Defining Your Dream Wardrobe

When you go on vacation, you don’t just get in the car and start driving, hoping you’ll get somewhere exciting, right?  You pick the destination first and then figure out the best way to get there.  So before you dive in and start making changes in your wardrobe, let’s give some thought to the look you want to create.  Here are two exercises to get you started:

Exercise #1 – Say This … Not That.

What are the descriptors you’d like to overhear people using to talk about your appearance?  And what are the words you’d never want to hear them use?

For myself, I’d like to have people say words like: Always Polished, Put-together, Contemporary, Classic but Distinctive, Refined, Sleek, Shapely, Just a Bit of an Edge

And I’d NEVER want to hear: Romantic, Frilly, Rustic, Sporty, Trendy, Extreme, Glitzy, Over the Top

Those descriptors lead me to outfits like this when I need to be dressed up – for community service meetings, religious services, luncheons and client meetings.


Or to looks like these – dark wash skinny jeans or ponte leggings with shaped tops – for casual situations.


Those outfits may not be your look at all — but can you see how they fit my set of key words, and none of the words I listed as “don’t want to hear.”?

Spend a bit of time this week defining your word list.  Then search through catalog pictures, magazine photos and even your own closet to identify examples of garments and accessories that align with your word list.

Exercise #2 – Toward/Away From

What elements of your wardrobe would you like to have more of?  Less of?

Here are two examples of things I’d like to have more in my wardrobe (ie: move toward) –

  • Shaped single-layer tops (I’ve been hanging out in tanks with over-layer tops and cardigans to disguise a few extra pounds, but those shapeless, oversized layers  make me feel matronly and a bit sloppy.)
  • Nice casual shoes ( I have an enviable collection of pumps and booties and I love wearing both of those styles.  But when I need a more casual shoe there is only one pair of clogs or my running shoes – leaving a big gap between the looks.)

And I’d like to move away from:

  • Too-small bras (I was a plain C cup before menopause, darn it!)
  • Button-up white shirts (I know they are supposed to be a Must Have, but they never look or feel good on me – and the bright white is just too strong for my coloring.
  • Sloppy, worn-out exercise clothes. (The gym I go to isn’t a fashion event by any means, but I feel better looking nicer, so it’s time for some new yoga pants and tops.)

What closet items bring you joy and what items drain your energy? What do you want to move toward and what are you ready to leave behind?

I look forward to hearing your key words and your wardrobe objectives in the COMMENTS section below.  Then use those words to guide your first round of closet purging.  A wardrobe is one place where less is definitely MORE.  What can you get rid of because it simply doesn’t fit your target style?




About Nancy Nix Rice

I help other women feel confident about how they look every day - regardless of their age, budget, lifestyle or the size tag in their pants - so they put wardrobe concerns on the back burner and go share their gifts with the world.


  1. Sue P. on January 25, 2017 at 6:03 am

    The black dress in the dressy category above with the floral cascade down the front is really beautiful. Hope that’s one you own, not just a picture! And of course it’s perfect to hide wide sides if one has them.

    It’s so amusing to me to see the current fashion trend for women to be sleeveless in the middle of winter, while the guys are insulated in suits and ties. Thanks for your much more usable ideas.

    • Nancy Nix Rice on January 26, 2017 at 7:34 am

      How I wish I actually owned that dress. It was already sold out when I spotted it on Polyvore. I’m searching for a panel print to make one line it, but may have to settle for a border print and asymmetrical emphasis rather than center front. Because I can sew my own, I can add some diagonal drape for a little tummy camouflage.

  2. Cat R on January 25, 2017 at 7:11 am

    I completely understand the white shirt comment. I see that listed as a must have and I want to gag. I don’t look good in it nor feel good in it. Makes me think I’m wearing part of a uniform or something. Those “must have lists” are not for everyone!

    • Nancy Nix Rice on January 26, 2017 at 7:28 am

      Must-Have lists are mostly for retailers. If they convince us all that there is a limited range of pieces we should all have, then there is a limited array of items they need to carry. Their inventory risk goes way down, profits go up. And when we don’t feel good about how we look, what do we do? Go buy more of their Must-Haves. Craziness!

