In April 2019, I had the pleasure of speaking at the She’s Unstoppable LIVE! Conference for women in Real Estate located in Dulles, VA. It was such an honor to be among a group of incredibly successful women, including Dottie Herman, Tracy Tutor and Anna Killinski.
I spoke to this group about the importance of building a wardrobe that makes you feel confident and allows you to reach your goals. I believe your wardrobe should be a tool to help you get through stressful days, not be the cause of stressful mornings.
I shared 4 steps to building a work wardrobe. You can watch the video and read the 4 steps below. In the video, I reference a DIY workbook, you can download it here and follow along!
The first and most important step in this process is defining your personal style. Defining your personal style creates some guidelines to help you stay on track while building your wardrobe. Your style definition will become your identity.
Clothing is a way to tell people who you are without saying a word. So it’s really important to send a consistent message with your clothing.
Follow these steps to get started…
Ask yourself, “how do I want to feel when I leave the house in the morning?” Visualize your highest self so you can start showing up as her.
Then ask yourself, what does this woman look like? Is she wearing a red suit? Jeans and a tee shirt? Something sparkly? You get to decide. Just be authentic!
In the workbook, there are several other questions that will help you shape your personal style, like, what colors are your drawn to? What city represents your personal style? What are your style non-negotiables? Do you need to wear flats? Prefer easy-to-launder clothing?
Write it all down and get very clear about your needs.
Step 2 : Clear the Clutter
Once you’ve defined your personal style, it’s time to clear the clutter. Whatever you do, do not skip this step. Starting with a clean slate is incredibly important to the success of this process.
Chances are, you’re probably wearing only 10-20% of the clothes in your closet. Those skeletons in your closet are wasting your time and contributing to your stressful mornings.
Your closet full of “nothing to wear” is wasting your precious time. So, get to work….
Try on everything in your wardrobe. There are clues in the clothes you keep. And exploring those clues will help you learn your likes and dislikes so you can build a practical wardrobe. Ask yourself…
What do I love about this? Hate about this?
Do I love the bold color or ruffle detail?
Do I hate floral prints and the buttons are always popping open?
Have I discovered I still love this top and it just made it’s way out of rotation?
Or did I receive as a gift and never really liked it in the first place?
All this information is incredibly helpful when you move on to your next step – shopping. So write it all down! Then, keep it, donate it, consign it, tailor it and move on.
Step 3 : Shop With Intention
By this time, you’ve defined your personal style, you have a strong understanding of your likes and dislikes and you have discarded the items that are no longer serving you.
It’s finally time to rebuild with intention – AKA, go shopping! Be careful here – shopping is emotional. You walk into a store and get caught up in the beauty, aesthetics and excitement.
Every time I walk into Anthropologie, I mentally move to the Pacific Northwest, grow my hair really long and wear tons of jewelry, fringe and hats. Then I walk into Club Monaco and I’ve moved back east – to NYC, I work in a high rise and live in a loft…
It’s very easy to make purchases that look pretty, but serve no purpose in your life and wardrobe. And our goal is to make confident purchases.
Here’s what I recommend to ensure a successful shopping trip…
Make a budget ahead of time – on the way to the mall is not the time to do this!
Define your overall budget and per item item budget.
Shop in stores that are appropriate for your budget. This allows you to be style driven, not price driven. If you’re shopping in a store that is out of your budget, you’re going to be forced to look for items that are on sale. Rather than items you love. You’ll end up buying pieces that are “good enough” and run into the same problem you started with.
Create a shopping list – use your personal style definition from step one and your likes and dislikes from step 2 to create a DETAILED shopping list. Do not stray from the list. Your shopping list should say things like…..
A lightweight, printed dress to wear to summer work events.
Or, a soft and casual blazer that can be worn over dresses and skirts.
Lastly, TAKE YOUR TIME – don’t rush through this. Show up at a store, pull several items, try them on, take photos, then put them on hold and leave the store. Repeat this in about 3-5 stores or as many as you need to feel like you’ve seen enough options. Then take a rest, have lunch, review your budget and photos and ONLY then, go back and make purchases. It seems different than how you’ve shopped in the past but it will cut back on impulse purchases.
Step 3 : Style
Lastly, it’s time to style it all together to build that arsonal of amazing outfits! It’s important to integrate your new clothes into your wardrobe. We’re all creatures of habit and have a tendency to go back to what we know. For this reason, you’re new clothes might hang in the closet unworn of you skip this step.
Block some time off in your calendar. Get a cup of tea or glass of wine, crank up the tunes and play dress up in your own closet. Get creative and make as many outfit combination as you can! Have fun, experiment!
Take photos and save them to your phone so you can revisit them anytime you’re feeling lost or uninspired.