Add Classic Style to the Small Wardrobe

When I was choosing what to bring to Italy, I had to make sure that everything was worth the luggage space. I had to pack light but still bring enough clothes to go through both winter and spring. We left for Italy during an ice storm, and when we return it will be warm enough to swim.

I fit everything of mine in half a suitcase, and the kids filled the other half. Instead of my wardrobe feeling spartan, I still managed to bring a little more than what I needed, but I’m heading in the direction I want with “fewer, better” clothes.

To bring more style to an otherwise basic and small wardrobe, these are my techniques:

* Use the 3-piece rule. – People look so much more put together in the fall than in the summer, don’t they? It’s because they’re wearing 3 pieces: a shirt and pants with a jacket, cardigan, or scarf to complete the outfit. Even in the summer you can put on a lightweight scarf for more polish.

* Good quality. – When it fits well, the fabric is nice quality, and it’s the right color for me, I don’t mind wearing the same clothes over and over again.

* I forfeited my casual clothes. – A long time ago I realized that casual clothes such as t-shirts make me look too casual instead of cute. I don’t have a set of casual clothes for staying at home and dressy clothes for going out. I just have one set of “comfortably dressy” clothes that I wear all the time.

* Wear scarves. – If there is one common fashion style in Italy, it’s that everyone is wearing a scarf. I have a couple of different scarves that I wear to bring welcome color to my otherwise neutral outfits. Plus they are so comfortable and soft.

Curious to know what I brought with me for this trip?

pants: 3 (1 dark denim classic boot cut, 1 dark denim trouser cut, 1 white)

blouses: 6 (2 for winter, 4 for spring) – It was easy to bring lots of blouses, they pack up so small!

sweaters: 6 (4 for winter, 2 light cardigans for spring) – I think I brought too many sweaters.

tank tops: 5 (for layering)

shoes: 3 (boots, heels, and flats)

coats: 2 (a wool winter coat and a spring rain coat)

dresses: 2 (both black) – I couldn’t decide, so I brought both.

handbag: 1

accessories: 3 scarves and a necklace

It’s not the ideal wardrobe. It would have been nice to have one more long-sleeve shirt for winter, and a skirt instead of an extra dress, but it doesn’t matter. It’s still more than enough for what I need, and I’m not trying to pursue perfection. I just want to have a set of clothes that I feel confident and comfortable in without having to think about it when I get dressed each morning.

Let’s talk about scarves. I wish more people would try wearing them in the states. Do you like them?
About Rachel

I write about practical tips that will help you simplify at home. Connect with me on Pinterest and Twitter.


  1. Rachel, I love this! Since I started buying less pieces of good quality clothes instead of a lot of pieces I hardly wore, I like my clothes so much better! Even though I have less! And I use lots of scarves too :D
    Maaike Quinn @ A Gorgeous Life´s last post…Fight Your Fears and Do Something New Today

  2. LovingThisBlog says:

    I love scarves!! However, I’m never quite sure how to tie/wear them. Any suggestions on that front?

  3. I love this post. Right now I am doing an inventory of my house in it’s entirety. I want to know what I have so I can keep what I love and get rid of all the excess. This is really going to help me pair down my closet. Thanks for your blog. I always find it encouraging.
    Abby´s last post…Blessings and Burdens

  4. I love scarves but usually don’t think about them much once the weather warms up, although I do have several lighter ones that I could probably get away with. I’ll have to think of them more this summer!
    Shoni´s last post…Karens Birth Story

  5. I love what you said about choosing dressy casual. I knit scarves and shawls a lot lately and have found that they do SO much for an outfit. I am knitting one in bamboo now for spring and summer. I have them in wool. They add such the right flair to my outfits and provide warmth too even in the summer when I am dodging in and out of A/C places.

  6. I’m intrigued by this “three-piece rule.” I’ve never heard of it. Could you please clarify?

    I’ve been looking for lightweight spring-y scarves too. I agree they’re a great way to add polish.

    • The 3-piece rule: If you’re wearing a shirt and pants (that’s two pieces), then adding a third piece to your outfit completes the look. So you add a jacket or a cardigan or a scarf as a third piece, and you look a little more dressy.

  7. I adore scarves! Love the honeysuckle scarf in the photo. The color trend of the year.

    And thanks for the wardrobe list. It brings peace to my mind knowing that a real person can live happy and look good on that relatively small number of items.

    Where do you shop for “dressy casual”? It seems, in my part of the world, there are only three categories to choose from: Teenager. Old Lady. And… one I guess I’d call “Professional”.

    • That’s the color trend? Awesome. I don’t see it much here.

      You have to go to different stores (but avoid the teenage stores, for obvious reasons and the quality isn’t there). And then wherever you’re shopping you just pick up a shirt and ask yourself, “does this look more like a blouse or a t-shirt?”

      p.s. I am still waiting for more S.G! when you’re ready.

    • As a 23 year old with my first “real job,” I ran head-first into the Teenager, Old Lady, Professional (& 55 y/o) clothing problem. One of my favorite fashion blogs is Academichic, which is aimed at graduate students and young academics. You might find their looks & shopping tips helpful:

  8. I love how you look here, what a great photo. I think I fall in the comfortably dressy, leaning slightly more casual because I love tshirts. I wear them slightly more fitted for a nicer look and add accessories like a long necklace to spiffy it up. Of course, I spend quite a lot of time in my running clothes too, so I suppose I may only think I look dressy because I am, well, dressed :)

    I love scarves, too, and wish our scarf season lasted much longer than it does here in scorching Florida.

    • Debbie M says:

      I laughed aloud at your (possible) definition of dressy!

      For your third piece, maybe a hat to protect you from the sun?

      • I’m wondering if in summer a “statement”-type necklace (something chunkier or with a larger pendant) would work as the 3rd piece? I often wear a good quality t-shirt, skirt or pants/shorts, and a necklace in summer. The necklace is the dressy part!

  9. Yes, I love wearing scarves! I was worried that it was a trend that’s fading, but if all the gals in Italy are wearing them, well… :)

    Are you bringing any Italian scarves home with you? That would be a great souvenir!

    • I think I will. I haven’t gone shopping yet, but that would pack so nice in the suitcase for the trip home.

      • Oh, yes! A scarf is my favorite “souvenir” from traveling not just because it’s beautiful and light but a wonderful reminder when back at home of where I’ve been. I have inherited Grandma’s scarves and knit my own so I have many. They are under appreciated accessories in the US, hats too. Great blog!

  10. I’ve been enjoying reading about your life in Italy.

    I got turned onto scarves when I spent a semester in Egypt. I had to carry a scarf so I could cover my hair when visiting mosques – otherwise I got put into something made of green satin that covered me from the top of my head to the soles of my feet. I have a picture; it wasn’t pretty. Aside from cross-cultural adventures, I soon realized how fantastic scarves can be. Like you, I tend to realize that outfits look better when a plain shirt has something on top of it to add dimension and interest. Cardigans aren’t really my style, so I go with scarves.

    My experience is actually that lots of people in the States do wear them. Maybe it’s a regional thing? Here in Indiana, where we’re not exactly known for being fashion-forward, scarves are still a big deal on my university campus.

  11. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

    I can’t put together an outfit to save my life; I’ve started wearing suits to work almost every day because they’re hard to get wrong — a two piece suit with black flats and a simple blouse isn’t going to get me noticed, but it’s also not going to let me make a fool of myself.

    That said, I have a drawer in my clothes cabinet that is full of scarves. At least 16, in weights for the coldest day of winter and the hottest day of summer and everything in between, for winding around my shoulders at a gala or bundling over a fleece vest for a hike. That might seem excessive, but I can go on a five day business trip with a three piece suit, five simple shells, five different scarves, and a single pair of shoes — and feel put together and confident seeing the same people each day.