  3. Mary Oppy on January 25, 2017 at 7:35 am

    “sophisticated, cute, attractive, the right accessories; GREAT”
    toward: well fitting outfits I sew myself= 2 pair pants and 2 shorts this year
    away from too many clothes in the closet that are too small

    • Nancy Nix Rice on January 26, 2017 at 7:24 am

      You have clothes in your closet that are too small? I never heard that before. NOT! It is one of the most comment problems I hear. What a lousy way to start every morning, thinking about which of the things facing you in the closet don’t fit. Getting them out of the house is ideal, but at least getting them out of your active closet is Job #1. You’ll feel better immediately, I promise.
      Then you can turn your attention to updating your accessories and sewing great-fitting pants.

  4. Ellen K on January 25, 2017 at 7:51 am

    In my mind I would love to see myself as a well put together classic. During my working days in Denver and DC that was my goal. However,today I live in a rural area where jeans, tees and sweatshirts are the norm as are running shoes and work boots. Dresses and skirts are rarely seen. New jeans are considered “dressy”. To add to that, I’m vertically challenged and 75. And I’m NOT into what I consider “grandma” clothes, i.e., knit pants with matching or coordinated over blouses. I’m not overweight but time and the forces of gravity have turned my hourglass into a rectangle. Plus, my knees and back no longer permit me to wear heels. I would love to hear your thoughts on dressing well for vertically challenged women of a certain age. I have your books (first and second editions) and love the inspiriation they provide.

    • Nancy Nix Rice on January 26, 2017 at 7:11 am

      I can promise you LOTS of info on dressing taller/trimmer will be coming your way. That is my issue too, so I can barely make any wardrobe recommendation without taking that factor into account. For now, let me just say that you have my official permission to dress with a little more polish than others around you. Bravo to you and all the other women “of a certain age” who are committed to looking their personal best.

      • Laura Smith on February 9, 2017 at 9:59 am

        This is great. I enjoy how every week is a new issue, instead of one overwhelming list of things to do. My key words are fun, buoyant, glowing, happy, approachable, fresh, feminine, educated. If I pick a symbol, it would be “sunshine”. Words that do not apply to me are classic, tailored, contemporary, cautious, conservative. I have assembled a “dressy capsule” and am now focusing on a casual capsule for spring/summer. I do best when I start with the shoes. Yesterday I found a pair of light weight round toe, camel, beige, and bronze Sperry Topsiders with gold laces. I am working on a pair of camel velveteen slim pants. May wear them to the Puyallup Sew Expo. Hope to see you there.

        • Nancy Nix Rice on February 9, 2017 at 10:07 am

          Those shoes certainly sound like they fit your target words perfectly. Of course I’ll be at the EXPO and look forward to seeing them!

  5. Joan Cavin on January 25, 2017 at 1:23 pm

    I can’t get over how similar our key words are! However, my coloring is quite different from yours so I added key words to reflect colors to avoid completely and colors to focus on as basic components of my wardrobe.

    • Nancy Nix Rice on January 26, 2017 at 7:05 am

      AMEN to the critical importance of color! It is absolutely the foundation of an optimal wardrobe and we’ll talk a lot about it in future lessons. Interesting that you modified your descriptive words to reflect the color part of the equation. What exactly are your words?

  6. Susan Cottey on January 25, 2017 at 5:37 pm

    My wardrobe objectives are to have a nice casual (stay at home) wardrobe. I’m retired and still wearing my worn-out exercise clothes at home. Maybe have a take on dressy sweats. (I saw a pic of a mid-rise sweatshirt with “tailored” sweatpants. The pants have a zipper and button for waist, the sweatshirt would have to be a bit longer to cover my middle.

    • Nancy Nix Rice on January 26, 2017 at 7:03 am

      This is a common theme – looking good outside of the career world. I work from home a lot myself, and just live in ponte knit pants and 2-layer tops. A good quality ponte holds its shape – unlike saggy-baggy sweatpants or other cheap knits – and can often have a sleek pull-on waist finish that is both comfy and smooth. (If you happen to sew your clothes, watch for more details about sewing ponte in coming issues.)
      For bodies with “middle management” issues, I especially like layering an unbuttoned top over a tank or cami to call attention away from the contoured area and move a viewer’s eye vertically toward the face. A removable foam shoulder pad also pulls attention away from tummy fullness.

  7. Abby on January 25, 2017 at 6:35 pm

    My wardrobe just went through a short-term overhaul, and it’s about to go through some more permanent major changes out of necessity. I’m 8.5 months pregnant with my first, so I have a very small, well-curated maternity wardrobe, and I’m going to need a larger (but hopefully still well-curated) working mama wardrobe.

