Tag Archive for 'Capsule Wardrobe'

Confident Personal Style – part 4 – assessing your current wardrobe

Before you go out and spend on new clothes, take a very careful and critical look at the inside of your wardrobe.  Think about what your clothes do for you.  In particular, how does looking at them make you feel?  For which situations do you have clothes that make you feel confident?  What situations are not so well covered? Is this because there are gaps – or because what you’ve got isn’t right for you?

Which individual items make you feel good?  Why do you think this is the case? What does that say about your personal style? Which ones make you feel a bit anxious and why? Is it the colour, the fit, or just that it’s not you?  Do you think you are too fat, too thin, too short or tall for it?

All of this will give you great information as you continue to build your style.

If there are clothes in your wardrobe that you really don’t want to wear again, seriously consider giving them away, selling them on ebay or just chucking them out.  Even if it is only one item, there is no point in keeping it.  As you develop your style, it will just sit there reminding you of previous insecurities.  The first time you do this, it may turn into something of a clear out (see this post for more details on how to approach it); but as you assess your wardrobe more regularly there will be fewer pieces that stick out and feel wrong.

Your goal is to get to a point where you look in your wardrobe and see only things that make you feel confident and happy.  Adopting my Capsule Wardobe approach is the best way I know to achieve this, so if you’d like to know more, take a look at the Re-introducing the Capsule Wardrobe I did last year. (The first article is here and you can browse the rest by clicking on the Capsule Wardrobe category in the right hand column.)

Next time: why you should start with modern classics

Excuse #1:  I couldn’t spend the money

Each week, I’m seeking to address an excuse that sits on our shoulders like a demon making developing a confident personal style harder than it should be. Do let me have your ‘excuses’ and I’ll have a go at debunking them for you. Here’s the first:

You feel guilty about spending money on yourself.  Conditioning leads you to expect others to be dependent on you. You spend money on what are considered to be the necessities – food, clothes for the kids, cars, holidays abroad and school fees.  If you spend money on yourself, it’s best if it’s a bargain.

I’m always impressed that when you compliment a continental women on her outfit, she says ‘thank you’; a British woman will tell you how cheap hers is or how she’s had it for 10 years. British women are delighted to tell others the cost of a garment if they bought it in a sale, but keep very quiet if they spent a lot of money on it.  It’s a very British thing.  On the continent, women are more likely to feel guilty if they do not buy good clothes or have a regular manicure.

The truth is that by investing in your appearance you are investing in your professional future and, with any luck, enjoying yourself too.  Your financial success and rewards are going to come from your career, and developing a confident personal style will make you look and feel successful and give others confidence in you.  Never see it as an extravagance.  It’s actually a necessity.


Re-introducing the capsule wardrobe – part eight: coats

A coat is one of the most expensive investments that you will make clothes-wise because it has to fulfil many roles.  It needs to be stylish.  It needs to be warm.  It needs to go with practically all of your wardrobe. 

And it must make you feel glamorous because you’re going to wear it for many months each year. When you arrive anywhere, your coat is the first thing that will be noticed about your appearance and this is particularly important if you are in a business situation and especially if you are meeting somebody for the first time.

For all these reasons, you shouldn’t economise on your coat.  Well chosen it will be an excellent investment and a confidence booster.

While the colour should be basically neutral, with coats you can play around a little without dating too quickly – a petrol blue coat, an ocre coat, a green coat, even a red coat beautifully cut in a good fabric will last you for years.

      Petrol green coat     Sfera coat 4   Sfera coat 2

You can of course stick with the classic standbys of black, grey, navy and camel, but they can be unexciting unless the style is more ‘futuristic’ or you will have to be creative in accessorising.

If you work, remember that it will need to go over a jacket most of the time (this season’s styles are very accommodating in this respect while still figure flattering.  A chunky scarf and nice boots finish off the look).

      Sfera coat 3   Sfera coat 1 

The lengths this season are slightly longer, some just below the knee; and others even longer especially the wrap style.  These tend to have large collars with a strong 80s influence.  (Minus, of course, the huge shoulder pads).

My favourite coats this season are semi-fitted so that you can still wear a jacket underneath; and are very glamourous when left open.

Be sure that if you’re buying  coat that is below the knee, that the length of the coat is right for your height.  If it’s too long for you, it can look mumsy.  As always, there is no substitute for a triple mirror and a knowledgeable sales assistant.

Next week: raincoats


Re-introducing the capsule wardrobe – part three: skirts

For next season skirt suits will be more popular than trouser suits, so I’ll start with skirts.  Here are my tips:

A straight skirt with an interesting back split is the most flattering shape on most women and the most versatile of all shapes.  Unless you have a really good figure, do not attempt an a-line, pleated or full skirt.  Whatever a shop assistant tells you, wide skirts will make the vast majority of women look wider – so stick to straight.  The length and tapering can be adjusted to suit the legs and the fashion.  A straight skirt also looks good with most shoes.


  • Straight skirts are more forgiving when they’re made of a fabric with some stretch in it – for example 96% wool and 4% lycra – to give you ease of movement and are less likely to split when you stretch to get into a taxi
  • Very  short skirts are best left alone since few women over the age of 35 have knees good enough to expose.   Save them for summer holidays or discos.
  • Equally, long skirts should be left to religious sects for the time being.  In the office they tend to look very mumsy; and I would advise steering clear of long skirts for evening as well.  Evening trousers are a more modern option if you want to cover your legs.
  • Make sure there is no detailing that will conflict with the buttoning of your jacket. For example a skirt with a plain front panel will look much better with your jacket as it will not conflict with the buttons.
  • Colour – if the jacket and skirt are different colours, make the skirt darker than the jacket: you’ll find it has a useful slimming effect.  If you’re buying a skirt which you want to wear with a jacket of the same colour make sure that one part is in a textured fabric and the other a flat fabric.
  • If you are uncomfortable in skirts because you have some worry about your legs, I would suggest investing in opaque tights in a dark colour which hide a multitude of sins, especially when worn with knee high boots which is fashionable most seasons.  Many shoe designers have created comfortable heel shapes and heights this season as they know women are going to be wearing more skirts and will need the shoes to complement them.