Building A Strong Foundation

I’m so glad you’re joining me in the new year! To get this year started off right, I thought we’d visit the idea of new beginnings. How does that translate to your wardrobe? Well, we go back to the very beginning and analyze our wardrobe foundation.

The fashion industry kinda leads us to believe that in order to have the perfect wardrobe means having a closet full of clothes, and that’s just NOT TRUE. So I thought I’d share with you a simple way to build your wardrobe foundation, without breaking the bank. The following ideas are based off the assumption that you’ve already honed in on your personal style and you know what you’re looking for to build your wardrobe. If you haven’t done that, then I suggest that you go back to my post about Defining Your Style .

Building a versatile wardrobe is about working with a foundation of great staples you can wear everyday. There’s a time and place for special occasion clothes, but this is NOT that place. These are the clothes that you wear on the daily basis, when you have no place to be. When you create a versatile wardrobe, you dress better with little thought and effort. And as a result, you have more confidence because your outfits are naturally turning heads wherever you go.

If you were hoping that I would give you a list of wardrobe essentials and send you on your merry way, this is not the post for that. This is solely for the women who want to learn a simply way of HOW to chose YOUR wardrobe essentials. I have created a free PDF that gives you a list of typical wardrobe essentials , that you could totally go and grab and try to build your wardrobe, but if that is what you’re looking for, I’m sure that you have already downloaded several PDFs about wardrobe essentials and you’re still not sure how to use them… so why not try something new in this new year?

The reason that method hasn’t worked for you thus far is because you’re building your wardrobe from someone else’s style and wardrobe. I believe that your wardrobe essentials should be in line with how you structure your wardrobe and the way that you build your outfits. So while you may have a similar style as someone else, the individual pieces you use to interpret that style will depend on your lifestyle, body shape and color palette. This is why it is referred to as personal style.

Now that we’ve got that out of the way and we’re on the same page, let’s get this show on the road!


So, when I refer to wardrobe essentials, what am I talking about if not a list of common wardrobe pieces? My definition of wardrobe essentials differ from some magazines and blogs. Wardrobe essentials are clothes that convey your personal style and are an important component of many of your outfits. With that being said, overall your essentials are your basics and your key pieces.

The purpose of your basics is to fill in the gaps and balance out your outfits. They are found to be your neutral colors (black, grey, olive, navy, etc.). Basics increase the versatility and wearability of your wardrobe. They complete outfits without being the focus of the outfit.

Key pieces are the work horses of your wardrobe. They are the ones you always turn to for a component to an outfit and if any of them were damaged or lost, your wardrobe would definitely take a style hit. The purpose of key pieces is to express the core of your style, they don’t support or add variety, they ARE your style.

As far as a color palette would go, basics are the neutrals of your color palette and key pieces should feature mostly your main colors. This general guide helps to maintain a balance in versatility, but it doesn’t mean that you can’t experiment with the colors. For example, if I’m working with the color palette below, I would choose key pieces in light blue, white and blush, and basics in black and grey.

Next, let’s talk about your outfit structure. Most people refer to this as an outfit formula. An outfit formula is just a certain combination of your item categories. For example, jeans + tank top + cardigan + booties or maxi skirt + t-shirt + jacket + flats. 

Now, choose two outfit formulas that you wear most often. Depending on how many pieces are in your formula, you should have 5-9 items to focus on. Now remember, we are building just the foundation of your wardrobe, so don’t get distracted by the accent colors, or think that your wardrobe will be boring. You got this!


To make sure you have a solid foundation and versatile wardrobe, choose one item per category and evenly distribute the colors. Make sure that the 5-9 items represent your style and suit your body. You’ll want to choose a day bag as well. And since these pieces are the work horses of your wardrobe, you want to make sure they are well constructed and are of good quality. I’m not talking about going out to buy expensive piece here, because expensive does not equate to quality. But make sure you don’t have holes or frayed edges (unless the garment is constructed that way for fashion). I also don’t want you to go out shopping at this point. You should be looking at the clothes that already in your closet. Shop there first.

This method of choosing key pieces will make sure that your style aesthetic is expressed and will give you two specific outfits, not to mention the potential to mix and match with the rest of your wardrobe.


Now for the basics! Thinking back to the outfit formulas, try choosing the basic versions of your categories. So you’re looking for neutral colors with less detail and slightly less structure (*note: structure depends on your body shape). One basic piece for every category should allow you to make any item in your outfit formula the focal point and also the ability to dress an out fit up or down… #versatility!

So this is your wardrobe foundation in its simplest form. Of course your wardrobe will have more than just key pieces and basics, this is where it all starts. This is your core… your capsule. Now try this on your own making sure to take your lifestyle into consideration. 

If you’d like help or a community to encourage you along the way. Join my Intentional Wardrobe Community on facebook (it’s free). I also run challenges and do weekly office hours where I answer your style and wardrobe questions.

What are some of the essentials you’ve chosen, to build your wardrobe?

Here are links to some items you can add to your wardrobe for basics. I've done the work of finding a few from different price ranges, so you don't have to. To be transparent, I do get a very small commision if you purchase from any of these links. Of course my goal is to help and make things easier for you, so you're not obligated to purchase from these links, you can use them as ideas/inspiration.