How to maintain a functional wardrobe?

Gremlin

Member
Oct 25, 2012
879
1
Australia
So I have this problem where I struggle to keep enough clothing in my wardrobe. It seems like I never have anything to wear and like I've already worn something one day so I can't really wear it again.

This didn't used to be such a big deal because I never really socialised much (always working) so I didn't need a lot of clothes but now I am socialising a lot more and struggling to find something to wear even on a daily casual basis.

Can anyone share some tips for buying clothes and maintaining a full and functional wardrobe?

Right now I literally only have 5 shirts and 2 pairs of jeans that I would actually want to wear out. The rest is all ugly crap!

Please help! What should I buy and where should I shop? How much should I be buying on a monthly basis in order to ensure variety?

I am starting out with some basic shirts from Urban Outfitters in different patterns/colours/styles and I'm going to get a couple of jackets and blazers, etc. What else should I get to start out with?

I would love to hear your suggestions!

Please keep in mind I am in Australia where the weather is relatively pleasant (so no need for anything overly warm or heavy) and I am on somewhat of a budget.
 

juneping

couch potato-ing
O.G.
Jun 11, 2007
17,798
902
NYC
first of all, do a purge in your closet so you'll have a better idea what you actually have and can see everything that you have.
second of all...figure out what kind of items that you need to work in your wardrobe. and then plan what to purchase.
you can do like a week rotation. so if you like shirts, make sure you have 5 shirts to rotate. and if you wear pants, make sure you have 2 dress pants and 2 pairs of jeans. try to buy stuff that are not almost the same. you don't need 5 white tees...something like that.
 

mizz852

O.G.
Jan 21, 2009
534
3
Accessories can make a big difference and can transform one piece of clothing into lots of different outfits easily.
 

MiraR

Member
Aug 22, 2011
8
0
I would take some time to try on everything in your closet, in outfits, with the proper shoes, etc. If it doesn't fit or you truly hate it and can't figure out a way to wear it, get rid of it. Consignment stores or charity donations, or if it's actually worth money, then ebay. One way or the other, get rid of the crap.

Then think about your needs. Do you work in a place with a dress code? Go out to places that require formal dress?

Think about mixing and matching. Stuff you have, outside of special occasion outfits, should go with at least 3+ other items. So no skirt that only matches one shirt, etc.

My basics (for my lifestyle, not a blueprint for what you need). I have more than this, but this is what I would re-buy if ever I had to start from scratch
3 pairs of jeans - very skinny, regular skinny, and wide leg
1 - 2 skirts in prints that I love
5-10 tops that match the jeans, and at least 3 that also match the skirts. At least 2 of the tops should be dressy enough to pair with the jeans and heels for a dressy-casual night out.
2 dresses, one sundress one little black dress for formal occasions
1-2 cardigans that go with many of the shirts, for warmth and for variety
A couple scarves and some jewelery to mix things up
Shoes - a pair of nice heels for going out and a couple pairs of everyday shoes, whatever style you like to wear for day-to-day life
Good underwear and bra, tights, etc.
pajamas
exercise wear and shoes
 

Bitten

Chic, not cheap.
O.G.
Feb 6, 2007
5,892
373
Contented
I sort of know what you mean - I just recently decided enough was enough and bought a full summer/weekend casual wardrobe after at least 2 years of trying to force jeans as appropriate for every occasion. Not only hot and uncomfortable, but BORING!!

My tips are:

- Go through your wardrobe thoroughly. Be ruthless. If you aren't wearing it, it goes.
- Post edit, work out what you already have and what you need to buy.
- When you find something that works, buy two of it and/or buy in multiple colours. Theoretically, we're all sold this idea that casual clothing is easy - the truth is, it's NOT! Casual clothing/weekend outfits have to meet so many criteria: comfort, appropriateness to occasion, flattering, fashionable.

