Because... getting dressed should be fun!

Because... getting dressed should be fun!

Month: September 2017

Lazy Saturday

Lazy Saturday

Since it’s Saturday, it’s time to share some recent reading/watching with you. I am hoping to finish my fall wardrobe turnover this weekend; they tell me our temperatures are going to finally drop enough to call it fall. Cool nights and mornings would be greatly appreciated by many! Another woman who understands the challenges of fall dressing in a warm place is the lovely Audrey Coyne of audreyalamode. She lives in Charleston, South Carolina, and her fall capsule mixes relaxed, feminine, and classic pieces.

Everyone has a Can’t-Live-Without piece of clothing. If I had to pick just one, I’m not sure what it would be, but Vicki Archer certainly knows hers.

This is also the last weekend of our (hubby and me) most recent Whole 30. I am looking forward to easing the limits next week and some Food Freedom. I always learn something new when I do a fast of any kind. I’m thinking that to get ready for the holidays, it may be time to take a step back from shopping. Sounds counter-intuitive, doesn’t it? Read Sophie Benson’s article to find out more about why it’s not!

I love to read, and would love a weekend to do nothing but! I thoroughly enjoyed A Cast of Vultures by Judith Flanders. This is the third Sam Clair mystery. Sam’s an editor, living in London who keeps finding trouble. Her voice is laugh-out-loud funny; my poor husband has been subjected to me reading excerpts to him for the past week. I don’t share (read: bother him) unless it’s really worth it!

Usually I include 5, but Audrey’s link above has a video embedded, so I’m counting it as two! Enjoy your weekend!

The Perfect Handbag

The Perfect Handbag

I spent years looking for the perfect handbag. I don’t literally mean years wandering the Earth in pursuit of the perfect bag, but I might have had a wee obsession. Pretty much anywhere I went that had anything vaguely resembling a handbag, I would look. This led to some amusing, and some incredibly practical purchases, and quite a bit (Oh, let’s just say a lot!) of wasted money. It wasn’t until much later that I thought to spend  time thinking about what I thought made a handbag “perfect.” Let me make something clear; I despise (No, that is not too strong a word.) the tyranny of “perfect.” There is only one perfect, and it’s not found on this Earth. I prefer: Ideal for you now. This is where I struggle with the what-every-woman-MUST-own lists discussed in a previous post. At some point I discovered that there is no perfect handbag, or even ideal, but there is the handbag that best works for at this point in my life, and for particular occasions.

Here are a variety of questions to ask yourself before exchanging your cold hard cash (or credit card) for a new bag…

Know Thyself Questions

  • What is my life like? Do I need a bag that is easy to clean? (Maybe that cute suede hobo isn’t such a good idea…) Where will it live at home or work? On the floor? In a drawer? In a coat closet? On the dining room table where spills happen?
  • What do I want this bag for? Everyday? A special event like a wedding? Travel?
  • How much do I like to carry around with me daily? Am I the kitchen sink woman, or a  phone, credit card, and lipstick woman? Or am I  somewhere in between? (If you are the kitchen sink woman, know that you will spend more time and money at the doctor’s office later!)
  • Do I want a bag du jour (the latest trend), or one that will stand the test of time?
  • Do I want to change bags often, or have one that goes with “everything”? (Note: There is no bag that goes with everything. There are bags that go with your everyday everything!)
  • How much do I have to spend? How much do I want to spend? (These are two very different questions!) Am I willing to spend more than I want to get what I really like? (Note: I would NEVER suggest you spend more than you have to get what you really like!)
  • What size and shape bags are best for my personality, body shape, and scale?
  • Is brand important to me? Do I like carrying a recognizable bag? Do I like logos? Or do I prefer to go stealth? (Be honest here…  It is a pity to spend a fortune on a bag just to find out you don’t want to be advertising for a particular company. And it is OK to want a bag with someone else’s initials if that makes you happy!)

