5 Steps to building your dream wardrobe. [5] Put in the work

5 Steps to building your dream wardrobe.

5 Steps to building your dream wardrobe. [5] Put in the work

5 Steps to building your dream wardrobe.
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5. Put in the work:

5. Put in the work: Invest time and thought into developing your style and selecting the perfect garments

Many people have the misconception that a great sense of style is one of these things you either have or don’t have. They imagine that people who are well dressed simply get up in the morning and, through some act of divine inspiration, come up with a perfectly original and brilliant new outfit idea.

On the other end of the spectrum, there are the people who believe the exact opposite: they think of clothes and fashion as simple, almost trivial, and something they should be able to master without too much effort. But when things then turn out be a little trickier than expected, they feel as though they’ve failed, and their wardrobes become huge sources of stress and frustration for them.

So who is right? Neither, because styling is a skill like any other. And that means anyone can learn it and you don’t have to be born with a natural talent for it. But you also cannot expect to be great at styling without putting in any effort at all.

natural talent for it. But you also cannot expect to be great at styling without putting in any effort at all.

It takes time to train your eye, experiment with different aesthetics, and develop a sense of style that feels natural and effortless to you. It takes time to figure out which types of pieces work best for your lifestyle and to curate a versatile wardrobe. And it takes time to then learn how to best utilize those pieces to create outfits that you love.

The bottom line is that if you want great style and a wardrobe that reflects it, you need to put in the work. But the good news is that, no matter what your wardrobe looks like right now, you can get it back in shape and even have fun doing so. You can cultivate a strong personal style, even if right now you have no idea what that could possibly look like. All it takes is a little time, a little effort, and the right techniques.

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Style Trumps fashion

Style trumps fashion

Style Trumps fashion

Style trumps fashion
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5 Steps to building your dream wardrobe.

4. Style trumps fashion:

Get excited about fashion trends that suit your own style, but ignore all others

It suggests that fashion is the equivalent of a law that it is our duty, as respectable people, to uphold. It suggests that the key to dressing well is following the rules and wearing whichever trends and must-haves the fashion world is prescribing that season, regardless of whether we actually like them or not.

Of course, that’s a very literal interpretation of the phrase, but it nevertheless captures the underlying message that the fashion industry is sending to women to drive sales, using headlines like “5 Skirts You Need This Spring” or “Essential Trends for This Year.” And because of that, most women I know still do feel at least some pressure to dress in line with the trends, worry about certain things looking “outdated,” and use current fashion do’s and don’ts as the deciding factor when it comes to choosing outfits.

Being fashionable is totally optional.

Style icons

Some of the biggest style icons of the last century were people who explicitly did not follow every new trend out there and instead had their own very distinctive looks from which they rarely strayed. Think Marlene Dietrich, Grace Jones, or Marilyn Monroe and also modern style icons like Jenna Lyons, Tilda Swinton, or Angelina Jolie. In fact, some of the most consistent style icons of today come from the fashion industry itself, like Karl Lagerfeld, Anna Wintour, and Emmanuelle Alt. All these people are stylish, not despite the fact that they don’t follow trends but because of it. They know exactly what they like and what they don’t like. Their style is iconic because it is completely authentic.

Fashion is an art form

That’s not to say I am against fashion, not at all. And having your own personal style and being into fashion aren’t mutually exclusive. What’s key is that, rather than seeing fashion as a ubiquitous standard, you see it for what it really is: an art form. Like music, architecture, and literature, fashion is a form of art and an important part of human culture that reflects both bigger cultural shifts and smaller movements (such as seasonal trends). Now, what separates fashion from many other art forms is that it is much more prevalent in everyday life. In that sense, it is perhaps most comparable to music, another art form that most people have an opinion about. But unlike with clothes, you wouldn’t make yourself listen to songs all day just because they are at the top of the charts right now or because a “hip” person told you to, right? Of course not; you listen to music that you like. And that’s exactly what it should be like with fashion as well.

