What I Wore: Four Seasons, One Closet, Endless Recipes for Personal Style


Personal style expert Jessica Quirk approaches getting dressed just as you would plan the perfect meal: With a smartly stocked pantry and a few gorgeous “spotlight ingredients,” inspiration comes easily.

In What I Wore, named after her enormously popular blog, Jessica shares recipes for creating a stellar wardrobe to get you through spring, summer, fall, and winter. From ...

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What I Wore: Four Seasons, One Closet, Endless Recipes for Personal Style

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Personal style expert Jessica Quirk approaches getting dressed just as you would plan the perfect meal: With a smartly stocked pantry and a few gorgeous “spotlight ingredients,” inspiration comes easily.

In What I Wore, named after her enormously popular blog, Jessica shares recipes for creating a stellar wardrobe to get you through spring, summer, fall, and winter. From delicates (bras, slips, lingerie) to the basics every woman should have (black pants, white shirts, knee-high leather boots) to the dramatic touches that set just the right tone (scarves, jewelry, handbags), she shows you how to take your look from ordinary to outstanding without breaking the bank. Inside you’ll discover how to
• remix the clothing you already have for dozens of fresh, pulled-together looks
• become a smarter shopper and always get the most bang for your buck
• create wow-worthy ensembles for special occasions, weekends, and the office
• supplement basics and investment pieces with fun and inexpensive accessories
Plus you’ll learn tailoring tricks, handy hints, and packing tips to ensure that you always leave the house looking your best. Loaded with hundreds of vibrant, original illustrations and unique suggestions for combining colors, patterns, and textures, What I Wore will help you feel stylish and confident, each and every day.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble

Think of this as a cookbook or toolbox for your closet. Bloomington-based It girl Jessica Quirk gained a internet reputation with her style-setting What I Wore blog. In this ambitious offshoot, she tackles those basic mix-and-match questions that every would-be fashionista has: How can a gal pull together good looks out of a haphazardly constructed wardrobe? How can I apply my personal style without risking embarrassment? How do you create a successful ensemble outfit for special occasions? How can inexpensive accessories be used to brighten up any outfit?

Library Journal
Author of the blog What I Wore (whatiwore.tumblr.com) since May 2007, Quirk is developing a strong reputation in the fashion and blogging communities. In her book, she helps readers create functional, fashionable wardrobes by building on basics, adding special and seasonal items, and using pieces in versatile ways to get more wear throughout the year. For each season, she recommends beginning with pieces that transition from the previous one, then adding in seasonal items and accessories. Clothing pieces are presented as single items in color drawings and then as components in three to four outfits. Quirk provides inspirations for three weeks of work and weekend outfits for each season, as well as special occasions (e.g., weddings, work picnics). She also describes essential "Tools of the Trade" (full-length mirror, lint roller) and provides easy storage tips. VERDICT Quirk's voice is likable, and though her style may be seen as more relevant for women of a similar age and body shape (Quirk is in her late twenties and tall and slim), her ideas are practicable for a large audience.—Meagan Storey, Virginia Beach
Kirkus Reviews

A guide to the complete wardrobe for any season and occasion.

Quirk, a former intern to style legend Betsy Johnson, combines unpretentious style advice and her unique fashion sense in whipping up a complete wardrobe in cookbook format. Starting with a checklist for the essential ingredients in every woman's closet, the author sprinkles tips and techniques for integrating the latest trends with basic pieces—a useful tool for anyone who has ever been overwhelmed by racks of garments and endless choices. Seasonal choices for spring call for a classic trench coat, a dark turtleneck and dark jeans or trousers, among other essentials, which can be paired and garnished in a variety of ways for myriad outfits. Quirk, who also serves as the book's illustrator, incorporates her step-by-step guide to building the perfect outfit with drawings and photographs that bring her design concepts to life. Organized by season and broken down by week, these ideas will spice up any closet. Her language is concise, much like the instruction she offers. While trying on every outfit in your arsenal before packing a suitcase or cleaning out your closet might not be realistic to those with a hectic schedule, Quirk's passion for apparel is apparent. She's created a go-to fashion manual that won't expire with the latest trends.

