How to invest cleverly after purging your wardrobe - building your signature style in five steps

So here I am, after the big wardrobe purge. My closet looks cleaner than ever, all tops, bottoms, dresses and vests are clearly visible and long for being paired into new outfits. New, inspiring combinations, new ideas and a new signature style are right there, waiting for me. If it was not for one thing.... I do not like my current clothes anymore. While one part of me feels relieved and free after getting rid of the clutter, the other one is clueless what to do now. 

Now what? What to do with the clothes that made the cut? I know them all, I know them well. These are the items I wear all the time, the 20% of my wardrobe that were in constant use while another 80% tried to suffocate them, battling for room with them.
Now that I can see them clearly, now that they do not have to fight for their space anymore, this is what makes the situation difficult. My eyes are not distracted anymore. They are focused on what is there. And that - right now - is just not inspiring me. 
I want to do something about it. I want to start into my new, minimalist wardrobe life with the most amazing, stylish and admirable wardrobe I ever had. Hell yeah, I will become one of those that we admire on pinterest for their fashion sense! 

Does that sound familiar to you? 

Purging your wardrobe can have this effect. You are left with only a few items so naturally, you take each item and look at it through a magnifying glass. You start questioning them. Do not get me wrong, this is most definitely a good thing. Here is your chance to start over. Now is the time to develop yourself as a personal brand. Go for a style that is truly yours, unique and fitting you like a glove! 
BUT: this is also a tempting opportunity to run for the shops, buy stuff and before you know it, your closet is as cluttered as before, and you are still left asking yourself what all these clothes really mean to and say about you. 

Let's do it differently this time! 

After my initial purge, I was left with 45 items that I wore frequently and used to the max. That was why I kept them. But that did not mean I loved them. They fitted me, they were still in wearable condition (if you apply this term generously) and so they stayed. But these were almost all items I had for years and some of them just did not reflect me anymore. I am in my mid-thirties now and cute little girl is not the message I want to convey anymore. And while I had a bad itching for a moment to go shopping immediately, this time I stopped myself and reflected. My new wardrobe should be fitting me, my lifestyle and my idea of fashion. 

So this is how I kept myself from the immediate shopping frenzy and started inventing myself as a brand. Follow these five simple steps and you will soon have the wardrobe you really want:

1) No shopping for three weeks. Live with what you have. I started to play dress-up one night when the mister was out. While most of my clothes were not really inspiring at first glance, I forced myself to give them a chance. Also, having a glass of pinot with it made the whole thing more bearable. So I took everything out and started pairing things. The more pinot, the more daring the combinations. But this is a good thing. Try out whatever you want, search for the limits in your wardrobe and style, looks for unexpected combinations. 
Then, pick your favourites. Make selfies while wearing them so you have your own scrapbok to go back to. 

2) Evaluate. After three weeks, two bottles of pinot and some "shop your wardrobe" sessions, I had a pretty good idea of the clothes I had left and how they work together. And I knew what I missed. Write down what clothes you are itching for, what you thought most about getting in those three weeks. Would a white blouse add five more options to your wardrobe? Did you find yourself searching for a casual blazer in the closet only to find out you do not own one? Jot down everything you kept fantasizing about.

3) Evaluate some more. Now that you know what you have and what you want, think about your choices critically. If you would buy these items, would they get you closer to achieving your own personal style? Or do you want them because they are in style right now and simply in your face all the time? Think about you. What is your current lifestyle? Student? Stay-at-home mom? Executive? Scientist? What qualities do your garments have to have to fit you and you style the best? Does it make sense for you as a farmer to own ten pairs of high heels?Would these garments still be a good investment a year from now? Two years from now?

4) Get inspired. So you know what you have and want, you evaluated your current lifestyle and your future perspectives. Now is the time to get inspired. Get out there on the world wide web. Look through google pictures, youtube, pinterest, read blogs and magazines. What style inspires you? Who do you consider a well-dressed person? Start making a scrapbook from all these sources. Are there any items or combinations, any style that keeps coming back? Chances are, you will find a pattern. Use this pattern to your advantage. Once you retract yourself from the fashion industry and shops that tell you what we should like and start looking for what it is you actually enjoy, this is when we made conscious decisions.

5) Get cracking. Now go back to your shopping list. Look at the items you wrote down as crucial additions to your wardrobe. Do they fit that style you are going for? If not, do not buy them. They are quick fixes and in the end will be piling up in your wardrobe as useless and unloved clutter. Those pieces that fit your style are now worthwhile buying. Go look for them and get them. Still, I advise you to shop smart. Sales are on pretty much once every season and you may be able to snap up a pair of new pumps cheaper if you wait just a bit longer. Also, Rome was not build in a day, as we say here. Be patient, yes I know that sucks. But it is true. By starting with a few new pieces you can basically "test-drive" your style. See if what you decided on works out for you in daily life. If not, you have room for adjustment. 

With these five simple steps in mind, I start to make real progress. So far, I am somewhere between step 3 and 4, with a pretty clear idea in my mind on what style I am aiming for. And I can tell you, I already culled a few pieces from my shopping list as they will most definitely not get me there.