Know Your Bags Questions

  • Do I prefer a shoulder strap? How long? A cross body? Maybe a handheld satchel is more my speed. Or does it need to be convertible to handle all these options? Some women prefer a wristlet or clutch.
  • How much structure do I want? Soft and squishy, or more structured? What shapes do I like best? Soft and rounded? More angular? Taller than wide (North/South) or wider than tall (East/West)? Frequently there is a connection between angularity and structure, but lately there are structured round bags everywhere, and square squishy totes, so be sure to keep your structure and shape preferences defined.
  • What materials do I prefer? Fabric and PVC (even when called Vegan Leather) are, for the most part, less long wearing than leather. If you have issues with leather bags, expect to replace yours more frequently.
  • Do I have a hardware preference? I have seen a woman reject her (otherwise) ideal bag because the hardware was silver colored and she only wears gold.
  • What colors do I like best? What goes with the majority of my outfits? Do I want a bag that blends with, or stands out from my outfit? (Hint: A black or camel handbag stands out like a sore thumb on many women; a handbag in the same color as your hair goes with all your outfits, because you wear your hair wherever you go.)

If this seems like an awful lot of questions to ask before heading to the shops or to your computer, take a moment to think about what else you could do with the $25-$2,500 (or more!) one can spend on a handbag. (Movie, or family vacation…) Spending time thinking through what your ideal bag looks/feels/smells/carries like is well worth the time it will save you shopping. Think of it as the shopping equivalent of Measure Twice, Cut Once.

Do you have a favorite bag? Or did you, but it is no longer right for your life? Please share in the comments below!

 

            

 

8 Body Shape

8 Body Shape

Previously, I have talked about the different women’s body shapes, and how body shape has to do with your skeleton, and with the way your “meat” is attached to those bones. To determine body shape, we look at the shoulders and hips, and their relationship to each other. We also look at whether the waist is defined or not.  The first very common body shape we talked about is the A. Then we tackled the X, one of two body shapes often referred to as “hourglass” figures. The other hourglass figure is the 8.

Put Away the Measuring Tape!

(This first part is the same for all body shapes!) To determine your body shape, take a full length photo of yourself in leggings and a form-fitting cami. Print out the picture if you can, and lay a ruler on it. Draw a straight line from your shoulder bone (not the outside of your arm) to the widest part of your hip. For some women this will be at the hip bones. For some, the widest part may be across the leg crease. If the line you draw is perpendicular to the ground and your waist is defined, you are an X or an 8 shape. The difference between the two can be subtle, but the difference in how to dress their shapes is enormous!  Both are often referred to as an hourglass figure, so how do you tell if you are an X or an 8? An 8 has a high hip shelf, and an X has a smooth transition from the waist to the widest part of the hip. X’s are oftenlong-waisted, and 8’s are frequently shorter-waisted. 8’s are more prone to love handles, and X’s are less love handle prone. (Marilyn Monroe was an 8; Sophia Vergara is an X.)

8’s What to Wear

If the goal is to create a balanced figure, then 8’s want to highlight the waist, without creating a “poof” that will widen the hips. Where the X looks great in an A-line, the 8 looks better in a pencil skirt. Likewise, a sheath dress (especially belted) is usually a better choice than a flared one for the 8. If you are an X that becomes an A when you put on a few pounds (like yours truly), you may find a slight A-line skirt more forgiving than the pencil. Long-waisted 8’s can wear a belt, but many 8’s find belting causes clothing to poof out making tummy and hips look larger than they are. Fitted pieces may belt better than blousy ones, depending on the fabric. Finding trousers that are high enough in the back to cover the “handles” can be a challenge, especially in the current low-rise environment; many trousers hit mid-love-handle or ride below them making an 8 look heavy or sloppy. Peplum tops and jackets generally flatter an 8; they give room for that high hip! Tops should end just below that high hipbone. Finding fabrics that drape, but do not cling is key to looking smooth, and not lumpy. Belted coats are fabulous on an 8!

