I offered closet consultations and personal shopping services for nearly eight years. Know how many clients hired me to do personal shopping only? Less than 20. Know why? Because I insisted on doing the closet consult first, and every single closet consult client I’ve worked with has finished up with more than a dozen complete outfits, many of which incorporate underutilized pieces, closet orphans, and long-forgotten items. I adore shopping, and my personal shopping excursions were a BLAST. But I believe quite firmly that before you buy anything new, you should be certain you’re making the most of your existing wardrobe.
Here are some tips that can help you keep your wardrobe working like a well-oiled fashion machine:
Keep stuff visible
I say this often. And whenever I do, I imagine that those of you with small wardrobes are giggling. But even women who own 20 pieces of clothing and nothing more can be in possession of cramped, dark closets with weird corners! Out of sight, out of mind. If you can’t see it, you’ll never even TRY to wear it. Do your best to keep your clothing, shoes, and accessories relatively visible. And if space constraints make this impossible, consider shifting your closet contents every few months: Move pants to the front and skirts to the back, bring those seldom-worn jeans to the top of the drawer, place a few lesser-used necklaces on a pretty platter and set it on your dresser. Find ways to see what you own so you can wear it.
Make an outfit list
Another from the “old chestnut” file, but the reason why I flog this one so frequently is because SO MANY of you have written in to tell me that this practice has totally changed your sartorial lives. Taking some time out every month or so to workshop potential outfits and jot them down can help alleviate early morning panic and force you to think critically about any languishing items. Outfit lists rule.
Mend, repair, and tailor
I am guilty of letting alterations and repairs slide. Ever so guilty. But when I finally do get around to tending my broken bits of wardrobery, I feel just as excited to wear the mended items as if I’d bought them new. Unwearable garments and accessories can become massive guilt-generators. They stare us down, sad and lonely, reminding us silently that we could wear them again if we’d just take the time to get them fixed. Keeping your belongings in wearable condition will help ensure that you are able to use everything that you own.
Tweak your formulas
Even those of us who keep outfit lists have go-to outfit formulas. I’m a big fan of the jacket, graphic tee, and jeans combo myself. Also the tunic, leggings, and boots formula. Hey, I’m human! And I like my routine! But making some simple tweaks to tried-and-true dressing formulas can help you get more items into rotation. Add a belt or long necklace. Try a shorter or longer blazer. Wear your slim-fitting black pants instead of the wide-legs. Some of these tweaks will flop, and you’ll revert to the old standby. Some of them will provide you with entirely new avenues for creative dressing.
Create personal challenges
If you’re feeling stuck in a dressing rut, cook up a parameter or two. Challenge yourself to wear one patterned garment every day for a week. Do the same pair of shoes for five days straight. Pick out 10 closet orphans and workshop outfits around them. (Best to do this a day ahead of time to avoid that early morning panic.) Mini challenges can help you venture outside your comfort zone and get those creative juices flowing.
Ask a friend for input/outfit ideas
A couple of months ago, I was at Christina’s house shooting a TV segment. I had to pull a few outfits for her to model. Christina’s company exists to make things look chic and stylish, but she was excited that I’d pulled out a couple of outfits that she’d never have picked herself. While you can certainly hire a pro to swing by your house and help out, just about anyone who isn’t … well, you, will likely cook up combos that feel fresh and new.
Image courtesy Ysolda.