Farm Fashionista

Basic Wardrobe Plan and Reality Check

Style Reality Check

Let’s be real. My wardrobe is a wreck. Isn’t yours? I have a handful of reliable of outfits I wear constantly, and with what little time I can spare, the occasional accessories for church and appointments in public (like the doctor or coffee dates). But looking fantastic or KNOWING what I own? Yeah. I have way too much crap in my closet for that.

How can we be fashionable with so little time? How can we be stylish with such a mish-mosh – and on a homesteading budget, no less? One of my favorite sayings is: “To have a small wardrobe and still look stylish requires one to actually have style.” I KNOW that my grandmothers and great grandmothers didn’t have a million dresses or 12 pairs of pants (I think I easily have more than that – many don’t fit). They had simple clothing with beautiful accessories, and they relied on their hair and makeup when money was tight during the War and non-existent during the Depression. They found a way to show their inner beauty, and we are going to do just that!

Basic Wardrobe Plan

Here you go. A simple, bare bones Basic Wardrobe Plan, including how to start organizing and creating an easy wardrobe that meets all your needs and expresses who you are!

Start with this list. Treat it like a checklist, and pull everything out that you have on here. If there are items that you already own, put them in a drawer in your dresser or together in a section of your closet. If there are items you are missing, put them in a little notebook to carry in your purse the next time you hit Goodwill, the consignment shops, a yard sale, etc. Do NOT go spend $200 on a pair of pants. That defeats our frugal purpose here!

For now, don’t purge. I’m working on a seasonal basics list or you as you read this, and I’ll post it soon. After that, I’ll also help you understand how wardrobe items should fit properly.

Let’s boil it down to 23 basic items you should have:

  • Black tank. A white tank has its place—at the gym or on casual outings—but a black one is more universal than its casual white cousin. Black tanks with a longer length can be worn underneath blouses and button downs for seasonal layering, but can also be dressed up with nice jeans or a skirt.
  • Short-sleeved black T-shirt. The best short-sleeve length is about 1/2 to 1 inch longer than a typical cap sleeve—it shows just the right amount of arm.
  • Long-sleeved black T-shirt. A surprisingly sophisticated and useful layering piece, this works well under a dress shirt, a sweatshirt, a sweater, a dress, a jumper, or even on it’s own with a blazer and great accessories.
  • Black turtleneck. Invest in a decent quality fabric. You get more warmth with less bulk.
  • Short-sleeved white T-shirt. White tees become dingy quickly, so skip the expensive ones and buy a bunch of nice-looking, inexpensive ones. Then replace as needed. I also have gobs of “show shirts” from my 23 years of teaching dance and theatre. These serve the same purpose, though I’m considering making a t-shirt quilt soon and making some much-needed room in my dresser!
  • Long-sleeved white T-shirt. For a slim silhouette in white, choose a slim-fit T-shirt that skims your body but doesn’t cling (especially for those of us seasoned mamas with a leftover muffin top)!
  • White button-down shirt (wrinkle free stretch fabric is great). Fitted ones will get the most wear: They’re easier to tuck in and look neat when left out.
  • Crisp white blouse. Softer looking than a button-down, a white blouse is a timeless addition to any wardrobe.
  • Crewneck sweater. Thin knits, in cotton or wool, layer easily for versatility and comfort.
  • Neutral Cardigan. A neutral shade goes with everything, and a longer style that hits at the hip flatters most figures.
  • A black dress. The “little black dress” is a cliché for a reason: It’s a wardrobe necessity.
  • Pencil skirt. This classic piece should be tailored so it grazes the tops of the knees. If you are larger in the hips or have a tummy, and don’t feel comfortable in a fitted skirt, try an a-line that flares out slightly at the knees.
  • Jeans. It’s worth paying extra for jeans that fit and flatter. Your best bet? A dark, bootcut pair made from stretch denim with no more than 2 percent Lycra. (The fabric will follow your curves while keeping its shape.)
  • Black dress pants. To get the most from this wardrobe staple, select a style made of an all-season fabric.
  • Skinny jeans. Once considered a trend, they are now a really useful denim staple. Skinny jeans look best when they don’t fit too snugly at the waist. And yes, these are for all body types! It’s seriously about what you pair with them on top.
  • Khaki pants. For a casual, comfortable look, forget the pleats (a flat front is more flattering) and forgo the front crease.
  • Denim jacket. A dark wash and a slim fit look the most polished, but I have a fun cream colored one from the Gap and my outdoor work coat – an oversized, fantastic red barn jacket!
  • Cropped jacket. Made famous by Coco Chanel, this item has become a fashion mainstay. You’ll have more opportunities for pairing if you get one in a solid color.
  • Classic Blazer. A must-have in black, navy or grey.
  • Ballet flats (in a neutral color or a versatile red). Equal parts sophisticated and practical, ballet flats, especially those with rubber soles and a good instep, are easy on the feet but more polished than sneakers.
  • Basic black pumps. The workhorse of shoes, a good black pump can take you from day into evening without losing a step.
  • Supportive sneakers. I don’t care how old you are or what you do, you have to take care of your feet. After years of dancing, having a solid sneaker is important for everything from taking a walk with your kids to exercising. Forget the Converse or other archless, flat insoled shoes. Make sure you get a pair that really hug your arch and give you the support you need. This is not about fashion!
  • Metallic evening shoes. No shoes make you more party-ready than strappy sandals or pumps in a metallic tone. The surprise? Gold and silver are remarkably versatile.
  • Wellies. A good, solid pair of fantastic waterproof work boots that sit by the back door, ready for action!

4 thoughts on “Basic Wardrobe Plan and Reality Check

  1. And: fit. Finding the right fit is key. I can have a million black tank tops and t-shirts, but if they’re boxy or XL, then they’re a fashion ‘NO’ for my frame, and will make me look boxy and XL.

    Skinny jeans… that’s going to take it’s own special examination. Again, fit is crucial, and you may have to go through a few manufacturers to find one that doesn’t make you look funny. The stretchy fabrics that jeans now have with 1-2% Lycra are amazing.

    Can we talk about accessories? Scarves, necklaces, earrings, hair… I constantly err on the conservative end of accessorizing for two reasons: safety and lack of confidence. You’ll never see me wear hoop earrings with my short hair; instead, I’ll wear shiny studs and *sometimes* something with a little dangle. It takes a lot to break me out of that rut (if I remember to put jewelry on, at all, that is – wedding ring? where did that get to?).

    Where are you building your outfit ensembles (as pictured, above)? I would have you dress me every time that I stepped outside my front door… I love EVERYTHING you’ve posted up there.

    But I do disagree with you on one point: The Purge. This is going to happen for me, and soon. I’ve been looking at places like where I can mail off my slightly used clothing for someone to sell (for a commission), and I’ll make a little in return.

    We need an iPad pinterest/shopping/coffee date!

  2. Pingback: March Purchases | Lazy Girl

  3. Pingback: Extreme Minimalism: Clothes in the Closet 2 | Becoming a Minimalist

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