The Fickle Finger of Fashion
Post # 1: The Wardrobe Audit.
The fickle finger of fashion has waved it frilly wand, and pointed it directly at your wardrobe. Yes, that’s right – it’s prime time for a WARDROBE AUDIT!
So where do you begin? I imagine you are standing in front of a mountain of clothing or a closet with more variation and colour than a Spanish Mardi Gras! Here is my step-by-step guide to helping you get organized and sorted – the first step towards streamlining your closet, and your look.
NOTE: The following advice refers to auditing one season’s wardrobe at one time. It is much easier and less stressful to audit and organize clothing by season.
STEP 1: DETOX
NOTE: It is necessary to be ruthless when purging your closet of pieces that:
a) You have not worn in more than 12 months.
b) Are shapeless and outdated
c) No longer fit you and most likely never will. Our shape changes with time, after childbirth etc.). KNOW your shape and what feels comfortable and “right” on your body (this is a whole other blog post in itself!). Generally though, we know what suits us and how we feel in various clothing.
d) Are in an old and tatty condition.
e) Were purchased on the spur of the moment/after a nasty break-up/on a coffee high, and the extremely dangerous SALE season. Many a fashion mistake has been made at sale season….
f) You simply cannot stand to look at any longer.
STEP 2: TRASH, DONATE OR SELL
Divide the items into pieces to trash, donate or sell. That old saying “one’s trash is another one’s treasure” is very true. You would be surprised what people will pay money for – something that may not suit or fit you any longer may be perfect for another. Last summer I set up a mini flea market in a corner of my friend’s hair salon, selling summer pieces that I was ready to trash or give away. I displayed them attractively, advised shoppers honestly and made a cool \200,000. Oh yes I did.
On-line websites like E-bay, Yahoo Auction (Japanese) and various other on-line groups are also very convenient resources. It takes a bit of time and effort to sell this way, but it all adds up – definitely worth a try if you haven’t already. Be careful – on line selling can become addictive!
Remember- after purging your closet of items, you will probably need to invest in some new pieces, so the cash will come in very handy!
**The Dos and Don’ts of On-line Selling**
DO include a detailed but brief description of the item to give buyers a better idea of what to expect and to avoid disappointment/make for a smoother sale process.
DO take CLEAR and well-focused photos of the item in good lighting to show colours and textures accurately as possible. Blurry photos in bad lighting deter buyers.
DO offer at least 2 methods of payment to increase sale opportunities.
DO decide on your sales policy (re: returns/refunds etc.). Generally it is assumed that there are no refunds for second hand items but this is ultimately up to the seller.
DO check up on interested buyers, if possible: Some sites offer ranking systems for buyers – check the buyer’s reputation based on reviews from previous sellers. If the buyer has received much negative feedback, don’t sell to them.
DON’T sell items that you think you may regret parting with.
DON’T undervalue good quality items. Even if the item is not suitable for you any longer, someone else may value it greatly, if the piece is of good quality and in good condition, price it accordingly.
DON’T sell ratty, torn or stained items – not worth the time.
DON’T become disheartened if your precious sweater does not receive any interest. Consider lowering the price after a few days – this often creates more interest.
DO consider pricing good quality items in good condition higher, and cheaper pieces at a low price, for a quicker sale.
Now sit back and watch the notes roll in!
STEP 3: SORT & CATEGORISE
Now that you are looking at a slimmed-down wardrobe, it’s time to sort and categorise your pieces for quick and easy access.
SORT BY STYLE & COLOUR FOR QUICK ACCESS
GROUP similar items and styles together e.g. dresses/skirts/pants/shirts, in similar colours.
HANG shirts, dresses, coats, blazers, jackets, delicate fabrics such as silk, natural fibres such as cotton etc.
FOLD knitwear and delicate pieces that hangers may destroy.
INVEST in some good quality wooden hangers or rounded shoulder hangers for quality pieces. There is nothing worse than those little shoulder bumps that form on items hung on cheap wire or plastic hangers.
STEP 4: WELL STOCKED!
Are you over stocked or under stocked in seasonal pieces?
Let’s look at your winter wardrobe first. Start out by checking your basic pieces.
BASICS: If you aren’t great with colour coordination, stick to simple and neutral shades and colours for basic pieces. This way you can coordinate and spice up neutral tones with colourful accessories, (see below for winter accessories), bringing flavour to your look.
So how many pieces of each item?
Conservatively, I would start with:
3-4 basic long sleeved tops in black, white, grey, navy or brown – pieces that you can layer under knitwear etc., and not be concerned too much if the colour peeks through.
3-4 pant items (at least) such as blue denim, black, grey pants that are comfortable and FIT your shape well. Skinny style pants are not just for skinny bodies! Manufacturers now make a variety of skinny style pants to suit various body shapes. Skinnies work well with a variety of pieces especially blouson or oversized tops, this give BALANCE to your look.
Don’t ask me how many pairs of jeans I own…I recently purged myself of around 12 pairs and I still have 2 drawers full of them…they are just so darn easy to pair with everything! One day I promise to include a post on doing denim right.
STYLING TIP: AVOID pairing fitted pants with overly fitted tops (can look trashy), or conversely, oversized tops with slouchy pants (can make you look bigger than you are and will ruin any shape or look). Balancing pieces well is very important to developing a streamlined, clean and polished look. More on this in future posts…
SWEATERS/OVERSIZED TUNICS/SWEATER DRESSES
3-4 (at least) sweaters/tunic/dress style knitwear in natural fibres such as wool/wool blend/cotton/silk. If in doubt stick to neutrals, but keep in mind that most colours pair well with denim, black and grey, so having pants/jeans in these tones will allow for colour variation with knitwear/tops.
