How to Rebuild Your Wardrobe; Building a Wardrobe From Scratch

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If you’re saying to yourself, “I need a new wardrobe. Where do I start?” You’re in the right place, because this post is all how to rebuild your wardrobe!

After trying a capsule wardrobe for four months, I realized how important it was to have quality pieces I love wearing. The non-quality, “fit okay” pieces didn’t get worn as often, which was the majority of my wardrobe at the time.

My wardrobe rebuild was simple and efficient to transition from a capsule wardrobe I liked to one I loved, so I am going to teach you the process in this post!

Regardless if you want to build a wardrobe from scratch or swap out only a portion of your wardrobe, learning how to rebuild your wardrobe using my personal process will work for you!

The Benefits of Building a Wardrobe from Scratch

Before we get into the process of learning how to rebuild your wardrobe, I want to share with you the benefits of building a wardrobe from scratch, so that you know what to expect.

You get to design your wardrobe

Often times, a wardrobe is already created and we purchase pieces that we like in the moment versus being thoughtful about how it works with the clothes we already have.

When you take the time to learn how to rebuild your wardrobe by designing a specific color palette, style, and have it align with your lifestyle, you change the wardrobe game!

You get to be selective

Similar to designing your wardrobe, you get to choose the price, quality, and quantity of your wardrobe.

If you value high quality pieces and you aren’t willing to settle for anything less, then you increase the confidence you have within yourself and when you’re wearing your wardrobe.

Confidence Boost

When people tell you how great you look because you learned the proper steps of how to rebuild your wardrobe into a wardrobe that works for you, you can’t help but feel great!

Also, the pieces you add to your wardrobe make you feel like a million bucks, so you really won’t need anyone to complement you to feel great. That’s just a bonus!

Related Post: Confidence Building Exercises; How to Feel Confident

Don’t dismiss pieces you already have and love

The cool thing about learning how to rebuild your wardrobe and designing it is that you get to keep pieces you have that you love wearing.

Just because you want to build a wardrobe from scratch doesn’t mean you can’t shop your wardrobe first.

Small vs Large Wardrobe

I honestly prefer a smaller wardrobe, because you only wear a small portion of your wardrobe. With a smaller wardrobe, you ensure that your pieces are worn and loved.

A large wardrobe often isn’t loved as much because of the overwhelm it can bring when you’re trying to decide what to wear. Having a small versatile wardrobe reduces the overwhelm and you’re able to decide much quicker on the things you want to wear.

The size wardrobe you choose is up to you. I’m going to teach you where to start, and how small or large will be your decision.

I’ll link to a few capsule wardrobe options later in this post for you to look into when making the final decisions.

Related Post: Creating Your Own Capsule Wardrobe, Including My Project 333 Experience

How to Build a Wardrobe from Scratch

Now that you know why you need to learn how to rebuild your wardrobe and the benefits that it can provide, let’s get into my process for building a wardrobe from scratch.

Analyze Your Lifestyle

What does your current lifestyle look like? What are your daily routines?

The pieces you use to build your wardrobe need to work within those guidelines to ensure you’re always prepared.

Consider the following:

  • Work Life – Do you need professional attire or business casual?
  • Fitness – What form of exercising do you do? Does one kind of workout gear fit every workout you do or do you need different pieces for different workouts?
  • Lounge – Are you a matching pajamas person or do you prefer an old tshirt and flannels?
  • Hobbies – What hobbies do you enjoy? Do you need clothes that you can get dirty?
  • Recreation – Play any sports or go hiking on a regular basis?

Note which category you spend the most time doing or need more outfit options.

Also, do any of these overlap in what pieces can work for them?

Lastly, ask yourself if you like the way you currently dress for each of these. Do you wish you dressed a little nicer than how you currently dress?

Are you ready to uplevel your current wardrobe?

Do you feel confident with how you dress now, you just want to start over with better quality pieces that fit you well?

Gather Wardrobe Inspiration and Brainstorm Your Ideal Wardrobe

Choose Your Fashion Idols Carefully

When choosing who’s fashion style you admire most, it is important to assess whether or not their style works for your lifestyle.

Be very selective with your fashion idols. Choose at least two, but no more than three.

It is important to hone in on the exact style and wardrobe that you want to immulate. This makes the process of building a wardrobe from scratch a little more tangible.


For example, I LOVE Kate Middleton’s style. It is classy, feminine, and simple.

However, she often wears dresses for events, and I have very little need for dresses. I still pull my inspiration from her, but I make note of the outfits she wears that don’t fit my lifestyle.

