How to dress with intention and build a wardrobe you love

How much do you think about your wardrobe? Is it all the time, or hardly ever? Are you constantly shopping, looking for new styles, filling “gaps” in your wardrobe? Or have you been wearing basically the same clothes for the last 10 years?

Does it feel like you have nothing to wear or that the clothes you have don't suit you? You have a lot of clothes that you don't wear often because you don't like the colors the fit or the style?

I've spent a lot of time thinking about and curating a wardrobe of clothing that I love. today I'm going to give you some tips that I've learned over the years to curate a wardrobe of clothing that you'll actually love and wear for years.

How to dress with intention and build a wardrobe you love by Making Something Rad

When I was younger we didn't have a lot of money to buy clothes. I had to take whatever my mom could buy for us, and TBH I didn't think about it that much.

When I moved out of the house as a teenager, I suddenly had control over my wardrobe - but I still didn't have a lot of money.

So I spent my money on the cheapest clothing I could find. Usually from places like Wal*Mart, Goodwill, or Ross. at that time I didn't have a handmade wardrobe and I didn't know anything about quality or planning a wardrobe. I focused a lot on quantity and the trendiest clothes I could buy for cheap.

Because of the onset of the cheap, fast fashion industry it became a habit for me to buy a large number of cheap trendy clothing. I soon had a ridiculously large wardrobe. I was also completely messy and didn't organize any of my clothing. Most of my clothing I stored in piles on the floor of my closet. (And sometimes on the floor of my room.) This made it hard for me to even see all of the clothing I had. I remember when I had to move from place to place it was a huge pain in the butt to pack up all that massive amount of clothes and shoes and move it from one place to another. And the most annoying part was I didn't even like most of the clothing I owned.  

Fast forward to my late twenties and I learned how to sew bespoke clothing.

I started to make my own handmade wardrobe. As I learned how to sew “real” garments,  I gained a deep appreciation for quality and construction of clothing. I also realized that I could choose to make clothing that suited me. I could wear fabrics, colors and styles I loved. I became totally dissatisfied with wearing cheap clothing produced in China.

This hasn't always been a perfect process, though. It took me a long time to break my habits and to figure out how to curate my wardrobe properly. I definitely sewed lots of garments in colors, fabrics or styles that didn't suit me. I gave those away to friends or donated them to charity eventually. I've since learned  to choose my fabrics and pattern styles more carefully so that I only spend time sewing things that I will really love.

It’s  been many years but the wardrobe that I currently have is about 80% made by me. I love my clothing and I wear all of it.  My wardrobe is much smaller but I wear my clothing much more often. I almost never shop for clothing - unless it's basics. I don’t spend my sewing time making basic tank tops and leggings. These days, I go clothes shopping to check out styles and trends that I want to copy for myself. It’s a big difference from where I was 10 years ago! I encourage everyone to start making a handmade wardrobe. There are a lot of reasons, which I will go over in another post. But it’s also just really fun and satisfying. You can also start small, modifying clothing you own or just making one or two easy pieces to start.

Cultivating a handmade wardrobe is a lifelong journey!

Here are my top tips for starting to build a wardrobe you love and dressing with intention. These tips are gathered from years of experience, and trial and error on my part.

The first thing you can do to curate your wardrobe is begin to figure out what you own and what you actually want to own. I use the Konmari method. Take every item of clothing and pair of shoes have and lay them out so you can see them.  Do you LOVE this item? Does it delight you? Does the fabric feel fantastic in your hands? Do you feel amazing while you wear it?

Keep only the items that truly delight you. Don't keep any other clothing, even if someone gave it to you. Even if you spent a lot of money on it. Even if you had it for years and you used to love it. Be ruthless! Remove every item you don't love right now from your closet. If you have multiple items that are almost exactly the same choose the one that you love the most and get rid of the rest.

After you've narrowed your wardrobe down a lot, you can start to look at the clothing you own and see and take note of the trends. What colors do you love to wear? Sometimes there’s a difference between colors you love and colors you love to wear. I learned this the hard way.  

What style do you like the most? What kinds of fabric do you like to wear? What clothing suits your lifestyle? Build an awareness of the things that you love that suit you. This will inform your choices for any other clothing you will acquire. I noticed that when I started sewing my handmade wardrobe, chose a lot of fabrics and patterns that I thought were very pretty- but that didn’t suit me. I’ve since learned to choose fabrics and clothing styles that I know I’ll wear.

Don’t rush out and buy new things to fill the gaps after you weed out your wardrobe. Just allow yourself to absorb this new way of thinking about your clothing. Write down your style, color, and fabric likes and dislikes. Start some mood boards, or wish lists.

If you want to start a handmade wardrobe, maybe select a few items to create that will suit your newly curated aesthetic. Pull inspiration from your mood boards. Create a realistic timeline to create your new handmade items. I’ll go over planning a specifically handmade wardrobe in my next post. However, these tips should get you started with curating what you already have, and starting to gain more clarity about your wardrobe planning.

These days, I ruthlessly curate my wardrobe - as well as my pattern collection and fabric purchases. It’s not like I don’t slip up from time to time and purchase a new sewing pattern or fabric that doesn’t suit me well. It just happens way less now, and I realize it a lot sooner. And I never mind gifting things to friends or giving them to charity.

I encourage you to get started thinking about your wardrobe in a more connected way! It’s fun, and it’s so much more satisfying to get dressed every day.

I’m hosting a free webinar this upcoming Sunday, August 27 at 2 PM PST. It will be a Q and A session on how to get started making a handmade wardrobe. If you’re interested, sign up here and I’ll send you the details!

Get your sew on!

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