You just don’t need loads of clothes to look amazingly awesome every day. I think deep down you know that. But each time you panic buy or buy something you don’t need or don’t like you are adding to this great pile of clothes in your wardrobe that you really don’t need. You need very few clothes to look and feel great every day. Read on for the shortest list of clothes, it’s almost a mini capsule collection, that will give you maximum wear and style for your clothes.
As a young designer creating one-off couture pieces for my clients I was fascinated by stories of the 1950s and 1960s, hey-day of couture clients and fashion. Fashion and style were very dictatorial at that time. It’s hard for us to realise that now, in our ‘anything goes’ culture. Back then the ‘serious’ French (for the most part) designers created the fashion and it trickled down to us mere mortals via images of Hollywood actresses, celebraties and royalty in the latest designs, Hollywood films, magazine editors creating the looks in their magazines, and copies of the designer styles reproduced in high street boutiques.
While the golden age of couture may have been dictatorial, there was a simplicity and frankness about dressing well each day. It wasn’t a time of mass manufacturing and there was an understanding that you need very few clothes to look and feel great every day because there wasn’t an abundance of clothes shops, let alone online shopping!
Here is a list for a “complete but basic” wardrobe in the 1960s which shows you exactly how very few clothes is all you need:
Complete but basic wardrobe – 1960s style
1 coat in a bright colour – for example, red
1 matching skirt
1 sweater in a complementary colour – for example beige or brown
1 black skirt
1 black sweater
1 silk sweater, black or white, with a pretty neckline
1 pair of black high-heeled pumps
1 pair of flat brown shoes for the country
1 black leather handbag
1 pearl necklace
Adding to the list and making it your own
I love this list, it’s so simple and perfectly easy to execute. By swopping a sweater for a shirt or long sleeved tee-shirt, and maybe the pearl necklace for a modern one, you could easily adapt this list for your own and look brilliant each day with just a handful of clothes and one accessory! Whatever accessory you decide to wear, make it your personal style signifier. See my post on personal style signifiers.
You would probably want to add additional items to that list: a pair or jeans or trousers; a weekend or party dress. However you can see how easy it is to create a capsule wardrobe from very few clothes and be impeccably dressed.
If you are returning to work after an extended break, or have been promoted and want to uplevel your style for your new role a short list of interchangeable clothes will set you well on your way.
You can pull together 7-8 items of clothes for a perfect work capsule wardrobe.
Complete but basic wardrobe 2020s style
1 skirt suit (say with a straight skirt)
1 extra skirt (maybe pleated, or gathered to provide a style alternative) to go with the suit jacket
1 smart dress
1 less smart dress for casual days at work or work from home days.
1 accessory (personal style signifier): scarf; necklace; ear-rings; bracelet.
How to use this list for your benefit
Whatever your work situation you can use this list to your advantage:
Returning to work after an extended career break
Whether you have just had a baby, or have spent the last 20 years looking after your babies, and are returning to work this list, or your own version of it, can work brilliantly for you.
If you don’t know what to wear and are unsure of what to expect the dress code will be then a small collection of items like this is what you need. Firstly focussing on a few items that you want to wear will give you confidence. Secondly, if you want to tweak your clothes to be more in line with what the dress code is at work (or work/home) then focus on this list, get this list right. Then you will have a perfect collection of clothes for work. So you won’t be pulled down by the “what shall I wear today” or “I’ve got nothing to wear” drama.
Heading for promotion?
If you are heading for promotion, or been passed over for promotion but want to prove your worth then get your work image sorted. Of course, if you look like you can do the job there is more chance that you will be considered for the role. But even more vitally, dress for yourself, for the person you are becoming, for the woman who gets the promotion and becomes your future self.
Getting dressed each day as your future self is one of the surest ways of getting to that future.
An easy way to use this list
Take the list and write it out. Next to each item write down what you could wear that fits that item. As you are working through the list imagine how each piece will tie in with another piece. For example how the jumper or cardigan will suit the shirt or dress. In that way you can put together a small collection of clothes that interchange with each other. Remember, very few clothes is not less, it’s more if you are wearing those clothes all the time.
Don’t make it boring!
As you are putting together your collection, don’t make it boring! Getting dressed each day is a moment of pleasure. But it’s so easy to turn that pleasure into a humdrum routine. Don’t add a dress to the list if you don’t like it, it’s boring, and you feel dull in it. Clothes should bring you alive! Don’t dumb down with the dressing already. ok?
I hope you enjoyed that quick dive into why you do not need a gazillion clothes to look good and a list of 7-9 items that you can quickly put together to create a capsule collection of your own that will really work for you.
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Have a great day!