Monday, November 22, 2010

How I Build an Outfit, Sheila Style

Okay, so some of you lovely people wanted to see how I build an outfit. We'll get to that. But first, here's the outfit!
I found this amazing top while thrift shopping with Elaine - it's Kitchen Orange, a brand I've liked for a while. I have a Kitchen Orange dress, you may recall. The top was only $12.50 - score!

I love the funky collar, the slightly flared sleeves and the stiff texture of it.
It's a wee bit snug in the boobular region, but I don't mind - as well as being a thick fabric, it also has some stretch to it.

This is the third wearing of the skirt (last seen here), ha, also with blue tights.

A close-up of the top half:
Yikes, bad lighting in the closet! Let's just move on.

The stuff: those shoes. For a cheap pair of shoes that I bought over 2 years ago, these have stood me well.

The shiny stuff:
I have been wearing that ring to death, lately.

Top (Kitchen Orange "L-Bow", thrifted), skirt (Nygard), belt (Denver Hayes, consignment), tights (Hue), shoes (Le Chateau), earrings (gift from L), ring (Aldo Accessories).

But wait, you say! How the heck did you build that?

Here you go.

First, I keep all my new stuff in a special place in my closet. Whenever I buy something new or acquire an item, I put it in the same place so that I don't forget: a shelf on my closet. Here we have a silver headband, a brooch and a pair of weird plaid knee-highs:
There is also a leopard skirt, a camel Kitchen Orange top, and a khaki cami with copper sequins. I usually hang up all the clothing items and put them at the left side, near the door of my closet, but I'm low on hangers 'cause I need to clean out my closet, so the clothing items are laid across the tops of my long skirts and pants hangers.

I'm now looking at my new stuff...hmmm...which piece grabs me? I think the top - do any of my long skirts or pants look like they would go?
Ooh, those plaid pants leap out at me - I bet they'd look good with the Kitchen Orange top. Let's have a closer boo at those:
They're practially a neutral!

And camel's a neutral - these will go together, for sure. Let's try a belt - that top needs something in the middle to keep me from looking like a Kraft caramel:

Try another belt:
Oooh! Me likey! But those pants are blandifying up the place, I need some more colour with this before I fall asleep.

After another scope through the long skirts and pants, I turn to the short skirts:
Ah, sweet rainbow of happiness. Notice how I block my skirts by colour, starting on the left with cream, yellow (it's there, trust me, there are just too many skirts here right now, must clean out), orange, red, multi-coloured patterns, browns, greeens, denim, blue, grey, black/white pattern and black. This really helps me decide where I want to go with an outfit.

It also helps to hold the top against the skirts and see what leaps out at me:
I'm veering towards the darker side of the spectrum.

This skirt actually has camel/gold in its pattern:
Mmm, that's pretty together, but the style of the top (modern, clean lines, almost geometric) fights with the twining leaves and flowers of the skirt. Let's try something else.

Ooh, hello!
I like that! The gold embroidery on the skirt goes well with the camel, and the grey (being a cool neutral) contrasts nicely with the camel (a warm neutral), and keeps it from descending into a gooey caramel mess.

But I still need a belt!
Wow, I would not have tried that normally - I would have gone matchy. But I like it - let's go for it!

Okay, now I need some shoes to go with this! I pull out shoes that are in one of the colours in the outfit, usually, or that are neutral. Here's a neutral one:
I like them with the top, but they're not right with the outfit. A little too busy.

I could go matchy:
Nope, the leopard pattern is too much with the belt and the skirt's pattern. I think I need to go with a solid.

I like blue with this:
Yeeeeaaaaahhhh...I like them with all the colours. Theoretically, these would work...but I feel like I need something a little more funky. But I'm going to mentally file away these shoes/this skirt and these shoes/camel for a future outfit.

Now, I know I'll be wearing some sort of leg covering with this - maybe a coloured tight? What shoes would really pop off a coloured tight and not fight with the other colours in this?
How about these? Oh yeah, I like those. Those are good. We have our shoe.

Now, we need to deal with the tights situation. These are how I store my tights:
I roll 'em up losely around my hand then tuck the toes into the centre. It's great for storage and they don't turn into a mondo-tights-octopus in the drawer.

But I digress: what colour tights? I grabbed the grey, those blue-y ones and the brown lace fishnets and put them on the bed.

Then I check out my new tights that I haven't worn yet:
Hey, what's that bright blue pair? I grabbed those too. Of course I chose them!

Next up: accessories!

Because the top has a wide funnel neck, and long sleeves that flare out, I know I won't be doing a necklace or a bracelet. This narrows things down nicely. I can also eliminate a brooch, at least with this outfit, as most of mine are too foo-foo/girly.

I scope out my big earrings:
I love how the flash (my bedroom is dark) reveals cat hair stuck in the black velvet. Gads!

Then I check out my earring drawer of my jewelry box:
I pull out the ones that I think go best:
Then I go through my rings and pull out the ones I like.
This outfit can go silver or gold metals - or even a mix - but I think I prefer gold. The fou-fou ones get eliminated when I look at them next to the clothing pieces...and I ended up with my big gold hoops and the coil ring.

