If you’d asked me whether I had a handle on classic dressing before I started working at Wardrobe ICONS, I probably would have said yes. But did I love everything I owned? (Not really.) Was my wardrobe versatile? (No again.) Did I often stare into it blankly wondering why I had nothing to wear? (Yes. Daily.)
Turns out that while I had honed a kind of loose personal style over the years, I still had a lot to learn. If you want a closet filled with pieces that will go the distance, there are some universal truths you need to follow. Regular readers will know some of these lessons well (investing wisely is kind of a religion at ICONS), but now we’re entering a new season, consider this your refresher… and my (sniff, sniff) parting words.
BASICS DON’T HAVE TO BE BORING
This one is simple, but so effective. Buying basics-with-a-twist has meant I wear them so much more. For instance, I love teaming dark knitwear with skirts in winter, but of all the black jumpers I own, it’s the one with a few frills that I wear on repeat with everything. Classic, but feels like me. That’s the sweet spot.
QUALITY OVER QUANTITY
As much as I know this to be true in my head, the heart is a minx. Before I started working at ICONS HQ, I would often find myself going down the rabbit hole of a certain high-street store app (rhymes with Shmara) and filling my basket with a few wardrobe pick-me-ups. But the ensuing high is as short-lived as the pieces (side note: I’m still a fan, I’m just much pickier now). What really changed things for me was seeing Laura and Petro invest in one or two considered, premium quality pieces, then living in them for months, reinventing them almost daily with different separates. My new motto is ‘buy less and wear it to death’.
NOT ALL PRINTS ARE MADE EQUAL
Some pills are hard to swallow – and this one was tough. Laura has said to me a million times: you need to invest in good prints, premium designs that have a vintage feel; they will slip effortlessly into your wardrobe and never date. At first I scoffed, thinking she just wasn’t looking hard enough for smarter priced ones. But she was right. Now I would rather have one incredible floral maxi than five generic ones. So I abstained from buying from the high street, and that meant I could afford an incredible Borgo De Nor number in the NET-A-PORTER sale, which I love.
There are women – and we all know at least one or two – who can buy whatever they want. But I have learnt there are just as many who build enviable wardrobes by investing strategically and staying focused. They don’t spend a huge amount, but what they do buy is well chosen. Their head isn’t turned by cheap imitations. And this is what I try to do now. I think about what I need next, where is the gap in my wardrobe? Who does it really well? Then I try to avoid getting extra bits that can easily add up to an ICON in a few weeks or months, and save up. Right now, I want some Dior sling-backs – and they will be mine (sorry, Shmara).
GO ICONIC… WHERE POSSIBLE
It’s not always realistic to buy three beautifully made things a year and anyone who has seen The Devil Wears Prada knows how it works; there are people who buy ready-to-wear, then there are those who wait for the more affordable iterations (which appear at near lightning speed these days). And often, you need to choose. Generally, it’s better to buy trends at a smart price, until you’re sure they work for you. But there are some pieces that never make that journey, so they are on my wish list: a Burberry trench, a quilted cross-body (Saint Laurent or Chanel will do), Prada platform sandals (the only shoe I would ever need for winter parties)… The list goes on.
IS IT GOOD ENOUGH?
This is perhaps the most important lesson I’ve learnt, and it has helped me make much better shopping decisions. It has nothing to do with price. It’s not about the label. It’s about how something fits and feels when you put it on. The way it moves when you walk and sit down. And ultimately, whether you really love it. Most of the time I find the answer is no. The four simple words ‘is it good enough?’ are the secret to not settling, and only adding pieces that tick every box and really make you feel great. Because that’s what a thoughtfully curated wardrobe will do. It will pick you up, polish you off and send you out into the world feeling your very best.
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