Friday, January 11, 2013

Outfit Planning

I had hoped to post an outfit today, but I broke my tripod recently (knocked it over and the plastic head snapped) and unfortunately the superglue I used to fix it didn't hold. So instead, as I jotted down the details of the outfit for photographing at a later date, I thought I'd talk a little about outfit planning.

Planning outfits might seem the height of fashion-victim behaviour (even as I write this I'm picturing Cher in Clueless running through her computerised outfit generator), but it does have its benefits.

  1. Of course, the major advantage of advance outfit planning is not having to think in the half-hour before leaving the house. Whether you've selected the main garments and potential accent colours in your head the night before, have a jotted note to remind yourself to wear those earrings with that blouse and skirt, or have a notepad of detailed sketches laying out precise garment and accessory combinations, it's a perfect way to look carefully co-ordinated at a moment's notice.
  3. Another consideration is that planning helps get more use out of the clothes at the back of the wardrobe - the ones that usually get passed over in favour of your "go-to" everyday staples. If they really don't go with anything else you own then perhaps it's time to pass them on, but some pieces are worth putting a little extra thought into finding ways to wear them - it's just that you don't want to be doing that fifteen minutes before going out. Plan more, and defeat the 80:20 rule! (you know, the one about wearing 20% of your wardrobe 80% of the time).
  5. It encourages you to be more creative with your wardrobe. Rather than reaching for the same cardigan every time you wear that dress, actually making yourself think through different ways you can wear the same garment makes for more interesting and stylish outfits.
  7. It also helps when shopping - if you get in the habit of planning outfits, then when you're out shopping, or browsing online, or planning your sewing list it becomes second nature to do a mental run-through of different ways to wear that dress/skirt/blouse/accessory before deciding to part with cash.
  9. And inversely, it even helps identify gaps in your wardrobe, if you find yourself coming back to the same "what this needs is X" time and again.

How to plan outfits? Usually mine start from a particular garment - it could be a main piece like a dress or skirt, or something small like a pair of gloves or a necklace - and then I work out from there. Other times, I'll be inspired by a photo or magazine feature which I want to emulate.

Whatever the spark, I build the outfit up in my head, thinking about potential colour schemes (I try and challenge myself to use at least three colours if possible) and considering all the accessories - from gloves and hat to shoes and handbag to scarves and jewellery - then note them down. Generally it's in simple list form, but (for example when I was planning what colours to make my sew-along pencil skirts) I have been known to sketch the outfit and its accessories (which is obviously more time consuming - especially as I'm a bit rubbish at drawing - but also kind of fun as a quick reference guide).

However you do it, spending a little time outfit planning helps maximise your wardrobe's potential and will ensure you look sassy and stylish every day!

Do you plan your outfits in advance? Do you have a system? Any tips or advice to add?


  1. thanks! i am not the only one :-)
    for special occasions, I like to try in front of a mirror various outfit options, days before. then i put them together on one hanger and build a accessoires pile.
    the every day staff go´s together incidentally, its all in my head.
    but remembering my own tel. number.....

  2. I used to plan combinations and write down in a document on my computer, but due to illness I really don't have that much energy for it anymore. I do try to use all of my clothes regularly though, somethign that has gotten much easier now that I make all my clothes myself, so that they actually fit me.

  3. talking of 80:20 current solution is to have a temporary rail every time I wear something and it comes back after being washed it goes on the rail. After a fortnight the rail has everything I wear regualy wheres my wardrobe contains what I don't...not the challenge I have to choose from the wardrobe not the rail items to wear. Tricky (I have too many summer dresses for a UK climate) but its making me be more creative with layering up.

    1. That is so cool! I am seriously thinking to try this, it might end up being quite fun as well as revelatory!

    2. That's a really clever idea! I don't have room to do something like this, but I'm going to have a think about how I can adapt it!

  4. Yep I always plan the night before. Although being the UK, unexpected weather can require me to re-plan in the morning haha!

