Do You Have “Rules” for Your Wardrobe?

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Yesterday, I went to visit Lauren Podoll at her boutique in Burlingame. And while looking at her collection, I told her something that I had never told anyone before out loud. I’ve commented here and there, but never in a conversation had I actually vocalized it.

I have set rules for my wardrobe.

The decision came after I had my baby, and I needed to buy clothes for the in-between stages as well as coming to grips with the fact my life was different. That all the clothes I had packed away before the baby had a thing in common. I bought them because they were fun, because they inspired me, because they were on sale, whatever. Thinking that just getting whatever tickled my fancy would inevitably lead me to finding my “style” it was a surprise that it actually didn’t happen. I was nowhere nearer to figuring out my style at 38 than I was at 28.

 Thinking that just getting whatever tickled my fancy would inevitably lead me to finding my “style” it was a surprise that it actually didn’t happen. I was nowhere nearer to figuring out my style at 38 than I was at 28.

What’s more, was I found that I bought a lot of clothes that I never wore. That looked cute in the store or online, but weren’t really my jam. You know, like this neon yellow mullet dress. I wore it once to the beach. Never again. Ever.

So where to begin when making “rules” for my wardrobe? Trends change and no one wants to be stuck in a fashion rut. Say, quitting mini-skirts? No. I cannot swear off forever mini skirts or boot-cut jeans.

But I can limit my color palette.

Thinking back to my post about being inspired by how men approach their wardrobe, I decided to take a look at what colors are usually available season after season. Like, when was the last time you thought, “I can’t find anything black this season?” Committing to ONE color would be difficult for most people, especially me, but if I had defined my colors, I could decide which colors I love every year.

My timeless colors.


Colors that I always love. Like, how I always have an army green jacket in my closet, since at least 1992. How I always wear denim. How red is my favorite color. How I always have a brown bag. I’m old enough to know that a color I like for a couple of years is nice, but a passing whimsy (orange anyone?) And nothing names a specific time like trend colors like “Radiant Orchid.” Gosh, “Oxblood” is so 2012.

Anyway, my colors. What constitute as “Neutral” for me.

  • Black
  • White
  • Grey
  • Brown
  • Tan/Beige
  • Navy Blue / Indigo
  • Light Blue / Chambray
  • Olive Green
  • Red

You can pair any one of these colors with each other and will always come up with a match. Of course, color is more complex than you think. How many shades of red are there? What about two browns that are too close to each other? Or a Olive and a Navy that doesn’t contrast enough. Over the past nine months, it’s proven to be a great baseline in what I purchase.

But, as far as anything else goes, all bets are off. You know I’m working on a culottes post. I’ll try just about anything.

As long as it’s black (or white, grey, brown, blue, olive or red).

Do you have “rules” for your wardrobe?

jennineDo You Have “Rules” for Your Wardrobe?

Comments 25

  1. Ashley

    Oh hail yeah, girl! I did this years ago - set a palette for my wardrobe. I buy less. I buy what will mix and match. And occasionally, I find something that genuinely works that wasn’t in the original palette (coral, for example). But I still buy it sparingly, and I try to make sure I have a few ways to make it work! For me, I set my neutrals, and then picked a tonal family to stay within: jewel tones to earth tones. Nothing pastel. Nothing neon. Nothing in that candy family (except that damn turquoise dress I had to have). And it just… works.

    1. Post

      Can I say I LOVE how you went with a tonal family? I was thinking about that, and maybe I will branch out once I get comfortable with my base colors. Jewel tones are so flattering, and always pleasant to look at, especially for people like us, the “Autumns” (remember that?) :)

  2. déjà pseu

    Yes, absolutely! Because I work in an office, a coherent wardrobe is a must. Most of what’s in my closet is either black, white, grey or navy. I occasionally bring in color with scarves, shoes, and the occasional top.

    1. Post

      Oh that office wardrobe! I miss working in an office sometimes, but you’re right, it does call for a bit more subdued wardrobe (people still do talk by the water cooler still?) anyway, but like Dana, accessories can really make a wardrobe pop!

  3. Ulrike

    I probably need to get with it…but maybe the rules to my wardrobe are that I am a bit nutty…..with my colours and all. However, I am drawn to more muted tones sometimes, but that has more to do with my body image than my taste. I do like my all black look when I feel a bit fluffy…but everyone has those days.

    1. Post

      Oh yes, tell me about it. I do have those days quite a bit, and black does help with that!

  4. DWJ

    So I have essentially been embarking on buying a new wardrobe in the last few months. Since I got a dog six months ago I’ve lost 30 pounds (yay doggy!) and I really put a lot of thought into what I was purchasing. I always knew I had rules like pencil skirts, fit and flare dresses, shirts without collars (I don’t have a lot of neck). I know what styles and cut definitely suit my body but for as much as I love color I’ve been buying tons of neutrals and lots of black and white. I’ve been using my accessories and shoes to be more of my bold pops of color and my makeup but I’ve toned done my wardrobe a lot. Rules make sense and everything now pretty much mixes and matches.

    1. Post

      That’s a really great way to approach your wardrobe, especially for someone accessory savvy such as yourself! I get overwhelmed with accessories, so it’s hard for me to commit. That said they are FANTASTIC for updating a look on the quick!

  5. Lisa

    Yes, a palette, and it’s very similar to yours. Except substitute light blue/turquoise in for red. Also, small-figure patterns good, large-figure patterns bad;). And no skinny jeans.

    1. Post

      OH my goodness, I wanted to start with the patterns, but couldn’t decide other than “no polkadots”! Eek! And skinny jeans, I think they’re on the way out. People are wearing more relaxed jeans now. Whew!

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  7. Francesca

    When I switch wardrobe for the season I realize that my choices land on a few basic colors alternated by animal print, that universal pattern that coexist regardless of the season (although in different items and textures).
    I admire women like you who are comfortable in vibrant nuances though, as I am never good at reds for example!

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  12. Rachel Holliday

    Hi :) I think your palette is fab- it means you can invest in quality pieces that never go out of style! I personally don’t have rules, but I seem to go through colour stages where I seem to buy a certain colour, at the moment it’s pale blue.

    I really should give my wardrobe more of a structure though because, like you, there are some pieces I’ve only worn once!

    Rachel xxx


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  18. save. spend. splurge.

    Midnight / Ink Blue has become a staple now. Oddly enough so has citron yellow (in accessories)…


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