I’m having a bit of a three-pronged wardrobe crisis lately.
First, and perhaps this hits everyone at some point in their 30s, but, recently, I was looking through my warm weather closet and was astounded at how many of these items are leftovers still from college. I’ve written here before about my process for cleaning out consistently and not buying too many new items but so many pieces have slipped through with the “Well, they are still in good condition…” bucket.
But the reality is short skirts aren’t my look anymore. Shorts had a fleeting moment where I liked them, but now I’m anti again. While my Lilly shifts are darling, I prefer a more comfortable fit, loose these days (though maybe that means I just need to go up a size or two from the look I wanted when I was wearing them on dates back in 2015…). A lot of pieces feel just a bit too cute and like they aren’t resonating with where my style is now.
Second, I want a wardrobe with pieces that feel sophisticated, classic, and timeless, and I want to part ways with those that feel fleeting or interim. As some say, I only want the A-list items in my closet. I want a signature look rather than bouncing all over the place.
Third, I want to elevate my day-to-day WFH look from the same activewear day in and day out. I want to feel pulled together but I also want to feel easy breezy. It seems like maybe long cotton dresses are the solution, but I don’t love a knit t-shirt or tank dress. I want it to feel more intentional and tailored than that. Check out my post on dresses under $100 here!
So, what’s a girl to do?
Creating a Vision Board for an Intentional, Classic Wardrobe
The first step, as any good creative would do, has been to create a vision board. I’ve been using Instagram’s save/folders feature to save any style image that catches my eye lately. My hope was to establish a theme or notice where certain styles, colors, and silhouettes kept appearing.
As I looked through the images for inspiration and figuring out what resonates with where I am now, I noticed lots of midi dresses with waistlines. I don’t love a shift silhouette. I’m drawn to more tailored, ladylike shapes — and there seems to be a difference between feminine and ladylike. Feminine is ruffles and LoveShackFancy (decidedly not for me), ladylike is tailoring, details, and structure. I love a sleeve, even in the spring or summer. Timeless appeal is always a plus. Surprisingly, I kept saving looks with belted dresses — not something I expected!
With this vision board in mind, I was ruthless in my closet (which, perhaps, can be of benefit to you if any of these items are your style!). Pieces I loved in theory, but didn’t fit with the look I want to cultivate, had to go. I want a simplified, intentional closet, and that means only keeping those items that are in line with how I envision my personal style now.
This vision boarding led me to pieces like this lemon dress (majorly on sale now!), which is sophisticated, and timeless — it looks like something you’d wear on vacation in Europe (which I will be doing in approximately 5 weeks). I’ve bought several WFH comfortable dresses which are tailored, yet comfortable. Perfect for lounging around the house all day, but easy to dress up.
Limiting My Wardrobe
Part of this wardrobe shift includes a goal is to cut my wardrobe by half. In my dream world, I wouldn’t need to switch out my closet by season, there would be enough room to have everything in there all the time (I’m getting closer every year, but it’s a process — my closet isn’t large, it’s one of those two door, but shallow, closets). Everything in there will be an A-list item that I’m excited to wear.
In some places, I’m deciding where I only need one or two items, like with summer shoes. Can I get by with just my Sarah Flint Perfect Block Sandals, a pair of gold Jack Rogers, and a pair of white Jack Rogers? It seems the answer is a resounding yes. I don’t need a bunch of summer purses, I need one or two neutral ones and perhaps one statement bag for fun. One pair of white jeans is enough. One white skirt. You get the idea.
In other places, I’m deciding where a certain item just doesn’t work for my lifestyle anymore. I don’t need a bunch of short Lilly skirts. Dresses that are too casual just aren’t my style. All my J. McLaughlin work dresses are great for someone who goes into a formal office, but I don’t think that will ever be me again. All of that can go, and it doesn’t need to be replaced.
Focusing on Flattering Colors
Another piece that is guiding my wardrobe shift is color. I had my colors done for an article I wrote this past spring, which helped cull a lot of the pieces in my closet that I often didn’t wear but couldn’t exactly figure out why. Now, whenever I’m looking at new items, if they don’t fit into my colors, I don’t buy them.
For example, I’m often drawn to soft pastels, but they wash me out. And, for years, I noticed my sisters would wear slate blues and deep burgundy reds, but whenever I tried to wear the same colors, they fell flat. When I had my colors done, I was a Copper Spring, which means I look good in light, warm, clear colors like cobalt blue, royal purple, coral, ballet pink, daffodil yellow, and turquoise blue, but always when they have a vibrant, clear undertone. I can’t do muted or pastel.
Focusing on my most flattering colors helps hone in on pieces that will actually look good on me, and, also, it makes for a wardrobe that’s more cohesive.
How This Intentional Wardrobe Will Evolve
My plan is to continue to build my vision board on Instagram and evolve my style continuously until it feels like it’s arrived at the sophisticated, classic, timeless look I’m striving for. Will it happen every day? Nope, right now I’m wearing navy workout leggings, a white tank, and a Lilly Pulitzer cardigan, which is exactly the outfit I was trying to get away from. I woke up later than I wanted and, after a week of putting this blog post off, knew I needed to get up before work and write it. This was easy, and here I am. But, in an ideal world, every item in my closet will be one I feel great wearing and, hopefully, I’m getting closer to that.