This season once again welcomes the sweater dress/oversized tunic that pairs very well with a skinny jean or legging. I find this to be a very comfortable and easy look, covering lumps, bumps and middle areas that I would prefer to keep out of public viewing!
2-3 pieces in this style should suffice. I have many however as it is a favourite look of mine…
**Be sure to keep bottoms form fitting with these oversized pieces to avoid appearing drowned in fabric.
If you are a skirt person, go for it! As a mum of young children, I find it challenging to move around comfortably in skirts, but if they work for you, go for it. A-line skirts are always flattering. This season once again welcomes the maxi skirt, which can be a very cool look if teamed appropriately with the right top. Look for styles that suit your shape well and don’t drown you. I used to think that being on the short side meant that I should avoid maxi dresses and skirts, but I have come to realize that this isn’t necessarily true! Maxis can suit any height, if selected properly!
Cardigans are great for layering, but can look a tad dowdy, depending on what they are paired with. If you prefer a conservative style, round necked shorter length, buttoned cardis are suitable, best paired with a form-fitting skirt, knee-length, pencil style skirts pair well with this look.
Personally I prefer V-neck, longer styles that can be worn with a variety of bottoms such as denim. I prefer wearing cardis open, with a fitted top underneath. If you would like to show off your waist area, add a thin belt. Keep the cardi unbuttoned and cinch with a colourful belt! Again, adding colourful accessories to simple tones adds flair to a monotone look.
My must-have cardis include fine wool and cotton pieces in basic grey & black. I love pairing grey with colour for winter.
The “cardi coat” is longer, slightly heavier version of the regular cardigan that can be worn as a light jacket. I have a few of these and find them great as trans-seasonal pieces. One special piece includes a long, khaki, merino wool piece I inherited from my (very stylish) 92-year-old grandmother, who purchased this beauty in Milan, in the 60s! I cinch the waist with a brown leather belt to keep the look modern. Vintage pieces are so divine – as they say, “they just don’t make ‘em like that anymore”!
Again, when coordinating, keep bottoms streamlined with cardi-coats, such as skinny denim or straight-leg pants.
1 warm down coat, depending on the climate where you live. These days there is a huge variety of stylish down or “puffer” coats on offer in various fabrics. Look for pieces with at least 80% down feather for warmth. I find these look best in a streamlined, form-fitting shape. These coats add bulk to a frame, so keeping the style close to the shape of your body will make for a more polished look. If you have a small waist, look for belted options. There are some very cool ones out there! Stick to black, charcoal or grey for down coats.
1 wool pea coat or tailored style coat. Down coats provide warmth in freezing conditions, but for days with a tad more sunshine or a chic, classic look, opt for a structured wool coat. Structured coats offer a very polished appearance, bringing form and clean-cut style to any look. I prefer classic double-breasted styles, which also look great worn open. However if you are not into double-breasted, opt for a single-breasted style with definition in the waist. A larger collar area will make your waist appear smaller. Currently trending man-style oversized coats are great, but can date with time. For longevity, go for a more classic pea coat cut in a shorter or longer style, depending on your frame and preference. I prefer a slightly longer style for warmth but waist length options are very cute too! In my opinion navy is a more chic alternative to basic black, and still coordinates very well with a winter colour palette. Fun options include red, yellow, blue or green (coloured styles are trending this season!).
THE TRENCH COAT
Every Autumn/Winter wardrobe should include a classic trench. Not only are they handy for in between seasons, they also offer elegant polish to any outfit! I have two, in black and camel – I prefer black for winter and camel for Autumn/Spring. A decent trench coat in a classic style that fits your body well is an invaluable addition to any closet. Belted, double-breasted styles work best – belts can be tied in various ways depending on your figure and preference. Check out fashion magazines and on-line resources such as “Pinterest” for ideas!
Scarves, hats, gloves and belts are a fun way to add colours and patterns, bringing life and to a monotone look. With so many fabulous options out there, it is hard to go wrong when selecting designs. However, I have do have some advice here. Thicker, heavier scarves look great with form-fitting outfits (and an added bonus of warmth!) These shawl type scarves can be draped over the shoulders and used as a light blanket, convenient for travel. Patterns are fun, but be don’t overdo it with colour and design. If you are colour/pattern shy, start by sticking to block colours or classes patterns such as tartan, which pairs nicely with coats and outfits in classic colours and styles. However, experimenting with various styles and colours is part of the fun of fashion!
I try to keep gloves and scarves matching where possible, but investing in a decent pair of soft leather gloves can be pricey. Therefore I advise sticking to neutral tones such as black, grey or brown for gloves, which can be coordinated easily with more colourful scarves and hats.
If you can afford it, invest in at least one beautiful cashmere scarf or shawl. A butter-soft, cashmere piece adds polish to a clean-cut look, and feels amazing on the skin.
Recently I am into the beret look! Very French and very chic! Berets look great with a structured wool coat as mentioned above paired with a tunic dress, tights and boots. Even if you think you are not a hat person, there is one out there to suit you! Keep trying various styles until you come across one that suits the shape of your face and overall look (once again, another blog post in itself!)
So there you have it – a no mess, no fuss, fairly painless approach to auditing and organizing your wardrobe, and the first step to re-defining your look!
Stay tuned for future fickle finger of fashion posts…thinking a winter shoe audit may be next in line…