    Things I want people to say about me: Put together, approachable, sexy, feminine, slightly edgy (a lot of my ideal clothing looks like some of the things you posted above, especially the navy fit-and-flare dress and the surplice top). Things I don’t want people to say about my appearance: Frumpy, childish, slutty, bohemian, trendy, boring, artsy, gaudy, funky, messy

    Elements I’d like/need more of in my wardrobe:
    – Breastfeeding-friendly tops/dresses (surplice, cowl-neck, stretchy, etc.)
    – Blazers
    – Casual shoes & quality flats
    – Good-fitting nursing bras (I’ve changed sizes quite a bit since I got pregnant)
    Elements I’d like less of:
    – Clothes with holes, stains, and visible wear
    – Strappy cotton camisoles (like to replace with higher-quality tanks)
    – Sloppy pajamas (no one sees them, but I’d like to feel feminine and pretty while lounging at home)

    • Nancy Nix Rice on January 26, 2017 at 6:55 am

      Exciting time in your life Abby! The coordination lessons you’ve learned form building your maternity wardrobe should serve you well while creating your new-mom look. Since your body will be changing a lot over the first few months, think about shopping resale for transitional pieces that you can donate back when your body returns to its normal size and shape and you are ready to invest in more permanent additions to your closet.
      Bravo for itching the visibly worn and stained pieces and the sloppy PJs. How we look to ourselves and our nearest-and-dearest matters a lot. I remember well the effort it took to look put-together as a new mom (although my twins are coming up on their 29th birthday – yikes!) but we are worth it.

  8. Phyllis Hughes on January 25, 2017 at 6:57 pm

    My words would be classy, elegant, and comfortable. The words I don’t want to hear are sloppy, frumpy, and matronly. I don’t want to look like I’m 64 trying to look 20; I just want to look the best 64 I can.

    I haven’t worn dresses or skirts much in years, so I would like to add those to my wardrobe. I had gotten out of the habit of wearing pantyhose, but recently realized that I look better with them under my dress pants than knee highs. They aren’t as hard to get into as I remembered. Shoes are a particular problem since I can’t wear heels (which I love) and must have good arch support.

    I make all of my clothes and tend to relegate my “older” work clothes to be my casual clothes. That means that they look tired and worn out and do not do much for me. I really need to do some sewing specifically for casual clothes.

    Finally, my major down fall is accessories. I just can’t put together outfits. Necklaces are too heavy on my neck and scarves make me feel hot. Bracelets get in my way, so get pulled off half way through the day. That leaves me with earrings, purses, and shoes. Love purses, but really hate shopping for shoes.

    Is it possible to get to that “elegant lady” status for me?

    • Nancy Nix Rice on January 26, 2017 at 6:46 am

      You packed a lot into one comment, Phyllis. It sounds as if you’ve already made progress toward your “elegant lady” self. (And by the way, there isn’t an expiration date on our desire or ability to look our best.) I couldn’t agree more about pantyhose. I understand if a client prefers not to wear them, but many women look somehow unfinished with nicer clothes and bare legs. I don’t find them uncomfortable at all. Curious that many gals who disdain pantyhose are fine with tights, which are essentially the same thing. You already read that I’m on a nice-casual shoe quest myself, so more about that issue later.
      Your comments about your casual vs. work wardrobe are interesting. It is quite possible to re-mix pieces across that imaginary dividing line. For instance I usually start a wardrobe grouping with skirt/pant/top/jacket in a solid ponte knit. (The ponte gives you a polished look while being about as comfy as pajamas.) Then I can toss more casual tops or sweaters over those plain bottoms for an in-between look – dressier casual or more relaxed career – or pop the jacket over jeans and a tee to upgrade that casual look a bit. Adding a scarf is a great way to pull a look together, and if you drape it under the jacket lapel it isn’t touching your body and shouldn’t add warmth. Of course great earrings add a ton of presence (to casual looks too, BTW) and keep the focus at your face.

  9. Katrina on January 25, 2017 at 7:02 pm

    The first exercise is interesting because I’m usually more interested in how I feel that in what other people think. If I say “comfortable”, “casual”, and “modest” according to my own instincts, this could easily read as “frumpy” to others. If I add “creative” and “confident” to the list of words, I think it vastly improves the verbal and visual image.

    I’m still working on the second exercise, but I know for sure I need to move away from skirts. I have way too many, and rarely wear them!

    • Nancy Nix Rice on January 26, 2017 at 6:27 am

      Good insights Katrina! It’s not all about dressing to impress others, but an occasional look at ourselves from that outside perspective can be eye opening. I love your realization that looking “comfortable, casual and modest” doesn’t preclude “creative and confident”. I’ll look forward to seeing examples of how you blend all your words into a unified look over the coming weeks.

