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Carrie Kirkman – Simplify your life, Amplify your Choices

Full closet, and still nothing to wear? Follow this style system and you’ll never be left stranded

By Carrie Kirkman

You would think that someone who has grown up in the fashion industry, like I have, would have always known how to build a great, functional wardrobe.

But I can clearly remember the day I was trying to pack for one of my first long business trips, and realized all I had were “outfits.” Outfits that each required different shoes, different accessories and had very little to do with each other. Not practical and not possible to pack what I needed in one suitcase. Each outfit I had loved and had to buy, but there had been no master plan, no bigger strategy as to the best way to actually build my wardrobe. I know I’m not the only one.

Distracted by what catches our eye in magazines or storefronts, or by what we see on strangers and colleagues alike, we buy those items without considering if they work for our body and personal style, never mind our existing wardrobe. The result? Closets full of hit-or-miss purchases that get us no closer to an effective wardrobe—meaning one that never leaves us thinking “I’ve got nothing to wear.”

I solved that problem when I began to treat my own wardrobe the way I would recommend a store buy one of the brands I represented: Start with a base, add a novelty that goes with the base, and then play with tops. This strategy has never let me down.

Jones New York has a no-stress style system, a way to shop that will simplify your life and amplify your options. In short, it will make your closet work for you.

Establish a solid base

Suiting is the foundation for your wardrobe and most of us should have two. Pick your favourite solid neutral (black, navy or grey will work) and look for a fitted jacket in this colour along with coordinating pants in a cut that flatters your body.

A classic pant-suit look is a no-fail option, but you’ll get more mileage if you find a pencil or simple skirt that works with the jacket and looks great with a range of tops.

Once you have a solid suit in your wardrobe, add a novelty suiting fabric to the mix. If you’ve chosen a basic black suit, look for a novelty suit that works with black (for example, black-and-white birdseye). Novelty fabrics can include seasonal patterns, but also textures (like metallic, jacquard or tweed). The key is to ensure that these pieces can be worn with your solid suiting, both in terms of colour and cut—to create the mix-and-match options you need.



JNY_Fall2013_[2]Layer on

A crisp white cotton shirt is great addition here because it works with both pants and skirts. Again, think about what shades complement your suiting: For example, with a black or charcoal suit, try a cardigan in a rich jewel tone like teal (very big this season), burgundy or plum.







JNY_Fall2013_[3]Remember the seasonal details

Finally, add some seasonal novelty. After all, a style “system” can begin to sound all work, no play. You want to experiment and have fun with your professional style. Novelty patterns can be textured (like lace, which simplifies those day-to-night transitions), or classic prints, such as leopard and snake. Even just a peek at the neck and cuff will keep your look lively.

This is also where you can let your eyes wander to new trends, patterns and colours that will integrate into your foundational wardrobe. This season we’re seeing a lot of graphic, tile-inspired prints along with luxe, dark florals and understated metallics.

The key is to make sure that each piece you buy builds on what you already have in your wardrobe. Shopping this way means you’ll open your closet and have exactly the right outfit to wear—in fact, you’ll probably have more than one.




Solutions from Jones New York

• Slim-legged, straight or slightly flared? Book an appointment with a Jones New York stylist at the Hudson’s Bay to help you determine what shapes and proportions work best for your body. (pe*************@jn*.com).

• Perfect for business travel. Our Washable Wool is a year-round, low-maintenance fabric option that’s machine-washable and hang-to-dry.

• Time saver. Our signature Easy Care Shirt comes in a range of colours, so you won’t have to take out the ironing board every morning.


With over 25 years of experience, Carrie Kirkman strives to be a mentor to other women who are looking to achieve success in their individual professions. Follow Carrie on Twitter @CarrieKirkman. Jones New York is available at Hudson’s Bay across Canada.