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Summer capsule wardrobe

Personal stylist Tanya Arturi knows how to take the stressing out of dressing

Published on March 24th 2011.

Summer capsule wardrobe

If you find you have a wardrobe and drawers stuffed full of clothes but you still struggle to put an outfit together, it’s high time you recognised your key pieces. Tanya Arturi from Cheshire Image Consultants helps women declutter their wardrobes for a living. Here’s her recipe for a very healthy wardrobe detox....

Building a Capsule Wardrobe
Most women wear twenty per cent of their wardrobe 80 per cent of the time and a cluttered wardrobe can lead to a loss of style and make dressing very stressful. Most people would love to have a capsule wardrobe - fewer clothes but different outfits – however, they have no idea where to start.

I recommend going through your wardrobe and counting how many items of a certain type you actually have (ie. how many pairs of jeans, how many shoes, etc.). If you want to take this a step further, indicate whether they are formal or casual. This exercise may already start showing gaps in your wardrobe – I recently had a client with twenty pairs of jeans and one skirt (which was denim).

A good indication of what a capsule wardrobe actually consists of can be seen below:

Formal Capsule Wardrobe
- Four suits in complementary or neutral colours or a combination of four jackets and four skirts or a pair of trousers depending on your work dress code.

- Six to eight tops, shirts or knitwear items in your colours.

- Dresses are a good alternative to tops and skirts (and they are easy to wear), so substitute one for a suit if they work for your body shape.

- One coat or raincoat (depending on the time of year) that will fit over your suit.

- Three pairs of formal shoes. Shoes can make or break your look, so make sure they are right.

Casual Capsule Wardrobe
- Four jackets or cardigans (or one jacket, two cardigans and one fleece)

- Skirts, trousers or jeans – six in total, a combination of what you feel most comfortable in.

- Eight tops, from T-shirts to sweaters in various colours that complement the skirts, trousers or jeans.

- One to two dresses that suit your body shape.

- Four pairs of shoes, boots or trainers.

- Items to suit your fitness regime/hobbies.

Obviously, this is just a guide and your wardrobe needs to fit your lifestyle.

Equipment needed for a detox
- A pile of women’s magazines, newspaper fashion supplements and catalogues.
- Full length mirror.
- Natural daylight.
- Foldable clothes rail (Argos and John Lewis are the best places to buy these).
- Clothes hangers.
- Bin liners.
- Optional - an honest friend or relative and a camera.

Step-by-step guide
1. Think about your style (it may have changed). This is one of the most difficult aspects of a wardrobe detox but there are several things you can do to help identify your style personality. Ask friends to sum up your style in three words; buy a ‘Colour Me Beautiful’ book and complete the style personality questionnaire and/or put together an inspiration board from magazines, etc. (consisting of clothing looks you love). Use what you’ve learnt as a guide – does your wardrobe reflect your style/what you want your style to be?

2. Ruthlessly go through your wardrobe and throw out any items that have holes in, stains that cannot be removed or faded in colour.

3. Put any items that do not fit in a ‘give away’ bag and either pass them into a grateful friend, give to charity or sell. Make sure you check that shirts don’t gape around the bust, etc. If items are too big and can’t be altered at a tailors do the same. If a few stitches can make a difference, put them in an alterations bag.

4. Check colour. Do the same as above for items that are the wrong colour for your complexion and can’t be dyed

5. Try items on that haven’t been sorted out into piles and decide if you love wearing them or are unsure about them. If you have a friend with you, ask their option and/or get them to take photos for you to decide.

6. Store the rest. Anything that you are unsure about should be put into storage for six months and if you haven’t thought about it /dug it out to wear within the six month period, you should give it away.

7. Get rid of dated clothes. You should giveaway anything that looks dated – if unsure, ask your children or a friend for advice. As a general rule, five years (this is being generous) is a good indicator that something may have reached is use by date. Also, remember to make sure it fits in with your personal style guide (see step 1).

8. Declutter your smalls too. Finally, make sure you also declutter your shoes, coats, handbags and underwear…no greying bras should be left lurking in your closet.

Now that the hard work is over, it’s time to start planning what’s needed to make outfits from your existing clothing and accessories and what’s missing from your wardrobe.

