Mar 6, 2017

[Column] How To Create Your Own Style ::: Instead Of Buying A New Fashion Item, Create New Outfit Combinations

20 Ways to Create Your Own Style Series #04

Principle 4. Instead Of Buying A New Fashion Item, Create New Outfit Combinations

Is your wardrobe filled with stuff, but there is nothing to wear?!

This is a common complaint from women that men find hard to fathom. But this happens! We buy, and buy, but we still need that new ‘New Thing!’

You probably have the experience of buying a pair of new shoes, then you realize none of your skirts really match the shoes, and you end up buying a new skirt, blouse, bag, and get yourself a new hairdo too! See, THIS is the trap of shopping!! You started out thinking that a new pair of shoes would totally give your wardrobe the right fix… you were so convinced! But none of your existing stuff really went with the new shoes… At the end of the day, what is left in your hands is a lighter wallet…

Today, we will find strategies to prevent this~

What is an Outfit Ensemble?
First, let’s take a look at what an outfit extends to. In our mother’s generation, they used to call it an ‘ensemble’ but nowadays we tend to call it an ‘outfit.’ Clothes used to be divided into ‘everyday clothes’ to wear outside the home and ‘home clothes,’ but as urban life demanded professionalism and with the advent of various media like TV, magazine, and internet, we have become acculturated to a new level of sophistication. We became sensitized to what our favorite TV characters were wearing, often becoming emotionally invested in them, or our fashion magazines pushed us to model-status beauty and designer-led garb. Our jobs, increasingly favored those who looked the part and exuded higher levels of professionalism; if you wanted to get ahead, you better be something more distinguished than a ‘regular reliable worker bee.’ So now, an outfit doesn’t just ‘cover us up’ to look decent enough, it needs at least some level of visible polish and refinement. And it is usually the well chosen jewelry and accessories that complement our fabric garments that holistically create our much desired ‘mood’ and ‘authentic alluring image.’

Enter Capsule Wardrobe System
Second, we look at the concept of a capsule wardrobe! A Capsule Wardrobe was devised to solve the issue of ‘never having enough outfits’ with the minimal number of items. A capsule consists of well planned out pieces that ALL work together to create the maximum number of mix-and-matches. Colors are limited to 3 usually, and a capsule may contain 5 to 8 items minimum. Example) A jacket, three tops, and three bottoms = 7 items.

As can be seen in the image example, this capsule is limited to black, cream, and red. The common erroneous belief is that having MORE colors or designs will give a HIGHER number of outfits. But contrary to this mistaken idea, you actually create more wearable outfits by having LESS colors and designs! I know this sounds so counter-intuitive! Note also, how this capsule favored only solid colors in the mix, and very basic shapes with no design details that draw attention. You really want these base items in your wardrobe real estate if you want to make your dollars perform for you! Keeping them solid and simple helps you create the maximum number of outfits possible and easy to mix and match. These well chosen basic items will become your friendly allies in creating your most functional and optimal wardrobe.

Once your capsule items are set, now you get to have the fun from choosing your ‘accessories ensemble.’ You can opt for serious glasses and work watch, stud earrings, smart comfortable work shoes, and a briefcase sized bag for an interview or big meeting on the job. For celebrating your friend’s birthday or going out clubbing, you can jazz it up with sexy long boots, big earrings, bracelets, and a slightly new hairdo, and some dramatic eye makeup. For attending a wedding or a church event, you can go with your cream outfit, with a silk scarf and some pearls to suit the mood.

3 Tips for Successful Coordination

1. ‘The Rule of Core Fours’
If you are currently suffering from your wardrobe blues, begin with this rule of ‘Core Fours.’ In Japan this is known as the ‘Rule of Creating Sets’ and in the West, it is known as the ‘Rule of Core Fours.’ First, choose your main color that you confidently wear the most often. Let’s pretend that it’s black, you want to make sure that you have a jacket-top-skirt-pants that are all in good condition and look great on you. These are your ‘Core Fours in Black.’

Even if you’re going for the brighter colors, go for Core Fours in them.

Once you start following this rule, creating new combinations becomes super easy and quick! You’ll look slimmer because your top and bottom create something called ‘a column of color’ and with lines that accentuate your best assets, you’ll totally look classy. Just having these four well matched cores, will now give you a sense of color identity, instantly helps you look slimmer, and you now have 4 ready-to-go ensembles!

1. Top + Pants
2. Top + Skirt
3. Top + Pants + Jacket
4. Top + Skirt + Jacket

Oftentimes when I felt like I had nothing to wear, invariably it was those times when I had a lot of ‘Wardrobe Orphans’ that were not part of a ‘Core Four.’ Instances like none of my black tank tees were exactly right, I had a pair of black pants that became a size too small over the Winter, or that expensive black jacket just hung there and my hand somehow kept evading it. When you lack the core four, a well matched set, coordinating for an outfit becomes a headache. So from now on, instead of retail therapy, it’s time for you to go excavating in your own wardrobe! Check for colors that form a Core Four. You may discover that your actually don’t have a set of blacks that work together, but end up with a White Set that had been dormant till now, or a surprising wealth of seven navy items~!

2. Create Your Own UNIFORM!

When you observe your unworn clothes hanging in the closet, most of the times these are items that were in trend that really caught your eye, or bought during the season’s change transitions. In other words, these are the items you bought that did not adhere to ‘Your Own Uniform.’ As humans are creatures of habit, clothes you wear everyday tend to fall into 2~3 outfit formulas. Like wearing a dress, or top+pants, cardigan+skirt, you usually have a set formula you’re following. For men, this might be choosing from a jacket or a cardigan, choosing between a shirt or T-shirt, and selecting between a suit pant or chino pants.

My biggest shopping mistakes were found in my scarves and belts. Especially for Spring and Fall scarves. I could never find the right ones, and the reason was that I kept buying scarf designs that were outside of ‘My Uniform’ realm! Maybe it’s because in Spring I wanted to look more elegant, and in Fall I wanted to Trenchcoat Chic, I kept buying classic feminine scarves that ended up never being worn! I was so mystified! They always looked so appropriate in glossy magazines! Why is this not working out for me?! Well, it turns out, I’m a very casual dresser – I almost always wear a pair of jeans or skinny jeans. And those scarves were a better match for dresses or suit skirts. If I had been aware of ‘My Uniform Formula’ I would have gone for casual or semi-casual belts and scarves. And these would have really dressed things up and be worn regularly.

Write down what you wore today, and what combination of top and bottom you wore yesterday. Then figure out what ‘Your Uniform’ for the week is in advance. Maybe it’s 5 tops with 3 bottoms, with a weekend top and bottom… Or you might want to list up 40 of your items to form a “Uniform Capsule.”

3. Up-Cycling~~

Third method of refreshing your wardrobe without shopping is to not just recycle but Up-Cycle something you already own. Take your unworn long coat in for a trim, make it a half-coat. The mafia-mama fox fur coat your Mom wore in the 80s in a decent condition can be taken in for shearing of the sleeves to give you a really neat fur trimmed vest for driving. Your Dad’s suit jacket he no longer needs after retirement can become your sexy new suit-dress. Or his big size Burberry shirt can become your sleeveless shirt style dress! There are so many fun ways to bring the Newness into your wardrobe! UpCycling is not only wallet-friendly, but it is a step forward for the environment. In London there is a specialty boutique that helps you alter your clothes to create a new look. For those of you savvy sewers, you can create new styles as a challenge, and for the rest of us, we can always find a local alteration shop to help us get there!

Wishing you a lovely Spring week wherever you are!

Jessica in Seoul

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