And since I just went through my outfit planning process to kick start my fall working from home outfits series, I thought now would be the perfect time to share some tips.
Outfit Planning Tip #1: Start With a Clean Work Space
It takes some space to lay out a lot of clothes, so I like to start by cleaning my closet bedroom, hanging up all of my clothes into groupings (keeping like items together, like all of my skirts in the same place), and putting all of my shoes up on their shoe racks.
Full disclosure, my closet was a huge mess last weekend. I still had moving boxes in the middle of the floor, with clothes piled high on them, and shoes everywhere. I seem to have a never ending problem with hanging up clothes! Want to see how bad it was?
(Anyone having flashbacks to this old post?)
I was able to make some space on a shelf in my closet for about half of my purse collection, so the box in the middle of the room wouldn't be overflowing, and I shoved it in the closet, along with two other unpacked boxes of shoes, to free up some floor space.
Look, there was wood floors in there!
Anyway, back to tip #1, start with a clean and organized closet area before you begin the process of laying out your outfits. Several hours after I started, I finally accomplished that step. And I finally had room for my flea market chaise lounge bench!
(Although I've decided to wait until we move next spring to recover the chaise it in different fabric--there's too many other things I'd need to tie everything together in my closet bedroom, like a big area rug under it, wall paint and an actual vanity, instead of a plastic shelving unit with a mirror propped on it. It's just a better idea to wait until after we move, when I'll know what size of room I'll be working with in my new closet bedroom.)
Outfit Planning Tip #2: Set Aside Some Staging Space
"Staging" is a term used commonly in merchandising and trade show booth planning, which is some of what my department at work is responsible for. It's basically just laying out a bunch of products in different configurations, to find out what looks best. And of course, you need extra space to play around with your different clothing configurations. So just like in tip #1, having a clean area is key, but also be sure you have some space set aside for your staging.
It can be anything from the edge of a drawer, side of an ironing board, and I like to empty one of my garment racks as well, to leave room for my staging.
(Also, the end of a garment rack is a great place to hang long necklaces, so they won't tangle)
Outfit Planning Tip #3: Make Sure Your Accessories are Accessible
Accessories are a key part of outfit planning, so you want to make sure they're accessible when you're laying out your outfits. I hate forgetting I own a certain scarf, or wearing the same black belt too many times in a row because a different belt slipped my mind.
Usually I store my belts and scarves on this tree lamp, but as you can see, it's kind of a contained mess.
So before I start putting together outfits, I like to lay out my accessories where I can see all of them. That way I won't forget about a single scarf, belt, or pair of tights, and can have that much more variety in my outfits over the coming weeks.
Outfit Planning Tip #4: Write Down Accessories and Shoes For Each Outfit
To go along with tip #3, as I'm laying out my outfits, I like to keep track of which accessories and shoes I'm going to wear with the outfit. Because I'm going to wear the same black belt, say, 3 times over the next 8 weeks, I can't lay that belt out with the outfits, because there's more than one outfit it goes with. So I just use a Sharpie and some printer paper with a little hole in it to keep track of my accessories, and put the piece of paper on the hanger with the clothes. This gives me a lot more flexibility with incorporating the same accessory item with multiple outfits, and also saves space when staging, since things like knee high boots take up a lot of room.
Outfit Planning Tip #5: Start With Special and Favorite Clothing Items, and Work From There
It can be overwhelming to get started with planning out a ton of outfits at once (In my case, I planned out 8 weeks of work from home outfits, or 40 total outfits). Where do you start?
Well, I like to go in with my favorite and specialty clothing items first. Since I try to wear dresses on Fridays, I start by pulling out some dresses to one of my staging areas. Then I figure out how I'm going to accessorize them, and add their tags from tip #4.
Next, I start pulling out favorite clothing items, or ones I just really feel like wearing, like the tie neck shirt below.
Sometimes I'll even start with an accessory I want to be sure to wear, and work out from there, like the houndstooth brown and black tights below. I knew I wanted to be sure to wear these tights, so I built an outfit around it.
Just keep pulling items out a few at a time, like four skirts you like, and slowly begin to pair them up with coordinating tops, writing down your accessories and shoes as you go. And if you plan to wear the same skirt or pair of pants more than once over the coming weeks, just write it down on an accessories paper sheet, and attach it to the hanger of the top you're wearing the repeat skirt or pair of pants with.
Eventually you'll get up to your target number of outfits, and your staging area will be covered with tons of outfits, and you're ready for the last tip.
Outfit Planning Tip #6: Get Organized For Maximum Variety
You've got a ton of outfits put together, but now what? You don't want to necessarily just start wearing them in the random order they're currently in, spread out all over your staging areas. You want to get all the outfits organized by week, so you're optimizing the variety of clothing items, accessories and outfit colors.
I start by rearranging my staging areas into different groupings. This time around, I grouped by:
- Outfits with boots
- Outfits with belts (other than those with boots + belts)
- Outfits without belts or boots
And then within those groupings, I group the outfits with skirts and the outfits with pants.
Once your staging areas are nicely organized, it's really easy to just go around and pull outfits by week.
I put all of my Friday dresses in place on the garment racks, and then, say, if I was wearing boots with that Friday's dress, I knew I could only grab two more outfits with boots that week, for a maximum of 3 boots worn per week. I know I want to wear at least 1-2 pairs of pants per week, so I grabbed from staged areas of pants outfits. And I was sure to keep track of which belts and accessories I'd included by week, so that I'm not wearing the same scarf more than once, and my belted outfits were spread out as well. Finally, I make sure that my outfit colors are distributed enough. The last thing I want is to end up with all black and white or neutral outfits in one week, and five outfits with pink the next week.
It all comes down to a little playing and rearranging, but it's a lot easier if you've organized all of your staged outfits first, and if you go week by week. In the end, you'll have all of your outfits for weeks and weeks laid out and ready to quickly pull on each morning with no thought, other than grabbing some earrings or other jewelry. Unless of course you don't feel like wearing that day's outfit--the beauty of having all of these outfits already laid out is you can be flexible if you want, and just grab another already-put-together outfit if you feel like it that day!
(I also put out my shoes, other than boots, in the same order as I'll wear them, to make it even easier in the mornings)
So, there's my 6 tips on how to plan out your outfits in advance. I know it can seem overwhelming at first, but it really works for me, and maybe for some of you it will too. I just love the time savings, and the fact that over the coming weeks, I won't have to worry about forgetting to accessorize, or remembering if I wore the same boots two days ago.
It took me about an hour and a half to lay out these 40 outfits (after all of the cleaning I did, that is). Which is much, much better than the 10 minutes a day it would normally take me to stare at my closet and try to pick something out (it would be 6 hours and 40 minutes total time spent on picking 40 outfits if I was spending 10 minutes a day!).
Do you ever plan out your outfits in advance? Got any other tips on how to save time putting together your outfits in the morning?