This post is going to be a little different from my usual wardrobe challenges. On one of my previous posts Shannie Bee from Lace a la Mode asked if I could take a look at her wardrobe and, big fan of her and her blog that I am, I instantly said yes even though her wardrobe contains than the twenty main pieces that is where I normally cap these types of posts. To be honest, it's really not feasible to approach a wardrobe like hers in the way I normally do so instead I am sharing, with examples, my method for finding and filling gaps in a large lolita wardrobe.
The problem with larger wardrobes is that you can't look at it all at once and see patterns in that way; due to sheer volume it's impossible to take in everything at the same time. So instead I find you need to accumulate data and see patterns from there. This may sound daunting and not very fun, but I love doing this! The first step in gathering data is to look at every main piece in the wardrobe and determine what colours each one can match with, and taking notes about it. As an example I'm using a random sampling of dresses from Shannie's wardrobe, and have numbered them for quick reference.
So, starting from the top, I'm going to list the colours each dress would match well with. To do this first I draw from the colours in the print, if there is a print, and then I consider what colours would also go well with it that may not be present.
1. Red, white, chocolate brown, ivory, sax blue, pink and burgundy.
2. White, ivory, red, chocolate brown, peach and burgundy.
3. Pink, sax blue, white, lavender and jade green.
4. Ivory, chocolate brown, burgundy, pink and lavender.
5. Black, white, burgundy and royal blue.
6. Sax blue, pink, white and red.
7. Literally any colour would work but white, pink, sax blue, peach and lavender are the ones I think are best.
8. Peach, ivory, pink, chocolate brown and burgundy.
Now that I have a list of what colours will work with what it's a matter of distilling those colours into accompanying items for the wardrobe. Here I use an idea that I outlined in my post about different methods you can use to start a lolita wardrobe; creating "base sets" of items in a singular colour consisting of a pair of shoes, legwear, headwear and a top. I would aim to have two or preferably three sets that would work with each main piece, and would prioritise sets that will work with a majority of pieces. So for this sample of Shannie's wardrobe the colours I would choose for the base sets are:
5. Sax blue
After having figured out what colours to get a base set in, the next set is to look at your wardrobe and see what you have already in those colours. Shannie had most of the items needed for each of the base sets in these colours. The pieces that she would have to buy are indicated with the a red dot in the picture below.
As you can see, she already had many of the necessary pieces... she even had a pink blouse, but it was a very different shade of pink to the shoes, socks and headbow that I felt it better to replace it. The main things she needs to get are the burgundy pieces but if you refer back to the list of what colours each piece matches with she could have chosen to run with chocolate brown instead and the only piece that would really suffer from that is the Juliette et Justine dress, number five.
To make this post a bit more like my regular wardrobe challenges, I've put together three outfits for each of the eight main pieces I selected using the items from the base sets, which I think shows quite well how effective this method of wardrobe building can be.
With all the colours in the print this JSK was very easy to come up with different looks for, and I could have easily done more as well!
Conversely, despite having several colours to work with as well, this JSK was a bit harder to coord with its peachy colouring. However, mixing and matching still allowed me to come up with three very different looks.
I don't have too much to say about these coords; this JSK has quite an elegant cut so I tried not to go to casual.
Chocolate with no extra brown... shocking! I actually really liked not incorporating more brown into these outfits.
This JSK has the most limited options with the base sets I chose but by using the complete burgundy set, the complete white set and then mixing the two I still came up with some very different looks.
Dresses like this remind me of why I love sweet lolita; it's so easy to coord!
This white JSK is a good example of how versatile plain pieces can be as I think each of these outfits have a very different feel to them.
Lastly, this JSK was also fairly easy to play around with, though I'm not 100% sure if the pinks will match, but given Innocent World's knack for inaccurate stock photos I wasn't worrying too much about that!
So there's a small example of analysing a wardrobe [or part thereof, in this case] and selecting base sets of items to complement it. It's a good method, I find, but not one that needs to be followed to the letter as far as what goes into the base sets. You may find that you only need some of the pieces, for example perhaps only the burgundy shoes and bolero, rather than the full set. Alternatively, if you had these eight main pieces and knew you wanted to buy more black dresses perhaps you'd look into getting a set in black as well. You may want several legwear options in each colour, or a few different tops. My point is that after figuring what base colours work well with your wardrobe and seeing what you have and what you potentially need you can refine the list of things to get to complete your wardrobe from there. You may not feel the need for matchy-matchy shoes, for example, which would simplify your base sets if you didn't need shoes for each one. You may always buy and like to wear the matching legwear and headwear to a set, and thus only need to look for tops and shoes. These base sets are just that; a base, and one that you can modify to suit your tastes.
It's also worth mentioning that base sets do not need to be worn together and in isolation, nor do you need to have an entire set in each colour. The point is that analysing what colours would go with each piece in your wardrobe, then figuring out which of those colours would go with the most things while still giving you several options for each main piece is a logical way to go about bringing cohesiveness and variety to you wardrobe without running into problems where you have dresses with hardly anything that matches. This doesn't mean that you shouldn't buy awesome accessories that go with only one thing in your wardrobe, and I swear a jade green bolero would be the coolest thing ever with dress number three above, but this is the method I think is best for getting the most possibilities for each of your dresses and skirt out of the least accompanying pieces.
I've tried to be as clear as possible here but I know I can be a bit rambly at times so if you have any questions feel free to drop me a comment.