For some us, that word sparks excitement, for others, a heavy sigh, and for still others, a bit of a sarcastic snarl. We women fall all across the spectrum of emotional reaction to the word that describes what we wear and how we wear it–the word that carries a weighty connotation of coolness, acceptance, trendiness or lack thereof.
No matter where you fall on that spectrum, it is a universal truth that women have an emotional relationship to clothes and the industry that promotes them. We work very hard to undo the damage created by a media-saturated consumer society, reminding one another that we are each beautiful, and that we are, every one of us, whole and enough, right now just the way we are.
But it is also truth that clothes and the way we wear them can be an indicator of the level of self care we are practicing, and our own mental health. Whether you normally relish the thought of a seasonal wardrobe update or loathe it, if you find yourself feeling defensive, lethargic, and disheveled all of the time, and unable to muster much concern or find any satisfaction in your appearance, things may be off kilter within.
But even if we realize it and address those problems, it still may be hard to break free of our clothing rut. It’s hard to know where to begin when it’s been a while since you’ve cared.
A Change of Season.
Fall is a great time to look in the closet and the mirror. What do you see? Do you feel like it may be time to invest a little extra care in your wardrobe and your outward appearance?
If you answered “yes” but have no idea where to begin, here are ten easy steps to give your wardrobe a happy little lift, and in process give a boost to your attitude and confidence. (And go easy on your budget too!)
As we go through each step, Cristi and I (Colleen) are sharing our picks and personalities so you can see examples of different ways these tips might be applied. Most importantly, we want you to remember that your style is about you. It’s about what makes you feel good, confident and bold. You deserve that. We all do. We just want to help you–and ourselves–get there.
Step 1: Research this season’s trends.
We are heading into the fall/winter seasons. Take some time to find out what is on trend. Now please don’t get clammy hands and break out in hives. This does not mean we are asking you to show up at Fashion Week or dig through magazine ads of perfect women in clothes you could never afford. Simply take a gander around you. Look at what friends, whom you consider stylish, are wearing. Ask them what their favorite brands are right now. Take a peek at Pantone’s color pallette for this season.
Look around on Pinterest and Polyvore and see what kinds of fall/winter outfits are trending. Or it could be as simple as a quick Google search for “Fall 2014 Fashion Trends.” This post also has some fantastic ideas for putting together fall outfits.
Step 2: Think about what makes you feel good.
When was the last time you felt really good about what you were wearing? How did it make you feel? Make a note of that outfit. When you were little, what kind of clothes did you gravitate to? Were you a twirling skirt, sparkly shoes kind of girl, or a jeans, sneakers and hoodie girl? Think about your personality and the kind of clothes that suit who you are. You might take a fashion personality quiz to get some insight into your preferences and what they say about your style. Here’s one at The Chic Fashionista that reveals 6 different style personalities: Classic, Trendy, Dramatic, Natural, Romantic and Creative.
Both Cristi and I took this quiz and it revealed very different responses, and that is neither good nor bad. In fact, not everyone will even fit into just one “box” much like Cristi. Fashion is about what feels right for you and that’s what makes it and you beautiful.
Cristi’s style personality: A blend of Natural AND Creative (see “Creative” style details below)
Those with natural style personalities often have these kind of items in their closet: Casual tees, tank tops, tunics and jeans, sweatshirts, knit button down vets, cargo pants simple stud earrings, jewelry made of natural materials, canvas sneakers and other sporty looking shoes.
Colleen’s style personality: Creative
Those with creative style personalities often have these kind of items in their wardrobe: Printed shoes, printed bags, printed clothing, quirky detailing, vintage-inspired accessories, bold colored footwear, layers of jewelry, graphic t-shirts, hats, leopard-anything.
What do you think is your style?
Step 3: Pick a neutral.
Your neutral color will become the base for building/updating a wardrobe. Based on color trends and your personality, what is your preferred base color? Grey is the hot neutral right now, but black, brown, camel, beige and navy are all possible choices. There’s no right or wrong here. Your choice can be based on your personal preference or on some key wardrobe pieces you already own. Cristi and I both agreed on shades of grey as our favorite neutral.
Cristi’s Favorite Neutral: Grey
Colleen’s Favorite Neutral: Grey
Step 4: Pick a signature color.
This is all about you. Don’t worry about what is on trend for the season or what other people like. What color makes you feel good, makes you happy? Don’t pick another neutral. Pick a color that pops or a color that softens or a color that warms you up. A light, breezy pastel, a bright, bold color, or warm, spicy tone that you enjoy being surrounded in. You are going to build the signature pieces of your wardrobe in this color, so choose what you really like.
Cristi’s Signture Color: Teal Blue
Colleen’s Signature Color: Cobalt Blue
Step 5: Pick 2 accent colors.
This is when you might want to take into consideration the color pallette of the season. Choose two colors that you can pair up with your neutral and signature color to stay modern and up to date with current trends. These colors will be highlighted in accessories and a few fun wardrobe pieces, so don’t overthink this. What colors on this season’s palette appeal to you? Still not sure, consider going with the complement to your signature color and one of its neighbor’s on the color spectrum. That way you’re sure to get a pop in your outfit and your color choices will still make sense. Not that making sense is mandatory. If you are the type to just mix and match and have fun, pick what you like and go with it.
Cristi’s Pops of Fall Color: Sangria and Orchid
Colleen’s Pops of Fall Color: Scarlet Red and Mustard
Step 6: Update two wardrobe basics
Now that you have narrowed your vision and you know what kind of clothes you like, and what colors you want to wear, it’s time to start actually shopping!
