You might know that one of my new year’s resolutions this year was to Dress For Me. I know it’s kind of vague, but essentially, I want to sort my style out, i.e. get some style, stick to it and actually enjoy dressing a little more. I’ve written a piece already about my style journey in January, which you can read here, but today, I’m sharing the three steps I’ve taken toward rebuilding my wardrobe (and not hating it).
Rebuilding a wardrobe is one of those things that is hardest to start, once you’ve got going, however, the ball is rolling and all of a sudden you know what you’re doing. Nonetheless, the starting is still a minefield of don’t knows. It’s easy to think that designing your new wardrobe from the offset will make the whole process effortless, but my only experience of this results in backtracking.
Deciding everything you need and want before honing down on a few realities means that you’ll build a wonderful imaginary wardrobe – but it will always stay that way.
The three steps that I’m sharing with you today are the steps that follow on from the initial decision to overhaul your style and wardrobe. You know you want to change, you’re prepared to get buying and you realise that building a whole new wardrobe will take time. These steps didn’t do all the work for me, but they really helped me turn in the right direction and actually start. Starting is the hardest thing, right?
Step 1: Find brands that fit your aesthetic
You would not be surprised how easy it is to hate clothes shopping and think that there’s nothing out there for you simply because you’re looking in the wrong place.
I always find myself disappointed when browsing in the likes of M&S or River Island. It’s not because they don’t have great selections or good quality clothing, but because neither of those retailers design clothes in a style that’s what I’m looking for. I always find M&S clothes to be cut for the older woman, which means many of their pieces just don’t suit me, no matter how pretty they may be. River Island also just isn’t me – the clothes are generally a lot bolder and asymmetrically cut whereas I like more contemporary minimal styles with muted brights.
This isn’t to say that we should dismiss the shops that aren’t us entirely – there will always be one-off pieces that we love, but this is just a reminder that if we want to build our wardrobe up, we need to start looking in the right places.
It’s taken me a while to realise what retailers design clothes that really suit my aesthetic, but I’ve mostly got there. My aesthetic sits somewhere between Monki, H&M and Oliver Bonas. The Monki side of things is to do with colour and relaxed style, I love H&M visual merchandising and Oliver Bonas has that edge of contemporary silhouettes that are a little more luxury.
Take a look at what brands you’re already a fan of. Are you sticking with them because it’s all you know, or because you genuinely like the style of the brand?
If it’s all you know, then get browsing. Don’t worry about prices or sizing (I could never squeeze into H&M bottoms) just focus on what brands fit your aesthetic. Colours, cuts, shapes, styling, brand focus, morals… it all counts.
Step 2: Narrow down your colours
When I first decided to become conscious of my wardrobe choices, I straight out picked a whole colour palette. This didn’t work for a few reasons… firstly, it was way too restrictive. Deciding on a colour palette before you’ve even looked in the shops means that you’ve already eliminated half of the clothes you might love. Secondly, the colours you want to wear won’t always be the ones that suit you.
After a couple of months of trial and error, I’ve got a fairly good idea about what colours suit me and what colours I like the most. Too much black definitely washes me out, as does richer and lighter blues. I love a navy, which is a great alternative to black, and warm tones like pinks, reds and yellows make my skin look less translucent and more just pale.
If you’ve no idea where to start on picking out your colours, start with eliminating those you know never to touch. For me, green has always been a difficult colour. Technically, it should really suit me because my hair ers on the ginger side, but since I love navy and reds, green doesn’t work fantastically in my wardrobe right now (unless I want to look like Christmas or someone from Balamory). Of course, there will be exceptions and my no-go colours will always be changing, which is just another thing to embrace on this crazy fashion journey.
Take note of what colours you feel best in right now. Then check out what colours compliment those you already rock. It won’t be set in stone but it will give you something to try when the all-important clothes shopping starts.
Step 3: Decide on a few non-negotiables
When switching things up in the wardrobe department it’s easy to forget about our basic clothing needs. Going into a shop (or opening ASOS lol) and browsing makes you feel like a kid in a candy shop when the parameters for change are wide open. You can end up throwing anything you like into the basket, forgetting that actually, you never wear heels or that you always get too hot in a polo-necked jumper. Deciding on a few non-negotiables helps us keep the reigns on our little project.
Just last week I was on ASOS (classic) and very nearly bought a handful of things that I wouldn’t wear until the summer. I’m talking pretty dresses and sandals and basket bags. It was then that I remembered that one of my non-negotiables was that ‘if I’m not going to wear in now then I don’t need it yet’. Obviously, that may change when the weather gets warmer, but for now, I can’t justify spending £50 on something for it to sit in the wardrobe for months. Focussing on what we’re wearing now is also the fastest way to get going on the project. Yes, I also fantasise about summer dresses and holiday bathing suits, but I for one want to make my wardrobe better now.
Another one of my non-negotiables is crop tops or jumpers. I always say I’ll rock them with some high-waisted jeans, but I never pull it off and frankly, I feel too old for it, so it’s best I avoid buying them in the first place.
Set yourself some rules about what you’re definitely not buying, be it summer clothes, crop tops, or heels that just gather dust in your wardrobe. Doing this will keep your focus in the right place and help you not waste your time (or money).