What to Look for When Shopping for Wardrobe Basics

With so many clearance sales going on right now, you can find some amazing deals on basic staples for your wardrobe.

When buying wardrobe basics it is important to select quality-made clothing so that it will be able to withstand frequent wear and cleaning.

If you are not sure how to pick out a quality-made garment, we listed 3 of the most important qualities you will want to check before you make a purchase:

  • Color Saturation: If you are buying a dark color such as black, make sure it is a “true” black and doesn’t have a faded look to it. The lighting in some stores doesn’t accurately portray the color. If you can, take the skirt to the window and see how it looks in the sunlight. You may also want to compare it to another piece of clothing that is black to see how the colors against each other
  • Fabric Quality: You can tell just by touching the fabric if it feels thin or cheap. Also, check the label of the garment to see the fabrics used (it is also a good idea to check the washing instructions)
  • Workmanship: Check all of the stitching on the garment (especially the hem) to make sure the stitches are uniform and secure. Take extra care to inspect the thread to make sure it isn’t fraying. If your garment has a zipper, be sure to test it to make sure it slides up and down smoothly

If are not confident you can pick out a good fabric or workmanship, try going into a high-end store to look at the quality-made clothing they offer. You can even try on different items to see how they fit. You don’t have to buy anything, but with all the amazing sales going on right now, who knows, you might get lucky and find a great bargain on something that you normally could not afford.

Not sure what basics you need in your wardrobe? We have a list of 11 Basic Items Everyone Needs in their Closet

Cleaning Out your Closet: How to Stay Organized

If you stay organized while cleaning out your closet, you won’t have to waste time and feel overwhelmed by the process.

Before you start taking everything out of your closet, you might want to invest in some sort of closet organizer(s) to better separate and organize all your clothing, shoes, belts, etc. You don’t have to invest thousands of dollars for a professional closet system, you can buy inexpensive closet organizers or shelving from your local Wal-mart, Target, Home Depot or Amazon.com. (it is best to decide this “before” you start your closet organization process).

Another nice touch is wood hangers – I recently bought wood hangers at Costco and was surprised at how much better and more professional my closet looked just by using wood hangers instead of the plastic ones.

Cleaning out your Closet:
The best tip I can give you is when taking items out of your closet, resist the urge to just throw everything in one pile.

Because I like to keep my clothes organized according to when and where I am going to wear them, I like to separate all the items (as I am taking them out of the closet) into categories with a system that I refer to as my “what, when, where theory:”

  • What season you are going to wear the item in
  • When are you going to wear it (i.e. to work, on the weekend, in the evening or special occasion, etc.)
  • Where do you wear it – i.e. top (blouses, shirts, sweaters), bottom (skirts, pants, etc), both (dresses and suits)

You can also separate your shoes, belts, scarves, etc, into similar categories.

By placing everything into categories, you will stay organized throughout the process – and it will make it easier and save a lot of time when you are putting everything back in your closet.

Putting Everything Back in your Closet:
When putting all the clothes back in your closet, try to keep everything organized by placing them in your closet according to category (i.e. work, casual, evening, etc). I also like to organize my clothing by color and pattern, kind of like they do in the department stores. It may seem a little neurotic, but it makes it much easier for me to pick out something to wear when I am in a hurry.

Out of Season Clothing
So that your closet doesn’t get overcrowded, store all the clothes that you aren’t going to wear this season in a box. Be sure to mark the box with the name of the season so that you can easily locate it (you don’t want to get it mixed up with other boxes and accidentally throw it away).

Organizing your Shoes
Instead of having all your shoes scattered in the bottom of your closet, you can buy a shoe tree or shoe rack to place all the shoes you are planning to wear this season.

To store shoes for next season, you can either take a picture of the shoe and put it on the front of the box or if you don’t want to invest money in printing out all the pictures, just write a brief description of the shoe and the season you would wear it.

It is a lot of work, but once you get your closet organized you will be surprised at how much time you will save trying to find what to wear.

Cleaning Out your Closet: How to Decide What to Keep

When cleaning out your closet, it can be difficult to decide which items to keep and which to throw or give away. If you just aren’t sure what to do, ask yourself two questions (if you can answer all three questions, the item is worth keeping):

  • When am I going to wear this item again?
  • Where I am going to wear it? Can you wear it to work, on the weekends, or special occasions.
  • What am I going to wear with with? Make sure the item you are planning to keep matches other items you already have in your wardrobe.

