How to Build Outfits for Spring With a Streamlined Wardrobe

Updated 09/13/19
@wethepeoplestyle

If you're anything like us, your closet is probably packed to the brim, despite its small size. It's natural to look at your clothes and think I have nothing to wear, nothing fits, and I need new everything. Meanwhile, you could hardly fit another hanger on the rod. It's possible to streamline your closet, you just need to rethink how you build an outfit.

It's easy to fall into the trap of going on a mad shopping spree each new season, but we suggest doing this first: Ruthlessly edit, declutter, and organize your closet. Once you've made a little space, you can focus on the pieces you're actually missing for the next season.

You might not think it's possible, but you can survive an entire season with only 16 pieces, shoes included. The idea is to invest in four separate pieces in each of the following categories: tops, bottoms, footwear, and outerwear, and create as many outfit combinations as possible. Though 16 items of clothing may not seem like a lot to get through an entire season, if chosen carefully, they could create up to 256 outfit combinations. You probably have a few of these in your closet already—all you need to do is just fill in the gaps.

Power Meeting

The essentials: Let's start with the basics: the closet staples that will suit any occasion. More importantly, they're the items that will also make you feel timeless, elegant, and on top of your game should an important meeting pop up on your calendar. You need a pair of black trousers, a classic trench, and a crisp white shirt. Add to that a trendy pair of backless slippers to elevate the look.

j.crew trousers
J. Crew Frankie Pant $98
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mango trench
Mango Classic Belted Trench Coat $130
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theory shirt
Theory Cotton Button Down Shirt $284
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Gucci Princetown Leather Slipper $695
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Mix and match: Swap the flats for heels to dress up your look. Interchange the trench with an oversize blazer. Try the look with a statement-sleeve top and culottes, or a midi skirt. The possibilities for a power outfit are endless.

tory burch sweater
Tory Burch Bijou Button Shoulder Sweater $298
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topshop heels
Topshop Sammy Court Shoes $75 $45
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Night Out

The essentials: Everyone needs a few pieces to go from day to night: a pair of heels, flattering jeans, and a black moto jacket are a great place to start. Just add a top with statement sleeves to complete the look.

frame jeans
Frame Frame Le High Cropped Frayed Straight Leg Jeans $210
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IRO Ashville Leather Biker Jacket $1200
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Mix and match: Most of these items will work equally well on a weekday or weekend. The jeans-and-jacket combo is neutral and classic—and can be easily paired with any top or shoes in your collection.

Casual Office Day

The essentials: Kill two birds with one stone by getting a pair of white pants that are also culottes. An oversize blazer will dress up any outfit—even one that includes a casual tee (logo optional). Polish off the outfit with a pair of low block heels heels that will keep your look chic, and your feet comfortable.

Jesse Kamm Sailor Pant $395
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isabel marant blazer
Étoile Isabel Marant Kice Checked Wool-Blend Blazer $630
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topshop t shirt
Topshop Good Vibes T-Shirt $22
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j.crew heels
J. Crew Laney Pumps $168
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Mix and match: The trick to easy mixing and matching is to keep most pieces in neutral or muted tones—but that doesn't mean you can't throw in a colorful piece. Swap the casual tee with your blush pink statement top to instantly elevate the ensemble, or mix the culottes with a navy sweater and pair of backless slippers for a more classic look. 

J.Crew Tippi Sweater $80
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Weekend Wear

The essentials: Weekend looks are easy to pull off with this capsule spring wardrobe—just add white sneakers and a jean jacket. Go monochrome with a midi skirt–and–crewneck sweater combo that can easily be worn on a weekday with different shoes and outerwear. 

j.crew skirt
J.Crew Pleated Mini Skirt $98
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denim jacket
AG Jeans Robyn Denim Jacket $271
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Kenneth Cole Kam Sneaker $125 $100
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Mix and match: To mix up the look, add jeans or culottes, or swap the sweater for a classic tee. If you need something a little more elevated, reintroduce your slippers and moto jacket. You'll have all your spring weekend outfits covered in no time—and no one will ever notice you're working with the same 16 pieces.

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