Q&A: How to Transform Your Wardrobe from Formal to Creative

October 28th, 2008

Q: For the last two years I have worked in the legal profession where my wardrobe consists mostly of skirt and pant suits, business shirts and lots and lots of black. Next year, I am going back to study fashion design to pursue my dream of working in fashion publishing. Do you have any suggestions for transitioning my color deficient and overly formal wardrobe to match my new life?

Feeling the love for this outfit?  Here’s more information about it.

by Colleen Geary, fashion stylist and image consultant

A: Congratulations!  I applaud you for having the courage to do what you love, and taking the first step towards your dream of working in fashion publishing.  Just as transitioning from a professional environment to an academic one will allow you much more freedom in scheduling your day, it will also give you much more freedom in what you choose to wear.

That said, I’d recommend placing your suits and blouses in a good storage place, as journalism will also require professional clothes until you reach the heights of Anna Wintour or Carine Roitfield, when designers will be begging you to wear their clothes!  Fashion journalism is no exception, though you’ll get to mix things up a bit more.

As you prepare to enter the world of fashion, make sure you have your foundation pieces in place.  These 10 pieces will provide you a foundation from which to grow your wardrobe—and evolve your sense of style.  Since you’re going back to school, I’d add jeans to this foundation wardrobe as well.  In addition to your standard issue dark rinse blue jeans, try a pair of trouser jeans and a pair of grey jeans. 

Moving beyond the foundations, I encourage you to play with silhouettes and color.  Now is the time for experimentation. Layer!  Take what’s in your wardrobe and try to create new and interesting combinations. 

Once you’ve started to exhaust the possibilities with your current wardrobe, make a shopping trip to add pieces that you may not already have.  Things like layered tops, asymmetrical dresses, cute boots, and an oversized, slouchy bag (which should hold your school books nicely).  But don’t be too anxious to fill out your wardrobe too quickly. You’ll start to develop a more critical eye as you study fashion.  And you’ll no doubt be influenced by the designers you study—not to mention your fellow students. 

Developing your own fashion point of view is a very personal process, and it’s not one to be rushed.  This advice can help guide you along the path, but in the end, it’s you who’s making the journey.  Bon voyage, and good luck!

Have a great tip about how to transform your wardrobe from formal to creative? Share it with us in the comments!

Entry Filed under: Q&A,Ready Made Outfits,Women,Women's

4 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Mimi  |  October 28th, 2008 at 10:14 pm

    I had a similar problem– a boring, color-deficient wardrobe. I started off by adding small bits of color– a bright t-shirt, a scarf, a unique necklace. This summer I was able to pair my basic skirts (in beige and black) with bright, fresh tops. For winter, I’ll add jewel tones.

  • 2. Rose  |  October 29th, 2008 at 11:57 pm

    Love the combination you put together here. Especially the jackets. They look so comfy. I love comfy clothes :) Thanks for sharing!

  • 3. Trisha  |  October 30th, 2008 at 12:33 am

    Thanks for sharing, Mimi. Small steps really are the way to go – that way, you can build your wardrobe as your sense of style evolves.

    Glad you like the outfit, Rose!

  • 4. Sophie  |  November 1st, 2008 at 4:06 pm

    Very helpful.

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