In an ideal world, you’d open your wardrobe and see only clothes you love, regularly wear, and that truly represent your personal style. No random purchases, nothing forgotten scrunched somewhere in the corner of your closet. But how do we get to such a well-curated wardrobe? The answer is, over time. Curating a wardrobe that works for you is a process. It simply takes time to figure out what works best for us and our lifestyle and make us feel fabulous every day.
It took me a couple of years to (re-) discover my personal style and build my core wardrobe. And it’s still a work in progress. But today I’m so much happier with my clothes than I used to be. I’ve learned not to waste money on flimsy pieces and trendy ‘must-haves’. I buy fewer clothes and make better choices – in terms of quality and cohesive style. Now I own less than ever before, but I have a lot more to wear.
Before we continue, a little disclaimer. There isn’t the one and only way to create a wardrobe full of clothes you love to wear. Moreover, I’m not a stylist or a fashion pro. However, all the research I did on wardrobe curation and all the helpful tips I know are what I want to share with you. And here we go. These are the ten rules I’d suggest following on your way to a well-curated wardrobe.
10 Proven Rules for a Well-Curated Wardrobe
- Discover and cultivate your personal style.
- Decide on a year-round color palette.
- Choose your favorite fabrics.
- Learn to balance or accentuate proportions.
- Invest in all-season basics.
- Analyze your shopping mistakes.
- Enjoy the journey.
- Refine your wishlist and shop smart.
- Get inspired but don’t copy.
- Take good care of your clothes.
1. Discover and Refine Your Personal Style
It can take months or even years to discover and refine your personal style. However, it’s well-invested time as your style is the guiding star that navigates you through short-lived fashion trends and other external influences.
There are different ways to narrow down your style. One of them is looking at common fashion styles. So here’s a non-exhaustive list: bohemian, casual, classic, feminine, glam, grunge, minimalist, preppy, romantic, sophisticated, sporty, vintage. See them as keywords and starting point for your research.
But please, don’t think you have to stay within one of these style categories. Take inspirations from all that appeal to you and combine these different influences in a way that reflects your uniqueness. For instance, I love a classic wardrobe with a minimalist vibe and clean cuts. But I add feminine details to it. My winter clothes are a little more on the edgy side. In summer, you’ll notice bohemian elements. I also gravitate to preppy pieces. Sounds like a weird mixture. But it works for me, and I love it. So feel free to pick and choose from all style categories what you want.
The key is to blend everything together, so the result are curated outfits in a cohesive style and not a random collection of clothes!
2. Decide on a Year-Round Color Palette
Choosing a limited set of colors will definitely help you curate your closet, especially if your goal is to reduce the total number of clothes. If you stick to a year-round color palette, it’s easier to mix and match items and create outfits for different activities and occasions. You can always add one or two colors dedicated to spring/summer and autumn/winter.
A color palette usually consists of base colors, complementary colors, and accent colors. Plus, you should decide on leather (shoes, belts, bags) and metal (jewelry, hardware, accessories).
As I love neutral colors, building the core palette has been relatively easy for me. But I had a hard time reducing the number of accent colors. However, if a well-curated wardrobe is your goal, focusing on just a handful of accent colors is definitely a good idea.
Some thoughts on Prints and Patterns
To be honest, I don’t have a lot of experience incorporating prints and patterns into my wardrobe. I prefer solid, neutral colors. I can say, though, most prints and patterns follow trends – unless you go for classic ones like stripes, polka dots, or specific animal prints. Hence, prints and patterns are, at least from my point of view, more suited for playful extras and not so much for investment pieces.
3. Choose Your Favorite Fabrics
Some fabrics work best for specific seasons and temperatures, e.g., linen for summer or wool for winter. Still, you can have a year-round favorite set of fabrics. And then add some specifically for hot or cold weather. Moreover, if you love, for instance, wool, you can get light-weight, cooler, and heavier, warmer versions. Having a set of fabrics you know you always feel comfortable with definitely reduces the number of shopping mistakes. And don’t be afraid of choosing luxury fabrics like silk or cashmere – it’s less challenging to take proper care of them than you may think.
4. Learn to Balance or Accentuate Proportions
There are two different goals you can achieve, knowing your body type and proportions. The first is to create a balanced silhouette, which is pleasing to the eye. Or the opposite. You can decide not to aim for balance and instead accentuate certain parts of the body. However, to play with this, you have to know your body type (hourglass, pear, apple, rectangle, inverted triangle) first. And be aware of your proportions. Are they balanced? Or is the upper or lower part of your body notably longer or shorter? But remember, you get to decide. Don’t do anything because you think you have to fit in with a common standard.
