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How to start from scratch

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Have you ever just wanted to throw out all of your clothes and start again? And then panicked that you wouldn't have a clue how to start again?

Whatever the reason - new baby, retirement, major lifestyle change, moving to a different climate, losing a lot of weight - sometimes what you need really is a whole new wardrobe.

Whether you're starting from scratch or simply decluttering your wardrobe and wondering what to buy to make it work for you, here's our essential how-to guide for planning your wardrobe from scratch:

  1. Think about how you spend your time: do you need more workwear, or mostly casual stuff? Do you socialise three times a week or once a month? Make sure your wardrobe reflects the way you actually spend your time rather than the way you vaguely imagine you might spend your time.
  2. Start by focusing on an even smaller range of colour than your entire palette - pick perhaps two neutrals, three basics and three accent colours to start with, then add more as you add more garments to your wardrobe.
  3. Don't forget footwear and accessories - a couple of different styles of footwear and an alternative scarf and bag can completely change the look of an outfit.
  4. Remember to buy several of whatever people will see the most - if it's like to be cold, you'll want more than one coat option, in the baking summer go for a few summer dresses or short sleeved tops.
  5. Don't be afraid to buy the same garment in a couple of colours (one neutral, one bright) if you know it works for you - when you're building up a wardrobe this can save shopping time and give you a good wardrobe foundation. Don't go out and buy 13 navy blue sweaters because you feel comfortable in them though!
  6. Add in a couple of wildcards - perhaps a patterned jacket, or a bright pair of trousers. Just because you're starting from scratch doesn't mean you need to buy all classics.

My imaginary client below has recently retired and needs a wardrobe from scratch for late spring/summer. She lives a fairly relaxed life, spending a fair amount of time at home or out lunching with friends, perhaps with the odd wedding or friend's 60th birthday party to attend.

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Cheryl on Jul 17, 2021 2:40 AM

Your colors are stunning. Please consider adding plus size. Thank you.

Helen Talbot on Mar 10, 2020 2:08 PM

I was sent the link to this page from Kettlewell for help with a capsule wardrobe but the page won't link or download the 4 jpg for the 4 steps. Help please, thanks. wonyucasoas I wanted to knowwouldo

Kettlewell Colours: I'm so sorry but the images we used for this old blog post were taken using a website called Polyvore which no longer exists so we lost the images. We are planning a capsule wardrobe blog post very soon which should help.

Mrs S Millington on May 13, 2016 5:22 PM

I was so happy to be told I am summer. I wanted to buy some new clothes from you but was so disappointed to find that you don't sell size 22 Surely a lot more could benefit if you did larger sizes

Carolyn Mason on May 06, 2016 8:19 AM

Just discovered you and am totally thrilled to find you. My colours were done a while ago so I knew what suited me but finding them was a nightmare. Now I know where to look. Than you so much. Hope your selection continues to grow.

Deborah Gamble on Apr 24, 2016 10:36 AM

I would love to build a wardrobe from scratch now I know I am an Autumn but you do not sell Plus Sizes. Having seen the quality and colour range on offer I want to buy from you but the sizes available are just not big enough. Is this not a huge market you are missing out on ? My colour consultant told me you used sell larger sizes and she used to buy them ! I would like to buy some too !

Jodie on Apr 22, 2016 1:14 AM

Thank you Kettlewell! I recently discovered you and I am so grateful for your business. Finally, I have the wardrobe and style I have always dreamt of. I live in Launceston, Tasmania, Australia, the distance, exchange rate, postage is of no consequence compared to the joy your clothes give me. Thank you also for such great blog posts, I am pretty much building a wardrobe from scratch, this post has been very timely. x

Sue Howard on Apr 21, 2016 1:06 PM

I agree with the comment about plus sizes.....maybe I don't need 'plus' but I need a bit looser coverage...also am only 5'2" so proportions are often tricky. Love your colours and ideas though.