Building a Wardrobe

February 10, 2014

Since beginning my blog just over two years ago, my own style and wardrobe have changed quite a bit and they are still evolving. I can honestly say I don't think I would have been near as confident to mix up patterns like I do now.  I do love fashion and have become a better shopper in regards to keeping the importance of budget, versatility, personal style and trying new things. With years of shopping practice under my belt, I think I'm pretty darn good! 

The one thing that is important to remember is building a wardrobe takes time.  Chances are you will not go out shopping in the morning and come home in the evening with a complete wardrobe. It's a process, kinda like lasagna...layering one at a time! Let this post be a recipe to build your wardrobe.

Building your wardrobe one piece at a time



8 Steps to Building Your Wardrobe

1. Think of your lifestyle



It's important to shop for your lifestyle.  I, for example, work in a corporate office where there is a no denim policy.  So, denim or chambray has to be added to my wardrobe in moderation.   It's just not cost effective to own items I can't use regularly.  So, the first thing you need to do is ask yourself a few questions about what your average day looks like. 



Do you sit a lot or are you on your feet? 
Do you adhere to a dress code? 
Do you spend your day at home with the kids but meet friends out in the afternoon? 
Do you work in a professional environment or work from home?
Do you live in the city or the suburbs?
What are your hobbies or activities?
Do you dress up often? (This can be helpful in justifying something you really want.)

If you keep these few questions in mind while building your wardrobe, you will have a much better shopping experience. 

2. Determine your budget 



One of the most important steps to building your wardrobe is figuring out how much you want to (or can) spend. If you have a $1,000 budget, you don't want to splurge on the designer handbag you've had your eye on just yet. Whatever your budget, stick to it and buy your core pieces first. What's a core item?  See below!


3. Core Items   



Before you begin shopping, make a list of ten to twelve items that will make up the foundation of your wardrobe - your core pieces. Generally your core pieces are your most expensive items.  You may already own a few of these pieces and if so, that's even better.  
The ten core pieces in my wardrobe are:
  1. A dark colored dress, AKA. . .the "little black dress"  (Keep in mind that it doesn't have to be black anymore, it can be a deep navy too.  Just make sure it's a solid color.)
  2. A crisp button down white or ivory blouse
  3. A great pair of jeans in a classic cut; nothing trendy
  4. Black pumps
  5. Neutral, solid color blazer
  6. A good fitting bra
  7. V-neck tees in solid colors (black, white, gray)
  8. An investment handbag (The best bag you can afford that is versatile enough to go with any season and/or outfit)
  9. Boots
  10. A Trench Coat



Now that you have determined what your core items are, check to see if you already own them.  Then make a list of the items missing you will need to shop for.  Now the fun begins. . .focus on your core items and build the rest of your wardrobe around them with colorful, trendy and fun items.  Add in that leopard scarf and a fun statement necklace! The key to trendy items is to not break the bank.  Pinterest is a great resource for outfit inspirations, as well as other blogs.   

Create a Pinterest board of outfits you like, then take a look back at the board to see what you are drawn too and what catches your eye. 

4. Mistakes Learned



You know when you absolutely love something in the store but then you get it home and it doesn't feel as good?  Those stripes really did go around your hips in an unflattering way and that color orange does make your hair look brassy.  These items inevitably end up in your donation pile.  I've also had days where I just didn't feel cute; that outfit customarily never is on repeat!  These my dear friends are mistakes learned. Know what works and rarely trust the sales clerk.  She doesn't know you from Adam and, of course it looks good on you to her, it's a sale! 

5.  Your Wing Woman 

This is an important job and the gal who is deemed this position needs to be an honest friend.  She needs to be trusted to tell the hard truth even when you don't want to hear it because you want the item so badly.  Her role is to be the honest truth to the fit, look and style on everything but, most importantly, on the core wardrobe pieces you shop for. Your job is to trust her. I can shop with my bestie and hands down never come home with anything stupid.  And believe me...she is honest.  Nuff said! 

6.  Dressing rooms are there for a reason



Try on the items before you buy them.  If you think mint green is a great color on you but have never worn it, now is the time to see.  There is only one way to find out if it works for you! Experiment with accessories and styles. The sales clerk has probably seen that item tried on before and may have seen some fabulous styles she can share too. Now is a great time to also remember what designers to steer clear of and which ones fit your body well.  Remember, dressing room mirrors generally are not your friend. 

