Tips for Updating Your Wardrobe

Happy New Year, everyone!  We just got back from vacation, and I’m still getting back to normal rhythms of life at home.  Since we haven’t been home for a while, it is only starting to sink in for me that a new year has begun!
I don’t know about you, but I’ve been doing a minor wardrobe update.  This is the result of a combination of being on a 6-month sabbatical from work, no longer having work meetings, being with a toddler more than I used to be, exercising more, plus the season changing to winter.  I just felt like I needed a few more options for a different lifestyle and season.
Since I know many people work on their style around this time of year, I thought it’d be helpful to share the steps I went through to update my wardrobe and plan my purchases.  Whenever I find myself in need of an update and don’t do these steps, I’m prone to emotionally and haphazardly shopping which automatically means I make poorer purchases.  
If you’re doing a big overhaul, try the Wardrobe From Scratch Series (HERE) and Building a Remixable Wardrobe Series (HERE).  

How to Update Your Wardrobe

1.  Write a few types of activities you frequently and regularly do during the week or month.  I’d list under 7 or else it’ll get a little overwhelming and maybe too detailed.  During my sabbatical, my list looks like this:
  • Jogging + errands afterwards 
  • Toddler activities with lots of walking and movement (zoo, park, playing at home)
  • Meals with friends
  • Lounging at home 
  • Church 
  • Dates with Benson
  • Blog from home or cafe 
2.  Next to each activity write a description for how casual, dressy, athletic, or professional your outfits need to be.  No need to list the aesthetic, like “classic” or “feminine” or “boho,” unless you already have a clear idea of that in your head.  Mine look like this in bold:
  • Jogging + errands afterwards – athletic, sporty, athleisure 
  • Toddler activities with lots of walking and movement (zoo, park, playing at home) –  very casual, easy to move in, sneaker outfits
  • Meals with friends – put together casual, sometimes dressy casual
  • Lounging at home – loungewear, sporty
  • Church – dressy casual 
  • Dates with Benson – dressy casual
  • Blog from home or cafe – put together casual
Unless you’re going to ask others for help, the descriptions don’t need to make sense to anyone else but yourself.  Like, do YOU know what I mean by “put together casual”?  Maybe, maybe not.  But *I* have some idea of what that means in my head, and that’s all that matters.  
In addition to the descriptions, I like to have an image of one key outfit in my mind that encapsulates it.  If you can’t think of this on your own, that’s okay.  The 4th step should help you.  But if you CAN think of a key outfit at this moment it could direct your vision a little more.
3.  Choose 1-2 areas to focus on from the list you made above.  I don’t feel an immediate or huge need to update ALL of the areas I listed above, though I’m sure they could each use a tiny update or addition.  But, to spare myself from getting overwhelmed, from buying more than I need, and to focus a bit, I just focus on the biggest areas of need first.  I chose: toddler activities and just general “casual / put together casual winter style” which was in several of my activities.  
Though I could probably use a few more pieces for jogging outdoors in the winter, I’m making due because I only run twice a week.  It’s infrequently enough for me to only need two options to run in and do laundry in time for the next week.  And though I have “dressy casual” for several activities, I already have plenty of options.  I felt a greater need or itch for toddler activity outfits and general put together casual winter items (that I could probably dress up anyway).  
4.  Collect or pin 15-20 outfits that you like that fit the focus areas you chose above.  
  • Search “women’s style” or “women’s fashion” for images to choose from.  If you have a more specific direction for types of style you’re looking for, search those instead.  For example, I knew I wanted black sneaker outfits, so I searched “black sneaker outfit,” haha.  I also knew I wanted winter looks, so I searched both “women’s style” and “winter style.”  
  • Or, I also just looked looked at a couple people’s Instagram accounts whose style I’ve been really into lately and collected some of their outfits.
  • Don’t over analyze, just pin them!  Don’t get caught up on details, like you like everything about the outfit except the necklace.  The way we will use these pins is to look at broad strokes, not to copy every individual outfit.  
  • Set your timer for 10 minutes, then pin.  I mean it!  You don’t want to get lost in the Pinterest rabbit hole.  Make this quick.  Having a limited timeframe will also make you make quick decisions and not overanalyze.  Go with your gut.  Just pin and don’t think about it again until Step 5.
  • If the timer goes off and you’re really not done, set it for another 5 minutes.  
5.  Analyze your Pinterest board in TWO ways:

Look for common themes.  Again, we’re doing broad strokes, not trying to copy every outfit.  What do you notice in a lot of the images you pinned?  Examples:
  • Colors: Lots of neutrals?  What kinds of neutrals?  Lots of colors?  Are they saturated or muted pastels?  Are you drawn to a handful of colors?
  • Shapes of pieces: Did you pin a-line dresses and skirts?  Flowy blouses?  Oversized sweaters?  Fitted tops?  Skinny jeans?  
  • Types of pieces: Did you pin a lot of distressed jeans?  Did you pin a lot of outfits with leggings?  Outfits with trousers?  Do you see lots of dresses?  Are they stretchy or structured?  Lots of sneakers?  
  • Details: Do you see similar patterns and prints, like lots of stripes, polka dots, or animal printed tops?  Did you pin lots of things with lace?  Lots of ruffles?  Or do you have lots of clean lines instead?  
No need to get super detailed about it.  Just figure out around 5 major themes.  For mine, I saw lots of neutral colored loosely fitting sweaters, lots of black jeans and distressed jeans, and oversized cardigans.  If I ever had a pattern, it was stripes.

