A Versatile Wardrobe Can Change Your Life
We're actually serious about this one, guys.
Imagine casually shopping online for a few hours, and then after scrolling through the “What’s new” category on a few sites, you go into your closet and rummage through your hangers, and realize you’re actually satisfied with your existing wardrobe. Meaning, that Equipment blouse and Gucci bag that you just put in your cart, you don’t even want those anymore. Sound like a pipe dream? It’s not. This is what happens when your closet is fully stocked with wearable, versatile pieces that are tailored to your lifestyle – you’ll buy less things, less often and shop with more intention for things of better quality.
There are two essential ways to build a versatile wardrobe. First, the obvious: choosing versatile pieces. The second way is to learn how to style a single piece in multiple different ways, a skill that we’ve been perfecting for years now, since, well honestly, we never had much money growing up and this was, no joke, a means of survival for us. But for right now, let’s start with the basics. Shopping for versatile pieces is a lot harder than it may sound. It seems like an easy enough idea when you’re thinking it over…until you actually go into a store, buy a few things and then once you bring them home you realize everything you bought doesn’t go with anything in your closet, and therefore will go unworn.
What defines a versatile piece?
Here’s the thing: basic pieces are versatile pieces, but versatile pieces don’t have to be basic pieces. Get it? It’s kind of like the whole a-square-is-a-rectangle-but-a-rectangle-isn’t-a-square thing. A faux-fur embellished pencil skirt can be just as versatile as a classic white tee, just as long as it complements other pieces already in your closet. Still a little confused? Consider the following when unsure whether a piece is truly versatile or not:
Can be paired with multiple items in your closet
Each piece in your wardrobe should be able to be mixed and matched with multiple other pieces in your wardrobe. This increases the size of your wardrobe in the sense that you will be able to make more outfits.
Can be worn to at least three different occasions
The most versatile pieces can be both dressed up or down, worn to the office, out at night, or to a casual Saturday brunch. Extra points if it can be also styled for other rare occasions like a wedding or party.
Can be styled a number of ways
Think about a button-down plaid shirt that can tied at the waist or tucked into a pair of black trousers, or layered over a tank top, all of which are very different looks, stylistically. Another great example is a great scarf that can be worn to tie up your hair, around your neck or as a belt.
Can be worn throughout at least two seasons
A (faux) leather biker jacket is the epitome of a versatile piece that can be worn in any season of the year. In the colder months, it’s great as a layering piece. In the Summer and Spring, it’s perfect to wear out at night, draped over your shoulders when the temperature drops. Not to mention it can be thrown over any dress, paired with any jeans or trousers and just work. It’s pretty much one of the best fashion creations ever.
Choose a color palette and stick to it
In order to be cohesive, the pieces in your wardrobe need to be built around a specific palette. That way, no matter what piece you choose, you have two, three, maybe even six other pieces in your closet that goes with it. Don’t worry, incorporating more versatile pieces doesn’t mean your entire closet has to be monotone back to front; neutrals aren’t the only colors that are interchangeable.
If you love color, go ahead and pick your favorites. Remember, the fewer colors in your palette, the easier it will be able for you to mix and match, so don’t go crazy. Try to stick in the 3-6 range when choosing your top picks. As long as your colors are either monochrome (all colors share the same hue—which is our personal fave) or complementary to each other (colors that are roughly opposite each other on the color wheel), you won’t have a problem.
If you do end up choosing lots of bright colors, be sure to include a few neutrals to balance everything out. You want to make sure the colors you choose are not only colors you’re drawn to, but colors that are actually wearable for you and your lifestyle, in which pseudo neutrals are your bffs. Think burgundy, navy, olive green, navy and khaki.
Once you choose a bunch of colors that work well together you will literally be able to open your closet and go, avoiding the, “Damn, I have nothing to go with this!” situation we all hate. And don’t think that having a defined color palette means you’ll be stuck with the same look every day. It will make your life ten times easier, help you get more in touch with your personal style and you’ll still have variety. How? It’s all about how you mix and match.
Don’t segregate parts of your wardrobe
One of the biggest examples of segregating is when you have an entirely separate set of clothes and/or accessories dedicated solely for work. We get it: at the office, you want to look professional and smart, and you want people to take you seriously. And generally speaking, this is not how you necessarily want the rest of the world to perceive you outside of work.
So, you end up with a bunch of clothes that you can only wear five days out of the week and even when you do wear them, you don’t feel “yourself” in them. This is why it’s so much more practical and economical to buy things that are versatile and can be easily transitioned, because really, the best wardrobe is one that can easily carry you from day to night, work to play with hardly any effort.