Another fashion idol of mine is Reese Witherspoon. She has a similar style that really shows her personality. She is classy, feminine, and fun. The patterns she wear really reflect the amazing woman she is.

I can relate a lot more to the pieces she wears on a consistent basis, but pairing the two together make me feel like I’ve hit the jackpot with my fashion idols.


With that said, here are a few questions you can ask yourself to help you choose the right fashion idols for you:
  • Who’s style inspires you most?
  • What is the overall style of your idols?
  • Why do they inspire you?
  • What are they known for wearing?
After asking those questions, compare your style to their’s using the following questions:
  • Do you wear similar pieces as they do?
  • Do you wear the same colors?
  • What do you like about their style that you aren’t doing yourself?
  • What do you not like about their style and would change?

Once you have a couple of fashion idols, you can move onto the next step, which is about creating a vision board!

Create a Vision Board

Vision boards help you see what inspires you all in one place. It will be how you identify patterns and give you ideas for what pieces you need to add to your wardrobe.

Vision boards can be digital or magazine cut outs glued on a poster board.

However, you decide to create it is up to you. I personally prefer a digital vision board on Pinterest, because that is what works best for me.

Once you have your vision board created, ask yourself the following questions:

  • What pieces repeat throughout your vision board?
  • What colors appear most and work well together?

Identifying both of these will help you identify your style and colors you’re drawn to most.

Identify Your Style

Between your fashion idols and vision board, you’ll have a better idea of what style you want to create for your wardrobe.

Here are a few examples to help you identify your style:

Classic Style Outfits

Boho Style Outfits

Hipster Style Outfits

Glam Style Outfits

Minimal Chic Style Outfits

The possibilities are endless, and this certainly isn’t the ultimate list of styles.

Pick a style that you feel most connected with and use that to help you as you rebuild your wardrobe.

Create Your Color Palette

This is my favorite part of learning how to rebuild your wardrobe, because I get to be creative and try different colors based on the inspiration of my fashion idols and vision board.

Now that you’re inspired and have named your style, it is time to create your color palette.

The simpler this is the better, because it will ensure that you have plenty of versatility within your wardrobe. This in turn provides you with more outfit options.

The first thing you want to consider is your skin tone.

Is your skin cool or warm toned?

Characteristics of Cool Toned Skin:
  • Pink undertone
  • Burns easily
  • Veins are blue and purple
  • Best colors include blues, purples, greens, black and grey
  • Avoid oranges, yellows, and browns
Characteristics of Warm Toned Skin:
  • Yellow undertone
  • Tans easily
  • Veins are olive and green
  • Best colors include oranges, yellows, reds, olives, and browns
  • Avoid blues and purples

Choose a neutral

After you determine your skin tone, it is time to choose a neutral:

  • Black
  • Brown

By choosing only one neutral, you’re making it easy to get dressed, even in the dark.

This increases the versatility within your wardrobe and provides you with endless outfit possibilities.

My skin tone is cool, so black is the best option for me personally. Browns wash out my skin and make me look sick.

Pick Your Accent Colors

Now that you have your neutral, it is time to pick two to three accent colors. The fewer options you have, the better.

They don’t have to necessarily pair well together. For example, you could choose orange and pink or green and purple.

I personally love blue and grey for my accent colors.

Now Choose Your Pattern

Several pieces in your wardrobe will likely be solids, so it is important to have a signature pattern or two.

Here are a few pattern options:

  • Polka dots
  • Stripes
  • Animal Print
  • Plaid/Flannel
  • Floral
  • A fun retro pattern

Again, these options are endless, but it is important to choose only one or two.

I’m a big fan of solid pieces, so I only have one pattern style, which is flannel. I’ve found the simpler I keep my wardrobe the better, but that is just me.

Write Out Your Wardrobe Wish List

As you’ve looked through your fashion idols’ style, created your vision board, and developed your color palette, you’ve probably identified a few pieces you want to include in your wardrobe.

Write out your wish list before going into your wardrobe to find these pieces.

If you want to ensure you have a denim jacket or classy blazer in your wardrobe, write it on your wish list. It doesn’t matter if you have one or both in your wardrobe now.

This prevents any thought looping or trying to rethink of pieces you want to include later when you start building your wardrobe.

Basics Every Wardrobe Needs

Regardless of your style, there are basic pieces that work for any type of wardrobe you could want to create.

This is what really ties in all of the lessons of learning how to rebuild a wardrobe, because it is foundational to any and all wardrobes.

