Reader Request: The Organized Wishlist


McKristie had this request:

… perhaps a tutorial on how you organize your ideas/finds/wants, when it comes to fashion – Between the web, magazines, things I overhear I have a hard time keeping track of it and will find an idea 6 months later that I could have used.

We’re all wired a bit differently, and I’ve heard some great ideas for how a fashionable femme can keep her wish lists and inspirational images neat and tidy. Some keep them stashed in folders on hard drives, some maintain bookmark lists in their browsers, some make inspiration boards. Whatever is fun, easy, and sustainable for you is your best bet.

I’m a bit old fashioned when it comes to keeping my stylistic desires organized, and my two main tools are as follows:


1. Word Doc
Since I do the vast majority of my shopping online, I find it helpful to have an electronic wishlist. When I find products I think I might actually want to purchase someday, I pop the product description and URL into this document. If I find something when I’m away from my home computer, I e-mail myself the link. This list also includes non-specific items, as you can see.

My Word doc wish list is my primary resource for organizing things I want to BUY.


2. Visual Style Journal
A while back, I wrote about the creation of this bad boy. I’ve been maintaining my visual style journal since May, and have found it absolutely invaluable. In it, I stash pages torn from magazines and catalogs as well as printouts of photos I see on websites and blogs. Since it’s organized by season, I’ve just been rotating the current season to the front of the binder. When it’s finally spring again, I’ll already have a bunch of leftover ideas from last year. I can weed out the looks that no longer appeal, and revive the ones I would’ve forgotten without this concrete visual reminder.

My visual style journal is my primary resource for organizing things I want to WEAR, mainly looks I want to emulate utilizing items I already own.

A few other tools I use to keep my stylistic wants and ideas orderly:

  • Outfit list: Every month or so, I jot down ideas for potential outfits. Top, bottom, shoes, accessories. I use my visual style journal, and also just poke around in my closet for inspiration. This is kept on a spiral-bound notepad on my desk.
  • Underutilized item list: I also keep a list of new or underutilized items. This list can either be a springboard for a new outfit that I’m creating on the fly, or serve as inspiration for the outfit list. It’s on the same pad as the outfit list.
  • Thrift list: A lot of those more general wants – the floral dresses and plaid tunics on my Word doc wish list – also go on a handwritten thrift list that stays in my wallet. Whenever I get the urge to thrift, I consult this list to stay on task.

All pretty analog, I realize. I like to think of myself as a modern, computer-savvy gal, but when it comes to organizing my style, I simply prefer paper. Don’t know why, but my imagination works better when it has images and ideas in solid form!

Top image courtesy koalazymonkey.

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  • Meli22

    Since I am a bargain hunter 100%, I find new items that I love and want, read reviews, put it on a wishlist, and look out for that item on ebay (for instance, anthropologie, which goes for CHEAP on ebay!) sometimes I find something, sometimes I don't, but it is fun to get something that was over $100 for under $20!

    For the needs list, I maintain a word doc list, and I try to stick to it and erase things as I get them. currently my list is TINY! πŸ™‚

    For inspiration, I steal images from all of you style bloggers when I see a combo/outfit/layering that I love, and save it in a folder on my computer. I organize it from there, and look through them for inspiration.

    I also have a excel spreadsheet of every article of clothing I own, color, year purchased, and price. It's really daunting, looking at that, so it stops me from shopping, esp. if it's something I already have! I try to use items I havn't seen or used in awhile in new outfits.

    Outfit ideas are written out in word and printed occasionally. πŸ™‚

  • Bridget

    You can also put a wishlist in a google doc online – that way there's a hyperlink already coordinated into the saved product. Pretty snazzy!

  • gina

    I keep an outfit list too! I keep it in a notebook in my closet. Anytime I think up new outfit possibilities, I write them in the notebook. If I'm not feeling inspired on a given morning, I pull out the outfit list and pick something off there to wear. That way I no longer just reach for a basic fallback slacks and sweater combo b/c I'm rushed or sleepy or uninspired.

  • Missy

    Amazon Universal Wishlist button! You can link items from any site to your Amazon Wishlist and even write little notes like what size. My MIL happens to check out the Amazon Wishlists of her loved ones, so sometimes I am gift a wish, other times it just helps me remember what I like and work towards in my bargain hunting and browsing.

    I also like to make spreadsheets in google docs to have on hand, lists for lots of hings, some that I share with my partner so he can add things too.

    PS: I do not work for Amazon. Are there other tools like this on other sites?

  • Clare

    I myself keep all my lists in my head, which then get boggled up and confused, and impossible to access on early mornings when my head is fuzzy and I need to get dressed. Maybe I should use one of your ideas…

  • Oranges And Apples

    I think your stuff sounds very organised and not at all low-tech.

    I don't do any of this really – it's all in my head and sort of meshes about there. I do spend a lot of time thinking about clothes and outfits because of the blog, so it's not like I don't do all this stuff – I just don't write it down. I will sometimes do outfit lists for the week ahead, or for special occassions, like holidays/vacations and if a particular items crops up again and again as something that would have made a given outfit even better, I'll eventually remember it and do something about it. For example, at the moment I know that when I go shopping again (am still on shopping ban) I want to get a smart work dress, a blue dressy shirt, white tights and black flat shoes.

  • RML- Being More Through Having Less

    You are brilliant- I think this is my favourite post ever!
    I, too keep a wishlist but it is NOT organised at all and I think it would be great to do it. Plus I have been meaning to inventory my wardrobe so I know what I need to get to fill gaps- not another black cardi!!
    I love your lookbook- am going to create one for personal style and my home.
    Thanks for the inspiration!