It’s a delicate alchemy that triumphs a lot of girls. Rest assured, you are not alone. Not many have found the sweet spot between smart and attention-grabbing with their 9-5 wardrobes. The struggle is definitely real. But don’t worry, there’s plenty of opportunity in workwear to show that a.) you have a personality, b.) you have style, and c.) you’re not this completely boring and conservative square who is afraid to stand out.
The trick is to come off comfortable, without sacrificing professionalism. There’s always something tragic about seeing a women stumbling in a pair of too-high heels at work because she thinks she has to wear them. Rule number one: you have to wear what suits the needs of your day-to-day lifestyle. If that means wearing flats at the office because walking in heels is just not one of your many given talents, may we humbly introduce you to the Christy.
Get where we’re going here? Workwear doesn’t have to be as strict as you may be convinced, which means you don’t have to buy a certain amount of outfits that you wear only to the office. This logic also applies to other parts of your wardrobe that are often segregated, like gymwear. Athleisure is a thing, you know.
We hate the commonly used one-size-fits-all approach to style. But there are a handful of pieces that are entirely versatile and generally work for everyone. Which pieces are we talking about? We like to call these hero pieces, because that’s what they are — lifesavers.
The crisp white button down.
Your work wardrobe cannot exist without it. This wear-anywhere essential is a must-have in any wardrobe, but especially workwear. You can always tone down the impact by rolling up your sleeves for a more laid-back vibe. Remember, it’s all in the details: a crisp poplin top with extra-long exaggerated sleeves or collar can really make an otherwise quintessential workwear top feel more playful and less strict, making it easily just as good to wear to the office as it would be to a Sunday brunch.
If you’re too much of a slob to wear white (like us!) then go for black.
If don’t have any pieces in your closet that can easily be transitioned from day-to-night, beginning to build a collection of jumpsuits is a great place to start. They’re perfect for the office in pretty much every way, especially on those hard-to-get-out-of-bed (much less put a chic outfit together) mornings, when, after hitting the snooze button three times, there’s literally no time to be creative and think about appropriate color pairings or flattering silhouettes. It’s a nonchalant way to look feminine without going all pink.
The pencil skirt.
The pencil skirt and pointed-toe heel combo is probably one of the oldest classics in the book. But this look can easily be freshened up because the pencil skirt can basically be paired with anything. Go for the opposite effect of the aforementioned classic skirt-and-heels pairing and team yours with a t-shirt and biker boots for a distinctive, edgy look. Running errands straight after work? The pencil skirt easily transitions: unbutton your collared shirt a few notches, and keep it tucked it into your skirt, then slip into a pair of menswear-inspired flats and there you have it — a totally put together look that comes off completely effortless.
To suit or not to suit, that’s really the question, right? We happen to love the idea of a good suit. It references masculine styles, but still feels flattering and feminine. Plus, let’s get real, best part is that it’s a really easy way for you to look polished really quickly. But, typically, suits fall into the not-so-appealing category. They have this connotation of being a no-way-around-it, uptight and restricting situation. (BTW, if you’re in this camp, this picture of Rosie Huntington-Whiteley will so change your mind.) Don’t think you’re limited to the dry-clean-only three-piece — crisp cotton-poplin shirt, matching wool jacket and trousers — combo; you can definitely mix it up.
You don’t have to match your jacket to your trousers, it’s okay. This is what makes a suit king when it comes to versatility. Fashion thrives off contradiction. I’ve always thought the chicest way to style a matching suit is by pairing it with a simple t-shirt. It’s unexpected and little irreverent, which is pretty much my goal of life, without feeling too over-the-top. Another one of our favorite combos is the suit jacket (worn as a blazer) paired with denim cutoffs and a few statement accessories, maybe a bold lip.
The shirt dress.
Not many people think to wear their shirt dresses to work, but it’s such an easy option. The beauty of this look? Again, there’s the one-piece factor. (Whoever said you can’t roll out of bed and throw something on and still look chic is obviously a pessimist.) Even more than that, the shirtdress is the epitome of transitional dressing; there’s still plenty of room for you to play and up the sex appeal when you want to go straight from work to dinner (or wherever, not judging) for a night out.
Covers everything, yet is the farthest thing from conservative. Can be styled a gazillion ways, looks good on anyone and is a perfect outfit base for almost any occasion. Need we say more?
BTW, if all this is sounding good but you still struggle with creating outfits? Check out this totally free guide we created that gives you 17 simple ways to make creating outfits easier.
Convinced you need to curate a more versatile wardrobe, huh? No worries. We got you. Have a click through our curated selections in the “SHOP THE STORY” section below for a selection of versatile pieces that will make getting dressed easier/quicker/better. If you want more on embracing versatility, definitely sign up for our free 10-day masterclass, “Your Ideal Wardrobe.” Just when you didn’t think we could get deeper, we do.
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