Three Questions to Ask Yourself While Shopping to Build a Versatile Wardrobe

How to Consider Clothing Options When Shopping

You know I am ALL about having a closet full of clothes that are versatile and can be worn in a lot of different ways. I really want you to be able to maximize the pieces you buy so that you can make more outfits with less clothes. When you build a versatile wardrobe, it saves you money, reduces clutter in your wardrobe, and allows you to put together outfits more easily—all of which are major positives!

I want you to be strategic and thoughtful about which clothes earn a spot in your wardrobe because it makes a HUGE difference in how easy and smooth it is to get dressed. When every piece (or at least the majority of them) has multiple items it can be paired with, you don’t need to spend an eternity in the morning searching for a piece that works.

So, I want to share three questions to ask yourself when you’re shopping or considering whether a piece earns a place of clothing in your closet, so that you can build a versatile wardrobe.

Through out the post, I’ll be using examples of some of the outfits that you can create through the Winter Casual and Business Casual Starter Kit Wardrobe Guides®️. Versatility is one of the main things I focus on when I create any capsule wardrobe, but especially the Starter Kit Wardrobe Guides®️. They are designed to help set up your wardrobe on a solid foundation with a highly versatile, multifunctional pieces that pump out outfits for a variety of needs. With just a few clothes, you’ll have options for everyday casual to athleisure to date nights (for the casual guides), and outfits for everyday at work, Casual Fridays, and special presentations (for the business casual guides). Versatility streamlines your life so much!

(BTW, the guides are structured so that you don’t have to use the exact pieces shown. Really, what they provide is a strategy for your wardrobe, and I actually encourage you to use what’s in your closet first and fill the holes with colors, prints, and clothes you like best. That said, if you do want to use exact or similar pieces to what’s in the guide, it comes with a bonus shopping link database with several options for each piece, including straight and plus sizes.)

Okay, onto the questions!

 

Question #1: Can I pair it with two different counterparts?

First, can you pair the piece with at least two different counterparts? If we’re talking about a top, then do you have two different bottoms that you could pair it with? If we’re talking about a pair of pants, then do you have two different tops you could pair it with?

This question seems simple, but when I was first attempting to build a remixable wardrobe, this question was tough to answer. And that’s because my wardrobe wasn’t set up well with an adequate mixture of foundations and fillers.

Starter Kit Wardrobe Guide Questions to Ask Yourself to Build a Versatile Wardrobe: Fall Winter Outfit cream ribbed sweater + medium wash jeans + cognac booties + gold pendant necklace

To answer this first question more specifically, I choose two of my staples for tops or for bottoms and start with those as my go-to pairings. For example, two of my staples for casual pants are a pair of dark or medium wash jeans and another pair of neutral-colored jeans (whether black, off-white, or brown). So, if I’m considering a casual top, I check if it would go with those two options. Above, I’m showing the same sweater with medium wash jeans and brown corduroys, and it works effortlessly with both. (This one is easy since white is a neutral, but below under Question 3, you’ll see a colorful printed top paired with black jeans and medium wash jeans.)

Shop the Outfits:
Sweater: Nordstrom (similar, similar)
Corduroy Pants: Gap (exact—wearing size 6/28)
Jeans: Nordstrom (similar—I wear size 6)
Taupe Booties: Kohl’s (exact—wearing size 8.5)
Cognac Booties: Amazon (exact—wearing size 9)
Necklace: Nordstrom (exact; super similar)

 

Starter Kit Wardrobe Guide Questions to Ask Yourself to Build a Versatile Wardrobe: Fall Winter Outfit black and white striped long sleeve + black slacks + green long cardigan + cognac booties + gold pendant necklace

If I’m considering a work top, I’d check if it goes with my black slacks and any other pair of pants in a neutral color, like grey, navy, or khaki/tan. Or, if it’s a pair of bottoms, I’ll ask if I own two tops that go with it. Above, I’m showing black slacks with a striped tee and with a black sweater.

I always check if the piece works with at least two of my go-to staples. If it goes with more, then that’s great. If it doesn’t go with at least two of my staples, then this piece had better be AWESOME and serve a very, very clear purpose to earn a spot in my wardrobe as, what I call, a one-hit-wonder.

Shop the Outfits:
Striped Tee: Nordstrom (exact—wearing size M)
Green Sweater Blazer: J.Crew Factory (exact in other colors—wearing size S; similar)
Black Sweater: Amazon (exact)
Black Pants: Amazon (exact—wearing size M)
Cognac Booties: Amazon (exact—wearing size 9)
Necklace: Nordstrom (exact; super similar)

 

Question 2: Can it be layered under or over (whichever is applicable) at least two pieces in my wardrobe?

For me, the ability to layer is essential. Whether it’s the fall or winter and I need layers to stay warm, or whether it’s because I want to be able to take a warm-weather spring top and be able to wear it in the fall, I need to be able to wear layers. So, I have to ask myself if an item can be layered.

