Is your wardrobe fit for purpose?

A good edit of your clothes can not only be a cathartic experience but very enlightening as you discover why you have a full wardrobe yet seemingly nothing to wear.

Having just evaluated my own wardrobe in readiness for this season, I wanted to share with you five tips to inspire and help you assess whether your wardrobe is fit for purpose before you start filling it with more items and potentially repeat mistakes.


1. Know your size and shape

After having two little boys, my shape is somewhat different to what it was. My bust is smaller and my tummy less flat than before (and it wasn’t flat to start), so sadly some of my clothes simply don’t fit or flatter my shape in the way they once did.

Keeping ill fitting or simply unflattering clothes hanging in prime rail space is extremely unhelpful, clouding your options when you come to choose an outfit of a day. Therefore my first tip is to try on every item in your wardrobe to double check it actually fits and suits your shape now.

In my case there were a few items that were either too small or in fact too big, and some with necklines no longer flattering my smaller bust. With my style know-how, I could make sense of why certain items no longer suited my shape but also work out how to salvage some items by wearing them an alternative way. Therefore, don’t be too quick to assume that an item is no longer wearable.

Keira Knightly flattering top An elaborately embellished top is ideal for a small bust.

Image of Kiera Knightly wearing unflattering deep v-neckline Whereas, a deep v-neckline will make a small bust appear very flat.


2. Consider the colour

Since starting my career as a Personal Stylist late 2006, my wardrobe has changed colour dramatically. The realisation that my soft colouring was overpowered by the bold statement colours I was once drawn to, has meant I’ve adopted a more harmonious palette and enjoyed the benefits of wearing colours that enhance my features – no matter how tired I feel.

So I quickly passed this stage of the evaluation with flying colours (ahem), as every item that sits close to my face is in a shade that complements my natural colouring. However I know this will not be the case for the average wardrobe, therefore my second tip is to try on every item that sits next to your face in natural daylight, ideally with no makeup, and observe how the colours affect your features. Do they draw your eye to your face and set you off? Does your skin appear natural, healthy and even in tone? Do your eyes stand out?

For some this exercise will be relatively straight forward, however for many this will likely be a difficult element to judge for yourself which is why I do advocate undertaking a Colour Analysis session before you decide to cull anything.

Heather Graham wearing too bright colour This shocking pink rather dominates, taking away from her soft features.

Heather Graham wearing flattering colour In contrast, this soft warm shade is in harmony with her colouring, allowing her to take centre stage.


3. Plan for your lifestyle

Motherhood has had a massive impact on my life, gone are the days I can step out when I like of an evening with friends, therefore my need for dressy outfits has greatly diminished. I do however now need practical yet stylish casual clothes for daytime socialising – something my wardrobe proved to be massively lacking. I’ve always been a rather smart dresser, even for casual daytime occasions, but my dry-cleanable day dresses are no longer an option when out with little people.

So my third tip for you is categorise your clothes by activities relevant to your lifestyle identifying when you would wear each item e.g. work, social casual, social smart, weekend casual; loungewear. This exercise will very quickly enable you to see whether you have an appropriate wardrobe for your lifestyle, and highlight any potential gaps.

Claudia Schiffer School Run Dressed for the school run (or social casual for everyone else)


4. Define your fashion identity

Each of the tips above, require you to ask questions of your clothes that have a relatively clear yes or no answer. The question of fashion identity however is for many less clear cut and more subjective.

It’s fair to say my fashion identity has in the past been quite girlie, as I’ve enjoyed wearing lots of pretty dresses. However, the physical demands of having two boys has meant that I’ve worn jeans far more than I ever use to, which has altered my look. Plus as a mum and now 40, I’m conscious my taste has changed and I want to evolve my fashion personality. Therefore it was this stage of the evaluation that saw several casualties.

To that end, my fourth tip is to question whether each item in your wardrobe reflects the personality you wish to convey. Start by pulling out your favourite outfit(s) right now, then ask yourself why do you enjoy wearing them? How do they make you feel? Do they have a similar look? Are they different to your usual style?

You may also find it helpful to visualise your desired fashion personality by creating a mood board, Pinterest is brilliant for this (although be warned it’s easy to lose hours). Ignore your shape and size and any limitations you believe these create, and purely focus on collating images that represent the look you seek as this will in turn serve as a bench mark.

Image of Laura Robinson, Caboodle Style Founder, showing her feminine Personal Style in 2007 Very feminine and dressy in my early 30s.

Image of Laura Robinson, Caboodle Style Founder, showing her more relaxed Personal Style in 2017 Now more relaxed and casual at 40.


5. Build a capsule wardrobe

By reducing my wardrobe to just those clothes that suit and flatter me and my lifestyle, I’d established the basis for my future wardrobe and was ready to complete my evaluation with a strategic shopping list. To have a wardrobe that is fit for purpose I needed to ensure I had the essential ingredients for pulling together outfits, therefore the key items that went straight on my shopping list were:

  • Neutral coloured, machine washable, cropped wide leg trousers (stylish alternative to jeans)
  • Versatile jacket/cardigan (to throw over and finish outfits)
  • Versatile print day dress (that I can change the appearance of by picking out different shades with colourful accessories)
  • Practical yet stylish patterned tops (ideal for masking any mucky finger prints, machine washable and doesn’t need ironing)
  • Comfortable, easy to slip on platform trainers (to wear with trousers or with a relaxed day dress)

Buy just these few items and my wardrobe will immediately be bolstered, offering more options for when out socialising during the day.

Therefore my fifth tip is identify the key staples that will provide the foundation to your capsule wardrobe, enabling you to build several perfect outfits for you and your lifestyle. Many fashion magazine articles have been written on what constitutes a capsule wardrobe, and invariably it consists of a pair of smart black trousers, a clean crisp white shirt and a LBD – none of which feature in my capsule wardrobe simply because they wouldn’t suit me or my lifestyle. So be sure to consider what will be an appropriate basic staple item for your capsule wardrobe.


Need an objective, educated eye to help analyse your wardrobe?

Even I sought a second opinion when evaluating my wardrobe (my mum and husband – who know my style well and don’t pull any punches with their feedback), so you may benefit from having this too. If you seek a more objective, professional view to help analyse your wardrobe, then do book a Personal Styling session. Together we can identify why you dislike certain items and why you look and feel better in some outfits, more so than others, as well as highlight any gaps.

Alternatively if after organising your rails you discover you have some serious gaps, then you may be interested in my Personal Shopping service, when I can help you select good wardrobe staple pieces that will be worn time and again in the future.

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