8’s What to Avoid

Tunics, which have been everywhere these past few seasons, are not 8 friendly, unless you find one with waist definition. 8’s should avoid boxy tops, and straight tops and jackets. Wide trousers and flares should be left in the shop, as they widen the figure of an 8 rather than creating balance. Steer clear of tops that hide your waist, or are too tight across your hips. Pleated skirts are also to be avoided as they can bubble out over the hip, but sewn down pleats that release around the leg crease can be flattering. Staying away from clingy fabrics, and bias cuts that Saran Wrap themselves to your curves will create a smoother, more flattering line.

When You Love It Anyway

If you can’t live without that tunic, belt it! Want to wear that wide legged jean? Then tuck in the front of your top to draw the eye to highlight your waist. Even a 1/2 tuck will do! This particular 8 finds the 1/2-tuck a blessing! It gives definition to my waist, while creating a drape in back that covers my “handles.” If belting a top or jacket creates too much “poof”, try sliding the belt up a little higher, and loosen it a notch to highlight your waist and ease the fabric. And always make sure to shift most of the gathers created to the front and back, away from your hipbones! Tee too blousy, or too long? Create a waist by gathering fabric on the reverse side and securing it with a rubber band  (known as a Kimtuck), or pull the excess together at the hem, slip the tail through a belt loop, and into your waistband.

 

Style/Fashion Myths

Style/Fashion Myths

Myth: Black shoes go with everything.
Reality: Black shoes go with everything only if you have black hair! Otherwise, shoes the color of your skin or hair go with everything!

Myth: Don’t wear navy and black together.
Reality: Navy and black worn together can look very chic when combined intentionally! The same goes for black and brown.

Myth: Never wear white after Labor Day.
Reality: If you look good in white, wear it all year long!

M: Don’t mix metals.
Reality: Mix away! To make it look like you meant it, make sure to choose at least 1/3 of one metal.

Myth: Flats are more comfortable than heels.
Reality: A low heel can be more comfortable (and better for your feet) than flats!

Myth: You shouldn’t repeat an outfit during the week.
Reality: If the outfit is made of neutral basics, no one will notice, especially if you change your accessories!

Myth: Clothes need washing after each wearing.
Reality: Clothes last longer the less they are washed. Many clothes only need an airing before wearing a second or third time.

Myth: One size fits all.
Reality: One size fits no one well!

Myth: There is something wrong with my body; I can’t find clothes that fit.
Reality: There is NOTHING wrong with my body; there is something wrong with these clothes!

Myth: A $5 shirt is a good deal.
Reality: A good deal is defined by Cost Per Wear. If you only wear that shirt one time, it cost you $5. But the $100 dress that you wear once a week for two years costs you less than $1 per wear. Think CPW, not cost!

Saturday Share

Saturday Share

Since we finally made it to the weekend, you may have a few extra minutes to surf, or maybe do some reading… Here are some of my recent favorites!

Janice Riggs at The Vivienne Files is a woman after my own analytical heart! Check out her post-trip packing analysis from her recent trip to Dublin. (Why did everyone I know go overseas this summer, and I was left here in town?!)

Color is a fascinating topic, and how we use it can affect how we feel, and how others relate to us. Take a peek at (another of) Imogen Lamport and Jill Chivers’s brillant video/blog articles about how color and contrast communicate.

For the Thrift-Minded, a primer from Sally of Already Pretty on the ways to not get lost in the black hole that can be the thrift store. These are some of the same ways to look/categorize that I use when Personal Shopping with clients.

From Catherine at Not Dressed As Lamb, a discussion of fashion bloggers and size (and what it means) along with links to some great mid-size fashion bloggers out there.

Last, but certainly not least, a “real” book. I love The Paradox of Choice, by Barry Schwartz, and learn new things about humans in general, and myself in particular, each time I reread it. It’s a beautiful examination of the science and psychology of choice, that still manages to be entertaining and funny. If you feel overwhelmed by decisions, he shares great daily-use strategies that free up brain space and energy for the things on which you want to focus.

Happy reading!

What have you enjoyed reading this week? Please share in the comments below!

Got Wardrobe Orphans?

Got Wardrobe Orphans?

What’s a Wardrobe Orphan?

