What does your ideal wardrobe look like?


We made some changes when we moved into our new house.

Our last house had small closets. Our new home has itsy bitsy closets. I don’t think I have a huge wardrobe but, thanks to sewing, it’s probably bigger than most women’s.

Our solution was to take the little second bedroom and turn it into my dressing room. It has pale creamy pink walls, an art deco vanity, and two Ikea racks that house most of my clothing.

I love having my clothes out in the open like this, rather than shoved into a closet! It gives me a really good sense of what I have and what I need, and actually has been inspiring me to sew more. It’s also motivated me to get rid of a lot of stuff I clearly never wear.

So as I was looking at my clothing racks the other day, I was thinking about what my perfect wardrobe would actually look like, and how I could get it there.

I am very color-oriented, so I mostly look at my wardrobe as a whole in terms of color. I noticed that my favorite color (pink / peach / coral) is very well represented, which is nice. I noticed that, while I love wearing black and white, I have about 10 times as many black dresses as white ones. That I have several red dresses and hardly ever wear them since I prefer red as an accent color. And that I could use more blue.

I guess when I imagine the wardrobe that would be really perfect for me, I imagine a rainbow of dresses in the striking ice cream colors that I love. I’d throw in a few pretty light blouses, slim pants, and cardigans. Oh, and plenty of polka dots.

There wouldn’t be a ton of clothes, just a well edited and lovely selection. If I could sew a brand new ideal wardrobe from scratch, that’s exactly what I would make.

If you were to close your eyes and imagine a rack of clothing that contained your perfect wardrobe, what would it look like?

Sarai Mitnick   —   Founder

Sarai started Colette back in 2009. She believes the primary role of a business should be to help people. She loves good books, sewing with wool, her charming cats, working in her garden, and eating salsa.

Comments 51

Gail Ann Thompson

I AM fortunate to be in the process of acquiring a New Wardrobe. I turned 60 this year, lost a noticeable amount of weight, and retired. Also, these past few years, I’ve been collecting plaid Pendleton yardages, and good wool Sweater Twins, in anticipation of this ‘passage’ in my life.

Skirts, and skirts, and skirts, I may need a dozen!

Pretty blouses, not the dreaded man-tailored shirts.

At least a dozen of dresses. 2 black – well at this time of my life, you can guess why, one for Summer, one for Winter. FYI – the Summer black is ready to go, a Crepe in a linen/cotton blend with a faint linear design. Some in fun Summer prints, The rest more sedate and dressy.

2 pairs of slacks, one grey and one tan. I really wish I could find a pattern with a side button closing. Maybe a dark blue pair, but I hope to finish out my earthly time WITHOUT becomming an Old Woman wearing Black Slacks.

I also want enough really nice silk lingerie to wear it every day!


Sandy, Gail Ann- You two are totally my heroines for the day. Damn straight- be awesome at any age!


I am so with you on the underwear! I”ve been thinking a lot lately about doing more lingerie sewing. And also just nice things to wear around the house in cooler months (silk robes, etc).

When I reach retirement age, I see myself wearing lots of silk and cashmere. Sounds a lot like you!


It’s so interesting that you wrote this post today, because I have spent the last week purging my closet and thinking about my ideal wardrobe. I have gained a little weight and nothing fit. Also, I left my job a few years ago, so none of my work clothes were useful.

I photographed every item in my closet (not much), tried it all on, and critically assessed what works on me, my shape and my coloring. I highly recommend the exercise.

What I want in my wardrobe now is cute blouses and skirts for summer, in easy care styles and materials. I’m 44, and I want to embrace the fun in life through my clothing — both the making and the wearing.


That sounds like an excellent exercise! I did once photograph almost all the clothes I owned, hoping to keep track of things better, make packing for trips easier, and help me get rid of more stuff. Unfortunately, I couldn’t keep up with it!


I’m so there right now. I’ve just moved to England with one medium sized suitcase in tow so it’s like starting from scratch. I’m trying to be strategic with what I sew and I’m trying to make sure eveything coordinates. I ended up collecting lots of pictures on pinterest of capsule wardrobes as inspiration. My downfall however is walking into a fabric shop and getting distracted. Bit like a magpie really, it’s like “ooooooo, shiny!!”


