A Year in Style: How to maintain your wardrobe throughout the year

How to maintain your wardrobe throughout the year
How to maintain your wardrobe throughout the year

First of all I want to say a big thank to all of you guys, to everyone who bought or reviewed the workbook, everyone who sent me questions, photos and feedback. I never expected the launch to go as well as it did, and I’m so happy that you guys like the workbook. The days after the launch were a bit crazy, so if you sent me something but haven’t received a reply from me yet: It's coming, I’m slowly but surely working my way through.

Now that the workbook is done and “shipped”, I’m excited to get back to posting here on the blog! If there’s a topic you would like me to cover or have a question about, email me your idea here.

Today’s topic: Maintaining your wardrobe throughout the year

I’m all for regular updates: 2 bigger ones at the beginning of the fall/winter and spring/summer season, plus two smaller ones just before winter and summer. During those updates I review my style concept and capsule wardrobe for the next months, deal with repairs/replacements and decide whether and how many new pieces I want to buy. The exact timing of those updates varies somewhat from year to year, but in general I start thinking about my fall/winter wardrobe during August, plan my spring/summer wardrobe towards the end of february and then add a couple more cold/hot weather essentials in November and May. That’s the routine that works best for me and the weather here in Berlin.

The infographic above is a little visualization of the yearly maintenance routine (or cycle) I recommend and some factors to consider when coming up with your own. In general, the timing of your wardrobe updates should depend on two things:

Your wardrobe cycle // what you are wearing

As a first step you need to have a good idea of when during the year you typically start (and stop) wearing your fall, winter, spring and summer clothes, so you'll know by when your seasonal wardrobes need to be implemented. Your wardrobe cycle will depend both on the overall climate of where you live and also the typical length of your seasons. For example, here in Berlin September is usually the month I'll start wearing my fall wardrobe (mixed in with a couple of summer pieces), so I like to start my fall overhaul by mid-August the latest. The seasons are also usually roughly the same length here, but if that's not the case for where you live, make sure you take that into account when mapping out your typical wardrobe cycle.

The retail cycle // which collections are available in the stores

Fortunately, this one is pretty easy to predict, as most brands stick to the same fashion calendar: Fall/winter clothes are available from July to January, spring/summer clothes from January to July. Fall collections usually hit the shops sometime in July, spring collections in January, winter collections around mid-October and summer collections in mid-April. After 2-3 months collections go on sale. Of course there will always be some exceptions to the rule, but in general, most brands and shops will follow this cycle. If you live in the southern hemisphere, the retail cycle should work the exact opposite of what's shown here.

Seasonal overhauls and mini updates

Here's a bit more info about what exactly I do during my seasonal overhauls and mini updates:

Seasonal overhauls // just before fall and just before spring

During August and late February of every year I plan out my style concept and wardrobe for the upcoming 6 months, i.e. the F/W and the S/S season. Once I’ve figured out my style concept including main proportions and a colour palette, I go ahead and create a capsule wardrobe of about 20-30 pieces, based on my schedule for the next months (how much office time vs work at home, how many trips etc.) All of the fall and spring season collections will already be in the stores at those times, so I can view any potential new items in the flesh and try them on with existing pieces, before I make my final decision. At the end I put away off-season clothes and re-organize my wardrobe a little to reflect my new wardrobe structure, and also plan a few go-to looks.

Last year I wrote an in-depth post about how to update your wardrobe for the fall season step-by-step. Check it out here.

Mini updates // just before winter and just before summer

During November and May I then tweak the wardrobe I created during the seasonal overhaul a bit, to make sure it’s tailored to the upcoming more extreme temperatures. For winter that usually means checking whether I have enough winter coats, scarfs, gloves, etc. that match my style concept, and in summer I will add a few pieces like shorts, summery dresses and bikinis or pull a couple from storage.

Note: My routine of 2x seasonal overhauls + 2x mini updates is tailored to the fact that I like to only create 2 capsule wardrobes a year, one for S/S and one for F/W, and then just add a few additional pieces for summer and winter that I can pair with my fall and spring basics. If you (like Caroline for example) prefer to build 4 separate capsule wardrobes a year or live in a place where the seasons require very different kinds of clothing, you could simply repeat the steps for the seasonal overhaul 4x a year and skip the mini updates.

Note 2/ disclaimer: 'Building a new capsule wardrobe' does not mean buying 30 new pieces! Instead the idea is to take the clothes you already have, think about new ways to structure and pair them (using proportions, a uniform or a colour palette) and then (sometimes, but not always) introducing a couple of new pieces. I just wanted to add that because I usually get at least one question about it :)

How do you keep your wardrobe well-maintained and tailored to the current season? Have you started planning your fall wardrobe yet?