Finally warm from the gentle hug of our tea (English breakfast, drop of milk, no sugar thanks!) we’d whittled down a collection of exciting looks to a palatable list. A slightly minimal aesthetic, with deep colours and hints of ‘cool’ peppered throughout. She was looking forward to the prospect of getting started. Then came the confession…
“ I need to get better at looking after my clothes… and just learning to mix and match them…”
A wardrobe full of pieces you’re unable to mix and match is one of the most common frustrations my clients reveal to me. Being able to mix and match your clothes is the calling card of a flexible wardrobe and provides the opportunity to get more out of less.
It’s the reason ‘the French wardrobe’ or capsule closets are coveted by so many. That ability to pluck out a single item and have a plethora of outfits that can come together in a finger snap.
So there’s a good chance many of you have pieces in your wardrobe that only come together for one particular look. Which is a shame because there’s so much potential just sat there, just waiting for you to give them some love.
Why is the dream so alluring?
It’s frictionless, liberating and less-stressful than the alternative way… an alternative which for many, is like trying to solve a Rubix cube before you’ve even had your first cup of coffee.
That’s a lot to ask!
Being able to wear your favourite piece for 5 days straight, without wearing the same outfit twice, feels like you’ve unlocked some secret code. It’s really satisfying knowing you’re squeezing every last drop out of your wardrobe. Knowing there’s potential behind those doors reigns in your urges to buy something new, helping you become that little bit more sustainable.
Here’s the great thing though…
You can totally do it with the clothes you have right now and it’s something you can learn to do. I’ve spent some time coming up with some steps for you to follow that will help you move into this space. Spend some time soaking them up then have a go at a few of my suggestions. You’ve got this!
1 | Colour – There’s a reason so many people rely on looks that are head to toe in black. Black goes with black. No problem. As soon as you start playing with colours you can end up questioning whether the colours go together. So knowing which work together unlocks a huge amount of possibilities. I wrote a three-part series on colour which you can use to help you combine more colour in your wardrobe. A good starting place is looking at the predominant colours in your wardrobe and then identify 3 colours that go with each of them.
Navy peach and green.
Learn three different colours that go with navy, and 3 for peach and so on… this is a great starting point if you find the whole ‘playing with colour’ thing difficult or overwhelming.
2 | Silhouette – It’s important to consider the silhouette and proportions of your outfit. If you haven’t quite got both these elements right it can make you feel as though the outfit is ‘off’, like drinking tea with out of date milk. You know something just isn’t quite right, but can’t always place your finger on what it is.
It’s important to recognise the silhouette and proportions but it doesn’t mean there are a set of specific rules you have to follow. When it comes to the silhouette you’re looking at the overall shape of the entire outfit (proportion plays a part in this but I’ll come on it in a second). It’s useful to have something to aim towards, which is why having identified a personal style is really important here. This should help you identify what sort of silhouette you’re trying to create. Is it an hourglass? Is it voluminous on top then tapered in? You can choose this, it can vary from outfit to outfit and it doesn’t have to ‘flatter’ your body shape.
3 | Proportion – It relates to the size and scale of the different elements of your outfit. So you can see how they impact the silhouette but they also impact the outfit because of where hemlines finish. Also, we’re not 2D. People are three dimensional so it’s important to look at an outfit and see where hemlines are falling and how much space different pieces are taking up.
So knowing what you want here makes it easier. You’ll have something in your mind as you may well be able to recognise when something doesn’t quite look right. If you’re unsure keep reading as some of the other tips will help.
4 | Try on – It seems a simple one but trying on different outfits is so underrated. I mean come on, when else do you spend time doing it other than when you’re trying to get ready to go somewhere. Getting ready in the morning is like a sprint, you have to get to finish line as fast as possible. Spending time to just experiment is a leisurely walk, you can take it all in.
A great challenge is to do a 10 x 10. Pick out 10 pieces and only wear those pieces for 10 days. It forces you to take a small pinch of your wardrobe and get creative.
Put aside some time to do this. Otherwise, you’ll always be making decisions under pressure, first thing in the morning when you have no time to swap things out and try out different combinations.
It’s an opportunity to try different colour combinations and also play about with different pieces to see what works and what doesn’t. Sometimes things work in your head but when you actually try them on they just don’t look great. This allows you to build and prep new outfits when you’re relaxed and can take your time. Grab a drink, put on your favourite playlist and get trying on.
5 | Visualise – When you’re out shopping a lot of clients struggle with knowing whether something they’re considering will fit into their wardrobe. You don’t want to fill it with a load of one wear wonders. Being able to visualise what pieces in your wardrobe whatever you’re trying on helps. You can put something on and know exactly what other items it will go with to form an outfit. A good guide to follow is for every item you add, you should be able to create three outfits from that piece. Spending time trying on acquaints you with your wardrobe to such a level you’ll be able to picture the pieces you own when out shopping.
6 | Redefine – It’s a little bit of a cop-out but I find that a lot of people only consider an outfit ‘new’ if it’s an entirely different set of clothes. However, keeping the base (top and bottom) the same then adding a different jacket, shoes, or accessories can all transform the same base into new outfits. If you want to challenge yourself pick a base to wear for the week. It could be jeans and a tee if you want to keep it simple and then create a new outfit every day with a different set of shoes, accessories/jewellery or coat/jacket. Again, a 10 x 10 challenge can really help with this.
That’s how you learn to mix and match the pieces in your wardrobe. You don’t need new clothes to be able to do this. In fact, every time I work with a client’s wardrobe I end up creating outfits for them they’d never considered before.
So please try out the things I mentioned in this post and let me know in the comments below how you get on.