These need to be on your list for your wardrobe rebuild:

Tanktop

Layering is key to creating an effortless versatile wardrobe. Tanktops are where layering starts, and is always good to have in your wardrobe.

Short-sleeve tee

Whether you choose a basic short-sleeve tee or something a little fancier, this is a must for your wardrobe. It works for all seasons as a stand-a-lone piece or for layering.

Long-sleeve tee

A long-sleeve tee works great for cool summer days, layering with a vest or denim jacket, and for lounging around in at home. 

Blouse

Having a quality blouse is very helpful when up leveling a casual outfit. Whether you pair it with jeans, capris, or slacks, this is a great piece to include in your wardrobe.

Sweater

Who doesn’t love a quality sweater? Not only are they cozy to wear, but they make any outfit look a little more polished.

You can invest in a cashmere sweater for special occassions or a wool sweater that is great for everyday life.

Little Black Dress

Having at least one little black dress in your wardrobe is necessary for special occassions. When you pick a classic style, no one will know that you wore it to previous events. [I know this to be true, because I do it all the time.]

Of course, your dress doesn’t have to be black, but choosing a neutral is best when you want to wear it for years to come to special events.

Cardigan

I love a comfy, beautiful cardigan. It is great for layering over anything and is a staple in my own wardrobe.

This is a piece you really want to invest in versus purchasing a cheap quality item. It will last much longer and keep its shape better.

Blazer

Whether you’re a business professional or enjoy looking a little edgy, a blazer is a great piece for any wardrobe.

I love wearing my black blazer with a monochromatic outfit. It is sharp and classy.

Denim Jeans

Everyone needs at least one quality pair of denim jeans that fit well. They are easily paired with anything and extremely versatile.

You can dress them up or down and always look good.

Black Skirt

Black skirts are great for work and interviews. They bring about a professional presence, but are also versatile.

Outerwear

Quality coats are a must if you live in a climate that gets cold. Investing in one or two that pair with everything in your closet is a must.

Shoes

Obviously you need shoes within your wardrobe, but I want to point out something specific.

When you invest in shoes, be sure they work with at least half of your wardrobe. Having a black and nude pair of heels or flats is a great starting point.

If you prefer color, be sure to pick one of your accent colors since it will pair with many things in your wardrobe.

Accessories

When it comes to accessories, you want to make sure you have the classic metal pieces that are timeless. Gold, white gold, silver, or whichever you prefer is completely up to you.

Once you have your staple metal pieces, you can expand into more colorful options. Keeping your pieces versatile will give you more opportunities to wear them, so keep that in mind when shopping.

I personally have two rings and a necklace [all white gold] that my husband gave me, and a pair of pearl earrings that my parents gave me. They match everything I own and are all I need.

You may not be comfortable having that few of pieces, but it works for me.


Once you have all of your basic pieces for your wardrobe, you can fill in the gaps with other fun pieces. This is where you get to bring your personality to life within your wardrobe.

Are you ready to put what you’ve learned about how to rebuild your wardrobe into action?

How to Reuild Your Wardrobe Now that You Have a Vision

Establish Your Wardrobe Guidelines

Having guidelines makes it simple to build a wardrobe you love. It will keep you from throwing your hands up in the air wanting to do this process all over again.

Here are the wardrobe guidelines I suggest:

  1. Pick one neutral
  2. Decide on how many pieces you want
  3. Follow your color palette
  4. Consider trying a capsule wardrobe

Pick one neutral

Again, going back to deciding on your color palette, having one neutral is a key difference between creating a new wardrobe and creating a wardrobe you LOVE!

Yes, I promise it makes that big of a difference.

Decide on how many pieces you want

This is a bit tricky and will need adjusting after some time. Start with a small number that helps you put together the basics and any items on your wish list.

See how that feels then add to it if it isn’t enough. I’ll have some capsule wardrobe suggestions for you in just a minute that you can try.

Once you find your sweet spot, take note of it and then implement the One In, One Out Rule that keeps you from adding in too many pieces in your wardrobe.

Follow your color palette

While this may seem restricting at first, I promise it provides a lot of freedom.

When you follow your simple color palette, you’re able to look for just the pieces you need to add to your wardrobe. It removes any distractions of adding things that aren’t on your wish list and keeps things versatile.

Consider a capsule wardrobe

If you’re unsure of what you need and don’t need, try a capsule wardrobe. This will help you identify what you do and don’t want.

For me, it opened my mind and allowed me to explore my clothes in a new way, and I love them!

