We will all go through numerous lifestyle changes in our lives, and our wardrobes have to change as well!
One Change can change it all
I hate change. I always have. It makes me question myself and everything around me.
For better or worse, change is part of life, and even when the changes are wonderful, they can turn your world upside down and strip you of your identity. Losing your identity can lead you to lose a sense of your style, which compounds the problem, because your style is how you represent your identity.
You are a walking billboard, and your appearance is the message. What are you telling the world about who you are?
All of us go through these major life changes. Whether it’s a career change, a divorce, a marriage, retirement, becoming a mom or an empty-nester, if you have to change your wardrobe, you can feel completely lost. It happened to me when I left a corporate career to become a stay-at-home mom to newborn triplets, it would have happened to me after our recent cross-country move if I hadn’t already learned these lessons. If you’re feeling lost, I’m sharing some tips to help you navigate this change and put together a new wardrobe.
This article and the video below are taken from the Stunning Style Weekly Style Snack! Join us weekly at 11am MT/1pm ET on the Stunning Style Facebook page (HERE) or the FREE Capsule Wardrobes for Classic Style Facebook Group.
Who Am I?
I was draped as a Winter when I was 8, and found that the colors I loved best were also the colors I glowed in.
Instead of my usual poofy Easter dress (the style of most little girl dresses), I got my first pencil skirt when I was 11, and it felt like coming home.
My first all-black outfit happened during my junior year of high school, and it was like finding my skin.
In college I came even more into my style as I worked in a retail job that required me to dress up, and I loved it.
Even though I was really narrowing down what I loved to wear, I still struggled with other details, like swinging between classic and edgy instead of combining the two.
When I graduated college and started working, I felt a little lost at first, not sure what to wear, but I finally figured it out because corporate dress codes go so well with my personal classic style anyway.
Then I left corporate America to be a SAHM of triplets, and I had my first major identity crisis. I literally had nothing to wear. A few tees, a couple of chinos, and some sneakers. I didn’t even own a pair of jeans!! We were down my income and up 3 babies, a house and a new minivan, so I had no money, time, or energy to start a new wardrobe.
I limped along with what little I had. When I did have the chance to buy a few new things, I didn’t buy what I liked because I thought I had to change who I was to be a good mom. I tried to soften myself by changing how I dressed (by the way, it doesn’t work).
Five kids and four years later, we moved across the country and at the same time the silhouettes were changing to skinny jeans and tunic type tops, which is the complete opposite of anything I owned and really contrary to what I like and what suits my pear body shape.
That really sent me into a style tailspin. What little grasp I still had on my style was completely gone. I had no idea what to wear, so I tried on other people’s styles. I looked and felt ridiculous in the same things they looked perfect in. I was an imposter, and I hated how I looked and how I felt.
After baby number six was born, I decided I had to figure this out. I found my style again, and refined it even more. Now I love what I wear, and no matter what lifestyle change comes my way, I am able to adapt seamlessly.
My recent move across the country rocked my foundation a bit, and I could feel that impulse to change my style because everything else in my life had changed, but this time I knew better.
Step One: Identify Your New Lifestyle
What is your new lifestyle? Is it messy or dressy? What kind of clothing do you need from your new lifestyle? Do you need to dress up or down? Get messy or dressy? I went from messy to dressy.
Evaluate what you have that works for that lifestyle and recognize there will be overlap. Pieces from the former lifestyle can work with the new lifestyle.
My button ups, sweaters, and some of my blouses still worked with messy bc they were washable and/or knits. I paired them with chinos and sneakers (bc that was what I had). A lot of my jewelry worked fine.
This is an important part of the Perfectly Put Together: Find Your Style course because you might be surprised at how often you buy clothes for the lifestyle you WANT versus the lifestyle you actually have. I’ve been so guilty, and have to consciously tell myself NO to dressy clothes. I have plenty for the limited need I have of them.
Step Two: Find the Gaps
Now that you know what kind of lifestyle you actually have, identify the gaps in your wardrobe. What are you missing?
When I became a SAHM, I had no jeans or shorts, no casual shoes besides sneakers, and a few tees. My previous bags were too dressy to wear with my casual clothes. I switched to a diaper bag for a while, but eventually got a bag I could carry if I went anywhere without the kids.
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Step Three: Make A List
Now that you know what you are missing, make a list so you can shop with intention and come up with a workable wardrobe rather than a mishmash of items you can’t make outfits from.
It’s common to go shopping and grab whatever seems fine, or even makes you go all heart-eyes, and still have nothing to wear because it’s not what you actually need, and none of it goes together.
Impulse shopping without a plan is how so many women have a closet full of clothes and nothing to wear.
Last summer I had to replace a lot of clothes, and when I went on a shopping excursion I had a specific list of what I needed, and that’s why I came home with a usable wardrobe instead of a pair of fur shaft boots, a reversible metallic silver and Sherpa jacket, and several pairs of heels. None of that would have helped my wardrobe any season of the year, but specifically not for summer!
Step Four: Start with foundation pieces
We talked about the importance of basics over the last year, and that’s where you should start now. Neutral basics are the foundation of every outfit, and without them, you won’t be able to wear the special items.
Start with one or two pairs of go-to bottoms, whether that’s trousers, jeans, shorts, a skirt, whatever your lifestyle calls for. They need to be neutral colors that will go with every top you own. Go for different neutral colors for each one rather than the same neutral for all. This will give you variety as well as versatility.
Find a pair of go-to shoes, whether that’s a pair of chic sneakers, a classic flat, booties, or heels. Again, get a neutral you can wear with every outfit. It’s best for your foot health to alternate shoes if you can, so I would get two if it fits your budget.
Get a few great tops, start with your favorite neutrals and your signature/favorite color so you have items you can wear more often without drawing as much attention to the repeat wears, but tops is where you can branch out in color and pattern and bring a little more variety. Find a few tops that make you go all heart eyes.
What accessories do you need? Start with simple basics again, especially when it comes to a bag, because those can be really pricey. Definitely stick to your favorite neutral if you have to start from scratch with bags. For jewelry you might find you have more crossover pieces, but if not, stick to something simple and neutral to start.
After you have a basic wardrobe of items that all go together, because your bottoms and shoes are neutral and you are basically switching tops, you can start to branch out to more interesting items.
Step Five: Know what you like...and what you don't
If you can identify the core elements of what you do and don’t like in your clothes and style, you can apply that to every type of item you buy, and every style of clothing and accessories.
The core elements of my style are the same whether I’m buying a tee, a pair of heels, or a swimsuit.
I like structure, I don’t like floppy – and that goes for shoes, bags, tees, swimwear, formal gowns, jewelry, and outerwear. That’s a core style preference regardless of the current trends and silhouettes. Even when styles and trends change, those core elements don’t change for me, though the details of how they are worn might.
Don’t get so focused on the change or the difference in what your new lifestyle that you get caught up in details, which is something I’m very guilty of. Step back and look at the big picture. Whether I’m buying casual or dressy pants, I like the same, very specific things. That hasn’t changed. So while I’m looking for a different style of pants, I’m still looking for the same core elements.
When I got lost, I went back to a time when I knew I liked what I wore. What were the details and core elements? Reviewing that and consciously looking for those things really helped me center myself again. What I loved then and what I love now is the same, but I’ve adapted it to my current lifestyle and trends.
My course, Perfectly Put Together, is all about helping you figure out exactly what you do and don’t love and how to create outfits you’ll love to wear. Once you know those details, you’ll know them for life and always know your style and be adapt to the trends as they come and go.