Shop Your Closet: Six Strategies for Working your Look



BY JEAN MARIE JOHNSON

If you caught “Shop Your Closet: Four Strategies for Managing Your Wardrobe” in last month’s issue of Forsyth Woman, you may be getting your closet in great shape by ensuring that it is:

seasonally-specific

well-organized

appropriate for how you actually live

centered around a core color palette or look

And you are likely finding that it’s easier now to “shop your closet” when getting dressed for the day. While that’s the perfect place to start, we also know that a wardrobe isn’t static. It evolves as we do, as life does (Hello, COVID…) and, instead of being about following fashion trends, it’s focused on knowing how to work your look in ways that feel right for you.

Key Strategies

Consider these six strategies for ensuring that your wardrobe is a positive, authentic expression of you:

Home in on your style

You’ve probably looked at a stranger or peered at a window display and thought, “I love that look. I’ll have to remember that.” It sounds easy enough, but it’s not likely to happen. The way around this dilemma is to capture the looks that speak to you. Okay, while it’s creepy to take a photo of a complete stranger, you can find examples on Pinterest, in magazines, and when you’re perusing inside a bricks and mortar store. Last season, as I flipped through the free catalogs that fill my mailbox, I simply tore out pages and tucked them away in a folder. That folder became my indispensable “Go-To” for mindfully shopping the season ahead.

Clarify your silhouette

Acquiring a wardrobe that actually works for you means understanding “the look” you want by breaking it down. Here’s one example: Let’s say that you favor an artsy, bohemian vibe. That could mean slim jeans and leggings paired with billowy tops and kimonos. Or, it might mean loose, flowy slacks and skirts paired with more fitted tees and sweaters. Maybe it’s both combinations! The point is that you don’t want to end up with everything – from top to bottom – flowy, because that’s probably not going to create the look you are going for. When in doubt, your “Go-To” folder is a great place to revisit so that you can dissect and understand the elements better. When faux leather leggings came into vogue, I put my skinny jeans on hold for a while and wore the leggings just as I would have worn the jeans – with loose flowy tops and big sweaters. It was easy because I understood how the elements worked together.

Foundational bottoms and a variety of tops

One common mistake is having far too many bottoms and not enough tops. Most of the time (my embroidered harem pants being a notable exception!) it’s the top that nails the look. And, if you’re spending more and more time in virtual meetings, family gatherings and the like, it’s mostly a “waist-up” experience. So, identify the types of bottoms you need for the season – cut, color, fabric – and lock those down. Then have some fun while focusing on your look from the waist up. For me that means having super-casual tees, a variety of patterned tops that swing both “everyday” and a bit dressy, lightweight sweaters, and artsy kimono tops.

Adapt as you age

At about 5’1 and shrinking, I have always adored a high heel. From the platforms I wore as a teenager, to the stilettos I donned as a professional, a three or even four-inch heel was my elongating norm. No more. It’s been a hard habit to break but my feet and my lifestyle make these choices problematic and unwise. Okay, well, I still have a few pairs, but I have had to find ways to swap out this preference, to compromise without sacrificing style. In winter, it’s usually a low-heeled boot, in summer, maybe a kitten heel or a cute mule. To identify tasteful substitutes that express my style, I go back to my folder to study the “aging gracefully” silhouettes and the elements I am drawn to.

Add personal flare

Some women love this strategy while others find it a bit intimidating. By “personal flare” I am not suggesting something that’s contrived. Instead, flare is about what’s authentic for you, what makes your heart sing. A set designer I know wore an armful of gold bangles every day, with every outfit, for many years. That was her “thing,” until at one point, it wasn’t. A friend wears only black and mixes things up by adding colorful scarves and jewelry. She looks like mixed media art every day of the year! For me, leather jackets in a variety of styles and cuts add a bit of street sass that suits my urban roots and works perfectly for bopping around on errands. Just as those harem pants do!


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