Wow, I love your Pinterest board! Great idea.

I’ve always found capsule wardrobes extremely useful… I think I’ll do another palette challenge here soon to help me think about them more!


extremely jealous over here in NY.

i just went through my closet, and i’ve decided that for every new garment i sew (that i like) i have to remove one old piece of RTW, especially since most of it is cheapo bargain stuff in the first place. this has made me think more about the fabric i’m buying– i think i’m stepping up my price point of 5 bucks a yard :)

your dressing room peeks are gorgeous!


I’ve done something similar. For every new thing I bring into the house, I have to get rid of something. I’ve grown to fear clutter.

I think that as we get older, we realize that quantity is not the key to dressing well (or dressing in a way that makes you happy).

Gail Ann Thompson

Hello, there Oonaballoona!

You live in NY? How far to Mood Fabrics? I’m the jealous one…

I can’t find it on the website, just now, but I KNOW there was a list of “Resources” here at one time. Those of us who live in MidAmerica have SO MUCH TROUBLE locating finer fabrics. Yes, they are, definitely, worth stepping up the ‘price point’. The Pendleton Plaids, I mentioned in my post, I’ve been collecting over the past 5 years, mainly from e-bay. Yes, there have been some disappointments. But, Oh Well, I’ve made a few disappointing purchases in RTW, in my time.

The lady who taught me to sew, the Summer of 1965, told me “You can’t ruin a really fine piece of fabric!” She was wrong, of course, but the thought made me BRAVE…..


Hmm, maybe you’re thinking of the links that were in the sidebar on the old blog? There were only a few, I think…

Or maybe our stockists page? It has lots of great shops!


I’m hoping to eventually get a couple of racks to hold my clothing–I hate having it shoved in a closet where I can’t see it! Although this spring I reorganized things by garment-type and then color (much like you ;), which has made picking outfits so much easier. In my dreamworld, I think my wardrobe would have a perfect balance of eccentric, vintage pieces in sweet prints (especially 40s blouses and rayon daydresses in novelty prints; I have such a weakness for those!) with basics in “non-basic colors” such as deep purple, medium blue, green and gold) that would go with the majority of separates I have. I’d also have far more cute, well made shoes–I’m weaning myself off of my early 20s addiction to cheap footwear. My knees just don’t like it anymore! ;) I’d also inject a bit more color into my purses–that is one area I’m terribly boring.

Slowly my ideal wardrobe is actually becoming reality. I’ve made an effort over the past year to scrutinize what I already have, what I buy and how it all fits together. I’ve really built up my costume jewelry and vintage scarf collections, which was a goal I made at the start of 2011. Next up: basics! I think sewing definitely makes it easier to attain an ideal wardrobe, even though it may take a bit more time and effort. ;)


The shoe thing has been huge for me. I got rid of at least ten pairs of shoes before we moved into the house. Some were quite lovely, but I just didn’t wear them for one reason or another.

I’ve been wearing the same pair of natural colored platform sandals all summer. They’re super comfy and go with everything. They were expensive, but it is SO nice having a pair of go-to shoes that I can walk in and that look cute. In terms of cost-per-wear, they were a bargain.


What brand are your shoes, out of curiosity (if you don’t mind my asking!)? I’ve got a few pairs of “expensive up front” but worth it shoes that I’ve been collecting the past year. Knowing how nice it is to have quality footwear has really helped curb being tempted to buy cheaper shoes. ;)


They are Kork Ease! Super duper comfy and I get compliments on them all the time. They have a very 70s look, but seem to work with a lot of things.


Ooooh, I’m so jealous that you have your own dressing room all to yourself!

I don’t sew yet, but I’m constantly drooling all over sewing blogs & I’m determined to learn someday soon, when we can afford a sewing machine + accoutrements. Plus I’m in the process of losing quite a bit of weight and most of the clothes that fit currently are cheap & boring transition-y things.

My ideal wardrobe would involve way more dresses & skirts than I have now, and way more vintage or repro vintage or vintage inspired styles. Plus the shoe collection needs an overhaul… I only have 2 work-appropriate pairs of closed toe shoes and closed toes are now a requirement at my job.

