Tuesday, 7 April 2009

Dream Style: Laying the Foundations

Images thanks to saptarshi biswas and The MacLarty's

This post is part of The Dream Style Series, read part one here.

This is probably the most important stage of achieving dream style as, depending on the current state of your closet, it’s likely that a little groundwork needs to be laid before you can skip merrily into aesthetic nirvana. This is the turning point from dowdy to delicious, give it all you’ve got now and the rest will be a piece of pie.

The fact is that you’ve probably already tried in some indirect way to achieve dream style, with remnants of it scattered throughout your wardrobe, though chances are this attempt was a little half-hearted and you quickly found yourself back at the proverbial square marked ‘one’. However, this should not cause a mournful cry at the soon-to-be massacre of said wardrobe; every item you own, on some level, is a representation of you, even if it was some minor, freak moment of you, and because of this we have much to learn from your fashion history. Chucking out everything you own in place of a barrowful of new gear would disregard all your past fashion choices, and that’s not what dream style is about. We’re not reinventing here, we’re in-sourcing; we’re looking at your past and present and threading them together with your ideals to form a future.

Pick Your Sweethearts. Set aside a morning or afternoon (ideally a whole day) to reintroduce yourself to your wardrobe. Bonus points if you can enlist a buddy to help you (then you can help them back.) Clear off your bed because this will act as your sorting ground, and try to limit the likelihood of interruption.

1. Pick the ten to twenty items that you love and that you think say the most about you; even if they are not items you wear everyday. This should ideally include a variety of items like a dress, t-shirt, skirt, bag, pair of shoes, scarf, belt etc. Try to stop yourself picking out your newest or most fashionable items as, whilst you may be crazy about them now, they may not have much longevity as your sweethearts.

2. Next pick ten supporting items; items that you probably find yourself radiating to on your not-so-creative days, the no-nonsense basics. This might include a white shirt, jeans, a plain sweater etc.

And that, my friends, is the very bare bones of your dream wardrobe. Close up the closet, and look at what you have; what is it telling you? (This is where having a buddy comes in handy because they can give you an outsider perspective.) Is this the aesthetic you desire, or is it missing something? Is it a true representation of you?

Image thanks to spud

Get yourself a stylish jotter and make as many notes as you can on what’s missing from your collection. Work out how many different outfits you could put together with what you have; what items are missing that would be most versatile? Is your collection simply not fun/retro/elegant enough for you? Are the colours all wrong? Do you desire more stripes? More pink? More glitter? Would you like to make more of a certain theme in your wardrobe? More checked shirts to wear with your gorgeous cowboy boots, for example. The more notes you make the more ammo you have for gaining inspiration and making super successful spends in the future.

Ditch the Dowdy. Place your new mini-wardrobe to one side and get to grips with the excess. Create two piles or grab two boxes; one for the salvageable and saleable, and one for the scrap.

1. Firstly, focus on the items that you never wear, or wear extremely rarely, but that are still in good condition; the ones you bought on a whim then never wore, we all have them. If you don’t wear an item, you clearly don’t feel comfortable wearing it and it’s doubtful you ever will, so why not yield a little spare cash to put towards items you’ll cherish? More on that to come later in the series when we talk about selling clothes on ebay.

2. Now, focus on the items that you never wear due to a fault; a stain, a loose seam etc. If it can’t be fixed, why on earth do you still have it? It’s got to go. If it can be fixed, your challenge is to get it fixed within a week or it’s also got to go. Dream style is as much about practicality as it is about fancy; where’s the practicality in holding on to damaged, drab attire? If you’re having a hard time being tough on yourself, then work with this rule: if you can’t pair it well with a sweetheart, its toast.

Image thanks to coco Rina

A Present and a Past Packed. It’s possible that you already have a section of your clothing packed away at any one time, whether it’s summer or winter clothes, a few fabulous gowns from various special occasions, or even skiing gear. I propose you act more discerningly on this concept as I see two simple truths in having all your clothes openly available to you at all times.

1. You can get bored of seeing the same garments day in day out; give them back a little of their magic and mystique by packing them away.

2. Fashion comes and goes in phases, not necessarily with the seasons, but with your own moods and preferences. You won’t want to wear all your clothes all the time, so why have them hanging around confusing you?

Split your wardrobe roughly 50/50 depending on size. If you haven’t worn an item in the last six months then it should be packed. Splash out on a vintage suitcase, make like a squirrel and store! Store it above your wardrobe, under your bed or send it home to your mother if you must, just as long as it disappears until its contents are once again required, which leads me nicely onto:

Editing - the habitual act of tidying, taming, and trimming the fat from your closet. Really, this should be done every six months to keep your wardrobe in tip-top working order and suit changing weather conditions. It shouldn’t take more than a couple of hours each time if kept up, and I’d recommend following these three steps:

1. Edit out any damaged and unwanted but saleable items and perform the necessary actions with each.

2. Reassess your present and packed wardrobes and undertake any necessary swaps between the items in your present you’ve tired of and items in your packed that are once again exciting. Try to keep the split at an even 50/50.

3. Jot down an honest list of five to ten items you feel you’ve been buying too much of (cheap shoes, plain camisoles, jeans etc.) and five to ten items you are in need of (a tailored blazer, versatile evening bag, summer sandals etc.) This will help to inform your shopping choices over the next six months and make your next edit easier.

Mark your six month dates in your diary so you never forget, and be sure to have fun! Think of it like a haircut; you probably wouldn’t go six months without getting a trim, so why let your wardrobe grow wild?

In the next part of the series we’ll look at getting the inspiration to move forward and make far more appropriate fashion choices, and in the next few weeks we’ll touch back on the old wardrobe maintenance and see how we can get more organised.

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Leia said...

Great advice! Wish I could be so methodical with my style and wardrobe choices.

Pamster said...

Megan, I LOVE the blog, but why is the text in gray? It is SOOO hard to read! Could you make it darker? I'm in Firefox, so it's not the browser.

Voila Megan said...

Thanks for the constructive heads up Pamster! I've gone darker a much darker grey - is that working for you? Let me know!

alexandraonline said...

I am really enjoying this series! I've been looking for something exactly like this for ages, and it's really complimenting this new book I bought: The 100 by Nina Garcia. :) Can't wait for the next installment!

A said...

Great post. My problem is that I don't even have that many items I truly adore. I've dumped heaps of stuff and am now working my way up to 20-30 items I love and intend stopping right there.

Harriet said...

fantastic post! I really like the idea of packing away the items I don't love or need *right* now to give them a bit more mystery and allure!

I've got tons of my old work clothes hanging around which I don't need right now I'm in studentmode that are definitely going to go away until I start work again.

Lilpixie said...

That was so helpful!

Pamster said...

Thanks for changing the color!! I came by today (love the dream style series, btw) and put a link on my lj . . .5 people will see it, but whatever helps! <3

emilie_inks said...

will definitely be trying this! Heavens knows I need a sort out, really helpful, thank you!!

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