How to Get Dressed in 5 Minutes

A new study reveals women spend 17 minutes a day choosing an outfit. Save an hour a week with these expert tips


Carrie Bradshaw's extensive wardrobe in Sex and the City. Picture / Supplied.

Seventeen minutes out of 24 hours — is that such a terrible amount of time to spend getting dressed? If most of that is frittered on indecisive dithering or fruitless searching for long-since buried items, if you only have an hour to get yourself and various other dependents out of the house, if you’re ruffled or stressed by the process, or dissatisfied with the end results, then yes. It is.

I can get dressed in five minutes. More to the point, most of the time I’m happy with the results throughout the day. That may not sound like a monumental lifetime achievement, but consider the degree to which ease, practicality and a feeling that you look the best you can for the job in hand contributes to a sense of well-being. A skirt that constantly rides up through the day, a shirt that gapes, a jacket that’s not quite good enough to take you into a management meeting, or shoes that rub your feet into mutinous slabs by lunchtime can seriously damage your day.

As with all streamlined routines, preparation is required. This means systematic (re)organisation of your wardrobe from the roots up.

HOW TO GET DRESSED IN 5 MINUTES

Know Your Style
Also called “Finding Your Uniform”, this is intoxicatingly liberating. Once you’ve worked out what suits your shape (book an appointment with an objective professional shopper in a store you trust), your personality (only you know what feels right) and your proclivities (are you dressing for a day in court, or a tennis court?), you can focus your energies.

Organise, Organise, Organise
The average wardrobe comprises 152 items, of which only 44 per cent are ever used. Overcome this by arranging your clothes and accessories so that they’re all visible and easy to access. I compartmentalise my clothes by genre and then colour - all my trousers in one section, for instance, graduated from black right through to sky blue and cream. That way, I can see at a glance what I’m running low on and what I’ve been over-buying.

Knitwear stretches if you hang it, so fold and place it in clear, sealable plastic bags. Remove all holiday-only clothes from the equation and pack away in a suitcase.

A Quiet Word About Accessories
We’ve all seen Iris Apfel’s specs and coveted Victoire de Castellane’s knuckledusters. We know that accessories maketh the outfit, but 8.10am is not the moment to work on a ring-stacking scenario. Practise your jewellery routine at weekends, working on fail-safe looks you can roll out with your eyes closed. Have block heels and flats, ankle boots and sandals polished and ready to go. The perfect daily bag? A tote with a toning or clashing clutch combination that offers maximum flexibility throughout the day and into evening.

Build Up Your Basics
Once you’ve pinpointed your core army - single-breasted blazers, or bias-cut skirts - track down at least one other permutation so you’re not reliant on only one dependable. A navy blazer, for example, is a stalwart with jeans, white and khaki trousers. But matching it with other blue trousers can be frustrating, which is when a Prince of Wales check back-up is handy. Next, augment your hero piece with a supporting cast: tops that sit smoothly under the jacket, shoes that complement the silhouette of your trousers, jumpers that are the right length for those skirts.

Learn to think in terms of complete outfits, so that whenever you buy something new you know it will not only slot in with what you have, but improve it. Don’t forget underwear. It should all be sleek, not show under any of your clothes and fulfil its job, which is to offer unimpeachable structural reform at all times.

Colour Coding
Unless you’re an instinctive colourist, stick to half a dozen complementary shades. It doesn’t have to be dull. Navy, pale pink, khaki, grey - and a kick of orange - all work together and allow for unpredictable mixes. White, cream, camel, metallic and a sprinkling of animal print can all be classed as neutrals.

Look After Your Clothes
Respect what you buy. Dispatch anything you haven’t worn in over a year to more deserving causes. Only hang in your wardrobe what’s clean, pressed and fully intact. For missing buttons and small repairs, find a decent dry cleaner that’s on your way to work, so you don’t have to wait weeks before you can get there.

Strategise Your Way Out of Stress
Unless I need to be out of the house at dawn, I’d rather take my chances and see what the weather, and my mood, suggests on the day. That said, I always glance at my diary before I turn out the lights to check what’s heading my way - meetings, after-office events - so I can mentally slot together some outfit options. Is it a car day, or will there be a lot of walking? If so, which bag will take the extra pair of heels required? It’s my equivalent of counting sheep - effective, productive and soothing.

— The Daily Telegraph

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