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Friday, February 17, 2012

Building a Remixable Wardrobe, Part 2: Shopping for Remixable Pieces



Me, the Uncreative Type
It was tricky to write this post because there's no clear way to do this.  Some of you are very creative and can buy almost any piece and figure out how to work it in later.  Since I'm not naturally that creative, I found it helpful to create checklists of basic criteria that help me determine whether a garment will be versatile for me.

And, that's what I'm showing you today.  But first, some guidelines...

#1 - These are not meant to be rigid.  The checklists I created were more like training wheels when I first started out remixing.  As remixing becomes more natural to me, these lists get used less.

#2 - Don't get bogged down by specifics.  I give lots of examples, and the only reason I give specifics is to jog your mind to help you figure out what kinds of checklists will work for you.  Some of the things on my checklist may not work for your wardrobe needs, but keep in mind the broader idea of creating a checklist, esp if you need training wheels.

#3 - Don't get overwhelmed.  I offer "routes" as alternative frameworks you could use to create your own lists, and I throw a lot of info your way to spark ideas for you to create your own checklist.  I do not use each "route."  I pick one for each category, so don't think you have to use them all.

That said, here are my checklists and other ideas for how you can create your own!





My Checklists

General Question
With anything--tops, skirts, pants, dresses--I ask, "Does the color or print work with at least 3 pieces that are already in my closet?"  If not, then remixing it will not be very easy, and if you're on the training wheels track, you need easy.


Tops
When searching for remixable tops, a couple of different routes you can go are by structure or scenario.  Structure tests versatility through the ability to change the shape of a top.  Scenarios test versatility through the ability to wear it for different occasions.

Route 1: Structure


Can I tuck, tie/knot, and belt it, and does it look good without doing any of those?
Here are some examples:



I aim for a shirt to do all four, but I'll buy it if it does at least three.  I'll even settle for two if it works with a lot of different types of bottoms.  (Like I said, this isn't rigid.)


Route 2: Scenario

Can I wear this casually, to work, and dressed up?
(Two out of three of those would be sufficient for me.)

The way I'd check this is by having a staple bottom for each of those categories.  These staples are basically saying, "At the very least, this should be able to pair with these _____."  If the shirt can pair with a standard bottom in each of these categories, chances are it can pair with a lot of other things too.  Everything else is a bonus.

Example of staples for each category:
  • casual - skinny jeans
  • work - trousers
  • dressy - black pencil skirt


The staples from your closet could be different than mine.  Ex. cargo pants for casual, a red or denim pencil skirt for work, or a flowy or sequined skirt for dressed up, etc.  

MAIN IDEA: I identified some key pieces to fit each of these categories so that when I'm shopping I can quickly run through this list and know that the top will work in a couple of different scenarios.




UPDATE 7/30/12 - Here's an updated picture of a remixable top from Daisy Ray Boutique:


It shows how to remix through testing both structure and scenario.  The top can be worn (from L to R in pic) casual, casual-dressy, for work, and for a party!




Skirts
For skirts, I base my questions on scenarios because there's less ability to change the structure of a skirt.

Like with tops, I have staples to measure the versatility of a skirt, too.  Skirts are a little more complicated because you have to be able to mix and match on top and on the bottom, so that would be shoes and shirts.

I try to pick a pair of staple shoes and a shirt for each category: casual and dressy.  If you need work-wear, add that too.

My shoe staples:

Does it go with my boots, flats, and pumps?

casual - boots & flats // any of my colored shoes = bonus! [other possible staples for you: sandals
dressy - pumps [other possibilities: metallic heels, peep toe wedges, etc.]


Shirts:

Does it go with a t-shirt and a dressy shirt?

casual - any t-shirt
dressy - pink or black blouse [other examples: sequined top, leopard blouse, etc.]


After that, mixing and matching is soooo much easier.  Here I even mixed the casual tee with dressy pumps!





Dresses
For dresses I go through the same shoe checklist as I do for skirts.

Besides that, there are sooooo many routes you can go to make a checklist for dresses.  Don't get overwhelmed!  Remember, just pick one.

Route 1: Layering
I'm not big on layering things underneath my dresses besides tights, plus San Diego's too warm for that.  But if you live in a cooler climate, being able to layer underneath might be something to consider on your dress checklist.

My layering checklist:

Does it look good with a blazer, army vest, and cardigan?