  10. Miriam on January 25, 2017 at 8:08 pm

    I like the words classic modern, put together, consistent, tailored, preppy casual, and unfussy–to describe how I dress. To be more true to these, I want to steer away from boyfriend jeans and plain t-shirts. I’d also like to have more casual pants and combinations with tops that are comfortable enough to work from home, but preppy enough to go out on errands. I rarely go to the office, so the half-closet full of dark suits and blouses is not getting used.

    • Nancy Nix Rice on January 26, 2017 at 6:20 am

      You make a great point. Even in jeans-and-a-top situations you can pick flattering jeans and cute, interesting tops. How we feel about our appearance – even when nobody else sees us – has a big impact on our attitude and energy. I realized that anew when we recently had a big ice storm and I hung around the house for 3 days in grungy old sweats and no makeup – and felt “blah” the whole time.
      About those unworn suits – try splitting them up and wearing the pants or skirts with casual tops and the jackets – sleeves pushed up – over jeans and a tee. That won’t work with every jacket, but it can probably give some of them a new life and give your wardrobe a no-cost boost at the same time.

  11. Joan Riley on January 26, 2017 at 8:28 pm

    I have been retired but am back to work part time. I just turned 73, am short and rather heavy. I love to sew my own clothes because I can get the style and fit not found in my size. My words are: soft, subtle blended prints, muted colors, flowing and fluid lines. Really the first criteria with anything I put on my body is “comfortable.”

    One of my criteria for new things is does it make “angels sing” a phrase I learned in a workshop with you in Portland.

    Words I don’t want to hear frumpy, dowdy, sloppy.

    • Nancy Nix Rice on January 26, 2017 at 9:15 pm

      Sounds like you have a good handle on your goal, Joan. You are so fortunate to have the sewing skills to create the sizing and style that you could never find ready-made. Not too much “angel music” on the racks these days.

  12. Kathleen on January 26, 2017 at 10:42 pm

    Wardrobe words I would like to hear: subtle, classic, put together, warm, approachable.
    Would not like to hear: gaudy, bold, overdone, severe

    I’m newly retired and I need a major shift in my wardrobe. I need fewer office casual garments. I had been depending on basic pants in standard neutrals of black, brown, navy and grey topped with an assortment of simple pullover tops sewn from printed fabrics topped with a cardigan when chilly. It sure simplified getting ready for work and I could count on always looking office appropriate. However they’ve all seen a bit of wear and I’m definitely not looking to replace them with more of the same. I would like to have garments with a more pulled together look for church functions and volunteer work and I very much need additional casual garments so that I don’t feel sloppy on stay at home days or when running errands.

    • Nancy Nix Rice on January 28, 2017 at 7:24 am

      You are on the right track. I’ve heard from so many gals who dress more casually these days. It’g great to hear that you realize that doesn’t have to mean sloppy or careless. It is OK to be the best-dressed person in the group. And “well-dressed” doesn’t have to be “dressed up”. For most women, knowing we look good makes us FEEL good – more confident and energized.

  13. CJ on January 28, 2017 at 11:16 am

    Funny when I read your comment about having better clothes for the gym, it struck me that having “nice” gym clothes actually boosts my confidence. I find that I have more energy and get a better workout on the days I wear my gym clothes that fit better and are in my color palette. My new motto is ” you are what you and what you wear”. If I eat better and dress better, I find I am more productive, have more energy and have a better attitude – all which fuel one another to keep the happy cycle turning in the right direction. Thanks for the information and the inspiration!

    • Nancy Nix Rice on January 29, 2017 at 2:02 pm

      That upward spiral is exactly what we’re going for here … sounds like you’re well on your way!

  14. Janice on January 28, 2017 at 4:03 pm

    Great exercise, Nancy, and it appears your audience are similar to me, wanting to dress more smartly than this casual world we now inhabit. My keywords are soft, elegantly casual. Tend to wear skirts and dresses all the time but need to move away from pencil skirts more (5’2″) and bit overweight. I tend to focus on trying to look taller and slimmer so looking forward to this exercise. (Have your books and DVDs so love the clarity of your advice. I live in Melbourne, Australia so summer here.

    • Nancy Nix Rice on January 29, 2017 at 2:06 pm

      I say it all the time: You don’t have to be dressed up to dress well. As for taller/thinner – of course I get that question all the time and we’ll spend considerable time on it through the 52 weeks. The one challenge of a small-steps program is that I’m chomping at the bit to tell everything immediately … but that would defeat the purpose, wouldn’t it?

