In this episode, Callie wants to know how to stop having a work wardrobe and a “real life” wardrobe and create one cohesive wardrobe that can go anywhere. For some people it’s easy, for some, it’s not a realistic goal. Find out if you can have this elusive “where anywhere” wardrobe, and how to get there.
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Read the full episode transcript below! – Ep 46 Office Hours How to have a “Wear Anywhere” Wardrobe
Today’s episode of Office Hours is sponsored by Holding Hangers. I love hearing from listeners who have taken the plunge and purchased these one of a kind hangers! The one thing everyone keeps saying “my closet looks so neat, and they make things easier to find!”. Hunting for things in your closet is a big time waster each morning, and the easier it is to find things in your closet, the easier it is to get dressed, know what you need, and use more of what you already have. If you want your closet to be more efficient, head to holding hangers.com, and see for yourself!
Everyday Style School listeners can take 15% off their first purchase by going to holding hangers.com and using code STYLE15.
Welcome back to Office Hours–the weekly show of the Everyday Style School podcast, where we answer one question, submitted by one of you fabulous listeners, to help make style easier, and getting dressed more fun.
Today’s question comes from Callie, who posted in the Everyday Style Lounge. Here’s what she had to say: My question is this, how can I better marry my “work” wardrobe with my “real-life” wardrobe. At work I have to be business-casual and modest, but this is so different from my fitted and trendy home wardrobe that I feel like I own two closets! Any advice on how to find a better balance so more of my items can be used in both areas of my life?
Great question Callie, and one a lot of my clients have asked about through the years. Here are a few ways to connect the disparate parts of your style and activities into one cohesive wardrobe.
First, decide if this is an attainable goal. I’ll never forget a client I had who’s pre-service questionnaire was all about having one, wear everywhere wardrobe. That was really the whole reason she hired me. She was tired of having a work wardrobe, a weekend wardrobe, a going out with friends wardrobe–you get the idea.
She wanted one wardrobe that could go everywhere and anywhere. However, by day, she was the HR director for a pretty conservative organization. She didn’t have to wear suits, but she couldn’t wear jeans either. On the weekends, she and her husband went to their kid’s activities, hung out with friends, and worked on their goat farm.
Yes, you heard that right. Their goat farm. I pride myself on being able to solve just about any wardrobe challenge, but there is no wardrobe that you can wear to your HR meetings and then work on your goat farm in. The solution for her was to admit that that wasn’t a realistic goal and to have smaller wardrobes for each facet of her life.
Now, let’s talk about me on the other hand. I can wear the exact same thing to work, to hang out with my kids, to go out to dinner, to do just about anything I do. My life is perfect for one wardrobe.
Part of that is that my kids are little older–women with babies struggle with this one, and part is that I work from home in a creative job..also, I’m my boss, so whatever I wear is fine. I’m the opposite scenario of my goat farming HR, Linda.
So, first, decide where you are on that spectrum. Ask yourself, does your job require a totally different level of formality than your weekend life? Do your children dictate, in a big way, what you wear? By the way, if your kids are at least in preschool, that’s your choice. Own it.
Do you need activity-specific clothing? If you spend every weekend rock climbing, chances are, you can’t really achieve a wardrobe that works everywhere. The biggest factors to consider are levels of formality and the need for activity-specific clothing. Keep those in mind as we continue our discussion.
Next, organize your closet the Everyday Style way–which means not separating them by activity, but rather grouping them by item, so all tops together (sorted by sleeve length) whether they’re for work or weekend. All pants together, all dresses, and so on and so on.
In doing this, you’re going to see pieces that cross over that maybe you hadn’t considered before. This is a big reason I have women organize their closets like this.
Once you’ve done that, start to define your style in terms of how you want to look, not in terms of formality. Here’s what I mean. I never let my clients use the words “casual” or “dressy” to describe their style because regardless of who you are, or what you do, you’re going to have activities that require casual clothes, and those that require dressy clothes.
Instead, I have them create those 3 style guideposts I talk about all the time that describe the style they want people to see. Then you simply buy casual clothes that fit those guideposts and dressy clothes that fit those guideposts. My words are modern, polished, and fun. When I buy a dress for speaking on stage, it’s modern, polished and fun.
When I buy shorts for going to the farmer’s market, they’re modern, polished and fun. When you shop with the mindset of “I need dressy clothes for work” you often end up with a wardrobe that isn’t really you and doesn’t work with the rest of your style or wardrobe.
When you say “I need modern, fun polished clothes (or whatever your words are) that are appropriate for my workplace” you narrow the chasm between the separate parts of your wardrobe, because now they’re connected by your style, and there will be even more crossover pieces.
By the way, if you don’t know how to find your 3 words, there’s a class in the All-Access Membership to help you do just that. I’m going to open up enrollment until May 4–just one short week. It’s a super helpful class that will help you understand your style, and save money by not buying things you’ll never wear, and will make it much easier to build this elusive go-anywhere wardrobe.
No matter what, to have a wardrobe you can wear everywhere, you’re going to have to compromise a little bit. This usually means making your casual wardrobe a little dressier, which is something a lot of women don’t want to do. And if that’s the case, that’s totally fine.
But you’re not going to blend all parts of your wardrobe unless you’re willing to compromise, and I don’t recommend dressing down your professional wardrobe. The other day, I was wearing a hoodie and a t-shirt, but the t wasn’t a plain cotton one that I pulled from a table at Old Navy.
It was a drapey rayon blend tee that can be worn under casual hoodies or more dressed up cardigans and even blazers. If you can wear jeans to work, you might be better off going for a simple darker wash pair with no rips or frays or funky hems.
Look for ways to adapt what you’re buying so it will meet in the middle a little more–slightly more refined fits, fabrics, patterns, and silhouettes will go a long way in closing the wardrobe gap.
Finally, have realistic expectations. You may not get 100% of your wardrobe to be a wear-anywhere wardrobe–even though I could, I don’t–I don’t wear athleisure pants on stage, or woven dresses for pizza night, but the majority of my closet could go both places.
Make this a goal to work towards. If you’re not sure where to start, start by identifying 10 pieces in your closet that can go anywhere. Then, when you add to your wardrobe or replace pieces, focus on items that can bridge the gap. There’s no reason to burn down a perfectly good wardrobe and start from scratch.
If you’ve listened to this and you’re thinking “Hey, I’m an HR executive with a goat farm–thank for pointing out why I can’t have one wardrobe”! First, my pleasure, happy to help. Second, what you can do is right-size your wardrobe.
Figure out where you spend your time–is it 50% office, and 50% farm? If so, you should have 50% of work with people’s clothes, and 50% work with goats clothes.
If you spend 90% of your time at home with babies, and 10% working on your new business, you should have 90% of mom clothes and 10% actual adult clothes. If there are sections of your life that require a separate wardrobe, but you don’t do them often, don’t muddle through and have nothing. Just have very few of those pieces, and focus on the way you really live.
Thank you to Callie for asking the question, and If you’re listening, and have a question you’d like me to cover in Office Hours, email it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Once again, I’d like to thank Holding Hangers for sponsoring this episode and don’t forget to visit holdinghangers.com and use code STYLE15 (all caps!) to take 15% off of your first purchase
That’s all for today–see you next week. Until then, stay safe and stylish!