Get excited

Just like music, fashion should be about celebrating creativity and having fun. You should not feel bad about wearing a supertrendy head-to-toe look if you love it, but you also shouldn’t feel bad about wearing something that’s not in line with what’s currently considered to be the look. If you are a creative person, fashion can be a great outlet for experimentation, inspiration, and just having fun. I personally still get just as exited about Fashion Week nowadays as I did during my shopaholic phase. But what’s changed is that now, instead of treating all the new trends and pieces like a to-do list, I think of them like a buffet. I’m free to pick and choose. If I see a look and immediately love it, I will look to buy something in that style and continue wearing it long after it’s gone out of style again. But if I don’t see anything that suits my style, I’ll just stick to my old favorites for that season.

In this blog, we’ll focus on style rather than fashion. Fashion can be fun and inspiring, but it is volatile, and there is no guarantee that the trend you’ve so madly fallen in love with just a few months ago will still look just as enticing to you once the season is over. If your ultimate goal is to build a great wardrobe that you will love for more than a couple of seasons, your personal style should always be your primary compass.

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5 Steps to building your dream wardrobe. [3] Aim for quality

5 Steps to building your dream wardrobe. aim for quality

5 Steps to building your dream wardrobe. [3] Aim for quality

5 Steps to building your dream wardrobe. aim for quality
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3. Aim for quality:

3. Aim for quality: Build a wardrobe of high-quality pieces that last more than just a few years.

Only a few years ago, the concept of “quality over quantity” seemed inherently flawed to me. I thought, why in the world would I want to blow all my money on one pair of jeans, when I can have five pairs instead?

I was firmly in the “more is more” camp, and so I put up with shoes that gave me blisters, flimsy polyester T-shirts that felt itchy, and pants that I had to readjust after every tiny movement, all in exchange for having more (equally flawed) options hanging in my closet. I didn’t bother caring properly for my clothes or storing them right, and to me, it wasn’t a big deal if a garment fell apart in the wash, a seam ripped, or a heel broke off of one of my shoes. Each individual piece simply wasn’t worth much to me, not just monetarily but also within the context of my jam-packed wardrobe.

The result of this approach was that I usually threw out the majority of my clothes at the end of a season: some pieces because they had literally fallen apart, others because the fabric was covered in pills, and many because they had simply turned out to be so uncomfortable or ill-fitting, I couldn’t bear the thought of ever wearing them again. And so, about twice a year after a thorough clean-out, my closet always looked frighteningly empty to me and the whole vicious cycle started again…

Sounds terribly wasteful? It was. Fortunately, my strategy did a complete 180 almost as soon as my goal had shifted from “be fashionable” to “cultivate my own personal style.” That process happened quite naturally for me, as it does for most people: once you become more selective about what you keep in your closet, you’ll attach a bigger value to each individual piece and will probably no longer be satisfied with cheap, badly manufactured stuff. You’ll want clothes that feel good on your skin. Clothes that are sturdy and durable and that won’t fall apart after a couple of seasons. Clothes that fit the contours of your body well, without distorting your silhouette or restricting movement.

Aiming for quality goes hand in hand with building a great wardrobe that expresses your style and supports your life. And that’s why this blog in addition to making sure your wardrobe aligns with your style from an aesthetic point of view— emphasizes choosing clothes that are high-quality, functional, and made to last.

You’ll learn how to put together a wardrobe that works for your lifestyle, is as versatile as possible, and gives you tons of outfit options for all your activities. You’ll become a pro at assessing the quality of garments based on factors like the craftsmanship of its seams or the composition of its fabric. You’ll get to know your own subjective preferences for materials, silhouettes, and details inside out. There’s also a whole chapter dedicated to choosing clothes that fit well, so you’ll eventually be able to instantly tell whether the construction of a potential new piece aligns well with the individual proportions of your body.

