We all have those days when we feel nothing in our wardrobe works. Or perhaps it's an invitation to an event that sends you in to panic because you don't think you have anything to wear. But if you have some failsafe items in your wardrobe that are in tune with your personal style, you will always have something to wear.
There is nothing worse than attending an event or important meeting and feeling like you aren't dressed appropriately. Equally if you rush out and buy something at short notice it's likely that it might not really be "you" and you will feel uncomfortable all day.
So what is the key to getting this right and discovering what those failsafe pieces and outfits are?
You are likely to have seen the lists of capsule wardrobe "must haves". They often include a white shirt, black trousers, blazer and Trench coat. But I am going to be a little controversial here because I don't agree with those lists :) For starters a white shirt (especially if it is a stiff cotton version) won't work on those of use with a large bust or curvy body, because stiff fabrics and curvy bodies are not the best of friends. The same is true of the classic double breasted Trench coat and not everyone wants black in their wardrobe. So while you might be appropriately dressed in your white shirt, black trousers and Trench coat you could be incredibly uncomfortable and if you are like me, feel boring because of the lack of colour!
Your top ten capsule wardrobe essentials are unique to you, so stop following those lists that might not be doing you any favours.
Your first step is to discover what suits you and makes you feel good. As you may know I don't believe in telling you that you can or can't wear a certain colour, or that because you are Pear shaped you must wear an A-line skirt. This comes down to trying on as many colours and shapes as you can. If you know which colours suit you physically wear the ones you also love. Then try out some new colours which might be variations of those, perhaps a darker or lighter version. Every time you find something you love make sure you take a photo.
Next move on to shapes. My simple rule here is where you have curves use more fluid fabrics or those that have an element of stretch. So if that white cotton shirt gapes on your bust try it in a silk or a viscose. If you don't like your hips in a pencil skirt or tapered trousers, try an A-line and a wide leg. You might find that sometimes you want to break the "rules" that so many style books insist on, but if you are wearing something that gives you confidence, go ahead you don't need anyone else's permission.
Here are a few versatile items to consider adding to your wardrobe:
Dress - choose one in a colour you love to wear. As far as style is concerned wrap and shirt dress styles are great options. For fabrics, consider how curvy you are and choose a fabric accordingly. If you don't have curves you can opt for stiffer fabrics like cotton or a heavier crepe. For curves choose jersey or viscose. Finally find a dress that can be smart with a jacket and heels or dressed down with a cardigan and casual shoes or boots.
Trousers - again look for a pair that can be dressed up or down. Choose a tapered, straight or wide leg depending on which you prefer yourself in. If you are conscious of a tummy choose a pair with a flat front and side zip. As far as length is concerned, the trend for a crop or ankle length trouser means you can wear them with a heel or flats, making them more versatile.
Blouse or shirt - in a great colour or print. Bear in mind the comments above about fabrics. This is one of my top picks because you can wear under a smart jacket or a more relaxed cardigan or sweater and with both tailored trousers and jeans. For a casual look wear under a sweater and pull the collar and bottom or tail of the shirt out and push up the sleeves so the cuffs show. Wear a longer blouse untucked over slim trousers for evenings.
If you liked this post I expand on these ideas and give you advice about discovering your Style Formula, Keywords and personalised Wardrobe Essentials, Signature and Stand Out Pieces in The Stylish@50 System. Click here for more information.