    What I love most is that scarves can look radically different just by tying them uniquely. Wrapped loosely, tied in Parisian style, knotted as a menswear tie, draped laconically, or tied into a flouncy bow, you get an amazing set of styles.
    Lissa´s last post…Recommendation- The Power of One

    • Might you know of a visual example of all of these cool ways that you wear your scarves? I know that I am verbalizing what many of us fashion-challenged folk are thinking!

      Rachel…will you be wearing a scarf when it hits 100 here in TX? Just wondering…:)

      • Possibly, it’s been so long since I’ve seen my summer clothes that I can’t remember them.

      • Hi Denise,

        Being completely unskilled and lacking patience, I turned to Google for assistance. Texeresilk has some clear but pretty sketches of various styles and directions for tying scarves — both square and rectangular. And for menswear styles, has instructional videos; my favorite is to use a super-long, rectangular, chiffon scarf tied into a Full Windsor, and “bloused” a bit, so that it offers a bit of feminine gauziness.

        Good luck!
        Lissa´s last post…A Tale of Two Yarns

    • Lissa,
      Great planning for business travel! You could also find a reversible jacket (I’ve seen them at Nordstrom, Neiman Marcus and Saks, pricey, but they go on sale!) which will extend your traveling wardrobe.

      Even though you wear suits every day, I hope you have fun with your blouses or accessories. Even though you don’t want to make a fool of yourself, you don’t want to be ignored when that next promotion comes up either! You can still be polished AND noticed! Email me for ideas to help you! :)

      Finley @ {mommy-chic}
      Finley @ {mommy chic}´s last post…Top it off

  12. I love scarves and wear them almost daily. There are a good selection of cotton scarves for Summer now, too. I was already a big fan of the scarf, but since moving to Europe in 2006 I’ve just become even firmer in my belief that they make any outfit better.

    AND, since I am 52, and post-menopausal (sorry, over-sharing here) they do a great job of covering the bit of spare tire that I’ve gained in the past few years. Or is it the good cheese and chocolate here in Zurich? ;-)

  13. I’m glad you pointed out the 3-piece rule. I haven’t thought of it like that but with layering being so in right now that it is easy to do, even in hot Texas. I see a lot more scarves here than ever. I don’t remember EVER seeing a scarf growing up…we just didn’t wear them here. But now, if I have a scarf on when it is cold I often don’t need a jacket or coat. Summer, well, I’m not sure about that. It’s so HOT. =) Love your advice. I think I may lack the skill set to pare down that much though. I certainly admire you for having it.
    wayside wanderer´s last post…Simple Joys

  14. I absolutely love scarves! Great post. I’ve been weeding my wardrobe and feeling like I need “more” for spring, but after reading this, I think I need to keep trying to use what I have and style it in different ways – layers, belts, etc – with the strategically purchased piece here and there, I think. :)

  15. I’ve never heard of the three-piece rule either.

    How do you manage to wear nicer clothes at home without ruining them? I have a set of crappy home clothes and nicer outside clothes because I seem to always get oil spots on my nice clothes despite an apron. Or something else; I’m a major klutz.

    • I would like to know how not to get dressier clothes ruined by wearing them at home too.

    • At first I couldn’t think of what’s messy at home, but then I realized: you’re probably a better cook than I am. I usually don’t cook sauces, and scrambled eggs (my specialty) are not that messy.

      For cleaning, I just do it once a week, and my clothes don’t get messed up by vacuuming or cleaning out the tub with some non-toxic cleanser.

      My baby has thrown up several times on my cashmere sweater, but it always comes clean. Even if the clothes are nicer, I still like them to be easy care.

      • I don’t know that I could get away with that! So I’ll just admire you from afar. :)

        • Vanessa says:

          he he, me too : ) If the shirt is old and I don’t care about it, nothing gets spilled. If it’s nice and new, I’m sure I’ll stain it somehow.

          • An apron, ladies! There are lots of cute aprons that provide good coverage for areas we tend to splatter. (Check Etsy.) I never cook without one; it’s actually second nature to put one on now. It’s funny how many people don’t use them, but guests always compliment me on my aprons.

            If you do get oil or other fat on a shirt, a non-Earth-friendly, grease-cutting dishwashing liquid, like Dawn (meant for hand-washing dishes), will usually get it out. Just put a few drops on there, rub it in lightly, and then launder with other clothes as usual. I wish the Earth-friendly ones worked as well, but I figure a few drops of dishwashing liquid are better than the waste of throwing away clothes and buying new ones.
            Sally JPA´s last post…Tilth Giveaway!- Food Scale

      • Just trying to think of what’s NOT messy at home!
        Catherine´s last post…Who needs Lent

        • LOL! I was going to say to SAME THING! I have 8 kids and one on the way — the pregnant belly picks up EVERYTHING my kids are thoughtful enough to leave behind. My apron is my friend.

      • My solution for not ruining dressy clothes is:

        1. an apron
        2. a cardigan.

        I work outside of the home every Thursday, but start my day with both my kids (ages 2 and 1). I get dressed in my work clothes, then put either an apron on or an old cardigan that I can shed when it’s time to leave the kids. Pants are usually a dark rinse that can camo baby spit-up.

        At least… I hope it’s camo’d. Maybe I’m being optimistic. Ha!
        Katherine@YeOldCollegeTry´s last post…Writers Block

      • I try to clean the bathroom and kitchen early in the day or last thing before bed, that way I can do it in my pjs.

        I used to do this kind of dressing when I was a working mom of a preschooler, but I’ve fallen into a more casual habit since having my second and becoming a SAHM. I keep admiring other people’s outfits and I’ve just realised why – they are really dressed whereas I’ve just thrown clothes on. time for a wardrobe reassessment I think.

    • Here’s my solution to oily spots. Pour some dish washing liquid on the spot, let dry and machine wash as usual. Good buy oily spots! ;)

  16. I’ve started loving scarves over the past few years. A while ago I went to a large grocery in a nearby town – I live in sort-of central/eastern/nowheresville PA – and saw a tour group get off a bus to go into the cafe for lunch. I instantly knew they weren’t Americans. How? Every single woman was wearing a scarf and looked lovely – no jeans or tee shirts to be found. I’ve come to realize, though, that even a tee and jeans looks instantly better with a scarf. I often get nice comments when I wear one, even with no makeup and a half-hearted job on my hair. Scarves – so little effort, so much reward!

  17. i LOVE scarves. my favorite is a pashmina that i bought… in florence! it’s pattered with purple, teal, dark brown, all my favorite colors so it goes with pretty much everything i own. i also have a few other solid-colored pashminas (i love them for traveling short or long distances because they are so multifunctional & warm but still pack up small) as well as several lightweight summer scarves to add color & interest to my neutral or otherwise too casual tank top & jeans outfits. i am a very casual person, and i think scarves are helping me (my little fashion stepping stone) to up my wardrobe into the “slightly more put together” category.
    meg watkins´s last post…a letter to toronto

    • so glad you mentioned your pashmina! I have one I also got traveling, and have never felt comfortable wearing it. I don’t know how to wear it well, since it is bigger than the scarves I usually wear. How do you wear it?

  18. I love the 3-piece rule. Even I, the fashion inept, can handle that. Love scarves, especially in fall/winter. Must admit to being inexperienced with scarves for spring/summer. Thanks for including the video link. Your scarf is fabu in the photo. It pops.
    Elen´s last post…Repurposing…

  19. Scarves are so versatile. Love them!

  20. I have a collection of scarves but hardly use them – I usually wear patterned tops/T shirts so I never know how to put them together.
    I am planning to get some solid tops just so that I can use all those scarves:-)
    Thanks for the 3 piece tip – In India I used to wear salwar kameez sets – a longish top, loose pants and the duppatta which is essentially a stole. Somehow I never thought of using the same concept to western wear. Thanks!

  21. What a great picture! Love the color of your scarf!

    I love what you wrote about “comfortably dressy”. The idea resonated with me although I’m slightly confused about what that actually means, as in what type of items would fall in that category since a shirt can look casual or dressier depending on its style.