If you have an emotional attachment to the item, or you just aren’t sure what to do, put it in a separate pile (see Tips for Cleaning Out your Closet).

Cashmere Sweater: Wardrobe Must Have

Who doesn’t love the look and feel of cashmere. Not only does cashmere feel great when you wear it, it looks great with so many items you already own.

Why you need it: A cashmere sweater is one of those versatile wardrobe staples everyone need to have in their closet. And it looks great dressed up or down.

Depending on the style of sweater you purchase, you can create a variety of looks. The right style of sweater can take you from a day at the office to an evening dinner with friends, or even a day at the mall.

We have chosen 3 different styles of cashmere sweaters and have included some suggestions on how you can wear each with items you already have in your closet.

Traditional Crew-Neck Sweater

  • Keep it professional for a day at the office and wear it with a pencil skirt (or dress pants) and a blazer
  • Transition into evening by removing the blazer and adding trendy accessories
  • Go casual by wearing your cashmere sweater with a pair of jeans and leather jacket

Cardigan Sweater

  • Wear it to the office over a matching shell or turtleneck; great for a casual Friday
  • Pair it with a trendy blouse and accessories for lunch with friends
  • Keep it casual by wearing it with a pair of jeans and your favorite shirt

Turtleneck

  • Wear it to the office with a pair of dress pants or skirt
  • Pair it with jeans for a more casual look, great for the weekends
  • Wear it under your cardigan sweater on those very cold days when you want something extra warm

How to Find the Perfect Handbag

Whether you are wearing a tailored suit or jeans and a t-shirt, a handbag can add a bit of style and sophistication to any outfit. Because a handbag is a basic wardrobe staple, you want to make sure you buy the right bag for you.

Before going out and spending a lot of money, here are a few tips to help you find a handbag that you can have in your wardrobe for years:

  • Stay with a neutral color handbag with a classic style: a neutral color bag can match just about everything in your wardrobe. If you choose vibrant colors and patterns, it will limit what you can wear while carrying your handbag.
  • Stay away from bold buckles and big rivets: although they can add a touch of style to a plain handbag, big gold or silver buckles and rivets do not stand the test of time. If you want decorative accents on your bag, make sure they are classic and understated.
  • Check for interior and exterior pockets: if you like to be organized and have different compartments for everything (i.e. cell phone, pens, keys) you will want to make sure the handbag offers a sufficient number of pockets.
  • Size Matters: when buying a bag, you want to make sure it fits your body type. Look for a bag that complements your silhouette. The perfect bag will fit comfortably next to your body. If you are petite, you may want to stay away from a very large handbag as it will only make you appear smaller than you are.

How to Find the Perfect Dress

The right dress can take you from a day at the office to a night out on the town; it is all about the style of the dress. If you buy a plain dress, one with a neutral color and little embellishment or design, you will be free to add your own accessories to dress it up or down as you choose.

Here are some tips for finding the perfect dress:

  • Style of the Dress: try to find one with a classic style. Certain styles of dresses like the wrap dress and shirt dress seem to never go out of style. You should try to avoid bold buckles and trendy designs as they tend to “date” the dress.
  • Color and/or Print: if you want to wear the dress more than one year, don’t buy a bright or trendy color. Also, try to find a dress with minimal print and pattern. A loud print can limit where you wear the dress and what you can pair with it.
  • Length: the length of the dress is all about personal preference; however, you want to try to find a dress length that will flatter your body type. A dress that hits right below the knee seems to be flattering on almost every woman.
  • Fit is Everything! You can pay a lot of money for a designer dress and still not look stylish if the dress doesn’t fit you properly. A dress that is too tight. too big, or too long/short can completely ruin the look you are trying to accomplish. It is best to try on a number of styles to find one that best complements your body shape.

How to Find the Perfect Pencil Skirt

The pencil skirt is wardrobe basic that everyone can wear. It is so versatile, that the same skirt can be worn a variety of ways –  keep it casual with a crisp button-down shirt and a pair of flats, dress it up by pairing it with a trendy blouse and jewelry for an evening out with friends, or achieve a professional look with a matching blazer.

