new outfits without leaving the house – or spending money!

February is a great time to look at your closet intentionally. There’s still a good 6-8 weeks left before we can consider spring (bizarre, climate change driven 50-degree days in Minnesota aside). Taking a fresh look at ways to help your winter wardrobe feel more inspiring and prepping your wardrobe for spring are something you can do right now to fight off winter doldrums.

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A big part of my work in practicing sustainable consumerism is to help clients make their existing wardrobes more functional. Most people regularly wear only about 20% of the clothing they have in their closets. For real.

Two things you can do to help your wardrobe be more functional are to “shop” in your own closet and to purge. Clothes languish for a variety of reasons. These reasons fall into two categories – “unrealized potential” (shop) and “time to let go” (purge).

shop your closet

Clothes that have unrealized potential
  • items you aren’t sure how to wear, or have only one way of wearing
  • you got tired of it, so stopped wearing it
  • items that need repair
  • things you forgot were there

Approach your closet like you would shopping at a store. First, actually look at each item; our eyes tend to pass things by because we are so used to seeing them there. Look at your clothes like you are seeing them for the first time. Then think about how you could wear each item in different ways. Here are some ideas to get you started:

pair colors in new ways

Try putting colors together in ways you haven’t before. Combine neutrals with bold, saturated colors or pair two bolds. Wearing saturated colors near your face will give vibrancy to your complexion. Pantone’s colors for Spring 2017 are an appealing mélange – use them as a guide to brighten up winter outfits as we make the slow transition to spring.

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pattern mixing

When mixing prints, one should be smaller while the other is bold – two prints of the same size compete rather than complement each other. Finding prints that share a common colorway can help pull them together. Mixing textures with prints adds dimension as well.

mix it up with accessories

Intentionally change things up with your scarves, necklaces, belts, and other accessories. Take a look at all the different choices you have – it’s so easy to grab the same accessories day after day or ignore them altogether. Be deliberate about wearing different items, tying scarves in different ways, and adding polish to your outfit with accessories.

less clothes, more options

Clothing it is time to let go
  • impulse purchases that just don’t work
  • items that no longer (or never) fit well
  • things that are outdated, worn out, or damaged beyond repair
  • pieces you used to love, but don’t feel quite right anymore
  • items you like the idea of, but just don’t suit your personal style

Purging your closet can feel daunting before you begin, but the freedom and lightness it brings are completely worth the effort. Clearing your closet of items you are no longer wearing lifts a burden of guilt, allowing you to see – literally and figuratively – the potential of the items that do work.

Many of my Wardrobe Consult clients feel like they have a brand new wardrobe with less clothing in the closet and without buying a single item. When we work together, we have a running conversation: “When did you last wear this?” “Do you actually LIKE it?” “Does it make you happy to wear it?” “Why do you feel like you need to keep this?” Answering these questions honestly creates the ability to let go.

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Bonus: you can even earn money by consigning clothing that is five or less years old and in good condition. Consignment shops are accepting spring clothing now, and some will even store cold weather garments until the fall.

If your purged items are too old to consign but are still in decent condition, donate them. You will help someone in need with clothing that otherwise would be hanging unused in your closet. Items that are damaged or worn beyond repair or very outdated should be recycled.

 

 

 

trends for fall 2015

As the weather becomes crisp and the idea of layering and cozying up in sweaters becomes appealing, it’s time to take stock of your wardrobe to shift into fall. While retailers would like you to purchase a whole new fall wardrobe, there are likely many items you already own that can be paired in new ways to create outfits that feel new and contemporary.

Adding “on trend” accessories, shoes, and colors can help outfits feel fresh in an economically and environmentally sustainable way. And many accessories or statement pieces can be found new-to-you.

