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Do you need a style guide for your wardrobe?

You never have anything to wear, right, even though you feel like you could stock an entire shop with the amount of clothes you own?

I’ve created a set of simple steps for developing your very own style guide so that this is a feeling of the past.

Once you’ve followed them and created some wardrobe rules, they will become your guide for sorting and purchasing clothes! You’ll never have to worry about whether you’re buying or getting rid of the wrong clothes again.

Plus, having a signature style guide helps you not only LOOK, but also FEEL, more effortlessly styled. When everything you have suits you, it’s easy to just throw something on and look put together.

My five simple steps are as follows:


1. Pick your favourite wardrobe items

First, pick out your absolute favourite pieces. These pieces look great on, are comfortable, and fit perfectly. You love everything about them and hope they live forever so that you can be buried in them. These pieces will provide the basis for your wardrobe rules.


2. Note their colours

Look at the colours of these items – chances are you have a common theme running here, which will help you define your colour palette.

You need to make sure you have a combination of base colours, accent colours, and finishing touches in your completed wardrobe.

Base colours are those which look good on anyone and go with anything, i.e. white, black, grey and navy.

Accent colours are the colours you like and look good in (aside from the base colours), and provide a bit of interest. Mine are indigo and a nice sort of “dusty” pink. Yours might be emerald green, or orange. Or both! You can have more than one.

Finally, you will have your finishing touches. You’ll only have a few items of these colours, but they do the job where everything else won’t. I have metallic gold and tan, but you might choose prints like leopard or floral, or fluoro orange, or silver.

An extra point – adding texture to your wardrobe, as well as colour, helps to keep it from getting too boring. It can be anything, like a leather skirt, a fluffy knit, or a suede top. I have a blue velvet dress and a pink tulle skirt, plus a few others. It can also be fun to pair these with more conservative items for something different.

But for now, just write down your colour choices. You won’t necessarily have a favourite piece of clothing in each colour that you pick, but they will give you a good head start. If you choose colours that you already own, plus a few complementary ones, then you won’t mislead yourself into buying clothes that don’t match. Colour is half of your battle here!

Your colour palette forms the first part of your style guide.


3. Note the cut of the clothing

The next thing is to take note of the style of your clothing. Generally our favourite pieces look so good on because they are the right cut for our body type.

Do you have jeans with different rises but your favourites are the high rise ones? And do the skirts that you like sit on your waist as well?

This is a good indicator that you need to make “high rise” a criteria for your wardrobe. This is the case for me and now I only have items of clothing with high waists. Low rise clothing just does NOT look good on me so it isn’t worth keeping (or buying again in future).

The same thing goes for the rest of your clothing – V-neck tops look great on you? Fantastic, add “v-neck” to your list of criteria.

I’ve listed some features that might help if you’re feeling stuck or unsure. It’s not a comprehensive list, just something to get you started:

– High, mid or low rise pants, shorts and skirts
– V-neck, boat neck, scoop neck, or crew neck tops and dresses
– cropped, regular or extra long tops
– Spaghetti, thin, thick, or racerback straps
– Skinny, bootcut, cropped, or flared pants and jeans
– Fitted or flowing skirts
– Long, short, fitted, or loose dresses

My own list starts out like this:
– high waist
– v-neck
– skinny pants
– regular length tops (not cropped or extra long)
– thin or racerback straps.

You’ve probably got the idea by now, but if you want more don’t hesitate to ask in the comments below or send me an email ­čÖé

For customisable wardrobe basics (just shirts at this point, I think they’re expanding into jeans soon), check out Citizen Wolf. You can choose your sleeve type, neckline, length, fit, and colour with these guys. And they’ll repair them if needed!


4. Note what type of clothing it is

If you have a lot of skirts and rarely wear pants, it doesn’t make much sense to own or buy many pairs of pants. Add to your list the types of clothing you seem to wear the most of.

I wear mostly high-waist skinny jeans and plain, semi-fitted t-shirts, and in the summer fitted tanks with A-line skirts, so these are all on my list.

Listing the types of clothing that you wear most often stops you from buying that cute playsuit that is totally adorable but will never see the light of day because you’re never entirely comfortable in playsuits (not to mention, they don’t ‘scream’ convenience when it comes to going to the bathroom).


5. Put your guide together

Cool. So you’ve analysed the heck out of your wardrobe. Now what?

Collate your information for easy reference. Write down your base colour choices, your accent colours, and the finishing touches. List the types and cuts of clothing that suit you, but remember to keep it short and sweet – you don’t want to get bogged down in detail.

The aim here is to create a very simple checklist to filter out the clothes you should avoid, so try to keep each rule to only one or two words. If you find yourself writing statements, break each one down.

For example, turn “long sleeved, v-neck, cropped sweaters” into “long sleeves,” “v-neck,” “cropped,” and “sweaters.” If v-neck sweaters are flattering on you, chances are they will look good in tank and shirt form, too.

If you’re confused, “sweaters” would go in the ‘Type Rules” section and the rest would go into the “Cut Rules” section.


6. Time to use your guide

Once you’ve put together your style guide, you can use it for (at least) two things:
decluttering and creating a capsule wardrobe and
– regulating your future clothing purchases.

You can (and should!) keep the guide with you (on your phone, in a notepad in your bag, whatever works for you) so that when you go shopping and you’re trying to decide whether to buy that flowing green dress, you can consult it and realise that you’ll be wasting your money because green doesn’t match anything else in your wardrobe and flowing dresses, whilst pretty, really annoy you when you’re in them.

I guess in a way, using your style guide to reduce your wardrobe actually follows the Konmari principle of keeping only what you love. If you’re unfamiliar with the Konmari method or just need a copy of the book, you can buy it here. Basically all we’re doing is narrowing down what you love and what looks good so that you can get rid of everything else.

Pop over to my post about creating a capsule wardrobe to put this style guide to use right away!

Image credit: Pete Bellis on Unsplash

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