  15. Julie on January 29, 2017 at 10:54 am

    I would like to look well put together, smart, casual elegance, the best fit possible and the best quality fabrics possible, and most of all, well-dressed. I’m a yoga teacher (very active, six classes a week), and active in my church and community. I need smart casual clothing, fashionable and functional yoga togs, a the occasional nice dress-up look.

    • Nancy Nix Rice on January 29, 2017 at 2:08 pm

      Quality over quantity is a great wardrobe strategy. I’m betting you’re a role model for your students in more than just yoga.

  16. Brenda Foreman on January 29, 2017 at 2:56 pm

    Thank you Nancy for this exercise. I like classic pieces that fit well, a put-together look, polished and not boring. I love shoes and boots, jewelry and scarves. I love to dress up. I still love to wear jeans. I don’t look my age of 62, thank God and good genes, and will never be caught in Sag Harbor clothes or sweatpants. After working out in exercise gear from Good Will, I bought exercise gear that makes me feel great. I never want to be seen as sloppy, frumpy, dowdy, nor matronly. I need to design and sew some nicer casual tops to go with my jeans. I have gotten rid of bags, yes, bags of clothes, but need to cut more out. I will be trying on everything left, to assess how I look and feel, and if not awesome! out it goes. I will remove what I love in a smaller size, as working out will allow me to wear them again — I hope after breaking 3 ribs almost 2 years ago. Have made some changes about colors since you analyzed my colors. I really want to look the best I can, and what’s in the stores just doesn’t do it for me. Oh, and should I also add, I don’t like shopping for clothes?

    • Nancy Nix Rice on January 29, 2017 at 4:54 pm

      I just did some fun new tops to wear with my own jeans and leggings – look for those in a future post. I don’t remember exactly what your color range is, but if you’re like most women and not especially flattered by black and white, it’s no wonder you’re frustrated with shopping. Thanks goodness for sewing skills!

  17. Kathy on January 29, 2017 at 3:30 pm

    I really didn’t know how to answer the word picture, so I thought I’d ask my husband what he thought. The first word that came to his mind was “golden.” The second was “elegant,” in a classic sort of way. And the third was “coordinating.” I asked what he meant by “golden” and he said my clothing and outfits always have a golden look to them. (I fit the old classic model of autumn.) He also said that my shoes and purses are usually classic and not showy. I don’t want to look glitzy or dramatic, nor do I want to look frumpy or matronly or like a hippie. He said I don’t want to stand out, but I do want to be noticed. I was really surprised and pleased by all this, both because he was able to put words to my thoughts and because he was so observant and helpful!

    As for things I want less of – that would be black. I wear a lot of black because it’s easy, it’s classic, it can be dressed up or down, and it’s always appropriate. I use scarves and accessories to tone down the black and coordinate with another color I’m wearing. But just because I make the black work doesn’t mean I should have so much of it. So I plan to spend the next year figuring out how to incorporate more “golden” brown (my hair color) into my wardrobe. 🙂 Thanks so much for your help, Nancy. I look forward to the next year.

    • Nancy Nix Rice on January 29, 2017 at 4:44 pm

      A+ to your hubby for his insights! And to you for the commitment to replace a lot of your black with chocolate brown. Not only will the brown be more flattering for you, but all your accent colors will blend with it more easily too. Being able to sew is a big advantage for you, since ready-to-wear offers so little selection in non-black neutrals. Check out our ponte knit in Chocolate – it’s a dream! Looking forward to some pictures as your new wardrobe takes shape.

  18. Barbara Scadden on January 29, 2017 at 3:41 pm

    I would like to look well put together in styles that fit my age and being about 30-40 lbs. overweight and only 5’1″ tall. I love shoes but wear a narrow width and they are all but impossible to find. Hate to order online as you never know if you’ll like them or they fit. I would hate to hear “she dresses too young, frumpy, and wears her clothes either too tight or too loose.” Comfort means it all!

  19. Valerie Beaver on January 29, 2017 at 8:14 pm

    I am in the middle of a huge weight loss, and have a closet overflowing with many sizes of clothes. I work in an office with a business casual dress code, and spend a lot of time camping/RVing and attending outdoor music festivals. That has a lot to do with the words I chose (almost the opposite of yours!):

    – Say This….Flirty, Sporty, Casual, Hippie/Bohemian, Comfortable, Confident
    – Not That….Matronly, Sloppy, Frumpy, Uptight, Gaudy, Severe

    I’d like to move toward a more put together wardrobe in the right colors (and I do like color!), that is practical and comfortable for my lifestyle. I want to move away from EVER again wearing a unisex TShirt (i.e., made for men) that fits my hips and swims above (I am a curvy pear) , wearing oversize clothes, wearing worn/torn/stained clothes. And I need the right exercise clothes. You get the idea!

