My client “Sue” was frustrated with her over-stuffed closets, so we set an appointment to get the situation under control. And she agreed to let me document the process to share with you.
I brought along a collapsible garment rack to we could pull out entire sections of her closet contents and approach those items as if we were shopping — deciding what items we liked well enough for her to “buy” again (replace in her closet).
That approach creates less stress than deciding what to discard – even though the result is the same. We eliminated a good percentage of those clothes – so now she knows exactly she has and can get dressed each day with confidence and ease.
As a warm-up, we tackled her scarf collection, using her Color Fan to guide quick decisions about which ones to “buy” back into her wardrobe. The pile on the chair (left) will go to friends, resale and charity. The right photo shows one of two specialty hangers where she can now easily find a perfect accessory for nearly any outfit – sorted with neutrals on one hanger (shown) and colors – in rainbow order – on the other.
LESSON: Use small successes to build energy for bigger changes.
One challenge was adapting the black garments in her current closet to be more flattering to her warm coloring. For a short-term fix we worked in some print items that include her hair color plus black. She had two blouses that seem at first to meet that criteria. But when we held them up to her, the print on the right was still overwhelming her — too bright and too busy. The one on the left – while not optimal – is the more effective option. I’m trusting you can see the difference too, though we obscured her face for privacy.
Can you spot a few scarves in the top photo that work in the same way to connect her personal characteristics with her remaining black clothing?
LESSON: Check in the mirror to be sure every item looks good ON YOU!
This pale camel open-knit cardigan had great potential, if only the pockets hadn’t drooped out of shape, pulling down the garment front and distorting the whole look. But it’s an easy to fix: just steam the pocket back into shape and add lightweight buttons (related, not necessarily matched) to hold the upper edge in position. The buttons will keep the pocket permanently closed, but what could you ever put in those pockets anyway ?
LESSON: Find creative ways to upgrade good pieces that could be great ones.
What easy fix could update a questionable garment in YOUR closet?
Sue’s professional life demands suits on most days. Typically I suggest hanging jackets and bottoms separately so you don’t overlook the mix/match options of the individual pieces. But she had plenty of other pants and skirts to coordinate, so keeping her suit jackets and bottoms together will simplify getting dressed in the morning as well as packing for her frequent business trips.
She keeps her jackets on nice plastic swivel-head hangers, but never realized that the little plastic slot below the hook is designed to connect a second hanger holding the skirt or pants – how handy!
LESSON: Adapt typical closet organization guidelines to your specific needs.
BTW – purging non-optimal pieces left her with plenty of quality hangers to trade out all the wire ones from the dry cleaners – which don’t support clothes nearly as well.
LESSON: Better hangers support garments and keep them looking fresh and new.
Sorting through garments, I discovered two shells in pale sage green – one of her best colors and often very difficult to find. She had never known what to wear that color with, but agreed it was lovely under her navy suit (not shown) and the soft brown one below. This unexpected color scheme looks much more cohesive when we add a patterned scarf that includes both colors.
LESSON: Link new color combinations with multi-colored accessories.
The scarf also includes tan, we tried the shell under her tan suit too. But the combination lacked the visual weight or contrast level to balance her own stronger coloring. No matter how lovely a combination is on the hanger (mannequin, your best friend, whatever) it has to look good on YOU to be a winner.
LESSON: Check every combination in the mirror to be sure it flatters YOU.
The scarf colors also inspired pairing the brown jacket with a blush shell, and the beautiful results are shown below.
LESSON: Use your multi-color accessories to suggest new combinations of your garment colors.
We’re planning a comprehensive mix/match/accessorize session later and I’ll share the results in another post. Meanwhile, what great new combinations can you find in your own closet? I’d love to hear about them…