How to Take the Guesswork out of Getting Dressed & Build Your Dream Wardrobe

How to take the guesswork out of getting dressed and build your dream wardrobe

Today I’m sharing a guest post from Nadia Karpov, a personal stylist and image consultant. Nadia is sharing her tips to build your dream wardrobe by finding the styles, cuts and colors that work best for you.

Figuring out what you look and feel your best in is such an important piece of decluttering and minimizing your wardrobe. If you don’t have a clear sense of your personal style, including what you look and feel your best in, it’s easy to continue amassing clothes, but never feel satisfied with your wardrobe.

Knowing what you look and feel your best in allows you to build a wardrobe you love that works for your life. While also getting rid of the items that don’t work well for you.

Tips to define your personal style

I think many of us have purchased a clothing item we didn’t end up wearing. Maybe it’s because the fit wasn’t quite right, the color didn’t suit us, or we were trying to keep up with a trend that doesn’t match our personal style.

Getting clear about your personal style not only makes it easier to declutter your wardrobe of items you don’t wear and love. But it also helps you make better purchases in the future because you know what works best for your body, your lifestyle and your preferences.

Not only that but only owning clothes you love, look great in and feel great in makes getting dressed a whole lot easier and much more pleasant.

Nadia’s guest post gives a detailed look at how to figure out what colors, cuts and styles will work best for your body and lifestyle. Use her tips to get clear about your personal style, clear the clutter from your closet and start building your dream wardrobe!

How to take the guesswork out of getting dressed and build your dream wardrobe
Photo by Daiga Ellaby on Unsplash

How to Take the Guesswork out of Getting Dressed & Build Your Dream Wardrobe

Raise your hand if you have an overflowing closet, yet pull your hair out every morning, because… “There is nothing to wear!” This problem is very real for many of us. Having many clothes doesn’t mean having many different outfits. Instead, it can lead us to feel overwhelmed with our wardrobe, and still not feel good about our clothes.

What causes this problem?

The majority of closets consist of similar styles and safe (and often boring) color schemes including beige, gray, white and black garments.

Every time we want to look different, we run to the store but intuitively choose “proven” styles and “safe” colors!

Next, you bring those items home, remove the label, and the garment looks not much different than its older counterparts. It makes you feel like you have nothing to wear again. You run to the store for something new. And the cycle repeats!

And this is just one of many reasons that contribute to an overflowing closet.

But I found a solution

I’ve always loved clothes, fashion and shopping. However, I made many mistakes, including the one mentioned above.

My husband and I have been on our minimalist journey for quite a while. We are doing really great and absolutely love the results. However, if you were looking at my closet about a year and a half ago, you would never have believed me!

I knew something was wrong; I knew I was missing something. So, I told myself, no more shopping till I figure things out. And that’s exactly what I did.

I read a lot of blogs and websites and learned how other people dealt with this problem.  And eventually, I did the best thing ever that has changed my life! I signed up for a course to become a personal stylist and image consultant!

I wish personal style courses were taught in high school. That would save so much time, money, frustration and our environment!

Today, I am not here to tell you what to wear or what you must have. But to give you some actionable advice that you can implement today and look fabulous. Even if you believe you have no talent or vision for style and fashion. Because dressing well is a science.

Where to begin?

The very first thing I do when I work with my clients is to define the colors that look best on them.

And here is a real example (my mom) wearing colors for different color types.

How to take the guesswork out of getting dressed and build your dream wardrobe

Notice when she wears Spring, Summer, and Autumn colors her skin looks uneven, tired and with some greenish blemishes.

As soon as she puts her true, Winter colors on, her skin evens out and it looks like she is wearing foundation.

If you have never heard about seasonal color analysis, no worries.

Put simply, we all have natural colors within our bodies. The colors of clothes interfere with our natural colors, affecting the appearance of our skin in a positive or negative way.

