Top 10 Must-Have Items for Your Summer Wardrobe

What does a stylist live in over the summer? Here’s my must-have list for my casual summer wardrobe:

  1. White Pants – fitted; denim, linen, or cropped, or all three
  2. Denim Jacket – blue or white; good for over T-shirts or a sundress when it’s cooler or aimageir-conditioned.
  3. T-shirts – Plain white, black & white silkscreened, and/or fun colour
  4. Walking Shorts – beige or olive green
  5. Colourful Top or Blouse – patterned with a colour/white mix
  6. Sundress – Something that is cool and makes you feel pretty, whether a maxi or short.
  7.  Drawstring Pants – Great for quickly pulling over bathing suit bottoms, or add a T -shirt & denim jacket and you have a go-to-the-movies outfit.
  8. Lightweight Sweater – for cooler evenings or an early morning run to Starbucks or an Egg McMuffin.
  9. Summer Bag – Think fun colours or patterns and ess structure to accommodate your sunglasses, sunscreen and books. Time to put that black utilitarian bag into storage for a few months.image
  10. Sparkly or Embellished Sandals – I have a pair of “diamond-studded” beige flip-flop type of leather sandal that I wear with everything. I highly recommend them over rubber … lol.


Nude Hose – Yay or Nay?

For years, women have shunned pantyhose in favour of bare legs, and nude hose was considered frumpy and old-fashioned. However, the “Kate Middleton Effect” has brought hosiery back into the limelight. Hosiery has been flying off the shelves in Europe and Japan, and now, even in North America, and I am personally cheering on this trend.

Nude hose

Kate Middleton brings back nude hose!

As a stylist, in my opinion, hosiery is always required in 3 instances:

  1. Formal skirt suit – If you are on stage, making an important presentation, or you work in a conservative professional office, nude hose is required with a skirt suit or a pencil skirt.
  2. Formal cocktail dress – I attended a formal Christmas party last year and saw a number of women with “screaming white” bare legs worn with their fancy “LBD’s” (Little Black Dress). It looked awful! Sheer black hose looks great with an LBD or a bold colour such as red. Otherwise, nude hose is your best choice.
  3. Cold weather – As a stylist, I personally only recommend a bare leg in the summer — never winter! No matter what you think of nude stockings, bare legs look out of place once it gets cold outside. If nude stockings aren’t your thing, then go with the opaque tight.


  • Pasty white legs are not attractive! If your legs aren’t long, tanned and toned, then the nude hose will make your legs look better.
  • Hosiery smoothes out uneven skintone.
  • Hosiery smooths dimpling under white or cream pants.
  • Hosiery creates a sleeker line under knitwear.
  • Hosiery reduces rubbing in shoes.


  • Nude hose is meant to be NUDE. It must match your skin colour or you will look dated. Suntan stockings on someone with fair skin should be outlawed.
  • Don’t wear with open-toed sandals or shoes! There are now toeless options out there.

    Sheer Anklet

    HUE Diagonal Ribbons Anklet in Peach Sorbet


  • Thigh-High’s – These are very comfortable and if you get a run, you can discard one instead of the entire pair.
  • Subtle Patterns – Dotted hosiery makes more of a style statement, but for the office, avoid heavy patterns and sexy options such as seamed or a fishnet.
  • Sheer Anklets – An edgy new look is a sheer anklet with a sandal. Not for everyone, but kind of fun.
  • Opague Hose – The black tight has been back in favour for quite a while for our cold, winter months, and flattering on everyone. Colour is fun, but black is always a classic.


  • Department stores carry the best selection. Avoid the discount brands at stores like Walmart. With hose, you get what you pay for! I love the HUE brand from the Bay. Nordstrom’s carries another quality brand from DKNY.
  • Denier is the key. The higher the number, the more opaque it is. If you want very sheer, go for a very low number. More coverage, go for a higher number.