Really, I'm just looking for a handful of "completer" pieces.  (Typical completer pieces are blazer, vest, cardigan, any cropped or fitted jackets--denim, moto jacket, tweed, etc.)  The more distinct they are, the better, but 3 different colored cardigan options can work too.  It's all up to what you want your criteria to be!


Above you see the dress with 3 different finisher pieces and three different shoe options.


Route 2: Accessories
The ability to wear different belts and tights can also make a dress versatile.  When remixing this olive dress I've mostly done it with accessories like tights, belts, scarves, necklaces, and shoes.


Four different belts, four different shoes.  Some other accessories here and there.


Route 3: Warm & Cool Weather
Another way you could form your checklist is simply with two options: Can I wear this in both warm weather and cooler weather?  ie. by itself & with boots/tights/sweater?  (As seen with both dresses above.)



Hopefully you aren't overwhelmed and made it through alive!

Special tip: To remember these things, you can put the checklist on your phone.  I keep them in Evernote. Or you could pin the checklists.  I tried to make as many of them as I could into images so you could easily save it for reference.

Remember, the bigger picture is to create a basic, quick checklist you run through.  You don't have to run through every item in your closet--that's why I just listed one staple per category.  You'll find other possibilities outside of those, but pairing the item with the checklist of staples lets you know if it's something you can work with or not.

Whew!  I'm TIRED now, so I shall be off.  Happy weekend, and happy remixing!




For all 5 parts of the Building a Remixable Wardrobe Series, click here.

**If you need help building a wardrobe from scratch, check out the other series Wardrobe From Scratch.

85 comments:

  1. Girl, what would we do without you?!? Thanks again for taking so much time to do these posts for us!  I have grabbed some great ideas and inspiration!  Keep up the fab work!!  It's appreciated!!


    Because
    Shanna Said So

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  2. This is a fabulous post and I just read part one too.  Thanks for putting this together for us.  I've gotten some really great tips on how to take an outfit one step further.  

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  3. Very inspiring post - thank you so much! It's all very clear and easy to follow.

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  4. This was very fun and helpful (and I'm sure a lot of work to put together!) Thanks for sharing!

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  5. I can tell you put a lot of time and effort into this post and as a avid reader of your blog I appreciate this post a LOT, because I like you am not a naturally creative person either. OH if there were a way to save this post as a favorite! kudo's to you. I love all these looks

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  6. Just found your blog and I LOVE your style.  Keep all the great posts coming.....I'm working on my closet next :)

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  7. Thanks so much for all the time and thought it takes to post such a thorough post like this.  You communicated everything really well and gave such practical advice!   Very helpful!

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  8. Another great post!  You did a great job talking through your checklists and providing visual examples.  Very helpful!  Awesome outfits as well!  I'll be thinking of your tips as I add and subtract from my wardrobe.

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  9. so glad i stumbled on your blog, that was so informative and so useful!  thanks audrey!  cant wait for next week's installment!

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  10. Another great post! Love this. I've been trying to do a better job imagining shirts, in particular, in different ways. I like the two out of 3 and 3 out of 4 methods listed above. I think that's a great guideline when looking for pieces. I get bored with my wardrobe often and instead of shopping even more (although that's fun), I can try mixing it up a little more and reinventing some things. 

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  11. You.are.brilliant. Great post. Clipping it to my Evernote account for future reference :)

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  12. Audrey, I was so excited when I saw that you posted this today, I have been waiting for part 2!  This is SUCH great advice, I tend to buy things sometimes and they end up only going with one thing, or I only think about wearing them with one particular item.  I'm going to have to play dress up this weekend and use your advice to come up with new outfits for clothes I already have.  I do find it a little difficult to make sure my proportions look good.  I wear a size 12 and have to wear bigger size tops because I have large "girls" so sometimes I find it hard to choose tops especially and completer pieces.  Anyway, thanks again for this post, I'll be putting a link on my blog so that more readers can take your fabulous advice!  Take care!
    www.whenindoubtwearredmyblog.blogspot.com

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  13. Some of these are becoming a little more natural for me when I'm shopping, but I've never thought about it all so thoroughly - and still end up with some purchasing regrets sometimes, even though I'm much better at remixing than I used to be. I am a girl who loves a checklist though, so I definitely want to try this out the next few times I go shopping and see how it works for me. Thanks for all the great tips!

