One of my most stylish friends recently shared her strategies for streamlining your wardrobe to look great – on a budget. That’s easier said than done for folks like me, who pick up great pieces for pennies on the dollar at thrift stores, but then come home to a mish-mash of clothes. How do I tie my wardrobe together? What pieces do I need to buy new to pull everything together and create many more outfits?
13 steps to a fabulous wardrobe
Here is the advice from my super stylish super frugal friend.
1. Stick to basic colors
Black, white/nude, navy, and grey. Buy a great T-shirt in every one of these colors, and you can wear them with jean jackets and almost any pair of pants. They layer well and these colors go with almost anything.
2. Solo colors flatter
I like wearing one color (navy and black look chic). When you break up colors it can be unflattering to one’s figure.
3. Don’t keep (bad) gifts
Just because someone gives you any item of clothing doesn’t mean you have to keep it. If it’s not flattering or not your style do not keep it. When you open your closet, it will confuse your brain – and it is taking up valuable space.
4. Wear all white
I love an all white outfit with a tan shoe (very light almost like a bone color). If you want to add something to all white, add gold jewelry.
5. Focus on flatter
Your outfits don’t have to be expensive but they do need to be flattering. I’d spend money on pants and if you see a good dress think long term not short term. What functions will you wear this dress to? How often will you wear it to work or out on the town? Divide the cost by the number of times you will reasonably wear it, add in dry-cleaning costs, and ask yourself if you are willing to pay that much.
6. Follow stylistas
On social media, follow something or someone you feel inspired by artistically. See how their pair outfits and what new pieces they are adding, what basics they repeat. Fashion is everywhere.
7. Build it slowly
If your wardrobe has a lot of holes, make a list of what pieces you need to compliment what you already have and buy something from the list once a month. If I bought all of my clothes at once I would be broke. I buy in stages and it is a slow, gradual process. Think of your closet as a project you are going to master. Bargain shopping is great but takes time. If you can afford to wait, you’ll save money. If you have a little room in your budget, go online or pop into your favorite store and pick over the sales rack.
8. Toss oldies
If you haven’t worn in a year, toss!
9. Pant staples
Add these pant staples to your wardrobe if you don’t already have them.
- Tight jeans with nothing on them – no pattern, no rip that you can dress up with other pieces without creating a busy look.
- White pants tight enough that you can wear sandals or flats with them.
- Black pants. I personally like two styles. One is a dark black jean/jegging (they have great ones from UNIQULO) that go easily with any top. I also like a formal black pant, almost like a suit, just in case you have a formal event. I go to the Theory outlet for mine or even Banana Republic.
10. Essential Tops
- Short sleeves: Always have your basic tees in white, black, and grey. These are universal outfit items that make it easy to get dressed. I get mine from Club Monaco but you can get from H&M too.
- Tight tank tops: Always have basics in white, black, navy, and grey. These are layering pieces that you can do anything with.
- Blouses: Blouses make any outfit look sophisticated and smart. Dress them up and down. I like to have a white one, preferably silk. I recommend Everlane.com for blouses.
11. Basic Skirts and Dresses
- Pick up a black beachy long skirt and a sexy mini black mini skirt.
- Dresses: I would stick to simple ones that way you can easily pair with jewelry and accessories. Get a white one, and a black one that you can dress up and down. You don’t need anymore pattern dresses or tie dye. STOP BUYING TIE DYE.
12. Must Have Jackets
- Pick up a jean jacket.
- Add a black and a white blazer to your wardrobe “buy” list. You can throw these on with jeans and a tee and be done so easy. I would go to J. Crew for blazers, but again check out sales.
13. Splurge on great shoes. Skimp on jeans.
If you can, splurge on a great shoe because a great shoe can make any outfit look fresh. People seem to go wrong when they buy expensive jeans where you don’t always need to. Many stores have a great cut.
My favorite stores:
1. Bloomingdales – great sales and good for everything
2. Intermix online – check out the sale tab
3. J. Crew/Banana Republic