7.  Out with the old, in with the new

Now you really should clean out your closet, keeping only your core items and the pieces you purchased to add.  Get rid of everything that doesn't fit, you don't like or that you're hanging on to because you hope it will come back in style.  Consign the nicer pieces, or even sell them on one of those sites that lets others shop your closet.  (I think its Posh Mark?)  Donate the rest to goodwill.  All that money you make from selling unwanted items from your closet can be invested back into the new wardrobe!

8.  New you, New style rules



Stop thinking about all the fashion rules you were taught, you know what works for you.  Pay attention to how clothes and styles make you feel.  After years of exploring my personal taste and style, I pretty much make up my own rules where fashion is concerned.   However, I always keep in mind what works and what doesn't.    Give yourself permission to be colorful, creative, trendy and have fun with it. Get creative and think outside the box!  

Fashion may change and so will our bodies, but if you follow these guide lines you will be able to keep up with the latest fashions, and always feel good! 


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54 comments

  1. Now that I work from home, I've discovered that my wardrobe is predominantly yoga pants. I really need to go buy a couple of nice sweaters now to dress up. LOL

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    1. It is so easy to hang out in yoga pants when you work at home. I find that if I get dressed I am more productive.

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  2. These are great tips, even for those of us at home--everyone can have a great wardrobe with a few key pieces!

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    1. I agree. A few key pieces are all you need as a SAHM. Mix and match them.

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  3. WOW, thanks for posting this! I just recently lost a good bit of weight and have NO CLOTHES!!!! I am trying to build my wardrobe a little at a time because I'm still losing weight. These are wonderful tips!

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    1. I am so glad Lisa. I know you had mentioned this before and I am so excited for you new closet journey!!

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  4. Excellent post! I certainly need to update my wardrobe and I love the advice you've given here. I especially like the idea of creating a Pinterest board filled with ideas of things I need to be shopping for. So glad I found you and this post via the SITS Comment Challenge that's going on this week. Thank you! :D

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    1. Thanks dear. You can find so many looks that you would not have thought of on pinterest.

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  5. I love the comment about yoga pants.. so my core wardrobe involves yoga pants for summer, and some for winter;) Seriously though, good advice on establishing this. It can be overwhelming to start over. You need a checklist!
    note- I will be passing on the trench coat, it is not something we need in Phoenix!

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    1. No, I would bet Phoenix doesn't need a trench coat. Maybe replace it with a great fitting swimsuit.

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  6. Great tips! I really need to do #7 - maybe that will be my big spring cleaning project :) I keep meaning to resell those old clothes but there they still sit, collecting dust and taking up space... time to do a big purge! Thanks for the tips!

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    1. It is a refreshing feeling to finally clean out your closet. Good luck with it.

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  7. I'm currently working on building my own wardrobe, so this is a great piece for me right now! Thank you! I hate trying clothes on and rarely do... I need to get better at that to avoid the purchasing mistakes I've made in the past.

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    1. Don't forget t take a good friend to be your honest eyes!

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  8. Stopping by from SITS Girls Comment Love...I'm currently working on paring down my wardrobe due to my very limited closet space. This is a great post to get me thinking about what are the necessities and what's really important for my stage of life now!

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    1. Thanks for stopping by. And yes limited space would make you be a cautious shopper.

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  9. Hi Lisa, stopping by from the SITS girls comment challenge. These are some great tips! I spend most of my time covered in paint or wood chips so I try not to wear anything nice most of the time. I definitely need to improve my wardrobe and you've sure given me some things to think about when I do, thanks for sharing. :)

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  10. I am well overdue for a closet purge. I'm just starting to build my basics, and this is a great post to use as a reference. Definitely pinning for future reference!

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    1. So glad it helped you. Thanks for stopping by.

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  11. These are great tips! I have been thinking a lot about my wardrobe lately because I'm pregnant and I can't wear any of my real clothes! I am excited to get back to wearing things that are actually my real style again.

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    1. You may be surprised as how you style will change after the baby is here. Congrats and good luck!

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  12. This is a really great guide and I'm going to send this to my sister in law as a good start to that "after high-school" wardrobe she'll need soon!