    • Nancy Nix Rice on January 30, 2017 at 7:55 am

      Your style “picture” certainly is exactly my opposite. The cool thing, though, is that the principles of color, line and design, coordination, etc all work exactly the same regardless of the person we’re applying them to or the personal style in which they are being interpreted. it will be exciting to see how they all come together for you. It sounds like your Step #1 is to get rid of those darned unisex T’s, all the things that are now too big, and everything that is showing it’s wear. You deserve better than that.
      When I work with clients through a weight reduction process we often shop in resale stores for things to get them through the transitional period. They usually don’t want to spend big buck (or hours of sewing time) on things they will quickly shrink right out of. Resale lets them enjoy the fun of a few new things to wear without blowing the budget. Some shops even offer a discount on new choices when you re-donate prior purchases.

  20. Gloria Allender on January 30, 2017 at 10:12 am

    I have more “not that” words than “say this” words. Say: “classically casual and put together. Not that: frumpy, sloppy, messy, frilly, trendy or artsy.

    As far as move-aways: shapeless knit tops, ill-fitting clothes, jeans (yes, i love the, but really how many pairs does a girl really need?) Move toward: better fitting clothes (I sew. Why do I have poorly fitting store bought clothes in my closet?), slacks/pants, a nice pair of casual shoes to go with the slacks/pants, a good fitting pair of classic dress pumps.

    I always love your info, Nancy. And since I am constantly a work in progress I especially appreciate these emails. Thanks.

    • Nancy Nix Rice on January 30, 2017 at 10:18 am

      Gloria, I happen to know first-hand that you are already more put-together than you seem to give yourself credit for. But it is true for all of us that this topic is always a work in progress. Especially love your comment about the advantage of sewing rather than buying – for fit rather that for economy. I’m finding it more and more difficult – even as a professional shopper – to find truly flattering options for my clients in ready-to-wear.

  21. Juliann on January 30, 2017 at 11:53 am

    This is such a fun exercise! My say this words are: Stylish, Cool, Fun, Friendly, warm, comfortable, creative, movement (how things move is important to me) (and how can I be cool and warm?) My don’t say words are: Frumpy, boring, traditional, tired, bland.

    My Towards would be: clothes I wear for the life I live instead of…

    My Away would be: that fantasy life I wish I lived where I get lots of sleep and have a fancy job I need to wear suits to.

    My life: Homeschool mother of 5. Novelist and illustrator. Date goer with my husband(not often enough, but it does happen and I’m always wearing the same sweater!) I need more home body clothes that feel and look great! Also some delicate jewelry that doesn’t get in the way.

    • Nancy Nix Rice on January 30, 2017 at 12:08 pm

      Wow – busy woman! What an important realization that we need to/get to dress well for the lives we actually live. Who do we want to see us at our best more than the children for whom we are role models of self-worth. And for Mr Wonderful too, of course. I say all the time tht you do’nt have to be dressed up to be well dressed. But a few more dressed-up pieces can be important too. I’ve known women to decline some exciting new opportunities because they didn’t have anything to wear. Balance in all things, right?

  22. Lori L. Robinett on January 30, 2017 at 9:01 pm

    I want to move toward creative, classic, chic.
    I want to move away from frumpy, boring.

    I love the idea of this challenge!

  23. Janice on February 3, 2017 at 1:58 pm

    Put together, creative classic and flattering!

  24. Tamra Schenk on February 3, 2017 at 10:12 pm

    My “want to hear” words are capable, trustworthy, approachable, confident, healthy, elegantly casual (is that even possible?). I never want to hear cute, frilly, frumpy, matronly, or gaudy. I love clothes, which is one reason that I sew, but I want to wear my clothes, not have them wear me.
    I love to make tailored jackets and suits, but I have plenty of those, and I don’t need any more skirts (I have 32 of them)–my lifestyle now is quite casual. I need to work on having more/better accessories, especially comfortable, stylish shoes in the right colors, which seems to be a difficult combination to find! I need to work on bags, too. I love to make them, but have so much fun designing them that they never coordinate with what I wear! I need to move away from keeping my clothes for so long–I have clothes that fit, are in good colors, and classical styles, but I have some that are 20 years old, and I still wear them occasionally.

