Build a Better Business Wardrobe

One of my friends literally had a job opportunity fall into her lap last week that was an improvement over her previous position in so many ways: better work environment, more responsibility, and a pay raise. (Cha-ching!)

Talking over drinks she confided she was worried more than anything about what she was going to wear to her new workplace. It’s a struggle to find clothes that suit her body-type already; trying to add more professional pieces to her wardrobe while on a budget made it an even bigger challenge than usual. “I don’t want to buy a bunch of new stuff just to wear to work,” she complained.

It made me think about my own wardrobe journey, from the time when I had an overflowing closet (working at a clothing store didn’t help), to the time where I learned to let go of things I was holding onto just because I didn’t love myself. Even now I’m not totally satisfied with my clothing collection, so we ended up having a lot to commiserate about.

The capsule wardrobe is a concept that I’ve been contemplating for sometime now ever since I read The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. The idea is to pair down your wardrobe down to 33 key pieces (minus things like underwear, socks, workout clothes, etc.) that can mix and match with ease. (Although according to this article, most of us are doing it wrong.) The term was originally coined by London fashion boutique owner Susie Faux and has now become popularized through sites such as Project 333, which has a detailed explanation of the whole concept and a step-by-step guide on how to implement it into your own life. There’s even a psychological theory behind it- decision fatigue– which brought more attention to public figures such as Barack Obama and Mark Zuckerberg for their “uniform dressing”.

Unless you want to spend hours down the Google rabbit hole, I suggest not searching capsule wardrobe examples. (Besides, I did most of the work for you here on Pinterest.)  A lot of it is in the strategy- this breakdown really helped me to visualize how it might look if I tried to design one of my own.

After ransacking some ideas from here and here, my friend and I came up with a few work outfits using the clothes already in her closet- we just stuck to a neutral palette, incorporated some subtle patterns and shots of color, and brainstormed ways to layer pieces for the chillier months to come.

Honestly, most of us just want to get up and go to work with as little hassle as possible. Cutting down on her clothing choices, and leaving her only with outfits that were coordinated and classy is making her leave for work a more confident woman every morning. Creating a capsule wardrobe isn’t really for the faint of heart- it does take time and effort- but for someone looking to create a better business wardrobe it seemed totally worth the effort.

And as for me? Well, I might have gotten a little inspired too. Let’s just say that we all know what I’m going to be doing this weekend, and it’s probably going to have something to do with my closet.

Have you experimented with a capsule wardrobe in your life? Did it make a difference on how you dressed for work? Let us know what worked for you (or if it didn’t!) or email me at keepingbusyb@gmail.com. I could use your advice too!

Or, hey- maybe you’re totally not into this capsule wardrobe thing anyway. This article makes a good argument for how our obsession to minimize our closets is taking away our personality and sense of style. Is she right? You be the judge!

 

 

My New Wardrobe Rule

KBB_clutchesI used to play this sad little game with myself whenever I was having a bad day- I would go into my closet and I would pick out my most hated outfit and wear with an angry kind of pride, as if I wanted to project to all of the world that I was having a bad day. I was determined to make myself look as ugly on the outside as I felt on the inside.

The worst was whenever I received a compliment at the office or out on the street about the outfit that I had chosen. I couldn’t understand how clothing that I felt made me look frumpy and bloated could be admired by a stranger. Maybe they were just being nice in order to mock me, or worse, pity me. Then I’d get angry and think, “How dare you try to ruin my bad mood with your kind words!”

I am so twisted.

One day I was explaining this weird little habit to a friend of mine when he held up his hand to stop me. “Wait, hold on. Why do you keep clothes that you don’t like?”

So maybe he was a guy and he didn’t really understand. Or maybe I was the one not getting it. After all, I had half a closet’s worth of clothes that I didn’t wear half of the time because I had grown sick of them, or because they were old and had fallen out of fashion.

I think I said something crazy like I needed variety and we both thought it was weird so he dropped the subject, but ultimately in this scenario I really was the crazy person because I could not let go of things that made me feel badly about myself.

It took a lot of soul-searching but I eventually decided that I did not want to be that person that held on to things for the sake of having “things”. I wanted, I deserved, to fill my home with only the things that I loved. Why shouldn’t that ultimatum apply to clothing and accessories as well?

So I purged my closet of all of the things that no longer fit, were bad choices, or- let’s face it- were just plain unflattering. My wardrobe was decidedly slimmer, but I was satisfied- it was actually really easy to give up an abundance of choices in favor of a smaller wardrobe full of favorites that made me look and feel good.

It may seem silly to think of re-organizing or purging your closet as something that can improve your life emotionally, but paring down my wardrobe using my new rule has given me a boost in my self-esteem. I still have the occasional bad hair day (like, pretty much every other day) but I’m buoyed by the knowledge that even though I might feel like I’m dying on the inside, outwardly I can project an image of competence and self-confidence and show people the best of myself even when I’m feeling at my worst.

Plus, it makes getting out of the door in the morning way easier for this night owl. Trust me on this one.

KBwB-BFlower-50Have you undertaken a closet re-organization lately? I want to hear all of the grisly details. Indulge me below or drop me a line at keepingbusyb@gmail.com. And if you’re looking for even more inspiration on how to get your wardrobe just the way you want it, I’ve got some best practices for organizing your clothing and more here.