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“Railing” My Wardrobe

Author: Charlotte O'Shea

In a bid to save time in the mornings and continue to streamline my wardrobe, I’ve been considering planning my outfits for the week in advance and housing them on an open rail.

I’ve never claimed to have a “capsule” approach per se – I become bored quickly and am far too easily swayed by the latest Zara campaign or my daily Outnet email updates for that. But I am determined to spend more wisely, by investing in timeless classic pieces and wasting far less on frivolous spur-of-the-moment purchases which often are worn once before they are left in the depths of my closet in favour of something with a significantly superior cut.

In my new home office I have an industrial rail – it’s main purpose is for photoshoots (hence the rather ornate floral flourishes in the slider above) but I am currently considering essentially looking at my calendar on say a Sunday evening, and hanging up outfits for the week accordingly. Of course schedules change, as does the weather forecast, but for the most part, at least I wouldn’t be faffing around at 7am trying to find something appropriate to wear whilst simultaneously trying to negotiate Mabel into cleaning her teeth.

I think it could also be an interesting lesson in what I do wear, I bet there are some pieces I wear more often than I realise and those which I consider wearing often but actually don’t for one reason or another.

Towards the end of last year I invested in my Chloe bag of dreams and after having a word myself over my Gillian Anderson related blouse obsession (where I have bought more than I care to mention, none of which fit my petite frame properly and have thus been given away to friends) I finally found the perfect fit. That perfect fit being a spendy blush pink silk Reiss number as seen in the slider above (unfortunately now sold out but I’m loving this “Quinn” style that is £65 in the sale). In future I will therefore make Reiss my first port of call for when I fancy getting sexy in the shirt department.

As part of a Rock My Wedding collaboration Lottie and I visited Bicester shopping village a few months ago. That was a revelation. I actually bought my wedding shoes from Bicester – and James bought his shirt and tie, yet as a couple we don’t visit often at all. We made the mistake of visiting on a bank holiday some years ago where it was so busy you couldn’t get into a shop, let alone buy anything, so we left fed up and empty handed. It put us off and that was a shame – Lottie and I chose to go early morning in November and it was a thoroughly enjoyable experience. There are more brands than ever and a few lovely eateries for lunch or coffee and a cake. Or wine. Definitely wine.

I bought a pair of Prada nude patent pumps for 60% off the RRP (They were about £230, reduced from £600 ish) They are beautifully made and I know I will wear them often. I also scored a Coach leather tote in stone (in the header above – and no, I don’t carry it around filled with hydrangeas – although that would be fun) that was reduced from £479 to £129. What. A. Bargain.

This year I’ve bought not a lot, honestly – I’ve been VERY good. Admittedly James did buy me this Marc Jacobs cardigan in peach as a late Christmas gift but it was actually less than the All Saints jumper I was initially after.

What I’ve learnt is that it pays to shop around for designer bargains, be it an outlet store or online. If you really really love something then it’s more than likely worth the splurge – it truly is about price per wear folks. And if something doesn’t fit quite right then it’s never going to. No matter how much you like the design/print/colour. At least not unless you’ve got the time or budget for alternations.

I also endeavour to buy in only a few colour palettes per season (The last few months I’ve stuck to mints, peaches and blush with some burgundy thrown in for Autumn/Winter) so I can mix and match as much as possible. Go-with-everything basics are also a must, I’m a huge fan of ASOS own brand crew neck T-shirts – currently only £15 for a pack of three (grey, white and black). I’m also having a moment with Warehouse knitwear – I know I will wear this nude pink scallop stitch jumper for years. It looks pretty with jeans for day and also works tucked into a leather skirt for evening with heels and a winged eyeliner.

I’m not saying this “Railing” adventure is going to work, or that it’s going to be carried out every week without fail but I’m going to give it my best shot. You can see this weeks fashion choices on my personal instagram.

How is your wardrobe looking for 2017? Found any designer bargains lately? Do you have any foolproof way of organising your clothing for the week ahead?

P.S Thanks to those that recommended grey trainers a few weeks ago, I’ve bought these Internationalist Nike pair from Office and they are ace. (Did I say I hadn’t bought much this year…?)


All images by We Are // The Clarkes except for the last image (by Charlotte).

