You don’t need to stress about what to wear in the morning or what to pack for a vacation or business trip when you know which styles suit your body and complement your frame. As much as I love a good trend, I think there is something to be said for developing your own true personal style, but this isn’t always easy.
You may want to create your own complimentary style but don’t know where to start….so I asked a few tips from my friend Michelle who has done wardrobe consulting for individuals and has also been a personal shopper in the past.
She suggests that before adding any new piece into your wardrobe you ask yourself 5 Questions – and ONLY if you’re happy with the answers to ALL 5 questions should you buy the item. It is the trick of the trade for a closet filled with things you love, that fit well and accessorize your life.
Uh-oh, there goes 75% of my closet!
Let’s get started:
5 Questions to ask yourself before buying a New Piece of Clothing
QUESTION 1: Is it suitable to my lifestyle?
Sure it caught your eye on the rack or online, but is it really YOU? Picture the exact occasion where you will wear this item, envision it as though you were creating a scene from a movie, now ask yourself….will this ever happen? Michelle suggests this “poster image” strategy to bring each piece of clothing into a realistic context, if all elements do not align with your real life, you don’t need it!
Instead of purchasing an item and then creating the situation, purchase things you know you will use in your regular everyday life, or for a specific upcoming event (like a wedding, birthday or holiday partly), where you have a much better chance of actually wearing it instead of having it sit for 10 years untouched (guilty as charged!)
If you are living in a cold climate are, it doesn’t make sense to fill your closet with sleeveless dresses (even though you love them) since the summer and warmer months are short. Instead you should be investing in higher quality seasonal clothes for the climate where you live.
If you can actually picture exactly when you will wear it (and it is realistic), take it to the fitting room and move on to question two!
QUESTION 2: Does the cut suit me?
How a garment fits should be the number 1 most important factor in deciding to buy it or not. Unfortunately, online shopping has opened up a world of desire without the opportunity to try on before you buy. I personally, make full use of free returns for clothing that is poor fitting. It can be inconvenient to go to post office or call the courier, but it is better than keeping something that fits poorly and spending money just to have my small closet occupied with things I’ll never wear.
Michelle suggests that if you are in a store and pressed for time you should STILL TRY ON! Often times we think that because the size is our size that it should fit, but size is never an indicator of a perfect fit. Don’t forget that clothes on a mannequin or hanger won’t have YOUR curves, lumps and bumps filling it out. One of my biggest issues is that because I am petite most dresses have a waistline that is too low on my hips instead of at my waist, not to mention pant hems and shirt sleeves….oh the saga continues!
Michelle also suggests that you should walk around in the fitting room and SIT DOWN IN THE OUTFIT! Remember, you will most likely be going somewhere and sitting, if the zipper bunches, or it is too tight around your middle or hips you will be uncomfortable and feel self conscious, meaning you’ll never wear it!
QUESTION 3: Do I love the material?
Price is no longer an indicator of quality, you have to think about your own “education” into materials and craftsmanship. Real leather vs faux leather will not crack with wear, or flake off. Real silk vs. polyester will feel better against your skin and avoid that “cheap” look.
Think about natural fabrics like cotton, wool and cashmere and the type of maintenance involved. Be sure to look at the item’s care tag for washing requirements, because if it is dry clean only, chances are you won’t be reaching for it as often as a more low key item. Don’t forget that many washing machines have a natural materials setting for hand washed items, delicates and wool or cashmere and you can even buy special soaps on the market to cut out the dry cleaners for most items.
Even though natural materials can be a little more difficult to care for they will last a long time and chances are they will also look better on you. Different materials wear out differently and fall differently on the body, not to mention whether or not they are breathable or moisture absorbent. For the last few years I’ve tried to shy away from synthetic fabrics against my skin (I usually always wear cotton first) and only layer with synthetics, which are great as sports or outer wear.
QUESTION 4: Will it fill a gap? Do I already own this?
Sometimes the sad truth is that we are just bored with what we own, but don’t necessarily need any more items. Take a good look at your closet….do you ALREADY OWN this item? We all know that woman who has 50 pairs of “bow peep toe shoes”, but really, is 50 pairs necessary?
Michelle suggests that to answer question 4 you need to move away from your shopaholic emotions and rationally consider why the garment is required. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve reached for an item while shopping only to hear my husband say “don’t you already own that?”. Oops, oh well at least my style is consistent!
There is an exception to this rule! If you find a brand that you love that consistently fits you well, you can think of investing in one items in several colors if the cut is perfect for your body. For those of you that shop at Kohl’s here’s a Kohl’s coupon to save you some money on your wardrobe curating! Recently I did manage to replace almost all of my old jeans with new jeans that fit perfectly from one store and I have no regrets whatsoever, best decision of the season and I feel put together and dress faster than ever. Actually, I think they’ve found a life customer!
QUESTION 5: Can I come up with at least three clothing combinations for it?
Here’s where Michelle gets tough! She says that if the garment successfully passed all four previous test questions, you may have found a valuable supplement to your wardrobe. However, before taking a final decision, check for its versatility. If you can’t come up with AT LEAST three outfit combinations for it you may have a hard time styling it for real life, and it may end up being just another brick in the wall!
I hope you’ve enjoyed these tips, personally I need to go do some serious purging of my closet…. Easier said than done, but I will try! In the meantime I’m trying to be more selective about what I buy, because not buying is easier than getting rid of things even if I never wear them!