My client – I’ll call her “Travelling Trainer” or TT for short – was complaining recently about her over-stuffed closets so we set a date for a closet audit to get the situation under control. And she agreed to let me document some of our process with photos 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 a lot less stress than actively deciding what to discard – even though the result is the same. In the end we eliminated a good percentage of those clothes – not at all unusual percentage, by the way. So now she is fully aware of what she has and can get dressed each day with confidence and ease.
As a warm-up exercise, we tackled her collection of scarves. We used the Color Fan from her recent color consultation to make 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, of course – on the other.
LESSON: Use small successes to build energy for bigger changes.
One of TT’s challenges is adapting the black garments in her current closet to be more flattering to her warm coloring. We created a short-term fix by working in some print items that include her hair color plus black. She had two pieces that seem at first to meet that criteria. But when we held them up to her we could easily see that 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 lacy open-knit cardigan could be a versatile piece in TT’s closet if the overly-wide pockets hadn’t drooped out of shape. Now they are pulling down the front of the garment and distorting the whole look. But it’s easy to fix the problem – just steam the exces pocket fabric back into shape and add a row of small, lightweight brass buttons to hold the upper edge in position. I didn’t have the necessary buttons with me, but used coins to approximate the look for the “AFTER” photo below. Of course that fabric won’t support buttonholes, so the buttons will keep the pocket permanently closed. But what could you ever put in those pockets anyway ???
LESSON: Think creatively to find ways to upgrade good pieces that could be great ones.
What easy fix could update a questionable garment in YOUR closet?
TT’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 hadn’t realized that the little plastic slot below the hook is designed to accommodate the hook of a second hanger holding the skirt or pants – how handy!
LESSON: Adapt typical closet organization guidelines to your specific needs.
BTW – getting rid of the non-optimal pieces left TT with enough empty flocked hangers to trade out all the wire ones from the dry cleaners – which don’t support our clothes nearly as well.
LESSON: Better hangers support garments and keep them looking fresh and new.
As we sorted through garments, I was excited to find two shells in pale sage green – one of her best colors and inevitably very difficult to find. TT questioned what she’d be able to wear that color with, but agreed it was lovely under her navy suit (not shown) and the soft brown one below. As usual, this unexpected color scheme looks much more cohesive and finished when we add a patterned scarf that includes both colors.
LESSON: Link now color combinations with multi-colored accessories.
Since the scarf print also includes a pale tan, we tried the shell under her tan suit too. But the combination lacked the visual weight or the level of contrast to balance the relative strength and contrast of her own 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. We tried substituting the darker of the two shells and adding the scarf, but as you can see in the third photo below, it was still too washed-out for TT.
LESSON: Check every combination in the mirror to be sure it flatters YOU.
However the scarf colors also suggested pairing the brown jacket with her blush jersey shell, and the beautiful results are shown below.
LESSON: Use your multi-color accessories to suggest new combinations of your garment colors.
TT is planning a comprehensive mix/match/accessorize session later and in a future post I’ll share some of the additional outfits we put together. In the meanwhile, what great new combinations can you find in your own closet? I’d love to hear about them…