Wardrobe Building Blocks for the New Fall Season

If you followed our last post on keeping things simple for summer, you’ve probably done a certain amount of purging and now might be wondering how to add some updates or just add some new, effective pieces for fall.  Before adding anything, it’s good to have a plan for what’s already in there! Here are four steps you can take to put some foundation in place before venturing out for the new season. 

1. Figure out how many pieces of clothing you actually need. 

Most people spend way too much money on their clothing, buying things they don’t really need. Using a simple wardrobe formula can help you simplify your closet. One of the easiest to remember is the 1, 2, 3: 

1 Jacket + 2 Bottoms + 3 Tops = 1 Wardrobe Module
(plus accompanying accessories)

Wardrobe Modules are the foundation of any well-planned wardrobe. You’ll need to make some careful choices so that the tops can be worn with or without a jacket and so that all the colours and textures of the pieces go together. If chosen carefully, you can get 6-12 outfits from just 6 pieces of clothing. One Wardrobe Module should give you 20 hours of wear, so if you’re doing a standard workweek, you’ll need two modules. Check in your closet to see if you can build modules and see where you’ve got more than you need. 

2. Sort and purge! 

Once you’ve figured out what you really need, you can let go of any other things remaining that aren’t necessary. You’d be surprised to learn that you can consign many of your clothing items. You’ll typically make 40-50% of the cost of the item when consigning. Most consignment stores will require you to open an account with them and some have minimum dollar values you’ll need to meet, but consigning is a great way to get rid of those things that you’ve never worn but are in great condition and relatively recent. Top consignment store choices include Turnabout (several locations) and Changes (W. 10th Avenue in Vancouver).  Remember to check your pockets when doing your sort and purge – often suit jackets are put away with bills tucked in the pockets. Donate the rest to your favourite charity or host a clothing swap with friends. 

3. Budget for replacement.

Now that you’ve let go of what’s not working, you have probably found some gaps in your modules. Think carefully about what it is you need the new item to do and plan your budget accordingly. Take ‘cost per wear’ into account. A $20 shirt that you wear once or twice isn’t as good a deal as a $40 shirt that you wear 40 times. Quality counts! It’s also good to take the time of year into account. If you like a deal, then you’ll be shopping at the end of the season, stocking up on summer essentials as the fall rolls in. If you like choice, you might spend a bit more and get what you like rather than what’s left on the sale rack. A good budget guideline for clothing is 5-10% of your annual income; you can then parcel out your spending over the year to get the most bang for your buck. 

4. Now you’re ready to shop! 

Once you’ve established what you actually need as well as what you’re able to spend, you can create a focused list for what you need to buy. You can spend a bit more on foundation pieces and wear them a bit longer and for quick updates, try choosing a fun accessory or inexpensive item of clothing that goes with the trend but doesn’t break the bank. Even if you prefer classic lines, it’s important to check your wardrobe every year to see which pieces really could use replacing or which ones have lost their current feeling – even classics date after four or five years, particularly as the speed of the fashion cycle increases. Tune in next month to learn our top three tips for shopping effectively.