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9 Keys to Building a Wardrobe that Works for You

Building a Wardrobe
February 25, 2019

I’m fast approaching my one-year anniversary as a style blogger, and I cannot begin to tell you how much I’ve learned this year. The main thing I’ve learned, really, is how little I know! But I’ve also learned that getting dressed for my day is more than just buying the latest trends and accessorizing with all the things. There has to be a way to build a wardrobe that consistently works for me. And that is my goal this year.

Building a Wardrobe that Works for You

More importantly, I want to take you along on the journey and equip you to build a wardrobe that works for you. A wardrobe that fits your personal style, your season of life and your budget.

In my 1st annual reader survey I learned that many of my readers are in a new season of life. Some have returned to the workforce after raising a family. Others have retired after years in a career. And some are doing more traveling and leisure pursuits than they did before. Life changes. And our wardrobes need to change accordingly.

So whether you’ve undergone a recent life change or not, I think you’ll enjoy this new style series. Over the course of the next year we’ll explore several of the 9 keys I’m presenting to you today. But several of these keys were already covered in my previous style series. If you’ve been with me at Dressed for My Day for a while now, you’ve already got these under your belt. Yay you! Otherwise, you can simply click over to the referenced blog post to catch up.

9 Keys to Building a Wardrobe that Works for You

We’ll be looking at most of these 9 keys during 2019. But some we’ve already covered. Today I’m just setting the stage, and we’ll begin the real work Thursday of this week.

Key #1 – Body

To create a closet full of clothes that really work for you, you’ll need to know your body. Identify your body shape or type, your proportions and your unique variations. Then learn how to dress your unique (and beautiful!) body so that you create a lovely, feminine silhouette that is pleasing to the eye. (Check out the posts I’ve linked to for more information.)

Key #2 – Days

You could have a fabulously fashionable wardrobe and still not have a thing to wear. Yep. If your wardrobe doesn’t work for your average day, it doesn’t work for you. Ladies, it’s time to get real about how we spend our days. I don’t think this requires a full post on my part. But it may require a little homework on your part.

Let’s pause and look over our calendars. Note how you spend your days. Do you work in a hospital, a school, a greenhouse, an office? Do you work at home, travel, play with grandkids, work your garden or visit shut-ins and take them to lunch?

Factor in your days and you’ll be able to open your closet and find the perfect thing to wear…every single day.

Key #3 – Approach

Your fashion approach is your personal style aesthetic. I talked about this key in this post on dressing for your personality. I encourage you to read there about your style essence and your style expression and how the two need to line up.

But the bottom line here is that we all need to figure out what kind of clothing accurately expresses our personality and gives us joy. In other words, do you like to dress casually and relaxed? Or maybe you prefer classic clothing with a contemporary edge. Or you could be all lace and ruffles and frills because…well you just like to look and feel feminine.

When we fill our closet with clothing that fits our personal approach to fashion, we’ll not only have something to wear each day…we’ll actually look forward to putting it on! We’ll look in the mirror and smile. And we’ll truly feel dressed for our unique day…our unique way. Fun!

Key #4 – Essentials

I used to think of essentials as this extensive list of clothing I had to have…for some reason. I didn’t even know the reason.

Now I realize that essentials are the underpinnings of a functional wardrobe. These are the key pieces – sometimes seen as rather boring – that we have to have in order to even wear the fun stuff. Think jeans, a basic white tee, sneakers, a denim jacket.

When you have a closet full of cool, interesting, colorful clothing, but you lack the essentials, you’ll stand in front of your closet perplexed. You’ll realize you don’t have the glue you need to pull an outfit together.

But here’s a key I’ve recently discovered. Your essentials – for your body, days and approach – may not be the same as my essentials. So together we’re going to learn how we can each decide the essentials for our unique wardrobes.

Key #5 – Neutrals

I don’t want a huge wardrobe. I’m tired of having too many clothes. It feels wasteful and unnecessary. But if my wardrobe doesn’t come together around a couple of well chosen colors, I’ll end up with far too many pieces of clothing crammed into my closet.

The key to being able to put together interchangeable outfits is hinging those outfits on a couple of well chosen and consistently adhered to neutrals. I’m talking black, grey, brown, camel or navy. I suggest you choose two. To streamline even more, you can decide to stick with either white or beige.

Key #6 – Signature Colors

Don’t worry. You’re not limited to just those two neutrals. But when you’ve chosen and stick with two neutrals, you’ll have the backdrop for your signature colors. Yes, a beautiful wardrobe will also consist of two to three well chosen signature colors. These are colors that look beautiful on you, but also that you love wearing.

Your signature colors can change over time. You may go with the hot colors of the season or you may stay with your personal forever favorites.

Key #7 – Budget

A workable, beautiful wardrobe does not have to be expensive. In this post I discussed how to build a beautiful wardrobe within your budget. The bottom line is that if you exceed your budget when building your wardrobe, you won’t enjoy wearing it. Instead, learn to shop creatively and slowly build a wardrobe that endures, one that you don’t have to build from scratch every season.

Key #8 – Now Pieces

Another key to building a wardrobe that works for you is to limit the number of “now pieces” or trendy items that fill your closet. Choose the trends you’ll participate in. You absolutely do not need to wear them all. But select trends and current styles that reflect your approach and that work for your days. And make sure they are pieces that bring you a little joy. That’s what trends are all about. They’re fun!