Wardrobe Orphans (WO’s) are those items we love in the store, we buy, and bring home, but never wear. Often they hang in our closets with tags still on. We might smile to see it hanging in the closet, or it may make us feel guilty; an orphan never makes it onto our body and out of the house. Maybe the orphan doesn’t go with anything, or maybe it just feels funny on. Let’s talk about some of the reasons we have WO’s, and some ways to avoid them.

Personality

The Personality Orphan can sometimes be attributed to shopping with a friend who may have a very different style personality than you. Maybe you are predominantly Classic and Feminine, and your friend is a Relaxed Creative. The shirt she loved, and you bought, fits her personality but doesn’t work for you because it doesn’t fit yours! You may love a pattern, color or style, and the friend who wears them well, but that pattern/color/style never feels right on you, because it isn’t your style personality.

Another common shopping fail occurs when we shop with someone who has a fixed idea of what (they think) you should wear. Beware shopping with relations… (Moms and teens battle this one all the time!) The best way to avoid these Personality Orphans is to know thyself! Work on honing your Style Recipe. Keep your Style Recipe on a card in your wallet. (Not an outfit recipe, that’s a horse of a different color! A bit of Style Recipe information can be found here.) Before you pull out your wallet to pay, look at the card and check if the garment you are holding fits your style words. If it doesn’t, analyze what it is you love about it, and apply that to an item that does fit your Recipe.

It is good to step out of our comfort zone and try new things, but baby-step it. Try just one new part of the pattern/style/color rather than all at once. Maybe you want to try the cold-shoulder trend. So, buy that top in a color you know you look great in. That gives it the familiarity you may need to take the leap and wear it out of the house!

Color

Color Orphans are items that don’t go with what you already own, or with your personal coloring. There are two main ways to avoid color clash orphans.

(1) You can limit the color palette in your wardrobe to 2-3 neutrals, and 2-3 accent colors. If the item is not one of your neutrals or accents, you can feel free to leave it behind, or even better, ask the store clerk if it comes in one of your wardrobe colors. This method requires a great deal of self-discipline, and is not for everyone, especially those who crave variety.

(2) Another method for avoiding the dreaded clash is to have a Personal Color Analysis. There are lots of systems out there; most have come a long way from the old 4 Seasons of the 1980’s.  My favorite is the (very nuanced) Absolute Color System, and it is the one I use with my clients. (Here you can see the 9 warm palettes!) Knowing your personal palette gives you hundreds of colors to choose from, and because they share the same color properties, they mix and match without the dreaded “clash”

Personal Pet Peeve: Color systems that come with personality labels, or tell you to dye your hair to fit your type. Beware!

If people ask “Are you feeling alright?” when you wear something, that’s a cue that it is not a good color for your personal coloring! Using your personal color palette to select the colors that best flatter you helps you avoid the “Are you okay?” from those you meet during your day.

Body Shape

A Body Shape Orphan is an item you bought that just doesn’t work for your body shape Frequently BSO’s will make you feel frumpy, or overexposed/tarty; they may make you physically uncomfortable. The waistband is too snug, the shape is boxy and you need shaping, the cut is too low, or too tight. The boots squeeze your calves; those shoes give you a blister every time you wear them. Some Body Shape Orphans can be rescued with a trip to the tailor, cobbler, or a cami to cover the extra cleavage, but often it is best to say goodbye to them. . When you try on everyday clothes, make sure they will work for your everyday activities! Sit, walk, and stretch. Make sure the clothes can do what you want them to!

Knowing your body shape can help you avoid these orphans by makeing you aware of what cuts, styles, and proportions look best on you, and helps you avoid the boxy, oversized, frump zone. Clothes do not have to be baggy to be comfortable, they just need to fit your shape. I cannot say this enough: If you are not employed as a fit model, don’t expect clothes to fit off the rack! Alterations should be a regular part of life for us mere mortals.