And don’t worry if you are on a budget: you don’t need a fat wallet to put together a high-quality wardrobe. The quality of a garment is rarely perfectly correlated with its price, and once you know all about assessing garments, you’ll be well equipped to find high-quality pieces at all price points.

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5 Steps to building your dream wardrobe. [2] Be authentic

5 Steps to building your dream wardrobe.

5 Steps to building your dream wardrobe. [2] Be authentic

5 Steps to building your dream wardrobe.
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2. Be authentic:

2. Be authentic: Forget conventional style typologies like “classic” or “bohemian” and create your own unique look

Style typologies and lists of “wardrobe essentials” are to style seekers what fad diets are to people who want to lose a few pounds: quick-fix, one-size-fits-all solutions that make you feel as if you are making progress for a while but ultimately won’t help you address the root of the problem.

When I was younger and still very unsure about my own style, I took these style typologies very seriously and thought if only I managed to curate every single piece recommended for my “type,” I would finally become the stylish and impeccably dressed woman I longed to be. Most quizzes put me in the “classic” category, and so I went on to stock my wardrobe with button-down shirts, ballet flats, and, of course, a trench coat. The first time I wore that trench coat, I felt like a little girl playing dress-up with her mother’s wardrobe, but I tried my best to ignore that feeling. I was following the advice of fashion experts after all; surely they knew what they were talking about, and I probably just had to get used to my chic new look.

And that’s the problem with style typologies, lists of “wardrobe essentials,” and really any fashion advice that tells you what to wear or put in your wardrobe: They present you with a neat little ready-made formula for style and thereby keep you from thinking things through for yourself and following your own creative impulses. They promote the idea that “style” can happen in only one of three to seven ways (depending on how many magazine pages need to be filled) and that dressing well is about how well you stick to those rules.

Fad diets, style typologies, and “wardrobe essentials” lists are popular for the same reason: they satisfy a demand for a quick solution and simplify what can feel like a daunting process down to a set of easy-to-follow rules that seem manageable.

Fad diets, style typologies, and “wardrobe essentials” lists are popular for the same reason: they satisfy a demand for a quick solution and simplify what can feel like a daunting process down to a set of easy-to-follow rules that seem manageable.

one-size-fits-all wardrobe. Following rules and blueprints is not going to help you cultivate a strong sense of style, because your personal style is just that: deeply personal. Sure, you may like a lot of the same colors, materials, or cuts as someone else, but the way you combine these into outfits, the pieces you choose for different occasions, and how you style your looks are all a reflection of your unique likes and dislikes and the influences that you have picked up over the years. one-size-fits-all wardrobe. Following rules and blueprints is not going to help you cultivate a strong sense of style, because your personal style is just that: deeply personal. Sure, you may like a lot of the same colors, materials, or cuts as someone else, but the way you combine these into outfits, the pieces you choose for different occasions, and how you style your looks are all a reflection of your unique likes and dislikes and the influences that you have picked up over the years.

True personal style is always custom-made, so building a cookie-cutter wardrobe makes little sense.

For example, I have a friend who always wears the most amazing flowy dresses paired with long necklaces and a hat. Based on that description, a run-of-the-mill style quiz would probably classify her as the “bohemian” type and recommend she stock her wardrobe with floral pieces, fringed bags, lots of patterns, and warm, bright colors. Her wardrobe in real life? Cool and monochromatic, full of understated accessories, and not a pattern in sight. Her style doesn’t fit into any of the traditional style types, and yet it’s completely cohesive. Each of her outfits represent her unique aesthetic perfectly. It’s impossible to describe her style in a few words, but that doesn’t really matter, because once you have found your personal style, it only needs to make sense to you.

Of course, when it comes to building a great wardrobe, personal style is only one part of the puzzle. How you implement that style (in other words, which exact pieces you include as part of your wardrobe) depends on many other factors, including your specific lifestyle, your body, your favorite fits and fabrics, your budget, and even your typical laundry routine. And all these are, again, things that are solely defined by your individual preferences, something to which no ready-made list of “wardrobe essentials” could possibly be tailored.

