In this month’s column, Sarah Smyth offers up tricks and tips to get your best wardrobe ever in 2013. Hint: it doesn’t involve spending your entire student loan!
A successful wardrobe is the Holy Grail of fashion. It should offer you flexibility, practicality, functionality and, above all, style. It doesn’t need to be crammed full of the latest trend’s key pieces. In fact, it needn’t be crammed at all. A good wardrobe should be a carefully edited collection of key pieces, both old and new, that seamlessly (pun intended) reflects your personality and lifestyle. Your wardrobe should begin with solid foundations upon which you should then build and embellish to create your own unique style. Here, I offer the ways in which you can do this to ensure that you have your best ever wardrobe in 2013!
1. Spring cleaning is not just for spring
I’ve heard countless friends complaining that they have nothing to wear and yet their wardrobe is bursting at the seams (sorry, I’ll stop with the seams puns). If this also sounds like you, please, for the sake of your friends, have a clear out. If something’s lost its shape or colour, bin it. If it’s ripped or has holes in it, mend it (unless it’s really past its best – then bin it also). Now look at all your other clothes. If you haven’t worn it in a year, get rid of it. If it’s sellable, put it on ebay but, if not, give it to a charity shop. If you’re a hoarder and can’t bear to part with that jumper you got when you were 11, yet haven’t worn since, put it in a box out of sight and leave it for a year. If you still haven’t worn it, throw it out. Be ruthless! Remember you’re making room for new pieces. (Also, the thrill of being able to shut your drawers again is almost therapeutic).
2. Go back to basics
Make underwear an integral part of your wardrobe – it will make a difference. After having a good clear out of your underwear drawer, look to see what’s missing. Have you got a plain black and white bra with matching knickers? These are essential to a black and white outfit so, if you don’t have them, go get them. Make sure you get properly fitted for a bra as around 80% of women are said to be wearing the wrong size. Marks and Spencer do it for free so there’s really no excuse. Also, get some decent tights. The colour can depend on what you wear but, if you want to stay on-trend, opt for opaque black tights or woollen grey ones. If you don’t want them to ladder quickly, get the best pair you can afford. Once again, M&S never fails…
3. Invest in key pieces
These are your foundation pieces upon which you build your outfit around so it’s worth spending a bit more on them. Keep to a classic style and they’ll transcend trends and last for years. The key pieces every girl should have are:
- A little black dress
- A great pair of boots (knee or ankle)
- A classic winter coat
- A watch
- Ballet pumps
- Wool cardigan or jumper (if you haven’t discovered Uniqlo yet, Google it now and thank me later)
- Simple black high heels
- A classic handbag
4. Find your own style
Once you have your key pieces, add other pieces that you love to create your own style. Be creative – this is your chance to have fun and express yourself through clothes. If you haven’t figured out your style yet, have a look at some fashion books, magazines and blogs and consider what you’re attracted to and whose style you admire. Make a list or a collage if you’re artistic. Pay particular attention to your body shape – which celebrity has a similar build to you and what do they wear to compliment this? Once you know what suits you and what styles you are attracted to, you can start finding pieces to compliment your look.
5. Mix it up!
People with great style not only have an eye for spotting pieces that suit them, but they have the ability to pull an outfit together that’s interesting and original. Juxtaposing styles, colours, textures and patterns is a great way to create a fun and playful outfit. Mix the masculine and feminine, prim and outlandish, soft and hard… How you put things together is what makes your style unique. Also, mix high street pieces with vintage finds. Obviously, the best vintage stores are in London (try Covent Garden and Brick Lane), but there are lots of options for people who live further afield. Look at websites (my favourites are rokit.co.uk and pop-boutique.com which, incidentally, has great stores in Manchester, Liverpool and Leeds), or look out for the vintage fair which travels round Britain, including Southampton (www.thevintagefair.com). Hepwright’s Original Vintage shop is also a popular store in Bedford Place.
6. Don’t be a fashion victim
As I hope to have demonstrated, having a great wardrobe is not about having the “it” bag/shoes/dress of the season. They’re expensive, unoriginal and will only be out of fashion next season. Also, never, ever buy a trend that you dislike or doesn’t suit you in an attempt to look fashionable. You’ll only end up looking and feeling awful. I suggest that you be informed by trends, certainly. However, look at the catwalk more generally to consider silhouette, fabric, colour and mood, and how to work that into your current wardrobe. I loved the military trend of this season but couldn’t afford a new coat so, instead, decided to update my current one by sewing new buttons onto it that I bought for about a fiver from the haberdashery department in John Lewis. It gave my coat a whole new feel and I spent hardly anything on it. These small details nod towards the trends without diluting your own style and look.
By following these steps, you can create your best ever wardrobe in 2013. It doesn’t need to be expensive or expansive – it only needs to reflect your own personality and lifestyle. So experiment, be creative, and, most of all, have fun!
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