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Shop your closet like a fashion editor

  • Story Highlights
  • Fashion expert shares tips on putting wardrobe together
  • Pick out 8 pieces in your closet with that indisputable "it" factor
  • Clothes should reflect seasonal palettes, but two should be neutrals
  • Pick out shoes, purse, jewelry -- take photo of entire outfit
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By Cynthia Weber Cleary
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(InStyle) -- In Style's fashion director shares her secrets for a fabulous wardrobe. You might be surprised to learn it's not about quantity or big-ticket items. It's all in the edit.

Step 1: Pick your eight best pieces

First things first: Select your favorites and build from there. For me, special pieces are often ones I've splurged on, but they're not always the newest items in my closet. Whether it's style, cut or fabric, these pieces have an indisputable "it" factor. They should be unique enough that you always feel fabulous in them.

Step 2: Lay your choices out on the floor

You can put them on the bed too! Really, do whatever works for you. The idea is to be able to see everything in front of you. It's easier to analyze and hone a workable color palette this way. Then, start refining and styling for different occasions. Video Watch how to update closet, add color »

Unless your closet is strictly a black, white and neutral affair, your outfits--starting with your best pieces--should reflect seasonal palettes. Two go-to color groupings this spring are: khaki, brown, ivory and gold with yellow and red accents; or black, white, gray and silver with bright pink and turquoise accents. As a rule, two of your best pieces should be neutral for ease of mixing.

Step 3: Pick your basics

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The key to finding a good, working basic is to keep in mind its cut and proportion to other pieces. For example, this spring your slim capris may work with a hip-length jacket, but your wide-leg pants won't. Look for colors in the palette you've picked.

Step 4: Make a list of what's missing

Now the fun part--it's time to hit the stores! After all this work sorting through your closet to pick your best pieces as well as your basics, it will be clear that you have an affinity for one style, cut or color at the expense of another. Have too many solid pieces? Consider adding textures or prints. Your list will be a work in progress as you continue to edit your wardrobe, so be open to updating as you go along.

Step 5: Create outfits and try them on--shoes and all!

Dainty or chunky, heels or flats, shoes are crucial in determining how well your outfit comes together. As you put everything on to figure out complementary cuts and colors, you'll discover exactly which pairs have the right attitude--and correct proportion--for the overall look.

Step 6: Choose a handbag

Don't play it safe: An all-black outfit with an all-black bag is blah. Now's your chance to add texture and contrast while staying within your palette. Keep in mind you'll need three bags: a structured day bag, an evening bag and a casual bag.

Step 7: Accessorize!

Jewelry is highly personal, so try on bracelets, earrings and necklaces last, and go with what you feel works best.

Step 8: Snap the looks

Photograph your outfits and keep the shots on hand for easy reference. You'll be set for every occasion and then some. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend


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