A great read for those in need of a crash course in style.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780345526106
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 7/5/2011
  • Pages: 144
  • Sales rank: 788,889
  • Product dimensions: 7.18 (w) x 9.14 (h) x 0.31 (d)

Read an Excerpt

Getting Started

Taking Stock of What You've Got and Building a Smarter Closet

Between my freshman and sophomore years in college, I took a summer job working in a factory that produced quilted handbags out of a small Midwestern town. Perfect!, I thought, here was my first foray into the fashion industry. I worked on the cutting line-pulling fabric from the bolt onto a long table and stacking it twenty or thirty layers deep in a seven-yard space. I worked with a partner and our favorite things to talk about were variations on If I could only have twelve pieces of clothing, what would they be? and What would you buy with a bajillion dollars? Since then, I've always kept a little running list in the back of my mind of what I'd do in either of those situations-how I could make the most of a closet limited to a dozen items versus what it would be like to completely make over my closet from scratch with a wad full of cash.

Let's talk about your actual budget. No matter how much money you have to spend per season, the questions are the same: What to buy? Where to spend? Where to save? For a four-season climate, your yearly budget should be roughly broken down to:

30 percent for spring (This is when you'll buy most of your warm- weather clothing.)

15 percent for summer (Add-on pieces like sundresses, skirts, and blouses in lighter-weight fabric-which also cost less.)

45 percent for fall (Spend now for the majority of your cold- weather clothing, including a coat, shoes, boots, denim, etc.)

10 percent for winter (Spruce things up with a few heavier sweaters and holiday items.)


Basics: classic pieces in core colors that you wear year after year and that work for every season.

Core colors: neutral building blocks like black, dark brown, or charcoal gray

Secondary colors: bright or bold trendy colors that are season specific (for example, pastels in spring or jewel tones in fall)

Add-ons: trendy and seasonal pieces that round out your closet

Let's start with the basics and add-ons every woman should have in her closet.

Color Story

Pick Your Core Color

When you're getting started with your year-round basic clothing, it's best to stick to a core color-like black, dark brown, or charcoal gray. A lot of women end up with nothing to wear because they've limited themselves to wearing an item only one way (this happens when you shop for head-to-toe "looks"). If everything in your closet flows from one piece to the next, from outfit to outfit, you're left with so many more potential combinations. That flow is best achieved by starting with the following basic items in one core color:

Once you feel your basics are covered in one core color (and you're buying quality, classic clothes that last more than a single season), expand into a new core color.

If you can afford to spend more on the basic part of your closet, do it, especially for investment pieces such as blazers, slacks, skirts, and coats. Although your head-to-toe look doesn't need to cost a fortune, wearing one high-quality (and sometimes more expensive) item can make your entire outfit look more polished. You can get away with spending less on tights, tees, and casual sweaters because these need to be replaced more often and are not usually the focal point of an outfit.

Secondary Color Palette

Next, start to add diversity and pattern into your closet with a new set of what I'm calling your add-on pieces. While your core colors work year-round, your seasonal add-on pieces will be in secondary colors. For this example, I've started with the blues and purples in the prints of the dress and skirt. From there, I've added on a violet cardigan that works with both pieces. For each new garment you add-on, make sure there's something it will work with in your current closet (basics or other add-on pieces). Key add-on pieces include:

I usually spend less money on items that are multicolored or patterned because they have less mix-and-match possibilities than their solid- color counterparts. And while you might wear the same bold-printed skirt two weeks in a row, you probably won't wear it two days in a row like you can with a solid-colored cardigan or skirt.

The idea here isn't to be matchy matchy with every single item you have-your closet doesn't need to look like a color-coordinated boutique. Instead, it's more about buying clothes that flow from one outfit to the next, like the tights and cardigans and accessories that transform your investment pieces into weeks and weeks worth of outfits.

Pro Tip: When shopping, make a rule for yourself that each new piece you buy goes with at least three things you already have in your closet.


