Please excuse my tardy updates on my ongoing project to re-appraise and re-vamp my closet. It’s been tough and I was hoping to have most of it done before my kids finished school but it didn’t work out that way due to the (never ending) work on our house.
So, I realised I’m guilty of practically every sartorial crime ever documented such as hasty sale purchases, wrong sizes hoping to alter or slim to fit and multiple repeat buying. This last crime is extra bad because I’ve always liked to buy things I love, especially if they fit, in different colours, usually a dark and a lighter, neutral colours so we end up with not only multiple black skirts for example but camel or grey in the same style! This doesn’t make any sense to me now but I know at the time I really wanted all my things to always look new and indulged in rotating what I wore to the max. I’ve loosened up since then….a lot.
I know so much is written about ‘rules’ for buying to enhance your existing collection of clothes and accessories and particular guidelines for investment and sale time purchases but I wanted to add what I’ve learnt from my own experience as a petite and as a mother of 3.
1. Core closet
This is perhaps the most difficult rule to practise and follow but if you succeed, you’ll reduce your crime potential to the lowest level. You have to decide what you need and use in your life. This may sound obvious but I don’t think I’m alone in buying things we hope to have the occasion to wear to?
- work and work appropriate casual attire if your company permits. So if it’s suit based then invest in a few pieces such as 3 or 4 good quality jackets (the skirts and trousers not necessarily part of them if you want to save to maximise mix and matching).
- choose natural fabrics such as wool and make sure the cut and fit are as good as you can find plus avoid anything too trendy either in shape, details or colour. Only the jackets that fit these criteria have survived the test of time and made it to my current closet and they are all hip length at the longest.
- if you add washable unlined skirts and trousers (maybe even smart jeans) during Spring and Summer, this will reduce your dry cleaning bill and maximise flexibility as you don’t need to wait for the dry cleaning turn around time.
- dresses: invest in a couple of classics such as the shift, shirt and wrap styles that can be just thrown on under jackets for an instant polished look. You can also layer with a cardigan. Length at around the knee or shorter if you want to show off your legs.
- skirts can be lined or unlined but lined usually keep their shape better. I find the basic pencil and A line shapes at just above the knee, the most flattering and enduring. All at the true waist to give me the best proportion and I avoid low waist styles as they emphasise the dreaded ‘muffin top’ and it’s harder to tuck shirts inside at this level
- trousers – ‘cigarette’ and slim leg trousers are so flattering because they give a longer and leaner line. I can’t find any high waisted that fit so get away with the lower waist cut because of the extra length in the legs and adding heels. I have similar styles in different materials – different weight of wool and cotton with a bit of stretch.
- jeans – skinnies are brilliant and can be dressed up or down, transeasonal and transcultural worn with both flats and heels. I haven’t succeeded with jeggings though so far….
- shirts and blouses – I love silk blouses as they are so versatile and create hardly any bulk when layering. It’s important to have at least one slim cut white shirt that can be easily dressed up or down. Also, I have a favourite sleeveless safari shirt by Gap that has literally worn out. My newest addition are 2 chambray shirts and a peasant style blouse
- tops – I find short or cap sleeve tops more forgiving than strappy sleeveless styles. I have them in silk and cotton in a couple of colours
- layering – my cashmere cardigans and twin sets come out season after season. I always try to minimise bulk so cashmere and silk pieces work best. Although I’m not a tee shirt person, I have a couple of long and short sleeves basics that do the job.
- outerwear – warm coat and trench: my short cashmere and full length camel hair coat continue to serve me very well year in, year out. My love for trench coats bring out the worst sartorial criminal in me, I have a stash of no less than oh, nevermind – it’s embarrassing – my only excuse is that I’ve finally found the perfect cut at last!
What stood out most for me was that my jackets work best at upper or mid hip level to be most flattering and suit skirts, dresses and trousers on the lower half. Anything longer than this just drowns me even when belted in. I’m obssessed with tailored pieces and jackets have really saved the day so many times whether a sharp or softer cut. It is definately worth the time and effort in looking for the right one. And no need to stock up on multiple colours!
Sticking to these core items makes it so much easier and quicker to dress everyday. I think it also makes the maintenance easier and cheaper too. By cutting out all the other stuff I know doesn’t belong to my life, I’ve created space in my closet for only the things that do. Plus it makes it so much easier to decide whether a sale item is really, really worth it or not.