Here are a few you can try:

  1. Project 333
  2. New Minimalism Capsule Wardrobe Challenge
  3. Styling You Capsule Wardrobe Challenge
  4. Un-Fancy Capsule Experiment
  5. Shop your Closet Challenge
  6. 7×7 Remix
  7. Year-Round Wardrobe

Shop Your Wardrobe First

Yes, I know you want to build a wardrobe from scratch, but if you already have great pieces for your wardrobe rebuild, there isn’t any reason that you can’t use them.

This will save you money, so shop your wardrobe first.

Declutter What Doesn’t Fit in Your Ideal Wardrobe

If it doesn’t fit within your guidelines, it is time to declutter it! This could be due to:

  • Poor quality.
  • Doesn’t fit you well.
  • It is the wrong color.
  • The style doesn’t represent you well.
  • You just don’t like it anymore.

For these pieces you can sell, consign, or donate. Depending on your goals for your new wardrobe, selling may be the best option.

Selling the clothes you decluttered

You can sell on Facebook, Poshmark, ThredUp, or any other service that will pay you directly for your pieces.

Often times this is the best return on investment.

If you have a lot of clothes you want to sell, offer a black bag special. You bascially bag up your clothes, put a price on it, and give a decent description of the things within it.

If you aren’t in a hurry to sell these clothes, selling them one by one is an option. Just make sure it is worth the effort you’ll put into it.

Consign the clothes you declutter

This won’t provide you with the greatest return, but it does allow you to gain more when you choose store credit over cash.

If you need new pieces and your local consignment shop has those pieces, it is a win-win!

Donate the clothes you declutter

For the items that aren’t worth selling, donating them to a homeless shelter, domestic violence center, or Salvation Army is a kind and thoughtful thing to do.

Do not throw away clothes that could help clothe someone else.

Choose Versatile Pieces for Maximum Impact

The more versatile your wardrobe is the better. You’ll love your outfit options for longer and have a difficult time growing bored of your wardrobe.

Classic vs Trendy

While trendy pieces can be cute, they aren’t pieces that last in a wardrobe. Choosing quality classic pieces provides a better return on your investment.

This isn’t to say that you cannot include some trendy pieces, but the bulk of your wardrobe needs to be classic.

Choose Quality Pieces Over Quantity

I cannot stress this enough! Quality pieces last longer, fit better, and provide a better return on your investment.

It may take longer to build your wardrobe due to the investment standpoint, but it is worth it!

Don’t sacrific it now, because you’ll regret it later.

Brand name doesn’t mean quality

When shopping for quality pieces, look at the build and fabric over the name brand. Just because something is a popular name brand item does not mean that it is made to last.

Check out this video by My Green Closet to learn more

Pace Yourself

Creating an amazing wardrobe doesn’t happen overnight. It takes time to find the right pieces.

Set a budget for each piece of clothing or the entire wardrobe altogether. This will help you look for the perfect pieces versus getting desperate and settling for less.

Related Post: 27 Things to Cut out of Your Budget to Save Money

Shop secondhand first

You’re likely to find quality pieces at a fraction of the price when shopping secondhand. It is eco-friendly and easier to build a wardrobe with secondhand pieces compared to purchasing new from the designer.

Ethical shop suggestions

If you cannot find the pieces you want secondhand, ethical shopping is the next step. Here are a few shops I recommend:

Create a New Wardrobe that Will Take You to the Next Level

Consistently evaluate the pieces in your wardrobe.

Pay attention to the fabrics. Note how you feel about wearing them. How well are they holding up? How are they to be cared for?

Use one kind of hanger

This is one of my favorite tips for wardrobes! When you have matching hangers, your wardrobe feels more uniform.

It doesn’t matter if you use the white hangers from Walmart or fancy felt hangers that were special order. When they all match, your wardrobe feels more versatile and up leveled.

Store the pieces in your wardrobe well

Pay attention to the care of the pieces in your wardrobe. If they are okay to hang, then hang them. If they are supposed to be stored in a drawer, do that.

When you take the time to store the pieces in your wardrobe well, you feel better about your wardrobe. That may sound strange, but it is true.

Care for your pieces to help them last a long time

It doesn’t matter if you invest $150 in a pair of denim jeans. If you aren’t taking care of them properly, you’re wasting resources.

  • Learn how to read labels
  • Mend clothes that need quick repairs
  • Resole your shoes
  • Again, store things properly

Doing all of these things will help your wardrobe last longer and you’ll look better because you took the time to care for your outfits.

