Real Help for the Style Challenged

Recently I wrote about the state of my wardrobe – it’s bursting at the seams but I have nothing to wear. Well guess what? A stylist has come to my rescue. Judging from the comments that post generated, she’s going to rescue many of you too.

So today I’m going to hand you over to the amazing Nikki Parkinson ( who has written this post just for us. Enjoy!

What’s in your drawers?

I don’t have a room-sized wardrobe. My husband fights for as much space as me in our tiny built-in cupboard. I mean how many shirts can a man own? Geez.

Back to me.

I’m a work-from-home mother who needs a multiple personality wardrobe that offers outfits for everything from corporate meetings to playground visits.

In short, I ask a lot from what’s hanging in that small space. And most days my wardrobe offers up what I need.

Before you switch off and think that I waltz around looking nothing short of polished perfection 24/7, I’m here to tell you that is SO not the case.

I have an inner dag streak (Australian term of endearment that often fails to translate successfully in any other country) and it likes to come out to play whenever it has a chance.

But what I have done to keep my inner dag in check is to make sure that even my casual clothes are at least respectable if someone shows up at the door (even if my hair looks like a dog’s breakfast). And, importantly I have the building blocks (see below) sitting in my wardrobe that will help pull together any outfit at a moment’s notice.

Have I always been like this? No. I’ve made plenty of stupid purchases and style blunders in my youth. In can’t blame “what was I thinking purchases?” on the recklessness of youth (umm, because I’m no longer, well, youthful).

And since I dropped my journalism career three years ago for personal styling and blogging, I figure I have to practise what I preach.

So excuse me while I pop on some lippie and step up to my style pulpit.

1. Do not buy any more clothes until you have pulled EVERYTHING out of your wardrobe to discover what’s actually in there. Only put back what you actually wear NOW. Out-of-date items go to charity. Garments that don’t fit do as well – or at least in storage out of sight (keeping them on show is pure torment). Clothes from another season go to storage or another cupboard, as do sentimental items.

2. Organise your remaining outfits so that the clothes you wear most days are most visible. No use having that sequined bolero winking at you if the last time you went out was six years ago … before kids. Once again, torment.

3. Take a seat and pour a glass of wine. You’ve earned it.

4. Before the second glass write down all the activities or work that your week could throw at you. Do you have clothes that suit each of those needs?

5. If you don’t, these are the gaps you need to fill in your wardrobe. Write a list, store it in your handbag and pour another vino.

6. On a day when you are not hungover from aforementioned wine consumption and don’t have to look after small children – devote two hours to shopping that list. Don’t deviate for grocery shopping. This is all about you … not what’s for dinner.

7. Don’t feel you have to fill that list on that day. Consider it a work in progress and carry it with you at all times. That way when a totally inappropriate pair of shoes screams at you, “buy me, I’m so beautiful”, you’ll be strong and say, “yes, you are beautiful but you’d be lonely in a box in my cupboard, you need to go home with someone else.”

8. Happy with the clothes in your wardrobe but feel “blah” when wearing them? Add a coloured / textured scarf or a statement necklace and let the comment love flow.

These are your wardrobe building blocks. Don’t buy anything else until you’ve checked these boxes first:

1. Little black dress
You’ll still be wearing a well cut, quality black dress in 2020, long after you’ve packed off a yellow painter-print dress to Vinnies (much-loved Aussie charity).

2. A no-iron casual dress
Mine is black – but any neutral would work. It always looks good, only needs a machine wash and requires no iron. Therefore it’s always ready for duty.

3. The white shirt – or t-shirt
In winter, make this a tailored piece that can be worn tucked in for corporate or out with a vest with jeans. In summer, swap your shirt for a quality white tee.

4. The well-cut pair of jeans
Don’t be tricked into buying a pair of jeans because that style is the current trend. Try on dozens until you find a pair that suits your shape – and is comfortable to wear.

5. The coat or blazer
Invest in a classic trench or well-cut blazer to layer over your autumn and spring clothes if out at night. For a colder winter you need a both a warm, stylish wool coat and a casual coat.

6. Tailored black pants
The same rules apply here as they do for jeans. Search high and low until you find a cut that fits and flatters your shape.

7. The black top
Like the LBD, a black top will combine wonderfully with jeans to create a go- anywhere look that looks stylish.

8. Statement accessories
Accessorise with intent! Jewellery when done well can make an outfit stand out from the crowd – or make your wardrobe essentials sing. Plus, jewellery always fits – no matter how much of a fat day you’re having. Don’t leave home without adding one thing.

9. Shoes
For winter, ballet flats and boots; for summer, strappy flats and wedges. A pair of platform, peep-toe shoes will see you though the whole year for special occasions.

Didn’t I tell you she is amazing? You can access her blog by clicking here.

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