Wednesday, November 26, 2014

How to Build a Wardrobe

How to Build a Wardrobe

Over the years, I’ve been asked on several occasion to share on how to build a wardrobe from scratch if one is wanting to start dressing modestly, yet chic. When I was first asked this question, I didn’t feel like I knew all the answers, especially since I was just learning myself. In fact, my entire fashion journey of wanting to dress more stylish, yet modestly is documented here on Bramblewood Fashion. So, yeah I wasn’t ready before, but now that I have learned more about fashion, what are my go-to’s, and I have learned tips on finding good quality clothes at a bargain price [for me at least]. Also, I have been personally helping a friend build her wardrobe over the past year [Hello, Liz!]. 

Analyze Your Current Wardrobe

Your first step is to take a look at your current wardrobe, and see what you have to work with already. 
  • Try everything on and see how it fits. Make sure your clothing fits you properly, as there is nothing like too big, or too small clothes to ruin an outfit. 
  • If things are looking drab, have holes, fraying, etc...they should be tossed. Unless you want them for work clothes [meaning for yard work, etc...]. 
  • Take notes of what will still work in your updated wardrobe look, as you don’t want to buy everything new at once, since that isn’t really nice on anyone’s pocketbook [no matter what the budget, unless you've been saving up for awhile]. 
Make A Battle Plan [And Stick To It] 

After you have analyzed your wardrobe and have discovered what will work, or won't work, you are ready to make a shopping list. What should be on your shopping list to help build a wardrobe? Well, that will vary from person to person. As everyone has a different style, and what one likes to wear. But since we need an example of some kind, I will share what my list would look like if I lost all of my clothes. The horror!

Over the years my style has evolved, which is only natural since people change and grow as a person. I would say that my current style is a mix of: European, Classic, Preppy, Hipster, and a touch of Vintage. Though I can dabble with other styles, when the mood strikes me. So, what would my wardrobe basics be?
  • Several Dresses [one has to be black] -- Why? I’m a dress person, plus my Dad really likes us girls in dresses. Also they are handy for those days that you don’t know what to wear.
  • 1 Black Skirt [a-line or pencil] -- Everyone needs at least one black skirt, as they go with everything. I typically only wear black skirts now days, since so much goes with them, and they look classy.
  • 1 Fun Skirt [polka-dot, floral, striped,etc...] -- I think that everyone need at least one fun skirt in their wardrobe, one that makes them smile when ever they put it on. I have several that fit this bill.
  • 1 Maxi Skirt -- Umm...these are the dress-up version of yoga pants. You need one in your life, if you don’t own one already.
  • 3 Button-Ups [Solid colored, Plaid, Gingham, Novelty Print, etc...] -- Button-Ups are awesome for several reasons: they can be dressed up [or down] for any outfit & you can layer them over dresses and other tops.
  • Basic Solid Colored Tees -- You will need at least one basic tee in the following colors: black, white, cream, and some shade of grey. You can also pick up tees in your favorite colors, but make sure they match your other clothes too.
  • Striped Tee -- They are amazing and go with so many other styles and patterns.
  • 1 or 2 Pairs of Jeans -- If you like to wear jeans, I would recommend picking up a pair of nice jeans in your favorite cut to be apart of your basic wardrobe. My favorite are bootcut & skinny.
  • 3 Cardigans -- Be sure to have at least one black cardigan, and one in another basic color [white, cream, navy, grey] before picking up some fun colorful ones.
  • 2 Jumpers/Sweaters -- My favorite neutral color for jumpers is between taupe, cream, and camel. Make sure one of them is neutral color, as it will go with everything in your wardrobe.
  • 1 Jean Jacket -- It goes with everything, and you will find yourself grabbing it all the time.
I feel like that covers the basics of what everyone should included in their wardrobe, as everything else is down to personal taste and style: like blazers, bomber jackets, and what not. Of course, there are the other basics that every wardrobe needs like: cami's/tanks, slips, leggings, tunics [only if you wear jeans], etc... most of which can be found at Forever 21 for super cheap.

