STYLE

Stylish Women Have Very Few Clothes. Here's How They Do It

Tips on how to shop, style, and clean out your wardrobe.

13/01/2017 10:31 AM AEDT | Updated 13/01/2017 2:06 PM AEDT
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The more clothes you have the more outfit options each morning, right? Well, technically, yes -- but an overflowing wardrobe can actually make you feel like you have 'nothing to wear' and confuse your style (and let's not even get into how much wasted money is sitting in there).

Surprisingly, stylish women often have less items in their wardrobes than you might think. It's about good quality items on high rotation, knowing what shapes and styles work, and being ruthless when it comes to frequent clean outs.

Here, how three stylish Australian women approach dressing.

Alison Rice, group publisher, POPSUGAR and Who What Wear Australia Network

Do you have to dress a certain way for work?

"Dressing for work has been a real journey for me. When I moved from an editor role to publisher, it raised every bar in my life, style included. But I think regardless of your role, there isn't a more powerful feeling than when your outfit truly expresses who you are. When it represents everything you want to say without you needing to say it. I guess I took that belief system and let it guide my personal style. My office style isn't dramatically different from my evening or weekend style. I like to dress up, then I'll usually just swap the shoe or accessories to take it somewhere else."

What is your approach to shopping? Do you think things through, or impulse buy?

"It's may be a bit ironic, but I think my fashion and shopping style actually mirrors my leadership style. I'm highly organised, push for quality, respond to traditional power structures, enjoy process, I never settle and I can be inflexible. I don't buy many trend pieces. I care way more about the cut, the fabric, and how it will sit on my body, than who wore it or if I should be wearing it right now. Dressing each day is quite meaningful for me, so I want the clothes I own to inspire that process, not confuse it.

"Because I'm so hardcore about finding the right pieces, I'm always shopping but rarely purchasing. A system that works well for me is I have a handful of sites that match my style sensibilities, and then I keep a seasonal wish list on each one. That way if there's a sale, I can shop with confidence and know I haven't been swayed because something is cheap.

"I usually buy my shoes in bulk twice a year. I'll get two or three pairs in the June and December Net-a-porter or Matches sale, but I don't hold onto them for more than a year or two as they get pretty scuffed. I definitely spend more money on shoes than anything else.

"I only have one handbag. When it's starting to become a bit worn, I'll start researching for a new one, adding styles I like to the wish lists. Like shoes, I will spend a bit on the bag but I'll use it every day for a couple of years. I stick to classic, small bags that can go from day to night.

"I have a market stall about four times a year and I sell quite a bit. I'm ruthless. I usually make enough money to buy two special things from my wish lists. One of my best friends, Billie, is a fashion director and she taught me that control. We share most market stalls and discuss what we want to buy. It's become this nice tradition. I really look up to her and rely on her for fashion advice, along with our two fashion editors on Who What Wear and POPSUGAR."

You have a clothing rack for your wares. How to do keep your wardrobe so tightly edited?

"The rack is in addition to my main wardrobe. It's a $20 IKEA rack I keep at the end of our bed. I edit that rack every season, mainly to suit the weather, but also to pull out pieces I want to get more wear out of.

"The rest of my clothes live in the main wardrobe, which is actually quite small. That's just staples like jeans and buttons ups. Anything I am not wearing goes straight to the market bag.

"Most seasons I create a new Pinterest board based on either a colour I want to introduce (only ever one colour at a time, I'm fragile like that), or a stylish woman I just can't stop Googling. Right now it's Giorgia Tordini. Then I attack the rack. I use the Notes section in my phone to keep track of what pieces I need to buy. For me it's all about finding the gaps and then waiting for the right pieces to fill them."

What's a typical outfit for you to wear, or something you have on high rotation?

"Midi length suits my body type and I feel sophisticated in that length, so I'll often wear a black midi skirt, a top with an interesting cut or fabric detail, and heels. If not a skirt, you'll find me in a really simple dress and heels. The less items the better. Because I wear a lot of black, I like heels that will add a bit of personality."

What are your favourite brands, or style influences?

"Right now I have an obsession with Italian It Girls like Georgia Tordini and Gilda Ambrosio, but also look to Who What Wear, stylish friends like Billie and iconic Frenchies like Jean Dammas. I mostly wear Gianvito Rossi heels -- comfort and quality factor -- and I like to anchor my new season buys with vintage pieces I've picked up on my travels. I just try not to sound like a douche when someone asks where it is from. My staple websites are Net-a-Porter (but rarely full price), My Chameleon, The Outnet, Matches, The Undone and The Real Real. Actually Billie recently suggested I buy these pink satin Jil Sander mules and I took the plunge!"

