Building a Wardrobe :: The Sizzle Pieces

This post is part of a series I'm currently exploring - how to build a wardrobe. I'm slowly learning how to curate the perfect closet to transition from my 20s to 30s and taking you guys on the journey with me. You can catch up here.

So, you've got the basics down. There's plenty in your closet to build a clean palette for almost any outfit. If you were to stop there, you'd be considered a minimalist. Some people look seriously chic in nothing but basics, but what about those of us who want to inject a little more personality into our wardrobes? That's where the sizzle pieces come in.

I wish I had a better word for this. Statement pieces? Personality pieces? Fun stuff?? My biggest problem in the past was buying too many sizzles and not enough basics, so I ended up with an eclectic but ultimately unwearable closet. One can only accumulate so many tribal printed mini skirts before she realizes her current system isn't working.

So today we'll be going over not only what a sizzle piece is, but how to choose and buy them, and how to fit them into your current wardrobe.

When you first start building a wardrobe, it's important that you focus on more timeless, classic pieces and rely on accessories to put personality into your outfits. It's tempting to blow half a month's rent on a Rachel Zoe fur vest just because everyone and their mom is wearing one this fall, but that ties up funds that you probably needed for classic pumps or pants for work. Once you've established a great base to start with, you can start focusing on the fun.

What's a sizzle piece?

I define it as anything that you couldn't wear every day without someone noticing. Some of my recent purchases include my bright red midi skirt or my pink tweed moto jacket. They're both amazing, but I'd never wear them two days in a row. Black pants, on the other hand, I could wear for an entire week and I doubt anyone would bat an eye. Sizzle pieces are the personality of your wardrobe. They're a great way to play with your look and define your style. If you're a jacket person (I definitely am!), you could add bright layers with interesting details as your sizzle pieces. If you love shoes, you could collect unique styles to add a some zing to neutral outfits. Using your wardrobe basics, you can construct an outfit around a stand-out piece fairly easily; the main thing you want to avoid is wearing all of your sizzles together. That's a look that's less chic and more bag lady for 99% of us. I'm not saying it's un-doable, but for the average gal like me and you that doesn't want to look like a crazy person, it's advisable to wear them sparingly.

How do you pick them?

Here's how I choose my sizzle pieces. I wait for things that get my heart racing. Much like buying basics, you have to wait for the right deal and the right piece rather than impulse buying. I mull over my purchases very carefully now, as long as there's no champagne in my system. Just tonight, I kept re-adding a purse into my cart on Gilt to reserve it (probably at least 20 times) while I researched the crap out of it to make up my mind. If you're as discerning with your fun half of your wardrobe as you have been with the basics, you'll curate an enviable closet in no time.

Sizzle pieces don't have to last forever. In fact, it's almost better if your closet is a constant revolving door. Sell or donate things as you grow tired of them to make room for new pieces. This part of your closet can be full of trendy items, bright colors, crazy patterns, and unique shapes. This is also where you'll want to reflect a bit of your style personality. Feeling girly? Put a bow on it. If you want to play with edgier styles, consider adding something studded to your collection. To me, the sizzle is all about having fun with your fashion.

How much should you spend on sizzle pieces?

This depends entirely on A) Your budget and B) How you long you plan on keeping things. Super trendy pieces (currently, things like crop tops, fringe vests, and graphic tees) should be bought on the cheap if possible. I never mind donating a piece from Forever 21 after a year or two of wear once I get tired of it, but if I'd spent a small fortune I'd be hesitant to sell or give away. That's how you end up with a closet stuffed full of stuff you don't even wear! If a trendy or bold piece seems like it'll play out fairly quickly, go cheap. If it's something more timeless (I'd claim my midi skirt applies), it's okay to spend a little and keep it for years to come. You can also spend on bold designer pieces if you have in mind you'll sell them after you start to grow tired of them. Don't go TOO cheap though. Certain fabrics just have a cheap look about them, so choose wisely.

Now add them to your basics.

This should be the easy part. Let's say you just bought the most amazing floral print blazer. Ideally, it would go with most of the bottoms in your closet. Black pants, pencil skirt, dark jeans, or over a simple shift. Next, you pick up some adorable blue and green polka dot pants. Great news! It goes with your classic white button up, looks great with a chic blazer, and works weekends with a slouchy grey tee. You see where I'm going with this? I like to build my outfits around the fun piece 95% of the time. Start with the piece that's hardest to pair and add your basics around it.

Looking at the photo above, every outfit is not only ultra-wearable, but fun. If you already have a closet full of basics you love, adding a piece with a little personality on top should be a piece of cake...with frosting and sprinkles, of course. You just have to do the grown up stuff first before you can have all the fun.

The series continues in a couple of weeks! Next up: lifestyle changes. It's the biggest blow your wardrobe can take, and we're gonna tackle it together.

Closet Confessions :: The Uniform

I've been spending the past few months cleaning out my closet and trying to refine my personal style. You can read the whole journey here.

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When I started my Closet Confessions series, one of the things I really wanted to get out of it was a sense of what things I really LOVED, and WHY. I'd never been able to pinpoint what made a piece a favorite before, so I just bought an endless stream of stuff I thought I liked (usually on a whim, and for cheap) that took up valuable real estate in my closet. So during this journey, I've been reading lots of other blogs about everything from curating to organization trying to find my way.

