Because... getting dressed should be fun!

Because... getting dressed should be fun!

Category: Wardrobe

Abundance… When does Enough become Too Much?

Abundance… When does Enough become Too Much?

How much is enough? In the immortal words of Larry the Cucumber… “I don’t know; how much stuff is there?” (Larry was answering Bob’s query about how much you need to be happy.) It’s funny how that number shifts. Unless you are well on your way to a minimalist lifestyle, I would say that most us have more than we need in our closets, but need is a very relative term… I have no magic item count for an ideal wardrobe. That varies for every person. I have seen people happy with everything from 15 to 300 pieces. Here are a few questions to ask yourself before adding something to your closet. (These are also good questions for a Wardrobe Audit!)

Does it fit my lifestyle? (AND my budget!)

Is the item in your hot little hands something you will wear? Or, as Bridgette Raes asks “Where are you going in that?” A fabulous dry-clean-only millennial pink skirt suit may be a perfect fit, and a great deal, but if you are a classroom teacher of littles and spend your evenings with your own children on the sidelines of the soccer pitch, maybe it is best left on the rack.

As an Image and Wardrobe Coach, people often think I am all about designer clothing. If that’s what makes you happy, and it’s in your budget, fantastic! I shop at all price points, and always try to work within a client’s budget. I may push outside someone’s item-price-limit (i.e. Jane will not pay more than $50 for a pair of shoes.), because the client is not thinking about cost-per-wear and total budget, but about price.

Do I already have something similar at home?

(Or: How many pair of black trousers are in your closet?) Your easy find may be black pants, or colored tees, or tennis shoes, but realistically: How many do you need? This is another Know Thyself (KT) question. How many weeks’ worth of clothing do you feel you need before repeating an outfit? How often do you do laundry? If you are looking at neutral basics, those can be worn more frequently without anyone noticing, but bright or patterned tops do stand out more, so you may find you want more variety. According to a 2015 article by a denim expert, the average American woman owns 7 pair of jeans, and 25 percent of American women own 10 or more pairs. Both groups only wear 4 pair regularly. Are those new jeans going to change your world, or just going to keep the unworn ones company?

Is this a replacement for something I already own? (Corollary: Will I get rid of the piece it is replacing?)

If you have worn something out, or worn it to a lower level of refinement, replace it if a new one still serves your purposes. I try to ask myself, “Do I love this XYZ more than the one I am replacing?” Ideally, a yes means that the old and trusted one can now retire! If you do buy a replacement, what are you going to do with the worn out one? I know people who have new pieces with tags still on, but they are wearing the threadbare one because the new one is for “good.” Really? Get over good. Any day I am still breathing qualifies as good.

Can I make at least three looks with this piece and what I already have at home in my wardrobe?

Here’s the question to help prevent sad and lonely Wardrobe Orphans. You love that breezy boho blouse because it is so different from the closet full of fitted tops you own. Great! Maybe it’s time to try a new silhouette! What are you going to wear with it? Do you pair all those fitted tops with wider legged bottoms for flattering volume and proportion? Then blousy boho top will need a pair of narrow trousers for balance. Do you have any, or will you need to buy a new bottom to make it work? Buying an outfit is fine, but keep in mind that you will only be wearing that outfit one way, and may tire of it very quickly. How about looking for a more fitted top with the same feel that you could wear with at least three bottoms you already have at home? Or go for the experiment, and be ready to buy more narrow trousers later if you like the new look!

Do I love it? On a scale of 1-10 is it at least an 8?

This can be the hardest question of all. There are lots of ways an item can be an 8. Maybe you are tired of cold wet feet. Those new boots, although not your favorite look, will make your winter morning commute more bearable every day for 4 months of the year. That ranks as a 10 for me, but might not for another woman! Ranking a potential purchase comes down to really knowing your values and personality. If you are all about comfort, then that gorgeous scratchy sweater may be a 2 for you, but a 10 for someone else.  I see lots of color impulse purchases. Someone loved the color (10), but not the fit (4), or feel (2). Make sure the whole garment is an 8, not just one aspect!

So, When is Enough Too Much?

Abundance becomes too much when you can’t keep what you own in order, you can’t keep track of it, or can’t stop buying. It is very easy to confuse want and need, and to fall into the buy-something-new-for-a-mood-boost trap. (AKA: Retail Therapy.) If you feel like your closet is out of control, you may want the help of someone like me, or if the shopping habit has become an issue, check out Jill Chivers’ amazing site, My Year Without Clothes Shopping.  I have completed a few shopping fasts since we moved to Georgia, some for Lent, and twice for a year each, and learned new things about myself each time! If your abundance has become too much, a fast might be just the ticket to appreciating what you do have. If a year seems a bit drastic, maybe just a shopping free month, or start small with a week. Apparently, Americans add about 52 items to their wardrobe yearly. That’s something new each week. Yikes!

