Aug 22, 2012

Refining Your Style: a wardrobe-wrangling guide for the alternative style-schizophrenic

If you are reading this blog, you probably love clothes. You probably love fashion, and maybe many diverse, obscure fashions all at once. In an attempt to create a complete wardrobe for each of these styles, its easy to end up with a lot more than most people can handle. The result can be really disorganized, both for your style, and physically in your closet! Everyone wants an interesting and diverse collection to pull from, but no one wants to deal with the headache of managing an overflowing closet of mismatched, inharmonious items that are impossible to make sense of.

Every fashionista strives for that look that they alone define. Most who do it successfully, even those who wear multiple styles, achieve wardrobe unity through refining of their style, and a close shave to their wardrobe. Even if at first it seems counter-productive, the key to creative dressing is often to limit your wardrobe to a handful of pieces that really express your aesthetic.

Fantastic closet from Diana D's Lookbook

Phase One: Finding Your Personal Aesthetic

1) Do a personal inventory: Search yourself and acknowledge your interests beyond fashion. Refining your style is about more than the garments you purchase and wear, its about creating an  expressing a creation of self. Consider your lifestyle, hobbies, and social life. Does your wardrobe fit the part? Do you want it to? Always remember, dress yourself for the life you want to live.

2) Make an inspiration Tumblr: Post things that inspire you aesthetically and in mood, and only that. Try to keep the blog strictly aesthetic. The purpose of this is to be able to easily look at your archive. Most likely, you will see a pretty strong themes in the things you have posted over time, and you might surprise yourself by how cohesive your tastes actually are. 

3) Be honest with yourself about your tastes: Sometimes its easy for those interested in alternative fashion to lump themselves into a specific subculture. Naturally its alright to like more than one style, but admit to yourself when you are growing into new tastes. The motivations that lead you to your original style will probably still be there, but they might be on the verge of metamophizing into something new.

This person really has a clear aesthetic just judging by their shoe collection. I wish I had the source!

Phase Two: Cleaning out your closet
1) Acknowledge when you have too much and set a guideline for a full wardrobe: Be honest with yourself about how much clothing you actually need. Know what this is and make it a goal to pair down to. The Everyday Goth and FYeah Lolita! both have great articles, for goths and lolitas respectively, about how to know when your wardrobe is complete.

2) Get rid of worn-out items: I have a tendency to think things look better with age. Sometimes this is true, but most the time, it isn't. Don't let nostalgia trap you with dozens of stretched-out sweaters and faded blacks. Exceptions can be made for you 12-year old Burzum t-shirt (which I will keep for ever!)

3) Choose a color palette and stick to it: Choose three basic colors, and two or three accent colors. Mine are black, grey, and off-white, and my accent colors are muted blue and wine red. If you want to experiment with a style, its much easier to switch out a secondary color and match it to one of your primaries.

4) Avoid holding onto things because you "might" wear them: I am absolutely terrible about this. I love clothes and I tend to collect things that I may or may not even intend to wear because I find the garments interesting.  If you do this, and absolutely cannot make yourself give your excess up, it might be wise to invest in a storage unit, or have a separate closet or rack for the clothing in your "collection" verses for your wardrobe. It's important to avoid mixing them!

5) Sell things: EGL Comm Sales Livejournal community is a great place to sell second-hand lolita, but you can also sell things on Etsy, Ebay, or locally at consignment shops like Buffalo Exchange, Plato's Closet, or Crossroads.

Photo courtesy of, but borrowed from Lady Inky's post on
deciphering your lolita closet!
Phase Three: Keeping your new look clean
1) Avoid impulse buys: Remember this experience of letting go and question if you really need that new "it" dress or bag.

2) Try to buy for quality, not quantity: Seek out really special pieces. They should be versatile, bold, and really embody your aesthetic. Try to uphold a standard of quality, even if that means buying less often than you were previously.

3) Don't buy for the label: When you start trying to collect quality pieces, its easy to convince yourself to buy simply because an item is from a certain brand. If its Vivienne Westwood, it must be good, right? Don't clutter your wardrobe with superfluous pieces, even if they are of great quality, they still must really speak to, and add something, to your style.

Most of all, remember that refining your style, and your wardrobe, is about creating a style that is uniquely and genuinely you! Have fun!

1 comment:

  1. This is one of the most concise and cohesive guides for refining one's aesthetic that I have seen yet. If you don't mind, I'd like to reference this post in a future blog post of my own.

    What I especially enjoyed about your tips is the step 1.1: looking to your life for your aesthetic. Our style choices are so indicative of how we see the world and what we find beautiful. They really should be integrated with our philosophy.

    Beyond that, all your other tips were brilliant.