    Totally agree that scarves dress up an outfit. I don’t feel comfortable wearing them however so I seldom too. I cannot for the life of me think it makes sense to wear scarves in the summertime but this is just a personal thing. I see this look on a lot of celebs who have a huge scarf around their neck and they’re wearing shorts and a tshirt. It just looks wrong to me. I think I can live with sheerer/very thin scarves for summer although I keep thinking there has to be a better solution for adding a pop of color. Don’t know what that is though!

    Agree w/the other poster who said that scarf wearing must be regional in the States. I’m in the States and I see everyone wearing scarves around here.

    Thank you for sharing your list of clothes you brought with you! I think I packed more for a three day trip and didn’t look any better for it. Question: you mentioned you brought heels. Do you have pants for high heels and pants for flats or do you wear the same pants with both? I know some frown upon seeing pants usually worn with flats, look shorter if worn with heels.

    Do you have any tips on choosing an everyday handbag?

    What about choosing clothes colors?

    Sorry for all the questions! Appreciate your posts!

    • Right, it looks silly to wear thick hot scarves in summer, a thin sheer one is better if you like them.

      My heels are not very high, and my flats have a little bit of a heel, so I just have my pants hemmed to the same length.

      Not sure about the handbag, I ignore the fashion trends and stick with my personal favorite.

      For colors there is a book that came out in the 1980’s called “Color Me Beautiful” and I believe there is an updated edition. That helped me a lot to stick with my best colors when I’m shopping and ignore the rest.

      • Vanessa says:

        Thank you for the recommendations and the info! You’ve inspired me to tackle my wardrobe.

      • How in the world did you get all that in half of a suitcase???

      • I LOVE Color Me Beautiful! My husband even peeked over my shoulder and redid his wardrobe a few years ago – got rid of all the browns, greens, and beiges that were making him look tired. He’s a winter.
        Margo´s last post…An Accidental Clean Leading to a Marker Roll

      • Wow, thanks for mentioning that book. I just did a little Internet research [read: spent most of the day, lol] and found a couple sites that are dedicated to an updated take on the Color seasons approach and it’s inspired me to redo my wardrobe! I think I can see why I’ve been so frustrated with my clothes.

        They’re saying that there are 12 color styles now based off of the original 4 – I think I’m a Soft Summer. I had never read the original book, but my mom is a winter and had told me she thought I was a winter, too — probably because I tend to look good in blues, blue greens, and burgundy — but I’ve never felt comfortable in the bright colors she looks good in. Soft Summers look better in more muted, neutral, and gray versions of these colors. I’m starting to understand why my favorite shirts are my favorites!

        Here are the sites for anyone who’s interested:

    • Hi Vanessa,
      I mentioned the hem thing in another comment…you could get your pants hemmed just slightly longer in the back than the front to wear with both flats and a slight heel. (I’m not talking stilettos here, just a 2-1/2″ heel.) My alterations person does this for some of my jeans so I can get away with switching out shoes when walking around the City.

      You could also cuff up your jeans and get a boyfriend jean look with slouchier jeans, or cuff a skinny jean to your ankle bone for that Audrey Hepburn pencil pant look.

      The top handle lady like bag is always a classic.

      Finley @ {mommy-chic}
      Finley @ {mommy chic}´s last post…Top it off

  22. heather c says:

    I’m wondering, as a mom of little ones, how you manage not to get your clothes ruined from day to day home life?

    • If a kid throws up on me, it always washes out.

      If I get something on me that might set in as a stain, I rinse it out with water right then instead of waiting until laundry day. The stains always come out as long as I don’t wait.

      I often wear an apron, and my husband does the messy cooking like frying the bacon.

  23. Scarves are my accessory of choice. I pick them up as I find ones I love and as souvenirs when we travel. And then people I love give them as gifts. My mother wove me a beautiful one for my birthday last year and I lived in a pashmina one from my Turkish honeymoon all winter. I also have a great one from Bon Marche in France and several nice ones from Old Navy.
    I wear them just wraped around once or once and a half, or folded in half and looped through. They really do make jeans and a t-shirt look polished. They also make a great nursing cover. or stain cover.

  24. Huh! The 3-piece rule. I always wondered why I loved fall fashions way more than summer ones. I think it’s true that having just pants and a shirt looks incomplete.

    P.S. Thanks for giving me an excuse to wear scarves in summer, even though people look at me funny. I’ll just feel superior; I’m following European fashions. ;)
    Jennie´s last post…Confessions or something

  25. I love scarves so much that I didn’t realize other people noticed how often I wear them until a colleague told me at a conference that she could find me in a crowd because she just knew to look for a scarf! I do love the way that one is worn in the photo – how would I make the same style knot? I know a couple of ways to wear scarves, but that was a new one for me.
    Rev. Sarah´s last post…Exciting news to share

    • That scarf of mine is long, so I wrap it all the way around my neck leaving both ends in the front, and then I tie a loose knot. It’s all tied together so it won’t be tight against my neck.

  26. I buy pieces that will match my scarves!! I love them that much! I am enjoying your Italy adventure! Wow! Your photo is stunning. I love the 3-piece rule. It makes a difference especially if you travel alot.

  27. Ellen S. says:

    I’d love to hear where everyone goes to purchase scarves here in the U.S….any favorite spots?

  28. I like scarves a lot, but I don’t have too many. I have a couple of favorites from Loft and Anthropologie, and I got one beautiful soft wool one in Ireland last summer when I was freezing! But summers in New Orleans don’t usually require scarves. Or hair. Or sleeves. Or long pants. I do struggle with the 3rd piece in summer. Any suggestions? Jewelry sometimes works. I just cut all my hair off, and I feel like that’s an accessory in itself! Now my earrings really pop!
    Catherine´s last post…Who needs Lent

    • In summer I don’t even want to wear much jewelry, it makes me feel hot. A sheer cotton blouse over a tank would be a third. Maybe a scarf tied in place of a belt? An extra-cute belt, a bag, or nice sandals instead of flip flops?

  29. I love the look of scarves! I live in Hawaii and no one ever wears scarves out here. Thanks for bringing up the three piece rule! I’ve forgotten about that, but will now try to incorporate a third piece in my daily outfits!

  30. Thank you…you make sense! I know i am keeping hold of far too many clothes but i am sorting out my home and my life. Your blog is like a breathe of sensible fresh air! I need more scarves, lightweight scarves, I sew, I knit, i can make my own!
    Marianne´s last post…I have sewing lined up…for me!

  31. Everyone in Richmond, VA is wearing scarves! Winter & Spring!

    • That’s cause Richmond, VA is da bomb. :-)

      • I live in RVA, too! I was thinking that it *must* be a regional thing about scarves, b/c lots of people wear them. Young, middle, older. BUT, as much as I love my scarves whether sheer, thin, etc., it does get hot and humid as all get out here. And, when the weather is that cranked up, any scarf looks plain silly.

  32. Love your post! I also love how scarves worn a zillion different ways can change/make an outfit and polish it off! Italy and France have it over on us. I am slowly getting rid of my casual clothes as well. Thanks for your example and inspiration!

  33. Wow, I think I took more clothes than that for a 2 week vacation! Can we say pack rat? Yes, that’s me! You are so right about classic pieces though, you just want to wear them over and over again. I love scarves too! I got a BUNCH when I lived in India and I also gave some to my friends. The people there wear scarves all the time, even in the heat of summer. They are light and breathable. Scarves are a fun way to add some color to a blah outfit!
    Julie @ Just Julie´s last post…Ultimate Blog Party 2011 – Just Julie

  34. Oh I have so much to learn from you!!! I love the “out with the casuals idea…” it is definitely time for a mental upgrade around here!!! And I am sure an exterior boost can only help the interior!!! Next time I go shopping I am so going to select a bit smarter…

  35. I have decided that I just don’t do “casual” well. If I go for casual with a t-shirt – I just look sloppy. Some people pull it off just fine – I realized that I do not. I need to aim for an outfit just a little nicer. I have not tried scarves – but maybe I will! I do agree that I always feel dressed better if I have a cardigan or jacket on . I’ll keep the 3-piece rule in mind!