Sigh… a girl can dream, can’t she?


If you’re just learning to sew, skirts are a great place to start! You can make some very simple shapes in awesome fabrics, even as a complete beginner.

Michael Ann

I loved this post and I loved even more reading everyone’s comments! I’ve been thinking a lot about my closet since back to school season means I’m back to work. Being only one year out of college, my “professional” wardrobe is quite small, as is my budget, and I’ve been trying to be smart about growing it. I love the idea of actually making a list of everything I have, then making a list of everything I want to acquire/sew, now I know what I’m doing this weekend!


Me too! I’m totally inspired to design some pieces to sew for Fall now. :)


I go through my wardrobe all the time and try to pare things down to what I really love. But I have to admit that I’ve never actually done it by color and I find that I end up with many a white elephant because I don’t have anything to coordinate with my favorite garments. I’ve been thinking alot about my Fall wardrobe this year and am interested in doing a similar palette idea to your Spring Palette Challenge. It really helps to have coordinating items that flow together well and easily.


Cool, because I’m definitely planning another one for the Fall!

Jennifer B

I love jeweled fall colors. I use dark chocolate brown for my neutral instead of black. So much warmer. Chocolate goes with deep red, rich blues and my favorite deep sage greens. I always end up getting more blues in summer clothes – maybe blue and white seersucker is just so classic? That’s about as much of a pattern as I get.
I’m working on a pale pink linen shirt at the moment. A little out of my comfort zone, but it will still go with everything. It’s so much easier to plan things when most of my clothes mix.
I’ve sewn most of my clothes for years, including lingerie. I just can’t find what I want in the stores. I stopped worrying about the cost of $5 vs $12 / yd fabric a while ago. 3 yards in a typical dress, so $15 vs $36? Still cheaper than anything you could buy and it will fit perfectly. A little higher price and I might do a muslin! I like natural fabrics best, tencel, linen and cotton.
Weeding out early atrocious sewing mistakes is my hardest thing to do. I tell myself, it may be the perfect color and just my style, but 10 years ago I just couldn’t sew or fit as well! I still have that pile of rejects…


Perfect timing! Planing my wardrobe is a big topic on my agenda. Pretty much all my tops are ‘going byebye’ right now, so I’m analysing my preferences and habits right now to make the best choices possible when sewing/buying new (2nd hand?) tops. We have a teeny tiny closet so I strive for the perfect ‘wear it all’ wardrobe with just enough of everything so I don’t have to hurry laundry.

While I love dresses I do wear skirts more often (like all the time) because, as a biker, I find it easier just to wash my sweaty top and wear the skirt again than having to wash a whole dress right away -> less laundry on laundry day.
I love to wear cardis, twin sets if possible, otherwise pretty blouses (not the guys stuff) or (alomost) sleeveless shirts, longsleeves in winter. Some coats of course, a pair of pants or two for winter and lots of nice scarves. A few well-chosen purses in all sizes and everything-goes-color (which would be light to medium brown). Same for shoes. Just enough of everything I need and to give the shoes a rest!


I have been slowly sewing myself new pieces for my wardrobe from my huge stash of apparel fabric. The blog, The Vivienne Files ( has really helped me narrow down my choices of what to make and helped me find what I was missing, which happens to be tops…I’m top-deprived! I’ve found her ideas of keeping it simple with a three to four color palette has been wonderfully freeing.


Wow, I just took a look at this link, and it is brilliant. She even had a wardrobe in the colour palette I’m planning for Spring/Summer – abalone shell! (I’m in New Zealand, so coming into Spring, not Fall – though you wouldn’t think it this week. SNOW, eek!)


Agree with Wendy, this blog looks awesome! She’s like an online personal shopper / blogger.


This is a timely post for me too. I’ve been thinking a lot about my fall wardrobe as a way to motivate me loosing baby weight. This is the last baby, so if I can manage the weight loss, I’ll be ready to commit to a long term wardrobe for the first time in 6 years. I’m ready to say good bye to horrible nursing tops and wear dresses again! I’m ready to wear nice clothes again. At this moment, my ideal wardrobe is less about color than about size. But I suppose it would involve plenty of Liberty blouses that I sew and some really classic Jcrew basics, dresses by me and a few Anthropologie staple pieces. I have two Colette patterns in my queue already! But I have to be practical too. I run around after three kids all day. School will be keeping us busy and babies are messy so I need washability and easy care. I also have a few commitments for which I like a professional look. It will be tricky to come up with the right balance of chic and practicality. I’m giving this topic quite a lot of thought and reading other replies eagerly.


