Don’t Like Your Clothes? Revitalize Them! (Part 4)

This is the fourth post in a series about how to tackle your wardrobe if you’re unhappy with your clothes – or just feel like you have nothing to wear.

In Part 1, we talked about giving yourself permission to cull your wardrobe, keep only the clothes you love, and identify a neutral skirt or pants that fit, flatter, complement your personality and suit your lifestyle.

In Part 2, we covered coordinating tops to wear with neutral skirts and pants.

In Part 3, we shared Commandress’ secret weapon: the dress!

In Part 4, we talked about

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Today’s post talks about how to add interest to your outfits (either a dress or a top paired with a skirt or pants) by layering with a sweater, jacket, blazer or similar covering.

The post includes examples of an everyday or casual layer, a layer to wear to work, and a layer that adds to your dressed up style.

What is the point of layering?

Practically speaking, layering helps keep you warm. More importantly for our sartorial quest to revitalize your wardrobe, layering adds a new and different dimension to an outfit. 

For example, you have grey pants and white top that look very flattering together when you try them on, but the outfit comprised of just those two pieces bores you. Add a coordinating cardigan sweater, jacket or blazer, and you have just enlivened your outfit!

“Wearing another layer – such as a cardigan sweater, blazer or jacket – makes an outfit look more polished and complete.”

 How to Add Layers to Your Everyday Style

As society has become increasingly casual in the past several decades, there is more reason for most of us to call casual style our everyday style. (Your life may be so casual that your primary style is your workout style – which Commandress will address in future posts.)

In a broad generalization, casual layers are going to be less structured than work layers. Certain fabrics, such as denim and knits, lend themselves to being more casual than other fabrics.

Anthropologie’s Banded Confetti Cardigan Sweater ($98) is a wonderful example of an everyday layer. It is beautiful, reviewers rave about its comfort, and it would add vitality to an outfit. This cardigan sweater would coordinate with a plethora of neutrals and colors so odds are it should coordinate well with many tops, bottoms and even dresses in your wardrobe.

Womens Colorful Cardigan Sweater from Anthropologie“By adding a layer you may change the original purpose of the layer or the look of the outfit.”

For example, wearing a structured jacket appropriate for work with jeans makes for a cute, everyday outfit. Alternatively, a seemingly casual jacket can become work appropriate as well.

Another example of an everyday layer is a trendy denim jacket!

How to Add Layers to Your Work Style

Jackets, blazers and sweaters suitable for work are usually more structured, and therefore, more fitted. Certain prints, such as houndstooth, and certain fabrics, such as tweed, will be more suitable for work than others. For examples of refined sweaters with work style, click here and here.

Tahari Arthur S. Levine’s Houndstooth Blazer in Black and White ($149 from Lord & Taylor, also available in Petite) is a great example of a layer with smart work style. The silhouette is fitted. For a work-appropriate jacket, this one has some flair with its notched collar and cuffs which adds a dash of panache. Compare it to Armani’s Geometric Woven Cardigan.

Womens Work Blazer Womans Jacket for Work

When layering, work style does not need to be devoid of color. In most offices, bold jackets would be entirely appropriate. Commandress has profiled many a bold hued jacket, blazer and sweater appropriate for work including this one, this one, and this one.

How to Add Layers to Your Dressed Up Style

Layering for special events is so much fun! With a special bolero, shrug, wrap or cape you will feel glamorous and your entrance will be eye-turning.

I love Alex Evenings’ Hanky Bolero ($48 from Nordstrom, click here for the Plus Size style)   It would look spectacular over the T. Tahari Valencia Fit & Flare Dress profiled in Part 3 of the series.

Hanky Bolero Special Event Jacket

Yes, when getting dressed up, layers become even more superfluous, but add to the festiveness of an outfit.

In the event you cannot visualize what a shrug looks like, click here to see a versatile one.

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In closing, your assignment is to try on each of your outfits with your jackets, cardigan sweaters, and blazers. Some tops/bottoms or dresses may not coordinate with every layer. Plan to only wear the layered ensembles that look great. The whole ensemble should work together as well as fit and flatter.

How many new ensembles can you create? Do you have the right number of ensembles for your everyday, work and dressed up styles? Are there any outfits you would like to augment with a layer? If so, either wear them or take them with you as you go shopping or have them by your side as you shop online.

Amy

Disclosure – this post contains affiliate links.

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.

Amy

Disclosure – this post contains affiliate links.

Love Your Work Style – Talbots Geometric Print Dress & Work Top

Talbots has a brand new Go Graphic collection that is full of cute pieces in sophisticated yet office-friendly colors and prints.

I love this Talbots Geometric-Triangles Dress ($159 in regular and petite sizes), which features a bold print paired with a simple and classic silhouette.

Talbots Go Graphic Geometric-Triangles Print Dress - professional fashion | office style | work outfit

The pattern placement is designed to flatter – the lighter blue color creates a subtle vertical line down the center of the dress. (This would also be a perfect dress for a Mad Men style post – sniff.)

My other favorite piece is this Talbots Medallions & Stripes Foulard Blouse ($89.50-$99 in regular, petite, plus, and plus petite; washable). This fall top looks fantastic with jeans for an easy business casual look and could also be dressed up with suit separates.
Talbots Go Graphic Medallions & Stripes Foulard Top - business casual outfit |professional fashion | office style | print work top for fall

Abigail Signature with Feather

Disclosure – this post includes affiliate links.