The wardrobe is ‘pregnant’ with clothes and the shoe shelf looks like bad cavity. Now, when was the last time you wore that particular top? Yes, it is that time of the year again. To edit your wardrobe and welcome new pieces into your life! Wondermika editor and former senior fashion editor at Cosmopolitan and The Women’s Weekly, Mel, shares her tips on how to curate your wardrobe like a pro – which pieces to cull, which ones to keep and what to do with your pre-loved treasures. Mel says, “having a well curated wardrobe isn’t just about being able to style between foundation pieces seamlessly but is also about supporting sustainable fashion.” She adds that the less money you waste on disposable fashion, the more you will be able to invest in high quality pieces that can last longer. So, here you go. 20 pieces, 100 looks: Your Ultimate Wardrobe Capsule!
Let’s start by editing out pieces that you no longer need.
Keep or toss? Answer the wardrobe edit quiz to help you decide
- Does it still fit you well?
- Have you worn it within the last 3 months?
- Can you match it with at least 3 other things from your wardrobe?
- Is it comfortable to wear?
If you answer ‘No’ to at least one of the questions, you have enough grounds to remove the item from your wardrobe. Mel says, “There is no point keeping shoes that hurt your feet or clothes that don’t fit you well. Plus, if you own something that’s hard to match with the rest of your wardrobe, chances are, you won’t really wear it.” Read till the end of this guide to learn how you can make some money from your preloved treasures.
Now that you know what you should keep, identify foundation pieces which you might have had all along.
Identify your ‘foundation pieces’. “Foundation pieces are not the regular staples/basics but pieces that have been carefully selected so that they can be a great base piece and also be used to dress up a look,” advises Mel.
These are pieces that can be matched with almost anything, easy to wear and easy to care for. “But careful to not just pick plain pieces, pick things that have an edge to them or a particular cut that makes them special,” adds Mel. Don’t pick things that are too trendy as you’ll soon find that they will quickly look outdated. Curate something that you can continuously build on and refresh. To keep up with trends, you can match the trendy pieces with your top 20 instead of building a disposable collection.
Here are examples of great foundation pieces you can build on picked by Mel:
- A well-made crisp white shirt
- A tartan jacket that works for the office and casual days
- A quality black blazer
- A quality white blazer
- A well-made bustier in leather or luxe material
- A baroque shirt with a dark/black base
- Forgiving jeans
- A sleeveless structured dress that can be used as a long vest
- A quality dress in structured material
- A dark mustard skirt
- Black pants preferably cigarette, tapered or fitted. According to Vogue UK edits, tapered pants are a hit!
- A luxurious leather skirt in black
- A dark blue maxi skirt with soft fabric that drape beautifully and a waist band
- A midi skirt in luxe materials. Here it is in opulent purple
- A light multi-colour sweater that can be layered over and under with colours that match your other foundation pieces
- An olive green cardigan or a shade that can match your other foundation pieces easily
- Quality high heels in black
- Quality cut-out buckle boots or your choice of ankle boots
- Statement high heel boots that can go from parties to casual chic days
- A black clutch with gold details that can double as rings when you carry them or one with a quality gold chain
“We’ve carefully selected these pieces and it is fairly easy to find similar pieces. We would however advise you to tailor-make some special pieces such as the long structured dress with large black lapels,” says Mel. “It may seem quite an adventure to round up these foundation pieces but the styling results are amazing.” Look at your existing pieces and see what you need to hunt for to complete the 20. Before narrowing it down to these 20 pieces, we’ve watched heaps of international runway shows and stalked the world’s fashion authorities to make sure that you are taking home a quality styling guide.
See how you can style 100 looks out of these 20 foundation pieces!
So why are we calling it wardrobe curating and not just editing?
Because curating the wardrobe needs careful selection of pieces that can be used to build a collection which can last you a long time. And a well curated wardrobe only needs minimal fresh additions over time with the objective to further increase the overall styling options. It is a timeless collection. By the way, this guide was made possible thanks to the easy-to-use outfit layouts by
Adding a white shirt under the bustier gives you more looks instantly. Look how versatile this combo is. Imagine what you can do if you eventually add more foundation pieces to your first 20?