Fashion designer Caroline Herrera’s statement, “Fashion has always been a repetition of ideas, but what makes it new is the way you put it together,” is one of my favorites (here and here). I keep coming back to it because it is so. very. true.

what goes around comes around

When you follow fashion trends, you see things come around again and again. Style tweaks or different pairings make them contemporary for the time. Take jumpsuits: very on trend right now, as they were in the 70s and again in the 90s.

trends for fall 2015: jumpsuits across the decades

Jumpsuits – 1970s denim, 1990s floral, contemporary denim : Photos – Pinterest: terrebella*moda; Etsy: Twitch Vintage; Young at Style

The contemporary jumpsuit on the right is full body denim on denim, a trend that is still going strong. I love the trend, but the jumpsuit gives me pause. Perhaps it’s because I rocked both the 70s (good times grade-school fashion) and the 90s versions (remember, Amy?? I know you do), and three times around is just one too many. But that’s just me – if you love the jumpsuit look, go for it! And if you have one from the 70s hanging around in your closet, you’re golden – the contemporary versions are channeling that vintage look.

The same goes for culottes and flared jeans: both big in the 70s, flares again in the 2000s, and both big again now. Denim flared culottes are the ultimate mash-up. Wear culottes with a heeled ankle boot, ankle-strap pump, or loafer and flares with wedges or heels to highlight the cut.

trends for fall 2015: flares and culottes

Denim on denim flares, camel culottes, flared denim culottes : Photos – Style is my Pudding; Mango; Anthropologie

fall colors

Burnt orange, oxblood (a very dark burgundy), olive and navy paired together, and neutrals are hot colors this fall. A scarf, handbag or shoes in one of these rich, saturated colors can bring an updated look to a classic outfit, or a single statement piece highlights the trend.

trends for fall 2015: fall colors

Fall colors – neutrals, burnt orange, olive and navy, oxblood and camel : Photos – Memorandum; Always Becoming; Pinterest: Mamabee; Catherine Nicole

Neutrals like winter white, taupe, camel, grey, and oatmeal can be paired with any of the bolder colors or worn on their own in a soft mélange of knits and other fluid fabrics. Be careful to complement skin tone and hair color when wearing neutrals, as they can wash out your complexion if not the right mix for your coloring. Gingham (another classic that’s come back around) continues from spring and summer; navy, oxblood, or black gingham pair well with olive and camel for fall.

 

accessories

Tassels on necklaces, handbags, and shoes. Rope belts (with tassels too). Blanket scarves, silk scarves, and bandanas. Surprisingly, brooches. All are hot accessories this season. Again, many of these are retro – pull out your mother’s vintage silk scarf or brooch to change up the look of an outfit. Tie a scarf or bandana in a classic knot around the neck or wrist or wear a large silk scarf rolled and draped from the neck loose and long. And the stylish Panama hat of summer has morphed into the wide-brimmed fedora for cooler weather.

trends for fall 2015: accessories

 

trends for fall 2015: scarves

Bandana, classic silk scarf, burnt orange blanket scarf : Photos – WhoWhatWear; Pinterest: Style Spy; Still Being Molly

shoes

Ankle-strap pumps, sandals, and flats, ankle boots with a slightly taller shaft, and classic loafers and brogues (aka oxfords) are all over the style blogs right now. Ankle straps that buckle or tie (tassels show up here as well) add a lovely embellishment to classic styles. Ankle boots with a slightly taller shaft and chunkier low or mid-heels appear in classic colors and in fashion-forward prints. Loafers and lace-up brogues in non-traditional colors riff on menswear for a sleek, sophisticated look.

trends for fall 2015: shoes

 

There is a lot of room for expressing your own personal style with this season’s trends. You can go for a classic, clean-lined tailored look, a retro look – both mod-60s or retro-70s, or a softer look with neutrals combined with black or white. And don’t be afraid to mix it up a little and try a color or pairing you haven’t before or even embrace a trend full-on – vintage and new-to-you finds are the perfect way to be bold with styles you’ve never tried or want to wear a second (or third) time around. Maybe I will too.

Yeah. I rocked it.

