Do you spend too much time thinking about what to wear only to end up wearing the same outfit again and again? Take some time and allow yourself to come clear with your possessions and find out what you really need.
Stylewords by Cerstin Henning
For some people, a wardrobe is a scary place full of mysterious outfits we can’t really find, items that made sense in the shop but somehow lost it on their way into our wardrobe, and individual garments that end up unworn because we cannot find a matching partner. If your closet is such a scary place, take a weekend off to think about your style, who you are, what you like, and what you want your clothes to say about you. Go through the good, the bad and the ugly creatures that have taken over your wardrobe and make your closet a place that makes your style decisions easy and fun, every day. You need pen and paper, a couple of magazines or catalogues, storage boxes, and coat hangers.
Write down the things you have worn over the last week and weekend and how you felt in them. Do you have a signature look, a standard outfit? Which garments do you like best and why? Do your clothes say what you want them to say? If you saw yourself for the first time and had to describe your style afterwards to someone else, what would you say? Do your clothes announce you or disguise you? Write down your thoughts and leave them alone for a while.
Is this the image you want to project?
How happy are you with your self description? Assess what you like and don’t like about it, what you would like to keep and what you would prefer to change. This has nothing to do with trends or other people’s expectations. It’s about how you want to present yourself. Whichever way you want this to be is good.
Your three style adjectives
Choose the three style adjectives that describe the style you have or would like to have best. Are you funky, romantic, eco-chic, minimalist, athletic, vintagy, sophisticated, colourful, sexy, tough, elegant? Whether your choice is comfortable, sporty and low-key or extravagant, flamboyant and feminine doesn’t matter, as long as this is what you want. Having identified your style will make it a lot easier to project the image you’re aiming at. This is not about limiting yourself but about focussing. It’s about who you are and who you want to be.
Have a look at your body type
Have a look at yourself in a full-length mirror and describe what you see. This is not about putting yourself down, look at yourself with loving eyes. What are your best features? The more you know about your body, the easier it will be to dress it well. If you cannot be gentle with yourself, get help. Ask a friend you trust or hire a professional stylist. The aim of this exercise is to bring out the best in you, an hour spent sighing about the size of your thighs will not get you there. Lying to yourself that an animal print catsuit will turn you into a sex kitten won’t either, so try to be honest. Write down what you like best.
Style has a lot to do with training the eye.
Become fashion savvy by collecting images of women whose style you admire, clothes you like from magazines, and stills from movies. Use them to create your style vision on a bulletin board on the backside of your closet door. Put them up in a collage on your wall or glue them into a notebook. Remember to have fun with it, this doesn’t have to reflect your style in twenty years to come. Play with it, add pictures of yourself or swatches of fabric you like. Check out interior magazines or ask women in the street you like if you can take their photo. Nothing is off limits so just follow your instincts. Let it develop over time. You don’t have to understand why you choose certain items, if you feel an immediate draw towards something, that is a good indicator that you truly like it.
Clean out your Wardrobe
Whether you want to do it alone or with your girl-friends, make sure you and your friends are as honest as possible about this, if you want to see a real difference.
Try on everything you have in your wardrobe and sort it into piles: things to keep, things to sell / swap, things to give away to charity. What you haven’t sold or swapped within the next three months, give to charity, too. Next, tackle your drawers and shelves in the same way.
Sort, sort, sort
Now go through the ’things to keep’ pile once again and only keep things that meet all of the following criteria:
- they actually fit – no use hanging on to skinny jeans that only make you feel miserable every time you see them,
- they can be describe with one of your style adjectives and project the image you want,
- they flatter your body shape and make you feel good when you wear them,
- you have actually worn them in the last two years.
All the rest needs to go. Store beloved pieces that might come back in style, special equipment like skiing jackets and a few(!) clothes you hang on to for sentimental reasons in separate boxes so that they don’t clutter your space. Be ruthless, even if it feels you’ll have nothing left to wear in the end. You will. And everything that is left will make you feel and look good.
Create your dream closet
Put everything that is now left in your ‘things to keep file’ back in, organised into categories – tops, dresses, trousers, coats and jackets. Sort the sections by colour. Finally, rejoice. Do this twice a year and facing your wardrobe will never be a scary issue again.
Take a picture of your moodboard with you when you roam the shops next time. Keep your style adjectives at the back of your head. And only ever buy things you feel truly good in. Think 100%! By buying fewer things of better quality, garments that really fit and match your vision of yourself, you will make sure that you and your clothes speak the same language. But do take yourself out of your comfort zone once in a while, too. Experiment with cuts and colour. Dare to be noticed. You are noticeable!
- Caroline Fox: Grown-up Glamour. This is not an ordinary style guide, it is full of witty, intelligent quotes and iconic pictures. Fifty-year-old Cox takes her readers seriously and offers fun, practical tips without being patronising, with interestingly historical and up-to-date background information. This is both an enjoyable read as well as an insightful and useful guide. Grown-up Glamour was published on 1 October 2010 by Quadrille Publishing Ltd.
- Christine Schwab: The Grown-Up Girl’s Guide to Style: The Maintenance Bible for Fashion, Beauty and More. In her honest and empowering book, lifestyle and fashion reporter Schwab offers an open-minded approach to style, beauty, health, and well-being that will help every forty-plus woman achieve a classic look while maintaining her edge and personality. The Kindle edition was published on 29 March 2011.