A great sweater can take you from work to wow with just a change of bottoms. Find a sweater that is light enough to be layered over or under other foundation pieces for versatility. Colour choice is extremely important as you will want to match your sweater with the other foundation pieces seamlessly and even without thinking about it. Look at your overall wardrobe colours and try to find a sweater that can work across most pieces.
See how the perfect choice of colours for the sweater can be layered over or under so many looks! Add white to freshen up the look, black for evenings and neutral for work.
The sleeveless structured dress is quite an unusual piece but we love it! It adds a stylish look to all of the foundation pieces. You can get a bespoke piece made for you at your favourite tailor. That way, you can also customise the length to suit your height. We also saw a similar look on a Reed Krakoff runway.
The baroque printed shirt might have been the last thing you expected to see in a foundation piece list. However, the black base really helps with matching it with the rest of the pieces. Pick a print that has gold in it. A gold print against black is really easy to style as seen above.
See the difference when you add a white blazer? The baroque shirt is more versatile than you think. It’s also a very chic piece to wear. White blazers are easy to find. Try a blazer that is slightly longer and goes below your bum. It’s a perfect length for easy styling.
More looks using the baroque printed shirt layered under the bustier. How luxe are the combos?
Don’t be afraid to experiment with layering. Fashion stylists layer the most unexpected combos at shoots all the time. It gives your foundation pieces more wear time. Here, versatility is key. Pick an LBD with a fitted bottom to be able to pull this off.
We’re still inspired by Anne Hathaway’s style in the Devil Wears Prada where she layered a white shirt under a black dress. See what else you can do above by using that combo as a base idea.
A light and well made cardigan is a great foundation piece. Layer over or under according to the occasion. A cardigan will look chic with paired with a luxurious looking skirt. Find a skirt with luxe texture to add interest instead of a plain black skirt. You will be amazed!
Now, push your styling skills further by teaming the sweater and cardi together with other foundation pieces. This is where it is important to keep the pieces light to ensure easy layering.
Neutral pieces can be very chic if styled properly. The colour really ‘pops’ when paired with something white or green, blue and aqua. See how fresh yet soothing the combo above looks.
Maxi skirt lovers, this is for you. A great maxi skirt is one that has fine gathers at the waist and made of soft fabric which falls nicely against your curves. Stiff fabric will only add bulk and will look less graceful. Try fabrics like chiffon, jersery or silk. This beauty is from Lanvin. Many highstreet stores sell great maxi skirts, so finding a great one will not be impossible.
Now, you absolutely must add a skirt in a jewel tone into your foundation pieces list. Jewel tones are great as they add a luxe look to your ensemble.
The great thing about this is that jeans are easy to find. We prefer fitted or skinny jeans as they can be layered over very easily. Stretchable jeans are great at highlighting curves. Otherwise, you can also try boot leg cuts.
A wardrobe foundation will not be complete without the classic black fitted pants. “ZARA makes great pieces that even have those thick waist bands which can hold the tummy in,” says Mel who has bought one of those ‘magical’ pants. Please note that these are not leggings but proper fitted pants. Leggings will not give you the same effect especially when tucking something in. Again, your best bet is to find a quality piece since you might be wearing it over and over again.
Now that you have the best 20 pieces that you can style into 100 looks, imagine the possibilities when you simply add a few more quality pieces?
Turning clothes into cash
Now, what do you do with all the pieces that you no longer want to wear? It depends. If they are designer pieces, you can always trade them for money at consignment shops like Designer Archives or Yoogi’s Closet. If you know a good luxury consignment store near you, that would be easier to manage, logistically. If you are dealing with regular brands, try swapping it at op shops for quick cash. Mel once sold her preloved treasures to her colleagues at the magazines when she needed a wardrobe overhaul following her new baby boy. You’ll be surprised how your colleagues or friends appreciate the things you have.
Finding quality pieces you can afford
Building a fabulous wardrobe with quality pieces can cost you less money if you do consignment shopping. It’s a perfect way to collect quality designer pieces at a much lower prices and sometimes you can buy preloved. Or, you can also try shopping from your friends’ closets. This way, they too can recoup some money to purchase what they’ve had their eyes on.
So, what do you think? We hope you find this guide useful.
Share this story with your friends and family to help them manage their wardrobe or even print it out when hunting for your own foundation pieces. Have fun with curating your own wardrobe!
Here’s to sustainable fashion and a well curated wardrobe for the year ahead and beyond.