Because you can wear it so many different ways, it is important to find a skirt that is classically styled.

Here are a few qualities to consider when buying a Pencil Skirt:

  • Skirt Length
    The best rule for the length is to try to find a skirt that hits you right at or right below your knee. You don’t want a skirt that is too long or too short. A long skirt can make you look matronly and outdated and a short skirt can be inappropriate to wear certain places (i.e. work and professional events).
  • Classic Style
    If you want a skirt that will match a number of items in your closet, you should stay with neutral colors, like black or navy. You might want to avoid bright colors and patterns. Also stay away from bold buckles, embellishments, and trendy design features as they will limit what you can wear with your skirt.
  • Lining
    I personally refuse to spend a lot of money on a skirt unless it is lined. There is nothing worse than planning to wear you skirt only to find out that you either don’t have a slip that is of the right length, or the slip you need to wear with it isn’t clean. The only issue with skirts (or pants) that have lining is that they usually require dry cleaning.
  • Fit is everything!
    It doesn’t matter how much money you spend, if you buy a skirt that is ill-fitting, you will not look good. Buy a skirt that is right for your body shape. Try on a few different sizes just to see how they fit. Even if you have to go up a size, buy a skirt that fits you (you can always cut out the size).

If you plan to wear your skirt with a blazer (to work or for an interview), you should buy the pieces at the same time – either purchase suit separates or invest in a complete suit; that way you can be sure the items are a true match. Also, you might want to wear the blouse and/or shoes you will be wearing with the skirt. This is helpful so that you can see how the skirt looks with items you already own (before you get it home).

Tips for Cleaning Out your Closet

Now is the perfect time to clean out your closet. It is a lot of work, but after you are finished, you will be more organized, and you won’t have to waste time in the morning searching for something to wear.

The process of cleaning out your closet may sound easy, but if you are like me, you may be emotionally attached to certain items you own. If you think that you might have a difficult time deciding on which items you should keep and which you should get rid of, invite a friend over to help you make the decision and support you during the process. Because your friend is not emotionally attached to your clothing, she can give you an objective opinion as to which items are no longer in style and should be removed from your wardrobe.

Cleaning out your closet can be a very easy and almost enjoyable process if you stay organized throughout. Before you start, you might want to read: Cleaning Out your Closet: How to Stay Organized

One way I have found to get everything organized is to separate everything (I mean everything: shoes, belts, scarves, etc.) into 5 main piles:

Pile #1: Items to keep
Deciding which items to keep and which to get rid of can be more difficult than it sounds. If you just aren’t sure what to do, find some tips here: How to Decide Which Items to Keep

Pile #2: Items you “might” wear again
The reason I created this pile was because it seems like every time I cleaned out my closet and threw or gave a bunch of items away that I thought I would never wear again, I ended up wanting to wear at least one of them a month or two later.

In order to keep this pile from becoming too big, it is best to limit yourself to how many pieces you are going to “tentatively” keep. If you just can’t decide on a specific number of items, limit yourself to the number of items that will fit in one box.

After you have filled the box with all the clothes you just aren’t sure about getting rid of, choose a date that is a month or two from now and write that date on the box. Store the box until that date – if during that time you haven’t wanted to wear anything in the box, it is probably safe to give the items away or donate them.

Pile #3: Items that need to be repaired
Before deciding to repair something, check how much it will cost. If the cost exceeds the value of the item, it might be best to throw it away and buy something new.

Also, you should make arrangements within the next week to have it repaired, if you don’t you are likely to forget about it again, and the item will sit until the next time you decide to clean out your closet.

Pile #4: Items to be donated or given to someone in need
If you are having a difficult time getting rid of certain items, remember that you are helping someone else by giving your clothes to a charity or someone you know who can’t afford to buy new clothing for themselves.

Pile #5: Items to throw away
Remember not everything should be donated. If the item is torn, damaged, or stained, it is probably best to throw it away.

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After you have sorted everything into piles:
The first thing to do is get rid of the items you are going to throw away. Put everything in a bag and take it and put it in your trash bin immediately (before you change your mind).