  36. Catherine says:

    I would love to see some of your outfits – I’m intrigued as well by the “dressier casual” idea. I thought I was ahead of the game just having my hair done with jeans and a cute t-shirt!

  37. Christine says:

    I am in awe of your ability to simply and be confident.
    I an the worst packer and cannot get of my own way.
    You have inspired me to minimalize. I do love scarves and wear the often.

  38. Suzanne says:

    I wear scarves all the time, year round, as many others have said. And frequently get complimented on them.
    I’ve learned to use them to artfully disguise the fact that I’m rather well-endowed.
    Completely agree with you on the 3 piece idea. I feel much more finished and polished.

    Love your site and am in awe of your simple, satisfying life!

  39. Kristen says:

    Thanks Rachel for this post! You look so cute with your scarf! I used to be “known” at work for wearing scarves but since I had my twins and now stay at home with them I honestly havent thought to wear them. I have actually been feeling kind of “frumpy” so after reading this I decided to reinvent my mommy wardrobe! I got back into my scarf drawer and now I feel so much perkier and cute! Thanks!

    • Scarves are perfect for when you’re holding babies and little kids. Instead of a necklace that can be pulled on, a scarf becomes kind of a soft pillow when your little one leans his head on you.

    • if you do a ‘fold and loop through’ style you can end up feeling strangled if a child tugs on your scarf. to avoid this I loop my scarf ends through twice, it then becomes tug-resistant (works best with long lightweight scarves). its a tip I picked up from some older colleagues when I worked with special-needs kids.

  40. Thank you for this! I’ve been thinking seriously about “de-mommying” my look, and this is the perfect jumping off point. Scarves – I rarely wear them, except to keep my neck warm on the coldest winter days. I’ll be looking for one soon! Your “fewer, better”, and “comfortably dressy” approaches are exactly what I needed to hear.
    You look beautiful in the picture (so does Lane). Thanks again!

  41. Rachel, you are so beautiful in that photo. I love scarves but I wear them most of winter just for warmth. I’m more cutesy/outdoorsy in my style but like you I have a few “classic” outdoorsy pieces I really like. Before we move I’ll be going through my clothes one last time but I’ve whittled down the number pretty good so far. Winter stuff is just so bulky and so much of my clothing is for winter and that takes more space.

  42. LOVE scarves. I live in Chicago and I’m a 4th grade teacher so I try to look professional but comfort is a MUST! I love that in the fall, winter and spring, I can wear scarves with pants and something as simple as a long sleeve t-shirt or a sweater and it instantly looks better. I also agree with the 3 piece rule and have a slight addiction to cardigans.
    Tonya´s last post…To Hire or Not To Hire- That is the Question

  43. Michelle F says:

    So love this post. I like the idea of quality vs quanity. I’ve been paying off bills thanks to Dave Ramsey and don’t buy much for myself anyway. I like scarves, any suggestions for the summer when it’s warm. It gets hot where I live. Thanks.

  44. This post was so wonderful and inspiring! I am constantly thinking of ways to pare my own wardrobe down, but it is so hard (and I am a really good culler).
    I would love to see your whole wardrobe sometime – to get a better idea of the styles you keep (in particular, the sweaters and blouses). It is very very educational!!
    Also want to say – in agreement with several other comments – that you just look lovely in the photo. You look stylish, comfortable, and feminine. Perfect!

  45. Denise C. says:

    I love what you’re wearing in the photo! I am *very much in need* of some new clothes (down to 2 shirts, and 2 jeans). I want to upgrade a bit and love how you said “comfortably dressy”. I just turned 33, and well, as a mom of 2, wife to one, I am ready for a change! As for scarves, I love them, I don’t own any, but would like to. I am glad you answered where to see how to tie them. :)
    One other note, I just ordered my *very first* necklace! I bought a beautiful glass stone with the word RUN on it from Esty, I am super excited! :)

    One quick question- when your shopping do you bring someone with you? How do you know if a certain color is a yay or nay?

    • Oh yes, I always bring Doug with me. He is great at picking out my clothes. I can easily recognize my colors (thanks to the Color Me Beautiful book I mentioned in a previous comment), but he is better with style and fit.

  46. Duh! Why is it that things that are so obvious are so oblivious to me!?!

    I love scarves…but do I ever wear them? NO. Really can’t say that I have ever tried other than in the winter when it is really cold, but that is just while i have my coat on.

    But I love scarves. I love fabrics & colors. And just this week I was cleaning through some stuff in the basement (from a move 7 years ago, lol) and found the cutest little light weight short scarf. I actually picked it up and instinctively put it on wearing it while I finished cleaning. I thought that it would look cute to dress up a plain shirt.

    Now here you are in your fabulous scarf and I am SO inspired to start incorporating them into my wardrobe. There are many times I feel like I just need something else, like maybe the jewelry isn’t enough…Ta Da! I just need a scarf!
    (Plus I like to wear my long hair up a lot, but I don’t really like the back of my neck because it looks blotchy so it would help camouflage that)

    Thanks for the great fashion tip!!! Love it!
    I am going to go to my closet and find a shirt to wear that scarf with tomorrow!

  47. I love scarves. And I love hearing about your time in Florence. I was brought up in Rome. Your stories bring back lots of memories and a little nostalgia which is nice. Won’t bore you with stories of our boiler but hot water is a luxury in Italian apartments!

    My mother collected scarves and I have inherited some lovely ones. Unfortunately I do not get to wear them often as I live in the Caribbean where it’s very hot! I tend to wear scarves when I travel or in air-conditioned places. It’s a great way to wrap up and keep warm while also looking smart.

    I am trying to knit myself a shawl (for my next trip) but am on my fifth attempt. Am new to knitting. I have also bought lengths of fabric, especially woven ones, and simply seamed the edges to make a quick scarf.

    As for the 3-piece rule you made me smile. In my family that rule is about toilet rolls and not clothes!!

  48. This post was so great. I loved ur point in not having a separate set of casual clothes and a separate set of going out clothes b/c that’s what i have and it’s just… exhausting. I feel like I’m always changing and having to plan what to wear when (several times a day). Ur inspiring me to chuck to old casual TEEs that just bombard my closet. THANK U!

  49. Your recent wardrobe posts are coming at the perfect time for me – I downsized my clothes significantly since moving into a studio apartment (with husband & pets), but just cutting the quantity wasn’t enough, and I’m ready to get serious about improving the quality. Agree with all the raves about scarves! I also have a fondness for tights in bold colors; they can really transform my collection of dark-neutral dresses – they are fun & inexpensive.

  50. Love this. I have discovered many of the same basic principles, but I have one hangup: brown vs. black. You can get by with three pairs of shoes; I’d need six so I could have boots, heels and flats each in brown and black. Is it old-fashioned of me to worry about this? Should I only have pieces in my wardrobe that go with one or the other?

    • I’m with you on that! I do feel that it looks more polished if your purse and shoes go together-as in, not mixing brown and black. In fact, I recently decided that from now on, anything I purchase needs to go with black shoes/bag. I don’t like to mix brown and black, but I hate having to have 2 of everything.
      Morgan´s last post…My Top 10 Favorite Things about Taiwan

      • I have to have my shoes, bag, belt and watchband match. It’s insane. I don’t even think it looks bad on other people when I see them mixed; it’s just this compulsion I have. I fixed the purse problem by going turquoise, but that doesn’t work with everything.
        Kara´s last post…April goal- Get a grip on eating habits

      • I was wondering about this, too. I got curious about the whole Color Me Beautiful thing and after looking into that I’m wondering if depending on your colors it would work to stick with brown or black. I just read about the 12 color styles and I’m wondering if the ones that are cool could go with black/grey shoes and belts and those who are warm could go with brown…? If you wanted to simplify, that is… Thoughts?

    • Oh, you guys, I’m dying over this comment. As a personal stylist, I’m telling you, toss those rules out the window!!! Nothing dates you more than matchy-matchy brown-brown or black-black, etc, only!

