So now you have the house to yourself, you’ve set up your clothes rail and gotten rid of anything you don’t need right now. Hopefully this will have made some space in your wardrobe.
The next step is to tidy up as much as possible. Hang up all of your clothes if you have the space. They will stay neater and be easier to identify. Try not to cram two or three things onto one hanger for the same reason. Remember the dreaded baskets? They are a no go. Also not allowed are piles of shoes or clothes. Hang everything up neatly and sort by tops, bottoms, and dresses/ overalls. Shoes should go into labelled boxes, or put a shoe rack at the bottom of your wardrobe.
Now you can start to create outfits. It might sound trivial but it isn’t. Imagine this: if you own thirty tops and thirty bottoms, you could create nine hundred different outfits. That’s a different outfit every day for the best part of three years. Throw jackets, shoes, dresses, scarves and bags into the equation, and you could probably spend a decade without wearing any one combination twice. Compare this to the twenty or thirty outfits that you wear regularly and that readily come to mind! Obviously those thousands of random combinations would throw up some monstrosities, but also some really good looks that you just hadn’t thought of yet. It is well worth spending a bit of time on creating outfits from what you already own. You’d be surprised what you might find.
Maybe the sight of your wardrobe is overwhelming, and you need a bit of inspiration to guide the way. Inspiration is everywhere but I tend to steal from the professionals.
I like the Instyle magazine and my favourite section is the “Your Look” pages where they take current trends and create outfits. They often mix up unlikely items but the overall look is great.
There are some really great blogs out there by professional stylists (Natalie Hartley) and enthusiastic amateurs alike.
Good shops present their clothes well – at the end of the day, they want you to buy them! Take pictures if you like something – on a mannequin, on a poster, on the rail, or even in the changing room. Most mobile phones have an integrated camera these days, so nobody will notice and accuse you of industrial espionage.
The websites of most high street chains have a “look book” or inspiration page where they show their latest collection and how to wear it. Asos even have a tool where you can create outfits from their catalogue and upload them onto their website.
Ok, you’re thinking, so there is this outfit that I really like but I don’t own anything like it. Are you sure? What is it that you like about it? The shape? The way they are combining unusual colours, textures, patterns, or styles? How they put a blouse under a dress and top it off with a headscarf, or how they wear brogues and a hat with a girly floral dress? You won’t be able to create the identical look. That would mean going out and buying it. It’s about making something new and something you out of what you own.
If your memory is as bad as mine, you should make sure you don’t forget about your new creations. You could sort your wardrobe by gathering the matching items, but I believe it’s better to take a picture of each outfit. If you have a Polaroid camera, stick the photo on your wardrobe. If not you could get it printed for a few pennies, or simply save the photos on your laptop, creating an archive that you can revisit as required. Yes, it is a little OCD. You have to be into your clothes to look good. Sorry.
Get the whole look together, including jacket or coat, scarf, tights, shoes, belts, bags and jewellery. Bring on the accessories – for me accessories often make the outfit. Try not to be too matchy matchy, it’s a beginner’s mistake. Looking a little uncoordinated at times will give you the style edge over a perfectly manicured look. Dare to be unusual.
Next time, I’ll show you how.
… to be continued…