Over a weekend iced-in, I discovered Into-Mind and her amazing series, the 10 Step Wardrobe Revamp. I spent a good majority of my Saturday reading, taking notes, examining my closet and really thinking about what she was saying as it applied to my own wardrobe. The concept of minimalism has always seemed romantic to me, but let's face it - hardly anything I do is minimal. But the idea that you could curate your closet into a hundred outfits you'll always love by adopting a uniform was so intriguing to me that I started down the path toward my own.

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What I didn't realize is, I've always kind of rallied around a "uniform" of sorts, subconsciously. I'll say I'm "on a drapey sweater kick right now" or "I can't stop buying ankle boots", but what I'm doing is creating multiple possibilities for my favorite things within my wardrobe without even realizing it. What the Wardrobe Revamp does is help you hone those tendencies into a thoughtful, deliberate outfit of your choice. I spent time on my blog pinning my outfits that I considered "home runs" from the past year, then I took the time to really study them and look for consistencies (the advantage of doing this if you're a blogger). What I discovered was, while I love color and pattern and incorporate it into most outfits, I prefer the outfits that are based mostly on neutrals with just a "pop" of interest. This time of year, I favor layers, particularly jackets. So I decided on my uniform - skinny jeans or pants, flowy top, fitted jacket, ankle boots. The variations on the uniform include sweater over button up or long sleeves, and jacket and skirt. My patterns are stripes and leopard, my fabrics are leather and tweed,  my details are bold jewelry and bright bags. Using this concept, I started building an inspiration board on Pinterest filled with "The Uniform" to get my creativity flowing.

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Finally, I pulled several pieces from my closet that fit the theme of the uniform and also were consistent favorites. I had an epiphany - why do I constantly pull the same items when I travel? It's because they fit the uniform. They're easy to remix, work in a variety of situations, and I'm always comfortable in these few pieces. Using that knowledge, I can begin to create a capsule wardrobe.

Now, I'm just at the beginning stages of this revamp, but it's definitely on par with the goals I had for my own closet (which I'm listing below). I highly recommend you take the time to read every single word on Into-Mind. Girl's got a good head on her shoulders and it's a great starting point for anyone trying to define their style and really dig in to their closet. PS - I'm planning on doing a 30x30 - Capsule Wardrobe edition in January if you want to join in!

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Closet Goals:

1. Get rid of anything that doesn't fit me, my style, or my lifestyle.
2. Identify trends in my style to focus on in the future.
3. Develop a uniform, color palate, and defined style.
4. Slowly replace cheap items with better quality ones.
5. Continue adding pieces (of high quality) that fit the goals.
6. Buy better, buy less.
7. Break up with Forever 21 (it's not you, it's me. Just kidding, it's you).
8. Have a closet full of favorites.
9. Have a defined style, appropriate for my lifestyle and age.
10. Be the everlovin' most chicest person that exists, etc.

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As we're nearing the end of the year, what are some of your closet confessions and goals?

Closet Confessions :: My closet tour

I've been spending the past few months cleaning out my closet and trying to refine my personal style. You can read the whole journey here.

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It's been a few weeks since I gave you guys a closet update - After my inventory and initial purge, I've been trying to get my remaining garments in order and promised I'd show you some of my organizing techniques. Turns out, taking photos in your closet isn't the easiest task, so hopefully you can get the gist from these I took with my phone.

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Everything in my closet has it's place - Tops are hung together in color order, skirts are hung together in color order, dresses together, blazers together, cardis together, pants together - all in color order. I think the quickest way to achieve an organized look in a closet is to use the same hangers, so I've been slowly converting all of my hangers to the same black slimline hangers.

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I use bins to store things like workout clothes, camisoles, scarves, and bras. We don't currently have a dresser, and it's nice to have everything in the same place. We have some great shelves and cubbies in our closet that I utilize to fold sweaters, t-shirts, and jeans. I used to store shoes in them because they looked pretty and made me happy, but it wasn't really the best use of space.

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Purses go on the top shelf - I found these magazine racks at Garden ridge to help hold the slouchy purses, and stuff the more structured bags with homemade "purse pillows" to help them hold their shape (and stand up better). Out of season bags go in their dust bags.  

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So what happened to the shoes, if I'm not storing them in my master closet any longer? Well, we're lucky enough to have a third bedroom that doesn't get much use, so I decided to use that closet as my shoe closet. Having a shoe closet or shoe room isn't exactly normal, per say, but since I pretend my shoes are a "collection" I'm also pretending having a shoe room is okay. I have many shoe enthusiast friends who have also converted spare bedrooms into shoe rooms, so at least I know some people get me ;)  Realistically, if we were to start a family or downsize our home, I'd have to seriously rethink my shoe habits, but for now, I'm just enjoying them. The shoe room still needs a lot of work, but here's a sneak peek.

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So that's my closet! One of the biggest things you have to do when you have a large amount of THINGS is to make sure they're organized. I do my best to keep order so my wardrobe doesn't feel overwhelming. However, the past few weeks I've decided I STILL have too much and need to continue purging. I'm considering doing an experiment where I pretty much only use what I can hang on my huggable hangers this fall and see if I go looking for the pieces that don't make the cut.  

Anyway, thanks for dropping by for the tour! If you have any questions, I'll be happy to answer them. How do you guys get your organization on??