Advice for Students

Five Tips to Renovate Your Wardrobe

September 17, 2012  |     |   0 Comment

September is a time of transition for many of us.  We transition from Summer to Fall as well as vacation-mode to work-mode. It is also a time when we transition our wardrobe. Gone are the days of Summer and our ability to wear lighter fabrics and shorter sleeves.  This wardrobe transition can be a challenge.  Do you ever find yourself in a position where you feel you have “nothing to wear” despite a closet bursting with garments?  September is the perfect time to make a clean-sweep of your wardrobe, create space, and build your dream wardrobe keeping in mind your personality, social life, work dress code, and career goals.  Here are five tips to help you do so:

1.  Set Aside Time

This process may take a while, so set aside the appropriate amount of time to complete it.  Also, ensure you have the “tools” you will need along the way such as a full-length mirror, garbage bags, storage bags/boxes, a marker, and hangers.  Speaking of hangars – get rid of all of your wire hangers and use wooden or plastic ones as they will not destroy your clothing.

2.  Review Your Wardrobe

Rather than dump your entire wardrobe onto your bed or floor, review it one category at a time.  This will help you to stay focused and will be less overwhelming.  For example, start with your shirt collection, then move onto your pants, jeans, sweaters, dresses, suits, shoes, etc.

As you review each category, create three separate piles:  keep, donate, toss.  This is where your full-length mirror will come in handy.  If you are not sure as to which category a piece of clothing should end up, try it on and ask yourself as you look into the mirror:  Do I like it? Is it dated? Does it flatter my shape? Am I comfortable? Where will I wear it?  Will I wear it more than once? If your answers are leaning towards the negative, you know it’s time to remove the item from your wardrobe.  However, it still may be an item that can end up in the donation pile.  If an item is long-dated and shabby, it’s simply time to toss it.

Be ruthless in determining what you really want to keep.  The rule-of-thumb is if you have not worn an item for at least one year, it is time to remove it from your wardrobe.  There may be items that you want to keep for sentimental reasons.  Be careful here – remember that you are trying to create space and build your dream wardrobe.  A wedding dress, for example, would pass the test for an item of sentimental value.  For such items, place them in a storage box (pre-wrapped if required), mark the box, and then place it in your attic or specified storage room.

For the items you wish to donate, ensure they are clean, not torn, and nicely folded.  Place them in a storage bag and mark the bag accordingly.  For items you wish to toss, place them in a garbage bag for the trash.

3.  Categorize Your Closet

Once you have determined the items you will keep in your wardrobe, it’s time to put everything back into your closet.  Categorize your closet.  Have a section for business wear, casual wear, and evening wear.  Group items within section, such as shirts, pants, skirts, jackets, etc.  As you categorize and group items in your closet, also consider arranging things by colour, starting from the lightest to the darkest.  For example, I have a closet devoted just to business suits.  At the far left side, I have all of my short-sleeved Summer suits starting with the lightest colour suit and moving to the darkest, followed by my long-sleeved Spring suits, then my Fall suits and ending with my Winter suits – all colour-coded in the same manner.

By categorizing, grouping and colour-coding your closet, you will have a much better understanding about what you have versus any “gaps” in your wardrobe.  It allows you to move from your wardrobe “comfort zone” and expand it to include pieces that are a different fabric, colour, or style.  Your goal is to have a well-rounded wardrobe of key pieces so that you have lots of interesting choices.  It puts you in a position to better understand not just what you have, but what you need in order to reach this goal.

4.  Update Your Wardrobe

Once you have re-organized your closet, start a shopping list of items you need to close any “gaps” in your wardrobe.  In order to do so, you will need to consider your body type so you know what style of clothing is most flattering for you, as well as the key pieces required to close those gaps.

Body Types:


There are four basic body types:  hourglass, triangle, inverted triangle or rectangle.

Not sure?  If your shoulders and hips are the same width and you have a well defined waist, you are an hourglass shape. If your hips are wider than your shoulders, you are a triangle or pear shape. Flip that, if your shoulders are wider than your hips, you are an inverted triangle shape. If your shoulders, waist and hips all appear to be of equal width, you are a rectangle shape.

Wardrobe Staples:


There are some staples that every wardrobe should have.  This list is geared toward building your professional wardrobe, but is easily transferrable to create outfits for social occasions. When you have these basics you will always have something to wear.  Remember, this is an opportunity for you to break out of your wardrobe comfort zone and add some colour and style to your wardrobe depending on your personality, social life, work dress code, and career goals.

For Women:

  • Black straight skirt
  • Black trousers
  • White blouse
  • Neutral color blazer
  • Neutral color sweater
  • Black mid-heel pumps
  • Black flat
  • A little black dress
  • A trench coat
  • Classic style handbag
  • Printed scarf
  • Briefcase

For Men:

  • A navy or gray suit
  • Black shoes and belt
  • White dress shirt and a blue dress shirt
  • Solid or diagonal stripe tie
  • Blue blazer or Tweed blazer
  • Khakis or other casual pant
  • Overcoat
  • Briefcase
  • Casual shirt
  • Neutral colour sweater

5.  Shopping Tips

Buying good clothing does not have to cost a fortune.  Always go for the classy look rather than trends which come and go. Furthermore, a few expensive pieces of clothing are better than many cheap, poorly cut and ill-fitting ones. Take a trusted friend with you to help you choose clothes that fit well, flatter your shape, and look nice.

Consider shopping at discount clothing stores like Winners where you can find name-brand clothing for much less than the original price-tag.  Vintage clothing stores or consignment stores are also a wonderful option.  In addition, consider buying clothes on sale.  After Christmas or season’s end sales are best. But don’t buy something just because it is on sale or is a great deal. It should be something you would want to wear anyway and coordinates with your wardrobe. Also, if you find something on sale that may not have a perfect fit, don’t be shy about taking it to a tailor. Buy clothes that are comfortable, make you feel confident and fit your style.


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