I sincerely hope that pantyhose makes a major comeback. I believe, sadly, that some women have stopped wearing skirts because they are not happy with their bare-legged look. Nude hose makes your legs look great and besides, most men think hosiery is sexy! Ladies, I challenge you … go buy a pair of nude hose that match your skintone and wear them with Princess Kate pride. Let’s reclaim our femininity and wear those skirts again! Or be even braver, buy a seamed pair, and watch your man drool!


Looking Sexy Over 40

Being in my 50’s myself, and having lots of friends over 40, I am aware that we are a group of woman who are not embracing our age in the same way our parents’ generation did. That’s why we hear the phrases, “50 is the new 40”, “40 is the new 30”, and so on. And we do look younger than our mothers and grandmothers did at our age due to advances in healthcare, healthy eating, regular exercise, yoga, good skincare products, cosmetic procedures, great clothing, and attitude. We are working later, going back to school, divorcing and dating, travelling and just doing our best to stay healthy and live life to the fullest.


Showing too much skin is a “no-no”.

In our attempt to stay young, many of us in our 40’s find this time in our life confusing and difficult when it comes to dressing. We don’t want to look silly dressing too young and yet we don’t want to dress frumpy either. Here are some tips for helping guide you through this challenging time in our lives and still look sexy and fabulous …

  • Don’t buy clothes in the same stores your teenage daughters buy their clothes. Your kids want you to look attractive but they do NOT want you to dress like them.
  • Choose quality over “fast fashion”. Cheap just looks, well, cheap.
  • The older we get, the more we need to embrace a classic, timeless style.
  • To inspire your style, find one or two celebrities who are your age, a similar body type, and whose style you admire, and follow them online. They have professional stylists who help them and can help you figure what is appropriate for you.
  • If you are going to show skin to be sexy, choose ONE area only … cleavage, legs, shoulders. If you show too much skin all at once, you will just look slutty, instead of sexy.
  • Be very careful about showing cleavage. As we age, this area can become creapy and show your age too much. Breasts smushed together, forming a straight vertical line just show age. Instead, show off your shoulders or your collar bones, which tend to remain toned longer.
  • Update your undergarments! Wearing the right bra and getting the girls “up” will help you look 10 pounds younger and 10 years younger! Lots of women are wearing worn-out bras or the wrong fit! Go for a professional fitting. Also, if you are still wearing “granny” panties, it might be time to try out some boy shorts, cheekies or thongs to get rid of those panty lines. Plus, pretty underthings just makes you feel pretty and more ready to drop those clothes when those moments of passion happen!
  • Do you have to cut your hair short just because you are over 40? No! But long, straggly hair with no style will definitely age you. So does hair down to your waist! Once over 40, hair just below or at your shoulders tends to be more flattering, as well as side bangs that soften our foreheads. I love my short, short hair because I just feel sassiest, but short hair isn’t for everyone.
  • Let the younger ones wear mini skirts and short shorts! On women over 40, generally we look like we are trying too hard, even if you have great legs. Skirts should be no shorter than 2″ above the knee. If you have a shorter sundress, then wear it with flats or flat sandals to still look tasteful. Your shorts should have a 4″ inseam, at a minimum. And if you struggle with cellulite on your thighs (as most of us do), ensure your shorts or dress or skirt is long enough that when you sit down and cross your legs, that those problem areas are covered. I have seen more than my share of women who are showing more than they realize when sitting.
  • Towering heels again should be left to the young. Choose a 3″ or 4″ tasteful heel or wedge, or a kitten heel. Even though shoes always fit, some shoes can be too young for you.
  • Beauty is genetic, but being attractive is making the most out of what you have. That means you have found the best hairstyle for your face shape, age and hair texture. It means you have learned how to apply cosmetics that play up your best features. It means you wear colours that work for you and styles that flatter your body type.
  • A sexy woman is a stylish woman. Fashion comes and go, but style is who you are! If you need help in this area, a personal stylist can help! Personal stylists aren’t just for celebrities. See my website at to see how I can help you find your style, and how affordable it can be!