Second, you want to pack everything you are going to give away – the easiest way I have found to do this is to put all the items in trash bags and put them in your car, that way they won’t get mixed up with anything else.

Now for the items that need fixed. Place them in a box and put them in your car so that the next time you go out, you can drop them off to be repaired.

Finally, it is time to put everything back in your closet. If you have stayed organized throughout this whole process, it shouldn’t take you much time to put everything back in your closet.

That’s it!
Now that you’re done – sit back and enjoy how organized you are and think of all the time you are going to save in the morning when getting dressed.

How to Build a Wardrobe on a Budget

Before going out to the mall and spending a lot of your hard-earned money on new clothes, here are some easy ways to help you build a great wardrobe on a budget:

Make a list of clothing items you need in your wardrobe
Decide what articles of clothing you want to wear on a daily basis (don’t forget shoes, handbags, and jewelry). For example, if you work in an office where you have to dress professionally, you may need to purchase a suit or at least dress pants, skirts, and blouses. Also include clothes for the weekends, evenings out, and casual events.

Buy Wardrobe Basics
Wardrobe basics will match a variety of items in your closet. Some basic staples everyone should own include: a tailored suit, pencil skirt, white blouse, boot cut jeans, trench coat, just to name a few; these items are great because they can be worn a variety of ways. We have a list of Wardrobe Essentials everyone should own.

When purchasing basic wardrobe staples, it is a good idea to spend a little more money and purchase clothing that is of good quality. Even though you will be paying more, you will be wearing it often, so you can justify the expense.

Only buy clothing that will match at least 3 items you already own
Before you buy anything new, make sure it can be worn with at least three other items you already have in your wardrobe. That way, you won’t have to buy more clothes to match what you just purchased.

Fit is Everything!
There is nothing worse than having a wardrobe of expensive clothes that do not fit you well. When buying clothing, it is very important the fit flatters your body shape. It doesn’t matter how much you paid or the designer name, when you buy something that is too big or too small, you look sloppy and unprofessional.

Take your time and buy clothing that complements your body shape. Keep in mind that sometimes you will need to have certain items tailored in order to get the perfect fit.

Don’t be in a hurry to purchase a lot of items at one time
Sometimes you will get lucky and find everything you need for a great price at one store, but you can save money by doing comparison shopping at various stores. You might even want to check online. – there are quite a few website that offer discounts on designer clothing.

Always Shop the Sale!
Eventually everything goes on sale – before you buy anything anywhere, make sure you find out if that store is going to be having a sale. Some stores have a preview day, the day before the sale, where you can shop and avoid the big crowds.

Sign up for Shopper Programs and Store Mailing Lists
Also, you can save money by joining shopper programs and signing up for the mailing list for your favorite stores. Along with notifying you of upcoming sales, some stores will email you coupons that you can print out and use to save money. If you have a store where you love to shop, go to their website and see if they have an email list you can subscribe.

Don’t forget about the Outlet Malls!!
You can find some really amazing bargains at the outlet mall. Before going to the outlets, read our article: How to Save Time & Money at the Outlet Mall.

Wardrobe Essentials

Wardrobe basics or essentials are items that everyone needs to have in their closet. Whether you have just graduated college, got a new job, lost a significant amount of weight, or just want new clothes for your wardrobe – you need to start with the basics.

When buying wardrobe essentials, it is always best to choose classically-styled pieces in neutral colors – that way you will be able to wear them with a variety of items you already own and wear them season after season, year after year. You may have to spend a little more money, but these items are investment pieces that you will be able to wear for years. Once you have the basic staples in your wardrobe, you can mix and match them with all the great trendy pieces that come out every year.

I have listed a few of the basic staples everyone needs in their wardrobe. Click on the name of the item to find out why you need it in your wardrobe, how to wear it, what you can pair it with, and purchasing tips.

  1. Black Dress Pants
  2. Black Pumps
  3. Bootcut Jeans
  4. Leather Handbag
  5. Leather Jacket
  6. Little Black Dress
  7. Pencil Skirt
  8. Strappy Sandals
  9. Tailored Suit
  10. Trench Coat
  11. White Blouse

If you are going off to college and are not sure what wardrobe basics you made need at school, be sure to read College Wardrobe Essentials.