Get More With Less: Multiple Use Clothing

Multiple Use Clothing There is one thing that all of us have in common— multi-faceted lives.   Regardless of what the facets of your life are, in most cases all of these facets require that you dress in different ways.  Because many of us are over extended from the hustle and bustle of all these parts, the last thing you want to be is to be bothered with having a completely separate wardrobes to fill each area.  The goal, instead, is to have a closet filled with multiple use clothing.

I recently finished up working with a client whose life had different facets of its own.  She is a mother, wife, has an active social life with friends and is also planning on returning to work in the near future.  Her daily activities include things like playing in the sandbox with the kids, getting together with girlfriends and going on the occasional date with her husband.  She also needs to have clothing on hand for when she returns to work. When we met up, she was most interested in learning how to have the clothing on hand to dress for her well rounded life.  While this task may seem tricky to accomplish, or that she required a huge wardrobe, in the end, we made it easy for her to go from one part of  her life to another with simplicity.  I am going to share with you some of the things that I did to help her with the hopes that these multiple use clothing strategies can help you go from one part of your life to another and ensure that you’ll always look great

Keep the base and change the accents

I would say that the most valuable part that my client got from the experience was learning how a simple shoe change, the addition of accessories to her outfit and maybe a bag change (if she was feeling particularly ambitious) made all the difference in the world.  In my client’s case, she was looking to go to the playground in appropriate clothing and then be able to wipe off the sand and then run and meet up with some friends, all without changing her clothes.  Our strategy was to create a really simple outfit base, like crop pants and a T shirt for example, or an easy summer dress.  For the playground we styled her outfit with a practical sneaker or a pair of casual sandals along with a kid friendly tote bag.  When the time came to meet up for some socializing, I simply suggested that she ditch the  casual kid friendly shoes and grab a more elevated pair, like a wedge sandal and then throw on a fun piece of jewelry to finish off the look.  She could also grab a cardigan or casual blazer, as well, and it was up to her to decide if a bag change was something she wanted to do.

Multiple Use Clothing

 

The goal here is to be able to do more with less and to focus more attention on setting a base of basics that can go from one part of your life to another with a quick change accents that change the look.

 Have floater pieces that are multi-taskers

The next strategy is to have floater pieces in your wardrobe that can be used in all areas of your life.  In my client’s case she had a few nice tops that were too precious for the playground but were great for a lunch out with friends and what she could wear when she returned to work.  These  floater pieces are crucial in a wardrobe and give you the ability to do less with more.  Personally,  use this strategy all the time.  Being someone whose lifestyle calls for more casual, yet nice, attire ( I see clients in jeans or an easy dress, work from home and rarely have the need to get dressed up) I often take my nicer t-shirts that I will wear with a pair of jeans and a cardigan, for example, and also wear it with a nicer pair of pants or skirt, nicer shoes and more elevated accessories when I am speaking publicly.  Recently, I took one of my sleeveless t-shirts that I wear more casually, wore it with a tailored pair of pants, put on a heeled shoe and threw a casual jacket (that I also wear with jeans) on to finish the look.  With a few accessories added, this t-shirt became a multi-tasker in my wardrobe, playing an important role in two very different areas of my life.

Multiple Use Fashion

 

 Color Consistency

 The more of a consistent color theme you have in your wardrobe the better off you will be when it comes to going from one part of your life to the next .  This certainly does not mean that your wardrobe has to be so predictable in color that you start to become known in your social circle as the girl who never wears anything other than pink.  However, when there is a base of some consistency in color it gives you the ability to mix and match more.  Let me give you an example using my experience with my client:  We had established that her base of color would be tones of browns and olives.  We made sure that she had bottoms and dresses in all of these tones.  We then purchased just a few tops, accessories and layering pieces in colors that all worked back to the bottom shades she purchased.  She had some great greens, lavenders, blues and some neutral colored tops.  She will be continuing to add on some more accent colors from there, and with her established palette of color set it will be an easy thing to add on to.  We agreed that shades of teals, warm pinks and other shades of blues will work beautifully as well.

