Shop your closet first …

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I want to put on the clothes and let them do their job … you shouldn’t have to work too hard for clothes.” Kim, fashion stylist

How well do you know your clothes? When was the last time you checked what was in your closet? I thought I knew my clothes and I thought I knew what was in my closet. I am often telling people to shop their closets first before heading to the store to make a new purchase. But what did I really know about my own closet? It turns out, not as much as I thought, and today was the moment when I put my money where my mouth is! My new friend, Kim, a professional stylist with Style for Hire, a company co-founded by Stacy London and Cindy McLaughlin, came to my house where we spent a few hours editing my clothing and performing a closet audit.

I was nervous and I didn’t know what to expect. First, I worried about how I was dressed. Would Kim think I was dressed appropriately for a closet audit? What is appropriate anyway? (in turns out that it didn’t matter because I was dressing and undressing the entire time!) And what would happen if Kim removed clothing to which I was still attached? I had too many questions, but fortunately for me, Kim was delightful and warm and funny and kept the mood light, which really helped. What also helped was that she knew what she was doing. Here is what we did: we pulled out everything in my closet and Kim looked it over. And if it was a ‘no go’ I said a quick good bye and didn’t look back. If it was a ‘yes,’ I tried it on. But here is where the magic came … Kim showed me surprising and unexpected ways to wear my own clothes. She styled everything with a twist and by the end of my time with her I had new outfits and was seeing my clothing in a completely new light. It was exhausting and draining and uplifting and fulfilling and emotional at the same time. Kim took pictures too, so that I could recreate the looks on my own.

I learned a lot in this short time: it’s a good idea to periodically check your tees and shirts and sweaters for stains and pills (if you find problems with quality, it’s time to let the piece go), red lipstick is an accessory and added with simple makeup is all that you need to define your look, nude shoes are an essential and can be worn beautifully with skinny pants, who says you can’t be adventurous and wear something a different way?, and less (in your closet) is truly more. Finally, after deconstructing my closet, I learned so much about myself: I love wearing sweaters and t-shirts and have more of them in my closet than anything else with pairs of jeans a close second, all those specialty clothes that I purchased from Target and designer partners left me with charming pieces but without a clue how to put them together, I am ever the dreamer with my dresses for parties and fancy events to which I have not yet been invited, and I have been hanging on to clothes that no longer fit or have aged beyond their time – I’m not sure why – sentiment?

Kim was brilliant. She came in with her expert eye and saw all the sides of me. Much like an intense storm, she shook everything up and turned it upside down, leaving me with a calm and peaceful aftermath. Because she is a technical designer and knows so much about fit, she taught me about length and drape and proportion because really – how can we know what something looks like from behind? To all the skeptics out there who question the importance of fashion styling – it is a serious endeavor and if you have the chance to work with an expert, consider yourself blessed!

And so, after much trying on and putting aside and saying good bye to the old (perhaps making a bit of room for some new!), here is my to do list:

– purchase a red lipstick (done: Cover Girl #355/tempt seduction, per Kim)

– replace my wire hangers with wooden hangers (done – had a bit of the Joan Crawford-hanger-moment, but that’s okay)

– have three pants tailored to remove the inside of the pockets and stitch them up to create a clean line in the leg (great idea from Kim!)

– look for a black A-line skirt (the single most flattering shape), a camel colored skirt to go with my red sweater, another pair of skinny pants to replace my jeans that aren’t quite right, and find a white shirt or tee with detail down the front

– start folding my sweaters rather than hanging them up – they will last longer and stay in better shape

Do shop your closet first and reconnect with your wardrobe before you venture out to buy more of what you may already own … and be prepared to be surprised. Get rid of anything that isn’t in perfect condition because you deserve to look your best. And fall in love all over again with what remains! As Kim says, let the clothes do the work; if you are working too hard to make an outfit come together it’s a sign that you can do better!

What do you think?

I never thought to roll up my skinny jeans and pair them with my kitten heels!

I never thought to roll up my skinny jeans and pair them with my kitten heels!

A sweater I have had for years - given new life paired with the right skirt and shoes!

A sweater I have had for years – given new life paired with the right skirt and shoes!

My closet makeover, with folded (flat) sweaters and wooden hangers. Kim liked the color - yeah!

My closet makeover, with folded (flat) sweaters and wooden hangers. Kim liked the variation of color – yeah!




Your thoughts?

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4 thoughts on “Shop your closet first …

  1. What time well spent! It must have been frightening and very exciting! I would love to do that, too…after I lose my 25 lbs. AGAIN! Really, that will be my present to myself! I am sure my husband would be in complete support of the money spent! Thanks for sharing your experience!!!

    • It really was time well spent, Kylie. I would love for you to do it, too. I will pass on Kim’s information to you! xx Mel

  2. You inspired me the other day. I have been in my closet since 11:00 this morning. What a theraputic experience. I will be dressed differently for the next month with everything I found that was crammed in. Thanks for the hint to get rid of things with pulls and stains. Really don’t know why we tend to keep that stuff. As you said, “sentiment”?

    It’s all gone.

    Talk soon,


    • I’m so proud of you, Gail! I’m glad that I inspired you. I am inspired myself. It’s nice to feel like you’re cleaning things out and making room for only the best for yourself! xx Melissa

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