5. Invest in All-Season Basics
I’d always recommend investing in versatile pieces that can be styled in many different ways. Well-made clothes in classic cuts, with clean lines, usually work best. However, what basics you choose depends on your personal style and preferences.
Generally, I’m not such a big fan of splitting my wardrobe into seasonal capsules. My core wardrobe consists of all-season basics that I can dress up and down. I wear them throughout the year and add only a few items for spring/summer and autumn/winter. Plus, I created mini capsules for very hot and very cold weather. I only need those for traveling or when the weather goes crazy with extreme heat in summer or lots of snow in winter.
More thoughts on capsule wardrobes in this post:
6. Analyze Your Shopping Mistakes
When decluttering your closet, make sure you don’t just throw out the stuff you no longer love. Take the opportunity to learn from your shopping mistakes. Ask yourself why you don’t wear a specific item. Is it the fit, the fabric, the color, or the style? Be honest with yourself. It will help you refine your personal style and avoid future shopping mistakes.
Moreover, style, in my opinion, is never set in stone. It needs to be continually updated and refined. Thus, experiment with a couple of new pieces and see if they turn out as expected. If not, find out why and learn from it.
7. Enjoy the Journey
Even if you’re very unhappy with what you currently own, don’t try to start over with your wardrobe from scratch. I made that mistake, and it was an expensive one. It’s almost impossible to create a perfect wardrobe in one go. Allow it to grow and evolve over time. So, take it slow and enjoy the journey as much as the destination.
8. Refine Your Wishlist and Shop Smart
It’s good advice to research thoroughly on every item you want to buy. That way, you ensure it fits in with your current (and planned) wardrobe and that you won’t get tired of that piece of clothing just after a couple of wears.
If you love shopping tours but don’t have a wishlist yet, ‘shop’ for inspiration. Try to avoid buying new items out of an impulse or in a hurry. This will save you from spending too much on clothes, shoes, or accessories you don’t really love. By the way, this is true for all of your purchases.
Moreover, set yourself a budget for every piece you want to add to your wardrobe. Otherwise, you may be tempted to buy something too expensive. Be aware that if you do, you then have to compromise on the other pieces on your wishlist.
To make the most of your budget, become a shopping pro if you aren’t already. Have your wishlist always at hand to make clever use of sales offers and discount codes. And don’t worry, when you’re following the above tips, you’re not going to fall into the ‘just because it’s on sale’ trap.
Refer to these posts to get some support when creating your wishlist and rethink your shopping habits:
9. Get Inspired but Don’t Copy
Never before did we have so many sources of inspiration and information available. We can find styling tips on YouTube and outfit ideas on Pinterest. We get inspired by Instagrammers or rely on fashion insights from bloggers. Personally, I think this is great. However, there’s also a risk that we try to copy what we see. But we are all different. You are unique, and so is your style. Hence, get inspired, but don’t copy 1:1.
10. Take Good Care of Your Clothes
Wardrobe curation is more of a marathon than a sprint. Thus, wardrobe maintenance is a must. You want the clothes you buy at the beginning of your journey to still be in perfect shape once you approach the finish line. Fortunately, we can extend the life of our clothes, shoes, and accessories and ensure they remain in tip-top condition by learning how to take care of them properly.
- Wardrobe Maintenance: 7 Tips to Extend the Life of Your Clothes
- How to Extend the Lifespan of Your Shoes
This also means, though, we should always try to find the best quality we can get for the money we’re willing to spend. Because then, our carefully selected pieces of clothing will not fall apart after one wash. And our shoes will carry us for years, given that we look after them.
- How to Spot Quality When Shopping For Clothes – 3 Things to Check
- How to Shop for Quality Shoes You’ll Love to Wear
And there you have it. These are my ten rules for a well-curated wardrobe.
More Tips and Inspirations
Please refer to my Ultimate Guide to a Well-Curated Wardrobe for a complete overview. I wrote this guide for all of you who want to be more strategic about their choices and build a wardrobe that perfectly suits their life and style. So, if this is you, check it out!
I also created a printable workbook to support your journey. Sign up below to get it instantly delivered to your inbox.
The Well-Curated Wardrobe Workbook
Enjoy a well-curated wardrobe that perfectly fits your life and style.
A well-curated wardrobe also supports slow fashion. I’ve listed some attainable steps for a ‘slowing down‘ in this post:
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What are your rules for a well-curated wardrobe? How far have you come on your journey? Do you love all the clothes you own, or are you still looking to improve? Let us know!