Managing your wardrobe: award shows vs. real life

I’m not much into fashion, but one of my guilty pleasures is reading Tom and Lorenzo’s run-downs of the dresses and suits worn to award shows like the Grammys and the Oscars. I’ve been thinking how their comments do (or don’t) apply to non-celebrities and how those comments might be used as guidelines for creating a flattering, uncluttered wardrobe.

Choose colors and styles that work for you

Tom and Lorenzo were full of praise for David Oyelowo’s red tuxedo at the 2015 Oscars, noting that the color looked great on him. If you read through their write-ups from a number of awards shows, you’ll see plenty of comments about something being a good look (or not such a good look) for that particular person.

So feel free to ignore “what every wardrobe needs” advice, which will almost certainly include something that won’t look good on you or doesn’t fit your needs. I cringe every time I see a white blouse listed as an absolute necessity, since white is most definitely not my color. Also, given my current lifestyle, I really have zero need for a white blouse, even if it would look good on me.

Don’t worry too much about trends, either. Marsala is the color of the year, but don’t buy something in that color if it doesn’t become you.

Instead, fill your closet with clothes that are right for you, specifically — clothes with flattering colors and styles, and clothes that are appropriate for the way you live. If you’re not sure what looks good on you, ask a friend with good clothes sense or splurge on hiring a wardrobe consultant. (You might save money over the long haul by not buying clothes you wind up discarding because you discover, too late, that they’re wrong for you.) You might also consult an expert who focuses just on identifying your best colors; I did that some years ago, and it was extremely helpful.

Pay attention to the fit

Tom and Lorenzo’s commentary is filled with notes like: “The pants are too long” and “The pants need hemming.” There are also comments about clothes that are too tight or too baggy. These comments are directed equally to men and women.

This is a case where the awards show commentary applies to everyone else, too. I’m short, so I know how frustrating it can be when you need to get most of your pants hemmed, but I also know it’s a necessity. If your clothes need hemming, either do it yourself or take your clothes to a local tailor. (My dry cleaners do hemming.)

When shopping, be honest with yourself about whether or not something really fits. If you love something and it’s perfect except for a slightly wrong fit, consider whether it could be easily altered. If so, do you have the skills to do that, or are you willing to pay to have it done?

Don’t worry about repeating an outfit

In commenting on one woman’s gown for the 2015 Grammys, Tom and Lorenzo wrote, “We’d swear we’ve seen her in that exact dress dozens of times.”

That’s a reasonable comment from fashion critics writing about a celebrity. But unless you work in a fashion-conscious industry, you probably don’t need to worry about wearing the same outfit (or outfit components) fairly frequently. Either no one will notice, or no one will care. However, the more memorable the outfit, the less frequently you may want to wear it, as people will recall something like a jacket with a wild, brightly colored print.

If you have the money and space for an extensive wardrobe, and clothes are your passion, you may want to own enough of them that repeated outfits are infrequent. But those who prefer a more streamlined wardrobe can often go that route without concern. Some people even choose to own multiples of basic wardrobe items so they can wear identical outfits every day. That choice might well be noticed — think of Steve Jobs and his 501 jeans, black mock turtleneck and New Balance sneakers — but needn’t be a problem in the right environment.

And sometimes even a large degree uniformity isn’t noticed, or at least not remarked upon. A male TV presenter wore the same blue suit (but with different ties and shirts) almost every day for a year, and neither he nor the station got any comments about that.

6 Comments for “Managing your wardrobe: award shows vs. real life”

  1. posted by Leslie on

    I’ve had to learn to be more realistic about my wardrobe and have switched to basic neutral colors that I can easily mix and match (dress it up with some flashy accessories). All of which is machine washable. In paring back my wardrobe, there are still a few items that I’m loathe to get rid of even though I haven’t worn them in years and I do maintain two slightly formal dresses that will do in a pinch for a wedding/funeral/dressy event and one “office” outfit in the event I need to meet with clients in a corporate setting. Perhaps as the itch increases, I will sort through my clothes once again and do another purge of items that I have to accept that I will never wear, no matter what. Or perhaps I need to force myself to wear them so I can see if I would change my mind. Hmmm….

  2. posted by AinOakPark on

    As a young person, I worked at a stock brokerage. I had five work outfits, but with extra blouses. It seemed like at least one suit/skirt/blazer was in the dry cleaners on any given day, but with accessories, it was very workable. I looked at it as a uniform.

    I’ve had phases where I wear black exclusively. Black jeans, black slacks, black skirts and black tops. It is easy, easy easy.

    Right now I am heavier than I’d like. I can still wear my blouses/tops, but I am down to one pair of jeans, one pair of (black) slacks and two dresses. It’s still not much of a problem.

    And, I don’t care if it is D & G or whatever – that “red” tuxedo is hideous.

  3. posted by Barbara K. on

    I like the red tux — I think he looks very stylish and it makes a nice change from all the black. To each his own … taste.

  4. posted by koalabelle on

    I had my colors done years ago; I’m a Winter. I wear separates almost all the time, and my usual outfit is black, navy, or denim slacks or skirt with just about any flattering color on top. My best colors, besides black and navy, are white, bright red, rose, royal blue, turquoise, purple, and jade green. It really helps to know what colors to buy AND what colors to avoid.

  5. posted by Erin Doland on

    @Barbara — Oh my goodness, I loved the red tux, too! It was perfectly cut and tailored and such a worthwhile risk.

  6. posted by Kathryn Wagner on

    You don’t need to splurge on a wardrobe consultant if you don’t want to; many stores have personal shoppers who will work with you one-on-one, for free.

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