Friday, January 6, 2012

Reader Question--How to re-do your closet!

Yesterday I received an email from a reader named Krissy asking a really great that I thought I'd share with you and answer on my blog. She asked the following:

"If you had to completely start over and build your wardrobe from scratch, what would be your 15-20 must-have items? Also, any tips you would like to share on re-building?"

Wow, what on earth would I get if I was starting over? There are so many possibilities! Now let me preface this by stating that I am hardly an expert on this topic. I still change my mind about what I like daily! But I thought a lot about it and decided I'd look in my Polyvore account to see what items I have in my closet that I seem to use the most. I also tried to decide what I would be sad to be without. When I was going through and adding in cardigans and shoes, I was way over 15-20 items so I took the liberty to turn Krissy's 15-20 item request into 36 can pick and choose what's more important to you of the bunch.

Here is what I would start with if I was to start over in MY closet:

If I had to start over...

Row 1-Cardigans: I wear cardigans ALL THE TIME so to me they are a super important component in my wardrobe. When it comes to cardigans I like to have a variety to choose from: short sleeved, long sleeved, 3/4 sleeved, cropped, boyfriend length...there are so many kinds! Then there is the matter of color and print. When deciding what fits best into your wardrobe I think you should pick a few colors that you really love and would find easy to mix and match with what's in your closet. I say the brighter the better! I'm not one to stick to black and white and feel that cardigans are a way to add color to your look so color is what I would go with. I also think fun printed cardigans are fun to have on hand and a great way to jazz up an outfit. Animal print is always a classic print, stripes are great, and florals are easy to mix and match with. One of each please! Lastly depending on where you live, one may need a nice chunky-weave, heavier open cardigan to layer with. I picked one of these up this year and it is the perfect go-to lazy-day topper. It's super warm and comfy yet stylish so even when you're feeling lazy you look stylish!

Row 2-Tops: This may be the hardest category to fill in one's closet because there are so many types of tops to consider. Personally I don't wear tank tops without a cardigan so I would only choose a few tanks to start with. I would then mix in short sleeved, long sleeved and 3/4 sleeved tops. You also need to consider the color/prints of tops you wear the most. Do you prefer solid colors? Prints? Is it easy for you to mix and match a print? Go with what you're most comfortable with. I think you should also add in a top or two that would be considered a little more on the dressy side for special occasions like a date night. I like dressier tops to be in a fabric that's nicer than your everyday cotton. Something with silk is a great choice. That's a lot of things to consider, but narrowing it down is the hardest part when it comes to building a wardrobe.

Row 3-Bottoms: This was the easiest category for me to decide on. I primarily wear skinny jeans day to day so I stuck with a few pairs of those. I love my dark denim skinnies, but colored denim is so in right now so I would throw in a pair of those too. White is also a classic color that will never go out of style so they made the list as well. Finally, I lived in my cropped denim last summer so they are a must. As for skirts, I feel like you need to fill three criteria: a basic neutral pencil skirt, a solid color skirt of some other shape (choose a color you love and have an easy time pairing) and a printed skirt of some sort with a lot of colors to mix and match with. I also threw a few dresses into this category. One short, and one long. I stuck with easy solid colors to mix and match with, and shapes that are universally flattering. I like the short dress because it can be worn out to a special event. Pick a fabric that looks more expensive than it is. A Maxi dress is the easiest thing to throw on in the summer yet can be layered in the winter just as easily. Win-win! Plus there will always be days I just don't feel like wearing pants and these are the days I love to throw on a dress.