      The modern woman is all about mixing it up. You could spend tons on a new wardrobe, but if you just use all the old style rules, you’ve just wasted your hard-earned money.

      Jen – personally, I love mixing grays with cognacs or browns. And I think a basic black dress looks fresh with an unexpected brown suede tall boot (in the winter), but it also looks chic with a nude heel and fun with a bright color flat. And yes you can mix navy and black! Designers everywhere are doing it.

      Designers are also mixing within the color stories, i.e. orange and pink, blue and green (think peacock or water colors). So throw away those rules your momma taught you and have fun!

      It’s so freeing knowing you can mix up the rules and wear your clothes with abandon! :) Enjoy!!

      {mommy chic}
      finley {mommy chic}´s last post…Home makeover 2

      • But what if you’re trying to simplify? I know fashion isn’t into matching so much these days… Fashion also doesn’t tend to be very much into simplifying ;-) So my point is if your wardrobe tends more towards grays and blacks or browns and tans would it make more sense to focus your shoes in that direction.

        Your comment tells me, yes, it would. I’m buying some new, better quality shoes than usual and have decided to focus on the color gray because I think it will be most versatile for my color palette. If I’m going to have just a few pairs of shoes, I want them in a color that will match the most colors of clothes that I wear.

        • I should have said “complement” the most colors of clothes I wear. Meaning I might have a tan or brown dress that I could wear gray shoes with.

          • Hi Jen!
            You’re so right, fashion designers are NOT about simplifying, even when their designs are simple! They need to give us all a reason to buy this season! ;)

            Personally, my wardrobe consists of a lot of blacks and grays as well, but I’m a sucker for shoes, bags and accessories. If I had to simplify, I’d have a pair of nude pumps to wear year round, gold sandals for summer, cognac boots for fall and of course a pair of black flats or heels.

            I was just meaning that you don’t have to walk around the store carrying a fabric swatch to match exactly, and you don’t have to stick to the old school rules of ONLY wearing brown shoes with a brown belt and brown purse. :)

            Hope that helps! Feel free to email me if you have any specific questions or want an opinion on something in your wardrobe! mommychicblog at gmail

            finley @ {mommy chic}

  51. O scarves. I wear one on my head every time I go out! Wish I could wear one around my neck too, but that would just be too much.

  52. Mum of 2 says:

    I am from Australia, and I’m sorry to you all but I really don’t get scarfes! I think they are a waste of time! They make me too hot, except for the odd extremely cold day when they irritate my neck! Maybe I’m just too simple, but I prefer to jazz up an outfit with jewellery if I feel too plain.

  53. Scarves are my favorite accessory, too!

  54. Hello, Rachel! I am a scarf lover. I have 3 questions written on a card in my wallet to pull out before buying clothes.
    1. Do I *love* this?
    2. Is it flattering?
    3. Is this the image I want to portray?
    I wish I could find the source, but I think it was on an Oprah way back when?? I had a roommate in college that was just like you~she had very little in her closet, but what she had looked fantastic on her and was high quality. I’ve always envied that trait since I am more of a clearance rack shopper…

    • I’m a clearance rack shopper too when it comes to shirts and blouses. It’s hard for me to pay more than $20 for a shirt, but I only bring it home when I really love it.

  55. I cannot wear scarves except in winter (think nausea and fainting from the extra body heat, even in air conditioned rooms) so I use jewelry instead. Use longer and larger necklaces, dangly earrings, or bangle bracelets. And the great thing is that costume jewelry – the kind described above – can be found at very modest prices.

    I love scarves and wish I could wear them more, but what can you do when you need to survive? :)

  56. Hello there from the bottom of the page..L.O.V.E.Scarves.
    Winter is the best time of year for me because you can add layers and I do love to feel cosy 24/7.
    Thanks for sharing your fashtion tips. You must see some amazing clothes over there. What are the prices like comparable to where you live?
    I like your outfit with the pink scarf.
    I’m sure I could done with one today..wore my red jumper with the cute heart shape buttons, a very cool 21 degrees.
    Tracy´s last post…Cher – Love Song 1975 very rare

  57. Love the rule of three, and your tips for adding style to a small wardrobe. I have a small wardrobe for several reasons (frequent travel…living in a country where I can’t fit into most of the clothes as I’m too tall and too curvy…no closets in my entire house–not one!), but I’ve realized that I still have more clothes than I need or even WANT. I’ll be keeping your advice in mind as I downsize what I have and add a couple of new, classic pieces during a trip to the US this summer.
    Morgan´s last post…My Top 10 Favorite Things about Taiwan

  58. As an American living in Scotland for 3 years I understand the scarf thing so much. Everyone wears them! I am still trying to feel more comfortable in them. And thank you for your thoughts on a simple wardrobe. I thoroughly enjoy reading of your life in Italy, as much is the same…refrigerator size, washer in the kitchen, etc.

  59. I love your photos Rachel, you look beautiful! Your wardrobe looks great too. I am so glad your doing some posts on clothes.

    Can you please think about doing a post on “comfortable dressy”. I think I get it but I would love to hear more. I am a Yoga teacher and I am finding that I am needing to “temper” the tendency to look like a “lulu lemon ad” all the time.

    Anyway moving on, I am from Australia too and I love scarves. They can look great.

    I recently saw a woman in her 60’s in one of our chain stores (Big W) looking at scarves, she was so beautifully dressed, as it turns out she was French. I did a quick mental photo: cute flats, footless tights, nice skirt, top and a scarf… which wouldn’t have been more than $20. No brand names, no logos, just looked “comfortable dressy”.

    I love that cute navy top with the white trim on the right! Right up my alley. Can you share the details of that purchase?


  60. Marcee Rodgers says:

    I need you to come to DFW Texas!:) I can’t pick out clothes to save my life. I too am realizing that T-shirts don’t make me look cute anymore:/ I LOVE scarves, but have no clue how to tie them (saw your video link above) and think I look weird in them. I want to look cute like you!!

    • Marcee-
      Wear a circle scarf (or infinity scarf)! So easy! American Apparel does these and you just throw them around your neck like a necklace. Or check out this DIY.

      There are several stores in Dallas that have indie designers making great, no-brainer scarves too.

      In addition to the knot that Rachel has in the pic, you could also just fold it in half, put it around your neck, and loop the two ends through the looped part. That makes a thicker scarf and is either good in winter or worn loosely with a lightweight scarf in spring. (But is there really a spring in DFW???) I didn’t watch the video so don’t know how she showed it.

      Good luck! :) {mommy chic}
      finley {mommy chic}´s last post…Home makeover 2

  61. Can you stand ONE more voice?
    I am WILD about scarves. With my white hair and fair coloring, a scarf is essential to bring color close to my face! And they have, more than once, rescued me in air conditioning or when there’s a sudden chill outdoors.
    Marilyn´s last post…A Bout of Whimsy

  62. Heather says:

    I need this wardrobe! I’m having a hard time finding the right clothes. Partly bc of my weight and partly I don’t know why! I think I should give up t shirts. Since I noticed I look way too casual. I also feel like if I’m wearing dressy clothes at home, i’m too dressy But that is probably my problem!

  63. Jessica says:

    I do love scarves but I feel they add too much ‘weight’ to the top half of my body. Does anyone have a scarf recommendation for us ladies with a little more.. ahem… heft on top?

  64. You inspired me last night – plus I’d heard a speaker from the local community thrift store at lunch – so I filled up 2 boxes of clothes that I can live without. (That’s after I’ve been trying to simplify. I feel so wasteful.)
    I have a question. What type of blouses/tops do you wear in place of tshirts? Thanks.

    • Hi Patricia,
      I got rid of my tees too or use them under sweaters. If I wear something in a knit/tshirt fabric, it’s usually draped or fitted or has a different neckline. I also wear short sleeve blouses that button down the front.
      Margo´s last post…An Accidental Clean Leading to a Marker Roll

      • Thanks, Margo. That’s what I thought, but I needed some affirmation. I’m having trouble finding blouses because my pear shape keeps getting more rounded at the bottom.

