Like many others, I’m starting to think about new season clothes. As I suggest in Build Your Signature Wardrobe, it’s time to re-examine my clothing requirements, conduct a wardrobe review and develop my shopping list. I realise I didn’t close out 2015 (part 1, part 2, part 3), but in life, there are no do-overs, so I’m just moving on to the 2016 signature summer wardrobe plan.
I’ve mentioned before, that your wardrobe is basically a collection of outfits, each with its own purpose. So this year, I’m going to start by deciding what outfits I need.
An outfit consists of a dress (or top and bottom), underwear, and accessories. Several outfits might share interchangeable parts.
In an average week, I spend five days working from home, one day doing housework and yard work, and one day running errands and shopping for household supplies (like food). And over an average month, there might be two or three social occasions as well.
That’s around about an outfit ratio of 2 work : 1 chore : 1 errand : 1 social.
My basic plan now includes five outfits, so it’s time to look in more detail at the how that’s going to work.
I have funds remaining in my budget and have had a couple of recent catastrophic wardrobe malfunctions. However, I have some other big expenditures coming up so I don’t want to spend a lot on clothes right now. So let’s say, no more than $250.
Still looking at loose Summer clothing in natural fibres (cotton and linen).
I recently read a blog post which I haven’t been able to relocate (annoying). It suggested that you rearrange your wardrobe by colour, to see which ones you naturally gravitate towards. Then you can use them as your basic colour palette and build from that to minimise the need to purchase new clothes.
So I gave it a try and as you can see, my wardrobe is predominantly white, navy blue and black. I found that quite surprising as I thought I was trying to include more colour. So whatever I get, it can’t be white, blue or black.
Earlier this year, The Vivienne Files featured a palette inspired by a Marimekko Clover Bag. At the time I thought it could have been written for me. Even though coral is not a colour I particularly like, I have already added a smidgeon of red and hot pink to my wardrobe and would happily add more.
Or perhaps I could take inspiration from this year’s fiery new slippers, and add red, orange and yellow instead.
Going back to the outfits, for an average month I will need:
- 2 work
- 1 chore
- 1 errand
- 1 social
One work outfit to wear and one in the wash is fine in principle. But these outfits will get three-quarters of the wear, so with those wardrobe malfunctions fresh in my mind, I’d like an extra spare.
I’m all good in the underwear department (though if I saw something really nice I would reconsider), and I have shoes that fit each of those purposes.
Leaving aside my track pants and t-shirt style clothing, as well as my yard outfit (which will last at least another year) my summer wardrobe currently consists of :
- blue dress with red flowers, white dress with pink flowers, plain white dress (needs alterations), plain black dress (needs alterations)
- two black and one blue pair of jeans, one pair of black linen pants
- black skirt with red pinstripes and a blue skirt with one red and white flower
- black button down shirt with pink trim, red tunic, white floral button down shirt, white kurti with maroon embroidery, and oversize white shirt with black pinstripes
My current errand outfit is usually jeans and the red tunic. I think the tunic might do another year if I can spread the load, but I think the white floral and kurti probably won’t. While not ideal, the black and the oversize white could substitute. Or I could wear a dress.
I bought the white dress with pink flowers last year as a social outfit, so nothing required for that. All four dresses could double as social so no problems if I want to mix it up a bit. I didn’t get round to getting a summer “coat” last year but can continue wearing the oversize white shirt for that purpose.
That leaves me with three work outfits. I bought the blue dress as something to wear around the house instead of track pants and t-shirts and I found it comfortable and practical. During the cooler months I have worn jeans and a t-shirt now and again, and while it’s doable, they don’t make me feel like I’m working (headology). I’d like to keep the white floral and black dresses for social, but the plain white could double for work.
While I can make do with what I have, I would like to get at least one new top and one dress. Along with the alterations, that’s asking a lot of $250.
So as a small budget requires difficult decisions to be made, I should logically prioritise my purchases:
- Alterations: they will make unwearable clothes wearable, and this will reduce the need to buy other things; say $75.
- Dress: the right dress can be worn for work, social and errands, potentially giving the best bang for buck. And with the right layers, it might extend to nine months of wear if not the full year; say $100.
- Tops: see how much is left, and what can be got for that; say $75.
However, during a recent errand experience, my tunic was in the wash so I wore a t-shirt instead. I felt uncomfortably underdressed, but Katy assures me that this doesn’t bother “normal” people, so you’re ok! That being so, my heart tells me to take a different path:
- Dress: they just make me happy; say $125.
- Tops: one (or maybe two) but only if I can find the right colours; say $100.
- Alterations: I got by without them last summer, let’s see how we go; say $25. (As a supplemental excuse, the dressmaker’s salon has no insulation or heating so summer will be nearly over by the time it’s warm enough to get them done).
This is how I will probably go over my seasonal budget. But as I say, my annual budget still has room to manoeuvre, so when the time comes, I can choose whether to pay more.
I wonder if my milliner can make that hat for me…
What are you doing for your summer wardrobe? Let me know in the comments below.
Updated 20 December 2016: Here’s what I bought.
I put this wardrobe together using the techniques I discuss in my book Build Your Signature Wardrobe. It describes how to set a reasonable budget, decide what clothes are appropriate for your current life, how to present your authentic self confidently and consistently, and which clothes and accessories (and how many) you need.
Click here to see some example outfits.