With these guides in mind, I'll go through what I bought recently for summer weekend wear:

New purchases

1. DKNY colour block dress in the NAP sale:
http://www.net-a-porter.com/product/198173

2. Country Road black gathered dress - not available online anymore

3. Nine West sandals
http://www.ninewest.com.au/flats/dreana/w2/i1729207_1433824

4. Tibi silk racer back tanks in ivory and black from Net-a-Porter
http://www.net-a-porter.com/product/343861
http://www.net-a-porter.com/product/343860

5. Country Road Nikki wedges, in both colours (tan and black)
http://www.countryroad.com.au/shop/woman/footwear/wedges/60150112/Nikki-Wedge.html

Already in wardrobe

- dark navy jeans and white jeans I can roll up to 3/4

- black short shorts

- black knee length shorts

- navy scoop neck tshirt

- grey scoop neck t-shirt

- black scoop neck t-shirt

- white scoop neck t-shirt

The variety of flat sandals and wedges, combined with different bags (clutches, shoulder hobos, totes) means both dresses can be dressed up or down, and different looks can be created from day to day, even though the same core item (dress) is used.

This is also true for the separates: shorts with different t shirts, different shoes, jeans with flats or wedges, alternating tank colours and accessories/jewellery.

As a result, I have a summer wardrobe that is cool, comfortable and appropriate, with enough variety to keep it interesting.

I hope this is helpful - sometimes you just need to see what's out there and develop your own signature look for each season :smile: :yes:
 

gillianna

O.G.
Dec 27, 2005
8,400
2,148
Do you have thrift stores in your area? A few of my friends who work in high end retail stores have bought their whole wardrobes both for work and at home from thrift stores. They dress better then the managers of the stores with beautiful clothing. Many of the pieces were new with tags. I find in building a wardrobe buying quality and well made items is better then the cheaper things that will eventually fall apart and fade. There is such a difference in a expensive piece of clothing versus a made in china mall store for teens clothing shop. I just asked my son who is in high school what the girls are all wearing now-and he said the big thing is to go to the thrift shops and buy clothing to have a individual style. We have a huge Goodwill in our town and it seems that many girls now shop there. I know alot of people would never do this but if you check out the Secondhand bargins thread there are so many good buys at many thrift shops especially if they are located in a area where wealthy people live.

I think building when building a wardrobe it is great to stick to solid colors with accessories to accent your clothing. A well made dressy white t shirt with a beautiful necklace or scarf and ironed jeans can look elegant but would not cost alot of money. Have you ventured into more expensive stores that you would not normally think to shop in and check out their sale racks? I think as one gets out of high school it does pay to start investment dressing and having more clothes that look well because you are entering a new chapter in your life. Another thing is taking care of your clothes and making sure they look well by actually using a iron. So many young adults seem to walk around with looking sloppy because their clothing is wrinkled and many look like they put no thought to what they put on.

It is great you are thinking about what you might need for the future. Not many people your age have the insight to do this. I wish you luck. I am sure you will figure out what works for you and what you need.:smile:
 

Sugardragon

Member
Oct 23, 2012
65
10
It sounds like you recently had a change in your activities. Have you tried doing an activity chart to figure out the percentage of time doing each activity and adjusting your buying accordingly? I'm guilty of this, I overbuy for work and underbuy for casual activities all the time.
 
Jun 26, 2007
2,025
3
Keep a clothing wish list. Everytime you go to your closet and say "Damn I wish I had a black pencil skirt" or "I need soemthign to match these pants, then I'll wear them", write it down. Only buy what you really need to complete your wardrobe.

Find out what your "typical" outfit is. What kind of outfit do you gravitate most towards? I'm either wearing jeans and a casual button up for day to day activities, or a solid item + patterned item for work. So lately I've been buying silk blouses, pencil skirts and dress pants in either a versatile solid color, or a fun print. For example today I bought black and white printed pants, with a solid white silk blouse. I also buy a LOT Of casual button ups because they are what I'm most comfortable in for running errands. What are the common qualities of the 5 tops you wear most often? If they are all v-neck shirts, then go with that idea and start looking for Vneck blouses in versatile fabrics like silk, cashmere sweaters, etc.