If you have ever tried to define your color type, it was probably pretty confusing. Many websites suggest you should consider your veins, eyes, and hair color.

In reality, only your skin’s undertone and thickness should be considered. And yes, it is possible that “Winters” may be blonde, and “Springs” can have brown eyes.

I did my best to put a simple quiz together to identify your color type.

I know what colors look best on me – now what?

Once you have figured what looks best on you, take your time and review the simple color combination rules.

Yes, you read that right; rules. Any artwork, fashion work, or interior design is created using these same rules.

The great thing is, you learn it once and use it forever! Not only in fashion, but also in home décor, for example! Or whenever assembling flowers into a bouquet.

How to dress your shape

And here is the next step after you figure out your colors.

We all come in such different shapes and sizes. And that is amazing! Any, I repeat, any shape will look beautiful if dressed correctly. A flattering outfit is the one that creates balance.

Here are some typical women’s shapes: neat hourglass, pear, apple (or inverted triangle), lean column, rectangle, full hourglass, and oval (or round). You can find some examples of body shapes here.

A balanced figure is when your top and bottom are of the same width with a defined waist – a neat hourglass. In reality, this type of figure is pretty rare. You think all models have this type of figure, right? Wrong.

Linda Evangelista, Angelina Jolie, Cameron Diaz – they are all inverted triangles. Jennifer Lopez – a pear. There are plenty more examples, and they all look fantastic because they (or their stylists) know how to create a balanced figure.

Learning to dress your body shape

When we visually bring our body shape into balance, we drive attention away from our “problem” areas, and pull attention towards our featured parts.

And clothes that work with your body’s shape instead of against it are key to creating your dream wardrobe.

For example, someone with a pear-shape should use accent colors or patterns on the upper part of her body. Boot cut or flared pants/jeans and pencil skirts will make her hips visually slimmer, while slim pants and full skirts will make them appear bigger.

Someone with an apple-shape should do just the opposite to a pear shape. Using accent colors, patterns, patchwork and other eye-catching details around the hips, and a full skirt or skinny jeans will make the hips seem fuller. V-necks and sleeveless tops will balance out this type of figure. Also, large, eye-catching bracelets and bell sleeves will make the hips look wider and balance them out with the shoulders.

No well-defined waist and/or belly? Aim for straight cuts, empire waist (if you are not too busty or too tall), low waist, or tucked in, relaxed fit blouses, shirts and tops.

Want to look taller and slimmer? Choose vertical patterns, or create vertical patterns using layers (tank top + cardigan, for example), wear heels and dresses. Dress in a solid piece that elongates your figure, so it looks not only taller but more feminine.

Wrap dresses are probably one of the most flattering garments suitable for pretty much every figure (except for lean column).

How to take the guesswork out of getting dressed and build your dream wardrobe
Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

What is your personal style?

Do you know it? Can you define it? I know it is not that easy.

But please disregard any recommendations that start with “go to Pinterest and create a board with styles you love and copy them!” This is pretty harmful advice that will cost you money and lots of stress. Let it be your inspiration, not something to copy exactly.

Your personal style is called personal for a reason. Because it fits just you.

There are many factors that play a role in your personal style – colors that look best on you, your shape, your character, your lifestyle, the message you want to convey to the world…

Furthermore, any woman can mix and match several fashion styles to create her personal style. When you dress true to yourself, you exude charm and confidence, and this is when people see you as a whole and say, “This woman is stylish!”

Examples of fashion styles

There are quite a few distinct fashion styles that can be broken down further into sub-types.

For example, formal style is very substantial, and not decorative at all. I doubt you would wear something in this style regularly unless you have a very strict corporate dress code.

Sport style. No, it doesn’t mean yoga pants or sneakers. It is called this because it borrows some elements from sportswear – contrasting colors, belts, patched pockets, etc.

It can be quite elegant, like its substyle elegant city.

