In Part 1 of my Wardrobe Architect series, I explored my style story — personal history, values, lifestyle, and core style. Part 2 is fashion-y part of planning a wardrobe — exploring specific silhouettes, colors, and beauty.
This is the window shopping, where I gawk at pretty things and imagine how they’d work in my life. Price is no object as I kick around reasoned hypotheticals. This is thought-exercise time for me as a wardrobe curator.
I tackled this epic installment of planning a wardrobe in five sections:
Fashion shapes: Examining my preferred hem lengths, ease, necklines, and more for different clothes.
Silhouette formulas: Building complete outfits.
Colors: Choosing a flattering palate.
Patterns: Choosing favorite fabric patterns.
Beauty: Reflecting on hair and makeup looks.
If Part 1 was the “why” of planning a wardrobe, Part 2 is the “how.” This installment answers, “How does your personal style actually look?”
Alright, shopping companions. Join me for playing wardrobe curator and planning a wardrobe!
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All combinations of fashion shapes
Colette has a big table of fashion shapes for Wardrobe Architects to fill out. (Please refer to Part 1 of my Wardrobe Architect series for an overview of the process.) In the table, row headers are different types of garments (skirts, dresses, pants, tops, jackets, cardigans, outerwear). Column headers are fit considerations (ease, length, fullness, waistline) for each type of garment. You rate your fashion shape preferences like so:
0 – I hate wearing this.
5 – I’m neutral about wearing this.
10 – I am happiest wearing this.
The instructions for the table ask you to “go with your gut” when it comes to answers. For instance, just because I give midi-length skirts a low rating doesn’t mean I’ll never wear a midi skirt or dress. Colette reminds you to:
Remember that this is mainly a warm-up to get your brain working and thinking about your preferences: you don’t need to have a definitive or perfect list.
Here are my top fashion shapes:
Length: I like mid-thigh and mini lengths.
Fullness: My favorite is straight, followed closely by pencil.
Waistline: High waistline is my favorite.
Ease: I like very fitted dresses, and I’m neutral about somewhat fitted and somewhat loose dresses.
Length: I vote for knee length and mid-thigh length (good for either heels or flats).
Fullness: Straight is my jam.
Waistline: Mid-natural waistline for me.
Ease: Very fitted. I like slim bottoms.
Length: Very long.
Waistline: Mid-natural waistline. I’m over low-waisted pants, ‘kay thanks, late ’90s-early ’00s?
Tops and blouses
Ease: Very fitted and somewhat fitted are favorites.
Length: Above the hip is tops with me.
Jackets and blazers
Ease: I prefer very fitted and somewhat fitted.
Length: Above the hip, please.
Ease: Somewhat loose works is my favorite.
Length: I like tunic length.
Ease: I prefer somewhat fitted.
Length: I choose tunic length.
Waistline: Mid-natural is my preference.
My top-rated necklines are V-neck, cowl, and scoop.
My top-rated sleeves are above elbow, three quarter, and full length.
Favorite silhouettes: Planning a wardrobe with winning formulas
Now, looking at my fashion shape choices, it might seem like I’m all about tight clothes. I assure you, I’m not.
I’m about balance. For example, I love loose tops and skinny jeans. Nine days out of 10, that’s my uniform. To my eye, a somewhat loose top balances a figure-hugging bottom. And to turn that equation upside down, I like a fitted top with a full skirt. It’s all about balance, people.
Here are some silhouette formulas that feel very “Erin” to me (BTW, all these images are from Pinterest searches):
Shorts + Sandals + Interesting T: When the weather heats up, I’m in shorts, flip-flops, and a T-shirt. It’s a comfortable look that works with mom duties. A non-crew neck short-sleeve shirt elevates everything.
Skinny jeans + Ankle boots + Long cardigan + Interesting blouse: I could wear this look — plus or minus the cardi, depending on the temp — most of the year. I love the versatility!
Slim skirt + Birkenstocks + Woven T-shirt: A short, slim skirt has sex appeal. But Birks and a relaxed blouse help tone that down and make this look appropriate for running errands and working from home.
Shirt dress + Boots -or- Trainers: I love me a shirt dress, straight or full, dressed up or down. Along with versatility, I love that shirt dresses recognize your waist.
My power colors
Planning a wardrobe calls for establishing your personal color story. For me, if it’s blue, turquoise, or magenta, I am on it like white on rice. Those colors make me glow. I love jewel tones.