Do you have enough? Or too much? Do you define it by number? Or some other way? Please share in the comments below!

Why I Love a Good Capusle

Why I Love a Good Capusle

Traveling through this strange and wonderful adventure we call life, I keep finding that people often fall into one of two categories when it comes to clothing. Some are Options Lovers, and others are Limits Lovers. You may be an Options Lover, and for you a closet full of a rainbow of colors, styles, and silhouettes makes you happy as a clam at high water. You may be a Limits Lover that finds all that choice overwhelming, and prefer fewer pieces, colors, or silhouettes. Other Limits Lovers find that fewer choices opens a door to creativity, that the Options Lover can’t image with so little. Neither is right or wrong. They are both right for themselves! It is a matter of knowing thyself, and what works for you.

I have been a Limits Lover for a long time. That would be why I love me a good capsule. I think it’s probably related to my inventory tendencies. The next few weeks are going to be bananas crazy around here, and for me fewer choices means happier me. So, this past weekend I pulled out a Baker’s Dozen Capsule; 13 pieces for 31 days should help me find just a few more minutes of time in my day, and less stress making decisions.

If you are so inclined, you are welcome to visit my Facebook Page where I posted a completely unprofessional (unedited) and chatty video of me talking through showing my selected pieces.

What makes you happier? Are you an Options Person for your wardrobe, or a Limits Person? Please let me know in the comments below!

PS: Thank you Katherine at Not Dressed as Lamb for the link-up!

Dressing Stressing to Blessing (Turning Lemons to Lemonade)

Dressing Stressing to Blessing (Turning Lemons to Lemonade)

Monday morning can be a challenge for anyone. Here are 10 ways to make dressing less stressing and more of a blessing,,, Just try one. And then maybe add another next week. And maybe another after that. Who knows what might happen?

1)  Lay (or hang) out your clothes for tomorrow when getting ready for bed. Check your calendar and the weather, first. (This also lets you know whether or not you need to shave in the morning!)

2)  Keep photos of outfits you love in a folder on your phone for days that you forget #1! Or make sure you have some go-to Outfit Recipes.

3)  Do your laundry before your work week begins. (No more “Arrrgh, it’s in the hamper!”) Smaller, more frequent loads are a lot easier to fold and put away.

4)  Pull together some Beauty Bundles to make accessorizing outfits easier.

5)  On your “weekend” choose a small cohesive capsule for the week, and dress out of only those clothes. Fewer choices means less stress (Try 4 shirts, 3 bottoms, 2 toppers, and a dress.)

6)  Next time you go to the hairdresser, ask about a cut that works WITH your hair’s natural texture, rather than fighting it.

7)  Time how long it takes to do your makeup in the morning. Simplify your routine to 5 minutes, MAX!

8)  Get all the out of season clothes out of your active closet and into a storage box. If your closet has room, separate out of season from current season items.

9)  Keep a lint roller in your car; then it doesn’t matter if the dog or cat loves on you on the way out the door.

10) Limit your color palette (for any season) to two neutrals, your white, and two accent colors. Careful choices here will give you a mix and match wardrobe! Think Garanimals for grown-ups…

What other tips do you have for turning dressing stress into a blessing? 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!

 

 

Closet Sabotage

Closet Sabotage

Sabotage is a funny word. It comes from an old French word for shoe. In particular, a kind of wooden shoe. Sabotage is an apt word for the malicious mischief we do to our own wardrobes (and often budgets!). When I speak of a wardrobe, I imagine a set of coordinated clothing that fits the lifestyle of the owner, expresses his or her personality, flatters, and makes the wardrobee (Yes, sometimes a new word must be invented.) happy. What are the most common acts of wardrobe sabotage? You commit wardrobe sabotage when the clothing you buy…

Doesn’t Fit YOUR Lifestyle

I see this one all the time, and have been guilty of this act of sabotage more than once! Maybe you are a new mom who lives in jeans and tees, and spends your day nursing a newborn and trying to remember what the floor looked like before it was covered in children’s toys. You find yourself trying on a darling little black cocktail dress, dry clean only. You don’t remember the last time you had a cocktail, and while you may have regular dreams about an enormous margarita, you cannot imagine when you might actually have one. The babysitter, margarita, and dress (on sale) combined would cost more than a week’s worth of groceries.  Shopping for a life you do not lead is a bad idea. The brilliant Bridgette Raes calls this “wishful wardrobing”. Now, this does not mean that you should not buy something to make a new outfit for the holidays, but maybe rather than that dry clean only LBD, you should look for a new happy-making ( and nursing friendly) washable top to wear with jeans or dress pants, to which you can add some extra sparkle for New Year’s Eve. Even if you can’t afford the sitter, you can have your party at home!

