horrified to have a floordrobe, and like Imogen, I will wear an outfit on consecutive days and often do. I do not care to generate mounds of laundry just to look different every day, but EYS has helped me multiply my go-to #2 options by learning the great use value of accessories.
    This is my all time favorite video from you two. When I asked the question in EYS I did not expect that your thought processes would be so different -so this was so enlightening & personal at the same time.

    • Thank Cheri – it was a fascinating topic for Jill and I to chat about – we didn’t realise we had such different processes til we started talking about it! Look out for today’s blog post too which is a continuation of this topic.

  • I definitely follow Jill’s method if I have to pack around an event or have to work outside the home the next day. On days when I’m not working, I choose color and texture that feels right for the particular mood I’m in. Unfortunately, once a month I usually have floordrobe as nothing feels right..

  • ROFL “inspiration fairy”! Imogen that is a fabulous term! and pretty it much describes how am am operating this last 12 months.
    Due to weight gain, I’ve had to cull out quite a lot of wardrobe items and had to buy new ones .For example, for this recent (Australian) summer I bought 9 new garments. I also culled accessories, and bought 2 new pairs of shoes, 1 hat and 1 bag.
    For me, that’s a helluva lot of new items to incorporate with what I already have, just for one season . I haven’t had time to try on all the combinations before wearing them. So I don’t yet feel like I “know” my new wardrobe yet, i.e. all its possible combinations; whereas I “knew” my previous wardrobe, which had been created more slowly.
    I really like Jill’s approach and I’ve used it in the past – but as I’m still developing outfit formulas that work for my new body shape, I expect I’ll be doing the “inspiration fairy” approach for a while yet.

  • OMG! My dressing process is so much like Imogen’s, I found myself shaking my head yes throughout her description. It can be frustrating & exhausting. Sometimes I wear a less than perfect outfit because I run out of time or I get exhausted and I have to get out the door & to work. The piles of clothes everywhere aren’t much fun putting away either! I wish I could be more like Jill – and I have tried but I just can’t. If it doesn’t feel right that day & I had planned to wear the day before – I just can’t.

  • I’m totally with you Imogen! If it doesn’t feel right that day, it has to be changed or I don’t feel right all day. I have a superb floordrobe. Great video x

  • I lean more towards Jill’s method and I really like her idea of ‘creative practicality’. My wardrobe rule is to wear everything in it, so I will have a ‘tops’ session (however long it takes to cycle through the whole collection); a ‘jacket’/’trousers’, etc. session. I put my clothes back into the closet; they only go in the laundry when needed. I’ve recently culled my scarf collection, finding out which aren’t practical for either making an outfit or comfortably wearing all day. I’m now working my way through an enormous collection of costume jewellery I inherited. I’m doing a lot of silver polishing and discovering some beauty, but a fair amount doesn’t suit me at all and will be sold or donated. I thought I combined my clothes fairly fluently, but starting with a necklace has made me put together outfits I never considered before, so it is a very satisfying project.

  • You two seem to have a ball making these videos and l love it when l find your post contains one. Who would guess that you have such a different approach but both come out looking great. I don’t spend a lot of time on any one day deciding what to wear. When l swap out the new seasons clothes l spend some time working on combinations. That way l identify the gaps and what l need to fill them. When l purchase new things l try them out soon after with the things l have mentally paired them with at the shop. This is time consuming at the time but then l have a number of baseline outfits for the season. I then choose on the basis of what l am doing and the weather, generally l choose the night before, I will tweak a bit on the day usually changing accessories but it is rare l will abandon an entire outfit. I wear a uniform to work so it is just my non work wardrobe that l get to have fun with. The days l do the trying on bit l endeavour to do it home alone. I do my hair, makeup and will take selfies to look back on.

  • I am a little of both. I like to plan outfits and sometimes I will lay them out on Sunday nights for the entire week or the night before. I never have enough time in the morning as I am not a morning person, so having my outfits planned helps me get ready faster and look well put together with minimum effort that morning. But I can also identify with the “inspiration fairy”. Even though I plan my outfits, it will take me hours and a lot of ‘floorrobe’ to get to what I want to wear. It has to fit my mood that week. I don’t feel like wearing the same thing every week, but I want the ‘inspiration fairy’ to hit me. So I will try dozens of combinations until I hit on the ones I want to wear that week. However, unlike Jill, I have been known to completely discard entire outfits that took me hours to combine on Sunday, that morning in favor of an entirely different outfit. At the end of the week I always have outfits that have not been worn still hanging on my closet door.

  • I am definitely more like you Imogen, I wish I was more like Jill, but I also live in Victoria where the weather is more unpredictable. If my original idea doesn’t work, then I will try an alternative top, if that doesn’t work, I will scrap the idea and find another outfit. Mind you my wardrobe is very far from the tamed ones you have. I haven’t got a mix and match wardrobe yet, but I love the idea.
    Thank you both for sharing your processes.

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