Finding a uniform is really about finding your favourite, most versatile outfit. You can’t do that without doing a little digging and then buying clothes that fit into a formula you create. Here are a few tips to help you narrow down your choices and figure out your ideal look:
Pick your priorities
Your clothes should complement your life. Is it important for you to be comfortable? Maybe you want to wear clothes that seamlessly transition into any environment because your job requires you to meet all kinds of people, or do the unexpected. Or perhaps you’re more interested in accentuating your favourite body parts. Whatever your life-style or reasons, make sure the clothes you choose make sense and don’t compete for your attention while you’re living your life. You probably don’t want to be wearing a skirt all the time if you’re very active and want to be able to launch into a cart-wheel at any given moment. Or maybe you do!
Choose a colour palette
The easiest way to unify your closet is to pick a colour palette. Depending on how daring you are, or how much time and effort you want to put into it, you can either pick a couple of colours or a whole range that works together.
I’m a big believer in Tone-on-Tone because it lets you focus on texture and silhouette and not worry about colour mixing. Here are two examples from Mulberry’s Spring 2013 collection and Polyvore
-Use a colour palette tool like http://paletton.com/ to find colours that work well together. Find one colour you like and experiment around it.
-Neutrals will always work together. When in doubt stick to black, white, grey and beige.
-If you’re going to go bright, start with either Warm or Cool brights. Unless you really know what you’re doing, I wouldn’t recommend mixing them.
-Pastels and Muted colours can be easier to incorporate, and generally look sophisticated, especially when mixed with neutrals.
Define your style
Find a few words to describe your ideal style. It can be a simple or as complicated as you think is necessary. For example, you can say you dress like an Urban Professional Southern Belle, or Grungy Tomboy Chic (kind of what I gravitate towards) or you can say “I like to dress like my Grandma in the 1950’s”. Get creative to give yourself some vivid visuals and references.
Find Inspiration in Others
You probably don’t want to rip off any one person’s style. But looking at what other people are wearing, be it celebrities, friends or people walking down the street. Try not to judge anyone, but notice what catches your eye and how you can borrow a piece of their look. You may not be able to, but if you figure out WHY you like their look, it’ll get you a lot closer to defining your own clothing identity. You can always look on the internet and sites like Polyvore or Lookbook.nu for ideas.
Identify your Go-To Pieces
You know those days when you walk out the door feeling like your outfit is perfect?
Try to remember those outfits and garments and why they made you feel that way. Do you love how a high-waisted skirt accentuates your waist, or that you can wear your favourite jeans absolutely anywhere without having to worry? Remember that next time you decide to go shopping. Emotion is extremely important to how we view our clothes and what we choose to buy. Try to think about it a little more than usual.
You can also take a picture of yourself wearing your favourite outfits in order to analyze them later on or compare them to one another and find patterns.
Find a Signature Piece
What piece of clothing or accessory do you think of when you think of Audrey Hepburn or Coco-Chanel? Probably ballet flats and long pearls (respectively). Maybe not those exact pieces, but you get the idea.
A signature piece can easily be the cornerstone around which the rest of your “uniform” revolves . I would suggest picking something timeless and well-crafted. A piece that tells a story. An accessory works well for this; a silk scarf, a sentimental piece of jewellery, a specific bag or pair or glasses (sunglasses or prescription). Find a piece that speaks to you and conveys how you want to be perceived to the world that can be worn all the time.
Multiples will show you the way
Have a closet of the same exact thing that’s making you feel like a 90’s cartoon character? There’s a reason for that. Chances are you return to these items again and again because something about them satisfies you. If these items work for you, great! just figure out what you like about them and translate that to the rest of your wardrobe. Just make sure to keep them in good condition. Even if you wear a black t-shirt and jeans every single day, you can upgrade them; get a good quality soft tee made of a sustainable fabric and buy a pair of jeans that fit you well and will wear in nicely.
And don’t forget the black-clothing detergent to keep everything looking sharp.
Use The 80/20 rule.
If all the previous suggestions didn’t quite help you narrow down your closet, use the 80/20 rule. This rule is helpful in nearly every aspect of life; especially when it comes to your wardrobe.
Most of us wear 20% of the clothes we own 80% of the time. Take a few minutes and figure out what that 20% is for you. Figure out why exactly you gravitate towards these items and you’ve won half the battle; is it colour, fit, detailing, comfort, sentimental value or a combination of several factors? The more detailed your reasoning, the easier it will be to translate that into a style and simplify your closet.
Go window shopping often (and try everything on!)
Window shopping is one of my favourite things to do. I never feel like it’s waste of time as long as I don’t end up spending money. Despite it’s name, don’t just look into the windows of stores, try things on! Just make sure to set a rule for yourself; no spending. If you want to buy something, you’ll have to come back. Think of this as comparison shopping, or just playing dress up.
No way you can afford that piece from a high-end department store? No problem! If you love it, or think it will look amazing on you just try it on. You will learn a lot about what you like and what looks best on you through trial and error. Be fearless; this is a chance to get outside your comfort zone.
Eventually you’ll know exactly what works for you just by looking at it.
Create a Formula
Based on what you know about yourself and your clothes, create a simple formula that will help you build an outfit every day. For example;
Dark Pants + casual light weight shirt + blazer + favourite boots + signature necklace +leather backpack + accessory of choice
Camisole/undershirt + Button-down + bottoms + favourite bag + flats + scarf
Notice how certain items are more specific ( leather backpack, favourite boots, signature necklace), some are general and can be anything (casual light-weight shirt, accessory of choice, bottoms) and some just give you a framework (scarf, blazer, dark pants). Do what works for you. The more specific, the easier it will be to save time but the more limited your choices.
If all of the above fails to satisfy you, figure out why. Most of these tips are about gathering information and learning more about yourself and your preferences. The more you know, the easier it will be to figure out your style and create a uniform.
Do you hate everything you own? Do you need some help and someone else’s opinion to know what works for you? Has your life or style drastically changed and nothing works, even if it once did? Chances are there’s a good reason to your dissatisfaction. Sit down and think it through and then try to go through these steps again. I’m sure that at least one of them will point you in the right direction.
I’d love some feedback from you guys; Did you find this article helpful? Did or Do you use any of these suggestions already, and did they make any lasting change? Is there anything else you’d like me to add, or further clarification needed? Let me know! I’d be happy to update this post in the future. 🙂