    • For pear shapes, mix a cotton/knit blouse with a v-neck to elongate your top half with a wide leg jean. The wider leg opening will balance your hip/thigh area and create an hour-glass.

      A lot of stores and designers make cotton shirts that drape at the neck and rouche (or gather) at the waist. This hides all manner of things!

      You could also wear a light-weight poplin button up with the sleeves rolled up (J Crew has perfected this look).

      finley @ {mommy chic{
      finley {mommy chic}´s last post…Home makeover 2

  65. Mom2Bean says:

    Lots of talk about scarves, which is great. I agree they look so cool, so European and polished… on other people. They make me feel fussy, irritable & foolish though! I think I need to watch the videos on how to tie them better.
    BUT, my big question is about pants. Just 3 pair? And no skirts even? Wow. I guess if I could find 2 truly comfortable, good-looking pairs of jeans maybe that would work. Instead I have 7 pair, none of which are just right.
    I am impressed with your minimalist wardrobe. You give me a goal to work towards!

  66. Scarves are the holy grail of the fashion world.

  67. Great post! With all my 6-week and 8-week travels for work, I’ve gotten better and better at packing a mini-wardrobe. Still not perfect, of course – everywhere I go, I still wish I’d left some things home and brought other things with me. But it’s given me a great insight into what I really need and don’t need at home, so my life wardrobe has been pared down quite a bit. I totally agree with you, that when you have good quality clothes that you love to wear, you don’t need as many pieces. And thanks for the reminder to dress it up a bit – I’m a t-shirt and jeans sort of gal, but I always feel better when I’ve put a little flounce into my outfit!
    Maggie @ Maggie’s Nest´s last post…Inspiration- Inside and Out

  68. Scarves are all over the internet. I have some that I bought over 20 years ago. At that time, no one wore them. I’m glad to see them out and about as they definitely perk up an outfit.

    For all of you having trouble knowing what kinds of clothes to buy, go to She’s a fashion blogger who can get you started on basics.

    • Thanks for the link – I’ve only read a few posts, but it looks like it will be helpful.

  69. I love scarves. I’ve just recently started wearing them. I hope to add to my collection. :)

  70. I, too, love scarves! I am in the process of weeding through my clothing and ridding my closet of anything that doesn’t fit great or look great. I tend to be a little dressy casual as well. I just do not feel confident in baggy t-shirts or loose fitting clothing. I’m small and feel swallowed by those types of clothes. Even as a SAHM, I like to look pulled together.

    Next up is the annual declutter of the whole house. I love the freedom of having less!

  71. Love the wardrobe posts. Very inspiring!
    anne´s last post…1000

  72. What an inspiring post… and a beautiful picture of you! I am trying to pare down my wardrobe and buy less things. Needless to say, I have been wearing fewer things from my closet. A preschooler recently asked me why I always wear these clothes. Maybe I need to add more pieces back in.

  73. When I became a stay at home mom, I got rid of my casual clothes too. I keep some workout clothes, but I don’t wear them as regular clothes. Now I’ve started a few freelance gigs outside our home and guess what?! I always look good, so I’m not constantly changing clothes to juggle all the balls that my day requires. It’s GREAT, and not a side benefit I had anticipated when I deep-sixed my tees :)

    I’ll say it again – I love your posts on clothes. Thanks for the helpful tips.

    oh, and I love scarves. I think they are a thrifty way to change up the basics I like to wear. I have LOTS of scarves and I do wear them.
    Margo´s last post…An Accidental Clean Leading to a Marker Roll

  74. Ooooh yes I wear scarves! I have one of those scarf hangers with the holes and every hole has one or two scarves in it!

    I think it depends on where you live, too. In San Diego I wore a scarf 3-4 days a week. Just a lightweight thing with a tank top and big chunky earrings…I had an indie-hippie vibe.

    Then moving to Seattle you NEED to wear scarves, but the warm, bulky type that are too hot to wear indoors. Everytime I do wear a lightweight scarf in the office I always get those “I could never pull that off” comments. Its a scarf, people, not a mohawk! Combine that with not being able to wear my funky earrings because I’m answering the phone and sadly my indie-look has to be reserved for the weekend.

  75. Yes on the scarves! I’m into this new trend of head-wrapping right now and it’s fun to use colorful scarves…I have a good variety of light-weights that I can wear as scarves, headbands, head coverings, shawls, and sometimes wrap-around skirts (for the beach and stuff).
    Christine´s last post…Finally! A Spring Favorite!

  76. You know I wear a scarf as a headband sometimes when warm, and I wear knit ones in the winter with a coat — however, I hadn’t tied one on to dress up outfit in summer. That’s a good tip.

    But instinctively I’ve been doing the three piece outfit idea you mentioned. I Add a blouse, sweater or jacket over a t-shirt top and pants outfit or maybe with a skirt. Classics and casual dressy is the only way for me to go.

    Although, I have to keep some worn out clothing to clean the house, garden and cook in. I don’t like being concerned about tearing or staining something.

    But I can understand on a trip like you’re on — you’re probably not going to be doing any heavy duty cleaning. Right?

  77. I love the idea of the 3-piece rule. I have never heard of that before. I have been seeing scarves more and more with younger women – high school, college, and younger moms like me, but I still have a hard time getting over the fact that scarves are what older women wear. My mom wears them all the time (as well as a fair amount of jewelry), and I just like to keep things simple. I will admit, though that I do not often feel fashionable or put together. I might just have to hit the thrift stores and see if I can find a simple, modern scarf to try out. Thanks for the inspiration!

  78. I love scarves, I work in an office in the UK and if I’m not wearing long beads I wear scarves.

    I don’t have a huge collection – probably 4 or so that I alternate. I haven’t paid more than £6 for any of them.

    My favourite outfit (that I wore yesterday) is jeans, a navy blue jumper dress and a pale blue crinkly scarf. I wear mine slightly different to yours in the picture – I fold it in half lengthways before putting it on and the tuck the ends through the loop I’ve made if that makes sense. A short version!
    Anna´s last post…Worth the wait

  79. Love wearing scarves! I just bought 2 new ones this past week for next fall & winter. I want to get a few light weight ones for spring as well. I was going to suggest Jen’s video too because it helped me to have more style/wearing variety. :)

  80. i like scarves, but it seems like everywhere i look, everyone has a scarf on. when something is so popular, i find myself steering clear of it just because i’m tired of it & don’t want to be like everyone else.

    • Agree with you about the popularity thing. I wore a scarf yesterday and it’s a beautiful scarf but I felt weird in it. I love the idea of wearing scarves but I’m beginning to think it just isn’t my thing. I like them on others though!

  81. My sister-in-law always has a great scarf on. I’ve always wished I could wear one. But I just think I look funny in it.

  82. You are so inspiring and one of the reasons I have been encouraged to simplify. You, Tsh from Simple Mom and Emily from Remodeling This Life. If I had to pick 3 “fun” blogs, you all would be the 3 I follow. Thank you for the great tips and I’m loving hearing about your journey in Italy!
    Beth Young´s last post…I am down 38 lbs this week!!!

  83. I love your blog. Your topics always seem to hit home with me and all of your readers.

    Regarding scarves. My eyes lit up when I saw this post.

    I absolutely LOVE scarves. Have for years. I have dozens of them. Since I am retired now, for over 4 years, I don’t wear them as often. So, I created a new way to wear them.

    I would be lost without my scarves. They light up my face and make me happy. :D
    don_mae´s last post…A New Way To Wear A Scarf

  84. Rachel,
    Can I just tell you how much I love your blog? I have never posted a comment before, but I SO look forward to each new blog post like a little kid waiting to open a present. I am so inspired by the way you live. I lost my twin sister 5 years ago and my mother just 5 months ago and over the course of recent time I have found that being inspired to live simply has allowed me to focus on loving my husband and my children and being grateful for each day. Recently, I just began cleaning out the remaining material items from my sister and my mom, and I opened up my laptop to see your advice on what sentimental items to keep and what can be lovingly and respectfully done with the rest. Thank you so much for your simple, yet effective advice. I think I will be so much more intentional in the way I live and hopefully pass it on to my children too.