Edit: Oh, I guess I should add - that took me 20 minutes to put together. I don't try anything on, and my outfits get packed into my knapsack right away for my walk to work in the morning.

And that's it! I enjoy putting things together and trying new combinations! Hope you enjoyed this!


  1. Sooo helpful (both the outfit-building and the tip on tights storage)!! Thanks for sharing this. Love your sense of style.

  2. Ooh this is a great idea. I am so stealing your tights storage idea. I've been 'folding' mine and since they're stored in the same place as my socks they just go caddywonky.

    Love the skirt. Love the top. One day I need to fly to Canada and shop in your awesome thrift and consignment shops.

  3. I highly approve of your methodology! Your tights storage is brilliant, and I think you may have inspired me to start keeping new things separate so they don't get lost in the closet.

    I love that belt!

  4. Probably took you WAY longer to compose the tutorial than to dress!!!

    This post is stock-full of ideas. Little by little, I'm learning! Thanks for breaking it down for people like me :)

    Happy Thanksgiving!

  5. Oh, goody! A trip inside Sheila's head!

    My, it's awfully scary in there...

    Seriously, it is informative to hear you think out loud about clothes. Your pondering is more detailed and sophisticated than most of ours and I learned a few tips, like putting new items in a special place. Thanks!

  6. Fun new find in the camel top. I like the funnel neck and that it's different. It's fun to see how you come up with ideas. I like that you found more than one way to wear the top. I spent most of my evening last night figuring out what to pack for Thanksgiving weekend. I think I need to re-evaluate, I've got way to many things for 5 days....

  7. Thanks Sheila, I loved seeing your approach to outfit building. This was fun!

    The design on that skirt is great! Nygard, I would have never guessed.

  8. hey, i store my tights the same way! i hit on this method about 1 1/2 years ago, it makes all the difference.

    very very interesting do you factor in fit (since you don't try on outfits - that's adVANced!)? do you just have that type of memory?

    thank you for all this effort!!! steph

  9. Talk about a REAL creative process-It was intense.
    I have to say I am impressed, you do this EVERY DAY ?
    I cannot believe you don't try it on and just pack it!
    For me it all depends, sometimes I feel creative and will put an entire week's outfits together while other days I change up to 5 times and still feel off.

  10. Freeda, it's not really that hard to do - it's just a matter of trying things out and seeing what works together.

    Thanks, Anon!

    Thanks, Megan - please do! I used to try to fold my tights too, and what a mess. If you're ever up here, we'll go thrifting. :)

    Thanks, Wendy!

    LaHdeM, thank you! Slotting away new stuff is guaranteed to make you forget what you bought! I usually build new outfits from my new stuff right away.

    Rebecca - it did! You're very welcome! Thanks - I am taking US Thanksgiving off to relax and watch football.

    Ha, thanks, Ralph - hope you weren't too traumatized, hee hee. Glad you liked this.

    Alison, isn't it cool? I like different items too. Good luck with your capsule wardrobe!

    Thanks so much, Jen! I know, Nygard is usually total old lady wear, hee.

    Steph, great makes a huge difference. I know how all of my clothes fit, and since my body weight doesn't fluctuate more than a couple of pounds (because I am very careful with it), I know that I'm not going to get any bad surprises. Although, I have had some outfits that seemed like they would work...and then were disastrous that day!

    Lorena, was it? It seems pretty normal to me (I guess because I've been doing it for years!). I do it 4 days a week - I plan my Friday outfits in my head then fuss around with them a bit that morning (I take the bus to work on Fridays, so I wear my outfit). I also like to do a full week in advance, especially if I've done some thrifting/second hand shopping on the weekend. Then I take an hour on Sunday and plan everything out. But even then, I usually do the accessories the night before.

  11. Thank you so much for this Sheila! I really enjoyed the trip through your closet. I do a similar exercise on Sundays evenings, it relaxes me and I then don't have to think about my outfits for the rest of the week! Time well spent.

  12. That's a lot like my process, Sheila -- I usually start with a top and assemble the major pieces first, and on down to the accessories at the end. But the major difference is that I would never pack up an outfit and leave without trying it on -- my instincts have failed me before and things I was sure would work together turn out not to work at all. You are braver than I, for sure!

  13. You're welcome, Secret Squirrel! I also like to plan my whole week on Sundays, if I'm feeling motivated. Then I can just choose which outfit I want to wear each night. I totally agree: very relaxing!

    Audi, you're much smarter than me - I've had a couple of bad outfits happen due to not trying on (colours look different, styles clash, fit is bad). It's all experimentation, though! Great fun!

  14. That was fun--I felt like I was in your closet with you!!! And I want that skirt....

  15. Love the peek into your closet and your selection process. I do a lot of the same thing: Trial and error.
    The resulting outfit is gorgeous!

  16. Thank you, fof!

    Vanessa, glad you enjoyed it. Thanks!

  17. That was great - thank you for sharing the way it all works. And I sure like the way you use/make up words!

  18. 1. I love that neckline, and you are one of the few people who can carry it off.

    2. LOVE the documentation of your outfit process. We do a lot of the same steps -- which is funny because we have such different styles!

    3. I am stealing the tights storage idea this winter for SURE. Thank you!


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