Finally, the sexiest woman is a confident woman! Throw your shoulders back, smile, and know you are one of a kind who is here on this planet for a reason, and the world needs to know you!


Spring Fashion 2015 Trends

Spring fever is in the air! If you have been in the malls lately, you will notice that winter is far behind us and the happy colours of Spring are in the store. Here’s a few things I am seeing …


  • Pastel colours like baby blue, lavender and yellow, worn with neutrals like grey, nude and white1_217825_FS_2
  • Suede, although I can’t imagine it sticking around long once the temps warm up!
  • Fringe. Again. Yuck … lol.
  • Gingham, especially in black & white
  • Flowy trench coats
  • Jumpsuits
  • Block heels
  • Cage sandals
  • Cuff necklacesUnknown 11.21.41 PM
  • Nude lips and nails

Need some inspiration for Spring outfits, check out my pins on Pinterest.

Need some help with your Spring/Summer wardrobe? Just to keep you updated, I have returned to work full-time due to my divorce … but I am still your image consultant, just part-time now. I am now booking into mid-to-late March for evening & weekend appointments, and some Friday afternoons. Give me a shout at or 403-860-1916 if you to look fabulous this Spring!

Fashionably Yours,


Want a New Wardrobe Each Season for Free? Here’s how!


Putting my summer clothes into the storage over the weekend.

Why would you bother to take the time to put off-season clothes into storage?

My mom taught me this rule, and it is one of the best pieces of advice she has ever given me. As far back as I can remember, in spring and fall, as the weather was turning warmer or cooler, we would bring up the clothes in the basement for the upcoming season and put our now off-season clothes into storage. It was a ritual I enjoyed with my mom, usually on the Easter and Thanksgiving long weekends, while we were out of school on holiday.

There are so many good reasons to do this. The first, and obvious, reason is that it frees up space in your closet; having off-season items clogging up your closet doesn’t make sense. You aren’t going to be wearing that wool sweater on a sweltering day in summer.

Second, it saves you time. If you are sorting through your clothes every morning, trying to find the right items for the season, it’s a huge waste of your precious time.

The third, and best, reason for removing off-season clothes from your closet is that it gives you a visual break from your clothes. This means you will not get as sick of them as quickly. It also means you will save money, because when you’re not sick of your clothes, you won’t feel the need to replace them. However, the most fun reason is that when you bring up your clothes for the next season, it is like having a whole new wardrobe. I promise you that you will forget what you have when you don’t see it on a daily basis. You will be amazed at how excited you will be to wear the “new” clothes when you don’t see them day after day, hanging in your closet!

You can store your off-season clothes in storage containers in your basement, or in a closet that isn’t being fully used, such as one in a guest bedroom. I store mine in both. I have several Rubbermaid containers marked “Off-Season Clothes” (and “Off-Season Shoes”) and I store them in my basement storage room. These are good for sweaters, jeans, shorts, T-shirts and other items that can easily be folded. My dressier clothes I currently hang on a rolling rack that I purchased, covered in an old bed sheet, in my furnace room. It’s not pretty, but it works!

Now that we are into a new season, take a couple of hours this week to put your off-season clothes into storage and I promise you, when the next new season arrives and you bring up those clothes from storage, you will be glad you did!


The Cost of the Purchase

I saw a “Truth Bomb” by Danielle LaPorte today that got me thinking. It said, “Don’t buy it“. I thought, wt107-31c5227b-f38a-4446-9dbf-4c46ef507fc3-v2there is a lot of wisdom in those three little words when it comes to our wardrobes.

1) Don’t buy it without considering the maintenance factor. Every purchase has a cost. Every single thing you buy has a maintenance factor attached to it. If you buy a car, you have to get oil changes. Maintenance. If you buy a puppy, it needs food, walks and vet care. Maintenance. If you buy a white coat, even though I adore white clothing, it will need washing or dry-cleaning, and sometimes ironing. Maintenance. Every time we buy something, we need to ask ourselves  … “Do I really want to add the complication of this to my life?” Can I afford the time needed to maintain it?” “What will I have to give up to maintain this item?”

