June 15, 2016

Wardrobe Planning: Sewing, Shopping & Strategy

For a long time I didn't have a plan for my wardrobe. Now perhaps you think "does one really need a plan for their wardrobe?" and I am here to say yes, yes you do. Though I had been dabbling in retro style since my high school days, it was only a few years ago that I really transitioned into a fully vintage style wardrobe. The clothing in my closet didn't change over night though, and that's where having a plan comes in handy! I have written about how to start transitioning into a vintage style before in my post 5 Essentials for a Vintage Inspired Wardrobe last year, but I thought today I'd talk a bit more about my tips for planning ones wardrobe, it can be good to have a strategy!

First things first, clear out the abandoned lonely items in your closet that never get worn. I do this every six months or so, if I haven't worn something in the last year I probably won't wear it in the future and there is no use keeping it hanging in my closet using up valuable space. Now sure formal wear is perhaps the one exception to this rule as one simply doesn't always get an opportunity to wear those items so I'll give you a pass there. There are lots of ready excuses for the other sad unworn garments, "it will fit again someday" "I just need more to match it" "it's fine if I wear it with a jacket over it and my hair down too" but no ladies, if you don't feel great in it and you never wear it, it's time to let it go into the donate pile or bin! I have even let go of useful items, like super basic black pencil skirts, because the fit had always been a bit off and I knew I would wear them more if I bought/found/made a better version.

One of the biggest things I keep in mind when adding new items to my wardrobe is considering what I already have that I can wear with the new item. I know this seems basic but it is really easy to get distracted when shopping and buy a dress you have no shoes to match with, or a cute printed skirt that not one of your sweaters compliments. The larger your wardrobe the less likely having nothing to go with a new addition is going to be a problem. For those of us on more of a budget it is important to remember you may not be in a position to acquire the other necessary items to make a complete outfit from something new, so coordinating with what you already have is essential. I just recently decided it was time to make a nice black circle skirt knowing just how many outfits I could make with such an item since it would match so many things already hanging in my closet! Of course the occasional exceptional garments or accessories do appear, and concession of the "rules" may be necessary but keep in mind the future investments that may be required by such rare finds!

The next thing to keep in mind is in the same vein, make a list of what is missing from your wardrobe. Do you find yourself constantly lamenting the lack of the perfect black sweater? Have you still put off investing in a nice petticoat to wear with your full skirts (ahem...that's me)? Would you be able to wear all of your favorite blouses more if you added a new color of pencil skirt? It is important that you know what you have so that going into each season you can hopefully fill in any gaps in the classic staples that make our wardrobes more functional. Anything that makes it easier to pull together ensembles each day that we can feel great going out into the world in is worthwhile!

I consider these points when planning my sewing and doing my fabric shopping too, as I tend to make most of my clothes as opposed to buying them. I am so lucky to be able to create my own garments and sketch out what I want or feel is missing from my wardrobe before each season begins. It can be rather difficult to find the perfect vintage item your closet may be missing when repro brands are hit or miss and the vintage market is less than ideal for many of us with larger measurements or who are on a budget (or both in my case). I find one of the best parts of sewing my own things is being able to make coordinates in matching fabrics. I have a brown pencil skirt for example that I have made two different jackets to match with the same fabric, and those jackets can also be paired with other skirts too. Coordinating pieces and matching suits can be worn together or broken up for more potential ensembles without having a gigantic wardrobe.

Another idea I try in keep in mind when out browsing or planning future projects is collecting accessories in sets by color. I like to make sure I have a full set of red accessories for example (shoes, belt, handbag, gloves, and jewelry) that way I can wear the same black dress multiple times with completely different colors as an accent making the look feel totally new. I'd say so far I have satisfactory levels of red, white, and black accessories that I can pair with so many different outfits and swap around for different looks. When it comes to vintage styling, using the old fussy rules about your shoes and your belt matching actually works in your favor for a more authentic look.

Then there is budgeting, not really my forte! It is something I really need to work on and that's why I've had wardrobe planning on my mind in the first place! I think moving forward I will set myself a seasonal wardrobe/fabric spending budget and then stick to it. Knowing what items you have and what holes you want to fill each season will help in creating and sticking to a budget. Perhaps not buying the millionth straw hat and saving up for the much needed winter coat for example ;) Or is that just me?

Like I said in yesterdays outfit post, I am not a minimalist in any way shape or form, so capsule wardrobes sound like a nightmare to me. I definitely understand the basic idea and I can see how having a set of things that all can be mixed and matched would make dressing a breeze. The way I interpret this concept in my own wardrobe is to have several capsules if you will. For example I love vintage inspired safari styles for summer so I have a bit of a mini-wardrobe of items that work well for that style with a few khaki skirts and safari blouses that can all be worn with one another like a mini capsule wardrobe. Other ladies on the nest have covered capsule wardrobe theory in more detail and I especially recommend this post by Miss Victory Violet to see how a capsule wardrobe can live and serve you well even within your larger closet of items.

How about you guys, what are your best wardrobe planning tips and tricks? I am always trying to beat back my magpie tendencies so I'll take any advice you've got on how to become a better planner (and budget-er!). Let me know in the comments :)


  1. I've got a bit of the opposite problem - I don't have a lot of opportunity to wear "nice" clothes, so my wardrobe is pretty much jeans and t-shirts and "does it come in black or red." I think I'm going to embrace my inner capsule-wardrobe love and try to round out the black-and-red assortment so I can dress things up or down a little more, though it's still going to be jeans/tees most days.

  2. Stellar post! I'm in complete agreement with you across the board, especially regarding the importance of creating matching/coordinating accessories sets. As someone who almost always strives to sport a very cohesive look from head to toe, that is something which has always been near and dear to my fashion loving heart.

    Wishing you endless success with your wardrobe plans.

    xoxo ♥ Jessica

    1. Thank you so much Jessica! I am on the lookout for mustard yellow and forest green accessories next ;)

  3. So much wise advice here, some of which I really need to act on right now! I definitely need to acquire/make some more basics which would then increase the ways I could vary the same items. In fact, I have never had a wardrobe plan and I think could really use one. I like the idea of colour matching accessories sets.


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