Find Part 1 of this series here!
There are many approaches to take when assembling a wardrobe. Because I’m a mom addressing moms, I’m taking a route that is tailored to a busy lifestyle with set budgets and limited shopping time. As a mom, I want my wardrobe to be versatile, accommodating, and enjoyable with little effort. I don’t want to spend very much time or money and yet look put together. If you feel the same way, come join me as we talk about the first step to an elastic wardrobe!
How do I know whether I'm "in style"?
Along with keeping a budget on time and money, I want to know that I look “in style.” I don’t want to stick out like a sore thumb in a crowd. I may know to avoid mom jeans, but how do I know the rest of my clothing choices don’t suck?
I’ve struggled with this question before. And rather than investigating the answer, I tended to continue pursuing my own personal idea of style while barely noticing the style trends around me. I would end up with a collection of clothes that only seemed to match up with current trends on occasion and usually only by chance. It was frustrating. It’s not that I wanted to be trendy, I just wanted to look like I understood how to put an outfit together in my time era.
The extent of the desire to be “in style” will vary from person to person but I want this post to provide a simple way that you can ensure you are creating a wardrobe that is flexible for both the mommy life and the era we live in.
A wardrobe that is timeless with a nod at current trends
Here is how I recommend pulling off the flexible wardrobe that is both timeless and in style: think of your wardrobe in two parts.
- The foundation. It includes the bulk of your wardrobe and the basics that you start your outfits with. It is the “timeless” part. And what makes it timeless is its minimalism. For example: jeans, white t-shirt, beige striped t-shirt, gray sweater, navy cardigan, knit scarf. These are “basic” clothing items that somewhat transcend a few decades of time both because of their function and their color. Basic functions and neutral colors. You want a solid base of this type of clothing to build the next part on. The next part is your style within the trends.
- The fluff. I just couldn’t help alliterating. You could also go with “the foundation and the fun” or “the foundation and the furthermore.” The second part of your wardrobe brings fresh relevance to the timeless pieces in it by including items that strongly reflect current styles. But it also reflects a bit more about you. How? By only incorporating the trends that also reflect your personality, likes, and dislikes. Perhaps that’s denim and jumpsuits, or stripes and chambray. If it’s a current trend that speaks to you, it goes in the “fluff.”
You may be wondering: “How do I know something is timeless—or what’s trending for that matter?” I truly believe that the bridge between feeling clueless and in-the-know is simply a little bit of interest. I like to encourage moms to use Pinterest as an easy way to discover what is classic, what is trending, and what they love most from each. Simply type in “popular fashion trends [insert year]” and scroll for a few minutes. You’ll start to pick up patterns and make connections to what you’ve seen the women around you wearing.
You can also search “timeless fashion” to be reminded of the kinds of clothing pieces and ensembles that have been around for a long time and are likely not going away soon. Alternately, try searching for “capsule wardrobes” to receive inspiration for foundation pieces. Capsule wardrobes are often built around classics and basics and bloggers often create helpful graphics displaying a full capsule wardrobe together.
Another great source for both the timeless and the trending is simply browsing Target’s or Old Navy’s online inventory. There is always a mix of both the foundational and the trending “fluff” in their selection, and classics are often labeled as such.
And of course, on this blog I will be posting about this subject, incorporating both the classic and the trending styles in a way that is most relevant to moms.
That doesn’t sound too hard does it? Okay, on to turning these trends into you.
A wardrobe that reflects you
I once heard an excellent clarification (thanks Mallory Sills!) between the meaning of style and fashion. Fashion is everything that is available out there at any point in time. Style is what you do with it. In other words, style is how you use fashion to create a look that speaks to you.
Before you start to renovate your wardrobe to become more elastic, it’s helpful to be aware that you have your own style preferences (even if they aren’t currently reflected in your wardrobe).
What colors, patterns, and fashion trends make your heart leap? Are you a polka-dot type of girl? Or do you see stripes and geometric shapes when imagining the perfect shopping find? Perhaps both! Maybe you're more into solid colors and adding texture with scarves. Or perhaps you imagine yourself in the vintage cotton dresses on ModCloth. Some of these preferences will show up in your foundation wardrobe, but the fluff of your wardrobe is where much of your personal style will shine.
To ensure your style is relevant not only to you but also to the year in which you’re living *wink*, look for your favorite clothing features among the current style trends (browse Pinterest, online stores, or this blog).
Here's a snapshot of the board I've created to reflect which direction I want to take my wardrobe:
Keep in mind that how you wear something can sometimes matter as much as what you wear. Something “in style” might make you look like a time traveler from the 90’s if you don’t combine it the way it is being combined today. Big knit sweaters are in right now. If you love this style, just make sure you wear it right: with skinny jeans or leggings and ankle booties for example. You wouldn’t want to wear it with corduroys, stirrups, or curly pouf bangs—cause yeah, you would definitely no longer look relevant. Oh man, are you getting visions of days gone by right now? Cause I am. Anyway, the point is: a clothing piece can either look in style or out of style depending on how you wear it! Pinterest can certainly help with this too.
