As Oxfam’s fashion patron and creative director of the Oxfam fashion campaign, William Banks-Blaney knows a thing or two about style – here he shares his advice on building a smartly-edited wardrobe.
When you make the decision to edit your wardrobe, it can become a minefield of choices: what to do with that beautiful dress you bought but have never worn, the favourite coat you wear too often, or the suit that never quite seems to fit you perfectly. Here are my tips for refining your look and deciding what you must treasure and what you could shwop for someone else to enjoy.
1. The white shirt. It's a wardrobe staple – a simple, classic shirt or blouse with a full-length sleeve will see you through sartorial dilemmas. Pair it with a pencil skirt for sharp chic at work, or wear with your favourite jeans for a smarter take on weekend dressing.
2. The camel coat. Investing in a great camel coat is always a sensible move; perennially in style and the perfect backdrop for the changing colours offered each season, it never clashes and adds a subtlety to what you wear.
3. The little black dress. Be determined and hunt for the perfect LBD! There are usually several sub-standard versions in every woman’s wardrobe so hunt down the one that works best for your body and makes you feel fantastic. If your LBD doesn’t make you stand up straighter and feel a little sexier then it’s not the right one.
4. The chic shift. The perfect shift dress should obsess you; it should be the dress that springs to mind whether you’re thinking about what to wear for an interview, a night out, or wedding. Seek out colours and prints that you know will work with what you already have in your wardrobe.
Making the cut
Dress for now: when styling my clients and working on their wardrobes, I always advise to dress for the woman you are today; not the woman you were five years ago or the woman you want to be next year.
Create a guilt-free wardrobe: relinquish the clothes that are nothing but ‘emotional debris’ and make you feel anything other than great; the jeans from your super-skinny years or the dress you spent too much money on yet have never worn. Take a deep breath, shwop them and invest in pieces you can wear right now.
Forget the fidget pieces: every woman has these lurking in her wardrobe - the clothes that fit you, look great in a photograph but which you can never quite relax in,
and you are forever tweaking, altering, smoothing, rezipping, recrossing your legs or tucking in a bra strap to make them work. Clothing should be put on and forgotten, so anything that makes you feel tense or doesn’t let you focus on enjoying life should be shwopped.
Go with your gut: it can be easy to over-analyse clothing and think so hard about styling that you can lose sight of your own taste. Invest in a few classic pieces that appeal to your eye and work with your body shape, then let the rest be more intuitive. Play with colours, textures, silhouettes and don’t stress - at the end of the day, it’s only a dress!
THANKS FOR SHWOPPING
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