Purveyor of short shorts. Make-up junkie. Hopes to grow old disgracefully.
Follow Charlotte on instagram @charlotte.oshea

24 thoughts on ““Railing” My Wardrobe

  1. Hi,
    Here’s a nifty tip for working out at the end of each season/year what you actually do wear. Once worn/washed replace in the wardrobe with the hanger turned the opposite way to the rest of your clothes. Alternatively tie a scarf to the far left of your rail with all your clothes to the right of it. Once you wear /wash something and replace put it to the right of the scarf.
    I quickly realised that there was lots I wasn’t wearing and worked out it was due to me not liking the items or them not fitting properly – so off they went to the charity shop and I am left with a wardrobe full of things I do actually wear x

    1. Great tip Siobhan, I do tend to reach for the same things recently – if something is super flattering then I guess you re always going to reach for that as a priority. I also find as I get older I haven’t got the motivation to wear items that aren’t really comfortable, no matter how “stylish” they are. x

  2. I have recently lost 18lbs and with another 10 to go till I’m back to my happy weight so I’m inbetween dress siZes at the moment and knowing I’ll be going down a bit more am reluctant to buy anything that isn’t from primark or a supermarket at the moment as chances are I won’t be wearing it for long. I have 5 wedding and a christening this year (when did people decide to wait until their mid thirties to get married!) and although I’ll tell myself I’ll just buy one investment dress for all of them, I to one what I’m like and will end up with 3 or 4 Slightly mid range ones.
    Loosing the weight is great but the challenge of what to wear on a daily basis now I’ve only got one pair of jeans that actually fit and all my tops and dresses are too big is a pain. Plus I’m going to have to replace everything at some point and how will I afford to do that!!

    1. Claire what an achievement, I bet you feel great. Have you checked out boohoo.com? I bought a swing dress and a wrap dress last year that were £15 each, yet you wouldn’t know they weren’t from a more expensive high street store. x

  3. Increasing I have a work uniform of the same style skirts, tshirts/vests and cardigans(occasionally a jacket – particularly in the summer) which takes a whole lot of thought out of getting dressed first thing. I mix it up with different jewellery and a few pairs of shoes I have tucked away at work, but essentially it is a uniform.

    Like the idea of railing but don’t really have the space…

    1. Caroline I actually found dressing for my previous career far easier – like you I had a few skirts, a couple of dresses and two trouser suits which I mixed and matched with various tops and statement jewellery. There is no reason I couldn’t adopt the same method now but I’m more casual than I am “smart”. I have a photoshoot on Friday which sounds glamorous but realistically I will spend a lot of time kneeling on the floor and spiking my fingers on thorny blooms. Jeans aren’t comfortable to do this and tights get ruined – I think I need to invest in some flattering joggers?! x

      1. Hush for joggers! I buy a pair every season because I love them so much and they fit and wash so well! We’ve just moved to the States where the whole ‘athleisure’ thing is huge and it has led me to discover the brand Zella – they do THE most incredible leggings. A bit spendy but again they wash and wear so well and the fit is great.

        1. Hi Aimee! How exciting – are you enjoying your new home? I’ll check out Zella as I’m a sucker for a decent pair of leggings x

  4. Oooh Hubby just this mo got me some nike internationalist (in melon pink and grey) on a spur of the moment ‘I wanna buy you something nice’.

    I like this idea and am trying to build a more ‘coherent’ wardrobe. My capsule experiment taught me I like shopping and variety too much for it to work for me but I do wear somethings more than others so taking the time to plan to wear some less worn pieces is a good idea.

    Mt colour palatte is based around grey, coral and mustard with bits of khaki and burgundy too.

    1. Rachel…melon pink and grey?! They sound immense. Clearly I must go and admire them in a bit (but I am NT allowed to buy another pair!).

      I love Khaki and mustard but unfortunately they don’t love me – your colour palette sounds perfect x

  5. I have a work rail at home and a few *ahem* rails for my non-work wear. Considering I work 5 days out of 7 my work rail is ALOT smaller but yet I seem to manage. I have a few dresses, skirts, blouses and jackets and I mix and match all the time. I imagine this is what it is like to have a capsule wardrobe. I have 3/4 times as many clothes for weekends etc (and bearing in mind sundays are usually in comfy loungewear) and yet I always have NOTHING to wear! I think I also need to be mindful about future purchases and creating a system where I weed out the things I never wear xx

    1. Hi Sarah – I have the opposite, nothing to wear on weekends (!) or at least it feels like that?! I used to love winter dressing but have had difficulty this year. Weeding out the unwearable is an ace feeling once it’s done, at the time it seems a bit scary but when I did a big cull about a year ago I felt so much better x

