Principles of a functional wardrobe

Principles of a functional wardrobe

One of my fondest memories is of my granny when I was very young. I used to love watching her get ready. It’s only in my grown-up life that I came to admire and fully appreciate the standard she was upholding herself to. A road engineer in the Soviet Union, she came from very little and worked very hard throughout her life. Her job couldn’t have been any less glamorous with days spent on the road in dust-covered uniform. However, as far as I can remember I’ve never seen her anything but immaculately groomed and dressed outside of work. Her wardrobe was tiny – couple dresses, skirts, tops and jackets. The only accessories she ever wore were scarves. And yet, this woman managed to look sophisticated, polished and fresh. She’s 80 now, barely 5 foot tall, house bound due to health issues and still taking just as much pride in her appearance as she did years ago.

It always puzzled me how someone with so little resources could pull off looking so well. Granny knew how to put a capsule wardrobe together before it even became a thing.

After working with numerous clients, fine-tuning countless wardrobes and narrowing it down to the core principles of a truly versatile wardrobe, I was amazed to discover she already intuitively unlocked the formula.

So what does an efficient wardrobe have that your current wardrobe might be falling short on?

Here is my list of principles that proved to make or break wardrobe’s functionality:

  1. COLOUR PALETTE – unless you carefully consider what colours you’re bringing into your wardrobe, you’ll be forever struggling with putting looks together. A versatile colour palette needs to feature dark neutrals (don’t settle for black, there are plenty of other versions out there!), light neutrals and a selection of bright colours to liven up the wardrobe. Ideally, all the colours should mix and match effortlessly.

summer work capsule


summer casual capsule


2. BALANCE BETWEEN BASIC STAPLES AND DETAILED PIECES – most things you see in the sets above are basic staples. They are like a blank canvas that you can effortlessly play around with. One very important thing – basics don’t have to be dark! Basic staples are the perfect foundation for the wardrobe because of their cut. They can be any colour! However, the previous principle is key here – you have to think the colours through!

What are the detailed pieces? Well, they are all those items that many women get excited by but then struggle to mix and match with, be it due to a complicated cut, asymmetric silhouette, details, etc. Is there a place for items like that in the wardrobe? Absolutely! They can significantly spice up the wardrobe. But just like with the colour palette, you have to be careful with the amount and style of them.

At times it can be hard to get excited by the basics and the temptation of going for something ‘a bit more interesting’ can take you down the wrong path. But would you rather have a robust hassle-free wardrobe where items can create a variety of looks like lego pieces or have meltdowns every morning trying to make your ‘subject of interest’ work?

basic staples vs detailed pieces

3. LAYERING OPPORTUNITIES – a lot of women don’t even pause to think how they’ll be mixing and matching with the new buy and layering on top/underneath of it. The cut of the item will determine not only how versatile it is in regards to creating different looks, but also how layer-friendly it is. Most basic staples will give you plenty of layering options while with most detailed items layering can be a challenge.

4. LIFESTYLE SUITABILITY – this principle might seem like a very obvious one, but from my experience it is one of the most common downfalls in half of the wardrobes I see. It usually comes down to the lack of proper inventory of what’s currently happening with your day-to-day life. I’ll give you an example – so many of my clients who are new moms keep getting attracted to things they used to wear before having kids. In reality, heels, structure and dry-clean-only tags are a new mom’s worst enemies. The wardrobe needs to reflect those lifestyle changes. Comfy jeans, stylish flats, cosy knits and relaxed blazers are a much better route to explore in that scenario.

I will even go as far as admitting to this mistake myself. I am forever in love with stilettos but spending 8 hours in heels in the shops is never a good idea. When shopping for shoes, I have to drag myself away from heels to go and look at flats, even though they rarely excite me. I have to remind myself that all my fancy heels let me down every morning I am getting ready for a day of shopping appointments. It’s like Sophie’s choice at times even for me! But you have to remember – an item is absolutely useless to you if you have nowhere to wear it to! Keep that in mind when reviewing your wardrobe or buying new pieces.

If you are struggling to get dressed in the morning, I can guarantee that you’ve broken at least one of the above principles. It might seem like it’s a lot to consider when shopping but taking into consideration the role our wardrobe plays in our lives, it’s well worth the effort! I’ll be discussing these principles in more detail in the upcoming posts so keep an eye out!

Chat soon,

Natalie x


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