As an image consultant it’s my job to stand out. Although that has never been a problem; there was a time when I stood out too much.
As the story goes, I had a rainbow assortment of trousers and although I always turned heads, I wasn’t getting any clients. It wasn’t until I created my own system for building a wardrobe that compliments turned into customers.
Myself, like a lot of my clients had a bunch of what I like to call “outfit singles.” Plenty of clothes but zero outfits. The only difference is that I still put them on.
Have you ever found yourself with a closet full of items yet claim you have nothing to wear? If this sounds like you or if you just want a more disciplined approach to build your wardrobe… (I’m sure you heard of Marie Kondo by now) then this is the way.
Phase One: Foundational items. This is the beginning. When working with clients I first assess their lifestyle, career aspirations, and physical traits to come up a shopping plan. This includes a suggested amount to spend for each of the items needed. The focus is all about finding staples that work together and can take you day to night.
This is also the most disciplined step of the shopping process. Although we aren’t looking for wow items just yet; this is the quickest way to upgrade your image. Prepare yourself for regular compliments that will motivate you right into phase two.
Blue denim is a must-have item.
Budget: 50-80% of what you would spend on an investment item from the same category. (i.e. If you would spend $300 on investment trousers you would spend between $150-240 for a similar foundational piece)
Phase Two: Investment pieces. This is where it gets fun. Now that you’ve accumulated the 20% of your closet that you wear 80% of the time; you can afford to splurge a little bit. However, not to be mistaken for the next phase, these are still pieces that you’ll wear quite often because they’ll last forever. My motto is “timeless items are classics with a twist.” Unique enough to stand out but not so over the top that you can only wear on special occasions.
Great investments are shoes. A blazer for men or women. An amazing LBD ladies or outerwear if you live in the northwest or anywhere cold 5+ months out of the year.
Tip: Another thing to consider when purchasing investment pieces is Cost Per Wear (CPW) as opposed to just looking at the sticker price. These are items than can last a decade so when you look at the cost over that time frame these will usually become some of your most affordable purchases.
Phase Three: Wow items. This is what you get when you want to make a splash or cause a scene. Peacock if you will. These are the accoutrements that bring just a little added flair to your ensemble. Because a lot of times they’ll be accessories, the cost isn’t necessarily the most expensive, but they’re not something you wear every day. Think statement jewelry, scarves, or pocket squares for gents.
Have restraint as you’ll only need a piece here or there to transform an outfit. As a consultant I recommend trying to add one of these items to your outfit daily. It’s a cheat that instantly takes you from so-so to exceptional.
These are the steps I use when working with a client or even updating my wardrobe. Try them out for yourself. They work for every budget and every sartorial level you find yourself on.
You’ll find that by following these steps you’ll have a perfectly blended wardrobe and you’ll feel good about getting dressed every day. You’ll even save money because everything you buy, you’ll love and get to wear!