  5. I plan the night before. That way I'm not rushing in the morning, leaving more time for hair etc.
    This week for fun I decided to wear something each day with spots on it! Not many colleagues noticed, but I enjoyed the mini challenge and might do other 'themes'
    Love the blog, thank you

    1. What a fun idea, I like that! I might try something similar sometime...

      xx Charlotte

  6. One of my friend's and I started a weekly challenge to get ourselves using more of our wardrobes. There's a theme each Wednesday that we incoporate into our outfits - I've found it a really good way to pull out things I haven't worn for ages and either end up putting them back into the 'regular' rotation section, or getting rid of them.

    There's a Facebook page with the weekly challenges over here:

    1. This is a great idea! I had a look at your facebook page and I don't think I'll be participating this week though with your 'Hawaii' theme, I'm in the northern hemisphere and it's 4 degrees!!

      P x

  7. These are good tips, and I really should take heed of your advice. I often end up pairing the same separates together time after time, or think 'I really need a cropped white sweater' and neglect to wear certain pieces because of it. This can go on my January to-do list perhaps! I'm already thinking more about my brooches after your recent post, I found some yesterday I had forgotten I even had!


  8. Thank you, these are such great tips! I do love to plan my outfits, most of the planning happens on the bus you see, when there is little else todo, or I will be playing in bed and. Just get an outfit idea that rushes into my head! I absolutely hate standing in front of my wardrobe on those days when I fee as though I have nothing to wear! After reading your post, it has made me feel like I want to change things up a bit now,
    Love Lil x

  9. I remember one day walking into work and my boss asking me, "How do you decide what you're going to wear each day? Yesterday you were wearing a bright red skirt, today you're wearing a bright green skirt... Is it to do with the way you're feeling? Or do you lie in bed thinking about it the night before?"

    I was kind of stumped, actually. I realise that it does vary, how much I plan an outfit. Sometimes I do lie in bed the night before, thinking about it, but generally only when I have a new item I want to wear or because I have something particular happening the next day (whether that's going out to a party or going to a meeting or going on a site visit to a building). I realise though that it is sometimes, probably more often than not, to do with my mood each morning. Less that I'm wearing green to reflect the fact that I feel calm, more to do with wanting to project certain images because of my mood.

    I do know that I often lie in bed in the morning, thinking about getting up and beginning to plan my outfit in my head so that I can save some time when I actually manage to get out of bed! But you make some good points about planning ahead, and I can definitely see the benefits, especially in terms of using neglected items.

    Oh, yes, and when I pitched the same question back to my boss, he said that he had to confess that his outfits were generally based on what was clean and ironed. But I know not all men are like that, so I won't blame it on his sex!

  10. I get super excited planning outfits for special occasions and usually plan about a month in advance - I'm not sure if that says how overexcited I am, or that I don't go to many special events! Day to day, I really wear the same things over and over, which means I don't have to plan or match. Working from home has its advantages... But I wish I had more reasons to dress up!

  11. I tend to run through combinations in my head but it depends very much how I feel on the day.

  12. What a stellar post and topic to delve into, sweet Charlotte. I echo everything that you said completely and take much the same approach to outfit planning, too. I almost always try to use one garment (or accessory) as a jumping off point and then go from there, uniting everything with a pleasing (usually harmonious - clashing isn't my bag, generally speaking) colour palette and a good sized dose of attention paid to detail. I love thinking about future outfits and often use such thoughts as a way to pass the time if I'm waiting someplace frightfully dull (such as at the doctor's or a long line at the bank).

    ♥ Jessica

  13. What an interesting post and discussion. I tend not to plan my outfits and just go with how I feel in the morning, unless it is a special occasion. Reading this has made me realise that I could probably do to shake it up a bit and use more of what is in my wardrobe. I will have a go at outfit planning!


I'd love to hear your thoughts!


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