Woman's white modern closet

10 Principles for a Good Wardrobe That Will Transform Your Closet

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I’ve talked with thousands of women all at different stages in their fashion journey, and one thing is for sure- building the right wardrobe can be downright difficult at times. How do I know what to buy? And where? What looks good on me? Those all may be questions that you’ve asked yourself, so I created a step-by-step guide to help walk you through the process. But no matter where you find yourself in the process, whether your classic wardrobe is just beginning or fully stocked, there’s a set of principles for a good wardrobe that will transform your closet and the way you view fashion. Keep reading to find out what they are!

1. Make Purchasing Higher-Quality Pieces a Priority

trench coat | bag | jeans | hat | flats | sweater (similar)

What is a “good” wardrobe? Well, this term can be subjective and is defined a little differently from woman to woman, but to help you form your own opinion, it’s helpful to know that synonyms of good are “quality” and “superior”.

With this definition, it makes sense that the first principle of a good wardrobe would be focusing on quality. So the first thing you need to do is reserve your closet space for high-quality clothing pieces and well-made leather goods.

Shopping quality first has many benefits. Quality materials and craftsmanship mean that your clothes will last longer, saving you money in the long run. Not to mention they will look and feel nicer too! Plus, with high-quality clothes, you don’t have to worry about your clothes unraveling in one wash.

I’ve purchased enough cheap clothing where the buttons pop off the pants as I’m putting them on and where the hem comes undone while I’m walking to know that higher-quality and sustainable pieces are my first priority. Spending money on cheap clothes is just so frustrating if nothing else! (Not saying I never shop fast fashion- but fast fashion is not the bulk of my wardrobe anymore.)

When shopping, a good way of checking to see if the clothes are high-quality is to see whether or not they have natural fibers and materials. When clothes are made from natural fibers, they will hold up better over time. The more natural fibers, the fewer clothes you will throw away.

2. Exercise Caution When Shopping at Thrift Stores

In these current times with a focus on clean beauty and sustainable fashion, the fashion industry encourages people to participate in slow fashion by shopping from thrift clothes. Now, I’m all about shopping second hand and I have many thrifted pieces myself. And it’s always a good idea to buy second-hand clothes to reduce, reuse, and recycle. This is an activity I would recommend!

But it’s wise to exercise caution when shopping at thrift stores since the price tags are so low, it can be easy to splurge on clothes that will most likely not be worn. Speaking from experience, I’ve bought many things in the past that I wasn’t sure about and thought it’d be fine to get anyway because they were so cheap. Turns out, I ended up not liking these clothes and never wearing them.

Whether you’re shopping second-hand or not, an important principle to keep in mind is to never buy something just because it is a great deal.

The best alternative to thrifting is being more mindful about the clothing you buy. This brings me to my next point:

3. Consider Opting for a Minimalist Wardrobe

Adopting a minimalist wardrobe helps you to be more mindful about what you buy. Because of a more moderate and simple approach to fashion, a minimalist wardrobe helps you to focus on basics in streamlined colors and in a small amount instead of a wardrobe explosion of random prints, colors, and pieces. Need another reason to consider this? Well, minimalism never goes out of style!

The right clothes should be basic pieces that align with your signature style. By scaling back your pile of clothes to key pieces, you will transform your wardrobe and mental space in the process.

4. Implement Seasonal Capsule Wardrobes

The idea of capsule wardrobes has been a hit in the fashion world for those that already lean toward a minimalist approach. There are different types of capsule wardrobes that women use, such as work capsule wardrobes, vacation capsules, and even one for workout clothes!

But one that you definitely need to achieve the principles for a good wardrobe is a seasonal capsule wardrobe. This curated collection of versatile, timeless pieces, usually with a set number of 30 items has the benefit of stopping you from making tough choices whenever you are creating a look for the seasons.

Reducing your curated wardrobe to a manageable list of clothes will leave your closet with everything that you need for each season.

