Your wardrobe should consist of an extended set of mix and match clothing

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The secret to dressing well on a budget is to have a small group of mix and match clothes in your wardrobe which co-ordinate in colour, fabric, and shape with all the pieces interchangeable. It becomes a perfect capsule of clothing, created by you for yourself.

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It can consist of as few as five or as many as twenty items of clothing, all designed by you to fit into your life and meet your personal requirements. This kind of mix and match capsule wardrobe is usually limited to two principle colours, each of which can stand on its own, or mix and match with the other. Choose your favourite basic (or authority) colour, plus one other colour from your palette that you enjoy wearing.

As an example, which of the following do you actually do?

a) Wear a pumpkin coloured jacket and mix and match it with a different bottom and top each day. This way you will end up always looking the same each day.

b) Wear a basic bottom (black/navy skirt or trousers) and mix and match it with several different tops and jackets each day? In this case you will look completely different every day.


In both scenarios you are mixing and matching your clothes, but in the first example people will either think you really adore your pumpkin jacket, or else that you have nothing different to wear. In the second scenario, because the top half of your body is the most visible, you will appear different every day. No one will notice you are wearing the same skirt or trousers.


1. Do not duplicate your basic colours. Choose between black or navy or brown (which is now the new black). Build your wardrobe as you would a house - foundation first, then add and embellish, mix and match, and enrich season after season, year after year, always keeping the same foundation.

2. You should have a selection of hot (warm), cool, basic and light colours in your wardrobe.

a) Hot colours – red, peach, pumpkin, purple, lilac, coral, yellow, pink, wine or burgundy

b) Cold colours – blue, teal, emerald, turquoise, apple green, aqua, midnight blue, mint, bottle green.

c) Basic colours – navy, black, grey, brown, stone, tan.

d) Light colours – white, ivory, cream

3. Most mistakes result from having too many bottoms and very few tops. You need to have at least five tops for every skirt or trousers you own. People will always notice your top half more than your bottom half.

4. The trick is to work with a few items of clothing in different colours, styles, silhouettes and fabrics that will co-ordinate with each other.

5. Be consistent and keep everything toned. These pieces are the skeleton of your wardrobe. Colours and prints will come later as you add tops, scarves and other pieces.

6. Tops and bottoms with different printed patterns will not mix and match well. It is best to buy your major print first (one you absolutely love), and then pick up the plain colours from the strongest colours in the print. 75% of your wardrobe should be plain colours, 25% could be prints.

7. The first step is to figure out your lifestyle needs, and plan your wardrobe around them. In the beginning it takes time and patience to work this puzzle out.

8. When you start to build your basic foundation wardrobe, try to use a total lifestyle concept, which will accommodate both formal and informal wear. You should not need to have a section in your wardrobe for “smart” and another section for “casual” clothes. Each piece in your wardrobe may come from a different lifestyle group, but when coordinated they should look great together.


9. Each item of clothing you buy must mix and match with at least three other pieces in your existing wardrobe – in that case if you have say 30 items in your closet and each of them goes with three other outfits, you will have ninety completely different combinations to wear. This is what creates a totally versatile wardrobe.

10. It is far more versatile to mix and match separates than dresses, so try to limit the number of dresses in your wardrobe. You can always wear a top and skirt together to look like a dress, but they can also be coordinated with other items. This will not only save you money, but will give you many more outfits to wear.

11. Shapes of clothes need to be classically simple, pure, clean. Details also – nothing too fashiony - keep them simple. All the shapes must work together, so that a jacket can be worn with not just one skirt or trousers, but with two or three, and perhaps with a dress as well. If you find one shape that suits you and that you love in any items (trousers, blouses, sweaters), and if it works as a good basic, stick to it. You could even buy several in that shape, of course in tones that suit you.


12. If you need to span seasonal changes, begin with your autumn / winter clothes. Winter fabrics are more expensive and therefore winter clothes are more expensive. It is best to begin looking for pieces that are seasonless – silk blouses, wool sweaters, cardigans (which be worn as summer jackets), raincoats with button out linings, jersey pieces which can be layered on in colder weather and worn alone in summer.

13. If you spend most of your time in a work environment, you will be surrounded by many of the same people every day. You will want to change your look each day for them as well as for yourself. For this kind of flexibility you will need a minimum of twelve pieces of clothes:

a) Two jackets

b) Three skirts or trousers

c) Four blouses or tops

d) Two sweaters

e) One dress

These twelve items will create four suits, three dress and jacket looks, and several skirt / trouser and sweater combinations.


14. You should be able to wear at least 70% of your clothes on a regular basis. The other 30% should be fashionable items, evening wear and so on.

a) 50% of your clothes should be basics i.e. part of your permanent wardrobe which you are continually building upon

b) 30% should be fashionable basics i.e. a blouse or cardigan in this year's colour and which you should be able to keep wearing for years.

c) 20% should be high fashion items, which you will probably only wear for a few months or a year or so. These could be tops, scarves, or shoes, even bottoms. These will make you feel up to date and not frumpy. However they should be in the right styles and colours for you.




Click here to see one way of planning your Basic Wardrobe.

Click here to see how to find a way of dressing well.

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Occasion Magic

The main manual of the Occasion Magic package is 150 pages of meaty material that walks you through the various levels of formality and shows you what kind of clothes qualify for each level. Then it demonstrates how to apply those levels to dozens of everyday activities, from barbecues and picnics to holidays and religious ceremonies. You’ve never seen this much “what to wear” information in one place before – I know, because I’ve looked.


Discover how to: • Accurately assess your lifestyle and determine how well your closet reflects your activities • Dig even deeper to uncover the holes that could prevent you from accepting invitations -- or spending a fortune to fill them at the last minute • Build a shopping list that lays out your need, identifies your priorities, and allows you to take advantage of sales by knowing what you need.


With this handy planner, you’ll be able to: • Put together clothing capsules that give you a wide variety of choices – even for unexpected outings – with the minimum of luggage required. • Pack like a pro with these little-known tricks for reducing wrinkles, preventing spills from toiletries, and arranging your purchases so that you can breeze through customs. • Get a handle on all your travel paperwork, from itineraries and packing lists to passports and visas. Put your hands on things in an instant.

Occasion Magic

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Never again buy a garment or fabric in a colour that makes you look old or ill!

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Choose your seasonal colour

These colour samples are an essential for getting your colours exactly right when purchasing new garments or fabrics!

These handy wallets’ petite size makes them ideal for you to carry in your purse or handbag, and be able to do quick colour comparisons during shopping trips. Each of the wallets contains 30 fabric colour swatches per season and these are smartly bound together by a vinyl cover and brass screw. All of the fabric colour swatches can be easily accessed as the swatches fan out which makes matching colours simple.

The ladies seasonal colour analysis minis represent superb value for money as they are both affordable and contain high quality fabric colour swatches which are designed and precision dyed by our colour experts. They are available in Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter colour collections.




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