How To Build A Wardrobe

A few readers have requested that I do a wardrobe building post. A couple of years ago I did a series of posts entitled “Worked” where I showed 30 different outfits to wear over the course of 30 days. A lot of people liked that and since it has been a couple of years since I’ve done that, I decided to do this ‘How To Build a Wardrobe‘ post because I think it will be helpful to you.

In my formative years, I shopped based on what I thought was cute or what was trendy. I paid no attention to how it would fit or flatter my body so I ended up with a closet full of clothes that I didn’t wear because I didn’t feel comfortable in them or they didn’t flatter my assests. Now I am more mature, I know my style and I shop based on what looks best on me, what makes me feel the best and what would fit in well with my existing wardrobe.

In this post, I am sharing with you my process for building my wardrobe and you can use it to help revamp your current wardrobe, purge some things that don’t work for you or perhaps even create an entirely new wardrobe based on who you are and what you like in this moment. If you need further help, I am available for private consulting, contact me.
HowToBuildAWardrobe

HOW TO BUILD A WARDROBE

When doing this exercise, think in terms of your body right now. What fits you right now? What do you feel good in right now? What fits your lifestyle?

STEP 1: Look through your current wardrobe and choose your favorite tops. The ones you wear the most, the ones you feel best in. The ones you need the most for your lifestyle. List at least 5-10 silhouettes.

For my lifestyle, I chose:

  • long sleeve button down blouses
  • long sleeve silk tie front blouses
  • high-low tees
  • v-neck cashmere sweaters
  • peplum tops
  • henley tops
  • striped tops
  • casual tanks
  • cowl neck tops
  • wrap front collarless tops
  • kimono style blouses
  • glitzy tanks in trendy shapes

 

STEP 2: Look through your current wardrobe and choose your favorite dresses. The ones you wear the most, the ones you feel best in. The ones you need the most for your lifestyle. List at least 5-10 silhouettes.

My picks:

  • long sleeve body conscious dresses
  • fun party dress
  • formal dresses (not shown)
  • maxi dress in bold color
  • body conscious pencil dresses
  • casual t-shirt/sweatshirt dress

 

STEP 3: Look through your current wardrobe and choose your favorite dresses. The ones you wear the most, the ones you feel best in. The ones you need the most for your lifestyle. List at least 5-10 silhouettes.

I love:

  • pencil skirts
  • circle skirts
  • midi skirts
  • fun fringe
  • feathered skirts
  • maxi skirts

 

STEP 4: Look through your current wardrobe and choose your favorite pants/shorts/jumpsuits/rompers. The ones you wear the most, the ones you feel best in. The ones you need the most for your lifestyle. List at least 5-10 silhouettes.

Here are a few things that I chose (I don’t wear shorts… only to the beach.):

  • cropped pants with elasticized waist and cuff
  • high waist wide leg trouser jeans
  • leather leggings or leggings with leather insets
  • cargo leggings
  • boyfriend jeans
  • high waist wide leg trousers
  • high quality structured leggings
  • ankle pants/cigarette pants
  • slim leg jeans
  • slightly slouchy cropped pants that stop mid-calf

 

STEP 5: Look through your current wardrobe and choose your favorite jackets/light outerwear. The ones you wear the most, the ones you feel best in. The ones you need the most for your lifestyle. List at least 5-10 silhouettes.

I chose:

  • wraps
  • waterfall collar blazers
  • straight-jacketesque leather jackets
  • boyfriend blazers
  • pyjama blazers
  • vests
  • hoodies
  • wrap front blazers or vests

 

STEP 6: Look through your current wardrobe and choose your favorite accessories. The ones you wear the most, the ones you feel best in. The ones you need the most for your lifestyle. List at least 5-10 accessories.