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  14. I'm so glad to hear that, Nicole! Eventually down the road after the stuff on building a removable wardrobe I hope to post on things like dressing for your body type etc!

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  15. This is awesome and such great advice. :) I need to use your checklist every time I go the mall! :)

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  16. Thank you so much for the awesome posts and checklists! The photos are incredibly helpful as well. I will be saving this for future shopping trips, and as I go through my closet :) I recently found your blog and it is has become one of my favorites!

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  17. I love this post! I'm currently trying to build my remixable wardrobe so these are great tips... though tricky to remember when I get caught up in the moment in the store.

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  18. Awesome post! Im going through my closet currently and eliminating the excess that never gets worn and trying to add in a few pieces that can be remixable... this is a great cheet sheet for that :)

    xo Teresa
    www.delightfullydarling.com

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  19. Thanks for this series of posts!  Great tips and nice reminders :)

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  20. i always love seeing different ways people wear items in their closet, and your tips are spot on.  if i buy a printed top or skirt, i definitely try to pick out at least 2 colors that i can match with a cardigan or blazer or solid top or bottom to keep it fresh.  i think that definitely helps you get the most out of your wardrobe!

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  21. Absolutely lovely!  I look forward to seeing what you have to post in the future!  xoxo A

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  22. Love this post! Thank you so much! 

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  23. Audrey - thanks so much for your clear explanation. I like that you base it on a few general principles that we can then tweak to match our own lifestyles, and the staples we already own. I've been following your blog since about August and I think your style has evolved so much - love it! 

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  24. Thanks Andrea! That's encouraging to hear :)

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  25. this is AMAZING. how incredibly helpful and well done. i end up buying dresses that i realize i will need something to go with. 

    <3 katherine
    fashion.kitkatherine.com

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  26. I'll just add my "I love it" to the list!!!  Great job! I'm shopping for a dress right now and your tips have come in so handy!

    I have now put your tips in my Evernote to have with me at all times!

    Can't wait for the post or series about shopping for your body type - need that!

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  27. Your guide is really great, thanks for putting it together!

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  28. I want to thank you so much for putting together an awesome series! I've been working on my clothes and actually had 3 bags ready to go out... but since these posts, I was able to rework them! I love that!

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  29. Found this series through Pinterest and it has made my day!  I am in a wardrobe slump and this is just what I needed!  THANK YOU!  PS  Love your outfits, you have great style!

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  30. Aw, I'm so glad, Ange!  Thanks for saying hi :)

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  31. Charlotte in MissouriMonday, May 28, 2012

    I have been SO frustrated with trying to feel my since of style.  When I walk into a dept. store, it's like standing in a Book a Million and looking for that ONE book that I fits my style.  I am so happy to have stumbled on to your blog site!  I am excited about going out and figuring out my style with your great advice.  I know that this took a lot of time for your to create this website, and I just wanted to let you know how much I have appreciated your advice and the great pics! 

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  32. Eréndira AlvaradoSaturday, June 02, 2012

    Yesterday, I went to shop a white (or some neutral) top. I spent almost 2 hours searching for the right one. It was a nightmare. I wasted all that time. I did not find it. Today  I feel depressed. Shops are torture for me. I have not time to shop. I have not enough money. I really don't know how all of you guys do it. It's a hell. You really got balls.

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  33. workwearstyle.wordpress.comTuesday, July 10, 2012

    great article! and don't worry...totally easy to follow. i'm going to pin u on my pintredt board. hope u don't mind! :)

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  34. I love these ideas, but i really looooove that brown leather jacket! Where did you get it?

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  35. Victoria PascoeSunday, July 15, 2012

    This is fantastic.  I have tons of clothes and most of them I have no idea what to do with them.  My life is pretty casual.  Thanks to this guideline I could put together a matrix for buying clothing and sorting through what I have.  And as a military spouse who moves often this is so helpful when changing climates and regions.  I can now decide if something works in Germany as well as Texas when I am buying those expensive long term usage pieces.

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  36. I SO need to try this!!! I have tried doing a version of this already... At least as far as tops go... I try picturing it in several outfit combos before making the purchase, but this is so much more comprehensive! Thanks again!!!

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  37. Brittany Newton89Thursday, August 09, 2012

    Just discovered your blog! I love your accessory tips! Where do you normally look for belts? I seem to have a hard time finding ones that are affordable but still classy.  Thank you! 

