6 Things to Consider When Adding to Your Wardrobe

I think for most folks out there, we’ve hit the end of the semester and finals are over, so I’m going to cut back on the advising posts for a bit. They may pop up here and there, though.

I’ve gotten a few questions on how to create a “minimalist” wardrobe. “Minimalist” and “minimalism” are words I’ve come to shy away from, as they seem to have become somewhat buzz words. However, there are folks out there who are teaching themselves to make do with what they have and are learning how to stretch ever more limited resources. I consider myself to be in the latter camp as opposed to being a “minimalist”.

I have drastically streamlined my wardrobe and it has become more flexible. I never thought this would happen: the more I wear the items in my closet, the more I want to wear the items in my closet. I have become more discerning in what I add to my wardrobe and I add only when an item will fulfill a need. Perhaps in a future post, we can discuss the contents of my closet, which I’m sure would satisfy the voyeur in all of us.

We’ve all had those times when we’ve found the “perfect” item. The perfect dress. The perfect sweater. The perfect shoes. But, is it really perfect? We might think so at the moment, but over time that item may not prove to be as useful as we thought in the beginning. I’ve compiled a list of 6 things that I consider when adding a new item to my wardrobe.

Fabric

I love the look of polyester chiffon blouses layered over tank tops. However, polyester and I are not good friends. Those chiffon tops make me feel clammy and I feel quite suffocated in them, despite their flowing silhouettes. Therefore, I know to stay away from them and admire them on others. It’s just not comfortable.

Ah silk – so sumptuous and luxurious. However, I don’t like having to worry about taking silk blouses to the dry cleaner and then picking them up – and let’s not forget dry cleaning isn’t free! Even careful laundering at home takes extra time that I just can’t justify spending. I’ve tried to make it work for a while, but silk just isn’t for me.

Even the finest, most high quality cashmere makes me itchy. It’s quite embarrassing, actually. I only own a very few wool sweaters and I make sure to wear them with a layer in between my skin and the fine fibers. I also reserve my wool for the chilliest of days. In the case of wool, I know that I must proceed with caution.

But when it comes to cotton, denim and rayon? The more, the merrier, I say! As long as I follow the directions on the care label, all they usually need are a regular launder and a quick press.

Quality

Quality’s an area in which I’m still learning, so I am very hesitant to give any advice here. But, here are a couple of links that could be helpful to you.

Six Secrets To Spotting High Quality Clothes

7 Shopping Tips: How to Find High Quality Garments

Lifestyle

I have a nice, climate controlled office job, so I spend the majority of my waking hours during the week indoors. I come in contact with members of the public and colleagues around campus, so it’s important to dress the part. I should be tidy and reserve jeans for Fridays, but I don’t have much of a need to wear suits or heels, unless I want to. I have three black jumper-style dresses and some oxford cloth and chambray buttons downs to wear under that do me just fine. I keep a curated wardrobe of tasteful jewelry and scarves for diversity and a few pairs of sensible, yet sophisticated flats. I am comfortable and never have any concern about being under- or overdressed.

I also have a simple weekend capsule wardrobe that can take me from farmer’s market to the mall to the movies. The best case scenario is that the item in question would apply to either work or weekend.

If I were a stay-at-home wife/mom, a daycare employee, an upper management type or a bus driver, I’m sure my wardrobe would look quite different!

Versatility

Within this category, there are a few questions I ask myself:

Can I make five outfits with this item right now? Will it “go” with other items in my closet?
Can this item be worn to work, on the weekend or both?
How many seasons will this item get me through?

The answers to these questions typically are enough to tip my decision one way or the other.

Fit

As an extra petite person (5’0″), this is the one I’ve grappled with the most. More and more retailers are selling extended sizes these days, so I absolutely have a better chance of finding a properly-fitting garment right off the rack. If the item is only flattering worn one way (i.e., only tucked in/untucked, only with the sleeves rolled up, or only if cuffed at the bottom), it’s most likely not a good fit. I then have to decide if the item in question is worth the time and extra expense of alterations.

I don’t feel comfortable in low necklines, short hems/inseams or tight clothing. Whenever I’ve worn this type of clothing, I spend more time tugging at it and worrying over it. I’m not built for it and it’s not worth it. Generally speaking, if it doesn’t fit right, you won’t feel right and life is just too short.

Personal Style

Everyone has her own definition of personal style. I think personal style is the unspoken, outward portrayal of your priorities. You may see a new mom whose hair may be in a bit of disarray who is wearing mismatched socks and sweat pants. Her priority is most likely her bundle of joy and anything else is trivial. You may see the management executive in a pristine suit. Her priority might be projecting professionalism and confidence.

Personal style is complex and powerful and we are absolutely more than what we wear, so I won’t seek to impose my definition on you. And to be honest, my own definition of personal style in general and my own personal style changes from time to time. I think it will for all of us!

I think the the important personal questions regarding adding an item to your wardrobe are:

What does this item say about me? What do I want it to say about me? Does this help to convey my values or priorities? Does any of that even matter to me?


So there you have it  – the 6 things I consider when adding a new item to my wardrobe. What do you think about when adding to your wardrobe?

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