2) Don’t buy it if it’s not you. Don’t buy the lie that everyone else is right and your inner voice is wrong. Sometimes we buy clothing because we are shopping with a friend who insists it looks good on you. Unfortunately it is their taste and not your own, and it may indeed look good on you, but that doesn’t mean it “feels” like you. Do you really want to look like someone else, even your closest friend? Not me. Don’t buy it because it is a fad or a trend, or because some fashion magazine insists it is a “must have” for the season. Style is timeless. Your style is you. Don’t buy it unless it looks and feels like you.

3) Don’t buy it because it will impress someone. Sometimes we buy things simply because we know it has the “prestige” factor. Whether it’s a designer handbag, a T-shirt or hoodie with the BIG logo, or the shoes with the red bottom, all of these may foster a false sense of importance. But, in reality, we have just spent additional monies for the privilege of wearing someone else’s name (or logo). Now, I am all about quality and sometimes you do indeed get what you pay for. But, if you purchase something because you think someone else’s identity will bolster your own, I think we need to look inside and  examine what is really going on? Are we unsure of our own style?

3) Don’t buy it if you have nothing to go with it! This is my cardinal rule. NO ORPHANS! If you buy something and the only thing that goes with it is black pants or jeans, I can guarantee you that it is an “orphan”. We want to buy outfits (see more on “clustering” for outfit building in my book, “Closet Rescue”). Every time you are tempted to buy something because it is on sale, ask yourself, “Do I have at least 2-3 things to go with this to make it an outfit? And, if I don’t, am I prepared right now to purchase 2-3 things to go with it so it can be an outfit?” Often times, it’s that second question that will have you putting it back on the rack. This is wise. I visit way too many closets and see items with tags still on them simply because the client does not have anything to wear the item with.

Consider the cost of owning something before you part with your hard-earning cash (or put it on your credit card … even worse!). There is a lot to be said for simplicity and authenticity. It could revolutionize your life.


Fall 2014 Trends Alert

Although I personally don’t want to think about Fall/Winter clothes yet, the stores are full of them, so I thought it was time to give you the “heads up” about Fall 2014 trends, just in case you are itching to get shopping!


Fall Trends 2014

Trend: Pop Art

Fall is all about mix & match, texture and pattern. You will see:

  • masculine mixed with feminine elements (think a herringbone overcoat borrowed from the boys, but worn over a dark floral dress);
  • textured oversized knits and layered knitwear mixed with slinky, sleek or sheer;
  • wide- legged slouchy pants (great for inverted triangle or top-heavy ladies to balance you out);
  • longer miniskirts with a short boxy jacket, sweater or top (Petite women … not a trend for you!);
  • capes or wrap (blanket) coats;
  • quilted anything;
  • A-line dresses (the 60’s swing);
  • Shearling

Patterns – plaids, checks, herringbone, tweed, novelty prints (birds!), Pop-art inspired prints, abstract splashes

Colours – blue, red, pastels, neon

Fall Trends 2014

Trend: Oversize Knitwear

Accessories – gold everything, crocodile, slouchy bags

Footwear – work boot (or army style), menswear-inspired oxfords, loafers

Should you need some help editing your wardrobe, building outfits out of what you already have, or shopping for updates, check out my services on my website, or give me a shout at

Fashionably Yours,





Since 2006, Janise Bachler, the Closet Diva has been helping men & women learn how to dress and to refine their personal image in a way that brings them personal and professional success. Janise works with clients on closet editing, personal shopping and styling services. Janise is also a professional speaker and is the author of the book, Closet Rescue, available on Amazon. Janise Bachler has appeared on Global TV, CityTV, and in the Calgary Herald.


