Dress Smarter, Not Harder: How to simplify your wardrobe in 5 steps

Updated: May 16, 2020

If you know me, you know I've got a serious passion for ethical fashion. Becoming a more conscious consumer has done wonders for my wallet, closet, and sate of mind. Which is why I want to pass on the knowledge I've accumulated so you can learn how to curate your closet in a way that's authentic to you, and that doesn't require you to make a trip to the mall every second week.

Shop your closet and always play dress up!

Getting creative inside the walls of your own closet is where the magic happens! If you're looking for inspiration on how to have fun with your wardrobe, I highly recommend checking out Beth Jones' Instagram account,@bjonesstyle. Beth is a stylist and creative director from California, who has a serious love for thrifting and vintage and defines herself as a "maximalist" - I know, this isn't the direction we're going for here, but I constantly use her for inspiration due to her mantra "always play dress up".

My new favourite series by her is called "styling on the fly" where her followers give her everyday scenarios to dress up for and she wizzes through her closet, putting together 3 separate outfits for 3 different occasions. Her closet is unreal and the way she gets creative will really inspire you to turn to your own closet and to look at outfit-building differently.

.... I mean, com'on!!

Define your personal style

Understanding your personal style and being able to define it will help you immensely! I like to consider my own personal style as contemporary-vintage. I know, it's a huge oxymoron but dressing for me is all about the right cut and fit, so I invest in pieces that have beautiful drape and great fabrics and that will stand the test of time. The contemporary more defines classic, timeless pieces that I know won't look out of fashion in three months. With that, I like to play around with vintage pieces that are unique and have a lot of character. My favourite eras are the 60s, 70s, and 90s. I find I have my best luck scoring great vintage pieces when I'm traveling, particularly to the states. I struck gold in San Francisco two summers ago. Every piece I brought back tells such a great story and I still wear each of them constantly. In terms of shopping at home, you can get lucky with scoring great vintage at your local Goodwill or Value Village, you just have to keep your eye out. Be sure to look for fabrics made out of natural fibres like cotton and silk, as they'll last you a long time!

Understand your Colour Pallet

This one isn't huge for me because I love colour and wear all different kinds. However, I do know which colours I don't like and what doesn't work well for my skin tone. When it comes to skin tone it's not so much about the colour itself but the shade of colour. For example, I have a cooler skin tone, I know this because I have more pink and red tones in my skin. Because of this, colours like olive green and deep purples don't look the greatest on me. Lavender and sea foam green on the other hand tend to compliment my cooler tone wonderfully.

If you're curious to understand your skin tone a little more, check out this great article on skin tones by Style Caster

Don't get caught up in trends

Trends are the enemy, I repeat, trends are the enemy.

I think there's a sincere difference between something being in fashion and on-trend. I like to look at dressing in fashion as a form of zeitgeist, your own personal way of throwing some flavour onto what's in-style. For example, tucking your sweaters into your leather belt again, wearing your white runners with a pair of plaid dress pants, wearing a black Chelsea boot with a skirt. Playing right into trends is when you buy every new thing that is trendy and follow trends to a tee, think leopard print skirts, teddy coats, and Fjallraven Kanken backpacks. I'm not by any means saying that investing into these items is a bad thing, but it's your intention behind buying them that can get you caught in a closet full of items you only wear for a month or two, only to never touch again.

I always admire when someone can follow a trend but put their own spin on it. For example, the whole leopard print skirt with a band tee or white tee was huge this past spring/summer. If you admire the way a trend like this looks but don't want to fall victim to buying every separate piece just to look like everyone else, why not try putting your own spin on it? How about a timeless floral print skirt with white sneakers and a knitted sweater?

leopard print skirt outfit
The extremely trendy Spring/Summer 2019 leopard print skirt look. Photo - Pintrest
floral skirt with white sneakers and chunky knit outfit
A fun spin on the look comprised of more timeless pieces. Photo - Pintrest

You can mix and match each of these pieces with a countless amount of other items and won't feel out of style when you pull out your skirt to wear next spring/summer because you've chosen a timeless print and didn't choose to play into a trend. Plus, a skirt like this can easily transition into fall/winter no problem.Winning! On that same token, if you totally fall in love with a trend - like the leopard print skirt and know for sure you'll wear it for years to come whether it's in style or not, go for it girl! I'm a huge costs per wear advocate, the only point I'm trying to make here is to think outside the box when it comes to trends and to know when to hold and when to fold! It also gets boring when everyone's dressed the exact same. You'll stand out more by not following trends to a T, trust!

Less is ALWAYS more

This statement could not ring more true, especially when it comes to your closet. Most people only wear around 20% of the clothing in their closet's anyways, so why not challenge yourself to narrowing everything down to that 20%?

In the wise words of our girl Kondo, go for what sparks joy, the items that are most authentic to you. Stop getting so caught up in what's trendy and quit being afraid of having Instagram see you in the same outfit twice. Take pride in wearing the same thing more than once, it means you truly love it.

Try to gravitate towards pieces that are interchangeable in your wardrobe. Think: blazers, tees, blouses, dress pants, skirts, and quality denim. Once you nail down your formula, opening your closet will bring you nothing but pure joy.

Here's a little graph I put together to summarize my tips:

info graphic summarizing article above on how to simplify your wardrobe in 5 steps

#fashion #sustainablefashion #ethicalfashion #capsulewardrobe #sparkjoy

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