Don’t Like Your Clothes? Revitalize Them! (Part 1)

The other day a friend posted on Facebook how liberated she felt since applying Marie Kondo’s philosophy of keeping only what you love. Another friend commented – half jokingly – that she hates all her clothes. It got me thinking about that sentiment. Who hasn’t thought, “I have nothing to wear?”

Today’s post is going to delve into this problem – which is almost universal among women. It will launch a series of posts about how to revitalize your wardrobe.

And today’s post will end with the one item that every woman’s wardrobe must have.

Most Commandress readers are not twentysomething women. (If you are, you are a wise soul!) We have all lived a little. Unless we have gained or lost a significant amount of weight, we all probably have clothes in our closet that are 5, 10, or maybe even 15+ years old.

That is great – if the clothes aren’t showing their age, fit & flatter your figure and personality, and suit your current lifestyle.

I will take a leap and wager that most of us have clothes that are shabby, stained, ill-fitting, and unflattering. And we also have clothes that don’t complement our personality (which has evolved over time) and are ill-suited to the life we live now.

If this resonates with you, read on. It’s time to be frank with yourself and part ways with those clothes. It’s not easy, but you can do it.

In the past two years, my lifestyle has changed dramatically. I went from working in an office five days a week to working from home. My profession has changed – I worked at a law school and now I am a fashion blogger. And I lost twenty pounds. Today I’m sharing how I revitalized my wardrobe.

How To Cull Your Wardrobe

It begins with giving yourself permission. Imagine you are a child who has outgrown all her clothes and you must replace them. (The benefit of being an adult is you also have permission to keep the items in your closet that still work!) Unless your budget is completely accounted for, you can and should shop for yourself and update your wardrobe.

The reality is you probably wear only a small percentage of your clothing. That is because subconsciously you have already culled your wardrobe without physically removing those items.

If you do not have the self-discipline to cull your closet alone, hire a personal stylist or ask a trusted friend to help you take a hard look at your current wardrobe.

You should assess each item individually and ask yourself:

Is it stained, shabby, worn or out of style?
Does it fit? (If not, is it worth bringing to a tailor for alterations?)
Does it flatter your figure?
Does it complement the look you’re trying to achieve?
Does it fit your current lifestyle?
Does it make you happy when you wear it?

If you answer no to any of these questions, give yourself permission to consign, donate or pitch it.

How to Find New Clothes

So, hopefully you are a little inspired, but you probably have some doubts. At first, one doubt I had was wondering if I would be able to find new clothes that I really like. The second doubt that I experienced – which I think we all share – is whether I could handle the expense of this exercise.

The first doubt is easy. I can emphatically assure you that you will be able to find new clothes you love! It may require some effort, because you will:

Only buy items that fit, that flatter your figure, that complement the look you’re aiming to achieve, that fit your current lifestyle and that make you happy!

The second doubt is also one you can overcome: set a budget and shop accordingly. Some of my new staples were deeply on sale or come from lower price stores like Target. They may not last as long as a more expensive item, but they fit my budget. FYI, over time some of my favorite clothes have also come from thrift and consignment stores.

A few more things to do before you shop:

(1) Don’t tell yourself that you will shop after you lose 5+ pounds. Shop for the body that you have now. You can always have something altered!

(2) Take your measurements – especially if you are shopping online. It really helps you hone in on the correct size. (I used this method to buy a bathing suit this spring.)

(3) Finally, think about the styles you have that work and then the styles you have that don’t work. This will help you steer toward promising items.

The One Item Every Woman Must Have

So, what is the one item every woman should have in her closet?

A neutral skirt or pants that fit, flatter,
suit your lifestyle and coordinate with an assortment of tops.

The reason I say a skirt OR pants is because every woman must cater to her lifestyle and some women prefer one over the other.

A neutral bottom is black, dark blue/navy, brown, tan or white. Remember, you’re not to purchase – or if you shop online keep – anything that does not meet the above criteria or that you cannot fix with a quick trip to the seamstress!

Here are examples of neutral skirts, followed by examples of neutral pants.

Denim A-Line Skirt Black Knee Length Skirt Grey Skirt White Linen Skirt Camel Skirt

From left to right, top to bottom: DKNYC Flared Hem Ponte Skirt in Black ($69.50 from Dillards) | Audrey Skirt in Camel ($118 from Boden) also available in Black, Seaweed (Navy) and Amaranth (Red) | Three Dots Flared Linen Skirt in White ($80 from Bloomingdales, Made in USA) |  Eileen Fisher Viscose Jersey Flare Skirt in Black ($118 from Dillards, also available from Neiman Marcus, Made in USA) | Chic A-Line Skirt in Indigo ($68 from Boden) also available in Ticking Stripe and Vintage | Custom Stretch Pencil Skirt in Eclipse Grey ($69.50 from Loft) also available in Navy in regular, petite and tall.

