A legend exists that somewhere there is a woman who wakes up every morning and knows exactly what to wear. Is it you? Not quite? I know, I have been there too.
It all began with frustration
I am a fashionista and former shopaholic who had an overflowing closet and always ‘nothing to wear’. About a year and a half ago, I became so frustrated with the whole situation. I kept asking myself, “What is wrong with me?” Then I decided enough was enough and I banned shopping completely until I found an answer.
I spent hours researching; reading recommendations, guidelines and others’ experiences. Eventually, I enrolled in a course for personal stylists. And it was the best thing I have ever done! Not only did I find answers to my questions and filled in the gaps, but I also changed my career completely to become a personal stylist and an image consultant!
This post will help you to create a list actions to take to build the most functional and stylish wardrobe you have ever owned. And the advice is suitable for every woman – whether you are a stay-at-home-mom, working mom, mom who is looking to resume her career after staying home with the kids, a businesswoman, freelancer, traveler, or retired; whether you want to downsize your closet or just make it more versatile and rational, take the guesswork out of dressing and shopping, and eliminate this common ‘nothing to wear’ problem.
1. Know Your Colors and Season
When I start working with a client, the VERY FIRST thing I do is define her seasonal color type – Spring, Summer, Autumn, or Winter.
If you are not familiar with this concept, in short, we all have natural colors in our bodies. When we wear clothes, the colors interfere with our body colors. You will be surprised how quickly the right color can make your skin fresher and smoother, your eyes light up, and you look and feel younger and rejuvenated. The ‘wrong’ colors can have the exact opposite effect.
Look at the pictures above and notice how pale and tired the model’s skin is in first three pictures – left to right. And how smooth and even it is in the fourth one, when she is wearing ‘her’ colors. Take your time to learn what colors look best on you.
And here is one personal stylist’s secret: regardless of your color type, you can always use the color of your eyes in your clothes. This color will always look great on you, guaranteed.
2. Learn How to Use Colors in Outfits
Take your time and learn the rules on how to mix and match the colors in an outfit with confidence. Yes, you read it right. Rules. You don’t need to have artistic talent or an eye for colors. All successful color combinations are created by following rules!
3. Dress your shape
Once you know what colors make you beautiful, the next step is to learn your figure type and the right way to dress it. The ideal, or balanced, shape is considered to be a neat hourglass. And it doesn’t mean you have to have size 0 to 4. It can be any size. What it means is this type of figure has the same width shoulders and hips, and a well-defined waist. Don’t worry if this isn’t you; this type of figure is pretty rare.
Other shapes like pear, inverted triangle, lean column, rectangle, full hourglass, and oval can be dressed in a way to make the figure look balanced through clothes and colors. Figure out your shape, learn everything about it, what looks great on it, and what doesn’t.
Another benefit you gain from knowing your colors and shape, is that your shopping will become four times easier, as you will now scan the garments in the store for color and then have an idea of whether it will look great on you before even heading to the fitting room.
4. Find a personal style
Do you know your/have a personal style? Can you describe it? Many women struggle with finding their personal style. When I was at the beginning of this fashion journey, I read dozens of articles on how to find personal style. Most of them left me more confused than when I started. One piece of advice I came across in pretty much every post was useless and maybe even harmful: go to Pinterest or Instagram and find outfits that you like, and try to copy them. Or think what celebrity style inspires you the most and dress same way.
When we look at someone’s picture, we are not only looking at a unique person with their own personality, body shape, color type, and lifestyle, we also looking at the picture vibe in general. Even if you try to duplicate an entire outfit, there is no guarantee it will look as great on you, it simply might not match your features, because YOU are DIFFERENT!
Personal style is not something artificially chosen. It is built around YOU: your personality, your lifestyle, your hobbies, your color type, and your shape. It might change over your lifetime as YOU change.
Learn about styles and how to pull clothes into styles. Each style has its distinctive elements. For example, nautical style is made of mostly white and navy colors plus little bit of red and nautical stripes. What about safari style? Choose beige, khaki, and white colors with army uniform elements – patched pockets, belts, hats. A romantic style will have flowing fabrics, floral patterns, ruffles, etc.
Any woman can have at least three different fashion styles that all go into making up her PERSONAL style.
5. Build your wardrobe
After you learn those three basics, you will be able to purge your closet effectively to remove anything that doesn’t make you feel gorgeous. When purging and then buying replacement garments, keep these two rules in mind to help you make your closet functional:
1. Michael Khors’ 70/30 rule:
“If 70% of your wardrobe is meat and potatoes aka basics, the other 30% is the dessert—full-on sparkle and shine, indulgent glamour.” – M.K.
Up to 70% of your garments should be core items – classy, timeless pieces with few details and substantial colors. Those items will be very different for each particular person. So, don’t fall into the ‘everyone must have this and that’ trap. The other 30% of your wardrobe are garments with interesting details, colors, accessories, trendy pieces. You can put outfits together using just core items or mix and match them with accent/trendy garments
2. 4 per 1 rule
When building your wardrobe, pay attention to this top/bottom ratio. You should have at least 4 times more tops than bottoms. Here is why: a different top gives you the impression of a new outfit. The bottom doesn’t. A rule of thumb – tops should differ in these three elements: color, details, texture. If you have the same top in four colors, it only counts as one. Just because it is a different color, doesn’t mean it is a different outfit.
Accessories are as important as clothes. If not more so. Beautiful, eye-catching earrings can dress up the most plain t-shirt. So, when shopping for accessories, think of them as an investment!
A Final Note
Dressing well and building a rational closet doesn’t require any special talent. Dressing well is a science. It takes a little bit of time to learn, but once you learn, you can use this knowledge forever. Fashion changes constantly, but your style stays with you.
Nadia Karpov is a personal stylist, image consultant, capsule wardrobe enthusiast, and founder of happymalista.com. She is a wife, mom, and a former shopaholic with the closet full of ‘nothing-to-wear’ things. She helps people to express their innermost feelings through clothes and dress for the life that they WANT to live while still being appropriate to the time and situation. You will never catch her dressed boring and frumpy, even if she is just making a morning run to the nearest food market for milk and eggs.You can find useful styling tips in every IG post or visit her blog for more guidance.