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  38. Hey Brittany! I usually buy them from Forever 21 or H&M. F21 belts are like $3-6!

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  39. I downloaded a color wheel and printed it on a color printer. It helps me put together new combinations of colors!

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  40. I just discovered this blog and I love EVERY SINGLE OUTFIT you out together. I would so wear all of them. I have some similar pieces that I want to learn to work into better outfits. This blog is just what I need! Thanks!

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  41. Oh my word this post has been EXTREMELY helpful. My friends tell me I always put together stuff so well...I on the other hand have no confidence with my wardrobe...I
    With this 'checklist', I am ready to go out shopping (after looking in my closet again!) with a fresh perspective! Thank you!!

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  42. I just came across your sure when browsing pinterest. I can't tell you how great this is because I recently decided to update my look and needed help on how to do it. Such a blessing

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  43. this is SO helfpul!! thanks for making this understandable for people who this doesn't come easy for!

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  44. This is by far the most helpful fashion blog I've found. This stuff does not come easy to me and this has made a huge difference in my clothing confidence. Thank you so much!!!

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  45. Thanks so much for sharing these tips!!

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  46. I am finally wanting to understand fashion and start dressing fashionably since having my first child 9 months ago. I'm sick of wearing blue jeans or workout gear every day with a t-shirt. I can tell this blog is going to be soo helpful! Thank you for all the time and effort! I am loving all your tips so far!

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  47. Really incredible and useful piece!

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  48. Thank you for this blog and your systematic, but not stringent approach. I recently started to try buying clothes that I can wear to work and wear casually, but I still "took the garment for what it was." This remixing idea is fabulous!

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  49. I'm so happy that I found your blog! I'm working on establishing my style and this really helps me put looks together!

    please check out my blog calyptecollection.blogspot.com and my etsy shop calyptecollection.etsy.com

    ♥ Carol

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  50. I read this whole series and poked around the site over the past couple days. It's all great! Thank you so much for putting it together. I wanted to thank you not only for that, but also for inspiring me. Tonight I bought a simple gray dress that came with a black belt. Thanks to your ideas, upon getting home, I was able to come up with over 35 outfits using the dress! I can wear tops, cardigans, skirts, dresses, and a poncho over it. I can also wear tops and skirts under it. I could wear it by itself, and belting (using the one that came with it and the only other belt I own) added even more outfits and options. I can only imagine how many more you could come up with as my wardrobe is not as cohesive as yours is. I think colored belts would only add more awesome to the possibilities. Thank you so much!

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  51. 35 outfits with one dress?!?! That's it, you should take over this blog. That's amazing! I'm glad this has been so helpful for you, Carolyn!

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  52. you and i have so much of the same clothes! we have excellent taste =)

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  53. and thanks for all your helpful hints! i just changed my guest room into my "closet room" with upper and lower bar racks and shelves. before, i had my clothes in multiple areas of my house and ended up with the same shirt pants combo constantly. BORING! Now that I have all of my clothes out in the open where i can see everything and have been reading your blog, I'm dressing in a whole new way and definitely taking risks... ive been lookin good, i must say!

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  54. This is an extremely helpful article. I love the before and after pics too. Great information, thank you!

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  55. wow, you have learned quite a few tricks! thanks for sharing! i look forward to shopping in my closet and seeing what i can do!

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  56. I adore this blog! I have been searching for a down to earth, practical approach to helping me out in my maze of a closet! Much, much thanks for all of your insightful, great work!

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  57. I was so frustrated with all my clothes but couldn't just go buy new ones when I came across your blog. So after reading & learning I took a tired skirt/shirt look, tossed on a long cardi and a belt, and voila! my husband told me how good I looked multiple times! Thanks!

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  58. This series is brilliant. I feel like you're speaking my language. Thank you!

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  59. I am just now, at the age of 28, trying to establish some semblance of "style". I know, where was I as a teenager?! This is all very hard for me and your blog is AMAZING! It is not overwhelming or scary, and I love that you break it all the way down. I am just tried knotting my (only) belt! Thank you so much, and please keep posting!

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  60. Wow thanks! This information is well received!

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  61. Wow! This blog entry was very helpful. Your style personality is the same as mine, so it's easy to picture myself in outfits like yours. Thank you for sharing your wisdom!

