How to Define Your Ideal Wardrobe In 5 Steps
Functional, fun, creative, symbolic: clothes are wonderful and hugely important. Spending time reflecting on how we want to feel and be seen helps to make us more self aware, self assured, and best placed to make our fullest contribution.
We know that having too many clothes isn't very planet-friendly, and can leave us feeling the negative effects of clutter. And it's also clear that not having enough (of the right things) leaves you feeling constantly unpolished, stressed, and more likely to make unconsidered purchases; whether by resorting to fast fashion or buying things you don't actually want to wear.
To create an ethical wardrobe that will make you feel good, happy and ready for what life brings for years to come, you need to know what it should contain. A clear vision of this ideal wardrobe gives you the means by which to consciously curate it, buying only the things you need or truly love.
So, what's the magic formula?
Unsurprisingly, there isn't one. Your ideal wardrobe should contain no more and no less than the right number of the right pieces for you. Right for your personality and right for your lifestyle. Able to make you feel put-together and confident in all situations, happy with the impact your clothes make on the wider world.
Here are five steps to define what wardrobe perfection looks like for you, and set yourself up to make it happen:
Identify your year-round capsule
Think about what you do in an average week in summer and winter and make a list of the clothes you need to get through. Quantify this basic list (how many trousers, dresses, shirts, sweaters and so on), taking care not to double up on the things that you can wear year round.
It can be helpful to limit yourself to an arbitrary number of pieces as a starting point (often around 30). This can help weed out what you don't really need, and can always be flexible.
Define your personal style
With all the messages we are bombarded with on transient trends and what we should like, it can certainly be hard to know what our core tastes really are. We are continually told that we should want something different to what we already have, and are manipulated to feel uncertain and inadequate in our choices (while being shown the aspirational vision of the woman with perfect style sense).
If you're not lucky enough to already have a good idea of your personal style, accept that it can take time to identify. Take it slow and don't feel pressured to get it right straight away.
Here are a few tips:
- Take a conscious step back from fashion, especially trends. Avoid fashion magazines and blogs (for a while).
- It's also a good idea to disconnect from other peoples' ideas of 'essentials', 'staples' and 'classics' - or at least view them for what they are: personal opinions. While these types of lists can be helpful, they are by no means universal. Take what you want from them, and no more.
- Start a collection of images featuring looks you love (Pinterest, anyone?). Keep adding and returning to it over time, so as to eliminate the influence of trends. Try to avoid the urge to over-edit your selection and second guess yourself. When you have a good number of images gathered over a fair amount of time, examine your selection to pick out consistencies in colour, material, feel, fit and inspiration.
- Think about how you want to feel and be seen for the different aspects of your life (work, with family, socialising...) and make lists of keywords for them. It's much easier to think about how you want to feel and be seen in specific situations than trying to define an abstract and universal style identity.
- Use the consistencies in your collection of images and keywords to write a few short statements summarising your personal style. Don't worry about it being the perfect reflection of you.
Settle on your ethics
Decide on the minimum you expect from a piece (and brand) in terms of the impact its lifecycle has on the planet. Have a clear idea of how and where you are prepared to compromise.
Now you have a good feeling for your personal style and ethical position, get specific about the items on your capsule list. Define their colour, material and fit, and make sure the collection will function as a whole by checking that each piece can be worn in a variety of different outfits.
Bring in the little extras
Now's the time to add in any dream items, pieces for special occasions, and (for true fashion lovers) things you'd like to collect. This can also be where you plan for accessories, which can be a great way to diversify your looks without actually buying more clothes.
Images by Renata Fraga via Unsplash