How to Wake Up Your Winter Wardrobe

winterWinter is a time for rest and hibernation. Sadly, this seasonal malaise can seep into your closet without your knowledge. Fear not: this slow, home-bound time is the perfect opportunity to raid your closet and pull together an attractive and chic .

Many people think that winter is about survival of the warmest – thick wool, boring colors and staid silhouettes seem to take over valuable closet space. This isn’t the way things need to be. Instead, give a chance with key advice to break down some timeless trends that every stylista should be aware of.


Step 1
Bid anything that hasn’t been worn in a year a fond goodbye.

Winter clothing is bulky and takes up space, so extra pieces need to go. Be honest – is there a reason that suit hasn’t held any appeal for 12 months? If so, donate it or sell it online. Better yet, do a trade on a barter site like Rehash for something new.

Step 2
Dump anything that has holes, rips, snags or unraveling hems.

Your clothing and appearance reflect your level of self-esteem and confidence, not to mention respect for others. The Maynard G. Krebs beatnik look doesn’t work for most people. Neatness counts.

Step 3
Shake up your outerwear selection.

Winter coats often fall into one uniform look: shapeless, frumpy and black. This is especially true of coats for office and day wear. Instead, try to find a coat the accentuates the shape without sacrificing warmth. Try outerwear with curved seams and avoid tent-like silhouettes, since they can add several pounds to the appearance.

On the runways, many swing coats feature an interesting cut that falls in a flattering way down the body, eschewing the boxy, square looks of the Power Woman ’80s and ’90s. If you do want to go big and trapeze-like, select a garment with something extra to it. Do the sleeves have a pretty ruffle, or are the buttons retro and catchy? If so, give the coat a chance.

Step 4
Learn to love color.

Winter fashion is notoriously stuck in the land of jewel tones: burgundy, purple, emerald and chocolate rule the roost along with liberal helpings of black, white and gray. Don’t eschew color. Color is stimulating and inspirational, and can perk up a bad attitude in no time flat.

Pantone, the fashion industry’s arbiter of color, always dictates the hot shade of the year. 2010’s choice is turquoise, so snap up those blue sweaters and accessories while they’re hot. 2009’s color, golden yellow, is also very versatile and fun to wear, so switch in some yellow-hued touches for a bit of sun.

If color theory isn’t your thing, purchase a Pantone shopping card set. When out in the stores, simply select a chip that matches the color of the garment you’d like to compliment. The cards will show you other complimentary hues to look out for. It’s cheap, easy and quite fun to use.

Step 5
Take another look at shoes.

Vogue UK names wedge boots as a fashion “do”, along with velvet and fur-trimmed boots.

Wedges are great for several reasons. One, they’re more stable than a spike heel. Two, they distribute weight and force along more surface area than a spike. A rubber wedge absorbs a lot of shock, lessening leg and back pain. Wedges come in lots of heights, from 1 inch to 4 inches or more, so wear whatever works.

Don’t forget the power of anything but black. Black shoes are winter fashion’s biggest rut. If possible, purchase brown, chestnut, red or gray shoes instead. Purple, blue and olive are also surprisingly easy to work with.

Step 6
Embrace retro chic, because it’s back with a vengeance.

Once again, pretty hats and feathers rule the day, and long gloves are becoming popular. Retro touches include fur scarves and neck wraps, feather fascinator hats and clips, cocktail rings, long gloves, waist belts and understated, round-toe pumps. Look at ladies like Audrey Hepburn, Lena Horne and Bettie Page for inspiration.

Of course, there’s the fear that too much retro fab creates a costume-like look. To minimize the chances of this, wear one piece at a time, not an entire ensemble; an outfit with a pillbox hat and long leather gloves is adorable, while those two pieces with a stole may seem reminiscent of Dita von Teese.

Step 7
Become a sample sale denizen.

Sample sales sell high-fashion clothing for a steep discount, with many stores cutting prices to the bone in January and February. If home base isn’t near New York City or another fashion center, don’t worry – there are a lot of terrific online sample sale shops, too.

Step 8
Diversify fabric choices to play with emotion and mood.

Winter clothing can be very heavy and restrictive, so don’t forget to play.

For instance, trend blog Cosmoworlds talks about ballet dancer chic: “The fabrics are supples with silky blends, enveloping knits, velvety marled cottons, unctuous leather.” These are all comfortable fabrics that are readily available for a nice price.

Another trend, English Prep, calls for “Noble materials and traditional men’s wardrobe codes … recolored tweeds, marled wools, Prince of Wales knittings, etc.” These tweeds and nubby knits are affordably priced through outlets like L.L. Bean and Old Navy, or spend a little more at Club Monaco or J.Crew. Either way, these are two examples of fabric acting as a pathway to mood and expression.

Step 9
Look to your past wild times for hot fashion finds.

That leather vest or funky Gothic wrist cuff may have some life left to it, thanks to a resurgence of biker chic. Zippers and buckles are super-hot, with shoe designers all over the map churning out designs trimmed to the gills with closures.

In reality, black leather and chrome never truly go out of style. If the motorcycle look isn’t hot at a particular time, those pieces combine well with more conservative tweeds and woolens. To dabble in this trend without a huge investment, grab a biker-style bag or pair of booties instead of a more expensive (and flashy) motorcycle jacket or leather pant.

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