Wardrobe Renovation

A few months ago, my friend Heidi asked me to go shopping with her and help her find new clothes. You don’t have to ask me twice. Heidi just had her second baby and is in a self-admitted clothing rut. She doesn’t necessarily fit into what she used to, but doesn’t have a clear direction of where she wants to go. Her needs may also change depending on whether she gets a promotion. As an aside Heidi is an FBI agent. Is that not the coolest job ever? She’s a wicked great shot, so watch out!

I suggested getting a few ideas out first before we go shopping. My "advice" got so long, I figured I would make it into a post instead of just an email. Everyone knows the basic list of what you need- trench, LBD, etc. Since I’m playing fashion stylist, my first piece of advice is

Know what you need and want BEFORE going shopping.
If you know what you need to buy before you go shopping, you will be less likely to buy pieces you never wear. This requires that you really think about your wardrobe. Look at the pieces you like to wear and feel fabulous in-what is the common thread. Are they all skirts? All in the same color family, is it the fit you like? Then build off of that. For instance, I prefer to wear skirts and dresses. I know I gravitate toward skirts and dresses, so I concentrate on finding pieces that will work with skirts and dresses. I also know that pencil skirts are the best fit for me. You might like A-line skirts or a skirt with a fuller or higher cut, try everything on to see what works best.

Know Your Uniform
When I met Tim Gunn, he mentioned uniforms and how they are sometimes a good thing. His uniform is a suit. Always. Mine is definitely a skirt or dress with pumps. Just like I love skirts and dresses, I also love shoes. There is usually one part of getting dressed that people like. Some enjoy accessories, some shoes, etc. Find your thing and emphasize that. In addition to skirts and dresses I love accessories-all accessories, especially belts and necklaces. So, I make sure I incorporate those into my daily outfits.

Find your Inspiration
There are celebrities and movie characters that we naturally gravitate to-Who are your models? Is there an actress or a TV show that you like? I go classic- Grace Kelly, Audrey Hepburn, The Notebook, Mad Men. I like Jessica Alba’s style…Cut put pictures, magazines, catalogs, even color combinations that you are drawn to and post it in your closet like Susan suggests. That way you’ll be inspired when you get dressed.

Now that you know what you love and what you think works on you-Branch Out.
It’s time to get uncomfortable. This doesn't mean purchasing a pair of 5 inch heels, just go a bit outside your comfort zone. For example, Heidi does not like wearing skirts or dresses. You better believe that I am going to force her to purchase at least one dress. I suggest a nice jersey wrap dress like this one from Banana Republic- they are wonderful.
The wrap dress is perfect for work, but works equally well for parties, dates, and events. I also love dresses like this one and this one from Nordstrom that can be easily transitioned from day to night. And, by the way, fit beautifully. Heidi is not comfortable in a lot of pattern, so I think the addition of a patterned or colored (purple, green?) shoe and belt would really expand her wardrobe options.

Find a few pieces you like and play around
Women do not need Granimals. Find a few basic pieces and mix and match-that’s the fun part of fashion. Someone else may wear the wrap dress above with yellow tights. No way am I showing up to work with yellow tights, but a yellow cardigan or blazer with a black belt yes. Or, even a yellow necklace or scarf. Beware of the matchy-matchy. Keep your combination pieces separated in the closet so you are encouraged to wear in multiple ways. I shy away from buying suits because of the natural tendency to only wear that jacket with those bottoms.

Don’t buy all at once
You may feel like you are ready to buy, buy, buy! While good in theory and on TV, you may end up with too many trendy pieces and not enough substance. I suggest purchasing a few items to start with and slowly adding every month or 2 or 3, or more depending on what your budget allows.

I believe that when you are happy with the way you look, you are more confident and effective. I hope this has been helpful. Are there any additional shopping tools/tips you would give to a friend looking for a wardrobe revamp? Other great sites to look for wardrobe revamp advice: Corporette; Cupcakes and Cashmere; She's Still Got It; and Kate's I Take Pictures in the Bathroom.

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