How To Get A Core Wardrobe

How to get a core wardrobe | A Fashion Stylist shares her method for building up your wardrobe basics.

Putting your own spin on fashion is what gives you style but it’s so easy to own too many plain or out-there items without having a healthy balance of both to give you a versatile wardrobe, that doesn’t get you stuck in a style rut.

So what do you do when you have too much going on in your wardrobe? Do you let it get you down? Do you suffer through it and just wear what you have because you don’t know how to get out of this rut? Or do you flip it the bird, give it the evilest, smokiest eyes you can and tell it it’s in for a shock because you’ve had it? You’re going to get a core wardrobe once and for all and it’s going to be fabulous!


Imagine yourself baking a glorious chocolate and strawberry cake. A really good one with extra topping and no calories or guilt because we decided against adding those. A cake recipe will have you supply ingredients like eggs, milk, bicarb soda, chocolate, strawberries and butter – correct? But what if you were starting to get the ingredients ready and realised you hadn’t been to Woolies in a while? What if you were missing the eggs and the bicarb? You can’t make a very good cake without those, can you?

Your wardrobe is a chocolate and strawberry cake. It could also be a fruit cake, a cheesecake, a pineapple upside down cake or any cake you want it to be, but you don’t want it to be a dud, burnt, tough sponge cake, do you? Thinking about your wardrobe, does it feel a bit like that last tough option we’d have a hard time swallowing? If so, the core wardrobe is what you’re missing.

They’re the bread and butter pieces every woman needs, like jeans, a great blazer, some plain tops, a great smart casual dress, etc, to give her wardrobe maximum versatility and a long, scrumptious life.


It’s easier said than done and depending on the town you live in, a stylist could help you get on the right track if you feel like you’re struggling – however, you can do this yourself with a little determination. You want to aim to have 80% of your wardrobe as core items and 20% statement items. The best way to work out how many core items you currently have and get on top of your current wardrobe would be to jump on over to our ‘How To Clean Out Your Wardrobe’ post and have a quick read and I’ll meet you back here in two ticks. Done? Perfect.

How To Get A Core Wardrobe

Now that you’ve got an idea of how to clean out your wardrobe, you’ll need to separate your clothing into two piles: statement items and core wardrobe pieces. If you have a significant amount of statement pieces, which are those more out-there items that you can’t match with too many other pieces, then you need to work out what basics you’re missing that would help you to wear those items more.

Statement pieces are designed to be fallen in love with, that’s why us women have so god-damn many of them because we think with our hearts more than our head sometimes. But what we do need to remember is that they’re statement pieces and unless we’ve got at least five items that go with it, we shouldn’t be splurging.


Have a good look at your the core pieces you’ve already got. Does anything need to be altered or replaced? Put those items that need alterations in a bag and hang them with your handbag so next time you’re heading out, you remember to go to the tailors. The items that need replacing should be added to your shopping list. Once you’ve done that, have another look at your statement pile, what are you really missing? What’s holding you back from flaunting those statement pieces?

Get your list together and cover all bases, shoes, accessories, jeans, black pants, plain tops, great jackets, lovely layering pieces. These are the things that will expand your options.


That’s a tough question, but if you’re a bit more analytical, like me, you can actually work out the exact amount with my core wardrobe algorithm below:

  • Add up the number of items, including shoes, you wear per week and multiply that by 1.5, so you’ve got at least a week and a half worth of great outfits.
  • Take away 20% and you have your core wardrobe number.

This is how your equation should look if, for example, you wore 23 items per week:

  • 23 x 1.5 – 20% = 27.6

This means that if your wardrobe is going to be well balanced, you need 27 plain items in your wardrobe. One thing that can improve the versatility of your wardrobe is to stick to a colour palette so your wardrobe mixes and matches well. I like to choose between 5 and 7 colours.

How To Get A Core Wardrobe

Your core wardrobe might be made up of the following:


  • 3 pairs of flats
  • 2 pairs of heels


  • 3 x tees
  • 3 x blouses
  • 2 x knits


  • 3 x jeans
  • 2 x trousers


  • 2 x casual jackets
  • 1 x smart jacket


  • 2 x smart dresses
  • 2 x casual dresses


  • 1 x smart skirt
  • 1 x casual skirt
How To Get A Core Wardrobe


Alright, now that you’re back home, slightly under-cashed but super chic, you’ll have noticed that even after a few days of adding your core pieces that your wardrobe is much more versatile. What you can do to improve its versatility is to take each statement piece out of your wardrobe and try to lay out some new outfit combinations. You’ll be surprised at just how many you can make by having a few core pieces.

What are some of your favourite core wardrobe pieces? Do you struggle to find any core pieces to really suit you? Let me know in the comments below!


  1. Avatar for Von

    This is so good. Wish I’d found you earlier!

    1. Avatar for ALARNA HOPE

      Thanks Von, so glad we found each other! Hope you get your core wardrobe sorted!

  2. Avatar for Amy

    Such a great post! I’ve just found you and spending hours going through your blog!

    I must ask, do you have any idea where those shoes are from on this blog? The black and brown!


    1. Avatar for ALARNA HOPE

      Thanks Amy, I hope you’re finding your way around the blog and finding some interesting topics! The shoes were ASOS from about four years ago, I know that is probably not the response you wanted, so give Shoes Of Prey a try, you could very likely get something similar! Good luck on your shoe search!

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