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Akram's Ideas: Guide to Charm Step 6 Your Wardrobe

Guide to Charm Step 6 Your Wardrobe

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We are half way through our year-long journey at becoming more charming. So far in this series “Guide to Charm” we’ve looked at:

This month we discuss wardrobe must haves and fashion color choices, as we follow the steps from the book Better than Beauty A Guide to Charm.

Wardrobe Essentials

Let’s start by taking a look at what every wardrobe needs. While we might all dream of a luxurious wardrobe filled with expensive dress in lavish fabrics, we need to keep in mind that well money doesn’t grow on trees. Also, is this fantasy wardrobe of ours really practical? How many grand balls will we actually be attending, verse say kid’s soccer games or daily errand running.

When planning a wardrobe it’s important that our clothes fit the needs of our daily life and our budget. But that doesn’t mean we can’t be stylish at the same time.

Our dream wardrobe, if only.
Our dream wardrobe, if only.

Assess what you have

The book Better than Beauty A Guide to Charm , suggests starting by assessing what you already have in the way of clothes.

Take out all your clothes from your closet and give them a good look and possibly even a trying on. Do they still fit? Are they any items that need mending? Do you feel charming in them?

If you find items that don’t fit, need mending, or just don’t suit your taste any more, before throwing them to the wayside, consider if they can be refashioned. Knowing to sew comes in super handy at this point, because it gives you the power to refashion clothes you lost the love for and really saves on your budget.

Recently, my husband cleaned out his wardrobe and was throwing out some old polo shirts that had logos from a previous employer on it. Instead of getting completely rid of this nearly never worn shirts, I cut the tops of them off and sewed an elastic band to make some adorable skater style skirts.

Shirt turned into skater skirt
Shirt turned into skater skirt

If sewing is not your thing, you might consider checking out a clothes swap. There are several sites online that host clothes swap. It works like selling your clothes, but instead of money you get to choose an item of clothing from another participant. Leary of swapping clothes with strangers via the Internet, how about swapping clothes with friends by hosting a clothes swap party.

Another alternative is to simply sell your clothes for cash. Keep in mind that unless your clothes are nearly new or rare, you’re not going to make much money but maybe a few dollars to add to your new wardrobe fund.

Deciding what you need

Once you have an idea of the items you plan to refashion or rid yourself of, take a look at what’s left. Think about where you wardrobe is lacking. Do you have plenty of skirts but not enough blouses to mix and match? Will that one pair of jeans be enough in your wardrobe?

Think about what your activities will be for the season, and shop accordingly. For example if you are building a winter wardrobe you might find yourself in need of a new coat or holiday dress, while a summer wardrobe might require a new pair of shorts.

The Essentials only

Several articles including one from New York Magazine in 2013, suggest that women typically only wear 20% of their entire wardrobe. Why is this? It goes back to buying appropriate items for our lifestyle. The second culprit maybe the bargain buy.

I must admit when I was in my twenties, it was all about bargaining buying for me. I couldn’t resist a sale or a great clearance item find. The problem, with bargain buying is often we don’t need what we are buying. I ended up with a lot of fancy dresses, I never wore or just weren’t my style. The main reason for buying these items was the great savings, but usefulness should outweigh the savings.

So, while you might have an idea of what items you need, you might refer to some fashion checklists to make sure you don’t have any unnecessary voids in your wardrobe.

ApartmentGeeks.net has a great infographic on wardrobe essentials. It’s a great starting point when building a new wardrobe.

Organizing your wardrobe - click to see more
Organizing your wardrobe – click to see more

If you’re like me and prefer a more vintage style wardrobe I suggest taking a look at the post “15 of my must-have vintage fashion essentials” by Miss Jessica of Chronically Vintage. This is a great starting point for a vintage wardrobe and Miss Jessica has such a great sense of fashion.

Accessorizing and Simplicity

Any wardrobe can be extended by use of accessories. Adding a bright scarf to a dark dress can give it a completely different look.

One of my favorite accessories are vintage hats. I love vintage hats, they add such color and style to an outfit.

Jewelry can also be a great accessory. A set of pearls or even a fun colorful brooch can really add interest and a focal point to your outfit.

When accessorizing be sure not to go overboard. Always remember the “KISS” rule, which of course stands for “Keep it simple silly”. Far too often we see individuals who are wearing a gazillion long and big necklaces at once. There’s the hand full of rings and the arm’s length of bracelets. The key is choosing one to two focal points of interest to your outfit not to look like a Vegas billboard.

On a separate side note what’s with this new trend of wearing large elegant necklaces with t-shirts and jeans? I don’t get it, do any of you?

Mary Kate Olsen with big necklace and t-shirt, what's up with that?
Mary Kate Olsen with big necklace and t-shirt, what’s up with that?

Wearing Color

Not only should your wardrobe be practical it should be versatile and suit you. No matter how lovely a garment is if it doesn’t look good on you, you won’t feel charming.

Why doesn’t it look good on you? In our last lesson on charm we talked about body shape and how that can affect how clothes look on us. However, color can also have an affect.

According to the book Better than Beauty A Guide to Charm , it’s not easy to prescribe colors to individuals. So, forget those so-called quizzes that are supposed to tell you are a summer, autumn, spring or winter.

Each person is unique and has a different combination or skin tone, hair and eye color and so forth. You need to know what looks good on you and what you enjoy wearing.

What color to wear with your skin tone - click to see more
What color to wear with your skin tone – click to see more

The book Better than Beauty A Guide to Charm , also suggest playing with your makeup to help adjust color issues. For example if your green suit makes you look a little shallow, add extra blush, if that brown blouse is making you collarless, be generous with the lipstick.

Finding your color

I won’t say that anyone should stray away from any particular color or pattern, however over time each of us can find what works best with our style and look.

Keep a tally of when your wardrobe gets complimented by others. Do you find you get more compliments when you wear a certain color? I’ve never been a huge fan of pink, but I get a lot of compliments when I wear it. Turns out I find that I have ended up with more pink apparel than I thought I had in my wardrobe. Probably because it looks good one me.

Black Magic

While it’s difficult to prescribe a color to each individual, there is one color that just about everyone looks good in. This magic color of course is Black, which ironically is the absence of all color.

We’ve all heard that every wardrobe needs at least one little black dress. According to the book Better than Beauty A Guide to Charm, the little black dress can be a lifesaver for dozen of occasions and can be worn countless times.

Audrey Hepburn and the famous black dress
Audrey Hepburn and the famous black dress

When choosing a little black dress you need consider the color. Not all black is made equally, some are more brown or blue in tone. Also, there is a tendency for black to fade over time, so you want to make sure your black dress is fresh and just the right shade.

The little black dress is so versatile because it works with any accessory color. Add white to give it a crisp look, red to give a bit of drama, or blue or gray  for a more professional appearance. The possibilities are endless.

Other Wardrobe Guides

I hope I’ve given you some ideas for creating a charming wardrobe. For more help in building your wardrobe I suggest checking out the Wardrobe Architect challenge from Colette. This challenge really goes in-depth to accessing your wardrobe and building one that works for you.

This concludes the first half of our guide to charm which focused on “What You Do to Yourself”. Next month we’ll continue our year-long series with part two focusing on “What we Do to Others” starting with first impressions.

Don’t forget you can copy of Better than Beauty: A Guide to Charm, here.

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Akram's Ideas: Guide to Charm Step 6 Your Wardrobe

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Akram Taghavi-Burris

designer, writer, educator, tech nerd, crafter, baker, sewer and vintage collector, who Brings Creative & Crazy Ides to Life.

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