Energetic city, Nautical, or Safari are also subtypes of the sport style. There are some styles that look better on particular color types (another reason to figure out your color type sooner than later).

There are also romantic, feminine, dramatic, boho, and artistic styles.

Each style has its own distinctive elements, details, colors, materials, etc.

And of course, have fun mixing the styles. You can never go wrong with adding some sport to any style. Try a silk ruffled dress (romantic) and leather motorcycle jacket (sport), for example. Or pair a pencil skirt (feminine) with sneakers and a cardigan (sport).

Find more details on styles here.

How to choose your style?

Be realistic. Write down your dress code (if any); most office dress codes are elegant city.

List any daily activities you are involved in. If you are a stay-at-home mom, you probably won’t care much about formal or elegant city outfits, but may prefer more energetic city, safari, nautical, or romantic styles.

Take into consideration your color type. No matter how much I love the safari style, the sandy/olive colors always make me look tired. But as a Winter, I look awesome in classic Nautical style.

Paring down your closet

Do you know why many closet cleanouts fail?

Although you may start with great enthusiasm, that quickly subsides because you don’t really know whether things look flattering on you or not. You end up throwing everything back into the closet and tell yourself you’ll do it later.

But once you are prepared and armed with knowledge about yourself, paring down your closet should be 5 times easier! And Melissa has really great, practical guidance.

Here are a few rules for you to make your closet cleanout even easier:

1. Michael Kors’ 70/30 rule

If 70% of your closet consists of core items augmented with 30% on-trend, accent, shine, and glitter, you will have no problem putting stylish outfits together with a minimal number of garments.

Core items are different for every woman depending on her lifestyle and preferences. But the rule of thumb is that core items are always timeless, high quality, lacking funky details and substantial in color.

You can mix core items together or complement them with trendy pieces for a fresh look.

2. 4 per 1

Each of your bottoms should be pairable with at least four tops. In other words, you should have at least four times more tops than bottoms. Why? Because the top (not bottom) gives the impression of a new outfit.

3. Aim to buy different tops

Try adding different styles, cuts, texture, and colors to create versatile looks.

How to take the guesswork out of getting dressed and build your dream wardrobe
Photo by Artem Bali on Unsplash

Your shopping strategy

Once you have successfully pared down your closet, you will be able to identify some (or maybe a lot of) gaps. Before heading to the store, though, make a plan:

-figure out what are you missing and write it down

-create a budget and stick to it

You should take particular care when shopping for core items. Those items are going to work hard for you, taking part in pretty much every outfit. So, you want them to be super comfortable, flattering and wearable.

You may even want to take them to a tailor. This may sound like overkill; why should you spend more money on a good quality item and then invest in a tailor?

Trust me, it will be worth every penny! Nothing will make you feel slimmer, taller, and more confident than a garment that fits your shape impeccably. And a good quality garment will serve you for years to come.

What is it ok to save on?

Accent and trendy items. Look for interesting details, colors, and prints. Those you can update every few seasons or so depending on how “trendy” and long-lasting the trend actually turns out to be.

On a final note

These are the rules I follow and teach my clients. Once you do a little homework to educate yourself, you will look forward to dressing every morning. You will feel confident in the way you look and feel in your clothes. And thoughts about shopping will not make your palms sweaty!

Building your dream wardrobe takes some time and effort, but it’s well worth it!


How to take the guesswork out of getting dressed and build your dream wardrobeNadia Karpov is a personal stylist, image consultant, capsule wardrobe enthusiast, and founder of happymalista.com. She is a wife, mom, and a former shopaholic with a closet full of ‘nothing-to-wear’ things.

She helps people to express their innermost feelings through clothes and dress for the life that they WANT to live while still being appropriate to the time and situation.

You will never catch her dressed boring and frumpy, even if she is just making a morning run to the nearest food market for milk and eggs.

You can find useful styling tips in every IG post or visit her blog for more guidance.

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