The best way to avoid orphans is to be a conscious shopper. Look carefully before you buy. If you cannot make at least 3 outfits with the new piece and what you already own, save your money. Once home, if you need to buy an entirely new outfit to make an orphan work, it is probably best to return it or set it free. It will be perfect for someone else, so donate it, consign it, or have a clothing swap with friends. Make it a Wardrobe Orphan Home Finding Party! Your wardrobe orphan may just be someone else’s outfit completer!

What orphan is hiding in your closet? Please let me know in the comments below!

 

 

X Body Shape

X Body Shape

In a previous post, I talked a bit about the different women’s body shapes, and how body shape has to do with your skeleton, and with how your “meat” is attached to those bones.  To determine body shape, we look at the shoulders and hips, and their relationship to each other. We also look at whether the waist is defined or not. There are 8 basic women’s body shapes, 5 balanced and 3 unbalanced. The X is one of the balanced shapes with the shoulders and hips of the same width. This is another feminine, curvy, (and desirable) shape!

Put Away the Measuring Tape!

The best way to determine your body shape is to take a full length photo of yourself in leggings and a form-fitting cami. Print out the picture if you can, and lay a ruler on it. Draw a straight line from your shoulder bone (not the outside of your arm) to the widest part of your hip. For some women this will be at the hip bones. For some, the widest part may be across the leg crease. If the line you draw is perpendicular to the ground and your waist is defined, you are an X or an 8 shape. The difference between the two can be subtle, but the difference in how to dress their shapes is enormous!  Both are often referred to as an hourglass figure, so how do you tell if you are an X or an 8? An 8 has a high hip shelf, and an X usually has a smooth transition from the waist to the widest part of the hip. X’s are frequently long waisted, and 8’s are frequently shorter waisted. 8’s are more prone to love handles, and X’s are less love handle prone. (Marilyn Monroe was an 8; Sophia Vergara is an X.)

X’s What to Wear

If the goal is to create a balanced figure, you X’s are blessed because you already have one! In general, drawing attention to the waist, with a waistband or belt is a great look for the X. (If you are busty, you may choose to skip this advice, as drawing attention to your small waist can make your bust look larger.) Wrap dresses are amazing on X’s (Thank you, Diane von Furstenburg!), as are wrap tops. Fit and flare dresses are custom made for the X as well. A-line skirts are fabulous for your figure, as are straight or trouser leg jeans, especially if they zip up the side. If you are self-conscious about your curves and don’t want to show off your waist, at least make sure that your tops and jackets are shaped, or princess seamed. Properly placed darts can make you look 10 pounds thinner in an instant!

X’s What to Avoid

Losing the waist can make an X look heavy. Avoid blousy or oversized tops that hide your waist, and boxy tops and dresses. Long straight jackets are less than flattering on an X, and double breasted pieces often just make the X shape look bulky. Stiff fabrics often create extra visual weight that the X may not want. Avoid ending your tops at the widest part of your hips. Make sure jackets are belted, or nipped in at the waist. Even a drawstring on an anorak makes a difference! On trousers, avoid tapers, cuffs, and embroidery on the rear or thighs.

When You Love It Anyway

It may need altering. X’s often struggle to buy trousers and jeans that fit. There are more curvy-girl jeans than ever out there, which has made the hunt easier, but if you are still having a hard time, buy your bottoms to fit your hips, and have a tailor take in the waistband. You don’t need the bulk (or discomfort) created from belting a too large waistband to keep your pants up!

Another option for X’s is to belt it! This fall belts are making a comeback, so you X’s are in for a treat! Coats and jackets are showing up with self-belts, and leather belts over coats and blazers are everywhere, so you can make even shapeless garments work better for you!

A note about alterations… Unless you are employed as a fit model, assume that everything you buy will likely need alterations, and include them in your budget. Many women (and men) can’t be bothered to have their clothes altered to fit properly. Or maybe I should say they won’t pay to have everyday clothes altered to fit properly. Dresses for special occasions get special treatment, but why only them? Those special occasion pieces will be worn once or twice. Life is a special occasion! Shouldn’t the clothes you wear everyday fit you beautifully, and make you look good everyday? You deserve clothing that fits well and makes you feel great.