Key #9 – Accessories

Accessories are not necessarily synonymous with now pieces. Often we choose to participate in trends through our accessories (think leopard print shoes or handbags with bows or jewelry with seashells), but a wardrobe that works for you will also include some more classic accessories. For instance, it’s wise to have a handbag that endures several seasons, a pair of boots that you wear year after year or jewelry in classic gold or silver.

More to come…

I hope this post and these 9 keys gave you something to think about. In fact, as you anticipate changing out your winter wardrobe for your spring wardrobe (if that’s something you do), you might want to analyze each piece of your wardrobe in light of these 9 keys. As you put away clothing from this season or take out clothing for the next season, ask questions like:

  • Does this piece work for my body type, proportions and unique variations (large bosom, wide shoulders, etc.)? Does it really make me look my best? (Body)
  • Is this something I can wear often? (Days)
  • Do I feel and look like myself when I wear this? (Approach)
  • Is this item in good shape so that I can wear it with confidence? Or does it need to be replaced? (Essentials)
  • Is this one of my two neutral shades or does it coordinate with one of my two neutrals? (Neutrals)
  • Is this one of my two or three signature colors? Does it make me happy? (Signature colors)
  • Is it time to replace this item and add it to my shopping list? (Budget)
  • Does this item looked dated? Does it make me look out of step? (Now pieces)
  • Do I have the accessories I need to pull this outfit together? (Accessories)

I’ll be posting about these 9 keys in a variety of posts in the coming months. But I’d love to hear if you have any comments, insights or questions today. Let’s get the conversation started!

Which key is a new concept to you? Which key do you already live by? Which key is the most challenging for you? I’ll ‘fess up. Sticking with two neutrals is difficult for me. I want all the neutrals! But I’m determined to streamline this year and go with just black and navy. I’d love to hear from you.

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Blessed for My Day

Do you ever feel overwhelmed? Boy, I do. Sometimes I’m overwhelmed with all the work that needs to be done and I feel like I’m just not up to the task. Other times I’m overwhelmed with decisions that need to be made, conversations that I’m dreading, concerns that are piling up or problems I need to work through. 

Overwhelm feels stifling. It often keeps me from moving forward at all because I’m so weighted down with all the what-ifs and I-can’ts and oh-nos. I don’t think that’s how God intends for us to live.

Jesus said for those of us who are overwhelmed to come to Him for rest. Instead of feeling overwhelmed, He wants us to feel at ease, take deep breaths and relax our shoulders. Today, when we begin to feel overwhelmed, let’s simply call out to Jesus. Just say His name. Maybe hold up opened hands and relax your shoulders. But let’s turn to the One who is never overwhelmed, taken back, surprised or thrown off. He’s got this.

“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” ~ Matthew 11:28-30

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xoxo, Kay
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14 thoughts on “9 Keys to Building a Wardrobe that Works for You

  1. LOTS of meat and potatoes here today! My two key colors are navy and black. But I have to admit…..I LOVE COLOR and summer is where I have the most fun with my wardrobe. I’m not talking about wild, trendy pieces….I’m a ‘classic’ style and my choices still reflect that. Warmer weather is more fun for me. I have taken your advice though and added a few basic pieces…scarves, name brand hand bag, cashmere sweaters, etc. Where I’m still lacking most though is in my jewelry. Most of it is very out-dated and I’m more of a simple, not flashy kind of gal. So, that is my next project…get a few pieces of jewelry that will work with ALL of my outfits!

    1. Hi Sondra, Another reader mentioned needing some direction with jewelry, too. And I could use some help there myself. In fact, I’ve been researching jewelry a lot lately, and should have a post up on it in the near future. Thanks so much for chiming in. Did I mention that my two neutrals are navy and black also???

  2. Hi Kay! Looking forward to this series of posts! I think it is so important to look in my closet from time to time and decide what is and isn’t working. These 9 keys are perfect to assist with that process. And great to keep in mind when purchasing new items.

    Of the 9 keys, I think I struggle the most with accessories. I especially have trouble choosing necklaces! For instance, I have some plain sweaters that I feel need a necklace, but haven’t found the perfect piece. I am generally pretty casual, so many times what I have feels like ‘too much’ when I put it on. And the lengths, I struggle there also with what looks best.

    1. Hi Gina, You’re one of at least two people who have mentioned jewelry here. That’s so helpful to me to know what you gals need to see more of. I have a jewelry post in the works, in fact. We’ll definitely be talking more about this in the future. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Hi Sue, I’m so glad this series looks interesting to you. I’m really looking forward to researching and writing it. Honestly, it’s more for me than anyone. I’m tired of having clothes in my closet that I don’t wear!

  3. Kay, Excellent post that I need to read again tomorrow. I am really looking forward to this series. I need this information, so thank you!

  4. I have recently joined this blog and I enjoy it very much. I went back to read some past posts and would like to get the freebies but I don’t have a password. How can I get one? Thanks so much.

    1. Hi Samantha! I’m so glad you subscribed. Check your emails from me. I put a box at the bottom of the emails with a link to the freebies and the password. It should be in the last few emails I’ve sent, but it will also be in tomorrow morning’s email. Let me know if you don’t find it. We certainly want you to get all the freebies!

  5. Great posts. Lots to think about as we gear up for spring. I have seen them before but for some reason just really noticed them today….the 3 pictures of you in the pink sweater at the top of your page are fabulous! You look so good. Have a great almost Friday!