even prior to “new normal”, there was a renewed emphasis placed on slow fashion and shopping your closet. the idea is simple: cut down on shopping by reusing and recycling what we already have. that can be difficult, as many if not most of us are not involved in the fashion world full-time. over the years one of the purposes of this blog has been to provide classic style inspiration that never goes out of style. just this past week, we’ve talked about my opens in a new windowtop 6 American classic must have’s and opens in a new window10 classic essentials that transition to spring. my hope is that posts like these will help you establish a classic wardrobe full of timeless items that can be reused well into the future. with that in mind, today, we’re going to talk how to shop your closet. we’re going to start by picking a target outfit. i’m going to show you what i came up with, and walk you through the process step-by-step with reference outfits i’ve featured over the past few years. and if find yourself looking for more inspiration, be sure to checkout my new YouTube video, posted below.
pick an inspiration outfit
whether it’s a friend, fashion blogger, celebrity or someone else, pick an inspiration outfit. that’ll be your target outfit and serve as a reference point for you when you go to shop your closet.
the target look
i’ve chosen one of my personal fashion mavens the Duchess of Cambridge, Kate Middleton. i’ve loved her style for a long time and featured it many times across my socials. here’s my target look for today.
let’s break her outfit down.
- a classic dark blazer
- dark ankle denim
- gingham shirt
what i came up with
and now for what i came up with, just shopping my closet. pretty close, right? blazer, shirt, and denim are pretty spot on. belt is close, but the wedges are pretty different. so let’s talk through how i arrived at this outfit.
back to the basics
i’m a big believer in building a timeless, classic wardrobe. and any such wardrobe is going to be replete with the basics. if you’re looking for guidance on how to construct one from the ground up or retool the one you have, i’ve got you covered. over the years i’ve put together a back to basics series.
- opens in a new windowback to basics: tops
- opens in a new windowback to basics: bottoms
- opens in a new windowback to basics: outerwear
all of the items in Kate Middleton’s outfit are classics that i’ve accumulated some variation of over the years and featured on the blog. let’s walk through each step-by-step with pictures from my archive.
a gingham shirt. such a classic. so preppy. one of my favorites. just like many of the above looks, i’ve brought in a brown belt as a cute little accent piece. notice the block-heeled sandals i’m wearing. they give this outfit just a bit more sophisticated elegance than it normally would have. love.
if you have followed me for any length of time you know i regularly sing the praises of the mighty blazer. my personal style is decidedly preppy and the blazer is the cornerstone of preppy style. having a few blazers in your closet is not excessive at all! see how i’ve styled dark blazers over the years.
roughly speaking, the “wash” of a jean refers to the extent to which a pair of denim has undergone a washing and treatment process prior to sale. again, roughly speaking, that washing and treatment process affects the color and softness of a pair of denim. below, i’ve put together a scale of various washes beginning with “raw denim” and ending with “bleach wash”. raw denim is very stiff, dark and has not been washed to soften and remove dye, whereas bleach washed denim is very soft and light, as most of the dye has been stripped away. most of us are probably going to stick in the rinse-to-light wash region of the below scale, but some of us may deviate to either end of the spectrum.
raw denim < rinse wash < mid wash < light wash < bleach wash
i’m such a big believer in dark denim. dress it up. dress it down. it’s probably the most flexible wash of denim you could own. see how i’ve styled it over the years.
wedges are wonderful. perfect for spring and summer. here’s a few ways i’ve styled the same pair of wedges over the years. remember, though, my pair of wedges didn’t match Kate’s at all. we’ll get to that in a moment.
how to shop your closet
ok. so, we started with a target outfit. we broke it down. and a trip down memory lane revealed that i’ve purchased many comparables to that outfit throughout the years. if you’ve worked to construct a classic wardrobe built on the basics, shopping your closet becomes a lot more doable. blazer? check. white tee? check. dark denim? check. a pair of brown loafers? check. and on and on and on. easy enough, right? not so fast. i’m under no illusion that this exercise is really this straightforward. so let’s dig a little deeper.
don’t forget to swap out the pieces
oftentimes, after you’ve picked out your target outfit, you’ll realize that you have some similars but they’re in a totally different color. or maybe your jeans are in a different cut. or maybe, well, you get the idea. don’t let things like the “wrong” color scheme throw you off. target outfits are inspirations only. we’re not going for a 1-1 match per se. ultimately, we’re just looking for new ways to wear our old items.
in re-fashioning our target outfit today, we could’ve just as easily swapped Kate’s gingham shirt for a solid. we could’ve kept the dark denim, but instead of a blue-on-blue blazer/shirt combo gone with red-on-red or black-on-red or red-on-black or, well, again you get the idea.
don’t be afraid to get creative. don’t be afraid to swap out pieces liberally as needed. that’s exactly what i did with the wedges. i didn’t have an identical pair, but i did have a pair that worked in the context of the outfit. and swapping out my wedge’s for Kate’s put a new, albeit slight, spin on the outfit. but it works.
old with the new
shopping your closet doesn’t mean you’re never going to buy new items for your wardrobe again. of course. but going through the exercise of identifying target outfits serves as a forcing function to shop your closet and to determine what exactly you’re missing—what gaps exist. shopping your closet in the way outlined here will make you a smarter shopper in general, because it will help you avoid redundancies in your shopping. you’ll know whether you have a classic blazer or not. and if you do, you can focus on obtaining the pieces that you don’t. seems simple, right? it’s not. being an organized and focused shopper takes work, but it’s my hope that today’s how to shop your closet will help you become a better shopper in the long run.