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.

Class It Up – The Classic Wrap Dress

In the Commandress feature Class It Up, contributor Amy (Bergsma) Schwarzenbach shares ideas for taking your wardrobe to the next level.

Does your wardrobe include a wrap dress? Maybe ten?

The only wrong answer to this question would be “none.” Wrap dresses are universally flattering and versatile. From work to a cocktail party, from a shower to a dinner, it’s always easy to throw on a wrap dress and change your jewelry for the occasion at hand.

By nature of the design, wrap dresses have surplice, or v-shaped, necklines that are very feminine, but powerfully so.

Today we are profiling four irresistible knee-length wrap dresses from brands we love. There is, indeed, a wrap dress for every woman who wants one.

First, a post about wrap dresses must include one from its creator, Diane von Furstenberg. In either Midnight or Black, DVF’s point collar, long-sleeve New Jeanne Two Jersey Wrap Dress will be a wardrobe staple for years to come ($276 on sale from Nordstrom; regularly $368).

Diane von Furstenberg New Jeanne Two Jersey Wrap Dress in Midnight Navy - professional fashion | office style #commandress

High quality and British flair make Boden’s long-sleeve Wrap Dress in Navy Scallop an excellent choice. I love the mod pattern and flattering vertical design. For readers who like to avoid the dry cleaners, the good news is it’s machine washable ($88.80 on sale in regular, petite and tall; regularly $148; also in Black, Blue Scallop, and Mandarin Scallop).

Boden Wrap Dress in Navy Scallop - professional fashion | office style #commandressWe love BCBG’s Adele Wrap Dress – which is updated every season in a variety of gorgeous prints. There is something striking about BCBG’s Adele Jersey Wrap Dress in this new Poinsettia Combo Print. Between its sophisticated warm weather color palette and the “ribbon-like” detail along the surplice, this is a stunning wrap dress. It is also machine washable ($198 from Nordstrom).

BCBG Adele Wrap Dress in Poinsettia Combo Print #commandressRounding out our selection of wrap dresses is Pendleton’s long-sleeve Breezeway Dress in Salmonberry/Ivory Zebra Knit Print. Technically it’s a wrap-style dress, which is also very figure flattering. And it’s washable. ($159.00 in regular and petite from Zappos; $169 in plus).

Pendleton Breezeway Wrap Style Dress #commandress


Pendleton Plus Size Breezeway Wrap Style Dress #commandress

Disclosure – this post includes affiliate links for Boden, Nordstrom and Zappos. 

Fresh Fashion Finds – Lands’ End Garden District Collection & Botanical Prints

Today’s post features Amy Bergsma Schwarzenbach’s top picks from the new Lands’ End Garden District Collection. 

Last night I was finally able to look through my latest collection of catalogs. When I got to my Lands’ End catalog, the spring line of botanical prints immediately grabbed my attention.

Much of the spring collection is inspired by the blooming vines and flowers found in the New Orleans Garden District – a distinctive neighborhood full of exotic flora.

But that isn’t the only reason I like these handsome prints. They are fresh, refined, and classic. Better yet, you have a choice between pieces with an off-white or navy background.

Warning:  when I visited the website some of the pieces in the catalog were already sold out, so if you like something you may want to act fast!

Whether it is paired with a blazer for work or simply worn with jeans after hours, the Slub Jersey Art Tee in Juniper Botanical is both lively and lovely ($29 in navy or ivory and in regular, petite, tall and plus sizes).

Lands' End Sub Jersey Art Tee - juniper floral top #commandress

Sometimes a dress is just the ticket. The Ponte Keyhole Sheath Dress is a true winner in Juniper Botanical Print or in Blue Multi Garden Floral ($89 in regular, petite, tall and plus sizes).

Lands' End Ponte Keyhole Sheath Dress in Juniper Botanical Floral Print #commandress

Lands' End Ponte Keyhole Sheath Dress in Blue Garden Floral Print #commandress

The Blue Floral print shown above also comes in a eye-catching Randi Mid Heel Pump ($79).

Lands' End Randi Midheel Pump in Blue Floral #commandress

The easiest way to add panache to any outfit is with a scarf like the versatile Canopy Botanical Scarf ($29).

Lands' End Canopy Botanical Scarf - floral print #commandressAlternatively, carrying a fresh tote like this Botanical Canvas Large Shopper will brighten up the clothes that you already have in your closet ($78).

Lands' End Botanical Canvas Shopper - floral tote #commandress

If you like this look for weekend or casual wear, consider wearing the botanical print as either pants or shorts like the Digital Floral Print Chino Crop Pants in Canopy Botanical ($69) or Digital Floral Print Bermuda Chino Shorts in Canopy Botanical ($55).

Lands' End Digital Floral Print Chino Crop Pants in Canopy Botanical #commandress Lands' End Digital Floral Print Bermuda Shorts in Canopy Botanical #commandress

In addition to the prints, the Lands’ End Garden District collection includes some very pretty lace dresses. My favorite is the Short Sleeve Lace Sheath Dress in Limelight ($149 in regular, petite or plus sizes). The dress’ scalloped lace and grosgrain accents are both understated enough for most days at the office and lively enough for a social event – and it looks fantastic paired with the Randi Mid Heel Blue Floral Pump ($79) that is featured above!

Lands' End Short Sleeve Lace Sheath Dress in Limelight #commandress

Disclosure – this post includes affiliate links for Lands’ End.