How to Have an Awesome Wardrobe (Without Even Trying)

How to Have an Awesome Wardrobe (Without Even Trying) ©iStock/darkbird77

When in comes to personal style, I’m the laziest person ever. With that said, I don’t like to look like I just spent the night sleeping under bridge. It’s important for me to look and feel pulled together and stylish, however with as minimal effort as possible. I’m the kind of person who wished they could have worn a uniform in high school (kilts and ties? Yes, please!), and still sometimes wish they could wear a uniform. (FYI, terms like “layering” and “pattern mixing” fuel my fashion anxiety.

If any of this sounds vaguely familiar, here are a few tips I’ve picked up over the years that have helped me create a wardrobe that’s workable, stylish and refreshingly easy.

  1. Purge your closet. Okay, so this step does require some effort but it will pay off in the long run – I promise. The first step to a wardrobe involves getting rid of all of the sludge – call it a “wardrobe exfoliation” if you must. If it’s damaged, no longer fits, isn’t useful and/or doesn’t make you feel good when you put it on, it’s time to send those items up to the big old clothing pile in the sky (except for damaged items – get those repaired, stat.) When you open your closet at the end of this exercise, you’ll only see things you actually like and use. It feels totally refreshing, right?
  2. Invest in basics. And no, I’m not talking about, “Everyone go buy a $1200 Burberry trench because it will change your life. Yay!” I’m talking about using your money to buy the best quality basics you can afford – for example, a great pair of dark denim jeans, a pair of boots that go with everything, a black pencil skirt, a high-quality everyday purse. Look for items in neutral colors that will easily mix and match with other things in your wardrobe. This means practicing the “three way rule” when you’re out shopping (get your mind out of the gutter.) If you can’t envision yourself wearing an item in three different ways or contexts, on the rack it stays.
  3. Stop buying cheap clothes. Like most of you, I don’t have an unlimited budget for clothing. I used to be a “grazer” – I’d wander aimlessly throughout Forever 21 and H&M, picking up whatever I thought looked cute that day. I thought I was saving money but instead, I ended up with a bunch of stuff that didn’t go together and just made me frustrated. Be intentional with your purchases. The money you spent on that animal print, fringed halter top that you “might” wear to a festival some day and the ten other items you grabbed from the sales rack “because they were such a good deal” could also be used to buy one or two things you really love.
  4. Work those accessories. I’ve learned that when it comes to clothes, I like to keep things as simple as possible with lots of basics. However, accessories are totally my jam. Want to add some oomph to a monochromatic or simple jean and t-shirt combo? Throw on a fun statement necklace or a great pair of shoes (I’m currently in love with my leopard print Vans slip ons.) For some reason re-mixing accessories just seems so much easier and less daunting than putting together complicated outfits and is a great way to add some personality to your look without trying too hard.
  5. Embrace “less is more.” You know what makes getting dressed in the morning more complicated than it needs to be? Too many choices. Embrace the concept that it’s better to have a small collection of items that go together and you enjoy wearing, than an endless sea of ill-fitting things that you kind of like.
  6. Don’t be afraid to embrace a personal uniform.  Love skinny cuffed jeans and striped shirts? Wear more of them. Feel your best in flowered dresses and ankle boots? Work that. Is owl jewelry your thing? Embrace that. Finding a signature look is all about figuring out what makes you feel awesome and doing more of that thing.
Simone is a freelance writer and author of the sexy and irreverent blog Skinny Dip. When she's not writing her heart out, she loves wandering her city with a large cup of coffee in hand, in search of the next great story.