Shopping Smarter Tips from a Personal Stylist

(An excerpt from my book, CLOSET RESCUE, available on Amazon & Kindle)

Before we ever step foot in a store, in order to address the “I have nothing to wear” issue, we must realize that we need to change our shopping habits. We all know the old saying, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” If you really want to change the state of your closet, you cannot keep shopping in the same way. Here is what I recommend to my clients about changing their buying habits:Janise_Bachler_Shopping

  1. Budget for Clothes. I recommend that you have a line item in your budget, just as we do for fuel or groceries, for clothing and personal care (haircuts, nails, and so on). Every month, if you put aside money for clothing, then you will have money to buy clusters instead of only one or two items. Trust me: it is a lot more fun to have several hundred dollars to go shopping with than being fearful of buying an outfit because your chequing account may not have enough in it to cover the cost. Remember, we want to buy outfits, and not orphans.
  2. Try on potential outfits! If we want to buy outfits, we must try on outfits. During my shopping trips, I regularly see women taking one or two items into the change room, usually a couple of tops. They seldom take any pants, layering pieces, or accessories to try on with those tops. When I take clients shopping, I will select enough pieces to create two different clusters. Usually, one colour cluster will be favoured over the other, and then we build on that favourite. I get my clients to try on 15 – 20 pieces at a time, with all kinds of “mix & match” potential; because my goal is to help my clients buy outfits, not orphans. When you try on clothes, take in bottoms, tops, layering pieces, and even accessories, to create potential outfits. If the store policy allows only trying on a handful of items at a time, do not let this discourage you. Just ask the change room attendant to hold your other items to try on after you have tried on the first ones. If you don’t take them all at once to the change room, I can pretty much guarantee that you won’t go back out into the store and select more items to try on. Try to select six to twelve pieces to take in and try on together at one time.
  3. Spend money on classics. It is wise to invest in clothing that will last, and these items are called classics for a reason. Classics have never been in style and never go out of style. Examples of classics are blazers, a pair of trouser dress pants, a trench coat, diamond stud earrings, a cashmere cardigan, basic button-down shirts, and boot-cut jeans. For classics like these, spend as much money as you can afford, because they will last you over many seasons. Spend less money on trendy items or trendy colours, because these will go out of style sooner. For a list of classics worth investing in, see the Appendix at the back of my book.
  4. Try not to “occasion” buy! Many times we have the “I have nothing to wear!” moment when we need to attend a party, go out on a date, go to a job interview, or are invited to an event. We rush out to the store and buy something in a panic, which usually means we compromise and don’t buy something that we love, but something that will do. When we do this, chances are we will never wear that piece or those pieces again. Try to anticipate these events and have potential outfits already waiting in your closet. If you have trouble remembering the outfits, take a picture of yourself wearing them and hang the photos inside your closet or put them into an outfit binder, or simply write down a description of the outfit for future reference. I take pictures and keep them on my iPhone and iPad for easy reference.
  5. Avoid the “SALES TRAP”! If you fall in love with an item on sale, ask yourself this question: Do I have at least one or two things already at home in my closet that I could wear with this? If you don’t, then ask yourself this question: Am I prepared, right now and today, to purchase two or three items to go with it to turn it into an outfit? If you have nothing at home to wear with it or you cannot afford to buy the other items to go with it, LEAVE IT ON THE RACK! Step away from the store! If you take it home, it will be just another orphan in your closet. Another good question to ask yourself about an item on sale is, Would I buy this if it was at regular price? If not, chances are you don’t really love it as much as you should. I want you to be buying pieces that make you feel fabulous. I call them homeruns: If it isn’t a homerun, don’t take it home. If you get home and you are still thinking about that item a day or two later, then maybe you should go back and purchase it. It is always better to think about it and be sure than to “impulse-buy.”


I encounter clients all the time who do not like shopping for clothes. This may sound unusual for a woman, but I assure you, it is not uncommon. Many women find walking into a store quite intimidating and even overwhelming. One of my clients even said to me, “Don’t be surprised if I end up in tears.” However, after teaching her how to shop smarter, she actually now enjoys the shopping experience and asks me to take her personal shopping almost every new season.

