A fashion and style blog for the over 40s covering body shapes, colour palettes, how to wear neutrals, style personality and capsule wardrobes. Come on in!


Putting The X-Factor Back In To Your Wardrobe (ALERT: this could change the way you shop forever)

Images borrowed from Boden. All items currently in stock here

It's that time of year when our nesting instinct kicks in and it suddenly seems important that every cupboard is cleaned, mattresses turned and curtains washed. Well ok, may be not the last one, I always think it's easier to move house when the curtains need washing. Mind you, the full to bursting wardrobe needs attention. Does yours?

Lying in bed the other night, I had one of those light bulb moments that I thought I'd share with you. You'll find wardrobe decluttering tips in abundance on the internet (472,000 to be precise) and I'm sure they cover much the same thing. But there's one little extra that I'd like to add which could change the way you shop....forever. Nothing like setting myself up for a fall hey?

Ok, let's crack on.

So you're going to create 5 piles of clothes from your wardrobe. Take each item out and decide which pile to put it in. These are:

1. The Rag & Bone Pile

These are items that aren't fit for human wear. Moth ridden jumpers, ripped jeans (I mean crotch rip, not designer rip), grey faded t-shirts....you get the picture. Stuff you'd be too embarrassed to donate anywhere!

2. The Charity/Ebay Pile

Items that you no longer want but there's still value in them. You can sort out what goes where at a later date. I normally throw everything on Ebay and what doesn't sell is then shipped off to charity. They may not be the height of fashion but they're clean and don't require mending. Charities are always grateful for all donations and don't forget even if they don't sell them in the shop, they may still sell them by weight to a textile recycler).

3. The 'I'm Not Sure' Pile

Those jeans that you've been trying to slim back into for 5 years (be realistic, it ain't happening), put these in pile number 3. That over-sized chunky jumper that looked amazing on your celebrity icon but makes you look well, kind of over-sized and chunky, chuck this in too. Anything that doesn't fit properly, isn't flattering or is generally a pants colour, turf it out and put in the pile. Stuff that you're unlikely to wear but can't bear to part with.

You're going to throw everything into a bin liner, pop it under the bed or in the bottom of your wardrobe and forget about it for 6 months. I can 99.9% guarantee that you won't have missed anything in there so you'll feel much happier about moving these to the no.2 pile above next time you declutter.

4. The 'Hey I Made The Cut' Pile

Yep, as it says on the tin. These are items that you want to keep. Check that they're clean and not missing any buttons. We're going for perfection here ladies so deal with them now!

And then the magic happens...

5. The X-Factor Pile

So, you're going to create your wardrobe heroes from pile 4 and for an item of clothing to make this elite club it should fulfil all of the 3 criteria below:

1. It fits and flatters 
2. The colour complements you
3. You really enjoy wearing it

Do this even for your occasion wear. It's not an exercise of how many times you wear something. It's about pulling out your VERY BEST clothes. Hopefully you'll end up with a dozen or so items that are absolutely perfect. If you have a clothes rail, hang them all up, if not just pop them on the door of your wardrobe. It's time to take a closer look to see if there are any themes coming through;

- maybe straight cut shirts or flouncy blouses
- knee length dresses or longer skirts
- is there a dominant colour
- a particular cut or neckline
- what about fabrics - do you have a preference for cashmere or prefer easy care
- now check the labels, do you have a favourite shop

Make a note of these themes because they're going to be important when you shop in future. You know what your hero pieces look like, they're going to be your blue prints from now on. Why would you trade in a perfect wrap dress style (if that's what's in your cut) for a shape that doesn't look anywhere near as good? May be there's a particular colour that crops up a couple of times. Look for more items in this shade in the future. Or you seem to suit 3/4 length sleeves (there are currently 38 styles available on ASOS so you're not limiting your choice).

It was an absolute revelation to me. There were a few themes that I was of course already aware of (nude pink for example is a flattering colour against my skin) but I was surprised by the number of pencil style skirts and dresses. To be honest, I should have known this because it's the best shape for a rectangle but seeing the items lined up was powerful stuff. I certainly won't be shopping for any other shape from now on. So pencil and straight cut it is. Because I've been guilty in the past of experimenting with different shapes and yet none made the X-Factor rail. I've been making do with second best. 

And then my daughter also had a go. Again some of the themes were totally expected; pretty colours and patterns and lots of detail. Most of the items were Top Shop, her go-to shop. And nearly all the tops were polyester. Easy care! She leads far too busy a life to bother about ironing so cotton shirts and silks end up at the bottom of the laundry pile. One thing she'll take away from this exercise is to buy easy care fabrics from now on.

So what do you think to my little idea? 

It's a great way to discover YOU. 

Three things I often talk about are all taken into consideration by creating your X-Factor pile. Let's have a look at the criteria again:

1. It fits and flatters - it suits your body shape
2. The colour complements you - it's undoubtedly in your colour palette
3. You really enjoy wearing it - your style personality

Genius! You've discovered YOU using your own clothes. My work here is done.

Unless of course you have nothing in your X-Factor pile, maybe you could use the reverse theory and make a list of what to avoid like the plague in future!!!! I'll leave that one with you 😐

15 comments on "Putting The X-Factor Back In To Your Wardrobe (ALERT: this could change the way you shop forever)"
  1. I'm planning a wardrobe declutter at the weekend so definitely going to apply this method. Genius!! X

  2. What a brilliant idea!! Eager to give it a try. 👍👍

  3. Love the ideas in this post - so useful! In the back of my mind I have ideas about the shapes, colours etc that suit me best, but this is a fantastic way of clarifying things so I can be much more selective when shopping and avoid buying things that look great on other people, but not me! Thank you :)) X

    1. Thanks Carrie, this was exactly my intention, to focus women's minds on their own shape and colouring rather than 'borrowing' from someone else who may be entirely different x

  4. GENIUS!!!!! Bloody love it!

  5. GENIUS!!!!! Bloody love it!

  6. A light bulb moment indeed! I had listed my best buys of the year to focus my shopping mind but this goes a leap further, thanks! Helen x

  7. Awesome post! I picked out my x factor pieces and saw such themes! Turns out a bell or full/pleated/Aline skirt are my go-to, I mean I knew I liked them but probably would have said pencil was my best shape. Same with dresses, I'd have said sheath but actually fit and flare are the hero piece for this slim hourglass. Thanks!

    1. It's bizarre how much it focuses the mind isn't it Lizzie. I went shopping yesterday with a mission...sadly didn't buy much but at least I didn't come back with something that's less than perfect x

  8. Oh my goodness I need to do this Donna! That's my Saturday sorted. Love that it will also make me make better choices when I am shopping too xx

    1. It really focusses the mind Kareema. I walked away from so many lovely things yesterday when I was at the Trafford Centre because the shape didn't appear on my X-Factor rail! x