Versatile Fashion: How to Get More with Less

versatile fashion

Nobody wants a closet full of unworn clothing.  Everyone wants to feel like what they buy they will wear.  Even if it wound up being a mistake, every item hanging in a closet was bought with a good intention.  We all make fashion mistakes and purchase things that just don’t suit our needs the way we thought they would.  Yes, even me.

With the goal to get wear and value from what we buy, I want to talk about versatile fashion and the idea of buying one thing and having it transcend and be useful in many areas of your life.

Versatile Fashion: How to Get More with Less

I have put some outfits together below, but before I get to the looks, here are some tips to keep in mind when selecting something that will work for more than one area of your lifestyle.

The fabrication can be worn multiple ways

If you want to get more from your pieces, make sure the fabric doesn’t slot that piece into a small fraction of your life.  Fabric plays a big part in versatility.  There are some fabrics that just aren’t versatile.  Take a heathered grey wool dress, for example.  The likelihood that you can dress it up and wear it to a cocktail event isn’t likely.  However, a solid black dress in a  fabric that isn’t strictly daytime looking can be more versatile and probably worn in multiple parts of your life.

The details don’t pigeon hole the piece

Does the piece have sequin, lace trim, ruffles, rugged leather details, or anything else that will restrict the item from being versatile?  If you want to get more with less, avoid too many details that keep it from being worn for different occasions.

Look at your lifestyle

Versatile fashion needs to be versatile for you.  Just because something can be worn multiple ways doesn’t mean that these ways have any meaning for you.  Look at your life and how much time you spend doing each thing.  Despite the fact that a dress can be worn to work and to a wedding doesn’t mean all that much for you if you wear a uniform to work and can’t remember the last wedding you were invited to.  Instead, calculate the percentages of time you spend doing each part of how you live.  The areas where you spend the most time are the areas where you should be focusing on buying versatile fashion.

Versatile fashion is classic, but it doesn’t have to be

Typically, versatile fashion is classic and simple.  The more simplistic the pieces are the easier it will be to style them different ways.  However, this isn’t always the case.  As you will see from one of my outfits below, I used a less classic piece and styled it multiple ways.   What is most important is that you can find multiple ways of wearing an item for your unique lifestyle.  So don’t shy away from novelty.  As long as you can find multiple ways to wear it it’s versatile.

Let’s take a look at some outfits

Looks #1

versatile fashion

This classic trench from Burberry will never go out of style.  It’s also an investment so it is important to know ahead of time that it will earn its worth.  This is where looking at your lifestyle is important.  You may have heard that a trench will never go out of style, but do you need it?  It’s too easy to get swayed into buying these pieces simply because they are a timeless classic.

To show the versatility of this trench, I styled it three very different ways.  In the first look I styled it with a navy dress for work from Reiss, blush pumps from Nine West, blush bag from MICHAEL Michael Kors, and drop earrings from Banana Republic.

The trench also works with this much more casual look.  I styled this outfit for the weekend with a pair of jeans from Madewell, striped top from Boden, orange slip on sneakers from SeaVees, blue crossbody from Rebecca Minkoff and printed scarf from Nordstrom.

The last look is a dressy casual outfit that I styled with a pair of kick flare crop pants from Theory, relaxed sweater from Chico’s, tassel pendant and ivory backpack.

Looks #2

versatile fashion

I have spoken in the past about how a black blazer sometimes not be as versatile as it appears and offered some solutions about how to make it work.  As you can see in the outfits above, using this simple style from Theory, there are somme ways to make tis piece more versatile.

The first look I styled for work.  I added this printed pencil skirt from Ted Baker and layered an ivory tank from Elie Tahari under it.  Finishing the look, I used these Louise et Cie ankle strap pumps, chunky black and silver necklace from Lafayette 148 and black bag from Bottega Veneta.

The second look I styled more casually with white boyfriend jeans, a grey t-shirt from French Connection, silver pendant from The Sak, pink sandals from Sam Edelman and white bag from Rebecca Minkoff.

The last outfit I styled for smart casual weekend using a printed dress from Reiss, wedges from Jeffrey Campbell, blush bag and drop earrings from Banana Republic.

Looks #3

versatile fashion

In these last looks I am showing how a more novelty piece can be just as versatile as a style that is more classic or timeless by using this skirt from L.K. Bennett.

The first look is a dressy casual weekend look that I styled with a ruched t-shirt, wedge sandals from Nordstrom, turquoise handbag from Halogen and beaded necklace from Fairchild Baldwin.

The second look I styled for a night out using this sleeveless blouse from Judith Charles and ombré pumps from Daya by Zendaya,  rechargeable silver clutch from Banana Republic, grey drop earrings from Cole Haan and bangle from Kendra Scott.

Lastly, I took this skirt for work by styling it with a soft pink tank from COS that I layered under a grey shrug from Elie Tahari.  I finished the outfit with teal lace up pumps from Steve Madden, a pendant necklace from Treasure & Bond and grey bag from All Saints.

I hope these tips on versatile fashion helps you get more from less in your wardrobe.

  • tgchi13

    Great post B! Hope you and your mom, and you and the kitties, had a wonderful Mother’s Day!

    Sooo…I have a fashion question, or two, I have several mid-calf skirts (and dresses) that I am thinking of ditching or hemming to knee length – will knee length remain appropriate for a woman of my age (51) for a while, do you think?

    Also, I have several great linen shirts – collared and button down – and I was wondering what you thought of me altering the sleeves to short sleeve or above the elbow? The realization came to me, today, that no one wears linen if it’s not summer and so, why would linen need long sleeves…

    Thoughts?

    • Hi! We did, thanks! Knee length is just fine at 51. I think you could also hem those sleeves. Just bring the shirts to someone reputable.

      • tgchi13

        I’m going to have the sleeves hemmed to just above the elbow so there is still enough fabric for me to fold/roll up to suit my more casual aesthetic. Thanks for your help, my lady!

  • Sigrid

    I noticed that I posted my question at an old blog post so I repost it here:
    Love Your blog and your ideas about doing more with less! I have a small wardrobe and follow many of Your ideas, like purchasing clothes that are versatile and sticking to a colour palette (and sticking to a silouette). However, I’m not quite into accessorizing; I tend to purchase jewellery and scarves and don’t wear them. And here is my question: While I likes all the shoes that you wore withthe blue dress, it still looked like the same dress to me. When does an outfit look “new” or “different”?