Hello and welcome to a new series -
Establishing Your Wardrobe.
As someone who is very fascinated with the concept of style in terms of what it says about someone, or how we use it to communicate with the world around us or how it makes us feel on a daily basis, I wanted to write a new 5 part series on how to establish your wardrobe from the ground up.
I've spent a long time figuring out my style and what makes me feeling the most 'me' and, having worked hard over the last few years pinpointing more emotions behind getting dressed (and it is an emotional process as well as a practical one), I hope this series makes you think more about the 'why' of getting dressed rather than simply putting on clothes.
Step 1 is the 'why'.
At it's core, putting on clothes is a process of communication, emotion and practicality. It's where the 3 intersect perfectly, in my opinion, whether you think it is or not. We consider so many things in this process - from buying items to wearing them to looking at others - and ultimately, how you express yourself is important. It gives information to the people around us and, can either positively, neutrally or negatively impact how we see ourselves or how we go about our day. Ever wore an outfit you didn't quite feel comfortable in? How many times did you think about that outfit throughout the day? Or looked at yourself in the mirror in a negative way?
I firmly believe that these things do matter and we deserve to feel good in every outfit, regardless of our overall mood or external factors that day.
So, let's discuss the 'why' - why establish your wardrobe? What questions should you ask? Why bother at all? Let's begin...
What do you want your wardrobe to say?
Looking at your lifestyle, your perception of yourself and your overall appearance, what do you want your wardrobe to say about you? Do you want to convey a sense of ease? Look more feminine (whatever that means to you)? Do you want to appear more elevated in your style? If someone were to look at you, what assumption would you want them to make?
A lot of style contemplators and influencers talk about 3 words to describe your style. I do think this is a good starting point if you're not quite sure where to begin. If I were to describe my style it would be: ease, refined, neutral.
Thinking of your 3 words, does your current wardrobe convey this? Do you have pieces that fit in with this theory and, if you do, are you putting them together in a way that feels the most true to your style? If there's something not quite right, pinpoint what it may be.
What do you like or dislike about your wardrobe currently?
It often feels reductive to write a likes and dislikes list as your wardrobe can be an emotion driven process, but in this case, I find it to be extremely helpful.
Thinking of your wardrobe as a whole, what are the 3 main things you like and 3 main things you don't like.
This can be as simple as too many of my clothes feel too restrictive, or a lot of pieces don't fit correctly, the colours are off, it's impractical for every day etc. If you're struggling to think of things you like (if you're looking to start from the beginning), then think why this is.
Be honest with yourself, as it can be quite a process of self-reflection. When assessing my wardrobe, it took me a long time to work through this, so please don't be surprised if you have to contemplate it for a while.
How many different roles are there in your life?
Often people break their wardrobe up into different parts: work, casual weekend, walking the dog, date night, brunch with friends, loungewear... and you end up with so many separate pockets of outfits in one wardrobe, rather than a wardrobe that works seamlessly as a whole.
Now, I know you wouldn't necessarily go on a date in the exact same outfit you would wear to walk the dog, but to get rid of the 'I have nothing to wear' feeling, you need to have a wardrobe of crossover pieces. Individual elements that have a multi-functional purpose.
So, what do I mean by this? If you have a cami top, think of the way it could be dressed up or down. You could use it as a base layer under a jumper when you go out for a walk. Wear it with jeans and a blazer for a casual weekend look. Throw it on with trousers and heels for an evening. Pair it with joggers to lounge around the house.
It's taking 1 element and applying it to as many different scenarios as possible to really make use of items you own. Once you've established your pieces, hopefully by the end of the process, you'll have a wardrobe full of functional items that work for (nearly) every occasion.
What are your main aims for doing this?
The final 'why' is one that, as mentioned above, really emphasises that crossover of emotions and practicality. Why are you spending time establishing your wardrobe? What is the point?
For me, it's a sense of ease. To use less brain space figuring out what to wear, especially for times when I have less brain space as a whole (when I'm busy, stressed, luteal phase) to devote to choosing an outfit.
You may want to use it as a motivator to spend less money and have more control of your finances. Sometimes impulse purchases are connected to boredom or needing the high from clicking 'buy now' (and when the item arrives), so rewiring your brain to be more considered is not only good for your bank balance, it's changing what triggers your dopamine so you don't become reliant on buying something new to feel a temporary sense of happiness.
You may just want to simplify your life so you can spend more time doing what you love. Our wardrobes can often feel suffocating and, once you let things go (you don't have to, you may just wish to organise), I promise you'll not only feel lighter, but you'll feel like you can approach so many things in life differently.
I know a lot will say 'it's not that deep', but I would argue differently.
So, using the four main questions above, we can begin to establish the 'why' of our wardrobes. What do we want to achieve? How does it currently make us feel? These questions are the building blocks of creating and defining our style and are important to really think about. A lot of us have certain hang ups, or can even feel very emotional about our clothes, so it could take a while to truly come to terms with and pinpoint what we want to convey. It's not silly, I promise.
I hope you have found the above helpful and in step 2, we'll be looking at the inspiration for our wardrobes and how to use this to move forward in the process.