 

Make your novelty a novelty 

Novelty items in a wardrobe are great and provide the personality to a wardrobe.   Without basics, novelty items don’t have a serious foundation with which to be utilized and without novelty your basics are just boring.  However, you don’t have to go crazy with novelty items and you don’t need too many.  In each classification you don’t need more than one or two novelty pieces.  For example you can have:

  • For work, one novelty jacket that can be worn back to several suit bottoms and  separate pants.
  • One or two novelty knit cardigans that can become outfit finishers which is great in the summer when we don’t want to wear a jacket.
  • One or two novelty fun tops that can work back to pants for work or jeans on the weekend.
  • One or two novelty pairs of pants like a print, interesting seaming or pocket details, especially for casual, which can make your more basic tops look a bit more interesting.
  • One or two novelty skirts that do the same thing as your novelty pants above
  • A novelty dress that can be dressed up or down

The truth is that you don’t need too much novelty, it doesn’t take much to add some punch.  In my client’s case she was able to take much of the novelty that she bought (and it wasn’t that much) and use these pieces with jeans to elevate a casual look and also wear these novelty pieces to work.  Additionally, your novelty should work in color coordination to your basic colors.  After all, if you buy novelty you are going to need something to wear with it.  Don’t go off and purchase a purple and green floral skirt if you don’t have those basic colors in your wardrobe.

Set your spending by use

Multiple Use Clothing

 

If you are in the dressing room considering the purchase of a new item, look at the piece and figure out how many facets of your life this particular piece will play in your life.  For example, you can look at a piece and think, “This top would work great with jeans on the weekend, can go under a suit jacket for work and can even be worn with a skirt on the weekends.”  The more multi-use a piece you are considering has the better.

We are all busy and we all are juggling so the last thing you need to worry about is creating a compartmentalized wardrobe with pieces that don’t relate to one another.  Sure, of course you will have the pieces in there that won’t multi task, yet, in general, you always want to have the bulk of your wardrobe to be multiple use clothing and to be able to go from one part of your life to another easily with just a few additions or changes.

  • bubble

    this was useful! especially the tip on novelty!

    • http://Bridgetteraes.com/ Bridgette Raes

      Thanks! Glad you found it helpful!!

  • Meg Keeler

    Can you do another post like this for formal wear? It’s “protocol” (for lack of a better word) to not wear the same gown to multiple formal military events, but it’s ridiculous to have to go buy a gown every time.

    • http://Bridgetteraes.com/ Bridgette Raes

      Definitely! In the meantime, I will say this: Keep the dress simple so you can easily change up the accents and get different looks. Also, have you checked out “Rent the Runway” where you can rent dresses and return them? May be something to consider.

      • Meg Keeler

        I considered it but haven’t been able to commit to not committing, lol. I purchased a GORGEOUS Monique Lhuillier bridesmaid gown that I’ll be wearing to a black tie dinner in two weeks, and the Air Force Ball in the fall.

        • http://Bridgetteraes.com/ Bridgette Raes

          Can you share a link to the dress? maybe I’ll do a “One Item, Five Fashionable Ways” post using it!

    • El Zee

      I know what you’re talking about the ‘new gown’ every time. I have 2 gowns that I keep in rotation. Neither too memorable other than that they flatter my shape well. I simply use them as an excuse to buy new shoes and fun jewelry with every ball. (And maybe a different bolero or shrug). So they get a lot of color to change it up.
      That said, I’ve noticed, the only time people care about your dress: (1) if it’s so unforgettable they’ll remember it from last time and/or (2) if it’s skanky. So, in my opinion, if you pick a nice neutral color (gray, black, maybe Champagne/taupe) you should be able to get away with it several times. Even with color, it’s likely YOU get bored with it before anyone else really cares.
      I also know in the ‘officer wife’ community, it can get a bit catty. So, if that’s the boat you’re in and you want a better defense against the snide remarks, you can still knock the ‘new dress every year’ ladies out of the park with a killer set of heels (that you’ve stalked online & also got at a discount) and statement jewelry. While it’s not the same as ‘free’, it can be less expensive than a new dress. Plus, now you have a new pair of shoes to wear on date nights, and holiday parties ;)

      • http://Bridgetteraes.com/ Bridgette Raes

        Thank you for adding you very wise and experienced insight!

  • Lina

    Hello!
    I’ve a question. Just found your blog from a search (via the shoe dr.lester post which was helpful) and wondering:
    What do you mean with novelty items? Are they trendy, personal or just statement pieces?
    I’m not a native English speaker so I’m not familiare with this term. :3

    /Lina

    • http://Bridgetteraes.com/ Bridgette Raes

      Hi Lina, and welcome! Yes, a novelty item can be trendy, but it is most important that the piece be personal and reflects who you are. Novelty items are the pieces that give your basics flavor. They don’t have to be trendy at all, but they usually make a statement!

Close