Starter Kit Wardrobe Guide Questions to Ask Yourself for a Versatile Wardrobe: Fall Winter Outfit yellow and white striped shirt + beige sherpa zip up fleece jacket + medium wash jeans + taupe suede booties + gold pendant necklace

If it’s an outer layer like a cardigan, a utility jacket, a denim jacket, etc., then obviously you’re asking if it can be layered over at least two different pieces in your wardrobe. Most often, the answer is yes. But sometimes, especially if it’s a printed or colored piece, the answer is no.

If it’s a shirt, then you’re asking if it can be layered under two different outer layers. Sometimes the sleeves are too puffy to fit under a layer, or I don’t like how the neckline looks on me once a layer is added on top. And if I kept those pieces, I’d never wear them because I would always be cold! So, this is a crucial question to ask yourself to make sure this piece can actually function in your closet.

Above, I’m showing the same striped top with a cardigan and with a zip-up fleece. It works with a lot more than just those two layers, which means that when I put it on in and need to grab a layer before I head out the door, I can do it QUICKLY—I have several options that just workIt seriously makes mornings so much smoother.

Shop the Outfits:
Striped Tee: Kohl’s (exact—wearing size M)
Cream Cardigan: Kohl’s (exact—wearing size S; plus sizes)
Tan Fleece Jacket: Kohl’s (exact—wearing size XS, runs large)
Jeans: Nordstrom (similar—I wear size 6)
Taupe Booties: Kohl’s (exact—wearing size 8.5)
Sneaker Booties: Nordstrom (similar)

Necklace: Nordstrom (exact; super similar)

 

Question 3: Can you dress it up or down?

While I don’t need every single piece in my wardrobe to able to be dressed up or down (I’m content if I can wear a piece in 2-3 casual outfits), most of the time I will at least think through whether or not it could be.

Typically when I think of being able to dress something up or down, I only think “casual vs. date outfit.” But more extensively, what I actually think through is athleisure/weekend, casual, elevated casual for a casual lifestyle, and Casual Fridays, business casual, and presentations or important meetings for workwear. (These are the levels that are included in the Starter Kit Wardrobe Guides®️, BTW. Also if you’re in Simply Put Together or the PMT Style Club, I’m just referring to our Lifestyle Style Spectrum.)

Starter Kit Wardrobe Guide Questions to Ask Yourself for a Versatile Wardrobe: Fall Winter Outfit red printed blouse + black cami + black long cardigan + black moto jacket + medium wash jeans + black jeans + black suede booties + gold pendant necklace

So, if I’m looking at a sweatshirt, I ask, “Can I pair it with jeans and sneakers? Can I dress it down with leggings for athleisure/weekend?”

If I’m looking at a blouse, I say, “Okay, this is a nicer casual top that I would pair with jeans and flats. Can I dress it down somehow with more casual shoes? Can I dress it up with a moto jacket and heels?” Above is an example of taking a top that works with jeans and casual boots and then dressing it up a little with a moto jacket and sharper-looking boots.

Shop the Outfits:
Top: Kohl’s (exact—wearing size S)
Black Cardigan: Nordstrom (similar, similar)
Black Jeans: Liverpool Los Angeles (similar)
Jeans: Nordstrom (similar—I wear size 6)
Black Chukka Boots: Nordstrom (exact—wearing size 8.5)
Black Pointed Toe Booties: Gap (exact—wearing size 9)

Necklace: c/o Dear Mushka (identical)

 

Starter Kit Wardrobe Guide Questions to Ask Yourself for a Versatile Wardrobe: Fall Winter Outfit yellow and white striped shirt + beige sherpa zip up fleece jacket + cream cardigan + medium wash jeans + taupe suede booties + gold pendant necklace

Above is another example. On the left, I’m styling the striped tee in a super casual outfit that I would wear to the park with kids or to run errands on the weekends with the family. On the right, I paired it with a cardigan and heeled booties for a slightly nicer casual outfit that I could wear to church or lunch with friends.

Asking whether you can dress something up or down ensures that you have something to wear for different occasions and activities. Your closet becomes full of multifunctional pieces. So, when you all of a sudden are asked to go out with a group of girlfriends, you can take that top that you’ve been wearing to work and dress it down with jeans and dressy shoes and wear it to dinner. See how versatile pieces makes it easier to get dressed?

These are the questions I ask myself when I’m deciding if a piece of clothing earns a place in my closet. These are also the questions I ask when I create any capsule wardrobe and all of the Starter Kit Wardrobe Guides®️, which walk you through how to create your own mix-and-match wardrobe and put it all together.

If you would like to turn your wardrobe into a collection of versatile, multifunctional, easy-to-pair clothes, you can get started with one of the Starter Kit Wardrobe Guides®️! You can use pieces like the ones shown in the guide, or you can follow the clothing descriptions provided and include pieces that better suit your style. Either way, you’ll end up with a wardrobe that is much easier to use and helps you get dressed with a lot less headache! They’re available for casual lifestyles (everyday casual, athleisure/weekend, dates) and workwear (everyday workwear, Casual Fridays, and special presentations). Check them out, HERE!

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