Shoes may be a small part of your outfit, but they're an important one. The bulk of your shoe collection will be specific to your needs (standing all day, work safety, lots of walking), but don't limit yourself there. To be covered for almost every occasion, the most basic shoe stash should contain:

Of all these shoes, walkable flats are the pair that need to come with a warning: White gym sneakers should never, ever be worn with business suits, office outfits, or cocktail dresses (or really any place other than the gym). If you have a long walk to and from your job, go ahead and get a supportive pair of walking shoes, but spice things up by going with an old-school color palette (like burnt orange, maroon, mustard yellow, navy) or go with some funky flats with built-in cushioning.

In the following chapters I've paired up the shoes I think will look best with an outfit, but you can always swap out flats for heels or vice versa.

The Foundation

Finally, buy yourself some decent underwear! Get rid of anything that doesn't make you feel good about your body (and you know exactly what I'm talking about). A modern woman might argue that slips are for grannies, but they'll make your clothes flow when you're wearing tights or hosiery. I've had luck finding them in specialty lingerie boutiques, finer department stores, and vintage shops. They've been a lifesaver so many times for me that I'm slowly but surely adding to my collection with different lengths and colors. And the proper length is important-just the other day I attempted to roll the waistband of a half slip so it didn't show under the mini-skirt I was wearing. Big mistake! Within half an hour the hem of that slip started to creep down to reveal itself. Not cute. Slips should always be shorter than your skirt.

For your foundation garments I recommend:

Analyze Your Closet

Now that you know what you need to buy to get your wardrobe into tip- top shape, let's figure out what you already have that's worth keeping. When I take stock of my closet, I remove everything from the shelves, drawers, and hangers and throw it all on my bed (so I can't talk myself out of the job and crash for a nap halfway through). This is the kind of project that takes a lot of energy, so you should plan for an entire Saturday or Sunday with a mind-set of determination. Once you have one giant pile, assess each piece and create three new piles: yes, maybe, and donate/resell. With each item you pick up, use your flash judgment. At the beginning of the process, you'll feel like putting a lot into the "yes" pile, but as you progress, you'll be getting rid of the pieces that don't make you look and feel your best. You might even want to go through the "yes" pile again and try to narrow it down even more. A lot of women hold on to clothes years after the last time they wore an item, telling themselves, "I might need this later!" The truth is, you probably won't need it later, and if you get rid of something you're not wearing anyway, you open the door to replace it with something that you'll love even more.

Now it's time to try everything on. It might sound crazy, but it's a waste of space to put things in your closet that don't fit, and it's aggravating when you reach for that piece when you're in a rush. Anything that's not within one size of fitting perfectly needs to go to the tailor or Goodwill. (I make one exception to this rule. On the back shelf of my closet I keep one pair of "skinny" jeans for when I'm feeling extra sexy and one pair of "slouchy" jeans for when I'm not.) Take everything that doesn't fit or is no longer to your taste and put it in another room so you're working only with the good stuff. While you're trying each item on and checking it out in a full-length mirror, ask yourself:

Does it flatter my body?

Did I feel great the last time I wore it?

Can I remember the last time I wore it?

If you answer no to any of these questions, get that item out of your closet, pronto.

The important thing to remember is to build your closet around the life you're living now. If you spend most of your time at the office, buy work clothes. If your primary interest is comfort, find ways to be practical yet stylish. If you love nightlife, buy yourself some sexy tops and dresses. It's all about balance to suit you and your time. I'll go into more detail on your basics, add-on pieces, shoes, and accessories for each of those situations in the following chapters.

In Your Closet or Store for the Season?

Now that you have separated out the best of your wardrobe, everything should be clean and ironed before it goes onto a hanger and back into your closet. Just like clothes that don't fit, it doesn't make sense to have wrinkled pieces that put up a big ol' roadblock when you're already short on time. If you hate to iron, keep that in mind when you head out on your next shopping trip, and stop buying fabrics that get wrinkled easily. I find that most of the time, if you hang your clothes up right after they're washed and dried, you'll be fine. Otherwise, send anything that needs to be pressed to the cleaners if you can't bear to iron it yourself.

