The Uniform Project
In 2009, Sheena Matheiken, a Brooklyn-based design professional, undertook the challenge of wearing the same LBD (7 identical versions of it) for 365 days as an exercise in sustainable fashion. She reinvented the dress with layers and accessories. The project was also a year-long fundraiser.
That's called mix and match for a cause!
We've all been there. Days when our beds are strewn with all the clothes we own, and yet, we stand in utter disgust and irritation at having nothing (absolutely nothing) to wear to work/ the club/ drinks with friends. It is a situation that comes with so much frustration that it often ends in either wearing something absolutely hideous because you just can't be bothered anymore, or indulging in some major retail therapy because, well, you don't have anything to wear. Get out of that style rut. There is much more in your wardrobe than you have ever realized. All you need to do is de-clutter a bit, make a few good sartorial investments, and say hello to your best friend on the whole wide planet―mixing and matching.
The Core of Your Wardrobe
You need to have the basics in your wardrobe. You cannot do without these essentials.
These are lines you will often hear fashion stylists spouting. You may think their claims are over-exaggerated. Or that you don't really need all of it in your wardrobe. But that's the first mistake most women make. These essentials/basics form the core of your wardrobe. They are the foundation on which you can build a gorgeously majestic mountain of outfits. How is this important to mix and match, you ask? Well, that lesson comes after you take a look at what I believe form the framework of a good wardrobe.
1. LBD; 2. White shirt; 3. Blazer; 4. Pencil skirt; 5. Blue denims; 6. Black trousers; 7. Alternate pair of trousers; 8. Dress; 9. Printed skirt
The pieces shown above are those to which you can easily add other accents and create unique outfits each time. Your cores could change depending on what your job profile is, but these, more or less, form the essentials of every woman's wardrobe.
Keep in Mind
Pick a blazer and a pair of black trousers in such a manner that they can be easily worn together to create a good suit.
You may question the addition of a second pair of trousers, a dressy skirt, and an extra dress. It is important to have a couple of extras as a part of your cores to give you that much-needed zing when it is missing. Pick a dress in your favorite color so that it perks you up when you need it. As versatile as an LBD is, it doesn't always do the trick. Have a printed skirt in your wardrobe in a different, yet flattering silhouette to keep your looks interesting. Include an extra pair of trousers in another neutral color.
The Pieces that Supplement
So, what's your next move? Since creating an interesting wardrobe is nowhere as complicated as a game of chess, that is a simple one. Now you pick supplements that you can wear with your cores. Many stylists also like to call these the accent pieces
. They include your tops, T-shirts, blouses, cardigans, jackets; well, you get the drift. These are the pieces that allow you to layer with your clothes to create interesting ensembles every time. Now, let's take a look at a visual guide to what you could possibly wear with the core pieces given above.
Since your core pieces are so heavily neutral in color and pattern, it is important that you introduce the color and pattern elements of your wardrobe at this level. Work in as much color as you are comfortable with, into your tops. Having neutrally-colored outerwear can often allow more scope for experimentation but, again, that is a personal choice. The trick is to explore the idea of having more variety in your tops and outerwear. Prints, which most women tend to shy away from, can perk up an outfit in a jiffy.
Keep in Mind
If you want to create a capsule wardrobe, have a color palette range in which you choose tops and blouses.
This is an observation that I have made with many women: We tend to always tone down the color of a top by wearing it with black. Now, while black is a beautiful color, it is important to have cores in different neutrals in your wardrobe. Wearing a red top with a pair of black trousers may seem like a match made in heaven, but you won't know anything different till you don't try wearing it with say, a gray pencil skirt.
The Frills that Accentuate
I love my accessories. The most space in my wardrobe is dedicated to jewelry, shoes, and bags. You may think that is normal quirky. After all, we women do love our shoes and bags. But there is a method to the madness. And if you are one of those people who hasn't recognized the method yet, here's the explanation. Frills rule! The neglect that accessorizing is subjected to, is the reason we have I-don't-know-what-to-wear days
. What are frills? The images below should be explanation enough.
Jewelry, scarves, belts, handbags, and shoes are all those tiny details that make a good ensemble a great one. Now, to have a good collection of frills, it is important that the purchase of these pieces are in coordination with the rest of your outfit. Think of the colors in your cores and supplements, and buy frills in those colors. When I say those colors, I don't mean the exact matchy-matchy shade; experiment with different hues as well. Work accessories in the same colors as your base pieces. If you are comfortable with the idea of color blocking, then also include a couple of pieces in neon colors to perk up your outfit.
Keep in Mind
Always own a couple of frill pieces in gold and silver shades as metallics can add that much-needed extra zing to your outfit.
When it comes to bags and shoes, always have a couple in neutral colors. A good black handbag is a must in every woman's wardrobe as are black and nude/tan pumps. If you find the idea of transferring stuff into different handbags too much of a headache, a neutral-colored bag is a great solution. Another way to solve your bag woes is to just keep all your stuff in tinier pouches that are easier to move into another bag.
Mixing it All Up
With the right cores in place, the perfect supplements to accompany, and just the right amount and type of frills, you can create as many outfits as you like. Don't believe me? Well, given below are a total of 27 different outfit ideas that have all been created with the pieces that have been shown in the images given above. And these are just a few of the looks that could be created. As you master mixing and matching, you can create enough outfits to last you a year.
1 LBD styled 3 ways to create a formal, semi-formal, and casual look.
Go classic with a pair of denims, formal with trousers, and quirky with a printed skirt.
Wear it to office as a suit, with a colorful dress for a cocktail event, and denims for Friday dressing.
A pencil skirt can be your BFF whether worn with a shirt, a printed top, or a more elegant blouse.
Denims are a girl's most comfortable possession. Wear it any way you like, and you will always be camera-ready.
Black trousers should be your go-to when you are not sure what to wear.
A pair of brown pants can make a look elegant or eclectic, depending on what you pair with it.
A pretty red dress can be as sophisticated as you like and as music-festival-ready as you make it.
A quirky, printed skirt can be just what you need on days when nothing seems to be doing the trick.
Mastering the art (and it is an art) of mixing and matching can take a little time. You can't go wrong with it. But it will take a little effort to hit the bull's-eye each time. Be purposeful in the way you shop, and you will get more out of each piece of clothing that you own. And more importantly, enjoy the process. Because if you are not quite delighted by the end result, you are not going to strut your stuff the way you are meant to.