To compare, I don’t like how pastels make this fair gal look even paler. I also do not look good in yellow, orange, and green. Colors with a yellow undertone make me look unwell.
The pics below are clothes and accessories currently in my closet. You can see my love of all cool colors.
My picks for metallics and neutrals
Silver is my metal of choice. It looks natural against my skin. I do like gold here and there, but it doesn’t work for me like silver does.
When it comes to hues, navy is my favorite neutral. It’s less severe than black and gray, which I wear sparingly. I also like olive green and mustardy British khaki for pants and skirts. My least favorite neutral is tan/khaki; it’s like the pastel of neutrals, and it washes me out. (My neutrals appear in the bottom row of the “My Color Story” graphic.)
Picking fabric patterns
I’m a pattern freak. Stripes are my favorite, but I also moon over geometrics, abstracts, and many florals. They make my eyes and heart happy. The above collage is a mix of stuff in my closet and fabric stash. I have a hard time buying solid-color fabrics, actually, even when I know they’re more flexible as garments.
My favorite prints (especially florals) probably are Liberty of London prints.
They’re intense and unapologetic. I like them for the same reason I shy from neutrals. Liberty prints have a point of view. They’re not looking for serenity.
Beauty: Lifestyle-appropriate hair, nails, and makeup
When it comes to beauty, what I’ve got going on works great. I don’t have a lot of time to spend on my hair and makeup day to day. I’m usually getting ready AND trying to keep my 2-year-old from eating non-food and/or trashing my bedroom. Ease and functionality define my beauty routine. I’m proud that I’ve (finally!) landed on lifestyle-appropriate hair and makeup. My 30s have been a decade of beauty acceptance and leverage. I work with what I’ve got, and I’ve never looked better.
I can do my daily makeup in five minutes: moisturizer, CC cream, concealer, cheeks, brows, mascara, lips. It’s a natural makeup look that brightens my skin and and makes my eyes sparkle. I always wear something with sunscreen, and I love a strong lip.
When I need more drama, I go with stronger eye makeup — liner, thoughtful eyeshadow.
Right now, I have a platinum/dark brown ombre thing, and I feel like it gives my overall look a little edge — it’s not unnatural color, but it’s obviously not MY natural color. My stylist did my color so it can grow out without horrific roots. I don’t know how long I’ll keep the blonde, because it’s expensive. (Platinum expensive? Who knew? HA.)
I like long hair because I love braids and buns. I didn’t know how to French braid my hair until I was 30. I taught myself using YouTube vids! Putting my hair up keeps it out of my face when I’m working, and it’s cool in the summer (along with looking mighty pretty, IMHO).
When my hair isn’t up, I usually let it air dry in beachy waves. In the winter, I’ll sometimes blow dry with a diffuser so I don’t have cold, wet hair. (The middle pic is my naturally wavy hair air dried with some curling creme for definition.)
If I’m feeling fancy, I’ll set my hair with hot rollers using this technique, which is easy and give me big, bouncy waves. I like big hair and I cannot lie. (The left pic is my hair set this way.)
I go in streaks with manicures, where I always have my nails painted for months at a time. And then I’ll just stop.
In any case, I like short nails in bright or dark colors, and I’m good at painting them myself. (Sally Hansen Miracle Gel currently my favorite nail polish; it wears like iron!) It’s nice to sit for 30 minutes to an hour while the polish cures. Feels indulgent! And toes naturally are polished in the summer, because sandals.
Looking ahead at Wardrobe Architect
In the final installment of my Wardrobe Architect series, I will:
• Explore my current favorite outfits
• Choose silhouettes for spring/summer, including a color palate
• Share sewing plans to get the looks I want (!!!) = THE FUNNEST PART
• Give a post-mortem on my Wardrobe Architect experience
OK, you gorgeous things — I’m curious about your experiences planning a wardrobe (if you’ve taken on this project). How did you determine colors, silhouettes, and hair and makeup? What tools did you use? What surprised you about your deep dive into these elements of style? Please leave your two cents in comments! Thanks!
P.S. Here are links to all three parts of the my Wardrobe Architect series!
Wardrobe Architect Part 1: Getting personal about wardrobe planning
Wardrobe Architect Part 2: My silhouettes, colors, and beauty
Wardrobe Architect Part 3: Sewing a capsule wardrobe
Original photo for top image by Emily May via Flickr. CC license.