Where to Shop For Your New Wardrobe + Money Saving Tips

I’m all about saving money, and not paying full-price for my clothes [unless I can’t help it, because I need it right away], so I’m known as the coupon & saving money queen to my friends. In fact, I’ve been known to picked up things from department stores like: J.C.Penney and Kohl’s for FREE! How can you do this? Well, you sign-up for their coupons and money saving programs [NOT THEIR CREDIT CARDS], and only shop the clearance racks when they are on major discount [50% or more off the lowest price].

Of course, these aren’t the only places you can find modest clothing [options can be find in any store, just about]. These are just where I personally buy things for my wardrobe, and my tips for saving money for when I do shop at these stores. Okay?

    Stores & Their Money Saving Programs/Sales
  • Kohl’s -- Usually not a big fan of their sales, as their prices are typically still rather high, but they do sell Lauren Conrad’s clothing and jewelry line -- so I do pick up her stuff occasionally when they are on sale. Their Kohl's Loyalty Program is: $5 reward for every $100 dollars spent, also during the holidays you can earn double points for every dollar you spend. 
  • J.C.Penney -- They typically have really good sales around Black Friday, also their prices don't have any cents added to them, so there is no tricky mind-games done with their prices. Also, totally sign-up to receive their coupons, for every $100 spent within a month you will receive a $10 off coupon. 
  • Clothes Mentor -- A national resale store that features a lot of higher-end brands in their store like: Anthro, ModCloth brands, Loft, Ann Taylor, J.Crew, Shabby Apple, etc...They also do sell the lower-priced brands too like: Target, Forever 21, and H&M. They do have a money saving program that you can sign-up for too. 
  • GoodWill -- First Saturday of the Month their entire store is 50% off [at least in Indiana]. 
  • If you live in the Indy area, my all-time favorite local resale shop is called, Simply Chic -- they only sell higher-end brands like: Anthropologie, J. Crew, Ann Taylor, ZARA, Madewell, Free People, etc... Their program is that after you spend $300 dollars you receive a 20% off coupon to use for one week, once redeemed. Also throughout the year they have some really awesome sales.
  • Forever21 -- They don't have any money saving programs, but their stuff is cheap and lasts for several seasons [at least for me]. My favorite time to shop at F21 is from autumn through spring, for during the summertime there is hardly anything that I really want to buy from there. 
  • J.Crew -- Definitely stick to their Factory store [outlet], rather than their normal store as they typically have more markdowns and better sales, especially around Christmas time which is when I do my major shopping [can't beat 60%-70% off the lowest price].
  • H&M -- They don't have a money saving program, but they have amazing sales around the holiday's and on Black Friday. Also, if you sign-up for their emails, sometimes they will send you coupons. This is the store where I love to buy my jumpers/sweaters -- and I hardly ever pay over $10 for one. Score.
Helpful Tips

Don't be overwhelmed when building a new look for your wardrobe, as it will take time to find all the perfect parts for your wardrobe. I've been working on creating a wardrobe that is more "me" and my current style slowly over the past two, or so years via thrift stores, thredUP, and good clearance sales at stores during their holiday months.

If higher-end brands and designers are more your style, look for look-alikes in your price point. For example, I really like the look of the following brands: J.Crew, Anthropologie, Madewell, Zara, Kate Spade, etc.... So I will study what styles are their "key style" and find copycats at other stores, for a much cheaper price point.

If you have any questions, leave them in the comments!

~Ashley, xxx


  1. These tips are really helpful! I'm looking forward to using them as I try to grow my own wardrobe. Thanks!

  2. This is great! The only thing I would add would be to invest in colors that really look good on you, as the color of something can make such a difference!

  3. Great blog post! Come have a look at our Blog and our Modest Fashion website for your modest fashion needs plus lots of styling tips!


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