Yeah. I rocked the jumpsuit.

wardrobe refresh: out with the old, in with the, well, old

caroline herrera quote

Earlier this month, I did a Wardrobe Consult with a client – sometimes these involve purging a lot of clothes that are outdated, worn out, or ill-fitting and replacing them with new to you clothing that offers a lot more fun and functionality for the client. Other times, we purge very little, but the client feels like they have a whole new wardrobe when we’re finished – this was one of those times.

Looking at different ways to pair clothing can increase the options in your existing wardrobe and transform it from a source of immense frustration to one of joy and confidence. By incorporating items that are worn very little because you’re not sure how to wear them, making old standards feel exciting again by wearing them with other items than before, and adding accessories like scarves, necklaces, and belts into the mix, clothing that feels ordinary or boring can instantly become contemporary and fresh.

Following are some of the things I discuss with my clients as we evaluate their wardrobes and re-imagine outfits in new ways:

the third piece rule

The “third piece rule” is something being talked about on many fashion blogs. It is an easy, memorable, and highly effective way to make your clothing go from mere coverage to a polished outfit. Simply add a third piece to what you are wearing. That’s it. You have to put on a top (1) and a bottom (2) for coverage; then add a jacket, scarf, distinctive sweater, or statement necklace (3) – instant ensemble! You can even feel daring and add a 4th and 5th element, like a belt, hat, or bracelet to further express your personal style.

Photo: Fashion Me Now - third piece rule

Third piece rule: adding the scarf makes a simple jeans and sweater combo an elegant casual ensemble. The hat adds even more personal style. Photo: Fashion Me Now

 

look for contrasting and saturated colors to add vibrancy to outfits

Use black to add dimension to outfits by creating a stronger contrast to colors, and use white to add brightness. If the outfit in the photo above included blue denim jeans instead of white, the crisp contrast between the sweater and jeans would have been lost, making the outfit much less striking. Saturated colors tend to bring out the warmth in any skin tone – unsaturated, or muted colors can wash out your complexion.

pair prints with prints

Don’t be afraid to wear prints with prints! Not every print goes together, but many do, and it adds spark and confidence to your outfit when you give it a go. Start small: try pairing plaid or herringbone dress pants with a bold floral or geometric print shirt or jacket. The pattern in the pants serves as texture and adds dimension and polish to the outfit. With all print pairings, one print should be smaller while the other should be bold – two prints of the same size compete rather than complement each other. Finding prints that share a common color can help pull them together as well.

For a bright, fresh look, pair stripes with florals – it is very on trend this spring and is a lot of fun. In the casual outfit below, the small floral print on the scarf becomes a texture next to the bold stripes of the sweater, and the navy and pink contrast each other nicely. In the dress casual combination, blue denim and small stripes pair well with the blue tones in the vivid floral pencil skirt; gray muted stripes complement the bold gray and red floral blouse in the dress ensemble.

Stripes and Florals

 

accessorize, accessorize, accessorize

Adding a belt, scarf, necklace, bracelet, or a combination of the above to an outfit adds polish and shows that you think about what you are wearing, which ultimately conveys confidence. All of us have jewelry in our drawers – be they vintage pieces from our mothers and grandmothers, costume jewelry, or gorgeous handmade works of art. Don’t let them languish! They are a perfect way to add interest and balance to an outfit. And scarves can add a pop of color, texture, or pattern to bring energy to what you are wearing.

shoes can make or break an outfit

Shoes are really important. Yes, for comfort; and also for how an outfit comes together. The shape of the toe, the vamp (covers the top of the foot), and the weight and height of the heel can change the balance of visual lines created by your outfit, whether you are wearing pants or a skirt/dress. The level of dress of the shoe can dramatically change an outfit, as can the color.

it’s all about balance

This is the statement I make most often with my clients. It’s not about looking tall, or looking thin, or looking whatever. It’s about balance. Proper fit and cuts for your body create balanced lines, which look beautiful. Working with items that fit your body well makes dressing so much easier and so much more fun.

With these ideas in mind, try shopping in your own closet for new outfits – there are likely many items lurking in there that could feel new again when worn in different ways. Want help? Contact me today to set up a Wardrobe Consult.