10 Ways to Build Your Dream Wardrobe

woman looking in her closet


We're willing to bet that if you opened your closet doors and stepped in front of them right now, you'd see a mashup of impulse buys, stuff you hardly wear but fantasize you will one day, pieces you really love and pieces you wear too often. Just imagine what it be like to open those doors and have a wardrobe that houses only your favorites. What would it be like to have pieces that can be mixed and matched for dozens of new outfits, and actually be able to shop what you have instead of sticking to five go-to looks?

That's where the perfect wardrobe comes in and we know you can build it because we're here to tell you how. No, it isn't easy and yes, it takes time, but nothing good is ever fast or easy. So, get ready to round up your self-control and look forward to having the best style of your life!

Take Stock and Define Your Style 

Start by going through your closet and defining the types of pieces you see most often. It doesn't matter if they go together, since this will just help you define your personal sense of style. And for most of us, it's a mixture of a few genres. I love boho in summer and spring, but for work, I'm a total 90s minimalist. And when it comes to the most casual days, I'm an androgynous tomboy. With this knowledge in hand, I can better pick out pieces that reflect what I'll be most likely to wear after I've bought them. Sure, I covet ultra girly pieces with frills, ribbons and bows, but I just don't end up wearing them. They're not really me, but they could be you.

Research Your Body Type 

We don't like standard definitions of shapes, like pear, apple, etc. They just don't fit most women and lead to advice that doesn't really work. It's better to define your body in terms of its individual makeup. For example, are you busty with slender hips? Full thighs or rear? Long-limbed? Knowing this is going to help you pick the most flattering pieces. Don't be afraid to try different styles on at stores and in your closet. Chances are your go-to pieces are the ones that flatter you most. Then try to stick with those general shapes and fits. 

Pick Your Palette 

Your hair and skin tone help determine the best shades for you. It's all about cool or warm. Cool-toned women look amazing in blues, crisp greens, black and white. Warm-toned ladies can rock cream, soft yellow, blush and other similar hues. (To determine your tone, visit this article.) Again, your go-to pieces are likely in the colors that look best on you, which is one reason why you revisit them over and over. 

Edit, Edit, Edit 

Go through your closet, taking out anything you don't absolutely love. It's tough, we know. The bar in your closet might look a little naked. Get rid of everything you can without totally stripping yourself of clothing options. If you have to put back some "meh" pieces, that's OK because hopefully, you've paid attention to what you actually want to keep.

Aim for a Versatile Base 

Now it's time to focus on building (don't forget to keep editing as you add better pieces). With every item you purchase, make sure it's a flattering color and a flattering fit, and ask yourself if it can be worn easily with other items you already own from jewelry to shoes. You might want to start with neutral pieces or classics you don't already own. If you're cool-toned, your neutrals are gray, black, navy or taupe. If you're warm-toned, a neutral will be a solid earth tone, like tan, off-white or moss. Don't forget that tights are a great transition item. They can be added to rompers, shorts and dresses you sported throughout summer. 

Pick Your Layers 

No truly great wardrobe is without layering pieces. T-shirts, tanks, cardigans and a couple of jackets and blazers or vests are must-haves. Long-sleeved tees are essential, as are lightweight sweaters you can wear over tanks. A few simple belts can transform shift dresses into different looks by wrapping up a layered cardigan or vest.

Et Tu, Trend? 

We've all done it — picked up trends that looked awful on us because we bought into the persona we hoped it would create. It's totally OK to have trendy items in your wardrobe, since trends keep your look relevant. Just pick them mindfully. Do they really flatter your figure? Is the color right for you? One trendy piece for every three or four versatile pieces is a good rule of thumb, in order to keep impulse buys in check. 

Add in Pieces for Balance and Lifestyle 

I haven't mentioned shoes yet because the best shoe wardrobe is one based on your lifestyle. City dwellers do better with mostly flats and a couple pairs of heels, while those of us who have the luxury of frequent car travel can stock up on stilettos. Live in Seattle? Then you'll need more rainy day gear than someone in Phoenix. Get it? After you've got your basics and trendy pieces, you need to make sure you're dressing for functional living, too. As for balance, look to add pieces that round out your closet. If it's all shift dresses, leggings and button-ups, don't forget that you might want to wear jeans at some point. You might only need one pair, since you wear them rarely, but a balanced wardrobe is a perfect wardrobe. 

Spice It Up with Statements 

It's so easy to go straight for the sequin-strewn mini dresses or the metallic jeggings, but this is something that you should buy rarely and ultimately consider an investment. Gorgeous statements really never go out of style, especially if they flatter you. Make your statements the things that truly round out your personal clothing collection. That's right, your clothes are no longer just your wardrobe, they're your curated collection. 

It's All About the Journey 

After you've built a wardrobe any fashionista would be proud of, filled with pieces that reflect your personality and your lifestyle, it's time to repeat the mantra: If I don't love it 100 percent, I don't buy it. Keep your eyes peeled, be choosy and remember that over the long run, your personal style is a journey.