How to Build a Wardrobe


We’ve all read those pieces on how to build a wardrobe. White button-down? Check. Black slacks? Check. But why does it seem like your closet still isn’t complete? It probably needs a bit more assessment from you to dig a little deeper.

When I graduated college I was so super frustrated about not having any clothes. And it wasn’t that I actually didn’t have any clothes, I just didn’t have the clothes I needed. I realized, unless you have unlimited resources to spend, it can actually take awhile to amass everything you need. Here’s a few tips to hopefully help unclutter your closet and build a totally functional wardrobe.

Take stock of old stuff

The saying holds true, if you haven’t worn it in about 6 months to a year, you’ll probably never wear it again. Exceptions to this are winter coats if, say, you live here and haven’t traveled up North within the past year. The best way to do this is with a friend. Go through literally every single item of clothing you have in your closet and ask yourself and then her if you need it. Chances are, you’ll be mildly embarassed to show more than a few items you know you shouldn’t have and it’ll be much easier for you to toss them. We all have an emotional attachment to our clothes so the reinforcement in the form of an outside opinion truly helps.

Pie-chart your life

This piece of advice I read in a style book once and it totally changed my life. Map out your life in some sort of pie chart and make percentages for the amount of time you spend at work, dressing up, working out and being casual. Do the percentages of your life match what’s in your closet? Probably not! If you spend 40 hours a week at work, your closet should reflect that. Mine didn’t. Not even close. There’s no point in amassing mostly casual pants and tees if most of the time what you’re rummaging for in the morning is slacks and a nice top.

Make a list

Once you’ve gotten rid of old stuff and figured out on the pie chart how short or over you are on your clothes need, make a list of what else you need to make your wardrobe functional. Making a list will help you avoid random shopping and stop you from spending money on “lust” buys that you won’t even need.

Stay tuned for another post sometime next week on how to build a truly functional wardrobe.

For more closet tips and tricks, go here.

  1. this is really so helpful. i need to take time this weekend to follow each of these steps. thanks marlene!

  2. It’s hard to decide what to save and what not to save. My 23 year old daughter just took a pair of my sunglasses from the early 90’s. She was SO excited about them?

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