Brooke Spain, Senior Associate at Dentons

Do you have a dress code at work?

"I am a lawyer in a dispute resolution team which means litigation and appearing in Court. When I started out as a lawyer 10 years ago, I wore pant suits with a collared shirt and patent pumps every day. My 'dress code' involved little decision and meant, as a junior lawyer, I could run to Court with little notice looking professional.

"Now, I spend less time in Court and recently made a conscious effort to try and integrate my work and weekend wardrobes. It might sound difficult but with some planning it's cheaper and really works. Now I tend to wear tapered trousers or a midi skirt with a blouse or shirt and pumps that I can then team with a cami and strappy heels or t-shirt on the weekend."

What is your approach to shopping? Do you think things through or impulse buy?

"I used to impulse buy but now I keep to an almost capsule wardrobe. Over the last few years, I have sold my impulse buys on eBay or Facebook groups, and reinvested those funds on staple pieces. I keep to a colour palette of black, white, navy, grey and neutrals. These can then be mixed with some leopard print or a pop of colour and denim on the weekends.

"I don't shop all year round. I nearly only buy if something is on sale. I like to go to David Jones on Boxing Day (early in the morning and get in and then out) and buy a couple of investment pieces for the year. Last year, I bought a Bianca Spender black blazer which I wear all the time and a Josh Goot collared shirt that, again, I wear for both work and play. This year, I purchased two Jac and Jack midi skirts (one black, one beige) and a Jac and Jack black silk t-shirt. I also have a couple of want items throughout the year. This year, I would really like to buy a Karen Gee sleeved, mid length dress for work and a beige Burberry trench. The trench most likely won't happen this year!

"I spend money on investment handbags but I don't spend a lot on shoes, I buy affordable shoes from Wittner or Nine West because I wear them out.

"Throughout the year, I usually buy a couple of tops and a pair of new trousers from Country Road. The price is great and the quality fantastic."

A photo posted by BROOKE SPAIN (@brookespain) on

How to do keep your wardrobe tightly edited?

"I clean it out probably every two months. I'm not replacing the clothes at the same rate but I am constantly trying to reduce my wardrobe to an actual capsule wardrobe. I'm very obsessive compulsive and don't like clutter. I find keeping my wardrobe minimal means it is easier to see what is in it and get dressed each morning. I give a bag of clothes to one of my besties (who's also a lawyer) almost every year, sell on eBay, and give the rest to charity."

What's a typical outfit for you to wear, something on high rotation?

"Black! Either a black tapered pant or black midi skirt with a silk or cotton shirt or boxy textured sleeved top. Or a black midi dress."

What are your favourite brands, or style influences?

"I love Scanlan Theodore, Bianca Spender, Camilla and Marc and Zimmermann for blazers, dresses and pants (the investment pieces). For affordable tops and other staples, I like Jac and Jack, Ginia RTW (for silk shirts and camis) and of course, Country Road.

"If I could dress like anyone, it would be Olivia Palermo. I also love Anine Bing, Victoria Beckham and Miranda Kerr's style."

A photo posted by BROOKE SPAIN (@brookespain) on

Brooke Marks, luxury fashion consignment sales

Do you dress a certain way for work?

"I tend to stick to the classics and prefer a relaxed look. Silk shirts, cashmere knits, trousers, loafers and a beautiful watch are my staples."

What is your approach to shopping? Do you think things through or impulse buy?

"Everything in my wardrobe is usually very planned and thought out, I rarely purchase on a whim. Unfortunately classic styles don't get discounted as often as seasonal pieces therefore I don't get to shop the sales as often as I would like."

How to do keep your wardrobe tightly edited?

"I'm happier when I have less and my wardrobe reflects this. I try on everything in my wardrobe every three months and remove the pieces that I no longer need or want."

Whats a typical outfit for you to wear or something on high rotation?

"I have a few favorites but at the moment it's my Céline 'crombie' coat and Chanel 'Boy' bag. The Chanel is undoubtedly my favorite as it took me over a year to track down in the small size with calf leather, which makes it more rewarding to carry."

What are your favourite brands, or style influences?

"I admire Phoebe Phillo, Emmanuelle Alt and Marine Vacth. I love their effortless 'less is more' approach to style."

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