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  62. OMG! I wish i found you sooner. Thanks for sharing. I love your Ideas!

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  63. Very insightful! Check Out Celebrity styles at http://www.katybags.com

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  64. I need you to go shopping with me. I'm only ever able to pick one item and try to put other things with it to make an outfit and when I get home it looks horrid lol. Your outfits are soo ice and I'd love to wear outfits such as yours

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  65. Haha! I've been doing some styling services for people virtually. Email me if you are serious and we can see if we can work something out to help you! audrey [at] puttingmetogether [dot] com

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  66. Thank you sooo much for this information! I have never been able to reimagine very well and so my closet is full of "one-way" pieces...or so I thought! I can't wait to try mixing up all my clothes now!

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  67. I love that green dress. Where did you find it?

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  68. Great blog! it's amazing to see the amount of work that you put into it, very inspiring :)
    aminorobsession.com

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  69. You're amazing, Audrey. I'm going to look like a million bucks when I finish with these tips. Thanks for taking the time to make the lists and show photos for all of the "fashion-challenged" ladies out here. Take care. : ) p.s. You look lovely in your outfits...I think we might have a similar shape so it gives me hope.

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  70. Thank for writing, Diana! I'm so glad you're finding this helpful! :)

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  71. Love the navy blouse! Where did you buy it? Thanks!

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  72. H&M, like 6 years ago! I might end up selling it soon, so keep an eye on my store: https://audreyscloset.storenvy.com (link is also on bottom of right hand sidebar)

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  73. I am you before this blog! :D Having tons of clothes, trendy shit which I never use because its all special single-pieces and I got nothing to wear with it. Found you blog after deciding I need to get rid of it all (almost) and work it up from scratch! So excided! But its more tricky than I thought... Still looking for all the clothes that POP! But with your guide and a definite decision to actually use my fashion interest in a smart way I will first build up the basics and really truly learn more about my style during the way and then this is gonna be great! Such a fun project! Thank you for charing! Appreciate the guiding where you open up for different taste and lifestyles; like pencil skirts, sexy but I will never use it in my life even if its normally a "basic ust-have". So THANK YOU! Its awesome that you put your energy and creativity into this blog! Much more interesting since you come from not knowing so much in the beginning. It all makes so much sense the way you are writing about it! :)

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  74. O how shud I thank you for this..I am a boring tshirt and jeans kind of girl and after reading your blog and tips I am so inspired..will def try out something new:)

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  75. Its so awesome to see I'm not the only one to go through this "re-education". Up until a few weeks ago my closet was filled with nothing but "one hit wonders" (love that, by the way). I remember staring at my closet thinking "I need more clothes."
    So I jumped onto pinterest and after hours of looking at different outfits I was ready! Yeah! Lol I think I spent two hours "shopping" my closet looking for different ways to wear my stuff; complete with trying on different shoes to make each look different. I think my favorite redo was with this one skirt. Its knee length and very full and it just didn't look good with my shirts. I'm a big girl at a size 20 (Mama's got hips) . Any who, I like you was like "ahhhh tuck it in" and so I did and Ba-BAM! It was like a whole new skirt. Lol it's kind of like one of those "how did I not think of that sooner?" Moments.
    Anyhow, thank you for this blog, I found it on pinterest and I loooooove it.

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  76. Great blog!
    Thanks for sharing and congratulations!

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  77. this whole series is so incredibly helpful. Thanks for putting it together!

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  78. Thanks for being open (it makes it less overwhelming) that it doesn't come as "naturally" to some as it seems by the plethera of blogs out there. I found out accidentally by pulling clothes from my closet that I need to take shopping with me that there was a complementary article of clothing that went with several other items I already owned. In other words, I've found the best way to start is to take everything out and put into piles and you WILL be amazed.

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  79. Wow! You are awesome! I don't understand fashion and I am usually afraid to try what you tried (rolling up pant's hem, etc.), but after going through this FANTASTIC blog, you have opened up a world of possibilities for me. I live in Italy and all I see are skinny jeans and other clothes that look great on slim girls (very common here). Being an average weight girl (not slim, not overweight) I usually walk into a store really hoping to find something and then walk right out with a sad look on my face! I looove your advice and love that you take pictures of what you mean. Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!! ; )

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  80. I'm the one who usually buys whatever a mannequin is wearing. Thank you SO much for the wonderful ideas!! I'm a more confident shopper now!

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