Organizing Your Wardrobe

Finally, let’s talk organizing your wardrobe! This is key to having an efficient system for your wardrobe that will help you take care of your clothes and help you see all that you have.

Hanging clothes

For the things you hang, organize them by sleeve length. Often times, we are looking for something according to sleeve length before color, so this allows you to see each section easier.

If you prefer to organize things by color, do so after organizing them by sleeve length.

Clothes in drawers

When it comes to organizing your drawers, I love folding like Marie Kondo. This allows you to see everything in your drawers much better than folding flat.

If you haven’t heard of Marie’s folding style, here is a video demonstrating how she folds.

[I will say that I don’t fold my socks or undies, but everything else I do follow her folding style.]

Now It Is Time to Take Action!

You deserve to love the way you feel in your clothes! You also deserve to get excited about getting dressed when looking at your wardrobe!

Now that you know how to rebuild your wardrobe, it is time to take action and make it happen!

If you have any questions or comments, please leave them below for me!

If you're saying to yourself, "I need a new wardrobe. Where do I start?" You're in the right place, because this post is all how to rebuild your wardrobe!

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16 thoughts on “How to Rebuild Your Wardrobe; Building a Wardrobe From Scratch”

  1. I have been a dancer for all of my life. Earlier on it was ballet and jazz… now it is ballroom and jazz. I had black, white, and pink for everything related to dance. That has been what led to my current wardrobe. My core colors are black, gray, shades of pink/red and shades of blue (maybe some white, but I need to have other colors with it as my complexion is very pale. Everything I own goes together to either dress up or down. I am in need of a few new dresses for formal and informal occasions. I am a dress/skirt girl and rarely wear jeans or slacks (other than yoga pants for dancing). I only have black or gray shoes or boots. I have not counted everything I have, but there is no excess. I also need a good winter coat and a few more sweaters (turtlenecks and cardigan) and I need to find a good purse/tote that is durable but still attractive and something small to wear out when I need to have free hands to shop, etc. A small crossbody bag. Most of my clothing is washable, by machine or by hand… saving lots of money on dry cleaning. But I would like a nice black or navy blazer and a denim jacket. There are lots of vintage thrift shops near where I live and I can sew so that helps a lot on cost and being able to choose fabric that is natural and practical as well.

    1. I love that dancing has helped you keep your color palette simple, Bonnie! Also, I’m all for a wardrobe that can easily be dressy or casual. Those are the best things about versatile pieces. I only have two dry cleaning pieces and have an at home kit, which is much cheaper than a dry cleaner. Thankfully. I love a good blazer and denim jacket! I got mine off Poshmark and have had my denim jacket for years now. It still looks new, but easy to dye when it gets too light.

  2. I need to figure out this whole capsule wardrobe thing. I have the “mom uniform” down pat…but would like to have a little nicer collection than yoga pants and sweat shirts.

    1. I completely understand, Heather! I have my casual work wardrobe and my work at home wardrobe [much smaller]. I mentioned above a few different capsules that I personally would recommend. May check them out to see if one might work for you? 🙂

  3. So good Erin! I think this is exactly what the last year has been for me and I’m so glad I’m now at a place where I really do love the vibe of my wardrobe. I think it’s important to like not only the individual pieces, but how the whole thing makes you feel as well. I can’t wait to see what you come up with!

    1. Karin, if it wasn’t for you asking that question, I don’t think I would have the bravery to go for it! So thank you for that! I am excited to see what I come up with as well!

    1. Katie, what is holding you back? I would say the fall was the perfect time for me to give it a shot! I love my fall and winter clothing, so it was fun to try at that time.

  4. Step 3 is soooo important. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve purchased the same thing two or three times because I didn’t remember that I already bought it. No wonder I have hangers with two or three items on them…

    1. I used to be the same way, Andrea! When I took inventory for the first time, I realized I had a lot more than I thought! Crazy how a list can change your mindset about your wardrobe!

  5. Awesome tips, Erin! I’m looking to eventually do something similar with my wardrobe. Thanks for the inspo!

  6. Great tips to rebuilding your wardrobe! I really need to clean out my closet, so I think this will really be helpful to me. Once I do that, then maybe I can do some shopping.

  7. These are some awesome tips Erin! It’s hard to know how to get to the point where you love your closet. When I shop, I try not to buy something unless I think it’s going to be my new favorite item that I’m going to want to wear all the time. I hate realizing that I bought something and never wanted to wear it.

    1. I agree, Christine! I’ve learned if I second guess it at the store, it isn’t for me. I have to love it as soon as I get it on or I will regret the purchase.

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