5 simple style resolutions to make right now

by Susan

Happy new year! I love the idea of January 1 as a kind of arbitrary fresh start (although I will be writing 2013 on my checks for months, I’m sure). And while I’m not a big fan of resolutions in general, I think a long holiday weekend is a good time to rethink what you’re wearing and reboot your look. Here are five simple strategies to get your style on in 2014.

J. Crew FactoryClean out your closet. I don’t believe in the new year/new you approach to style. But I do think that the new year is a good opportunity to dive into your closet and eliminate the clutter. Focus only on your winter wardrobe right now — no reason to start fretting about summer clothes when it’s freezing outside. If you can’t bring yourself to get rid of things, at least organize them in such a way that you can find — and hopefully wear — everything.

(But seriously, anything that’s too small or worn out or just not working for your actual life should just go. Trust me.)

Make a list. As you clean out your closet, keep track of what you need. An easy way to do this is to look at the pieces you never wear and think about what it would take to make them work for you. I’ve been thinking lately that I really need a pair of tennis shoes to wear with my funky print pants; it would make them more versatile and would essentially double the number of places I could wear them. I have my eye on some Treetorns, although I also really like the idea of a pair of KSwiss (hello Preppy shoes from my childhood). I keep a running list of things I need in my phone; when I’m shopping, I will pull it out and use it to keep myself focused. This way, everything I bring home works with what I already have, and each new piece becomes a staple in my closet.

J. CrewReplace basics first. It’s always fun to buy something out of the ordinary — a beautiful jacket or a sequined skirt or pair of crazy patterned pants (ahem). But don’t forget the basics! It’s easy to overlook things like t-shirts and yoga pants, especially when you’re shopping on a budget, but if that’s what you wear, you want pieces that look fabulous. No matter what your go-to items are, make sure they’re in great shape. You can wear that fun jacket or great sequin skirt with a basic tee, but only if the tee is in perfect condition. Don’t skimp on everyday wear.

Identify your style. Speaking of basics, do you know what yours are? There’s no universal list of “basic” pieces; it depends on your own personal style (which also depends on your lifestyle). My basics are skinny cords and denim shirts and crew neck sweaters and smoking loafers, but that look doesn’t work for everyone. Before you shop, think about what you really wear. I’ve been taking pictures of my outfits almost daily for a couple of years now, and it’s been hugely helpful in identifying my style. I can see what works and what doesn’t, and — more importantly — what I wear over and over again.

Get inspired. Still not sure how to define your personal style? Want to change up your current look? Start an inspiration board! I tear pages out of the J. Crew “look book” (formerly the catalog) and hang them in my closet; I also keep a folder on my laptop with images from some of my favorite websites (Gap and J. Crew Factory, primarily). I have also been known to scope out what other women are wearing — and even ask where they shop (because I have no shame). If you find that you are continually drawn to things that are entirely unlike what you already own, then it might be time to rethink your closet. But chances are you will wind up with an inspiration board or folder filled with images that build on pieces you have in your closet right now, just styled in different ways.

Photos via J. Crew Factory, J. Crew