Building a Remixable Wardrobe, Part 2: Shopping for Remixable Pieces

Me, the Uncreative Type
It was tricky to write this post because there’s no clear way to do this.  Some of you are very creative and can buy almost any piece and figure out how to work it in later.  Since I’m not naturally that creative, I found it helpful to create checklists of basic criteria that help me determine whether a garment will be versatile for me.

And, that’s what I’m showing you today.  But first, some guidelines…

#1 – These are not meant to be rigid.  The checklists I created were more like training wheels when I first started out remixing.  As remixing becomes more natural to me, these lists get used less.

#2 – Don’t get bogged down by specifics.  I give lots of examples, and the only reason I give specifics is to jog your mind to help you figure out what kinds of checklists will work for you.  Some of the things on my checklist may not work for your wardrobe needs, but keep in mind the broader idea of creating a checklist, esp if you need training wheels.

#3 – Don’t get overwhelmed.  I offer “routes” as alternative frameworks you could use to create your own lists, and I throw a lot of info your way to spark ideas for you to create your own checklist.  I do not use each “route.”  I pick one for each category, so don’t think you have to use them all.

That said, here are my checklists and other ideas for how you can create your own!


My Checklists

General Question
With anything–tops, skirts, pants, dresses–I ask, “Does the color or print work with at least 3 pieces that are already in my closet?”  If not, then remixing it will not be very easy, and if you’re on the training wheels track, you need easy.

When searching for remixable tops, a couple of different routes you can go are by structure or scenario.  Structure tests versatility through the ability to change the shape of a top.  Scenarios test versatility through the ability to wear it for different occasions.

Route 1: Structure

Can I tuck, tie/knot, and belt it, and does it look good without doing any of those?
Here are some examples:
I aim for a shirt to do all four, but I’ll buy it if it does at least three.  I’ll even settle for two if it works with a lot of different types of bottoms.  (Like I said, this isn’t rigid.)
Route 2: Scenario
Can I wear this casually, to work, and dressed up?
(Two out of three of those would be sufficient for me.)
The way I’d check this is by having a staple bottom for each of those categories.  These staples are basically saying, “At the very least, this should be able to pair with these _____.”  If the shirt can pair with a standard bottom in each of these categories, chances are it can pair with a lot of other things too.  Everything else is a bonus.
Example of staples for each category:
  • casual – skinny jeans
  • work – trousers
  • dressy – black pencil skirt


The staples from your closet could be different than mine.  Ex. cargo pants for casual, a red or denim pencil skirt for work, or a flowy or sequined skirt for dressed up, etc.
MAIN IDEA: I identified some key pieces to fit each of these categories so that when I’m shopping I can quickly run through this list and know that the top will work in a couple of different scenarios.

UPDATE 7/30/12 – Here’s an updated picture of a remixable top from Daisy Ray Boutique:

It shows how to remix through testing both structure and scenario.  The top can be worn (from L to R in pic) casual, casual-dressy, for work, and for a party!



For skirts, I base my questions on scenarios because there’s less ability to change the structure of a skirt.
Like with tops, I have staples to measure the versatility of a skirt, too.  Skirts are a little more complicated because you have to be able to mix and match on top and on the bottom, so that would be shoes and shirts.
I try to pick a pair of staple shoes and a shirt for each category: casual and dressy.  If you need work-wear, add that too.
My shoe staples:
Does it go with my boots, flats, and pumps?
casual – boots & flats // any of my colored shoes = bonus! [other possible staples for you: sandals
dressy – pumps [other possibilities: metallic heels, peep toe wedges, etc.]
Does it go with a t-shirt and a dressy shirt?
casual – any t-shirt
dressy – pink or black blouse [other examples: sequined top, leopard blouse, etc.]


After that, mixing and matching is soooo much easier.  Here I even mixed the casual tee with dressy pumps!

For dresses I go through the same shoe checklist as I do for skirts.
Besides that, there are sooooo many routes you can go to make a checklist for dresses.  Don’t get overwhelmed!  Remember, just pick one.
Route 1: Layering
I’m not big on layering things underneath my dresses besides tights, plus San Diego’s too warm for that.  But if you live in a cooler climate, being able to layer underneath might be something to consider on your dress checklist.
My layering checklist:
Does it look good with a blazer, army vest, and cardigan?
Really, I’m just looking for a handful of “completer” pieces.  (Typical completer pieces are blazer, vest, cardigan, any cropped or fitted jackets–denim, moto jacket, tweed, etc.)  The more distinct they are, the better, but 3 different colored cardigan options can work too.  It’s all up to what you want your criteria to be!
Above you see the dress with 3 different finisher pieces and three different shoe options.
Route 2: Accessories
The ability to wear different belts and tights can also make a dress versatile.  When remixing this olive dress I’ve mostly done it with accessories like tights, belts, scarves, necklaces, and shoes.

Four different belts, four different shoes.  Some other accessories here and there.
Route 3: Warm & Cool Weather
Another way you could form your checklist is simply with two options: Can I wear this in both warm weather and cooler weather?  ie. by itself & with boots/tights/sweater?  (As seen with both dresses above.)

Hopefully you aren’t overwhelmed and made it through alive!

Special tip: To remember these things, you can put the checklist on your phone.  I keep them in Evernote. Or you could pin the checklists.  I tried to make as many of them as I could into images so you could easily save it for reference.

Remember, the bigger picture is to create a basic, quick checklist you run through.  You don’t have to run through every item in your closet–that’s why I just listed one staple per category.  You’ll find other possibilities outside of those, but pairing the item with the checklist of staples lets you know if it’s something you can work with or not.

Whew!  I’m TIRED now, so I shall be off.  Happy weekend, and happy remixing!


For all 5 parts of the Building a Remixable Wardrobe Series, click here.

**If you need help building a wardrobe from scratch, check out the other series Wardrobe From Scratch.

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