Ten items to buy this season

Shift dress
A simple shift dress looks stylish and is easy to dress up or down with accessories). However, finding one that fits can prove challenging if your top half is a larger size than your bottom half. Luckily, you can create the illusion of a dress by wearing matching separates (an unfussy top and flared skirt works best for you).

If you want to invest in a dress for the warmer months, the colours of the season are blue, white or tangerine.

Blue dress (£50) by Preen for Debenhams (Editions range)

Trench coatThe great British summer means that a waterproof trench coat will always be needed and they are a wardrobe classic that never seems to date. If you are taller than average Long Tall Sally has a great range that will suit your proportions, otherwise high street stores like Zara, Warehouse and Oasis offer great coats that won’t break the bank.

Trench coat (£99), Holly Willoughby for Littlewoods

Cream shirt
It’s an urban myth that every woman should have a white shirt in their wardrobe – white is a colour that suits very few complexions. However, a soft white or cream shirt is a good wardrobe staple that never dates. If you have a larger bust, finding a shirt that actually fits can be a challenge - more fluid fabrics are best for you, such as silk. Try Bravissimo (www.bravissimo.com) and Cast Woman (www.cast-woman.com for shirts that are specifically designed for a more generous bust.

Shirt (£49), shorts (£45) & bag (£85) all from Mint Velvet

Jumpsuit - Warehouse

Wide-Legged trousers / jumpsuit
These are great for most shapes but be careful - you don’t look swamped if you are petite or short (straight legged or boot cut trousers will look better, depending on your body shape). An easy-to-wear alternative to trousers is a jumpsuit, which is a major trend this summer – an updated version of the 70s look.

Jumpsuit (£70) from Warehouse

A perfect fitting blazer or jacket is so versatile – from looking chic with jeans to wearing with a dress to work. If you are curvy, look for curved seams at the back of the jacket. If you have a straighter body shape without much waist definition straight seams (and a boxy shape) are better for you.

Albus Jacket (£169), skirt (£99), bag (£149), belt (£49), wedges (£110) all from Hobbs

Floral printsFresh and summery floral prints will be easy to find this year, as they are a key catwalk trend picked up by the high street. If you are pear shaped, a floral top and plain coloured bottom will help balance your figure and the opposite is true if you have broad shoulders and smaller hips/bottom (inverted triangle). Make sure that the pattern suits your scale, ie. if you are petite, a larger pattern will not suit you and if you are larger in stature, a ditsy floral print will make you look bigger.

Captivia floral dress from Monsoon (available in May)

Brightly coloured bagAccessories are a great way to update your wardrobe and a brightly coloured bag will add a bit of zing to a neutral colour palette. Whatever colour appeals to you, the shops will have a bag that adds an extra ‘lift’ to any outfit.

Pink cross body bag (£55) from the White Stuff

Coloured ballet pumpsFlat shoes are one of next season’s big trends – at last, style and comfort. The catwalks were awash with bright colours and shoes are a good instant wardrobe update without worrying whether the colour suits you or is too bold. French Sole offer a range of flat pumps in an array of different fabrics and colours and Hobbs have some great floral ones this summer.

Harriet Snake Skin pumps (£100.08) from French Sole

Fabulous shadesMany of the new season’s clothes have a 1970s vibe and this can easily be carried through to a pair of sunglasses. Make sure that the ones you pick are the right size, shape and colour to suit your face shape and compliment your colouring. One useful tip is to replicating the shape of your face – ie. if you have an angular shaped face, rounded glasses will look better and soften your facial features. For authentic 70s designer brands at prices under £200, www.retrosun.co.uk is worth a visit.

Sunglasses (£18) from Linea at House of Fraser

Properly Fitted BraAll clothes look better with a properly fitted bra – some of the points to consider are: none of your breast should be outside of your bra, you should be able to insert one finger under your bra strap and under the back, and the front of your bra should be inline with the back (it shouldn’t be higher at the back). Also, you should always re-adjust your bra after each wash.

If you are unsure what size you are, or if your bra doesn’t seem to be fitting properly, it’s best to use a free bra fitting service – M&S, John Lewis and independent lingerie boutiques such as Lucile have well-trained staff to help you.

Bra (£29.50) & brief (£9.50) from Marks & Spencer

Bra - M&S

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