Outfit Recipes

Outfit Recipes

Do you feel bombarded at the grocery store checkout by the magazine covers? I often do! Quick and Easy Family Meals… 30 Minute Dinners… Shortcuts to Supper… (And have you ever noticed that for every diet/slim down article, there’s a Best Dessert Ever recipe? So unfair!) Literally millions of recipe ideas at our fingertips, but we frequently default to the family favorites we cook so often that we need no recipe at all. The best are the ones that have some wiggle room for adaptation. Maybe we are out of chicken, but it works with ground beef, too. Or, we have no taco seasoning, so we swap in Italian seasoning, and serve it over pasta instead of with tortillas. These are the best kind of recipes, endlessly adaptable, and never boring! Wouldn’t the same kind of recipes for your closet be fabulous?

What’s An Outfit Recipe?

An Outfit Recipe is a dressing shortcut. The best recipes are quick, easy, and adaptable, not the ones with ingredients you can’t pronounce, let alone find at the store (in your closet). I am not talking about the black pants with the pink blouse and heart necklace, that’s too specific and gets boring very quickly. I am talking about those flexible recipes, the ones that with a little spice can keep your wardrobe feeling full of variety. Everyone has their own favorites. Mine change with the seasons, and with my activities for the day. When I was teaching in the classroom, my winter default recipe was dress+boots+cardigan+scarf. With just 3 dresses, 3 cardigans, 3 boots, and 3 scarves, you could go on for quite a while before repeating! (If they all mix and match, you have 81 outfits. That’s 4 months worth of work outfits!)

My Recent Recipes

This month I have been doing the Inside Out Style Daily Picture Challenge. Reviewing one week’s photos startled me. I wore almost the same outfit all week long, but it didn’t feel like it. My recipe that week was Column of Color + Scarf or Necklace for contrast. Some days the column was blue, other days it was white. It could be an inner column (shirt and trouser) or an outer column (trouser and jacket) but CoC + SoN 4 Contrast it was! (Maybe these should be Wardrobe Equations instead of recipes!) My apologies for the selfie… I don’t have an Instagram Husband!

Some Recipe Ideas to Try

Simple Dress + Bold Necklace + Jean Jacket + Shoes/Boots (appropriate for the season)

Slim Cropped Trouser/Jeans + Loose/Flowy Shirt + Layered Thin Necklaces + Ballet Flats

Wide Trouser/Jeans + Slim Fitting Top + Bold Necklace + Wedges

Column of Color (top and bottom of the same color) + Scarf/Necklace and Shoes (of a second color)

The great thing about recipes is their flexibility. Don’t wear trousers, sub in skirts instead! Can’t stand necklaces, sub in bracelets and earrings for interest. Scarves are too complicated? Try the necklace option! Too hot for trousers, sub in shorts!

What’s a favorite recipe that you return to again and again? Please share in the comments below!

And thank you to Katherine of Not Dressed as Lamb for the Linkup!

Wardrobe Audit: Not As Seen on TV (Closet Work)

Wardrobe Audit: Not As Seen on TV (Closet Work)

If you read my last post, and followed the steps, congratulations! The actual “work” will be so much easier! Make sure you tackle the Closet Work when you are fresh, and do not start if you need to go to bed in 3-4 hours!

Grab Your Supplies

Review your prep work adjective list/Style Recipe draft. Get out your vacuum cleaner and a duster. You may as well clean your closet while it’s empty. It is much easier when you are not fighting shoes on the floor and hangars on the rod! You will need a full length mirror, good lighting, two good-sized boxes or bags for Give Away, and Throw Away, and water. Auditing is thirsty work!

Dive into Your Closet!

Take everything (Yes, everything!) out of your closet, and lay it on your bed. If you can’t fit it all on your bed, lay a sheet on the floor and put the overflow there. Take anything that is not part of your wardrobe (old tennis rackets, lost hidden Christmas gifts, trip souvenirs, empty shoe boxes, old dry cleaning bags) and get those out of your bedroom, and out of your way. Grab your vacuum cleaner and a duster; take five minutes and clean your closet, the shelves, the hanging rod, the floor. It’s surprising how much dust and dirt can find its way in there.

