How my wardrobe works

I love Gok Wan. He’s smart, he’s funny, he’s style-savvy, and he does wonders for women’s self-esteem. But being the hoarder, shopper, and fashion-fickle dresser that I am, I cannot get on with his capsule wardrobe plan. There’s just not enough going on in there for my daily-evolving tastes.

Don’t get me wrong I can see where the capsule wadrobe works for those who may not be confident in their style. This is where Gok excels – finding those who’re not sure where to start and making it as easy as possible for them to get dressed. But for those of us who’ve a little more confidence in what suits them, 24 pieces is just a little… constricting.

A friend recently asked me how it was that I could wake up in the morning, shower in 3 minutes flat, pick something out of the wardrobe and be out of the door in 10 minutes looking “put together”. The answer is simple. I have clothes in my wardrobe that are 12 years old. I have clothes that fit me in all my many weight fluctuations. I have spent over a decade collecting clothes that fit me well and suit my body shape. I am fortunate enough to be in a position where I can wake up in the morning, look at the weather, look at how bloated or otherwise I am and pick out a dress, knowing which cardi/shoes go with it. I don’t have to put together a look  in the morning, because I already know what to “put together”.

If you have a wardrobe of pieces that you know inside out, that fit perfectly on slim days or cover your lumps and bumps on fat days, you’ll never need worry about what you’re going to wear. If you know which colours work with your skin tone and hair (notice how much I wear turquoise, blue, coral or green? Or how I seldom wear yellow?) and even better, which colours work with your moods (if you see me in my red dress looking confident you know it’s because I have a meeting that day and need to feel confident!) you’ve no need to spend hours thinking about outfits.

Sometimes I get bored with my wardrobe (see Seasonal Affective Boredom). My usual answer to this is to have a sort-through and disregard the outfits I have worn to death as my “go-to girls” in recent weeks, concentrating on my lesser worn pieces. I’ll spend a couple of hours on a Sunday working out how to rework these pieces – how to stop a bias-cut dress clinging too much around my hips by wearing an a-line or flared skirt underneath; how to make a little black assymetrical dress office-appropriate by layering it over a pleats; how to wear a fabulously patterned pencil skirt that’s just not flattering on the hips by belting a long cardi over the top. This is usually a trial and error process – and as a girl who loves to dress up, is really not a chore, but a pleasure. The result is quite often a week’s worth of outfits which won’t even need thinking about on a blurry, sleepy morning.

But the root of it all is really in building up pieces that you know you look great in. I know not everyone is the dress type, but there really is nothing simpler on a sunny sunday than pulling a maxi over your head, slipping into flip flops or gladiators and your sunnies, and heading out the door. And once you know without doubt that every single item you own works for you, you’ll never need spend hours deliberating over an outfit again!

Well, unless (like me) you like it that way!

(Because much of my life is dedicated to finding ways to stay in bed those extra 5 minutes…)

  • Minimise your make-up regime: I know that my day-to-day make-up regime takes me a maximum of three minutes: concealer, brow gel, blusher and a fingertip sweep of eyeshadow. On an easy day (timings wise) I might add foundation if I need it, maybe lipstick or mascara… but I generally avoid eye make-up because staring at a screen all day makes my eyes water horribly.
  • Following on from this, decide on the one item of make-up that makes you feel “finished”. In my handbag I have a coral lipstick, red benetint lipgloss and a powder compact. If I don’t have time in the morning, or need a touch up, I use either the coral or the red on my cheeks and lips, and powder my nose. Lipstick makes anyone look made-up, and blush is my personal “must-have”.
  • Keep smart shoes at work (if appropriate): I have easy shoes for walking to and from work in, but keep one navy and one black pair of smart patent courts in my bottom drawer to instantly smarten or glamourise an outfit for meetings/after-work drinks.
  • Find a hair style that doesn’t need ridiculous amounts of styling every day: You may have the perfect sleek bob on days you have time for straighteners, but if you can’t shove it in a ponytail or under an alice band on your down days, it’s going to add precious minutes to your regime (or take precius minutes from your lie-in)!

2 thoughts on “How my wardrobe works

  1. I feel so blessed (yuck what a word but it’s true) to have made a new friend in you. I really am chuffed to bits. BUT the only downside is that your beautiful clothes have really made me feel very lacking in any personal style. Both you and Lauren obviously spend a lot of time thinking about fashion, style and clothes and I just have not. And it shows!!!

    I have about three different styles that I wear 1) rock chick (kinda), 2) casual but cool t-shirt and jeans and 3) BLAND. I wish I could settle on one (or find another) and make it my own. Instead, I stick to boring safe choices and as a result, regularly feel unhappy about what I have in my wardrobe. I really do often feel like I have nothing to wear!

    Your tips are very handy but I need help with the basics in my wardrobe and I really must start accessorising more. I own nearly no hair accessories and rarely where jewellry.

  2. Oh no! We don’t mean to make you feel lacking in style! You know how often I yearn to feel comfortable in jeans and a top – but I simply can’t pull off laid back!

    There’s nothing wrong with rock chick OR with jeans and a funky tee – the first I’ve been known to indulge and the second I wish I could wear…

    There are actually two important things that I failed to mention above, one being how important it is that you personally feel comfortable with yourself and the other, if you want more confidence to wear a different look, being to challenge that comfort sometimes. If you’re a jeans kinda gal, wearing a skirt can be intimidating. But if you wear a skirt for just a few days it soon starts to feel “normal”. This goes for anything you want to wear – once you’ve overcome your initial nerves you can change your look on a whim!

    Accessories are a great place to start – jewelery and the like can transform basics (I bet Helen’s an expert in this!). Hair accessories I’m not so great at.

    And I’m quite delighted with our friendship too! xx

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