Is it really a bargain? If not, put it back.
Next time you’re shopping and see a ‘bargain’. Stop and ask yourself:
- Will I really wear it?
- Does it go with the majority of my wardrobe?
- When would I wear it?
- How would I style it?
- Is it in MY colours?
- Will I look great in this or will it WEAR me?
If you honestly don’t think you’ll wear it, put it back and walk away.
If it doesn’t go with most of your wardrobe, you’ll have buy other things to go with it. A bargain shouldn’t mean you have to spend more so you can use it.
If you can’t imagine wearing it and have no idea what you’d wear it with – it’s not a bargain, it’s a dead loss. The cost per wear, wouldn’t stack up and it’d be money down the drain.
This is me four or more years ago, on the left, wearing a royal blue cotton cardigan and a similar patterned, pintuck, long sleeved top from Evans. The cardigan was a gift and the top was a ‘bargain‘ in the sales. The top has pintucks on the bodice and a hanky hem, which is very flattering if you’re carrying weight around the middle, so the style is good, but…..
The intense, bright blue of both items is making my face look red and blotchy, I have dark grey shadows under my chin. I look like I’m having a hot flush/flash. It’s just far too strong a colour for me. I’ve never worn it since, not such a bargain, was it?
It’s not a bad colour, it would look fabulous on a bright/clear Winter friend of mine, the cardigan is a men’s design and looks amazing on my bright/clear Spring son, but it completely overwhelms my soft/muted and warm colouring.
How to use colour analysis swatches, mini wallets or colour cards for shopping, make-up, hair colours and more.
I’ll take you through how to use colour analysis swatches, mini wallets or colour cards for shopping, make-up, hair colours and more.
Firstly, the colour swatch, mini wallet or colour cards are NOT colour matching tools.
You do not wander round the shops looking for the specific colours in the set.
If you did, you’d end up tired, grumpy and frustrated as fashion colours change each year depending on the season.
So, how do I use my wallet, swatch or cards? It’s very simple, you lay the swatch, wallet or card over the top of the item you’re considering, see below for a few examples.
How to use colour analysis swatches to see if they are in harmony with your chosen garment
The image above shows Autumn fabric of a Per Una long sleeve top, together with the Soft Autumn mini-swatch (top) and Bright/Clear Winter mini-swatch (bottom) laid over the fabric. You’ll see the Autumn fabrics are in harmony with the shirt (Per Una) and the Bright Winter colours stand out as if ‘sat on top’. This particular top, from Per Una, would suit a Warm, Deep or Soft Autumn.
How to use colour analysis swatches or wands over a fabric to see if it’s in harmony with your colours.
This shirt is a mix of spring pinks, yellows and peach tints with a white undertone, it is bright, warm and light.
I have laid my seasonal wands over the top of the shirt and can easily see that the left most wand (Spring) is most in harmony with the fabric. The other wands don’t work well with it at all.
The Summer colour analysis wand is disappearing (although some of the pinks work with the fabric, the lighter pinks) The Autumn colour analysis wand is too deep and rich. The Winter colour analysis wand sticks out like a sore thumb. This top would be wonderful on a warm, light or bright Spring lady. However, a light Summer lady might be able to wear this one as some of the pinks would suit both.
How to use colour analysis swatches to check a garment is in harmony with your colours.
This image shows the Autumn and Spring fabric mini wallets fanned out and laid over the fabric. While the Autumn colour swatch (warm/deep) are okay with it, the Spring colour swatch (warm/light) are truly in harmony and look made to match it.
Whether you have a fabric swatch, colour cards, a small card, colour analysis wands or fans, the item is easily held up to a garment or laid on top of it. Stand back and look at how harmonious the colours are, does it appear to sit on top or stick out like a sore thumb?
If the colours work well, then the garment is a good match, try it on – get an idea of how the cut, fabric and shape of the item work with your body shape. If it fits well and flatters your figure, buy it!
If the colours of the swatch stick out and argue with the garment, then it’s not a match to your colouring. If you love it and really want it, then treat it as a hard to wear colour and make sure you wear a scarf, necklace or other item between it and your face. If you don’t love it, it’s the wrong colour for you OR the fit isn’t going to flatter your body shap, then walk away! It’s not for you and will end up in the ‘Why did I buy that’ pile at the back of the wardrobe.
How to use colour analysis swatches when choosing make-up
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Decisions – one less thing to think about
I was chatting to a good friend the other day and I know she is a big fan of capsule wardrobes. I was saying I had a warm weather capsule and a cool weather capsule. Some items I can wear all year and others for special occasions. I told her I love that I can now grab a few things and know they all go together.
Result? I don’t spend ages trying on half a dozen outfits only to feel miserable. It’s taken all the decision making about clothes out of my life. She said “Exactly! It doesn’t matter what I grab out of my closet, it all fits, and it all goes together.”
Finding a uniform
If you look at someone like Steve Jobs, he must have had 30 or more of the black cashmere sweaters he wore and dozens of pairs of 501 jeans. He found a style he was comfortable with, picked a limited palette and stuck with it. One less decision to make every day. I’m not suggesting you go that hardcore, but I never once thought he looked scruffy or questioned his expertise. A ‘uniform’ whether that’s your work suit, smart casual or jumper and jeans, tells people you mean business. You don’t have to look exactly the same every day, you can add different accessories or accents of colour, but that sense of continuity can actually get you taken more seriously at work and in life.
