Imagine a dream boutique where everything in the shop fits you, makes you look good, is just your style and it’s affordable.
If your closet is done up right, it can become that dream boutique, says Janna Beatty, co-author (with Sharon White) of Quintessential Style: Cultivate and Communicate Your Signature Look. The Waco, Texas, image consultant says your wardrobe can be fabulous without busting the budget.
First of all, less is more, she says. Be ruthless and declutter your current closet, getting rid of anything that doesn’t fit, is out of style, needs repairs you’ll never make, or doesn’t go with anything else you own (so you never wear it).
“You can look better without spending a dime. Edit your closet ruthlessly,” Beatty advises.
The decluttering concept came to her out of the blue. “One day, I was talking on the phone, picking the dead leaves off of a plant. I was going to throw it out, but after I picked off the dead leaves, it looked pretty good.”
The same concept applies to your wardrobe, she says.
“Don’t have anything in your closet you can’t put on and wear right now; get rid of it,” she said. “Once you edit your wardrobe, you begin to see combinations you didn’t see before.”
If you can’t bear to get rid of that special dress or jacket you can’t wear right now, at least move it out of your closet to somewhere it won’t be a distraction. You’ll likely find that what’s left offers some new combinations you never saw before – because of the clutter,” she says.
Look at what’s left. Then pick out the one thing you wish you could wear every day, whether it’s for comfort, it suits your lifestyle, or it just makes you feel or look good. That might well be your signature style. Build your wardrobe around it.
“If you love jeans, you’re a jeans person and you wear them every day, then invest in a good jeans jacket to go with them,” she says.
If you have a favorite pair of black (or navy or tan or whatever) slacks you wish you could wear every day, pair them with a matching or complimentary jacket and an assortment of different tops that go with them.
Every woman should have a “suit” – loosely defined in both traditional terms or as contemporary as yoga pants and a sweatshirt jacket. Paired with different tops, it will look different every time you wear it.
Essential to all these is the addition of accessories. A fun necklace, colorful scarf or similar item will bring the whole thing together. “Frankly, I think I have more accessories than clothes,” Beatty says.
Look for quality goods but look for them in unexpected places, like thrift shops or resale stores, she says. No matter what your budget or lifestyle, those are feasible places to start.
“Don’t lower the bar if you shop in bargain places,” Beatty says. “You can find some high quality things in thrift shops and resale stores.
“Love the hunt,” she advises. “If you have good taste, you can shop anywhere.”
“The main thing is, if you’re going to shop on the cheap, ask yourself: Do I have what I need to wear with this? While it’s still new, try it up against other things in the closet. I call it an orientation tour,” she said. “If it doesn’t serve you, I don’t care if you paid $2 for it, it’s worth zero. Take it back.”
If you have a plan or dream for your wardrobe, or an image of your personal style, stick with it, she advises. Don’t buy things that don’t fit into your wardrobe, or if you don’t have any place to wear it, or the quality is so poor you won’t get much use out of it.
“I’ll pay a good amount for something if it’s worth it to me,” she says. Good quality and perfect fit are essentials for her wardrobe.
Decide what your priorities and needs are.
“Ask yourself: What’s my criteria for clothes I love? Is it comfort, easy care, perfect for the current weather or maybe it just makes me feel good? Whatever it is that makes it work for you gives you a great hint as to what you want more of in your life,” she said.
For most women, budget is an issue. So figure on cost per wear. A $5 Walmart T-shirt may not last as long as a $25 Macy’s T-shirt – but is it really worth five times the price just to wear to the gym?
When it comes to shoes, she recommends you find a pair that feels and looks good, then get it in two colors. No, not black. She suggests you get them in your hair color and your skin color.
“You’re always wearing both of those,” she says. “You are the hub of your universe, so everything in your wardrobe should harmonize with YOU – your hair and skin colors.”
You don’t need a lot of clothes to be well dressed, Beatty says. She subscribes to the 1-3-5 ratio.
“If you have one really nice jacket, three bottoms that go with it (pants or skirts) and five different tops that compliment them, you have the start of a capsule wardrobe,” she says. “That’ll get you through a week. It makes you look like you have a lot more clothes than you do.”
And here’s an amazing trick she calls “bottoms up!”
“If you have on black (or any color) pants or skirt, no matter what else you wear, if you take a matching necklace or scarf, it turns it into an ensemble,” she said.
When you’ve done all the steps she suggests, she says you’ll find it easier to get dressed in the morning and always have the right thing to wear.
“Your style needs a firm foundation and that foundation is your closet – your dream boutique.”
The Capsule Wardrobe
Think of it this way: 2+2+5=30
Start with 2 SUITS in any of your most flattering SOLID Colors. The tops of both suits must go with the bottoms of both suits. They may be unmatched suits as long as they mix harmoniously. A suit could even be slacks and cardigan or jeans and a hoodie – the same principle applies.
Add 2 NECK ACCESSORIES, the same color as the bottom piece of each of the two suits. (necklace/scarf/etc.)
Add 5 BLOUSES or T-shirts or sweaters, plain or patterned, as long as you can wear them with both jackets and both bottoms.
Get 30 DIFFERENT LOOKS that can be created using these pieces, 20 with jackets and 10 without.
IF YOU ADD 1 more skirt or slacks (in a different but harmonizing color)
1 more top or blouse
1 more accessory to match the new skirt or slacks
YOU GET 54 DIFFERENT LOOKS.
And your closet won’t be stuffed with things you never wear.
For a FREE newsletter for folks who want to learn more, visit www.makeovers4u.com.