Now that you have a clean closet (personal boutique) to return your clothes to, it’s time to tackle the clothes themselves. You are going to assess each piece, one at a time. Pick up each piece, try it on, and ask yourself these questions: (You may need to modify the first one if you are pregnant, or in a post-partum phase… (If baby is three, that is not really post-partum any more!)

  1. Does it fit me? (If you know it doesn’t fit, don’t worry about trying it on. Save your time, and skip to number 7.)
  2. Does it flatter?
  3. Does it align with my adjectives, and how I want to be perceived?
  4. Does it make me happy?
  5. Would I buy this again if I saw it in a store today?
  6. Does this suit the woman my adjectives describe?
  7. If the answer to any of these is no, then it should not be in your closet. If no, put it into one of your boxes or bags. If a charity shop can sell it, wonderful! Note: If you wouldn’t buy it from a charity shop its present condition, be brave and put it into the throw away box.
  8. Pick up the next item and repeat the process. And again.

Notice that I did not ask if you have worn it in six months or a year. Time rules are arbitrary, and don’t work well for special occasion wear. Maybe you have a beautiful fitting cocktail dress that you love for weddings and the rare occasion, but you just haven’t had a recent occasion. Keep it! The same goes for very seasonal clothes. We have relatives who live in cold climes. Winter where I live may not require a serious parka, but if we travel to visit family in the winter, I don’t want to be buying a new coat. I store really out of season items (wool sweaters in summer, and the above-mentioned parka) in a storage box elsewhere in my home, and keep a small box under my bed with the clothes I wear for yard work or when we go camping; these don’t need to clutter up my closet. My closet is small by American standards (about 4 feet wide) and stores all my in season items. My dresser contains only undies, accessories, and workout gear.

Sort and Organize

Everything that passes the test has earned a place in your wardrobe, and can be put back into your closet. As you put items back in, group them by category, all the tops together, bottoms together (you can subgroup as well–by skirts and trousers if you like), dresses together, etc. Within each category, order the pieces by color, and from light to dark. This is a timesaver! When looking for that pink top in the morning, you won’t have to hunt through a rod full of clothes. If it is not there with the pink/red tops, it must be in the laundry. Sorted!

If you did not assess your shoes and bags, now is the time to do so. Group belts, bags, and shoes in the same way. After the clothes, shoes, and bags are done, let’s get those boxes/bags for charity out to the car. Take the throw away bag or box to the trash. (If you have fabric recycling in your area, run with that! The less in the landfill, the better.)

Capsules and Shopping Plans

Now that you know what you have, it’s time to see what you need. With fewer (and easier to see) clothes in your closet, it’s time for some capsule planning. A capsule is about 10-15 pieces that mix and match. Try two toppers (sweaters, vests, or jackets), 4 bottoms, six tops, and three pair of shoes. Every top should coordinate with every bottom. A capsule like this can create 72 outfits, not including the variety you can add by changing shoes and accessories. If your work wear and play clothes are very distinct in refinement level, you may need to build a capsule for each. If you do not have enough pieces to create a capsule, you now know what wardrobe holes need to be filled.

Say you pull out the 6 tops and two toppers, but your only bottoms are one pair of jeans, a dark trouser, and a grey trouser. What might fit your lifestyle? A denim skirt? Or maybe a grey straight skirt for work? A pair of slim chinos? If you like dresses, maybe a great LDD (little dark dress) to dress up or down is the right choice for you. Start a shopping list for the next time you are out and about. Filling those wardrobe holes will give you the biggest bang for your shopping buck, and less frustration in front of your closet in the morning!

One last hint… I love the hooks inside my closet door on which to hang my clothes for the next day up in the evening. Voila! Less decisions in the morning means a less stressed me!

Step back and look at your new custom-curated boutique… Satisfying, isn’t it?

I find lost treasure every time I go through my closet. What did you find that you didn’t know was in there? Please share in the comments below!