In this article Alice Gregory talks about ‘finding her uniform’ in much the same way Jobs did. She’s come up with a style that works for her life, invested in a Winter coat and a Summer coat and some great boots. They’re things she’ll wear daily, depending on the season. Investment buys like this, would ideally be in your best neutrals.
The number of items you’ll need in your capsule wardrobe might vary to mine, for example I wear a pair of jeans three times before washing. If I want to do one load of laundry for myself per week, I need at least three pairs of jeans/chinos in my casual capsule. In warmer weather I’ll change my T shirt or top daily. I have four linen blend Ts in a warm stone colour that go with everything in my capsule. I have one purple ‘burnout’ T for layering (in winter this goes under a burgundy lace sweater and looks fabulous), two khaki Ts (one long sleeve, one cap sleeve), one burnt orange V neck T and a burgundy dolman 3/4 sleeve top. Any of these can be dressed up with good shoes/boots, nice accessories and a good handbag. I have a box of scarves, some in neutrals, some multi in neutrals or my best colours, a few plain ones and lots of hand knit shawls in luxury yarns. These are great for dressing up a casual outfit in a hurry and an extra bit of warmth on a cooler day or if you work in an office with air conditioning.
For work, smart trousers/pants might be worn for brief periods four times. Typically I wear them for meetings of a few hours at most and they are hung up between wearing to air. That means one or two at most pairs of smart pants/trousers, plus a skirt if you wear them. I don’t really wear skirts that often.
Cost Per Wear
Gregory also touches on another concept of ‘cost per wear’. I’ll admit that in the past I talked myself out of some amazing suits or Winter coats by looking at the price tag and thinking it was too much to spend on me, even if I had it.
If I had taken the same view with my Aleutian 300 Fleece Jacket from Lowe Alpine, 20 years ago, I wouldn’t have such an amazing warm jacket. At the time I did a lot of hiking/fell walking and this was perfect. It’s in a deep teal colour, I’m a Soft Autumn (Muted and Warm), it’s a colour I wear a lot. Nowadays, in cold weather, it’s worn every day for dog walking and it looks as good now as it did when I bought it. My partner often grabs it when he’s taking the dogs to the beach as it’s also wind resistant.
If I calculate the cost per wear, it’s £4.00 per year, divided by 90 days of wear (for this exercise we’ll assume it’s three months), making it £0.04 per wear. From around October through to March, I probably wear it EVERY day. While it’s a casual jacket, it’s easy to dress up a bit with a nice scarf, a good handbag and some smart trousers/pants. Now, that is a bargain.
Save Time and Cash
If you have a capsule wardrobe for work (or any other part of your life, and you can have several), you don’t have think about what to wear each day, you’re sorted. You don’t waste time in front of the mirror or drive everyone else nuts by asking ‘Does this look okay?’
Save time when shopping, if you know what you need to replace or is missing from your capsule, you can breeze past everything else in the store and just look at those items.
By avoiding those wardrobe disasters you save money. (You know you have at least one, it looked good on the hanger or on your best pal, but it’s hideous on you?) Avoiding those bargains that really aren’t bargains at all, means you can save cash for an item you really love and know will make you feel amazing when you wear it.
That means you can afford to invest in yourself. Save up for that amazing Winter coat, if you love colour then pick one of your best colours, if not, then pick your best neutral for the season. For me, my smart Winter coat is a deep, chocolate brown or charcoal navy. In Summer my casual jacket is in khaki and my smarter coat is a warm camel colour. The cost per wear on a good coat will be less than a penny or a cent during it’s lifetime and it’ll more than earn it’s keep in your closet. I’ll also admit to having a fabulous deep tomato red coat, it’s reversible and the other side is in a leopard print. I do love the pop of pattern at the collar and cuffs, but I rarely wear it with the Leopard side ‘out’. Maybe one day …..
The same applies to shoes or boots, buy good quality, make sure they fit you well. Buy shoes mid afternoon, when your feet are at their largest to get the best size. Choose a neutral to go with the coat, it’ll help pull your outfit together and can make you look taller.
Remember that more choice can be paralyzing rather than liberating. Having a grab and go wardrobe means you can get on with your day quickly and always looking great.
I never really felt that I had a style, or that my outfits were ‘put-together’ in any way. I must admit, that for many years and particularly when my son was young, I just threw on what fit or was clean.
During that time I was still working as a consultant to small businesses in ICT, Web Marketing, Social Media etc and being in a creative industry, it’s lucky that jeans are an accepted part of the dress code.
Once I started to look at my lifestyle, what I wanted from my wardrobe and how I want to look, the pieces of the puzzle fell into place. I’m what some call a Natural/Classic. I enjoy dressing up and wearing suits, but for me, comfort and easy of movement are high on the list of priorities.
If you’re thinking of a style consultation, either in person or virtual, try this little bit of homework first.
- What do you need from a capsule wardrobe?
- is it for work?
- family time, casual weekends?
- professional wear?
- special occasion/wedding/other family event?
Being clear about what you want will help you get the most out of the session and make a real impact on your life. Don’t try and change your whole life at once. Pick one area of life, say work, and do that first. The rest you can get as you have time or the need arises.
Once you’ve made that choice, think about your keywords. What three to five words describe the requirements of that capsule wardrobe?
For my family time/casual weekend wardrobe my priorities were
- casual – easy to dress up with a few accessories if needed
- comfortable – natural fibres, blends, bit of stetch so I can move swiftly and easily
- machine wash – this is a big one for me, or it will languish in the bottom of the laundry basket forever
What are your priorities and keywords?