6 Steps to a Chic, Long-Lasting Wardrobe

by Fawn Rechkemmer on October 23, 2014

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For many of us, our wardrobes are our guilty pleasure. However, for some of us, a wardrobe is a guilt-ridden, painful avoidance of having to go to a mall. Even if you are in the latter category, though, here are six easy steps to getting out of sweats and yoga pants and creating a wardrobe that you truly love.

1. Pick pieces that fit you.
And by “fit you” I don’t mean “almost fit you” or “stretch to fit you” or “I can squeeze myself into.” I mean tailored, fitted, meant-for-your-body-shape clothing. But unless you happen to be one of those people that can magically fit perfectly in all the off-the-rack clothing (which is rare, mind you), it is difficult to find clothing that really fits this way. Here are some ways I’ve found tailored pieces for my own wardrobe:
– Check different brands to see if anyone’s sizing seems to particularly fit you best. For me, Banana Republic’s petite button-down shirts are fitted magic, but other stores… not so much. So I get shirts at BR.
– Buy pieces that nearly fit and get them tailored. Tailoring isn’t as expensive as you might think, and the results in how your clothes will look on you are totally worth the little bit of extra cash it will cost. Be sure to avoid bridal-focused alterations places, though. Usually their prices are much higher.
– Shop vintage. Vintage clothing tended to be tailored through construction, not stretchiness, so it can be a wonderful option for finding pieces for your wardrobe.
– Sew/Have your clothing sewn. Sewing, knitting, crocheting, etc. are all ways to customize and create clothing that will fit perfectly. Even if you don’t sew yourself, you may be able to rope in a friend or hire a seamstress for any special pieces you’d like.

2. Pick pieces that will outlast the trends, and throw out the ones whose days have passed.
Yes, fashion trends do “come back around,” but it tends to be several decades later. In the meantime, those stirrup pants just aren’t cool. Feel the freedom of clearing out closet space by tossing items that have had their day long ago. This doesn’t include classic pieces like tailored dresses, pencil skirts or solid button-downs, but it does include those fads that are older than your college-age daughter or get worn by junior highers at Halloween. (Sadly, even us 90s kids are starting to experience this phenomenon. For some reason the Lizzie McGuire look just isn’t in anymore!) Not only will this free up space in your closet, it will also help you choose pieces that will make you look and feel more youthful rather than matronly.
Then, with all that free space you can be on the lookout for fresh, classic pieces to add to your wardrobe. Although it’s great to have trendy pieces, stocking your closet with classic lines ensures your purchases will have longevity. Classic lined pieces include pencil skirts, simple blazers, a-line skirts, and solid cardigans. Another great place to look for “classic” lines is to check out 1950s fashions. These have long endured the test of time and are still considered classic and glamorous today.

3. Pick high-quality.
The allure of a $5 bargain bin blouse is undeniable, and sometimes just plain irresistible. However, cheap pieces are often (though not always) cheap because they are made cheaply. The construction techniques and fabric are not so great, and they don’t last long through the rigors of life and automatic washers. They lose their stretch, they fray, tear, fade, or pill relatively soon. Although buying higher quality pieces seems like a terrible waste of money, it will actually save you a lot of money in the long run. Your clothing will last longer and look better, and the cost of the item averaged out over many years will actually be inexpensive, versus the $10 shirt that only lasted four months.

4. Pick pieces that work for your life.
As much as I wish it were not so, I just don’t have much call for cocktail dresses and ball gowns in my just-out-of-college life in Springfield, Missouri. Being able to pick clothing items that accurately fit in the different areas of your life will keep you from accumulating a rack of neglected pieces in the back of your closet that rarely see the light of day. If you’re a stay-at-home mom, pick pieces that are hardy and comfortable. If you have an office job, be sure to have a good array of basic mix-and-match office-appropriate pieces. If you work out, be sure to have adequate fitness gear.

5. Wear these pieces at the appropriate times.
After you’ve stocked your wardrobe with pieces that work for your different life activities, be sure to match the correct clothing to the correct activity. The key to classiness is not looking fabulous every minute of every day; it’s knowing the right moment to look fabulous. Just as you wouldn’t wear heels to a gym, keep the rest of your activity-specific clothing in the activity they’re meant for. Save your sweats for the gym and around the house, but put on a cute outfit to go to dinner with your husband or even to go grocery shopping. It may seem like a bit of extra work, but it will actually do a lot for not only the way you feel, but how others perceive you. (Which, I know, isn’t always fair, but it happens. I speak from experience.)

6. Pick pieces that express YOU.
Now that you’ve got all the classic pieces, throw in the pieces that are YOU! Find that chunky necklace, those sassy heels, that gaudy-print shirt and rock it! Pair a statement piece with each outfit to really make your looks “pop” with uniqueness and flair that is undeniably you. This is what sets the looks-like-everybody-else outfits apart from the WHOA-who-is-that-confident-fashionista outfits!

Emileigh RogersEmileigh Rogers is a just-out-of-college, just-married twenty-something in Springfield, Mo. She is the blogger behind the vintage lifestyle blog Flashback Summer, which she often writes posts for while sipping sweet tea out of a wine glass. A self-declared “old lady,” she enjoys keeping the old domestic arts alive and rescuing vintage clothing from flea market purgatory.

Sarah @ Beauty School Dropout October 23, 2014 at 10:51 am

Such great advice, Emileigh! I have a tendency to want to buy clothes for a life that is a little more exciting than my own (office job and comfy around-the-house clothes) but then they just hang unworn in the closet. I’ve had good luck having tailoring done at a menswear store — definitely not the first place I would have looked, but my husband was having some pants altered and it struck me that they could alter my pants, too!

Lisa @Retro Housewife Goes Green October 23, 2014 at 11:38 am

Great tips! I’m trying to go through my old clothes, already donated three good size boxes full, and only buy new stuff that is good quality and that I love. It makes you feel so much better about yourself when you can pull anything out of your closet and like how it looks.

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