One of the most unexpected, but resounding areas of feedback I have received about the blog is that many people would like more style posts. Another piece of feedback shared by many was about breaking up the longer posts into parts.
So today, I plan to implement both of those changes: this is part one of a post devoted to keys to building an intentional wardrobe.
I had never really thought that style would be a huge source of interest for many, despite my own wish for that kind of content shared in an intentional way. Funny how that is, huh? I would want it too, but since I hardly felt like an ‘expert’ on fashion to dish it out, I never shared much about it before.
So though I am far from becoming a fashion blogger, I want to share some of the lessons I’ve learned over the past seven years of intentionally evolving my wardrobe. And going forward, I plan to share more regularly about my style evolution in general.
The first key to building an intentional wardrobe that I’ve learned thus far is…
Creating a clear vision is essential.
Though fashion and style will gradually shift over time, as our lives and tastes change, I don’t believe that an intentional wardrobe can really begin unless some unifying theme or vision emerges. And though that vision or theme may take a while to develop, we must start with this essential step before ever stepping foot in our closets or whipping out our wallets.
To start this process, it might be helpful to reflect on how you feel about your wardrobe as it is right now. You might find that overall you are pretty satisfied with your clothing, or, you might find that you are really wishing for something quite different. To gauge the overall standing of your wardrobe, it could be helpful to do a mental venn diagram and think about how much overlap there is between what you want your wardrobe to be like and what it actually is like.
Big disconnect? Then it’s time to start thinking deeply about what it is you want to look or feel like in your clothing.
Small disconnect? That means you already have a rather good – or great – vision that you may be knowingly or unknowingly acting upon already.
Here are three simple methods to try to determine your vision.
1) Create an inspiration board.
Thanks to Pinterest, this has never been easier. Simply dive through magazines, catalogs, fashion blogs, or Pinterest and find the images and styles you resonate with the most. Consolidating the images to a physical board or online Pin board helps to give you a feel for your overall style (tip: this can even be done seasonally).
Next, it could be helpful to look for themes across the images. For me, I like color, stripes, dots, and all things white and gold. Overall, my look is rather preppy, but I am recently trying to keep it from looking too predictable.
After taking a look at the trends on your board, you might be able to identify pieces within your wardrobe that don’t match your vision, and a others that do. This is what is going to help you when you go into your closet to exfoliate and create an intentional shopping list of items you’d like to include.
2) Create a mantra.
Another way to think about your wardrobe is to think about how you’d like to feel or look. For example, I helped a friend years ago with her own closet exfoliation. She used the phrase “effortlessly chic” to help guide her exfoliations and inclusions in her wardrobe. Her innate understanding of that phrase gave her the courage to donate those items that were nice, but not within with her vision. It also gave her the restraint needed to avoid ‘sale items’ or budget buys that didn’t match the “effortlessly chic” vibe.
For my own wardrobe, I set an intention (ironically) during the poorest time of my life to only have “nice things.” What qualified as nice? Anything that was made with high quality, lasted the test of time, and had a sophistication about it that I liked.
Needless to say, I didn’t have much cash to go buy a lot of nice things at the time. So instead, I spent my time doing what I could: I exfoliated all the “not nice” things that I could live without.
For me, that exfoliation phase meant that I had less things overall, but the proportion of nice things rose with each cheap or unnecessary item’s exfoliation. And for the past five years, I have done my best to buy things that either look “nice” or are intentional investments in my wardrobe.
For a phase of my college career, before the “nice things” mantra I shared above, I did a massive exfoliation (of mostly Forever 21 clothes) under the vision of “What Would Jennifer (Anniston) Do?” Sure, it was rather silly. But I felt at the time that she really encapsulated a lot of the style that I admired. Her casual chic pieces were simple and sophisticated at the same time.
This led me to exfoliate a lot of the more frivolous items like aqua sequin tops, pink layered skirts, and a neon orange something-or-other. Even though a little (immature) part of me still liked the pieces a little bit, the dedication to the greater vision helped me get a much more cohesive and collected closet. And I can’t tell you the number of items I decided not buy from Forever 21 when on the “WWJD” spree. Which, in the end, saved me money on things I would have later regretted.
So though picking a fashion icon may not be a longterm key to an intentional wardrobe and vision, it can be a nice place to start if the other methods don’t seem to click.
Once you have your vision clarified, you will be ready to start editing your closet and including new items in an intentional way… but more on that later.
Tomorrow, I’ll be sharing the next key: being proactive during transition periods.