  6. I really like this idea and I think I should try and do it. I am in a real slump clothes wise at the moment, don’t particularly love anything in my wardrobe, am a weird weight where stuff I like doesn’t fit well/doesn’t fit at all and I just don’t have the desire to make an effort. In fact, I have felt like this for a few months and nothing in the shops inspire me. Ok, need to sort my life out. x

    1. Milly I felt like that about a year after Mabel was born, the diastasis recti was really getting me down so even though I probably looked fine I *felt* weird – and it’s so much to do with how you feel. I started with more regular but less intense exercise, it really does take your mind off feeling rubbish (play LOUD music – and you only have to do a little, my Cardio dance routines are only 15 mins). Then I discovered the high waisted leather/pleather skirt. It’s very flattering, and a “classic” – goes with everything too. I bought mine from Freepeople.com xx

  7. I’m totally with you on investing in clothing rather than buying lots of crap, Charlotte! I feel like every year I have a massive clear out which is just ridiculous. I’m still breastfeeding at the mo so I’ve bought a bunch of v neck tops from Envie de Fraise which are BRILLIANT because they’re so flattering that I’ll definitely continue wearing them even after I stop bfing. I’m also trying to invest in more basic cardigans that will last – for the past few years I’ve bought lots that have just fallen apart after a few washes so now looking for more expensive but cheaper in the long run – can recommend LK Bennett.
    Love the Coach bag! I got a Coach bag for xmas – my mum got it in Australia as they had a massive sale on everything, she was only in Australia for two days so lucky timing! ??
    I’m also really starting to look at what clothes are made out of. I generally find that anything acrylic or polyester based tends to wear quite quickly so I’m trying to avoid that where possible. I hate scratchy material too, I do want to look dressed and nice but, actually, it’s equally as important to me that I’m comfortable!

    1. Comfort is key for me Kate, and I flatly refuse to wear anything scratchy. These V neck tops sound great – I’ll have a butchers at that brand this evening.

      I must admit to not really being that aware of Coach but the quality is amazing – I’ll definitely being investing in another bag at sale time! x

  8. I started doing a capsule wardrobe around September time and found it really helped to streamline what to wear everyday. My workplace is smart/casual which helps but I still have a few ‘work’ specific clothes (namely two dresses and two skirts – everything else works for work and weekend).

    I actually found I was more bored of my clothes when I didn’t have a capsule… I had so much stuff that didn’t go together that I felt overwhelmed and uninspired. But now with 30-something pieces, I mix and match so much more than I did before.

    That’s not to say I’m tempted by new clothes! But by sticking to only refreshing my wardrobe every few months, it gives me time to assess if it’s worth buying or not.

    1. Jo G I think I need to take a leaf out of your book – maybe I should think about a “refresh” rather than going overboard with a whole declutter/accidentally buying stuff I fancy that doesn’t go with anything etc

      It will be interesting to see how many pieces I wear often after doing my railing exercise for a while – I bet it will probably be about 30 x

    2. That’s how I feel Jo G. I work in an office so do this automatically with my work wear and I never feel bored because its so easy to mix and match different shirts with skirts etc. With work wear I usually always pop to Hobbs or Reiss in the sales and buy lots of things at once which then last me the year. Whereas with non-work wear I have a totally different approach! And buy and buy cheaper items throughout the year, get bored and buy more! xx

  9. I’ve downloaded the stylebook app which has helped loads.
    It’s a bit of a faff as ideally you photograph all your clothes then you can log them on the calendar. Really helps me to see what I wear and what’s there!
    I did it with grand hopes of doing a 33puece capsule wardrobe each season/ quarter. I’m currently on 80 items….. Although last season (Sept to Dec) I looked at what I’d worn the most and there were 30items I wore consistently..So maybe I can do a capsule wardrobe.

    1. Vicky I’m not sure I’m familiar with this app but I’ll definitely check it out – I mentioned above that I reckon I probably have about 30 pieces that I wear the most often, it would be interesting to know for sure! x

  10. Charlotte, what is the sizing like on the asos the shirts? I find some things from asos come up huge and I need a 6 rather than my usual 10!

  11. Thanks for all of the wardrobe ideas. How does the Marc Jacobs cardigan come up size-wise? I am a size 10 deciding between small and medium.

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