  85. Once again, you have totally inspired me. My mom has an enormous collection of beautiful silk scarves. She never leaves the house without one, but she wears hers as a kerchief, always tucked into a crisp shirt or blouse.

    I’m going to have to start looking for some scarves of my own.

  86. Hey, I’m a new reader, but I’m so glad I found you!

    How strange that you don’t see many American woman wearing scarves. I see them EVERYWHERE. I’m not great at wearing them, though I am trying.

    My wardrobe has been a huge struggle for me. I still wear tons of t-shirts from college that do not make me look pulled together. But, when I go to shop, I get overwhelmed. The 3 piece rule is awesome. Thanks so much!
    Monica @ In The Whisper´s last post…Lent Update

  87. Wow, that’s an impressive accomplishment. I love the reminder about scarves and your “3-piece” idea–it’s true! That IS what’s missing in summer. Thanks for the great idea and post.

  88. Ooh, I love your three-piece rule! I think I look pretty darn good when the weather is cooler because I do a lot more layering and generally look dressier, but in the summertime I tend to throw on a tank or blouse with some pants or a skirt, and even if the pieces are nice looking, they never seem very dressy. Yesterday I wore a basic pair of jeans with a black t-shirt and then added a gauzy, lightweight blue scarf with a 60s-style vibe, and it instantly dressed up my whole outfit.
    Cate @ Liberal Simplicity´s last post…Project Simplify- Hot Spot 5

  89. What a fantastic post! I am just packing for a five week trip so a lot of this kind of thing is on my mind. My problem is balancing between wanting to have enough to look vaguely stylish, and the fact part of the trip we will be hiking.

    I love scarves – and mjust coming out of the UK Winter, have been wearing them a lot!
    Natalia´s last post…Ten Questions with Hannah Robinson of A Handmade Childhood

  90. I love what you are doing. Last year, I pulled everything out of my closet that 1. it didn’t fit, 2. I didn’t love it, or 3. It was worn out and ugly. I ended up with 3 shirts and nothing else! Since then I’ve added pieces carefully – I no longer buy something just to buy it, I have to love it, and it has to be good quality. Thanks for talking about this concept.
    I, too, have a scarf question like an earlier commenter. When you are large on top, scarves can seem like they make me top heavy, even if they are gorgeous. is there a secret to wearing a scarf for those of us well-endowed and not wanting to call attention to that fact?

    • Robin – My friend is also well-endowed (you lucky girls!) and pulls off scarves nicely. She usually wears them closer to her face, so they are double looped around. This works best with circle scarves so you don’t have loose ends. (A circle scarf is one piece of fabric in a circle that you put over your neck like a necklace. It’s usually a long piece so you have to double it up around your neck or it will hang down to your stomach.)

      Hope that helps! :)

      Finley @ {mommy-chic}
      Finley @ {mommy chic}´s last post…Top it off

  91. I would love recommendations on shopping for dressy/casual. Any stores in particular? I worked before having children, so my wardrobe is either dressy (i.e. skirts and nice pants) or very casual (work out clothes). I’d love to find something in between but don’t know where to shop!

    • Ok, I know you’re asking Rachel, but I just saw this question while commenting and I’ll throw in my two cents for what it’s worth. (I do work in fashion as a personal stylist, so I have a little bit of worthwhile advice.)

      Depending on your budget:
      Ann Taylor LOFT for cute tops, blouses, sweaters to wear with jeans.
      Anthropologie and J Crew have easy pieces to layer, wear alone, and quality is good.
      Nordstrom has a wide selection of price ranges as well.

      Dark denim (in any cut – trouser, boot, skinny) is easy to throw on with a t-shirt (and SCARF!) for day and dress it up with a sexy blouse for night.

      You could double a longer tunic/dress from Anthro to wear over skinny jeans to run around during the day, and wear it alone (with a longer slip if needed for added length) at night.

      Maxi dresses are big this season and can work with a cardigan, alone, or with a scarf depending on where you’re going. In the fall, you’ll layer a chunky knit cardigan wrap over it. They’re so comfortable too! As a mom of a toddler, I love wearing my maxi dress or maxi skirts with a flow-y top.

      Regarding your dressy work skirts, you could always pair them back with a tank or tee and flats to dress them down for day.

      Good luck!
      Finley @ {mommy chic}
      finley {mommy chic}´s last post…Home makeover 2

  92. Great advice about buying quality pieces! I think people fall into the trap of something being on sale and buying it, regardless of it’s quality or usefulness in their wardrobe. I always tell people/clients to think of three different way they will wear that piece before they buy it.

    Also the three piece rule is another great tip. I tell people/clients that adding one more piece to the basic jeans & t-shirt will give them that touch of interest and sometime even pull the entire look together.

    As far as scarves, I love them!!! Can’t get enough – I’m looking at 9 different ones hanging up in my room right now! They add dimension and style to any outfit and act like a frame to your face. Here’s a DIY idea for old t-shirts to turn them into a simple infinity scarf. If your readers don’t know how to work a scarf, the infinity (or circle) scarf is the answer! Throw it on your neck like a necklace and you’re done!

    Oh, someone asked about pant hems for heels and flats. If you hem your jeans just ever so slightly longer in the back than the front, you can get away with wearing them with a small (2-3″) heel and a flat. The longer hem in the back makes up for the heel. But you could also just cuff them up like a boyfriend jean to wear them with flats too.

    Thanks for sharing what you packed. Makes me think about what I would take with me on an overseas sojourn.
    Finley @ {mommy chic}

  93. Courtney says:

    I’m not a scarf person. Wearing one around my neck drives me nuts and just makes me feel cluttered somehow. I much prefer simple yet beautiful jewelry!

  94. I’m impressed with your capsule wardrobe, well done on keeping it tight! I would have wanted to bring everything, just in case. I love scarves now, I felt too young to wear them before (I must have only ever seen old ladies wear them) and I wish it was colder here so I could wear them more often.
    Maggie´s last post…A cute onesie

  95. Love this post. A friend sent me a scarf from Italy last year. My mom gave me one for by birthday last month. I have others, too, and have never quite known how to wear them without looking frumpy. I’m definitely going to check out the tutorials. Thanks!

  96. Wow, I love the scarf on you! I wished I wore it, I always forget even when I have it in closet. I usually go through decluttering phase twice a year to get rid of clothes I no longer use, or needs recycling. I have not bought any new clothes in such a long time, I think I need some wardrobe updating to do. You inspired me.

    Zengirl @ Heart and Mind´s last post…10 Easy Ways to Earn More Money

  97. i am all about scarves! i learned it from my styling mama who is an interior designer and looks the part with class and style. i agree… a scarf makes the outfit.
    Charis´s last post…He who owes me nothing gives me everything

  98. I lived in Austria and Slovakia for four years- It taught me to wear scarves- a great way to change up an outfit. Austria taught me about better quality and LESS clothes- a man might have only 3 suits- but they were expensive, and he looks great

  99. I have bird tattoos right below my collarbone that have to be covered up for work. Scarves are always my solution, and I love how much more pulled together they make you look. I love you tip of wearing three items. I don’t always apply that rule to when I’m getting dressed, but now I’ll have to. Thanks for giving a peek inside your closet!

  100. I only discovered your blog recently, and I love it, thank you.

    I’ve just realised how much I love scarves. I had a chest infection, and put one on to keep my throat warm, and have barely taken them off since. It also made me feel so much better when I had to leave the house, as I looked better. I’m now knitting myself a couple of shawls. Seeing all the websites that have been suggested is great, as I’m currently overhauling my wardrobe, hard to do as I’m 22 weeks pregnant, with a changing body, but I’m loving the chance to try new things. I’m also thinking a soft, wide shawl or scarf will be great when out with baby, as can use it when breastfeeding, or wipe bub’s face, hide it in in the folds, and throw in the machine when I get home.