  • WendyB

    Yeah, I'm one of those who just keeps the lists in her head…I doubt that's going to change!

  • lopi

    I used to have a fashion inspiration scrap-book too, but then one day I just abandoned it. Why???
    I'm so jealous of yours! Organized by season? Now that's an idea to give me a push to start one again!

  • Bridget

    The other thing that just popped into my head is that the new powerpoint has a pretty nice "slide" that allows for a picture to be imported and has a comments box…if you wanted, this would be a great way to inventory what you already have (in fact, I'm setting up a home inventory for my parents for insurance reasons) – you can also customize with urls, prices, etc.

  • Luinae

    I have a list on paper of things I would like to add to my wardrobe (denim skirt, etc.) and then I write beside it what stores I am likely to get it from.

    And I take the list with me when I shop, either thrift of shopping mall.

    And I also take inspiration from my favourite style bloggers and put that into Evernote and write how I could recreate the look. If I can't, I write down on my wishlist what I'd like to get or a slight variation, depending on colours and shapes.

    I'd like to do a wardrobe inventory so I can realize how much I actually have.

  • Hanako66

    you are so organized! I keep a wall full of images in my bathroom (I'm going to post I pic soon, it sounds worse than it is!), but I do not keep a written list.

  • Jenava

    I am working on a computer program that will suggest outfit ideas as well as possibly suggest a shopping list. The model for creating outfits is very complicated, though, and makes the data entry a bear, because I have to record all these attributes for each item in order to make it work in the outfit calculation. Some rules are like roomy tops over fitted bottoms, others have to do with how long a top is and how high a waist is….dresses are easy except that I have to record if a layer is required, optional, or neither…It's quite fun to work on…we'll see how good the 'puter is at dressing me once I've got it up and running!

  • Mrs.M in MI

    Like you, Sal, I keep a Word doc of my current wants (but at work because I'm a bad employee) and a binder full of magazine and printed blog images (mine is divided seasonally and then into work, casual, dresses, evening, and travel).

    Since I do not keep a blog or photo record, I write down in a desk calendar what I wore each day. I like to keep track of who (work, church, family) has seen me in what so I don't repeat outfits too often.

    I've done this since 2003, and it is fun to go back and see how my style has evolved. It also inspires me to see what I have worn in past years at the current temperature, weddings and parties, vacations, etc. In the back of the planner I write down outfit and color combination ideas.

    I have come across the idea several times to style a bunch of outfits, take photos, and make your own "look book" of ready-made outfits. I've always meant to do this but never have. Sometimes I think it's because I come up with much better stuff if I'm just fooling around in the morning with what is clean.

  • K.Line

    I'm so impressed you even have a system!

  • Sal

    Jenava: That sounds SO COOL!

  • lisa

    I keep lists in my head for the most part, and they're usually pretty short and only composed of items I can't stop thinking about.

  • a cat of impossible colour

    I scribble my ideas and wishes on paper too, complete with little illustrations of the outfits and items. πŸ™‚

  • futurelint

    Thanks for the ideas! I'm totally disorganized about clothes and just have a "cute" folder on my desktop I rarely remember to look at… I keep lists in my head, err try to, but usually fail. Whoops! I'm at least going to jot a little list to keep in my wallet!

  • Casey

    Wow. My list making seems so lame in comparison! lol. πŸ˜‰ Usually my lists end up in my sketchbook, and occasionally wind up on random pieces of paper that I stuff in my wallet when I hit the retail/thrift stores. Lists in my sketchbook usually consist of many random items written about the page, a few doodles, and perhaps a page from a catalog or magazine I pasted on. Very random, but it tends to be visual. I guess that is how my mind works! lol.

  • Erin

    I'm a mainly online shopper, so I find it helpful to use evernote.com.
    It's a pretty cool tool that lets you make lists, but you can also just click something and "post it" onto evernote with the picture and everything (also you can click on an image in evernote and it will take you back to the webpage where you originally saw it.) It helps me stay organized because I'm more visual so if I can see it I'll remember it better. πŸ™‚

  • Melissa Blake

    I love your visual journal. I do that with articles I find that relate to the topic of my blog. I have three binders on my shelf full of tips, ideas, stuff from other blogs. It's a great way to keep organized!

  • Kate Bagley

    I'm glad to hear that the visual style journal is useful. I have been considering creating one of these, and now I will! These suggestions are incredibly helpful. Perhaps I can avoid whining to my friends about never knowing what I want vs. what I need! Thanks!

  • Rosie Unknown

    I don't really have a list, just a bunch of ideas in my head of things that I like. Then sometimes I see something when I'm out shopping, and I buy it because I like it and I know I will wear it.

  • enc

    maybe if I'd been this organized with my wishlist, I could have avoided Mistake Mountain.

  • Cecilia

    Right now I have a want/need list written down in paper. I'm thinking about inventory and photograph the items in my closet to create visual outfit ideas. I loved reading through everyone's comments and gathering ideas. I like your system, Sal. It seems simple and easy to maintain, it does not need to be hi-tech to be effective. πŸ™‚
    I just found out about a site called ThingsIWant.com that allows you to keep links of any kinds of items all in one place. I have not used it much yet, but it sounds like a cool app. Talking about cool apps, Jenava, you could sell that software! It sounds so neat!

  • McKristie

    Thank you! I have identified a few mistakes that I am making (my inspiration book is also filled with things I would like – which should go into either a word document or into my notebook I carry with me) – as well as some new organizing tips – off to organization!

  • myedit

    Thank you for reminding me to start a visual journal again. I used to have to keep one for design school and it's really neat to see what I liked back then and how or if my tastes have changed. Must do…