A Simple Formula For An Effective Wardrobe

tee and chinos outfit

In the last few weeks, my outfits have fallen into a lazy summer rhythm. I tend toward the same colors, shapes, and textures each day, and getting dressed is uneventful. It’s been good to lean on that at a time when my day job is busier than ever. My wardrobe is pretty much dialed in, so I can focus less on how I look and more on meeting my deadlines and pushing important projects forward.

Having an outfit formula is great for feeling focused and less self conscious at my job, but it’s also useful for assessing the effectiveness of my wardrobe overall. Are my clothes high-quality? Are they versatile? Do they represent my personal style and taste and do I feel comfortable in them? Do they all get worn? Slotting all my clothes into an outfit formula helps me take measure of all those questions and keeps me from spiraling into over consumption out of fear that I need to participate in certain trends. If it ain’t broke, right?

You’ll see in the sample of outfits I’ve posted below that the same core items tend to rotate in again and again, but each outfit is still unique and sartorially satisfying. I think that’s when I know I’ve really hit wardrobe nirvana – when everything works, and nothing feels missing.

My go-to formula is simple:

1. Keep the outfit limited to two main colors.

Keeping my wardrobe limited in color means that most pieces can be worn together, and so a small closet goes further and works harder. Personally, I’m a big fan of black and white. Most of the outfits shown below fall into that color scheme, but I also swap in green or blue sometimes.

2. Stick with consistent proportions.

I love a high waist and a cropped top, always. It took taking a picture of myself in the mirror every day for almost two years to learn this, but I do have a preferred silhouette for my body. High waisted bottoms with a cropped or tucked in top make me feel put together and evenly-proportioned. Could I tell you why? No, it’s just a personal feeling. There are a lot of quizzes and questionnaires floating out there on the internet right now that are supposed to tell you in great detail about your body type and how to dress it properly, but I feel the same way about those as I do about personality tests: not helpful, and definitely not science.

I don’t think that any particular body type should be limited to any particular silhouette, but I do think it’s worth finding the one makes you feel your best and sticking to it.

3. Add something for visual interest.

I keep the majority of each outfit simple and understated so that I can really show off whatever thing deserves the most attention that day. My go-to is usually a beautiful handbag or a bold lip, maybe a colorful pair of shoes. Sometimes it’s just my bob being extra shiny and behaving well. Having some special, eye-catching accessories keeps a small wardrobe from feeling stale or boring.


everlane day glove black
Wearing Tradlands Elms White Oxford, VETTA Peg Pant, Everlane Day Glove, Everlane Day Square Tote.

everlane short sleeve bodysuit
Wearing Everlane Short Sleeve Crew Bodysuit, Everlane Lighweight Wide Leg Chino, Eileen Fisher Edge Sandals, Vintage Dooney & Bourke Bag.

everlane bodysuit outfit 2
Wearing Everlane Short Sleeve Crew Bodysuit, Everlane High Rise Skinny Ankle Jean, Eileen Fisher Edge Sandals, Vintage Dooney & Bourke Bag.

goblin shark summer outfit
Wearing Mott & Bow Boxy Semi-Crop Tee, Everlane Lighweight Wide Leg Chino, Eileen Fisher Edge Sandals, Everlane Day Square Tote.

Do you have a go-to outfit formula that you love? Tell me about it!

This post contains affiliate links. Some of the items featured in this post were gifted in exchange for review on Goblin Shark. All opinions are my own.


One thought on “A Simple Formula For An Effective Wardrobe

  1. Can’t go wrong with white – a fitted white blouse (like this one I wore https://nataliesdailylife.wordpress.com/2018/07/28/ootd-week-9-every-open-house-every-week-classic-white-shirt-black-skirt-combination/), or a dress with a white background (like this one which is one of my favourite dress https://nataliesdailylife.wordpress.com/2018/06/02/ootd-week-2-every-open-house-every-week-in-iconic-unmistakeably-cue/) – that’s my formula.



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