  101. I really LOVE that navy shirt! Can you tell me where you got it? Great advice!

  102. Rachel,
    I love this post! Although I keep saying I want to pare down my wardrobe to what I really love and actually wear, I haven’t disciplined myself enough to do so. There’s always my question of, “But I already have it, so why get rid of it?” And of course I don’t stop there, but keep adding cute pieces that will “last forever.” One day! I swear! I really just need to sit down and figure out what I wear the most that makes me feel lovely and go from there.

    I love scarves! I wear them year round: to keep warm in the winter they are a necessity, and are becoming a necessity in the air conditioning in the summer! They truly are the best way to add color and vibrancy to simple, classic outfits.

    Thank you so much for the inspiration!

  103. Secret fashion shame – every pair of pants I own has a big smear of grease on the inside of the right pant leg from my bike chain.
    Slackerjo´s last post…The Secret Life of Call Centres

  104. I am scarf-crazy!! My daughter and I share our scarves so now we have quite a selection. With that said, it never occured to me to wear them in the summer – duh! You have opened up a whole new world! Thanks!
    Paula@Simply Sandwich´s last post…Busy Weeknight Meal

  105. Hi, hello! I’m new to your blog but I am already loving it so much! You are a relief amidst the “More, more, more!” mentality here in the US and blog world alike.

    I love the 3 pc. rule. I’m motivated to clean out my closet now. Thank you!

  106. This was so timely. I’m de-cluttering my house (and life) Organized SImplicity style and I pared down my wardrobe to next-to-nothing, getting rid of all of those cheapy long sleeved shirts that might be made out of paper and my 100+ “sentimental” t-shirt collection- finally admitting that I wear the same 10 things in a week. I’m headed to Chicago to get some knew clothes to supplement my now-meager wardrobe and this was exactly what I needed. Your techniques are going to be my little mantra in the stores! Thank you so much!

    • I took all the t shirts and cut them up for rags. Save on papertowels (we never use them). They are absorbent and you can throw them away. I used them to clean my baseboards and dust the tv

  107. We have come to realize that you dont need that many clothes while travelling. My otherwise fashion concious girls 22 and 25 are following suit. We take only a carryon with us, no matter where we travel to or how long for. We went to EU for ten days with a rollerboard each! Ditto for Guatamala and Honduras. India, Carribean cruises you name it we have done it a carryon. Think simple, pack light. Very liberating specially in Europe.

  108. I have not yet read through all the comments … and I will. But, before you got to the end where you asked about scarves, I was thinking, ‘it would be great if you could devote a post to how to wear a scarf well.’

    I have a few scarves and love the look, but not on me. I can never tie one on without feeling like it looks ridiculous. Unless it’s a super chunky, wintery scarf.

  109. Margaret says:

    What blouses do you own? Where do you buy them? Do you need to iron them every time you wash them?

  110. Margaret says:

    Also, how do you recommend wearing silk scarves?

  111. To limit wardrobe, recombine and layer several two-piece outfits.

  112. At times, a two-piece outfit looks okay…

    Jewelry and accessories are not always needed.

  113. A top and pants of the same color is also a classic style – it creates a thin appearance.

  114. Keep a handy list of your outfits – so that it’s quick to get dressed in the morning.

  115. I’m sure you get this all the time…but I am completely ADDICTED to your web site! You are my heroine! I love scarves, by the way and I knew when I saw the headline to this article you would mention scarves! Yay! I’m looking forward to checking out more here. Thanks for such a wonderful resource! You rock!

  116. Did you end up adding anything to your wardrobe while in Italy? Any beautiful accessories you just couldn’t pass up?
    carmina burana´s last post…UPDATE- Winter- refreshed

  117. I was just looking at one of my scarves this morning thinking about packing it away for the season and I chose to keep it out…I like it, its pretty, stylish and perks up a tired outfit. I agree that more ladies need to wear them!
    Jolene´s last post…Answers

  118. I am so envious of you! As a new mother I aspire to travel with less. Thanks for sharing…and you go girl!
    Paige´s last post…Hello June

  119. Scarves are my answer to everything! They keep me warm when I need to look dressy, they dress up my t-shirt and jeans, they cover bad hair days, I even use them as belts occasionally. There really is no more versatile piece than a great scarf!
    Sara R.´s last post…Writing the Hard Parts & the Practice of Seeing Beauty Everywhere

  120. I LOVE scarves! They dress up a summer outfit and can bring a fabulous punch of color to any outfit. Sometimes I even wrap it around my arms in the evenings when it gets cold in the mountains. Great packing tips too! It reminds me to rethink my packing strategy next time!
    Jaime´s last post…To Travel To Europe Or Not?

  121. I’ve been a fan of your blog for a long time. I linked a little love on my blog. Love your philosophy on life.
    Barbara@BabyBloggingBoomer´s last post…I Love Nester’s Content to Rent posts

  122. Before I get to scarves, I must say I am shocked how few items you traveled with and how versatile you say your wardrobe was.

    Living in New York, three of the four seasons are scarf-worthy, which I think is great. The long necklace is not my accessory of choice, but a scarf can serve a similar purpose– and keep you warm!
    I like to include a scarf into my winter outfits because it adds warmth without the added bulk of heavy sweaters and layers.

    I have a collection of scarves in a variety of colors, textures and fabrics. Having such a variety helps me reinvent outfits quickly and easily.

  123. Hermes, the classic Paris luxury silk scarf people, actually have a video and pdf with about two dozen ways to wear a scarf, if it is still up on their site!! (They have some cool stuff that changes, too!)

  124. Can I just say… I LOVED this particular blog! In the past few months I have been undergoing my own personal metamorphosis… from uber casual, tomboyish (lack of) style, to dressing more feminine and with grace and elegance. Like every other area of my life, when I decide to do something, first I must “educate” myself on the topic. Although change was forecasted for my life, I still craved simplicity. I am not interested in change who I am fundamentally… I just wanted to dress this “real me” better! In my search for information, I stumbled across your blog. And I will be eternally thankful! You are a blessing!
    Carol´s last post…Randomly falling thoughts

  125. I love scarves – I wear them all the time. I always get compliments on them. You are right – they take a simple shirt and pants and dress them up. It is the one item I tend to purchase if I am on an inpromtu shopping trip. Another perk – they don’t take up a lot of space!

  126. I love scarves!! I didn’t own a lot of fashionable ones for times other than winter, but I added it to my must have list this summer! I’ve made so many outfits with the one scarf I bought! One year for Christmas I got a whole load of winter scarves, but I lived in Alabama so I never fully appreciated them until moving to Ohio. I think people are starting to wear them more in the states… or maybe I just shop on Etsy too much, so that’s what I think everyone is doing!
    Mary´s last post…It’s All About Who You Know

  127. I am totally intimidated at the thought of wearing a scarf. I recently saw a blog post on how to wear a scarf 8 million different ways (or something like that), but I’m still nervous. First off, I don’t really own any scarves other than ones that are actually to keep you warm in winter. Not a pretty accessory. Second of all, I would have no clue about which scarf would go with what. Perhaps I can do some looking around online for ideas on coordinating scarves with outfits.

  128. I am simply obsessed with scarves and I have a large collection of them. A lot of them were gifts or great finds from thrift stores. I do always end up wearing the same 10 or so, although they change depending on the season. I feel naked if I leave the house without one! I concur, everybody should wear scares. Even men.

  129. I’ve just been introduced to your site, and I’m already in love. I started an obsession with scarves about 2 years ago, when I realized that it was near impossible to hide my large chest in a professional setting — without wearing turtle and crew neck shirts all the time. Even when I layer with tank tops my cleavage hangs out and it makes me self-conscious when I’m with patients, families and customers. I started draping a scarf around my neck to hide it, and voila! I’ve been hooked ever since! I rarely ever leave my house without one, and I have every color of the rainbow :)