Building a Stylish Wardrobe

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Hi Kelsey! I've always loved clothing and fashion, but I've never taken the time to really build a wardrobe that will allow nice outfit options every day of the week without breaking my budget. Do you have any tips for building a classic wardrobe that would allow for several different outfit opportunities? And are there any essential products or wardrobe staples you'd recommend? --Brianna


Good question! :) I have to say...I have been exploring the same thing for a few years, and here's what I've learned: It takes time. (Which is sort of frustrating, unless you have a bunch of money to spend on clothes. But even then, I still think it takes time to learn what you love.)

Over the past two years, I have increased the amount I will spend on a single item, knowing that over time I will collect great pieces. I have a closet full of clothes...some that I love and some that I don't, and I finally know that I have ENOUGH (or, if I'm being honest, TOO MUCH). I don't need to be ADDING pieces to my closet just for quantity. So, I try to buy for quality.

Madewell is my go-to store for fits my tomboy/casual style and is really well-made for the price. Plus, they have awesome sales and great customer service. All my items from there have held up in the past 2+ years, and I think they will for a very long time. I have a very long torso, so I search their site for "boyfriend" and check out all the boyfriend fit items. I think fit is really important. I feel lucky that I've found a store that fits me great and is really quality stuff. I realize this is NOT always easy. I personally don't shop at Forever 21 or Target for clothes for myself anymore. I realized over time that those pieces fell apart after one wash or just didn't get worn. I think J.Crew has nice stuff, but it is not as well-made in my opinion as Madewell (even though they are sister stores). Anthropologie is expensive, but I don't think you get what you pay for there (with a few exceptions).

When I find something I want, I try to ask myself...Will I still want this item in three years? I asked myself that about a pair of ankle boots I REALLY wanted this past fall, and I decided the answer was probably no (they were kind of trendy and maybe a little too young-looking for me). So, I ended up buying a different pair that I thought were less trendy and more classic! Three years ago I spent $109 on a pair of tall Steve Madden boots, but they're still in great shape and style, so it was a wise investment. I would love to be able to ask myself...Will I still want this item in 10 years? But 10 years is a long ways away, and who knows what I'll be wearing at age 40? Except my jean jacket. I will definitely still have that!

I don't ever say there are essential pieces that EVERY woman needs in her closet, because we're all so different! For me, I love black skinny pants, dresses that (almost) go to my knees, denim jackets (white and denim), v-neck T-shirts, chambray shirts, long cardigans, Converse and flats. I don't spend money on heels, dry-clean-only blouses, etc., but someone else might say those are must-haves. I personally don't have a lifestyle where I need to wear dressy outfits every week, so I rarely buy those pieces.

I do allow myself to purchase a couple "trendy" items each season from Old Navy/Gap, but I know that those pieces will likely only last me one or two years (camo pants, neon shirts, etc.). I am thinking about a pair of overalls next!

When I find things I like/want, I pin them to my wish list, and then wait and see. I look at my wish list every week, so I'll take things off if the new-ness appeal of the item has worn off. If I still want the item after a period of time, I will usually keep it on the list and wait until it goes on sale. I rarely see something and then buy it the same day, unless I have been wanting something like it for a while (and even then...I love sales!).

So, my advice is to only buy what you love ("dreams"), and what you have proven to yourself to wear. Over time, you will have an edited closet full of things you truly love!

What are your tips for building a stylish wardrobe?