Doesn’t Fit Your Personality (or Body Shape)

I love hippie chick flowy boho dresses and tops; they look airy, carefree, and easy, but when I put them on I feel like a clown, or like I am pretending to be someone I am not. I am more comfortable in a different aesthetic, and that’s just fine. I get my boho on with jewelry, or maybe with my sandals, or a scarf. That works for me. I have learned to steer clear of the cute little gauze spaghetti strap top that would show more skin than I am comfortable with, and doesn’t cover the foundation garments the girls require. It is perfectly fine to love a look on someone else, and not feel obliged to add it to your closet. The (also brilliant) Jill Chivers talks about appreciating fashion like art or architecture. She talks about loving the Eiffel Tower, but not needing to put it in your living room. I feel that way about lots of clothes. I can love that cute little military styled jacket with the brass buttons and red trim, and not need to add it to my closet!

Doesn’t Play Well with Others

Before handing over your hard-earned money, if you cannot think of at least 3 ways to wear the item you are about to carry to the register, it may be best to leave it behind. There a few ways we commonly sidestep this guideline. Wearing that cute floral cold shoulder top with three different jeans does not count as three ways! Can you wear that top with three different bottoms? Maybe with your jeans, your black dress pants, and your casual chinos. It might be a good choice. Can you imagine wearing it in three different situations? On a play day? Or running errands? How about to work? On a date, or girls’ night out? Not every purchase will work in three different situations, but you should be able to make it work for more than one. Does the coloring work for you, and what you already own? If you are rebuilding a wardrobe from scratch, you may need to buy whole outfits; if you already have a closet full of clothes, you shouldn’t need to buy a whole outfit to make one piece work. If you do, it’s probably best left at the store.

Exception to the Situations Guideline: Workout Wear. Wear it for working out. Please. Leggings are NOT pants. I don’t care what the Spanx ads show. They are ads, with women who are paid to show off their assets. If you are being paid to show off yours, rock them, but most of us are not that woman.

Wardrobe Orphans

When we buy clothing that corresponds to one of the above acts of sabotage, those pieces often end up being wardrobe orphans: unhappy items (often with the tags still attached) that hang in your closet making you feel guilty, wasteful, and sometimes plain old foolish. Maybe it is time to do a Marie Kondo and thank the piece for the lesson it has taught you, and release it to be loved and used by someone else. Or it may just be that you need help finding ways to wear those orphans, and help them find their lost family. Those are the kind of things an Image and Wardrobe Coach can help with!

We all make mistakes, learning from them is the key! Which kind of sabotage are you most frequently guilty of? Let me know in the comments below!

Playing Saturday Share Link-Up with the lovely Catherine at Not Dressed Like Lamb

Saturday Reading/Listening

Saturday Reading/Listening

Saturday is here again, or should I say FINALLY here? I was in bed last night at 8:30. Social butterfly was not my descriptor yesterday! I know lots of you have already headed off for the weekend. I am determined to have a quiet and uneventful weekend. (Note to my children and grandchildren: Do NOT make this weekend eventful! Be holy and wise. +) So if you are having a quiet weekend yourself, and are looking for some reading, here are my picks for the week.

First off–from the amazing Janice Riggs (you will see her a LOT here!): I love to see how she takes an inspiration piece and builds a wardrobe around it! Each month brings a new installment, so the wardrobe grows and evolves over the year. This is the second year of this series, and now that fall is coming you can really see how these are shaping up.

Anyone who knows me, knows I wear a lot of scarves. Actually I wear a few scarves, a lot of the time. They are one of my signatures. I was perusing the Echo Designs website (It gets harder and harder every year to find silk scarves at a reasonable price point. They still manage!) , when I ran across this bit of history… As a scarf lover, I love to meet the people behind my scarves!

If you are interested in the history of dress/fashion/style or whatever you wish to call it, the next two links may be right up your alley. The Lost Art of Dress is a fascinating look into the history of dress, and some of the amazing women who blazed a trail for women in academia and business in the only place they could make inroads in their time. Linda Przybyszewski also shares a wealth of information about the development, and loss, of American style. If American style is of particular interest, Claire McArdell’s What Shall I Wear is a beautiful book showcasing her designs and affording the reader a peek into her sources of inspiration, and perspective on practicality. What Shall I Wear was originally published in 1956, (the newer edition dates 2012) and still bursts with practical wardrobe advice.

Last, but certainly NOT least, a blog post/video from Imogen Lamport and Jill Chivers about Owning Your Style. This is not so much a primer on how to do so, but more of a philosophical reflection on what Owning Your Style means. I frequently notice an Own Your Style age gap. Small children do it naturally, and many older men and women rock their own style with confidence, but so many people seem to get lost in the middle.

Enjoy your weekend, and be safe!