1. Do not duplicate your basic colours. Choose between black or navy or brown (which is now the new black). Build your wardrobe as you would a house – foundation first, then add and embellish, mix and match, and enrich season after season, year after year, always keeping the same foundation.
2. You should have a selection of hot (warm), cool, basic and light colours in your wardrobe.
a) Hot colours – red, peach, pumpkin, purple, lilac, coral, yellow, pink, wine or burgundy
b) Cold colours – blue, teal, emerald, turquoise, apple green, aqua, midnight blue, mint, bottle green.
c) Basic colours – navy, black, grey, brown, stone, tan.
d) Light colours – white, ivory, cream
3. Most mistakes result from having too many bottoms and very few tops. You need to have at least five tops for every skirt or trousers you own. People will always notice your top half more than your bottom half.
4. The trick is to work with a few items of clothing in different colours, styles, silhouettes and fabrics that will co-ordinate with each other.
5. Be consistent and keep everything toned. These pieces are the skeleton of your wardrobe. Colours and prints will come later as you add tops, scarves and other pieces.
6. Tops and bottoms with different printed patterns will not mix and match well. It is best to buy your major print first (one you absolutely love), and then pick up the plain colours from the strongest colours in the print. 75% of your wardrobe should be plain colours, 25% could be prints.
7. The first step is to figure out your lifestyle needs, and plan your wardrobe around them. In the beginning it takes time and patience to work this puzzle out.
8. When you start to build your basic foundation wardrobe, try to use a total lifestyle concept, which will accommodate both formal and informal wear. You should not need to have a section in your wardrobe for “smart” and another section for “casual” clothes. Each piece in your wardrobe may come from a different lifestyle group, but when coordinated they should look great together.
9. Each item of clothing you buy must mix and match with at least three other pieces in your existing wardrobe – in that case if you have say 30 items in your closet and each of them goes with three other outfits, you will have ninety completely different combinations to wear. This is what creates a totally versatile wardrobe.
10. It is far more versatile to mix and match separates than dresses, so try to limit the number of dresses in your wardrobe. You can always wear a top and skirt together to look like a dress, but they can also be coordinated with other items. This will not only save you money, but will give you many more outfits to wear.
11. Shapes of clothes need to be classically simple, pure, clean. Details also – nothing too fashiony – keep them simple. All the shapes must work together, so that a jacket can be worn with not just one skirt or trousers, but with two or three, and perhaps with a dress as well. If you find one shape that suits you and that you love in any items (trousers, blouses, sweaters), and if it works as a good basic, stick to it. You could even buy several in that shape, of course in tones that suit you.
12. If you need to span seasonal changes, begin with your autumn / winter clothes. Winter fabrics are more expensive and therefore winter clothes are more expensive. It is best to begin looking for pieces that are seasonless – silk blouses, wool sweaters, cardigans (which be worn as summer jackets), raincoats with button out linings, jersey pieces which can be layered on in colder weather and worn alone in summer.
13. If you spend most of your time in a work environment, you will be surrounded by many of the same people every day. You will want to change your look each day for them as well as for yourself. For this kind of flexibility you will need a minimum of twelve pieces of clothes:
a) Two jackets
b) Three skirts or trousers
c) Four blouses or tops
d) Two sweaters
e) One dress
These twelve items will create four suits, three dress and jacket looks, and several skirt / trouser and sweater combinations.
14. You should be able to wear at least 70% of your clothes on a regular basis. The other 30% should be fashionable items, evening wear and so on.
a) 50% of your clothes should be basics i.e. part of your permanent wardrobe which you are continually building upon
b) 30% should be fashionable basics i.e. a blouse or cardigan in this year’s colour and which you should be able to keep wearing for years.
c) 20% should be high fashion items, which you will probably only wear for a few months or a year or so. These could be tops, scarves, or shoes, even bottoms. These will make you feel up to date and not frumpy. However they should be in the right styles and colours for you