Womens Neutral Slacks Womens Neutral PantsWomens Neutral Pants Womens Denim Pants

From left to right: Campbell Trouser in Bi-Stretch Cotton in Navy ($98 from J. Crew) also available in White, Dune and Black in regular, petite and tall | Custom Stetch Trouser Leg Pants in Julie Fit in Eclipse Grey ($79.50 from Loft, take an extra $25 off) also available in Dark Denim in regular, petite and tall | Eileen Fisher Essential Pants in Black ($168 from Dillards, Made in USA) | Halogen Stretch Denim Trousers in Dark Denim ($88 from Nordstrom, for Plus size, click here) | NYDJ Bi-Stretch Welt Pocket Pant in Vintage Taupe ($110 from Zappos, for similar Plus size pants in Black, click here) also available in black | Custom Stetch Trouser Leg Pants in Julie Fit in Eclipse Grey ($79.50 from Loft) also available in Dark Denim in regular, petite and tall.

Here are two parting tips. When you find a skirt or pair of pants you love, buy it in any other color it comes in. And, if the pants are long enough buy two pair – one to wear with heels and one to wear with flats – and have them hemmed accordingly.

Your assignment is to determine if you have at least one skirt or pair of pants that you love! Remember, if your budget is $30 or less, start at Target or ThredUp. For Target, click here, and for ThredUp click, here.


Disclosure – this post contains affiliate links.

Dear Commandress – How Do I Put Together a Working Woman’s Wardrobe Quickly?

Commandress answers readers’ most vexing fashion & style questions.

Today’s Commandress post addresses a very timely reader question about work wardrobe essentials.

Bigwigs from corporate headquarters are visiting our branch office for a week this summer. Technically, our dress code is business casual, but we just wear jeans and t-shirts every day. Help! I need to update my work wardrobe fast.

Commandress recommends a blazer, five tops, two bottoms, and one or two pair of dress shoes to see you through the bigwigs’ visit. Because your office is business casual, you are also more likely to continue wearing separates to work (rather than formal suiting) after your visitors leave.

We’ve recently profiled women’s blazers for work and comfortable professional work shoes, so today’s post focuses on work tops for the office, slacks and a skirt.

*      *      *

Select five work tops that can become updated staples in your work wardrobe. The tops curated here will coordinate with neutral slacks or skirts (like the ones profiled later in this post).

Five Professional Women’s Tops

Land’s End’s Long Sleeve No Iron Shirt in Blue Wide Stripe is easy to care for and timeless ($49-59). It is available in ten styles in Regular, Petite, Tall and Plus. You can shop for more Lands’ End wear to work tops here.

Womens Work Tops for Office

NYDJ’s Fit Solution Wrap Front Blouse in Petal in Regular & Petite from Nordstrom is a pretty and more contemporary top (on sale for $58.80; originally $98).

Womens work tops for office

Ann Taylor’s Silk Ruffle Front Blouse comes in Blissful Blue and three other colors. ($98; right now you can save 40% Off at Checkout). You can shop for more Ann Taylor work tops here.

Tip: if you like a top and the colors it comes in, buy more than one to make things easy on yourself!

Womens Work Tops for Office

I really like this Zigzag Print Envelope-Shoulder Top in Ecru Canyon in Misses, Petites and Womens from Talbots (on sale for $45.15; regularly $64.50).

Deal Alert – right now all Talbots Womens Tops are 30% Off  – including Work Tops

Womens Work Tops for Office

Calvin Klein’s Non Iron Top with Collar in Light Blue is styled to be worn untucked ($69.50 from Zappos).

Womens Work Tops for Office

One more option is a comfortable, classic and professional Eileen Fisher knit top profiled in a post earlier this spring.

Update Your Professional Slacks & Skirts

As for bottoms, stick to basics. One pair of pants and one skirt will see you through the bigwigs’ visit.

Nordstrom’s Halogen brand is a well-made, well-priced option. Halogen’s Taylor Impulse Pants in Gray/White Pattern are ideal business casual slacks ($88 in Regular or Petite).

Womens Work Pants for Office

Halogen’s Seamed Pencil Skirt in Black falls just below the knee and is just the right length for the office ($69 in Regular or Petite).Womens Wear to Work Skirt

Disclosure – this post contains affiliate links.

Professional, Smart & Chic – Talbots Chic Pindot Suiting

A work-appropriate look you can get excited about. 

Talbots is looking mighty fresh this spring! I’m particularly enamored with their new Chic Pindot Suiting Collection – including the pencil skirtsleek straight-leg pants and two-button blazer shown here.

Talbots Chic Pindot Suiting - professional fashion | chic office style | spring suit #commandressTalbots Chic Pindot Suiting - professional fashion | chic office style #commandressThe black and white combination is perfect for spring, but I would wear this suiting with rich jewel tones the minute it finally warms up this winter!

The Talbots Chic Pindot Suiting Collection includes a Two-Button Blazer ($199), Heritage Chic Pindot Straight-Leg Pants ($119) and Chic Pindot Pencil Skirt ($99).

The collection is available in misses sizes 0-20 as well as petites.

Talbots Heritage Chic Pindot Straight-Leg Pants - professional fashion | chic office style #commandress

Talbots Chic Pindot Pencil Skirt - professional fashion | chic office style #commandress

The suit looks lovely paired with the Talbots Floral Band-Collar Shirt ($89.50; washable) in the first image above, although I would be happier with the Talbots Watercolor Floral Sweater ($79.50; washable) that is also shown below.

Both tops look lovely, but I usually find sweaters easier to wear and more comfortable than blouses.

Talbots Floral Band-Collar Shirt - professional fashion | chic office style #commandressTalbots Watercolor Floral Sweater - professional fashion | chic office style #commandress

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Disclosure – this post includes affiliate links for Talbots.