Here are a few pointers to reduce your stress when shopping:

  • Wear a nice but comfortable outfit. You want to feel that you look nice, but today is not the day to wear your 4” stiletto heels, no matter how great they make you look. After an hour on hard tile floors, you will likely be in agony. (Oh yes, I have been there and done that!) Wear something that is easy to take off and put on. A button-up shirt or tights will be cumbersome and frustrating when trying on clothes.
  • Select your shopping venue. If you find having too much selection overwhelming, avoid department stores and stick to smaller boutique or chain clothing stores in a mall.
  • Survey the merchandise for colour stories. Stand at the front of the store and scan the selection before entering. In most chain clothing stores, at least the ones for grown-ups, you will see a number of colour groupings displayed. For example, on the right side, you may see clothing with various pieces in pink and black. Behind it you may see another group in coral and beige, and on the left, clothing featuring aqua and navy. In the clothing industry, we call these colour stories. Pick one or two colour stories, at the most, that appeal to you, and select four to six pieces from each colour story to try on. Why? The pieces within those colour stories are tonally dyed and selected to coordinate, for easier shopping for customers. This could be the beginning of a new cluster!
  • Ask for help. Enlist the help of a salesperson immediately when you walk into the store. Most of us dread having a salesperson approach us asking, “May I help you?” Instead, intentionally choose a salesperson close to your own age, or one who seems friendly or knowledgeable with other customers, and get her on your side immediately. Just say, “I really need to put together one or two outfits today, and I could use your help.” When the salesperson hears the word “outfit,” she will usually be happy to help you because she knows you will be purchasing more merchandise than their average customer. NOTE: Keep in mind that salespeople are not trained image consultants. They are often underpaid and overworked, and their goal is to get merchandise out of the store, so when they tell you it looks great on you, be suspicious. Trust your own instincts and buy only what you love. Or, enlist the services of an image consultant or personal shopper who will give you her honest opinion, because the personal shopper’s motivation is to make you look great so you will hire her again. A personal shopper does not usually make any commission off the sale of the clothing, so their motivation will be different than that of a salesperson.

Remember, above all, shopping should be fun. If you have some money in your wallet and a plan to buy outfits, or to add to an existing cluster, your shopping experience will be much less stressful for you, and you may even find yourself enjoying it.


Janise_Bachler_250pixSince 2006, Janise Bachler, the Closet Diva has been helping men & women learn how to dress and to refine their personal image in a way that brings them personal and professional success. Janise works with clients on closet editing, personal shopping and styling services. Janise is also a professional speaker and is the author of the book, Closet Rescue, available on Amazon. Janise Bachler has appeared on Global TV, CityTV, and in the Calgary Herald.


Online Dating Tips from a Personal Stylist

Reprinted from my article published in Eligible Magazine:

I have recently re-entered the dating world and thus, online dating sites. Eghaaads, the horrors I have beheld! It seems so obvious and logical to me, but from all of the terrible profile pictures I have seen, here is some advice, from a personal stylist’s perspective, for all of you who want to put your best foot forward on an online dating site.

online-dating-1No blurry photos! None. Ever. No bad selfies either for your main photo. No matter what your budget, a good headshot that shows your entire face for your main profile picture, is vital. And … smile! I don’t even bother checking out a profile if the guy isn’t smiling. I assume he’s not a happy person and therefore, I don’t want him. People are attracted to smiling faces. And, NO sunglasses for your main photo! We need to see your eyes.

Then, add one or two full-length shots so we have an idea of your body type and shape. The photos should within the last year. If you have put on some pounds, then take new pictures. This is the most common complaint I hear from men. They ask women out and then the woman shows up 20 pounds heavier or 20 years older than her profile pictures. That’s a “no no”, and it you won’t get you very far, even if you have a sparkling personality. Someone will like you for who you are now … maybe someone who is also carrying a “few extra pounds”. Be realistic. If you deceive, they will run!