Creating a wardrobe around classics that also reflects your favorites from trending styles is a key to promoting elasticity, but there’s another factor that is just as important. Let’s look at that next.
A Wardrobe That Reflects Your Mommy Life
Perhaps you've done some browsing. You notice you really gravitate towards skinny jeans or knee-length cotton dresses. You catch glimpses of what's in style for those categories. How do you know you'll want to wear these clothes when you wake up to another day in the mommy trenches?
It's crucial to consider your stage in life when developing a concept of your style. Otherwise you'll create a wardrobe of your dreams that doesn't fit your lifestyle. And it will go unused. That's the opposite of our goal with an elastic wardrobe.
Think about the specific characteristics your clothing needs to accommodate your life. Perhaps you're a nursing mom, or are out and about driving kids around in the cold, or are newly pregnant—with twins! (Just threw that in there for extra excitement.) Write down a few clothing features you need. For example:
The nursing mom
- Easy nursing access
- Excellent bust support and coverage
- Able to wear with layers (I constantly vacillated between cold and boiling as a nursing mom!)
The driving mom
- Comfortable for sitting
- Casual but chic
The pregnant mom
- Elastic waist
- Some stretch to tops
- Extra length for the tummy
Keep these notes handy as you browse the classics and the current styles online. Notice (and make note of) pieces that accommodate your fashion-style and life-style best!
A wardrobe that gets along with itself
Color, color, color. It’s a beautiful thing! We want some color in our wardrobes. To create versatility though, we want color agreement. One of the things that frustrated me about my wardrobe in the past was the lack of combinations I could create out of my clothes. Most of my tops only went with a small subset of bottoms and one or two necklaces and earrings. This was due to the wide range of uncomplementary colors in my wardrobe. I actually used to purposefully shop for color multiplicity, thinking it would increase my outfit variations. But I ended up collecting clothes that didn’t agree with each other and rarely got worn in more than one way.
It doesn’t have to be this way. As moms, we need the ability to easily imagine dozens of outfit combinations by simply looking into our closet and drawers. And to make this possible, we need to establish our personal color palette and stick to it every time we shop. (Don't worry, your can add or subtract colors over the years to change things up!)
Depending on how much of a color-lover you are, your palette may be heavier the on neutrals or it might be quite varied. How much color you choose is up to you. Also what colors you choose is up to you. However, we want to choose colors that work with one another.
I recommend starting your color palette with 3 or 4 neutrals. Choose from black, gray, navy, white, beige, or brown.
Now add 2-4 accent colors.
As an example, here is my current color palette:
Each accent color should combine well with at least one other accent color. It’s best if it combines with two or three of them.
How do I know which accent colors are complementary? Here's an easy rule of thumb: colors opposite each other on the color wheel usually complement each other well (providing contrast).
You can also move across a third of the color circle to the left or right from one color and will usually find a complementary color; move across another third and you’ll find another complementary color. Moving another third will bring you back to your initial color. Another way of thinking of it is cutting the color circle into three equal pieces; the colors on the dividing lines are often complementary.
Colors that are side by side on the wheel often clash (e.g. pink and red).
You can use the excellent free tool at https://color.adobe.com to figure out what colors are complementary and even create your very own palette!
To make the process easier, start with the color you most love wearing (other than a neutral) and then find another color that is complementary that you also like. The third color (if you choose a third) only needs to complement one of the first two colors.
Now it’s your turn
Follow these steps to help you identify your style and the color palette for your elastic wardrobe.
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2. If you haven't already, do a bit of browsing on your favorite store's site to see what's popular. Use Pinterest to find everything from "classic fashion" to "popular fashion of [insert year]." On the back of the worksheet you printed out, scribble a few of the things you like and fit your lifestyle needs from these categories.
3. Now look through your closet and drawers and also write down the dominant themes and the common colors you come across (e.g. floral, yellow, skirts, denim, gray, fitted, etc.). Put a tally mark next to colors and themes each time they re-appear.
4. Name your style by thinking about the dominant characteristic. "My style is bohemian." Or "my style is simple and functional with a few surprises." Flip your worksheet over to the front and fill that in on the assigned line.
5. Imagine ten items that would be in your dream closet (include any dream pieces that you already own!). For example: denim jacket, striped maxi skirt, colorful tee, cognac riding boots, red statement necklace, etc. Fill those into the ten spaces on the worksheet.
6. Look at the colors and tally marks on the back of the worksheet. Pick the most dominant colors (both neutrals and accents) and add them to your color palette (if you have a lot of this color, it’s probably because you love it!). Using your kids’ color pencils, markers, or crayons, fill in the circles on the worksheet. If you aren't happy with the colors in your wardrobe, you can use Adobe’s color wheel to help you find new colors. However, unless you're planning to chuck everything and start over, make sure the new color(s) work with a lot of what's already in your closet.
Great job, Momma! You now have a style guide to help shape an elastic wardrobe that really shouts YOU and [insert year]! In the next few posts, we will talk about how you can put it to good use to shape an elastic wardrobe without breaking the bank.
What did you name your style? Let us know in the comments below!