Sunday, 10 August 2014

Creating your wardrobe: the first few pieces

If you have been following this series of posts on creating a wardrobe from scratch, hopefully you will have discovered your most flattering colours and best styles. You should also know what your style personality is and all you have to do now is start building a personalised wardrobe using these guidelines.

Wait though before you hit the shops with your credit card or start browsing on the internet, as you may already possess some key pieces in your existing wardrobe. Be ruthless as you go through your clothes, rejecting anything that doesn't fit you properly, doesn't flatter you, is past its best or that you don't really love. Hopefully you will still be left with some great items to form the basis of your wardrobe.

Based on Janice's inspiring series "Starting from Scratch" on The Vivienne Files blog, these are the first few essential pieces. If you don't already own them, you have my permission to add them to your shopping list!

1. A pair of trousers that fits you properly and flatters your shape.

Although this would be top of my list as my personal style is slanted towards casual chic, I would suggest that if you aren't keen on trousers you should make your first item a skirt that fits you properly especially if that works better for your lifestyle and style personality. Your trousers (or skirt) should be in your main neutral colour and the best quality that you can afford. Please note that it doesn't have to be black, grey or navy if warm colours look better on you. Many lists of "must haves" specify a pair of black tailored trousers, a white button-down shirt and little black dress. If you look great in chocolate brown and cream rather than black and white, those should be the colours you buy rather than the prescribed colours.

2.  A good pair of comfortable shoes.

I deliberately added in the word "comfortable" to dissuade you from buying that gorgeous pair of high heels that you've had your eye on for a while, which will cripple you as soon as you try to walk down the road. Again, the idea is to buy the best shoes that you can afford in a style that won't date, in the same neutral as your trousers or skirt.

3. A cardigan or jacket and a shirt.

Gone are the days where you would automatically buy a matching jacket and skirt or trousers for work - otherwise known as a suit! I still own a skirt suit and a trouser suit, but I never wear them now that I have retired. (Maybe it's time that I retired them too!) These are also going to be in your neutral colours, which may be perfect for many of you, though if you're like me you are probably impatiently waiting for some accent colours. Choose either a cardigan or jacket in the same neutral as your trousers or skirt, plus a contrasting shirt or top. You now have  one complete outfit.

The first outfit, using neutrals of navy and white, is based on similar items in my own wardrobe and the navy striped jacket in the photo is the same as the one that I own.  The jacket makes the outfit slightly dressier, and when I used to work in a casual office this would have been perfect for work as well as suiting my personal style.

When I decided to use Polyvore to create a different outfit for those of you with warmer colouring, I discovered something interesting. Most of the brown jackets shown on the website were made from leather and most of the brown pairs of trousers were very casual, so the second outfit might not be suitable for all working environments. If you wore the jacket with a skirt and pair of low heels it would probably look more professional than the basics I have shown. Unless you have a strict dress code at work or have to wear a uniform, I still think that it is advisable to stick to the colours and styles that look best on you. What do you think? Of course those of us over 60s who have retired don't have the same problems when choosing what to wear on a daily basis, though we may still have the occasional dressy events to attend.

My next post will introduce some accent colours  - just for me! - and we will be building on these basic items. to create a more versatile wardrobe.