Guys need to understand that blurry shots of you off in the distant with your hunting buddies does not cut it. Neither does a distant shot of you in some exotic location in your sunglasses. No photos with sunglasses unless you have some other good photos without them posted. Also, no pictures with your kids or pets. Let’s just showcase you right now. And, lastly, please, no half cut-off pictures where we just KNOW it was your spouse or your last girlfriend!

If you haven’t updated your hairstyle, cosmetics, glasses or wardrobe since your last relationship, it may be time. Outdated glasses turn me off, but I melt for a guy in a suit. Pictures of you wearing a faded, silk-screened T-shirt won’t cut it. Also for guys, shirtless pics are a “no no”. It’s tacky. Don’t do it. “Wife beaters” (tank tops) aren’t great either. And, ladies, keep it classy. Photos showing too much skin will bring you a certain kind of attention, but perhaps not the quality relationship you are actually looking for. I bet the guys would love to see you wearing a form-fitting dress or a pencil skirt and looking like they could take you out somewhere.

If you can’t afford a professional photographer, then get a friend to take some new pictures. I promise you, follow these tips and it will be worth the effort!


Janise_Bachler_250pixSince 2006, Janise Bachler, the Closet Diva has been helping men & women learn how to dress and to refine their personal image in a way that brings them personal and professional success. Janise works with clients on closet editing, personal shopping and styling services. Janise is also a professional speaker and is the author of the book, Closet Rescue, available on Amazon. Janise Bachler has appeared on Global TV, CityTV, and in the Calgary Herald.


Clustering: A Smart Wardrobe

What I have seen in my work is that most people, if they have any type of organization in their closet, typically hang clothes in two ways: either by type (all pants together, all shirts together, and so on) or by colour (all blue together, all black together, and so on). Neither of these is conducive to getting dressed easily in the morning, although the colour system is definitely better than the type system.

 I want to remove the stress in getting dressed for you, and I am going to do that by teaching you a revolutionary shopping and closet organizing system called “clustering.”



A “cluster” is small group of clothing, typically 6-12 pieces, but it can be larger, based primarily on a function. A function is the type of cluster, or what it will be used for. Is it for work? Is it for the weekend? Is it for date nights? Is it for golf? Is it for vacation travel? Is it for work travel? Most of us will require several types of clusters in our wardrobe, and, depending on our lifestyle, we may have several clusters with the same function. For example, for someone who works full time, you may have two to three work clusters.

Secondly, a cluster is based on a colour theme. A colour theme is not based on one colour, such as black, but includes two to three colours, usually derived from a patterned piece that contains 2-3 colours. I call this piece an “inspiration” piece, because it inspires the cluster. This inspiration piece is typically a patterned garment, such as a blouse or top, a scarf, or even a patterned sweater or jacket. Fabric designers are brilliant at mixing colours; they understand the colour wheel much better than you or I, and so we need to trust them. An inspiration piece should contain 2-3 colours, with one of them a neutral.

Lastly, a cluster contains the components − bottoms, tops and layering pieces − to create outfits. A cluster should give you lots of mix and match options.

To explain this concept, let me start with an example of one of my own clusters, one I use for vacation travel to warm climates. My inspiration piece is a patterned silk tunic that contains pink, coral and white.

Using this inspiration piece, my first goal is to find three to four bottoms in my colour theme. For my cluster, I have the following bottoms:


  • Coral drawstring linen pants
  • White linen walking shorts
  • Dark wash denim jeans
  • Plaid, pink and coral walking shorts

You will note that I chose bottoms that are all different in size, shape, colour, texture, and even formality. You can also see that I have variety in my bottoms group, from casual to dressy, so that I can mix and match for various occasions.