    • Nancy Nix Rice on February 4, 2017 at 10:27 am

      Of Course one can be both elegant and casual, and it sounds like your current wardrobe has lots of potential to do just that. Those skirts, for instance, could have a casual life with tights and a sweater. And those luscious tailored jackets can look great over dark-wash jeans. Your experience with embellished bags is a perfect example though of how more basic, streamlined pieces are so much easier to coordinate in our wardrobes. How else could you indulge that same creativity? Decorative pillows, wall hangings, gifts ???

  25. Lynn on February 5, 2017 at 8:29 pm

    Nancy–great exercise! I’ll just say “ditto” to everything on your lists, and add that I’m working towards more gray, camel, rust, and ivory (and away from so much black), as you advised me in 2015 at the ASG Conference in San Diego. Looking forward to seeing you again in Puyallup!

    • Nancy Nix Rice on February 5, 2017 at 10:00 pm

      Hope we’ll have time to take a look at your wardrobe plan at the EXPO.

  26. Beth Chambers on February 6, 2017 at 6:05 pm

    Love this exercise. After having you do my colors 2 yrs ago, I have eliminated all the black from my closet and dumped all my left-over office suits. Coming up with a casual look has been more difficult than I thought, but I’m making progress! I always strive for classic tailored looks as the pieces tend to last longer. I never want to hear frumpy, too young, or trying to hard! I learn something new every time I hear you speak. The continuity with hair/facial structure and your garments have really helped me make better choices. Currently losing lots of weight (finally!!), and so have really started thinking about wardrobe capsules of casual clothing that looks pulled together with some nicer dresses here and there for special events.

    • Nancy Nix Rice on February 7, 2017 at 1:58 pm

      Glad you’re finding the color info helpful, Beth. You have a wonderful, polished natural style so I’m confident that when you hit that target weight you’ll find that everything in your new wardrobe will just naturally go together, almost without conscious effort. All the options in each person’s Color Fan are inherently compatible. (BTW – you never would have been classified as heavy, but if you’re happier at a lower weight, go for it!)

  27. Linda Palmer on February 6, 2017 at 6:11 pm

    Glad I’m not the only one trying not to look “frumpy” “matronly”, “sloppy” etc but more on the ” classic, put together” side. I can’t find anything about styles for long grey hair. All the examples seem to be short and my “Man” doesn’t like that look, nor do I find short hair as versatile.
    Also having a lot of trouble finding shoes that will work with my “issues” (too many years as a nurse on my feet). So keep us posted on your shoe search :-).
    While I’m whining, lets mention I’m on a fixed income and need to keep expenditures sensible – so glad I sew. Have many bins of fabric to incorporate in my new wardrobe – as long as the colors flatter of course – which thankfully many still do.

    Thanks so much for your work!!!!

    • Nancy Nix Rice on February 7, 2017 at 1:49 pm

      You’re ahead of me Linda. Discussions of hairstyles and shoes are coming up in the weeks ahead. Stay tuned.

  28. Diane on February 6, 2017 at 7:38 pm

    What I would like to project is refined, classic, svelte, well cared for, immaculately groomed, with style. What I don’t want is to have people see me with spots, tears, missing buttons, poorly fitting clothes or always in my work out clothes.

    What I want less of is a large closet filled with clothes that are too small and some of the smaller sizes are years out of style. I want fewer Costco yoga pants and Target t-shirts. I have lost 15 pounds on Weight Watchers since August. I have 15 more to lose or maybe 20. I have just started to fit in the sizes 16 again. That fact has motivated me to spend some time thinking how to look better. It has also encouraged me to spend some time caring for myself.

    • Nancy Nix Rice on February 7, 2017 at 1:32 pm

      Congratulations on getting back to a healthier weight. It is often the case that taking better care of ourselves in other ways helps us continue to feed ourselves more nutritious choices and be more physically active. What a wonderful upward spiral!

      • Diane on February 12, 2017 at 9:20 am

        Thank you, Nancy.

      • Diane on February 12, 2017 at 9:20 am

        Thank you, Nancy.

  29. Sue P. on February 6, 2017 at 9:16 pm

    Casual shoes–I’m hoping to try making my own, from livingDIYstyle dot com. With real soles you can buy to glue on the bottom, you can make the uppers out of almost anything, and the patterns are designed to be made with an ordinary sewing machine. Haven’t tried it yet, don’t know the lady, but sounds very intriguing.