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    1. Oh very good advice to share with a recent grad. Thanks for sharing.

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  13. Wonderful guide! I also work in a corporate office which denims are okay but I prefer light materials as my legs get stress with denims. I've bookmarked this on my browser to be my guide as I'm starting to build my wardrobe too.

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    1. Thanks and hope you find it useful.

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  14. I love your "core" list. Looks like I have some shopping to do!

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  15. Those are great tips. I find it hard to set a budget sometimes as I wish to buy more items lol! When I purchase clothes, I definitely sell or donate older pieces as I just don't have any more space in my walk-in-closet. I shop every season and for special occasions."SITS Girls Comment Love"

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    1. I find staying in a budget can sometimes get away from me too. Limit yourself to looking for only a few of the core items on each trip so you can better stay in the budget.

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  16. Stopping by from the SITS girl challenge! What great tips... love them all!

    ~ Lora @ Crazy Running Girl

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  17. Great tips! I especially have come to realize the importance of #4. There are some colors and items that are SO cute, but they will just never look right on me, and there's no point wasting my money in hopes that each new item will finally "stick" for me!! Better to stick to what I know works! Stopping by from SITS :)

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    1. I had t come to terms with this as well. after seeing it on others and thinking it was s cute only to find its just not me. Thanks for stopping by.

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  18. I used to despise when my mother would say "try it on!" I hated dressing rooms. But I've learned to try things on before buying them, because, even if it's in your size, sometimes you get home and realize the fabric hangs awful on you or the pants are cut too tight.

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  19. SITS!

    I don't always want to build my wardrobe around what I usually wear! Wahh! I have to wear black to work. I'm so sick of black that I randomly go buy lime green jeans or purple jeans or whatever. No more black!

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    1. I bet your weekends are full of color then ;) Thanks for stopping by.

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  20. I love this list, I used to hate shopping & just had a mish mash of clothing, but ever since I started losing weight I've started to really try "building" my wardrobe. I think instagram has really helped me realize how to create different outfits with the same core pieces

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    1. Yes instagram is another great way to spot outfit ideas.

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  21. I've been having a huge issue finding the "right" clothes to build the basics of a wardrobe and I'm going to follow this core list to start. Thanks so much, I needed this today!

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    1. So glad you found it helpful. Thanks for stopping by.

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  22. Great suggestions - especially the "core" items. I am a working mom of 4 and don't have a big fashion budget or fashion sense really! So glad I saw your page on #SITS Blogging!

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  23. I'm pretty horrible about cleaning out the closet. I have things in there from I don't even know what century. You also made me realize that I haven't bought a white button down blouse since college. And yes, that's in my closet. Good heavens, I need work.

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    1. Haha.... isn't it funny the things we hang on to.

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  24. I just got a new job after a three month sabbatical and a solid personal evaluation of my professional life, and am now reevaluating my wardrobe and basically shopping like an adult. These are great tips, especially the wingwoman! I HATE shopping, but my roommate loves it and is a) always down for a trip for new shoes and b) will always give me her honest opinion. I would add a pair of signature earrings to the core items list-I have two that I switch between and know that even when I'm having a bit of a sloppy day, a pair of earrings can pull everything together.

    Glad to have found your blog on the SITS girls challenge!

    www.notesfromthepeanutgallery.com

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    1. Ohhhh....earring are a great idea. They can spice an ordinary outfit right up! I am more of a bracelet girl, but this is a great idea!

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  25. Great tips! I am a SAHM, so I don't shop much for myself as often as I once did. I should get a few new things, but probably need to make room first by cleaning out my closet...

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    1. Get that closet clean and enjoy a few new things! You deserve it!

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  26. SITS girl here....LOVE this list & the core items you suggest. That really helps! Most people wouldn't think of a good bra for that list but I totally agree with you! A good fit makes me feel better & look slimmer too =) Marcy @ day2day SuperMom

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    1. A good fitting bra can really be an asset to your look.

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  27. I am totally pinning this so that I can update my wardrobe when my paychecks really start coming in. Love it! (I am a work from home mom, SITS girl, KC Blogger, and an aspiring author)

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    1. So glad to hear it is useful for you! Thanks for stopping by.

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