Next, I selected four to six tops for my cluster:


  • Patterned tunic (the “inspiration piece”)
  • Sleeveless, solid coral collared blouse
  • White T-shirt
  • Pink and white striped, ¾sleeve T-shirt
  • Pink shell (a dressier sleeveless tank top)

Lastly, and very importantly, I want to select two to three layering pieces. A layering piece is what makes an outfit! Too many women dress very one-dimensionally: They put on a top and a bottom and out the door they go. A layering piece (and/or accessories) makes an outfit. When you see someone who looks very “put together,”it is usually because she or he has added a layering piece or smart accessories. Imagine a couch with no throw pillows on it: It is boring and sterile looking. The same goes for dressing. Your goal is to always put together an “outfit.”

For my layering pieces, I selected:

Layering Pieces

  • White blazer
  • White cardigan
  • Coral, long-sleeved linen shirt I can use as a “shirt jack”(shirt jacket)

There are some simple rules when purchasing or putting items into a cluster:

  1. Each piece does not have to go with every piece in the cluster, but it should go with at least two to three other pieces in the cluster. For example, I probably wouldn’t wear the patterned tunic with the plaid walking shorts, but both of those items go with almost everything else in the cluster.
  2. Each piece should be different from each – no two pieces alike. I try to discourage clients from buying multiples of the same items. I once had a client who had four or five twinsets in her closet, but she really only wore one. The problem with buying multiples is that you wear the one that is in your favourite colour, and the rest go unworn. The one exception is if you want to purchase multiples in basics like white T-shirts or your favourite undies, but other than that, multiples are a no-no and usually a waste of hard-earned money.

I encourage you to find items for your cluster that are different in style, shape, color, line, texture, and even formality. This ensures that you will find it much more interesting to get dressed, and you won’t get so easily bored with your wardrobe. Remember, our goal is to NOT have you standing in front of an over-stuffed closet, proclaiming, “I have nothing to wear!”

The very last step for your cluster is adding accessories. Start with basic accessories, like shoes or boots, and a great bag. Then gradually add in jewelry and scarves. I will talk more specifically about accessories in an upcoming chapter.

Keep in mind that you can continue to expand your cluster, or start a new one, when you need to refresh your wardrobe or have the desire to add a trendy piece to your wardrobe. I continue to add to my pink, coral and white cluster as I find pieces that work. And, sometimes, I retire pieces from a cluster because they are just plain worn out or the trend/style has come and gone.

Clusters are an excellent way to build a wardrobe, whether you are sorting your existing wardrobe into clusters or starting from scratch. Here are some excellent reasons why you would want to build your wardrobe using clusters:

It gives you a plan. Shopping with clusters in mind gives you a framework for how to buy clothes instead of shopping blindly. A lot of women find shopping overwhelming, and this is usually because they don’t have a plan. Buying items to fit into an existing cluster or putting together a new cluster gives you a plan: You know what you are looking for, you know the colours and styles you are looking for, and you go out and find them!

It saves you money…lots of money! Often, we wander around the mall hoping something will catch our eye. We pick up an item at one store that we like, and then another item at another store, and we go home. We might even spend a considerable amount of money on several items, but we get them home and they hang in our closets with the tags still on them because we have nothing to wear with them. What a shame!

It eliminates orphans. I go into my clients’closets all the time and find lots of orphans. What is an orphan? It is an item of clothing that doesn’t fit into an outfit. It doesn’t go with anything else …except maybe jeans or black pants. We have already talked about dressing “one dimensionally,”and this happens most frequently when we buy orphans. And then we wonder why we have a closet full of clothes and nothing to wear!

This is a reprint of a chapter in my book, “CLOSET RESCUE“, available from Amazon,
or in digital format on Kindle.

Janise Bachler, the Closet Diva, and author of Closet Rescue, available on Amazon, has been helping men and women how to dress and to refine their personal image, or brand, in a way that brings them personal and professional success since 2006. Janise can help you build a wardrobe that works for every facet of your life and that will enhance your success. For more info, visit


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