  30. ALH on February 7, 2017 at 6:01 pm

    Hi Nancy,
    First, may I say when I met you in NYC for a color consultation you totally presented the image you are striving for!
    My move toward descriptors: Classic, colorful, elegant, and feminine (shapely, not frilly!)
    Move away: dowdy, frumpy, poor-fitting, matronly (what exactly IS matronly? Not sure, but so many on this list do NOT like what it means!

  31. Sarah Liz on February 8, 2017 at 12:45 am

    I have tried and tried this word exercise and have given up. I think it is because I am not an aural thinker! I just read a description of the classic preppy personality type, and I seem to be very much in that category – vivacious, animated, upbeat, traditional, classy, and charming (my father taught me that it was best to disarm with charm). So I suppose those words will do! I am lucky enough to have shape and looks that will always look youthful, albeit with some age changes. I’ve only just read this description, so now I need to clear the wardrobe of the mistakes I have made. Love your book too.

    • Nancy Nix Rice on February 8, 2017 at 6:13 am

      I was all set to suggest a visual exercise – like clipping magazine images perhaps – but you’ve obviously found a workable answer in another way. I usually steer away from those personality descriptions because – just like seasonal color categories – so many people don’t fit the “boxes”. But your experience seems to prove that we don’t all fit into the “don’t fit the boxes” category either. Cheers to you for sticking with it until you met your objective of finding a description that works as a guideline for you!

  32. Diana Wiggins on February 8, 2017 at 3:41 pm

    Move toward descriptors: cool, put-together, true
    Not-so-much descriptors: tacky, frumpy, inappropriate

    How appropriate your email with these exercises was since I woke up thinking I needed to rearrange my closet today! My closet isn’t large (long and narrow) but every square inch is used: one top shelf for folded t’s and pants that are out of season, another high shelf for seldom-worn or off-season shoes, a hanging shoe cubby, all jackets on one rod by color, all tops and shirts by color, pants by color, and dressier clothes all in one spot. I also hung a small quilt I made to brighten up the space, and above it, I had my husband mount vintage wooden shoe horns fastened across an old piece of wood. On these I hang all my larger purses! The remainder, such as accessories, are in baskets to corral everything. I think I’m on the right track, and reminders from you on how to tweak everything help to make the space useable. Thank you!

    • Nancy Nix Rice on February 8, 2017 at 3:48 pm

      Oh my gosh – totally love the shoe horn idea! My own closet has virtually no wall space so
      I can’t copy it. But I’ll bet other readers will do their own riff on the theme.

  33. Lynn Phillips on February 11, 2017 at 11:22 am

    I had the hardest time trying to come up with descriptive words and I finally figured out why. My clothing personality is split into two distinct catagories. Work words would be casual professional, competent, trustworthy. Free time words are easy-breezy, flowing, modern boho (no I won’t ever be wearing ripped jeans), colorful, creative, and happy. Making the professional side isn’t much fun, but is more of a necessity and it takes up most of my sewing time. This year I want to give the free time wardrobe some much needed new items and liven it up a lot.

    • Nancy Nix Rice on February 11, 2017 at 3:37 pm

      I work with so many career women who put all their attention into their work wardrobe and almost none into their social/casual one. Kudos for realizing that you really want to look good ALL the time. Using the filters we’ll be exploring in future weeks will help you build coordination into those casual pieces so you can have lots of outfit options from relatively few pieces. Hope you’ll share pictures as your grouping takes shape.

  34. Karen on March 2, 2017 at 3:06 am

    Late Start 🙂

    I joined your Craftsy Class and read your book as I am having major life changes. I am losing for medical reasons and went from a uniform required job to casual office.

    I finally had my colors done after years of wanting to and am a bright winter. Surprise, I thought I was a deep autumn.

    I want to hear: comfortable. classic, put together, warm, friendly, approachable, smart. I do not want to hear: Alfred Dunner shopper, sloppy, frumpy, and matronly.

    My first toward is for the office. I want some well fitting straight leg dark wash jeans with a fitted knit top or a blouse and a shirt/jacket third layer. The office is freezing. Jeans, tees, flannel shirts and boots are the office standard. I want be more polished but like Kathy, I don’t want to stand out, but I do want to be noticed. After the basics, I would like to add some accessories that add flair but do not get in the way of the work.

    Thank you all for your suggestions.

    • Nancy Nix Rice on March 3, 2017 at 9:07 am

      I always love to hear that women are refusing to go to the lowest common denominator of “casual”. It really is OK to be the best-dressed person in the group.

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