Building a Versatile Closet || Why I Shop Beyond My Current Body and Style


We all know the feeling. Facing a full closet that somehow seems empty. You, once again, have nothing to wear in spite of a wardrobe smashed full of pieces you’ve spent years collecting. So you toss on the same thing you wore yesterday, or pull together an outfit that makes you feel at least a little bit “you” and walk out the door, feeling unsatisfied and, probably, discontent with more than just your ootd.

Familiar, yes?

If you’re one of the few who has never experienced discontent with your closet (you may be a goddess or a mythical creature, because I really doubt than any mere mortal has ever escaped this discontent), it’s probably the fault of one of two reasons: you have an unlimited budget and closet space OR you’ve masted the art of versatility.

Although I don’t claim to be a closet goddess, I have learned a few things about minimizing the “empty closet phenomenon” and building a wardrobe I really love. The first, most important, golden rule to me will always be versatility.

A Case for Versatility

Unless you’re Marie Kondo herself, it’s nearly impossible for every piece in your wardrobe to seamlessly flow together. But versatility is one of the most important keys for getting the most out of your closet and, if you want to, minimizing it as a whole.

Although it’s pretty self-explanatory, I think of a “versatile piece” as one that flows between multiple outfits and occasions. It’s a piece that fits you throughout each month and season, as your lifestyle changes and as your body evolves. It’s a piece that lives your life along with you.

The definition is simple, but finding truly versatile pieces isn’t.

Here are a few reasons why I believe versatility is so important to consider when buying a new piece:

1. Your clothes will fit you as your body changes

  • This means less “maternity shopping” and no “period clothes”.

2. Your clothes will transition from season to season

3. You can shop less and live more

How to Build a Versatile Closet

A few “rules” to consider as you build a thoughtful, cohesive wardrobe:

  1. Can I mix and match this piece with more than 50% of what I already own?

  2. Will this piece fit me on an “off day” or if my body fluctuates?

  3. Does this piece make me feel like myself?

  4. Can I travel in this piece or style it for multiple occasions?

  5. Will it fit into my real lifestyle?

If the answer to most of these questions is “yes” then you’ve found yourself a versatile gem.

What building a versatile closet isn’t.

Slow fashion often gets a bad rap for being boring or “potato sack”-ish. Although there are definitely more than enough oversized, beige pieces to go around (I proudly own several), versatility isn’t chalked up to being lifeless or blah.

The key is finding pieces that feel versatile within your personal style. This might mean a lot of neutrals and beige. Or, it might mean pattern mixing and bright colors and fun silhouettes. As long as you’re shopping with versatility in mind, you don’t have to limit yourself to pieces that don’t have personality.

One brand that I’ll refer you to over and over for truly mastering the art of versatility is Encircled. I’ve worked with them before and am excited to say you’ll be seeing quite a bit of them on these virtual pages over the next few months.

In case you missed my first post, Encircled is a Canadian brand creating staple pieces with the traveling woman in mind. Each of their pieces is so incredibly versatile — many can be worn multiple ways and all are designed with the “rules” above in mind.

I’m wearing one of their most versatile in this post and, unless you know ahead of time, you probably can’t even tell that it’s the same piece.

Encircled’s Chrysalis Cardi — dress, scarf, cardigan, shirt, all in one.

Although I’ve only styled it two of the many ways in this post, the fact that I can wear my scarf as a dress, layered over and under pieces, as a jacket layer, as a beachy summer dress, or (as I’ll be doing lots in the future) as a nursing cover, is pretty staggering. Encircled shows 8 total ways to style the Cardi on their website, but I’m convinced there are even more options!

I’ll be taking this piece on our Babymoon next month to test it out while travelling AND to wear as a warm weather dress that works for a growing baby bump (the wrap dress and Grecian tunic styles are my favorite bump-friendly styles).

Now, let’s see if the Chrysalis Cardi meets my requirements for versatility:

  1. Can I mix and match this piece with more than 50% of what I already own?

    • Easily. The fabric, color, and multi-wear style makes it insanely easy to throw on with just about any outfit.

  2. Will this piece fit me on an “off day” or if my body fluctuates?

    • Yep. I specifically chose it with my continually changing pregnant (and post-pregnant) body in mind.

  3. Does this piece make me feel like myself?

    • Of course. I feel most “at home” in comfortable, flattering, and “live-able” pieces.

  4. Can I travel in this piece or style it for multiple occasions?

    • Oh yes.

  5. Will it fit into my real lifestyle?

    • And yes.

Clearly, Encircled knows what they're up to when it comes to designing pieces that give women more options without over-stocking their closet.

This piece is just a small sampling of the many that Encircled offers designed with versatility and real women in mind.

And best of all — you still have time to get an order in before their holiday shipping deadline hits! Any order placed before December 14th will arrive in time for Christmas and, just kidding, this is best of all — you can get free shipping with the code HOLIDAYSHIP18.

Now, let’s get real for a second. Tell me how your closet currently ranks on the “versatility scale” and let’s make a plan to get it where you want it to be!

*This post is part of an ongoing ambassador partnership with Encircled. All opinions, photos, and creative direction are my own. Thank you for supporting the brands that make SL&Co. possible!*