Wardrobe boot camp: how to create a grown-up winter look

Editor’s note: I gave myself the day off yesterday so a big thank-you to the uber-gorgeous Melissa from Sugercoatit for stepping up to run this week’s Wardrobe Boot Camp. Remember if you have wardrobe dilemma you’d like tackled in this blog series, email me me a photo with your plea to nikki@stylingyou.com.au

Good day Stylers, happy to be back in the driver’s seat for this week’s Wardrobe Boot Camp. Melissa here. Let’s get the ball rolling, shall we by meeting Sarah, a work-from-home mum who has recently relocated to Melbourne from sunny (sometimes!) Queensland. Her wardrobe needs to keep up with her life and be affordable.

But Sarah also has a desire to create a more grown-up winter look. Sarah is wearing sneakers and jeans, or tracksuits because they are comfortable and easy. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. But her aim is to create a more sophisticated look then these items alone just won’t do.

styling you - sarah1

The Plea

I need your fashion advice …. as you know I’m now in Melbourne and am not coping with the cold (former Queenslander, hello!). I NEED to go shopping but for something other than jeans and long t-shirt tops. I am lost. Anyway if you can help advise on a good winter wardrobe from afar? I need help. It’s time to be more sophisticated and grown up but also warm and comfy but have no idea where to start. Ohhh and am on a tight budget!

The Tips

5 great sophisticated outfits for Winter Left to Right: One, Two, Three, Four, Five

For those like Sarah who are aiming to “grow up” their wardrobe there, I have some tips.

1. The first being that you don’t have to ditch the fun to create a sophisticated wardrobe. There is no age limited on the classic jeans, tee and sneakers combo. Don’t give them up altogether if they are what you love, just add a little omph.

2. Create a fun ‘grown up’ wardrobe through the use of colour, texture and unexpected tailoring. My favourite example of this is adding a structured blazer to the jeans combo mentioned above. Make the blazer patterned or in a bright colour and ever better. For me the look in the image above with the floral peg pants is about as fun as it gets.

3. Another way to update items you already own and love is to add a pair of opaque tights or stockings. There is just something sophisticated about stockings, something that says check me out I’m all grown up. The added bonus is that this will stretch your summer wardrobe through the cooler months.

4. Consider too that it might not be time to go running to the shops just yet (I know, booooo). You will already own numerous items that will work beautifully. Take a look through your wardrobe and pull out items like quality coats and knits, jeans, structure dresses and blazers and anything that you’ve invested in that is particularly well made. I wrote a post recently on wardrobe essentials, that might be a great place to start looking.

5. When shopping look for items that are well made, there is something about a well-fitting item of clothing that adds immediate sophistication. Ditch those baggy items, badly cut and shapeless pieces. Clean lines and a clutter free wardrobe, that’s your aim.

6. And last but by no means least, stop trying so hard. There really is no set in stone way that a grown up looks like. Though you hardly ever see them in cropped tops and denim cut off come to think of it. So make your own rules, keep it simple, include some fun and colour and only buy new items that look made for you. Have fun, what’s the point of being able to do what you want if you don’t go a little nuts now and then.

The Shopping

how to create a grown up winter look

1. ASOS Curve Soft Blazer | 2. BASQUE Woman Blazer | 3. Virtu Knit Cardigan |  4. 17 Sundays Wet Look Tights |  5. Sportscraft Trench via Myer | 6. BASQUE Woman Skirt via MYER |  7. DJANGO & JULIETTE Albert Loafer | 8. Target Studded Flat

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melissa walker horn suger coat it profile image Melissa Walker Horn is the chief blogger at Suger Coat It, a blog about living the sweet life. Known as Suger, Melissa loves her family, too much butter on fresh bread and anything with stripes on it. Melissa created the Confident You challenge and Budget Fashionista post series and shares her love of fashion, the gym and cooking most days of the week on her blog. A social media addict and consultant, you will find Melissa anywhere you search for Suger with an e.

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  • Kathryn

    Some great tips here by Melissa and also in the other comments. I lived in Canberra for five years and my best investments for winter were thermal underwear (there are some pretty ones out now); woollen tights; scarves; a pair of gloves; a nice knitted cap/hat and a good warm coat (buy a good quality wool blend). And wear layers. It helps to buy accessories in neutral colours that will go with anything. And unlike buying lightweight cardi’s/jumpers in Queensland, try to buy woollen knitwear for extra warmth.

