Basic research into building a better wardrobe begins by reading (and when I say reading, I mean of course looking at the pictures) magazines and catalogs and clipping things that you like to get a sense of what your style is, and for inspiration. You can paste these clippings into a scrapbook, or what I like to do is put them into clear sleeves that snap into a three-ring binder for easy editing. Subscribing to magazines is usually way cheaper than buying magazines on the newsstand. I like Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar, but I also use catalogs such as J. Crew, and celebrity magazines are good, too.
Your scrapbook allows you to see which colors and combinations work best. Sometimes what looks great on a person looks really boring on a hanger. For example, I have in my scrapbook an outfit (from a J. Crew catalog way-back-when) with a black t-shirt, white Capri pants, and black ballet flats. While a black t-shirt with jeans risks being too boring, with the white Capri pants it makes a great look.
Basic research may also include shopping trips where you don’t buy anything. Although it might drive your guy crazy, there is nothing wrong with going out for a day of shopping and not buying anything. Shopping is not just about buying things- it’s about knowing stores' inventories, when sales are, prices at different stores, and what size you typically wear in each store, so that when you need to find something you will know where to look. Research may be done at any time- shopping trips with friends, lunch breaks from work, etc.
The people around you are also a wealth of information. Listen carefully to well-dressed friends for tips on where to shop and what to look for. Especially valuable in this regard is a friend who always looks great and loves to talk shop. Also, when out in public, pay attention to what other people wear. You can get some great ideas just from people-watching.