Wardrobe Audit: Not As Seen On TV! (Prep Work)

Wardrobe Audit: Not As Seen On TV! (Prep Work)

Fall arrives next week (weather not being a factor), so this weekend is a great time to take stock of your fall wardrobe. Often when readers see Wardrobe Audit on my list of services, they ask “Do you mean like on TV?” I always answer “Not at all! I don’t belittle you, make fun of your choices, or shove your clothes into a trash can. I help you go through what you own, determine what’s working for you, and what you need to complete your wardrobe so that it expresses your personality, fits your lifestyle (AND budget) and supports your goals.” Wow! That sounds like a tall order, doesn’t it… but if your wardrobe isn’t doing that for you, it’s time to ask why isn’t it?

There are thousands of articles (and some great videos too!), about how to do a Wardrobe Audit, closet clean-out, or closet edit. (It goes by a variety of names.) The biggest reason people don’t do their own audit is finding time to commit to the task at hand, or they become overwhelmed by the emotions that examining our clothing and buying patterns can bring to the surface, so they never start. Sometimes they start, give up, and shove it all back in. Let me make this clear, a Wardrobe Audit (WA) is work, not a dawdle before heading out to a party, but it is work well worth the effort! A closet that works for you rather than against you is an ally everyone should have. Ideally, a WA should take between 3 and 4 hours, but if you have multiple closets, it may require more time.

If you are doing this on your own at home, you can do your prep work over a few days prior to the closet work. Just like when painting, good preparation makes the rest of the job easier, look better, and last longer. Prep well!

Preparation

Any Wardrobe Audit requires preparation. Take time for some self-reflection. Do a personality analysis, and a lifestyle analysis. Spend time thinking about your values. I do these three with my clients before we even think about diving into the closet; the answers to these inventories inform the choices we make in their wardrobes. For example: Is comfort key for you? If so, maybe those pointy-toed patent stilettos might need rethinking. Does your social life consist of Flix and Chill, and the last time you went to a black tie gala was in 2005? Why are there three pre-offspring ballgowns taking up your valuable closet real estate? Maybe you are a vigilante vegan, and that beautiful suede purse your grandmother gave you is hidden on the top shelf. I know… Grandma gave it to you, and it is beautiful; you can never carry it again, and getting rid of it would be wrong, right? Think of this personality, lifestyle, and value work as a roadmap to your ideal closet. Not perfect, there is no perfect!

More Preparation

Next, a little more prep work is in order. Pull out 5 items from your closet that you L.O.V.E. and that make you feel great. That’s right. Five. Take the time to look at these pieces and think about why you love them. Analyze them. Is it the color? How it makes you feel? How it feels on your skin? How it makes everything else play well together? List adjectives (grammar flashback!) that describe the pieces and how you feel when you wear them. Look at your list, are there duplicates, or words that are very similar or encompass some of the same qualities, like comfortable and cozy? Or chic and sophisticated? Determine the adjectives you used most frequently; list 3-5 of them. Look carefully at these few. Is this how you want others to see you? If so great! If not, spend some time thinking about how you want to be perceived… Add two or three of those how-I-want-to-be-perceived adjectives to your list. This short list will be a draft of your Style Recipe.

Gather Your Supplies

You may want to break your Wardrobe Audit out into two sessions, prep work one day, and closet work on another. If so, make sure you have all your supplies on hand before you start on Part 2. For the next portion, you will want a vacuum cleaner and a duster on hand. You may as well clean your closet while it’s empty! Yes, it will be empty. You will also need water, a full length mirror, and good lighting. Make sure you have two good sized boxes or bags for Give Away, and Throw Away pieces.  Last, but not least, make sure you are caught up on your laundry before you head into your closet.

Now that the prep work is done, let’s pause (For a snack? I love a snack!) before we head into your closet! If all this sounds daunting, give me a call. I’d love to help!

When was the last time you did a Wardrobe Audit? Do you spend time for analysis beforehand? I’d love to hear how you do yours. Please share your experiences in the comments below!