Also figure out what irks you most about your clothing. Is it the fit? The material? Cheap looking? Too trendy? Make a list of what you hate in clothing and vow never to buy those things. For example, I don't like sweaters...at all. I also don't like pants with no pockets.
 

CEC.LV4eva

O.G.
Jun 4, 2006
16,955
997
Always buy classic and high quality items. The more expensive you can afford - the better, this will prevent you from just throwing things out and you'll always give a second thought when making the purchase. This has been my rule for the last couple of years.
 

VelvetFlats

Member
Nov 16, 2012
41
0
Boston, MA
Always buy classic and high quality items. The more expensive you can afford - the better, this will prevent you from just throwing things out and you'll always give a second thought when making the purchase. This has been my rule for the last couple of years.
What do you think is 'high enough quality'? I try to buy as high quality as I can afford, but I'm wondering if the brands I buy from will really last me years and years.
 

jetstream7

Pret A Porter P
O.G.
Sep 7, 2009
220
23
www.instagram.com
Stick to a minimal color palette of colors that compliment each other. Black, white, blues, tans/beiges, and greys work well with each other. Some people suggest not wearing more than 3 colors in one outfit. You can incorporate colors or prints through accessories. Accessories are a relatively inexpensive way to add character to your wardrobe. You can buy scarves and jewelry at thrift stores and they will likely be better quality than at a F21/H&M, etc… because if it’s in good condition it’s already survived use and abuse from someone else.

Fabric is a good indicator of quality. Natural fabrics are best and (machine washable) rayon/modal. I like cotton and merino wool for sweaters. Merino is durable, can be worn in warm climates, and hand-washable. For bags, go for leather (PVC will peel/disintegrate after several years) or canvas. The second hand market, ebay, even chain/high street stores are good places to look for leather bags. With tops and dresses you go a bit more creative with and get on the cheap. For dresses and pants, you can get away with dark synthetics in a weightier, opaque fabric. Zara and Mango have good tailored trousers that can be machine-washed.

Jackets, spend more money on these. Natural fabrics, especially wool, tend to be best here. A great jacket will elevate your whole look, even if you’re wearing a ratty tee underneath. Consignment stores, ebay, outlets, discount stores, Zara, Mango, J.Crew, Gap are good places to look.

Overall stick to classic shapes in neutral tones with minimal embellishments. A good indicator is if it wasn’t around a few years ago, don’t buy it. Look for versatile pieces suitable for various occasions (a LBD dress for example). With a change of accessories, people aren’t likely to notice if you wore the same piece within the week.

Also avoid acrylic in general, it’s a crap fabric no matter how much it costs. Light colored synthetics can show a multitude of sins, especially if the item is poorly constructed.

Hope this helps.
 

cherrycookies

Member
Nov 21, 2012
2,678
11
my wardrobe is mostly neutral colours with some splashes of colour here and there. over the years, i find that i often reach for clothes in neutral colours most and prefer to spice things up with bags/accessories instead.
 

CEC.LV4eva

O.G.
Jun 4, 2006
16,955
997
What do you think is 'high enough quality'? I try to buy as high quality as I can afford, but I'm wondering if the brands I buy from will really last me years and years.
For me, high quality = the following:
- European country of fabrication
- Type of fabric/material like silk, cashmere, virgin wool, suede, and leather
- Well recognized luxury brand

It's hard to find clothing that fulfill all the above, but when you do, any piece of clothing is usually starting around 500$+++. For a 15$ shirt, you may not think twice, but when you're paying $$$, it forces you to really think about whether 1. you need it, 2. is it "worth it", 3. do my savings allow for the purchase?