Sarai – what a lovely post! This is why I love following your blog – life inspiration. :) You have the most practical and smart advice. I LOVE the idea of one thing in, one thing out, and not just with the wardrobe. Right now I have a full walk-in closet of clothes, but wear only a few staples each week to the office. If I could replace these cheaply made, but classic, staples with my own creations I’d be a happy woman. :)

Patty the snug bug

Funny! I’m heading back to the office after 3 years of being at home/teaching/working in a sewing shop and was super stressed out over what to wear so I took a photo of every single garment today and posted it! I am woefully low on purple and overstocked on zany skirts! Need more sedate, yet colorful casual/work things. And I just happen to have 3 yards of grey and white polka dot asking to be made into something nice…


Ha! I have some grey / white polka dot silk I need to make into something pretty too!

Xenia Katie

I’m getting there! My closet isn’t too huge, yet it makes me happy, and it’s largely because I have so many self-sewn garments. Since I have three kids, sewing time is precious and I don’t have time to goof up on fabric/ pattern choices. The more I sew (or the older i get?) the more I have a sense of what will and won’t work for me.

My goal this fall is to mend/improve current garments and to finish everything in my “WIP” pile. I’d also like to go back and take projects that I rushed through and make them better, more sturdy (finish edges, line, etc.). I’m so glad I have my wool Beignet, my twill Parfait and my Lady Gray coat this year!

One thing my closet is lacking, though, is a suit, or some separates that could work like a suit. It’s probably not practical, given my current situation, but it would be a fun challenge.


I’ve always wanted a vintage-style suit. For YEARS. I have absolutely no occasion to wear suits though, and never have.

Perhaps a cute blazer will do.


I too have recently been purging a ton of items from my wardrobe! I have an added challenge of being someone who is heavily tattooed – I have full sleeves on my arms, and most of my chest and upper back are covered. As someone who has always naturally been drawn to very bright, busy, colorful prints, I’ve been trying to ween myself off of them and stick to basic pieces. My tattoos are bright enough without adding more patterns!

I recently got rid of at least half of my entire wardrobe, if not a little more than that. It was absolutely liberating! Thankfully, there are some consignment/second-hand type stores where I live, so I actually made some money selling my unwanted clothes, then donated whatever they didn’t purchase to the thrift store. It was a win-win!

Since the purge, I’ve been spending a lot more time sewing items for myself. For example, after spending ages unsuccessfully looking for a great basic denim skirt, I decided to just make one myself! Sadly, I don’t have a serger, so I’m a little worried about my seams becoming a frayed mess once I wash it a few times, but otherwise I am thrilled with my first attempt at sewing denim – it’s just the perfect skirt that I couldn’t find anywhere else, and it fits me like a glove!

My focus is definitely about building a wardrobe full of fantastic basics that can be mixed and matched, comfortable, and easy to wear. I’ve been collecting a lot of jersey and linen fabrics lately in solid, deeper colors to use for everyday-type pieces. I actually buy a great deal of my fabrics from the thrift store! These ordinarily expensive fabrics have been running me right around $1 a yard when I get them from the thrift store. Score!

Can I ask some sewing advice? I would very much like to sew myself a winter coat this year. The problem is that my sewing machine doesn’t do well with tackling heavy materials, particularly something like a coat would be a huge problem. Aside from perhaps changing the needle, is there any way to adjust a machine to tackle heavy-weight fabrics? It will be very fussy and not catch the stitches if I were to sew something with more than a layer or two of wool the way it is right now. I live in a cold climate where it’s winter 6 months out of the year, and I always have a hard time finding coats that fit me properly. It would be a godsend to make them myself!


Have you tried a walking foot? My machine is from Brother and sounds like I had the same problem of not getting proper seams, if any at all, if I was trying to sew too many layers or material that was too thick. Getting a walking foot has solved this to a certain extend, at least I could finish my coat!


