Monday, May 20, 2013

Closet Classics: Creating An Effortless Wardrobe

As I've gotten older, I've realized I have been drawn to "style" more than "fashion" when it comes to clothing. I used to love finding trendy "cheap" pieces at places like Target and Forever 21, but now those pieces frustrate me hanging in my closet. Time and time again I am faced with the age old dilemma "I have nothing to wear!" yet my closet is full.

Now that I am almost in my 30's, I crave a wardrobe that is simple, classic and full of pieces that are effortless and always look great. You know me, I'd much rather spend money on something for my house than something for my closet.. which is why I want to start becoming intentional with my wardrobe and stop buying "cheap and trendy" clothes on an impulse.

So, I've decided to start a "Closet Classics" list to keep me on track to creating an effortless wardrobe that works for the age I am now (and will work for years to come!) 
Classic Black Pants
Dark Skinny Jeans
Wide Leg Jeans
Casual Medium Wash Distressed Jeans
White Jeans

White Blouse
Chambray Button Down
Classic White T-Shirt
Cotton (or Linen) Oxford
Dressy Tank

Little Black Dress
Day To Night Dress
Pencil Skirt
Flowy Skirt

Bold Statement Flats
Classic Black Flats
Casual Strappy Sandals

Wide Leather Belt
 Skinny Belt
Leather Bag
Khaki Trench

I created this list for myself to work off of. There isn't a set number of items, and I'm sure I'll add to it as seasons change, etc. There also may be multiple pieces per item (i.e. blazer, tunic, dressy tank). But my intention is to keep my closet as simple and streamlined as possible. 

I also want to note some of my thoughts: 

+ Live Within Your Means: As much as I would love to go out and buy really high quality pieces at Neimans, it's important to live within your means. For me, a splurge is J.Crew or Anthropologie. As I grow older, I will be able to replace pieces with better quality pieces, but for now I'll try to get the best quality for my budget. 

+ Be Ruthless: One fault of mine is that I often buy things and then after a couple times wearing it, I don't like how it fits. I'm going to be ruthless before buying something to make sure that I only buy pieces that fit PERFECTLY and make me feel great in them. 

+ Stop Shopping: I think the best way to be intentional about my closet is to stop shopping. I know, that doesn't make sense. But I mean stop shopping while I'm out and about. When I buy online, I can think things through a little more, and I don't buy on impulse. It also helps to try on the clothes in my own house, so I can really concentrate on whether or not the fit is right. Plus, many companies offer free shipping both ways, which is great!

I'll be sharing my progress with you.. I hope you'll like this new "series"! I got some birthday money from my parents, so I'll be getting a couple new pieces soon. 

Have any of you edited and simplified your closet before? I'd love to hear any ideas/comments/great places to get classic pieces.


  1. Let's me "non-shopping" buddies.... I can't deal with my closet right now. I literally is scaring me for all the wrong reasons!

  2. Bryn --
    I am completely on board with building an ever-better quality closet of classics; it's been my goal since college.

    BUT -- The best thing I ever did for my (dressed) self, and for my closet, was find a good tailor. I'd lost forty pounds, and was completely broke, so I couldn't go off on a new skinny clothes shopping spree. I had to work with what I had, and for the items that I still loved, but were now too big, I decided to pay out just a little, and get them altered. BEST THING I EVER DID, and to this day, and two new cities later, I still get many new purchases altered to fit me.

    Example: you find that classic white button down you've been seeking for ages, and the price is right, but the sleeves are just a bit too long, or it's slightly too boxy for you. Your tailor can fix it, and probably not as expensively as you think. The skirt that hits you at just the wrong spot... hem that sucker.

    You will love the way clothes fit on you. Those things that you bought, and decided you don't like the fit of... look them over again. Some of them could be made to be 'just right' in the hands of a good tailor, and even inexpensive clothes can look better quality when they fit as though they were made for you.

  3. I just retired and got rid of 90% of my clothes. I had enough black slacks to last me a lifetime but didn't want to keep them. I am rebuilding my wardrobe slowly with age appropriate "hippie" style outfits that will work in our adopted new hometown of Fayetteville Arkansas. I will let you know how it goes!

