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How to plan your autumn wardrobe

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Wardrobe planning. It all sounds a bit grown up and fashionista, doesn’t it? The kind of thing that you only do if your clothing budget is enormous and you go to the sort of events where people are examining your outfits on a daily basis, right? Nope. I’m here to tell you otherwise; a bit of wardrobe planning can benefit anyone. Having a wardrobe that is thought through, that mixes and matches endlessly and has a nod to one or two current looks will help you feel far more confident and stylish this autumn and winter.

Planning your wardrobe doesn’t need to be a momentous and difficult event, either – I just spend a couple of hours one evening on the process below (excluding the shopping bit – that sometimes takes a little longer!). Whether you choose to follow the same process as I do, or blaze your own trail, I think the key thing is just to spend a little time and effort on thinking through how you want your wardrobe to work in the coming season and turning that idea into an actual list of clothes.

Wardrobe planning for the new season:

1 Look at what you already have: The chances are that if you live in the UK you don’t have tons and tons of summer stuff to pack away, but this is a good opportunity to put the bits you won’t need over winter to one side and pull forward any heavy coats, boots etc that haven’t seen the light of day for a few months (assuming that the temperature has actually made it above 15 degrees where you are). Once you’ve done that, have a critical look at what’s left and decide whether anything that you really need over winter is either (a) falling apart or (b) is just so hopelessly dated that you haven’t worn it for the past two winters and should probably admit defeat on it now.

2 Hit Pinterest for some ideas: Have a browse for some new season looks and put together a wishlist of looks that might actually be achievable with your current wardrobe plus a few updates. Use search terms like ‘winter 2015 outfit’ for a range of ideas or ‘grey biker jacket outfit’ to get ideas for garments you already own. At this stage I put together a pin board of looks for the season that I like, and make sure that they all kind of go together, and that elements from each look could be swapped with other ones. If you find that you’ve pinned half a dozen androgynous gamine looks and three bold floral gypsy queen looks, now is the time to eliminate the anomalous looks and make your entire board more cohesive. If you’ve had your personal style analysed then you’ll find this job even easier, as you will quickly be able to eliminate looks that won’t work.

3 Pick a colour scheme: Yes, you’ve probably already got a swatch book of your best colours sitting next to you, but I often find that when it comes to the new season that picking a more limited palette as a starting point, then adding to it either from my own wardrobe or with cheaper pieces throughout the season, really helps everything feel effortless and slick. Making sure you have a capsule wardrobe in just a few colours is a great starting point for easy dressing. I’ll be starting with marine navy, dark teal green and mustard as my key colours for this winter, then probably adding in some lizard grey, soft white and splashes of red, orange or green in the shape of warm winter hats and gloves or prints, but my key colours will be that more streamlined palette with probably only one ‘bright’ colour to start with (mustard, in my case, which counts as bright for an autumn!). This rule is one that needs to be bent to suit how you like to wear clothes – personally I like to wear one or two neutrals combined with a splash of one bright or light colour, but if you are more of a chameleon, then perhaps this is a rule to turn on its head entirely and make sure that your wardrobe contains as many colours as possible.

4 Make a list of any basics or investment pieces that need replacing: if I need new winter boots, jeans or a coat, I need to make sure that enough of my clothing budget is put by to replace the old ones. It’s important for me to get these purchases out of the way before I start on the cheaper stuff to ensure that I don’t end up with no budget to replace the essentials. At this stage I would generally use Pinterest again to create a ‘shopping list’ board, where I’ll pins items I like from online shops, either to order or to remind me what I’m looking for when I go shopping in real life.

5 Decide on everything else: this is where you get to look back at that first Pinterest board and decide which pieces are going to help you achieve the looks you like. It might be the addition of a key trend piece, such as a poncho or a culottes, or something much simpler like the perfect pencil skirt for work or chelsea boots instead of your more dated looking cowboy boots. Accessories are an often overlooked extra here – I usually find that I have the basics to make some of the looks I love on Pinterest, but am lacking accessories such as bracelets, scarves or footwear. Add more items to your shopping list board to keep you on track.

6 If you haven’t made a Pinterest board with your shopping list on, then write it down – keeping it clear in your mind will help ensure that you don’t get tempted too far from what you need.

7 Shop! Try to get out in the early part of the season – as I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, winter coats have been available on the high street since July, and shops will start selling out of their best products by the time the autumn weather truly kicks in in late September/early October, so if there’s something you particularly want, get out and buy it as soon as possible.

8 Deviate: Once you’ve got your essentials for the season sorted, it’s time to take a bit less of a hunter and a bit more of a gatherer approach to your shopping. Let yourself be tempted by splashes of colour or more statement pieces. However, keep your main Pinterest theme board of the season in mind, and have a quick mental check through to ensure that whatever you’re buying will fit in with the clothes you already have.

If you have any other tips to get yourself new-season ready, then feel free to share in the comments, I love reading about your wardrobes and shopping tips.

And don't forget to follow Kettlewell on Pinterest!

Kettlewell Colours on Sep 30, 2015 8:44 AM

Hi Liz, thank you for your request, we will pass it on to the relevant staff.

Liz on Sep 19, 2015 6:56 PM

Could we have an 'add to wish list' option on Kettlewell, similar to Amazon has please?

Kettlewell Colours on Sep 18, 2015 2:45 PM

Thank you all for your kind comments. We're glad you enjoy our blog.

Sheila- This is general advice and can be applied to any seasonal palette.

Margaret on Sep 14, 2015 2:38 PM

This all sounds great advice. I am hopeless at co-ordinating my wardrobe, so with your plan I intend to start from the beginning again.

Chelle on Sep 10, 2015 10:34 PM

Fantastic advice, had not thought of using Pinterest this way before very helpful

Rosie on Sep 09, 2015 9:21 PM

Fab Blog! Sometimes I try to sort my wardrobe in the early evening, after the work of the day is done. But you need good light so your colours are 'true' otherwise it's harder putting them together. Saturday morning I shall be sorting my wardrobe pencil and paper at the ready for the gaps that need filling.

Sheilasanders on Sep 08, 2015 2:17 PM

So what would you recomend for a summer ??