I like Kate’s suggestion of trying a walking foot. I don’t have one myself (pretty expensive for my machine), but I know many people swear by them.

My only other suggestions would be to use the correct needle and thread and sew slowly!

Some machines aren’t that well equipped for sewing heavy fabrics. I do think a walking foot could be worth trying though!


I really have no clue! I wish I did. I liked how I dressed when I was in law school but have lost it during my international travels. In an effort to fit in everywhere, I’ve lost what I like. And now I’m pregnant (which is a blessing) but I’m a bit all over the place. More bright colors, definitely…

At least I have discovered sewing, which is both a beautiful craft and a skill that will get me to a wardrobe I like…


Well your wardrobe looks lovely, so that would do me just fine! I have a lot of clothes that are a little tight now, but don’t want to get rid of them…just in case…lol
You mentioned natural coloured platform sandals in response to Casey’s comment – I must mention that I almost lived in a pair of these last summer too. They just go with everything – jeans to dresses, safari to nautical – a wardrobe essential I think!
And congratulations on your new book – it looks beautiful!


This is such a wonderful post, Sarai, because it’s made me realise that this is what I need to do with my own wardrobe asap. I love jewel tones and think that these are the colours that suit me best, but I think my wardrobe is lacking a number of well thought out ‘linking’ pieces. I don’t seem to be able to make all the colour in my wardrobe work at the moment. Like you and some of other posters here, when I think of my perfect wardrobe, it isn’t massive or made up of millions of pieces. Rather, it has a core set of perfect-fit basics that make all my bolder pieces work in multiple combinations. I’d then go (more) crazy with stockings, tights, scarfs and jewellery – and shoes. And lots of polka dots, of course.

Sara Upshaw

Until I started sewing for myself, I pretty much had a leftover-from-college wardrobe and had never taken a really critical look at what I was wearing or even what I was buying. I bought cheap pieces on a whim and was regularly taking worn-out things to Goodwill. I think my turning point was really Me Made June. All of a sudden I was showing everyone what I’d made and I realized that ESPECIALLY if I’m going to take the time to make it myself, it had better be something that will build my wardrobe in a strategic way.
Even thought I’m 31 and it seems to me I should know what I like, I still find myself being a bit of a wanna-be as I continue to see all the amazing things other ladies in this community are sewing (aka “that dress is pretty, I should make it too!”). The only things I know are that I love variety in color. I can pull off “cute” in prints and style, but I want a range of cute to sophisticated. I want comfort and flexibility because I have two toddlers, but I don’t want that to mean t-shirts and jeans every day.
You’r plan sounds good, can I just copy yours? oh, there I go again… :)


Ha! I think a lot of us feel that way about our style. The 30s seem like the age where we develop more of a sense of what we like. At least it’s been that way for me.

Brandy Layton

I love a colorful wardrobe. Mine is pretty well balanced but very limited as not too long a ago I donated tons of clothing after the birth of my baby. I just hate the way clothes fit my ever changing body. My ideal wardrobe would be interchangeable, colorful, with modern takes on vintage style. I have tons of shoes, but I really want to narrow them down, there are too many that need specific types of clothing, I want interchangeable shoes too. Now the ticker is my dainties drawer and my nightgown drawer….sigh I really need to update it with handmade ones that I will love. I would love to have a dressing room in the future where I could easily see everything I have. I wish I had the confidence to make nursing undergarments that flatter my clothing choices better too…


My recent sewing kick is all about fixing up my wardrobe! My goal is to make all the pieces that I need and want!

Specifically: more nice casual (dress-casual?) pieces that are very mix and match. Patterned tops and plain bottoms, brighter tops (I have a lot of dark colors), and nicer coats (less sweatshirts). I don’t have to dress professionally for work, but I like to look nice. And right now I feel like I have a lot of “nice” that I like, but they’re just outfits and don’t mix well. Also, I was a t-shirts&jeans girl all through high school and college…so that’s been hard to entirely remove from my closet…but in recent years I’ve taken to being more “girlie” — wearing dresses and skirts, and buying more vintage and new-vintage pieces.

