In this podcast with Jill Chivers of 16 Style Types we discuss strategies to building a wardrobe – whether you’re a new graduate from university and need to build a work wardrobe, you’ve moved industries and the dress code is different, or you’ve gone from the workforce to either bring up your kids or retire, you’ve moved to a whole new environment, your weight has changed significantly and nothing you currently own fits properly. Whatever the reason, these changes in life mean that your current wardrobe may not be working for you and you need to build a whole new wardrobe – and you want to make great decisions and for it to be stylish as well as working for your lifestyle.
Where do You Start in Building a New and Stylish Wardrobe?
1. Do you start with the heroes or start with the basics?
When I’m in a wardrobe and I’m helping someone create new outfits, I start with a hero and look for which basics work with it to create a variety of different outfits.
This is where a colour palette is so useful, as you’ll want to build your wardrobe around colours that flatter, plus when you’re choosing new items using this palette, you’ll find that you easily find many ways of putting together different pieces as the colours work harmoniously together easily as they have colour properties that align. This makes creating a wardrobe capsule really easy.
Once you’ve worked with one hero and the basics you own (try downloading my wardrobe capsule guide to help you find all your possible outfit options), then take a second hero garment and do the same again, using your existing basics.
This process will assist you in discovering your gaps and holes, the things you need to shop for, to build your wardrobe.
2. What do you love?
A more organic way of creating a wardrobe can revolve around this question.
What do you love?
Find pieces that you love (and don’t buy “it’ll do” items as you’re building your wardrobe), and then use these to create outfits around.
You may find that you just create a series of outfits (rather than a wardrobe capsule) if you work with this concept.
3. Does it bring you joy?
Your basics need to still give you some joy (I’ve talked about the concept of interesting basics before here). Even your basics need to be garments you enjoy wearing, so don’t settle for not quite right.
Look at your existing favourite items (basics or heroes) and note down what you love about them. This information can really help you make better purchasing decisions for anything new that you bring into your wardrobe.
4. Have an understanding of how your wardrobe works together
No piece in your wardrobe exists in a vacuum. How does each piece work in the collective of your wardrobe as a whole? This is part of the value of knowing your ideal colour palette (as immediately you’ll see your wardrobe is harmonious in its colours working easily together – and if you’re not sure of your colours – you can find out with my 7 Steps to Style program).
Have you thought of creating a style book of your favourite items or using a style or wardrobing app that can help you see how all your existing pieces work and how they can work together?
Doing this can help you see what they have in common – such as details in construction, colours, shapes or elements of design.
Get Your Free Tools to Help You Build a New Wardrobe
Along with my Wardrobe Capsule download, I’d also recommend getting my Weekly Outfit Planner as this too can help you define what you have and what you need to look for to build your new wardrobe. And if you’re building a new wardrobe because your body shape has changed – do my Body Shape Calculator Quiz and grab your Body Shape Bible (or just join 7 Steps to Style and I’ll happily give you my professional opinion on your shape along with your colours).
We’d love to know if you’ve had to rebuild your wardrobe what did you start with? Heroes or supporting acts? How did your lifestyle impact on the approach you took?
More Tips to Help You Build a Stylish New Wardrobe of Clothes
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6 Brilliant Strategies to Creating the Perfect Wardrobe Part 1
I have started a new job as receptionist for a large corporation. I feel that I need an upgrade, moving from an admin post into a very public role. My issue is with the temperature in my reception lobby. The boardrooms that ring the floor are glass from floor to ceiling and in the Canadian climate, they’re COLD! So the heating is cranked up, leaving me sweltering in my central station.
Most of my “heroes” are third layer pieces — jackets and sweaters that I wear with very basic skirts and pants. When I sling the hero on the back of my chair, I’m left looking decidedly underdressed.
I do have one pair of “hero” pants — a 20 year old vintage find in cream brocade. I get compliments on them all the time, but they are neither sturdy enough to wear more often nor really the foundational piece I feel I need.
I avoid the “entry level” uniform of bright top and black pants. It just doesn’t have the gravitas my age and new role call for. At the same time, I took a pay cut and I’m hard on my work clothes, so don’t want to spend a bunch. I’m 58 and hope to have this role for 4 or 5 years and then move back into admin to close out my career. Aack! I’m really struggling, Imogen. Thank you for your advice.
I’d look for tops that have built in hero details – beautiful and unique cut should work for both your age and station (trouble with pants is sitting behind a desk they disappear) Also think statement necklaces!
Thank you, Imogen. I never thought of a hero top! I went to Goodwill and bought a lovely blouse with a lot more going on than I usually buy. Deep coloured tartan almost taffeta with a gold thread and deep v ruffled neckline. Back home, as I was pulling bottoms to create outfits, I realized that it was almost an evening piece. Ding, ding, ding! I have pulled 3 ‘evening’ blouses that were just sitting with their long skirts, waiting for ‘special’. They are all quite modest, not a lot of skin showing, but they are lovely fabrics. Funny thing is two of them are the same brand as my new blouse. I love my new look; and because I largely shopped my closet, I feel comfortable and not too outre, just a step more formal and polished. Thank you again. You really are good at this!