All wardrobes have a foundation of basic pieces, and you likely already have that in your closet. To keep your wardrobe current, it’s a good idea to update a few of those basic pieces when you can. That might be each season, or it might be once a year. But when budget allows or circumstances demand it (like nothing fits any more, you suddenly realize all your clothes are horrifically out-of-date or threadbare, or you have an event to go to which make you hyper-aware of the fact that you actually care about how you look), the place to start is keeping your wardrobe basics up to date.
Maybe that means a new basic dress, a pencil skirt, fresh jeans, a good pair of cords, a crisp button down, or a sweater you’ll have for ages. Your pieces depend on your lifestyle and the things we considered above. But start with updating two of your basic, foundational wardrobe pieces. This will become the base of the rest of your shopping, and it will also give a lot of other pieces in your closet new life when you pair them with an updated style.
Cristi’s Favorite Fall Basics This Year: Teal Blue “Hoodie” and Knee High Boots in Neutral Grey
Colleen’s Favorite Fall Basics This Year: Distressed Boyfriend Jean and Throw Over Everything Cardigan in Neutral Grey
Step 7: Invest in a classic version of two trends
Sometimes, looking at trends can be so intimidating. If you look too high up on the fashion chain, things begin to border on the ridiculous. If you try to interpret what neon green shag fur vests should mean in real life, you can find yourself stumped. Here is my advice when it comes to staying on trend. Pick two trends and look for a classic wardrobe piece that is inspired by the style. This fall, leather and biker inspired clothing is everywhere. If you are at a loss for how and where you might wear leather leggings, skip them in favor of piece that will still be useful when the trend dies down. A black leather vest with big zippers or a black handbag with chain accents. Sixties mod style dresses a la Twiggy are all the rage too. If you want to splurge but want a little longevity from your piece, skip the extreme and pick a dress with color blocking, a strong a-line cut, or a little pointed collar. You’ll be on trend now, but the piece will translate later too.
Cristi’s Trend Inspired Fall Pics: Mod Plaid Dress and Graphic Statement Clutch
Colleen’s Trend Inspired Fall Pics: Cobalt Blue Skinny Pants and Fun Tribal Pencil Skirt
Step 8: Pick a pair of shoes that sizzle.
Shoes are such an easy way to spice up your wardrobe. And they don’t carry any of that size taboo and baggage that clothes do. Shoes can make you stand out and are a great way to flaunt your fashion personality. So add one pair of shoes to your wardrobe that give it a little sizzle. And what that means is totally up to your interpretation. Maybe you feel great in some flirty, fun flats. Maybe you like a sassy wedge. Or you could be a tall, sleek boots girl. Or a girl who likes a little edge to her shoes, metal, buckles, bling. Pick a pair of shoes that give you butterflies when you see them. And wear them with pride.
Cristi’s Sizziling Shoe Pick: Dark Blue High Heel Boot with Ankle Detail
Colleen’s Sizzling Shoe Pick: Moto-Inspired Booties with Lots and Lots of Buckles
Step 9: Take some risks with accessories.
Depending on what your fashion personality is, risk can mean a lot of different things. If you are a very classic style personality, risk might mean adding a splash of bright color in a statement necklace or some basic bling in a shiny hammered cuff. If you are a romantic type, you might add fall flourish with lacy boot socks or a wide knit headband. Creative types might take risks with hats and lots of mixed bracelets. Whatever your personality, accessories are the easiest way to take a leap out of your comfort zone and have some fun. Push yourself a bit. It’s a minimal investment and easy to undo if it turns out you really hate it. My advice? Go out about two steps bolder than what you would normally choose. You’ll bring same “va-voom” to your look and put a little sass in your step.
Cristi’s Favorite Fall Accessories
Colleen’s Favorite Fall Accesories
Step 10: Update Your Makeup Bag.
Your clothing colors change, your skin changes, your schedule changes. Why not give your makeup bag a quick update too. Maybe you need to lighten your foundation a shade, or switch to one with extra moisturizer for the cool air. Maybe you want to darken the hue on your cheeks or warm up your lips. Kick up your lashes so they’ll stand out over lush scarves and wide headbands. Add a fall flourish to your nails. Whatever it is that you can’t leave home without in your makeup bag, trade it up for a new fall go-to. It will put the finishing polish on your updated wardrobe AND your updated attitude!
Cristi’s Makeup Bag Must Haves for Fall
Colleen’s Makeup Bag Must Haves for Fall
So there you have it!
In ten easy steps, you can remind yourself what it feels like to feel good and look good in clothes that suit you. And if your spruce up helps to reveal a happier you, well, you go, sister. Step out and show the world.
Of course showing off your personality and individual style won’t ensure a healthy mental state, but I really do believe your look can say a lot about where you are internally. A spruce up could be a powerful first step in a process toward greater confidence and renewed mental health. We hope that first step will help get you to the next, and the next. Its all about taking care of you and being the best you possible.
So what do think? Do you need a boost?
About the Author
Colleen is guest writer and collaborator for today’s fabulous fashion post. Colleen lives the life of a missionary wife and mom and has the soul of a fashionista. She serves alongside her husband and five sons as a founder of the non-profit St. Bryce Missions in Tayutic, Costa Rica. She wears a lot of stylish hats in her daily life, but the most important things to her are to love well, walk humbly and encourage others along the way. She blogs at Blessed are the Feet: My Missionary Journey