Related posts:
My Spring Capsule Wardrobe Checklist (& 25 Outfits!)
A Classic Capsule Wardrobe for Summer
Classic Fall Capsule Wardrobe (Shopping List, Outfit Ideas, & More!)
A Winter Capsule Wardrobe That Will Never Go Out of Style

5. Choose Neutral Colors First

A great way of learning the principles of a good wardrobe is by embodying a classic and fashionable aesthetic. And you can easily do this by sticking to a neutral color palette!

People often choose a rainbow of colors to add to their wardrobe, then find putting together outfits challenging. If this describes you, it may be better to pick clothing colors that not only complement your skin tone but complement the other pieces in your closet as well.

Even if you still have color in your wardrobe (not saying everyone should only wear black and white), your other neutral-colored clothes will help balance out your look.

It is easy to be won over by new trends, especially when every fashion influencer on social media is wearing the new “IT” clothes.

However, in a matter of months or even weeks, these trendy items are no longer fashionable to wear in public and now you feel as if you have to keep purchasing the new thing to fit in. Over time, this leaves you with a closet filled with garments that have no real purpose. For most people, trends will only be worn a few times and then tossed, which is a waste of money and time spent shopping.

Now, trends can be fun, and I’d even recommend experimenting with a few to have fun with fashion. But be picky! Do not fill your wardrobe up with whatever is in fashion at the moment. Give it some time for the initial excitement to wear off. Now, do you still like it? Pick 1-2 trendy styles from each season to try out and implement in your wardrobe.

7. Make Wardrobe Staples a Requirement

One of your best bets of mastering the principles for a good wardrobe is by having essential pieces in your arsenal. Adding great pieces like slip dresses is a good idea because they can be seamlessly styled for any occasion. A classic pair of jeans, such as straight legs, is an excellent investment because they easily pair with anything, whether that be blazers, white shirts, or loafers.

Another basic item that you need besides the perfect pair of jeans is a leather jacket. This cool outerwear will take your existing outfits to the next level.

The more wardrobe staples you have, the fewer pointless clothes you will need to add to your collection.

8. Create a Signature Look

The key to learning the principles for a good wardrobe is by discovering your individual style. Once you know what your fashion taste is, you can follow your own style rules. If you love to dress up in business casual attire, then go for it. And if you have a unique style, stick to that signature look.

Most fashionable women have their own uniforms. They wear clothes within their comfort zone, items they can’t live without, and clothes that suit their body type.

Related: How to Create Your Signature Look and a Style That Supersedes Trends

9. Know Where to Shop

The fashion stores that you buy new looks from can either elevate or ruin your wardrobe. Some retailers focus on promoting trendy and cheaply made clothing, while others focus on timeless and quality designs.

A few great places to find new clothing are Everlane and Madewell. There you’ll find well-made wardrobe staples and elegant pieces that will be worth adding to your online cart!

Related: Everlane Sustainable Clothing Review | Good Basics for Your Wardrobe?

10. Fix What You Already Own

Over time, your favorite clothes and shoes start to get a bit worn out, but that doesn’t mean that you have to throw them out!

You can invest in your existing closet pieces by going to shoe restoration companies or a professional seamstress to bring your damaged clothes back to life. Or if you’re handy, you can sew buttons back on and fix tiny rips yourself.

At the very least, using a pill shaver for sweaters keeps them looking fresh and new again! And while we’re on the topic, try to take care of your clothes as best as you can so there’s less to fix in the future. This means properly storing them, not letting mud get caked on your shoes, doing your best to hang up your clothes, treating stains when you see them, etc.

Related: How to Make Clothes Last Longer

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So many women struggle to create a dream wardrobe that is stylish and practical. And I’ve found that most women are looking in the wrong place to start! Constantly buying clothes from cheap places isn’t it. But taking a step back and focusing on these 10 principles will get you there!

Did you know that setting wardrobe goals is the 11th principle for a good wardrobe? Here’s How to Set Wardrobe Goals (& get FREE Templates!)

principles of a good wardrobe
Carolyn Arentson
Carolyn is the founder and creator behind My Chic Obsession. When she's not dreaming up new content, you can find her watching a funny tv show with her husband, raising her two boys, or planning her next trip to Paris.