THE BLOG

Building a Wardrobe at Any Age, Lifestyle or Stage in Life

09/10/2013 11:59 am ET

It's the start of Fashion Week this past week, and while you may not be standing outside of the tents to be photographed, seated in the front row or even remotely paying attention, there is no better time of the year to address your own wardrobe.

Most are not all that concerned with fashion, per say, but all of us have to get dressed everyday and given this, our wardrobes still play a key role in our worlds. Even if you rarely step foot in a boutique or store, we all have to tend to this very thing. In fact, you might find that you have to a few times over the course of life. The wardrobe that worked in college doesn't necessarily translate to your days in the working world, which may not work for your life as a parent and so on. Let's not forget that we age during this process, as well as gain or lose weight and other changes and needs.

Without at least a decent base of clothes to work with, getting dressed every day can be a challenge. In fact, it doesn't just mean standing in front of your closet or trying on ten different things until something somewhat works. It can affect how we look and feel as well. Especially if our clothes are ill-fitting or out of date.

While there is plenty of advice and books out in the world to help, many of it is at a very top-level or may not fit into your individual wardrobe needs. For example, a 'crisp white button up,' is often on the list of wardrobe basics. But if such a thing doesn't feel comfortable to you, you're never going to wear it. Or, if you're lifestyle doesn't fit such a piece, you might buy it and a decade later find it yellowed from age in the back of your closet.

That being said, here's what advice can and does work for anyone -- of any lifestyle, age or stage in life:

1. Good wardrobes are smart. It might sound trite to think about your wardrobe beyond having what it takes to get dressed, but thinking it out actually saves time, money and makes getting what you need more efficient and on point. Just the same, not thinking about it can mean you are buying things you do not wear, or do not have the supporting pieces to wear with it to make it work. This also goes the same with budget -- a great wardrobe isn't about expensive or inexpensive but what's smart. Quality, fit and construction trump price tag, always, no matter what the price might be.

2. Good wardrobes are need -- not want -- centric first. Before you buy another item for yours, think about what you actually need. That doesn't mean just going into your closet and figuring out what is not there. This means also taking a minute to give your life and lifestyle a cursory look and ask yourself: How do I dress around my life? What do I find myself constantly wearing or reaching for? Your wardrobe needs to be based here first regardless of who you are.

3. Good wardrobes are about you. Forget the trends and the must-haves. They're good for a consideration here and there to keep things fresh and up to date, but a great wardrobe is always rooted in you -- your needs, your likes, your body, budget, etc. Trends may or may not fit into this. This also goes with colors you wear and choose. Don't feel bad if all you wear are dark colors if that's what works for you and what you like.

4. Good wardrobes are not large. It doesn't take three closets full of clothes to make a great wardrobe. In fact, you can have a relatively small one providing that it's well-selected and works for you, your needs and body type. Don't focus on having a lot to wear so much as having the right things to wear. If you want or need a large wardrobe from here, by all means create it. But for most, less is more.

5. Good wardrobes are appropriate. That doesn't mean you've got to wear stuffy blazers and dress pants just because you're thirty or forty or whatever. It doesn't mean you can't still enjoy the bit of sparkle or flair. It also doesn't mean that you've got to dress a certain way or style. What it does mean is that what you wear needs to be appropriate for where you are wearing it to, and of course, for your body type. So, as you build your wardrobe or decide what to wear, differentiate by what is appropriate for these things first.

6. Good wardrobes look like a pyramid. Basics are t-shirts, jeans, etc. and are the base. No matter what, given this, you'll need the most of these items first. From there, more elaborate, flashy, trendy or whatever else come next, with the least basic of items at the very top. This will make it a lot easier for you to actually wear what you own.