Row 4-Shoes: This is the most fun category to fill in my mind...I love me some shoes! Shoes are so personal and everyone's "must have" list will be so different. I feel a good mix of flat and heeled shoes are important I also think you need to have both open and closed toed shoes to pick from. Again, this category may be filled differently depending on where you live and how many months of summer weather there are. I wear heels a lot so the majority of the shoes I would go with are wedges or heels. I also think it's important to have at least a few pairs of brightly colored shoes thrown into the mix to add some pop in certain outfits. A pair of boots is a must, as are some more dressy shoes for special events. I tend to stick to a lot of neutral colored shoes I've realized. No matter how many times I've told myself to avoid buying neutral colored shoes, I gravitate toward them. As long as they fill a different need in your closet, I say go for it. You're gonna grab what you love the most so don't pretend to love something you really don't otherwise it'll just sit in your closet unworn.

So there you have it...the basics of what I would start off buying if I were to do it all over again. There are of course many other things that I would add to my closet if I was starting over such as belts, tights, jewelry, coats, etc, but these are the core items I would suggest beginning with. This new closet is so different from the closet I would have built three years ago. It's a lot more fun now. I think that's only because I got a little more brave and tried new colors, prints and combinations I never was brave enough to try before. I've basically decided to wear what I love and own it. There are times I walk out of my house still, not totally certain that what I'm wearing, works. Sometimes it really doesn't work (I find out later after snapping a picture of it and cringing). But those snapshots have taught me a lot over the past few years.

The hardest part about building a closet is knowing what you really like the most. There are plenty of things I've bought over the years because I really truly thought I loved them and had to have them, only to find them in the giveaway pile a few years later. Unfortunately finding what you really love is sometimes a trial and error process. Only when you figure out what looks best on you, what colors you wear the most, what shapes and cuts flatter your figure the best and what you tend to gravitate towards the most, can you build a closet that will fit you best.

If you want to add anything to this, or share any opinions on the matter, please feel free to leave a comment. I'd love to hear what you think! Did I miss anything that you would add in? Would you change anything in your closet re-do? Let's hear it!


  1. I definitely agree with the black and white polka dot blouse! That's one piece that will never get old in my wardrobe. It's classic and the combination possibilities are endless.


  2. this was such a great and fun post! I actually found myself in this semi-predicament this fall. i ended up with a very very rare and nasty viral infection that landed me in the hospital...and made me loose a lot of weight. strangely enough it was only in my bottom half (95% of my tops still fit me) but all my bottoms were a size too big, so I had to start from scratch (with 15 pairs of dress slacks, 16 skirts, + jeans and shorts this was a total bummer). i had to really think what i wanted for my bottoms since i clearly couldn't replace all that i had before- colored demin (AG ankle stevies!) ended up making the cut and I wear them ALL THE TIME :)

  3. I'm totally with ya on the cardigans, Jenni! I always think, "Well, I don't really have this color, so it must be a good investment, right?" But cardis offer so many possibilities to re-work. Def my fave way to revive my closet. =)
    Kristina J.

  4. I love all of the pieces that you chose. Thank you for doing this post! I've come to realize over the past few weeks that I love cardigans. Cardigans as well as belts offer so many possibilities. I definitely need more of them!

    I also think it would be so fun to see how many different outfits you could come up with while using the pieces that you chose! Perhaps you can save that for a rainy day as I know you're busy! Thanks again for taking the time to answer my questions and do this post. It was great.

  5. Oh my gosh - I can tell that you put a ton of time into this post. Well, you did a fantastic job!! I love this post...but I don't love the idea of starting over in my closet! Kinda scary (but maybe kinda fun?!) Kinda like "What Not to Wear" when they go shopping! :-)

    XO - Marion

  6. I love this post. The only thing I would add is a couple button down my white one and my gingham one too.

  7. AWESOME POST. You have such a full, colorful, mixed, vesatile wardrobe. I agree about all the many different cardigans in various styles, sleeve-lengths, patterns, overall cardigan lengths, etc. I also think a white button-down shirt, a jean skirt, a black pencil skirt, black pumps, black flats, nude pumps, a couple LBDs, a gingham button-down, a plaid button-down, a jean blazer, a leather blazer and a red dress are musts in a woman's closet.