When I did this with my friend last week, she pinned lots of softer neutrals, any colors were more dull like maroon and olive rather than bright colors, she had lots of flowy long sleeve blouses (as opposed to button ups) and liked special details like lace or non-traditional shaped garments.

6.  Come up with 2-3 “outfit formulas” for each focus area.  Get these from your newly created Pinterest board.  I honed in on 3-5 specific outfits that I liked that I thought would work for each focus area and generalized the pieces to create outfit formulas.  
Toddler Activities: 
  • distressed jeans or black jeans + loose comfy neutral colored sweaters + flat boots/booties or black sneakers 
  • jeans + cotton long sleeve tee + oversized cardigan + flat boots/booties or black sneakers 
  • long sleeve tees or plaid button ups + vests + flat boots/booties
Put Together Casual Winter Style:

  • distressed jeans or black jeans + loose comfy neutral colored sweaters + booties
  • loose comfy sweaters + faux leather jackets + suede knee-high boots 
  • long sleeve dress + suede knee-high boots or booties + tights + any completer piece
  • printed or solid long sleeve or plaid button up + oversized cardigan + jeans + booties
Above I bolded pieces I didn’t/don’t have.  
The outfit formulas include a mix of brand new outfit formulas, outfit formulas I was already doing, or old ones I was doing with a slight variation.  Like, #2 under Toddler Activities is an outfit combo I do all the time, but not with black sneakers because I didn’t have them.  And #3 under Put Together Casual Winter Style is an old combo that I usually do with riding boots but think suede knee high boots would really update the combo.  
7.  List a few key pieces you need to be able to do those outfit formulas.  Like I said, above I bolded pieces I didn’t or still don’t have.  They became my shopping list.  If I felt the need for more than one in each category, I limited myself to 3.  So, if you’re like, “I need more tops!” I would start with just getting 3.  This makes you selective with what you choose.  Get ones that really work in your wardrobe, feel comfortable and wearable, serve the purposes you need it to (activities you’d wear it to or pieces you’d pair it with based on your outfit formulas), and are remixable!  If you wear those out and find you want more, THEN buy more.  
My list ended up being:
  • distressed jeans
  • black sneakers
  • 2-3 loose comfy neutral colored sweaters
  • suede knee-high boots (lower priority) 
  • faux leather jackets (lower priority) – I have both black and tan already, but the tan one is finally breaking and the black one is too tight to wear over sweaters. 
Luckily multiple items that I needed were repeated in several outfit formulas between the two focus areas.  The ones that were repeated less became lower priority on my list.

What I Bought so Far! 
  • Old Navy distressed jeans (THESE) – I haven’t looked back!  See my review HERE.
  • Nike Tanjun black sneakers (HERE) and have already worn them a bunch.  They are REALLY comfy.  More comfortable than I ever knew sneakers to be.  That’s saying a lot!
  • My 2-3 loose comfy neutral colored sweaters were THIS marled grey H&M sweater and THIS sweater in both olive and black.  

What I’m Still Shopping For:
  • Suede Knee-High Boots: I need to test THESE Lucky Brand boots to see if they’re too narrow for my feet.  (Haven’t been able to test them yet since we were out of town.)
  • Faux Leather Jackets:  Over the years a bunch of you have asked about cheaper options for faux leather jackets, and it’s been rare that I’ve found them.  UNTIL NOW, because I had never looked at Amazon!  I had no idea that Amazon had so many options!  
    • Black:  I *just* ordered a few to try from thredUP before I found the ones on Amazon, but if those don’t work out I’m going to try THIS one and THIS one from Amazon.  
    • Tan:  I need to sift through THESE, but likely starting with THIS, THIS, and THIS.

Yes, it seems like a lot of work to just buy 6-8 items.  This actually went pretty quickly in my own head, but I also recognize that I probably think about clothes and style and outfit formulas way more than the average person given that I need to write about it as a blogger.  However, I walked my friend through this exact process the other day, and overall it took less than an hour–and that was with 4 toddlers running around.  For what it’s worth, this way we know we’re not wasting our purchases because we already have outfit formulas all of these pieces will be used in!  I’ve already put ALL of the 5 pieces I bought to use in heavy rotation since getting them.

8.  When you’re ready, focus on a new area and repeat steps 4-8!  I do this for any area of my wardrobe that I want to revamp.  You could also do it on a larger scale as opposed to a minor update, but I would still start with only 3-4 outfit formulas.  Once you get those going, you can go back and get more pieces and/or work with more outfit formulas.

If you made it through this, I hope it was helpful!  Good luck!

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