    Enjoy Melbourne – it’s an amazing place!

    • http://www.sugercoatit.com/ Melissa Walker Horn

      Thank you Kathryn! So glad you ladies from the cooler climates are helping out. I’m a true Queensland girl. ;)

  • Neats

    Love it! It was only yesterday I took a photo of my work from home outfit – layers provided by my son out of the dress up box… starting with my PJs and adding on a hard hat (aka bob the builder), plastic lei, old suit jacket and lions tail. Might need to go shopping for something a little more grown up

    • http://www.sugercoatit.com/ Melissa Walker Horn

      I love this. Not to discourage the dress up box, but probably. Haha. But keep the tail and hard hat, working from home is dangerous stuff.

  • Leah_loves

    Advice on how to survive a Melbourne winter:

    – Buy a lot of scarves. You will wear one every. single. day.
    – Layers, layers, layers. 3 or 4 plus a scarf usually does the trick. You could do say, a black metalicus long sleeve top under a coloured tee or top, under a blazer, then a coat for when you are outside. Another combo I really like is a shirt with a woolen jumper over the top, then a jacket. Always very warm.
    – Dresses with tights. Buy the tights lined with fleece. AMAZING! Or ponte pants if you are a tunic lady.
    – Wear boots. Your feet will freeze in anything else. In winter my footwear rule is to only wear shoes that you can wear socks with. I suspect, coming from QLD, you will need to stick to this rule for a while at least.
    – Buy natural fibres. Cotton and wool are the way to go. If your coat isn’t at least a wool blend then don’t bother.
    – Knit dresses are fantastic. If you can’t find any nice long sleeved ones then just buy singlet style and wear a long sleeved top underneath. Tuck it into your tights to stop it riding up:)
    – For outdoor activities, gumboots, a raincoat, gloves and a beanie are all your friends.

    Good luck! When I moved here from Newcastle in the middle of June 10 years ago it was a HUGE shock. Just remember that if you have any pets, they will really be feeling it too!

    • http://www.inspiredwish.com/ Jeanie

      As a QLD’er who moved to Geelong a few yeas ago I have a tone of advice.

      I can make this short. What she said! ;)

      • http://www.sugercoatit.com/ Melissa Walker Horn

        Haha. Perfect. ;)

    • http://www.sugercoatit.com/ Melissa Walker Horn

      Great, GREAT advice Leah. Thanks for helping out. That is one thing I know virtually nothing of, this Queensland girl loves the warmth. :)

  • Johanne Taylor

    I think when you’re on a budget, finding ways to stretch the summer stuff that you spent a bit more on is the key.
    Today I am wearing a Metalicus long sleeve top, jeans and boots, under a tunic top I have already worn all summer. Yesterday I had wool tights,boots and a long sleeve merino top under a summer dress, with a long cardigan on top. I find this layering is the best way to stretch your wardrobe.

    • http://www.sugercoatit.com/ Melissa Walker Horn

      Thank you Johanne. And the combinations you’ve put together sound like exactly what I was referring to!

  • Lisa Mckenzie

    I totally agree Melissa ,I am a grown up well if I am not now heaven help me ,I will be 50 this year! I have just stuck to more quality pieces for knits and jackets and I always spend more money on the basics that I love like boots,they end up paying for themselves over a few years and a good handbag or 3 actually I only own a few good ones,one black Charlie Brown Tote with orange handles and a pocket on the front in orange,a tan one and a brown one but I love them all.
    With the sales around at the moment you can pick up some gorgeous knits at great prices and look in different shops you may be surprised.I also spend a little bit more on quality leggings in ponte fabric those and jeans are my go to outfits and add a few pairs of coloured tights with a denim tunic and you have some grownup fun outfits,Good luck Sarah having a stylish grown up wardrobe and Melissa I love your choices.I would ditch the tees with writing or pictures on them too,but that is only my opinion ,have fun with colour too!

    • http://www.sugercoatit.com/ Melissa Walker Horn

      Thank you Lisa. It was great fun taking a look at what is around out there at the moment in all the SALES! Haha.

      You are so right too about those investment pieces in your wardrobe. I think it’s so important to start to buy pieces that will survive more than the one season and developing your look.

      • Lisa Mckenzie

        Yes indeed Melissa !