What about seasonal gear? Only keep out the current season's clothes and put everything else out of sight. Granted, you'll have crossover items that work from season to season (or even year-round) like jeans, button-ups, blazers, and basic dresses, but anything for extreme weather should be packed up. I have pretty small closets, so it's absolutely essential for me to pack away out-of-season clothing in space-saving bags, big plastic tubs, or in unused suitcases and store them out of sight. (For me that's the top and back of my closets, but dry attics and basements also do the trick.) I know so many women with closets that are packed to the brim who still always end up feeling like they have nothing to wear, which is true if you have sundresses hanging in your closet in winter or puffy coats in summer. So do yourself a favor and only work with the ingredients for the season and the weather outside your door.

Tools of the Trade

After the clothes and shoes and accessories, there are a few things every gal should also have on hand to take proper care of her wardrobe:

. Cascade-style flocked hangers to save space

. Full-length mirror near your closet

. Ironing board and steam iron

. Lint roller

. Small sewing kit containing scissors, safety pins, straight pins, black and white thread, small multicolor thread set

. Jar for all those extra buttons that you may never use but will be very happy to have in one place should you need them

. Tape measure for cross-checking measurements when online shopping

. Shoe polish kit

And if you're really into having fun with your closet and have the space:

. Folding clothing rack (great for packing and laying out/ organizing a week's worth of outfits)

. Upright steamer

. Three-way mirror (always check your front and backside before dashing out of the house)

. Dress form to display scarves and bags (or even full outfits)

. Wig forms for hats (either very awesome or very creepy)


Flocked hangers are covered in slip-free fabric to prevent your clothes from falling off

Wooden hangers are ideal for heavier items like jackets and coats or suits

Plastic hangers can work double duty for hanging slacks or blouses

Trouser Clip hangers are ideal for skirts or pants hung by the hem

Wire hangers aren't great for long-term use-they can easily snag clothing and leave permanent poke marks on the shoulders of your blouses. Toss 'em!

Always and Never

Although I'd like to believe there aren't a whole lot of rules left in fashion, there are some things I'd classify as "Always" and "Nevers." My fashion favorites and pet peeves:


. Wear what flatters your body, regardless of the trends

. Remember, how you feel about yourself is the most important part of getting dressed

. Have a go-to outfit ready in your closet for mornings when you feel uninspired

. Find time to play dress-up and create new outfits (like on Sunday night with a glass of wine)


. Wear pants with dragging hems

. Sport a muffin top

. Buy something just because it's on sale

. Wear flip-flops (except for the salon and the beach)

. Wear brown corduroy in summer, yellow chiffon in winter

. Leave the house in a dirty or wrinkled outfit

. Wear bunchie undies under body-conscious garments (or ever?)

. Resort to safety pins instead of a tailor (except in emergencies, of course)

So now you have a wardrobe that may be a bit smaller, but it's full of clothing that you love, that's clean and pressed, and that fits. You're off to an excellent start!

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Sort by: Showing all of 13 Customer Reviews
  • Posted July 5, 2011

    Read the Blog Instead

    I was really excited for this book to be released as I've been a long time reader of the What I Wore blog, but I don't feel like it offered any tips that I couldn't have read on the blog or in the latest issue of any fashion magazine. I'm glad I sat down to read it at the store instead of purchasing the book online, as I will save my money and continue to just read Jessica's blog instead. I think she is a talented girl, but this book unfortunately fell short of my expectations. Almost all the outfits illustrated in the book can be seen on her blog in photograph form. I was hoping for some new looks and some more variety. I'm not sure why they didn't just use pictures from the WIW blog and call this book a "best of", I feel like that would have been more on target with what it is.

    8 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 5, 2011

    Not impressed

    I was really let down by this book. It's all obvious fashion knowledge and I was disappointed to see that the drawings were all of Jessica. I'm a little shorter and curvier than her and I would have liked to see some drawings that related more to my body type. If I want to see what she wore, I'll stick to her blog.