I love the idea of having more lingerie and cute lounge clothes also! And more cute shoes! Flats and kitten-heels! (No car + walking everywhere + Seattle rain = sensible shoes and boots…but I’m starting to care less about being practical, so maybe I’ll throw in some heels too…)


I love heels. They don’t really mesh with my lifestyle all that well, but I love them. I find a good pair of platforms in the summer and comfy heeled boots in the Winter allow me to have a little height while still being able to walk around in rainy Portland.

And cute rain boots are a must for me too these days.


I hate most of my wardrobe at the moment – it’s full of old, tatty, and ill-fitting clothes (mostly jeans and t shirts too). I don’t like much of the things I see in the shops, which is what has brought me to this site. I love everything I’ve seen on here, especially the fact that it’s so smart and tailored, so you’re inspiring me to learn to sew just as soon as I can afford to. My dream wardrobe would have classic pieces that suit me from as many eras as I can. I love the shoes in the far right of your picture, I think my perfect wardrobe would have ones just like it (even if with a smaller heel!).

Gail Ann Thompson

Am I sensing a theme here??
Too many clothes, of poor quality and lacking in style….
Tired of blue jeans, t-shirts, and sweatshirts….
Lacking polish, and things that ‘go together’…

Are we, perhaps, witnessing an end of an era?
The era of bargan shopping for cheap clothing…

I foresee the birth of a new era.
Ladies feeling most ‘comfortable’ when dressing well…
Proud, happy, confident, and satisfied wearing the evidence of our individual talents, skills, and taste…..

Yes, Sarai, I do think the ‘resources’ list was in a side bar of the old blog. Perhaps you could re-visit it.


This post is such a well-timed kick in the pants for me. I spend so much time sewing for others, that I always push projects for me to the side. I’m short and petite, so off-the-rack clothes are often not an option for me, so I really should be sewing more. I have the skills, so there’s no reason that I shouldn’t be working–a little bit at a time–to craft my own ideal wardrobe! :)


This post AND the comments are inspiring!
Cleaning out my closet / assessing what I have is high on my to-dolist for next month. I did a purge last year, but I still have way too many clothes. My problem is not throwing out clothes I don’t wear, it’s to pair down the clothes I love. I think I’m going to do this gradually and have my rule be “for every two items coming in, three have to go out”.
A change for me this year was that I started wearing nicer things when at home. They’re not fancy, just comfy skirts and nice tops instead of sweatpants and t-shirts. That’s already a lovely upgrade in my life :)
I also invested in stockings and tights since I ‘m such a skirt girl and would always have trouble finding the right tight to match my skirt or dress…
Next up: I’m starting the job search next month. I would love to sew myself a capsule working wardrobe, but I’m afraid that if I won’t be jobless for very long I’ll end up having to quickly buy some appropriate clothes…
We’ll see! Does anyone know about nice reference blogs for what a stylish wardrobe for work could look like? I could use some inspiration! I’d like a few nice jackets and skirts and I should have some working tops as well. Here’s what I’m wondering:
– Do all tops for work (in office jobs) need to be button-up shirts? What kind of fabric are decent looking tops without buttons made of?
– Would dresses be a no-no for work?
– Should I have pants? I’m wondering about the gender implications that go with skirts (would it be different for different shapes of skirts?) and how that would influence people’s view of me unconsciously.
– I got a color analysis and the palette that flatters me doesn’t include black, grey, blue or white. Would not wearing “normal” colors be a disadvantage as to people’s unconscious perception of me?
Anyway, I’m totally up for that Fall Palette Challenge Sarai :)


I would have to say that I seem to have acheived my Ideal Wardrobe! Over the last couple of years I have honed my style, weeded out unflattering items, and aquired new ones that fit my colour palette and personal sense of style. Problem is, I still find cute things out there and I still love to sew, so even though I really don’t need any new stuff (at all really!) I will still get new stuff!!! Also, I have a dressing room too – and I just love to sit on the floor and gaze up at all my pretty clothes. Silly maybe, but at least I get to enjoy them all even it some of them don’t get worn as often!

Miriam Harling

I like the blouse you are showing with the little collar and the shorter
puff sleeve. I notice it only goes to size 18. Do you have something similar in size 2X. Do you do mail order?

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