I don't understand what you mean by "what brands will last you years and years." I do wonder what brands you buy. Brand =/= clothing lasting forever; STYLE is forever - thus it's the style of the clothing and the way you wear it that will make any item classic. Brand does factor into a company's reputation for quality clothing, but again quality does not mean an item is to be worn forever. There are just as many premiere designer brands that make unwearable clothing, whether it's cuz they're too extravagant in style, too delicate, or whatnot.

Also if they're just high street brands, I don't think their clothing should last for years. They're usually seasonal for me. Many contemporary brands have more staying power (eg. J Brand, CoH, 7FAMK, Club Monaco, Alice & Olivia, DVF, Kate Spade, Vince...etc) because they uses better quality materials that can endure multiple washes without getting damaged. However, the style of clothing may not be classic enough to carry on for years later. With all this said, I do have many contemporary brand clothing, but I don't call them my "classics".

Good luck shopping!
 
Last edited:

VelvetFlats

Member
Nov 16, 2012
41
0
Boston, MA
For me, high quality = the following:
- European country of fabrication
- Type of fabric/material like silk, cashmere, virgin wool, suede, and leather
- Well recognized luxury brand

It's hard to find clothing that fulfill all the above, but when you do, any piece of clothing is usually starting around 500$+++. For a 15$ shirt, you may not think twice, but when you're paying $$$, it forces you to really think about whether 1. you need it, 2. is it "worth it", 3. do my savings allow for the purchase?

I don't understand what you mean by "what brands will last you years and years." I do wonder what brands you buy. Brand =/= clothing lasting forever; STYLE is forever - thus it's the style of the clothing and the way you wear it that will make any item classic. Brand does factor into a company's reputation for quality clothing, but again quality does not mean an item is to be worn forever. There are just as many premiere designer brands that make unwearable clothing, whether it's cuz they're too extravagant in style, too delicate, or whatnot.

Also if they're just high street brands, I don't think their clothing should last for years. They're usually seasonal for me. Many contemporary brands have more staying power (eg. J Brand, CoH, 7FAMK, Club Monaco, Alice & Olivia, DVF, Kate Spade, Vince...etc) because they uses better quality materials that can endure multiple washes without getting damaged. However, the style of clothing may not be classic enough to carry on for years later. With all this said, I do have many contemporary brand clothing, but I don't call them my "classics".

Good luck shopping!
I meant, I wonder if the individual pieces I am buying will last me for years. I can only afford mid-level designer brands like marc by marc jacobs, kate spade, JBrand and rachel comey. So I guess my question was, how long should pieces from these brands last me? How long do they last for you (obviously this varies from piece to piece)? I really don't make that much right now and so I need my clothes to last me for at least a few years. I usually spend $100-$400 on quality individual pieces. My seasonal pieces usually come from Jcrew, Anthropologie and Madewell and they usually last me for 1-2 years or so.
 
Last edited:

CEC.LV4eva

O.G.
Jun 4, 2006
16,955
997
I meant, I wonder if the individual pieces I am buying will last me for years. I can only afford mid-level designer brands like marc by marc jacobs, kate spade, JBrand and rachel comey. So I guess my question was, how long should pieces from these brands last me? How long do they last for you (obviously this varies from piece to piece)? I really don't make that much right now and so I need my clothes to last me for at least a few years. I usually spend $100-$400 on quality individual pieces. My seasonal pieces usually come from Jcrew, Anthropologie and Madewell and they usually last me for 1-2 years or so.
If you really want your clothing to last - HANDWASH :biggrin:
I can never do that, or invest in a good washing machine? that's more of my style.
My 7FAMK, CoH, and J Brands usually last me +3 years. I guess it also depends on how often you wear them and just exactly *what* you do in them... For me it's usually 3X per month that I wear the same pair and I usually just sit or stand in my clothing lol. I know guys who just shred their jeans with a few wears and I'm like, what the heck did you do??? Men are super rough and my dad tore his True Religions that I bought him in a MONTH! but I know he was doing house work and other rough jobs around the house...
So I really don't know how to answer that question. It just depends on how you wear them I guess.:shrugs: