Have you ever wondered how to dress well everyday (even when you’re running late, on laundry day, and fighting a cold)? Or if you’ve ever found yourself standing in front of your closet, wondering how you have so many clothes with nothing to wear? If so, you may not have a lack of clothes – but rather a lack of a closet system.
Today we’re tackling setting up your closet system so it fully supports your ability to always embody your seamless signature personal style.
To clarify: we’re covering the kind of closet system that applies to the clothes in your closet, not the shelving and such holding your clothes in your closet. (Though hanging most clothes with shelves or drawers for some things is generally my preference.)
Options Please! is a series to help give you the tools you need to implement your seamless signature personal style. It’s for everyone who has ever asked: is a capsule wardrobe my only option? Is there any way to make shopping easier? What do I do if “does this spark joy?” isn’t working for me?
That is what this series is here to answer! This series is to help show you some of the options that are out there. Use what works leave what doesn’t, but my hope is that it will help you see the possibilities.
We’ll cover what your options are for closet clean out filters, building your personalized closet system, care and maintenance of your favorite pieces of clothing, shopping systems, where you send clothes you’ve let go, and so much more.
Today we’re tackling closet systems! (As they apply to the clothes in your closet, not the shelving and such holding your clothes in your closet.)
How to dress well everyday step 1: choose your closet system style
In general specific closet systems tend to organize themselves within a couple broad categories. You have:
- Mix & Match Closets
- Head to Toe Outfits / Looks
- Everything Else
Mix & Match Closets mix and match different items of clothes together to create outfits. These are closets like: Capsule Wardrobes, Curated Closets, Maximalist Free For All, etc. You wear individual items of clothing in many different outfits and combinations.
Closets built around Head to Toe Outfits / Looks tend to avoid mixing and matching as much as possible and mainly consist of complete outfits. These are closets like: Mainly Matching Sets, Personal Style Uniforms, A Closet Full of Looks, etc. You mainly create fully put together outfits, keep them together in your closet, and wear them as complete looks.
Everything Else is everything else. These are closets that don’t neatly fit into one of the above categories, such as:
- a closet built around Outfit Recipes (which can go either mix and match or complete looks or balance beautifully in the middle)
- Holmes Meets Kondo (which removes everything that is not your style and filter what remains through an intentionally chosen quality)
- your own personalized system that works uniquely for you and your lifestyle
If you’re gravitating towards one of these system categories: fantastic! Keep reading for more specific options.
If you’re not gravitating towards one of these system categories: no worries! Keep reading for more specific options and see if the specifics help one feel more appealing.
6 more specific closet systems you can implement to make the how of how to dress well everyday easier:
Just a note: these are my working definitions, and my aim is to help you refine your presence, define your personal style and be brave enough to wear it, so these definitions are focused on tackling the practicalities of how to dress well everyday.
1. Capsule Wardrobe
In this post, I said “at its heart a capsule wardrobe is a math problem played out in clothing.”
That’s because a capsule wardrobe is a tightly curated collection of clothing that maximizes the number of outfits while minimizing the number of clothing items. Successful capsule wardrobes also maximize the percentage of outfits that fit your style, fit your lifestyle, and that you like to wear.
This melding of the math and art is why it can be so helpful to have “outside council” when building your capsule.
2. Small Curated Closet
A Small Curated Closet is like a capsule without the obsession to optimize. With a capsule wardrobe, it’s not unheard of to get 100+ outfits out of a dozen or so pieces of clothing. The small curated closet is less extreme. It’s a different style of mix and match.
This is often (though not always) the reality that most people want when they start out looking at building a capsule wardrobe.
3. Strict Personal Uniform but Make It Stylish (or don’t, you do you)
Think Steve Jobs or Vera Wang. This system is where you have a very specific personal style uniform and really build everything around that. This can get austere and one note. But can also be very liberating.
A brief note – if you present femme: you can run into some “she always wears the same thing” perception downsides. There are ways to mitigate this, but just be aware of it if you decide this is the system for you.
4. One Recipe, Many Looks
One basic outfit recipe that you play with is one way to have a personal style uniform without the “always wears the same thing” downsides.
Whereas the strict uniform would look like a classic white button up shirt with black pants every single day. One Recipe, Many Looks looks like a closet filled with button up shirts in a rainbow of colors and patterns plus black pants or jeans depending on the day, occasion, or mood.
5. A Closet Full of Looks
A Closet Full of Looks is a very classic way of building a wardrobe and if it works for you it can work very well. With this system, you have an entire closet full of head to toe pre-styled outfits. From there you just pick out your outfit for the day.
6. Maximalist Free For All
This is the classic Carrie Bradshaw or Cher’s computerized closet in Clueless.
Maximalist Free For All is a mix and match wardrobe stuffed to the gills with seemingly endless options. It is particularly suited if you have a very maximalist personal style and don’t get overwhelmed by a overflowing closet. (Though, changing out your closet with the seasons does help with overflow.)
There you have it! The 3 general categories of closet clothing systems along with 6 ways you can use to systematize your closet so your seamless signature personal style is at your fingertips every morning.
Like I said at the beginning, a closet system that works with you, your style, and your lifestyle is one of the keys of how to dress well every day (even running late, on laundry day, and fighting a cold).