  4. i'm trying to get to a more streamlined wardrobe as well, though i still buy some cheap/trendy pieces here and there. it's just nice to have quality staples to go to. and i've gotten a lot more ruthless about only buying things that fit perfectly since i know i won't wear something that i don't love.
    -- artwork giveaway

  5. I agree quality over quantity and quality doesn't have to mean expensive it just has to have a great fir and look great on you! We just need to be more mindful as we shop, right?

  6. I love this idea! I really need to update my staple pieces. It's a great list to work off of!

  7. I come up with a game plan for every season 1-2 new amazing pieces for weekday and weekend wear either casual or dressy. It makes me really really agonize over what to get and I end up with great fitting quality that's helping me build a forever wardrobe. Try it!!

  8. I feel like you were in my head with this post! I look at clothes the same way now that I'm 34 (what is it about hitting your mid-30s??). I want nice materials now, not just getting "the look" from stores like H&M.

  9. Brought a smile to my face ! I felt exactly as you do and then .....I had 3 children! Now I buy clothes for myself from the supermarket in order to fund my teenage childrens Abercrombie & Fitch 'habit'

  10. So this might be a bit off topic, but the last couple things you point out remind me of a program I heard recently on Fresh Air. For a series on Ethical Fashion, Terry Gross interviewed the author of a book titled "Overdressed: the shockingly high cost of cheap fashion". It's really interesting.
    Here's the link to the program:
    And here's the link to the author's website:

    I'm getting close to 30 too and it seems that everywhere I turn, I'm faced with opportunities to "grow up". haha. But in all seriousness, we have an great opportunity to make more mature and informed decisions about the clothing we wear. At the very least, to just choose quality over quantity.

  11. As a former personal shopper at J. Crew, I cannot stress enough the importance of tailoring. Every once and while you'll find something that fits perfectly, but most women's bodies do not resemble that of a fit model. Find things that you love, are of good quality, fair price and don't be afraid to nip in the waist or hem something.

    However, I do caution about shoulder fit and arm length. Shortening sleeves properly (meaning keeping the buttons and other details) requires taking them up at the shoulder. That can start at $50 in bigger cities just for a blouse. For a jacket you're looking at $75 and up. And there is almost nothing you can do when the shoulders are too wide or too narrow.

    good luck! i think you are off to a great start :-)

  12. Hi Bryn,
    I love the picture referenced in the closet classics story. I need those green cargo pants! Where did you find this picture?
    Long time reader,

  13. Have you ever heard of Stitch fix? I signed up but have not tried it yet, though I know of other bloggers that rave about it. (Lauren Casper from Traded Dreams, Kacia from Coconut Robot for example) Basically you create an account on their website, answer a bunch of fun fashion questions to determine your style, and then order your "fix"! You tell them what types of peices you are looking for, your sizes, and what you want to pay, and a stylist will send you a box with five peices of clothing picked just for you with styling and accesorizing tips included, and you get to try it all on and buy only what you love. If you do not like any of the five you can send them all back with notes as to why so the stylist can get to know your style more thoroughly. It sounds pretty fun to me... I am like you and would rather buy stuff for my house than my body, and I get stuck in fashion ruts. I am excited to try stuff that someone else has selected for me that I may otherwise not normally try. I think that they do a rewards program for bloggers, too, so if you blog about your "fix's" you can get points toward your next fix.

  14. Hi Bryn, I too am almost 30 (in 5 days!! eek!!) and I'm trying to pare back my wardrobe and buy quality over quantity. It's actually quite liberating once you've decided to stop shopping - then when you have to drop into the mall to get a gift or something, you don't wander mindlessly looking at things for yourself too! You might be interested in this blog:

  15. Everything about this is so true. Classic will always beat trendy. I've found that if you want to add a touch of trendy to an outfit, I add accessories. I don't spend a lot on big, colorful statement necklaces if I think at all that it won't be in style in a few years. BaubleBar is PERFECT for this. And with certain contemporary styles of shoes, scarves and bags I approach shopping with the same method. The trendier, the less I am usually willing to pay for it. And those are all accent pieces that can easily be mix, matched, or changed out when the trend ends. Nothing will ever beat a crisp white shirt, a pair of great fitting jeans, a leather belt and a great handbag.


THANK YOU for taking the time to share your thoughts. I appreciate each and every comment.

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