Learning to Work with What You Got | Building a Working Wardrobe

how to work with what you got, maternity style

The key to having a well edited, workable wardrobe is knowing what you got.

And last week we discussed the first step to knowing what you got is clearing the clutter with a closet clean out.

Now when we think of a classic closet organization it typically involves removing everything from our closet, trying each individual item – piece by piece, building piles labelled ‘sell’, ‘donate’, or ‘mend’, and hanging the survivors back in our closet in an organized fashion.

But let’s be honest with one another – that process takes a lot of time and energy that many of us simply don’t have (or if you do, you most likely want to put the time and energy towards something else).

Luckily for you, I have a simpler solution that doesn’t require full unloading and dissecting your closet piece by piece.

Friends, it’s time you got yourself familiar with The Ribbon Rule.

This is a wardrobe styling trick I learned from fellow stylist and business mentor Hilary Rushford of Dean Street Society.

And I’m here to attest that it’ll help you organize your closet and clear the clutter, all while challenging your creativity in less than a minute.

how to work with what you got, maternity style

how to work with what you got, maternity style

The Ribbon Rule

So, how does it work?

Simply grab a ribbon, men’s tie, scarf, or anything lying around your home that you can tie on your closet rod.

Tie the ribbon at the end of your closet. Then, as you pull items to wear, launder them, and return them to your closet, put them behind the ribbon while continuing to pull clothing ONLY from the front of the ribbon.

As time goes on – depending on the size of your closet – you’ll not only rediscover what you have, but you’ll learn:

  • what you like (items behind the ribbon)
  • what you don’t like or are unsure of how to wear (items in front of the ribbon)
  • and challenge your creativity as you start to delve into the untapped 80% of your closet

how to work with what you got, maternity styleShop the look


Take this look for example.

As simple as it may look (basic tank + jeans + sandals), it required some extra brain power to get it together.

I’ll admit, dressing in the 3rd trimester has become increasingly uninspiring.

The bump has grown with a vengeance and I’ve begun to run out of ideas for what to wear besides oversized dresses, as they seem to be the only thing that fits.

For me, this is primetime for learning to work with what I got. So I’m learning to pay attention to special details.

Yes this outfit consists of an everyday tank and jeans, but the floral embroidered details, panama hat, and bold lip color give the look personality.

So what could be really basic, comes across a little more playful.

And this is something the Ribbon Rule can help you realize in your own closet.

I won’t lie, it’s a challenge. Especially when you’ve gone through your trusty 20%.

So to help you through the struggle, here are a few extra tips for keeping creativity flowing while working with what you got and building the wardrobe of your dreams.


how to work with what you got, maternity style


Keep Inspiration on Hand

One of the best ways to curb a lack of creativity is to have access to items that inspire you right in your closet.

This can be in the form of an actual vision or mood board filled with favorite images from magazines, a Pinterest board of favorite outfits, or style books that you can quickly reference for ideas.

Whatever you decide to do, know having inspiration on hand will be a savior on those mornings where you just can’t muster the energy to think creatively and need some assistance.

Think of it as a prompt for your mind to start thinking outside the box!

RELATED POST: How to Use Pinterest to Define & Refine Your Style

Curate an All Weather Wardrobe

Those of you who live in climates where you experience 4 seasons are probably used to packing away winter clothes for the summer and vice versa.

It makes sense – especially if you have limited closet space.

I used to always find myself giddy with excitement when there was a change in temperature. It was my signal to unpack the next season’s clothes and a welcomed opportunity to reinvent my style.

And while I still experience that excitement, I’ve made the conscious effort to focus on curating a wardrobe that’ll work for all seasons – lessening the amount I pack away.

The biggest benefit is that it prevents unnecessary shopping, as what you currently have will always be right in front of you. So there’ll be no second guessing if that sweater from last season still fits.

It can also spark your creativity by offering the opportunity to play with layers and textures throughout the year.

how to work with what you got, maternity style

Beg, Borrow, Steal (but not really)

Don’t get me wrong – I love having my own place with the hubs.

But sometimes I miss the atmosphere of living with gal pals, especially because you have direct access to multiple closets!

Not that I don’t still poke around DCT’s items from time to time 😉

Still, it’s not the same. Living with girlfriends made my wardrobe feel like it was 3x its actual size.

Borrowing from girlfriends is a great way to feel like you have more in your closet than you actually do.

This is especially handy when you have an event coming up and are itching for something special to wear.

Before rushing off to the store, reach out to a few friends to see if they have anything they’d be willing to let you borrow.

Chances are you’ll find something that’ll be perfect – with minimal to zero extra spending. #win!

Never Underestimate the Power of Makeup

It’s true.

Makeup and hair hold a lot of power in changing a look.

And it’s more cost effective than going out to buy a whole new outfit as most drugstores offer quality products that cost less than $10.

You may be wearing the same dress, but add a sultry cat-eye or bold lip and you create a whole different mood.

how to work with what you got, maternity style

I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Is the Ribbon Rule something you’d be willing to try in your own wardrobe?

Let’s chat in the comments!

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