The idea of a building a dream wardrobe can sometimes feel like an urban legend: Do people really have those; do they really exist? Is there a woman out there who wakes up every morning and, throwing open her closet doors, knows she’ll always find something in there that’ll make her feel amazing inside and out? Impossible.
Or is it? We all make fashion mistakes and shopping blunders from time to time, and that’s totally OK. But there’s a difference between a dress you probably shouldn’t have bought and a whole wardrobe of “what was I actually thinking?” moments. A thoughtful wardrobe takes a game plan and it requires putting in some thought. But if you have the time and inclination to do it, it’s really not that hard at all. By committing a few simple tips and rules to memory (like to never buy things that don’t make you feel confident — or buy items while keeping your goals in mind) you’ll be on your way towards a closet that reflects your style and personality, and gives you satisfaction how you portray yourself. Here are seven tricks to help you build your dream wardrobe: Follow them and you’ll be that urban legend women respectfully whisper about over cocktails.
1. Take Stock And Define Your Style
No one needs to stick to one particular style, but there probably is a certain vibe that you lean towards more than others. And how do you know this? Your current wardrobe already hints at it. Pour yourself a giant glass of wine because it's time to spend an afternoon cleaning out your closet. Dive into the hangers and take stock what you already have: Not only notice how many dresses/sweaters/jeans you have, but also become in tune what kind of style they are.
For example, in my closet I have quite a few Doris Day inspired dresses and bohemian shifts, but I wouldn't say I want to look like something out of an estate sale or a Free People catalog. What my hodge-podge array of dresses have in common is their shapes: They're clean-lined, unfussy, usually running towards boxy or baggy. What really grabs my interest is the minimalist vibes of them. So when out shopping, I make an effort to narrow in on more minimalist pieces/silhouettes.
2. Wear Things You're Iffy About For A Day
You know that sweater you're "meh" about and don't toss out, but still never wear? Or that dress that's been hanging there for over a year and you're not quite sure why you don't like it, but you know you don't love it? These are pieces you're on the fence about, and they hold some important answers about your style. They're not quite right and there's a reason to it. Put them on and wear them for a day. While you're in them, take stock what you don't like about them.
For example, I have a strapless A-line dress that has been hanging in my closet for over two years and for whatever reason I could never make the decision to toss. Curious why I kept picking over it, I wore it while running errands for a day to see how I'd feel in it. And the verdict? It was too short. I no longer felt comfortable in the lengths I loved as a 22-year-old fashionista, no matter how much I liked the pattern or shape of the little number. I knew after that not to buy dresses and skirts with that same hem length.
3. Fill The Holes In Your Closet
Your wardrobe staples are your building blocks in your closet — the most interesting, intricate outfits can't be created without using solid foundations. Before you go out and buy your star pieces, make sure you have all of your basics. For example, my life completely changed when I finally bought myself a thing, black turtleneck. That thing went under everything: Layered underneath strapless dresses and underneath sleeveless frocks. Popped underneath sweaters to add extra color to a look, or paired with heavy skirts to balance out the proportions of an outfit. It added so much oomph to looks and was the finishing element to so many outfits that, after awhile, I wasn't sure how I was dressing before without it.
4. Focus On Making Your Closet Remixable
Owning cool statement pieces here and there gives your wardrobe personality, but imagine having a whole closet of that: How would you be able to choose and put anything together? They're all stand-alone items. According to Audrey, fashion blogger behind Putting Me Together, "I had a closet full of pieces that I only knew how to wear one way. Because I didn't know how to shop for versatile pieces or how to utilize a piece in multiple ways, I found myself feeling like I had to buy more and more clothes to diversify my wardrobe. One of my hopes...was that I'd be able to build a mix-and-match wardrobe that I could get more mileage out of and ultimately cut down the need to buy more. I wanted to bring depth to my closet instead of continuing to go for breadth."
So when out shopping, ask yourself questions about the piece in question. How many items at home can you pair it with? Two, four, seven? If the answer hovers between one and two, it won't be contributing much to your wardrobe and probably doesn't need to be invested in.
5. Keep Your Goals In Mind
Not many of us think about our lifestyles or goals when we shop; it's usually more of an "oooh, this is pretty!" type of scenario, and we race to the cash register. To build your dream wardrobe, though, keep your lifestyle and goals in mind. For example, are you a pretty chill, homebody type of person? Then you probably don't need more sparkly mini skirts in your closet. Are you in a particular industry, or thinking of switching jobs? Start investing in pieces that reflect the attitude you want to portray when you meet people. Or better yet, when you look in the mirror.
In my case as an example, I'm planning to live abroad for a year sometime in the next two to three years to give myself the chance to see what will happen. So what do I focus on when I go shopping? Pieces that'll take me a long way on a suitcase wardrobe. That's planning way ahead, but it's also shopping while keeping my goals in mind.
6. Invest In Accessories
Though they're small, accessories pack a lot of punch and hold a lot of power when it comes to making your outfits more interesting. According to Jamie Krell, style expert, "You can update jeans and a white t-shirt with a bold necklace or pair layered, delicate jewelry with a dress for a more feminine feel. A cool ear cuff or stacked rings can give you an instant edge, and pearls can make you look polished and lady-like in an instant." Stock up on an arsenal of hats, purses, shoes, and jewelry to propel nice outfits into amazing ones.
7. Buy Things That Make You Hella Confident
Repeat after me: Don't ever, ever, ever buy something that makes you feel awkward, fidgety, or unsure of yourself. When those types of feelings are involved, why would you reach for it in your closet? You won't; you'll just be wasting your money. That includes dresses that are cute but feel too short, refusing to buy pieces in a size bigger because you have a weird obsession with a number on a tag, buying a trend because it's in but doesn't reflect your style, or buying high heels because they're hot but not comfortable.
Only buy things that you feel happy, confident, and like yourself in. Those are the things that will make you look amazing and put together in. As Diane von Furstenberg said, "Confidence. If you have it, you can make anything look good."