    5 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 28, 2011

    Not really helpful

    I picked this up on clearance at my local store. I thought the cover outfit seemed really dated, but for $4, I thought it might be worth a read as the illustrations seemed nice. After getting it home and thumbing through it I realized I should have gone with my initial judgement. Most of the advice inside is self-explanatory and many of the outfits inside are just not stylish. I'd never heard of the author, but figured she must be employed in the fashion industry since she scored a book deal. I was disappointed to learn she was just a girl with a fashion blog. I'm sure she must have a good sense of personal style to attract enough readers to warrant a book deal, but I don't understand who thought this would make her qualified to offer fashion advice to others.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 9, 2011

    A Must-Buy for fashion lovers.

    There are very few fashion books that I purchase, just for the simple fact that they are repetitive and sometimes shallow. But this book is THE BEST. It is one I will keep in my small collection. Quirk is smart and frugal. This is a must for anyone truly interested in creating and maintaining a classic and fun wardrobe. I have been following Quirk's blog and have been so anxious for the release of this book. It was well worth the wait!!

    1 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 11, 2011

    Great read for those interested in evolving/improving their sense of style!

    I have been following Jessica's blog for some time now, and she always inspires me with her daily outfit posts. A lot of the stuff she wears is affordable, everyday wear that is accessible to anyone with any budget.

    Her book is no different. It makes being chic accessible to everyone by talking about basics rather than brands. It gives you a new and very simple perspective on editing your closet (something that I need to work on), while still maintaining your own personal style.

    Whether you read her blog or not, I do believe that the book has something unique to offer that the blog does not. While the blog is about Jessica's own style, the book is about editing your closet to make dressing season to season easier and more chic.

    Overall it was a great book, and I will definitely be using some of the tips mentioned in it. If you want to explore yours/others style and work on evolving it constantly, this is a great book to read.

    1 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 10, 2011

    This is my HG!

    Definitely for the, dare I say, "fashionistically challenged", this book just might take me out of the 'jeans and t-shirt' category. I never know what to buy except for what I think is "cute", and find myself with a closet full of "cute" and nothing to wear! At last, there is a book that tells me what I should have for the basics, what additional pieces to add, and that there can be almost infinite ways to put it all together. And for each season, too!
    Miss Quirk's illustrations are lovely and detailed, and she has a beautifully natural voice to her writing, which makes this book not only filled with information, but most enjoyable to look at and read. This is a very well put together book with common sense suggestions for anyone who finds styling a "look" a daunting prospect. I highly recommend it!

    1 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 9, 2012

    It's okay.

    I was left wanting more after reading this. There's a lot of very cute ideas in here and tips on building your wardrobe, but I am big on picture examples and would have been happy with tons more of them.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 30, 2011

    Great book for even the non fashion challenged

    I am new to Jessica's blog & saw her book the other day. I didn't expect much since I am a fashion nut myself, but there were some great tips. I tend to plan my clothes out each Sunday with a glass of wine while indulging on some guilty tv, and was glad to see her recommend advance planning. But she also gave great suggestions for setting up a closet and pairing clothes together. This would be a great gift for a college grad getting ready to get started in the world or as a refresher for someone in a rut.

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  • Posted September 17, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Inspiring !

    I've been a long reader of Jessica Quirk's blog - What I Wore, and this book is the icing on the cake! After reading bits of it, I finally sat down and just did it! I pulled everything out of my wardrobe and started piecing together outfits and hanging them back up in that order. It feels great! The total mess that was my wardrobe has disappeared and the daily stress of deciding what to wear will no longer haunt me! Definitely a great book for those of us who shop, shop, shop and still don't have any outfits to show it. Going through Jessica's book will help you work out what items go together and what items don't have a match. For those items, you will go shopping, nothing else!

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 2, 2011

    Can't wait

    I've read Jessica's blog for almost two years now, and love her daily outfit inspiration. Focusing more on personal style than on what's trendy, she creates cute outfits that sho her personality. Her mantra of "look good, feel good" is shown both in her clothes and how she carries herself. Jessica is a strong woman and this is represented in her fashion. I can't wait to read this book to learn some fashion tips, as well as to see how she puts together outfits. The best part is that she did the illustrating herself! This girl is a true talent!

    0 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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    Posted December 19, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted August 25, 2011

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 22, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

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