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CLOSET CHALLENGE: Less Space, More Style

“The more you know, the less you need.”
Chic Simple Women’s Wardrobe

I was recently asked by a mutual friend to help a woman dejunk her closet because she is about to move from a home that’s 13,000 square feet to one less than 3000.

Her current walk-in closet is about the size of an average NYC apartment bedroom (at least mine) with built-in drawers, shelves and hanging space. It has a table to hold Vogue, Bazaar and other fashion resources, and a comfy chair she can sink into while considering what-to-wear.

ASSESS: Her Look
She’s a very attractive, vivacious 50+ year-old youthful looking blond, medium in height with a cute figure, although laments her menopausal tummy and thighs, imperceptible to others.

Her stylish eyeglasses send the message that she is confident and enjoys fashion.

She lives out west where her lifestyle is casual and sporty (tennis, skate ski, hiking), but wants to dress up a bit when going out at night. She also travels to NYC, SF and to Europe regularly.

Her closet was filled with gorgeous clothes and accessories. She was great about letting go of things that no longer suited her, even if they had been pricey purchases. She was savvy about what she wanted to share her new real estate with—only the clothes she felt great wearing. Smart lady.

The process of dejunking is less painful when you can share clothes that no longer work for you with people who might enjoy them. She created piles for her sister-in-law, friends, her daughters and one for some very special vintage pieces to be resold. She also set aside clothes that needed tailoring.

Step One: COLOR
She’s uncomfortable wearing color although her husband would like her to wear more of it. Her summer uniform is primarily black tops and white jeans “Like Jackie O” and a few funky fitted beige jackets.

Otherwise she mostly wears active wear, jeans and clothing in black or dark muted colors.

Many of us buy color thinking we should wear it, but don’t. So we went through her closet and dejunked the colorful clothes she never wore.

Next, we dejunked the neutral colors that drained color from her face. Colors like beige range greatly in tone—some can bring light to your face, while others can make you appear sickly. Whites also vary in shades.

Beige tones with a gold cast looked particularly good with her fair skin and blond hair. She has a short dressy dress in a shimmery golden color, which looks like she’s wearing a halo.

How do you know if the color of what you’re wearing is flattering or not? If you’re not wearing something that you like on the hanger, the color may be the reason why.

If in doubt, do some mirror talk. Simply hold the garment to you face. If you smile, it’s a go. If it makes you feel bad about looking in the mirror, create a buffer between it and your face with a scarf, shirt or a necklace that casts a flattering light to your face. Otherwise place it in a recycling pile.

-She loves wearing long scarves and has many. Because they’re worn close to the face, their color is an important consideration when deciding what to keep and what to jettison.

She had several black scarves but kept only her favorite. I encouraged her to wear those in a soft pink and powder blue—colors that often flatter blondes. There was also a beautiful bright white scarf that lit up her face and several in rich deep blues that complemented her coloring, and look chic worn with black(think French gendarmes).

When you can’t decide whether to hang onto something or let it go, place it front and center of your closet as a reminder to wear it. Make the effort. If you run out of excuses why you aren’t, then recycle.

STEP TWO: Try It On!

“I’ve made some big buying mistakes over the years, so I’m trying to teach my daughters not to buy anything that doesn’t fit perfectly or it will just sit in the closet.”

She recycled:
-Clothes that no longer fit her body, lifestyle or taste. No more suits, except for the “funeral” suit.

-Any thing was that was itchy or felt uncomfortable.

-Sweaters that now appeared too short (not uncommon over time).

-A favorite black leather jacket that was too tight in arms and across the back “I bought it because I love the look, but it never felt good on.”

-Clothes that make her feel frumpy—baggy, boring conservative sweaters, coats and boxy suits from years ago. “I look younger now because I wear more stylish clothes than I did when I was younger. I’m also blonder and stay away from the bright red lipstick I used to wear.”

-Things she wasn’t wearing, including a pair of pale grey suede boots with a wedge heel. She liked them, but never wore them, likely because they didn’t go with the rest of her wardrobe. They got the boot.

- Clothes that were frou-frou. A blouse with a bib of dainty lady-like ruffles (“makes me look like an old lady!”)
; long decorative summer skirts that were overwhelming for her physique, and not her style. She kept a long, sleek black evening skirt for evening wear emergencies.

She kept her comfort clothes: cozy sweaters, Gap and Banana Republic basics, and most of her ski and tennis clothes.

To do: TRY ON all of her pants for fit before she packs up.

STEP THREE: RETHINK REMIX RENEW: Shop Your Closet

By Assessing and Dejunking her closet, she become aware of her style evolution.She recognized the kind of clothes she loves to wear—tailored with a sophisticated/sexy edge to them, and that comfort is paramount and bright colors are not her thing.

-The clothes she continues to feel great wearing are:
Jean Paul Gaultier (long airy summer dress in a funky pattern—simply change the sandals and jewelry to dress-up or dress down; two black stretchy tops—one with a red pattern—each can dress up jeans and a black leather jacket, or add a stylish edge to black pants or skirt for a dressier city look)

Prada (black fitted coat that can be worn over anything!)

Dolce and Gabbana (fitted black dress with leopard print lining—the sexy little black dress).

She unearthed a semi-shear silver gray beaded body suit by Donna Karen that she will now wear over a cami (a concession to being 40+) with gray or jeans under a leather jacket.

-She prefers wearing beige shoes which when worn with nude hosiery or bare make legs appear longer. She also has lots of boots with attitude—her new favorite are knee high brown leather boots corseted up the back seam. Talk about casual chic!

We dejunked about 80% of her closet. Now that she has less clothes to distract her, she’ll wear what she likes more frequently in variety of ways—not just for special occasions.

RETHINK
To tweak her look (and show off her legs), I suggested that she break the closet habit of reaching consistently for the same thing. She had some great leather skirts, which I encouraged her to start wearing with dark opaque tights and boots.

RENEW
-Top on her list was to replace her stylish black leather jacket with one that was more comfortable to wear and that look great with jeans and over more dressy separates.

- I suggested that she stick to black, but add a few leopard print accents to add pizzazz to her black basics. ..

-I also recommended that she should try adding deep magenta or warm purple to her black wardrobe. It would flatter her coloring and add punch to her predominantly black wardrobe without appearing too bright.

These accents could become part of her style signature, and make her husband happy that she is not all in black.

STYLE MENTOR Christie considered Jackie O her Style Mentor—the woman to look to for inspiration, but actually she should observe her sister Lee Radziwell who wears classics with an edge—a style that Christie naturally gravitates to.

TAKEAWAY
“Well, Kim...you've certainly made a change in the way I dress. Went out with "the girls" last night...got dressed in 2 seconds...in a SKIRT! Short black skirt, tights, t neck, leather jacket all in black: brown boots....I felt great. I can see now how an edited closet makes for easier and better choices. Will check out the deep magenta idea...Thank you.” Christie, Ketchum, Idaho

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