A long, long time ago, in a land far, far away, I used to be good at multitasking. Now I just have multiple tasks lying around that were started and stopped. I use the excuse that I had children so they took my brain power.
When it comes to my clothing there are no excuses. I am not a gazillionaire, nor do I have room for a 4,000 square foot closet. Even if I did it would be exhausting to have that many options in my wardrobe. When I buy an item it HAS to multi-task. What exactly does that mean? I have a couple of guidelines.
1. Can I wear the item for day and night?
Obviously I am not talking about my items like running shorts. But the fundamental pieces should be able to transition to fit multiple occasions. Below is a recent outfit I put together for a client. She travels extensively. When she gets a chance to go to her vacation home she wants it to be easy and relaxing. She also likes to make it simple by packing light. Her clothing choices need to be able to take her from daytime shopping errands and also work for a dinner out with friends.
This classic stripe cotton dress works for multiple occasions.
2. Does it match at least 3 things I already own?
There was an amazing pair of printed silk pants that I thought I had to have. They were different colors for me, browns, maroon, golds. But I bought them home and realized in order to wear them I would have to go out and track down more tops to try to match the pants. At that point, they began to feel like more of a hassle. I tend to gravitate toward jewel tone colors, and of course black. But brown? I don’t even have one brown top in my wardrobe. It just blends in too much with my hair and I look like a giant raisin. Not good. It is good to try pieces that are different, but it is a waste of your time and money if you the item limits you to only one outfit. In the end I returned the pants and ended up finding a pair of orange shorts that look great with all of my navy and white pieces I alreay own for summer.
This client’s closet, pictured above, would not benefit by buying anything that needs to match to brown. It’s addition to her already established color palette would cause more harm than good, as it would hang around like a loner and not play nice with her other items.
3. Can I wear it at least 3 out of 4 seasons?
Here in Pennsylvania we have 4 distinct seasons. I would even argue to say there is almost 6 depending on what kind of spring and fall we have. I know it is what I do for a living but I truly dread the schlepping of bins for seasonally stored items. I only allow myself to have a few pieces that are truly meant for 1 season only. A strapless shorter sundress in a bright color? It is really only good for summer, maybe early spring if I pair it with a denim jacket. A faux fur vest? It is a fall/winter item. When purchasing these 1-2 season items try to limit your spending amount. A 2 season item is not worth investing a ton of money in. On the other hand a cashmere sweater is a quite an investment. Normally thought of for fall and winter, it is hard to justify spending the money. To get more mileage out of an item pick a color that will work for more seasons. A black cashmere sweater is a classic. A pink cashmere sweater may seem more trendy but in reality it can be worn all year. I love a simple lightweight cashmere crew neck with shorts on a cool summer night at the beach. In the winter the jolt of pink is a refreshing way to break up my black and gray and otherwise bleak wardrobe.
The pink sweater works 4 seasons. With white jeans for spring, printed shorts on a cool summer night, denim for fall, and black pants in winter, it actually proves to be more versatile than basic black. (All images above via jcrew.com)
*Insider Tip –
You really and truly should love everything you have. If that means having less, so be it. Have you ever gone on vacation and the weather or plans changed? You have to make do with what you packed. The plain blue sweatshirt that you thought you would wear for exercising? It may end up working perfectly with white jeans and a cute necklace for a chillier than expected night out. The maxi dress meant for a night out? Paired with flat sandals it could make the perfect day dress for a casual impromptu brunch. The point is clothing is not inexpensive. Your purchases are meant to be worn and enjoyed. Buy the best quality that you can afford and don’t save items for only for special occasions or specific situations. Some of the best outfits come from unexpected combinations.