I love:

  • thick belts
  • skinny belts
  • simple pendant necklaces
  • statement necklaces
  • bomb pairs of designer sunglasses
  • diamond studs
  • diamond bracelets
  • scarves
  • multi strand bracelets
  • masculine watch
  • bracelets made of precious gemstones

 

STEP 7: Look through your current wardrobe and choose your favorite bags. The ones you wear the most, the ones you feel best in. The ones you need the most for your lifestyle. List at least 5-10 bag silhouettes.

I chose:

  • feminine shoulder bag in a neutral color for meetings or professional events
  • tote bag for when I need more than I can carry in my purse
  • bucket bag for everyday use
  • clutch for formal events
  • fun clutch with fringe for nights about the town
  • a satchel in a bold color for everyday use
  • a big satchel for travel

 

STEP 8: Look through your current wardrobe and choose your favorite shoes. The ones you wear the most, the ones you feel best in. The ones you need the most for your lifestyle. List at least 5-10 shoe types.

Here are my picks:

  • platform pumps
  • biker boots because I don’t do Uggs and they are comfy in cooler months
  • thong sandals
  • glitzy night on the town stilettos
  • glitzy formal sandal stilettos
  • knee-high boots
  • peep toe platform pumps
  • cute wedge sandals for when it’s inappropriate to wear my thong sandals

 

STEP 9: Look through your current wardrobe and choose your favorite colors. The ones you wear the most, the ones you feel best in. The ones you need the most for your lifestyle. List at least 5-10 colors.

I chose:

  • white
  • black
  • tan
  • nude
  • electric blue
  • purple
  • pink
  • yellow
  • blue-green
  • gray
  • coral
  • mature pink/mauve
  • silver

 

STEP 10: Look at your list. Are there items that you’ve tried on, but haven’t purchased? Can they fit into your wardrobe? Are you missing some items that would give you more wear out of your favorite pieces? Like those pink ankle pants, do you need to add more tops in your favorite silhouettes so that you can get more wear out of the pants? Make a list of these items, this is your wardrobe shopping list.


STEP 11: IF YOU CAN AFFORD IT, go to a store and try out some stuff or order some things off your list or go online and order some pieces that might work for you and add it to your wardrobe.


STEP 12: If your budget is tight at the moment and you can’t go shopping simply take photos with your phone or camera of all your favorite items and see if you can come up with some pairings that you never tried. Yes, try that gray sweater with the bright yellow pants and silver ankle strap stillettos… it just might work.


STEP 13: Purge the things that don’t work for you or that you don’t wear. If it’s in good condition, give it away to a charity.

Finally have fun with your wardrobe! Treat your closet like a boutique, switch things up, get rid of things that don’t work and most of all — WORK IT!

  • Teeyah

    Kai, you’re the best! I’ll be moving out of my parents’ nest by the end of summer and your list is perfect to purge my closet. Thanks Kai!

  • Camie1113

    You really are the best!  I have plans to clean out my closet soon and this list will help me out big time!  Thank you!

  • http://twitter.com/nyshellimari NyShell Imari

    This really is great info! Thanks!

  • LGC

    Where’s all this stuff from? So Cute!

  • Caitie

    What fabrics are best for buying pieces that will work best in the long run? I’m sick of shirts getting pills or losing shape. Are there differences between jersey (does a higher end jersey fabric last longer/pill less)?

    • Sasha

      Higher-end jersey will pill less, especially if you wash it on gentle and hang it to dry instead of using the drier. However, all jersey will degrade faster than a good quality cotton or even polyester/ poly-blends.

  • Tye

    I love this! Very helpful. Thanks!

  • http://twitter.com/BeautyXchange Gigi

    Like the previous commenters, this post is super helpful. I will actually use this in the near future.

  • Mikaela

    I have absolutely no sense in fashion, and want to go off to college with a bang (but not be completely broke). Most of my closet is filled with old worn out tshirts that are the ones that you get for free. Any nice clothes that I have, I feel that it doesn’t suit my body correctly. This seems easy, but for me I need help in child-like terms/words. Does anyone have any tips on how to start and/or help me? Thanks!