So, if you are reading this blog expecting a fail-proof wardrobe plan that you can replicate, I have to disappoint you. On no page of this blog will I tell you what to wear, which pieces to include in your wardrobe, or what kind of top to match with which kind of bottom. What I will do is show you how you can figure all these things out for yourself, how to discover your unique likes and dislikes, and how to combine everything into a functional personal style that’s authentic because it’s truly your own.

5 Steps to building your dream wardrobe. be authenitc

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5 Steps to building your dream wardrobe. [1] Be selective

5 Steps to building your dream wardrobe .

5 Steps to building your dream wardrobe. [1] Be selective

5 Steps to building your dream wardrobe .
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1. Be selective:

1. Be selective: Reserve your closet space for items you love 100 percent

Training yourself to become more selective is the single most effective thing you can do to upgrade your wardrobe. Try to think of your closet as an exclusive, members-only club. Only pieces that you love and are truly excited to wear get an invite. Anything ill-fitting, scratchy, worn-out, barely “good enough,” or that simply doesn’t suit your personal style is not invited. Now, it may seem common sense to not buy things you don’t really like all that much, let alone keep them in your closet or even wear them, but, in reality, we often make do with imperfect things:

  • We buy items that we only half like because they are on sale or a “good deal.”
  • We wear clothes that are so uncomfortable we need to take them off as soon as we get home.
  • We keep items that stopped fitting years ago just in case they fit again someday.
  • We wear shoes that we can hardly walk in and that leave our feet covered in blisters.
  • We force ourselves to wear pieces that we feel only so-so about because they were expensive and we don’t want to let that “investment” go to waste.
  • We wear worn-out, scruffy pieces around the house and hope nobody is going to stop by unannounced.
  • We wear clothes that ride up and tug in all the wrong places.
  • We wear outfits that don’t make us feel confident or inspired because we simply don’t have anything better in our wardrobe.
And why do we do all these things? Why do we spend our money on stuff that we don’t even like? Why do we put up with clothes that are uncomfortable?

Because it’s easier, at least in the short term. It takes less mental energy to just make a quick decision and buy that top you need for an event at work, even when you don’t really like how it fits around your bustline, than it is to spend another hour looking for one you really love. It’s easier to just keep wearing your worn-out, stretchy pair of jeans than it is to go through the oftentimes exhausting process of finding a pair that fits the individual contours of your body perfectly. Most people are also more comfortable just putting up with battered feet after a night spent in ill-fitting heels than admitting that those eighty dollars were not well spent. In the same way, it’s easier to keep telling yourself you’ll fit into your old favorites again someday, even though they’re now two sizes too small, than it is to let go of them.

Of course, all these decisions make life easier only right in that moment. In the long run, having to keep readjusting a skirt that rides up with each step or deal with straps that painfully dig into your shoulders each time you wear a no-good piece is way more stressful. It’s also stressful to have to comb through piles of clothes each morning just to find one acceptable outfit. And of course, if what you wear is important to you, not being able to find anything you truly love will affect your confidence levels eventually, and that’s stressful too.

In the long run, putting more effort into selecting the right piece always pays off.

But because of our natural human tendency to conserve energy in the short term and choose the easiest route when possible, being more selective when it comes to your wardrobe is something you actively have to practice.

As you work through this blog, you will come across many different techniques that will not only help you be more selective but also make the process feel easier. You’ll learn how to assess the quality of potential new wardrobe additions and how to recognize pieces that may look great on the hanger but won’t feel good on your body by the end of a long day. You’ll develop strategies for how to resist clever marketing ploys, de-stress your shopping

experience, and prevent impulse buys and other less-than-ideal purchasing decisions. And most important: You will become more and more aware of your own personal style and individual wardrobe needs and eventually be able to tell in an instant whether an item suits your style and works with the rest of your clothes or not.

5 Steps to building your dream wardrobe

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