The best part of my job is meeting incredible women who are ready to offer it up and invite me into their closets help them. The satisfaction of solving problems and identifying how to correct the wrongs into rights is incredibly rewarding. While I have worked specifically with clothing for close to 12 years now, I’ve been in love with style and creating looks for most of my life. I also bring to the table an innate and skilled eye to detail, structure, proportion, and overall balance with my education and design career in architecture and interiors.
While I may not be the right stylist for everyone, I offer a unique experience to each client as I assess their needs, their lifestyle, and their goals. My process is never documented but more of an archaeological excavation of where a client is within her own journey towards discovering her style. The ultimate take away is for my client to feel empowered with the information needed to move ahead by introducing the best new pieces to build upon existing pieces.
This week I met up with Megan Brown of Mind the Mat. I started going to Mind the Mat when I moved out of Old Town about two and a half years ago. I cannot say enough about how the dedication to the classes has kept my mind clear and my body toned. I keep finding ways to push myself within the diversity of classes offered. Now it was time for a role reversal. In the wardrobe category, I am the teacher and Megan will learn about her style and buying habits, all within a two to three hour window.
Megan and I have worked together in the past but I had yet to delve into her closet! With fall fast approaching, I wanted to walk Stylebook readers through what an average appointment looks like. I’m happy to adapt to a client’s expectations by giving them some things to consider in preparation for the first meeting, but I also wanted to show that I can walk in without any preparation as well. What prevents so many women from scheduling a closet audit is that their are not “ready.” For the record, the process can begin by just reaching out.
This part comes with me getting an idea of your lifestyle, your career, and what you hope to accomplish by engaging with a stylist. When I met up with Megan, I know a lot about her style and her lifestyle but wanted to make sure we could start to fine tune the ease of getting dressed. I usually want to learn just enough about a client to get us started. The rest of the information is unveiled during the audit and with specific conversations that surround choices and understanding buying habits.
We had some time constraints and I needed to assess the pieces she already owns, so I was not able to lay out the outfits as I have done with many other clients. For me, this part is imperative so we can rule out anything that isn’t working although the client may consider a solution to her wardrobe. Yes, solutions are often perceived and not actual. Many of us shop because we have a need to accomplish something. Like a leopard in the wild, how demoralizing to head out on a hunt and come home empty handed. This causes us to make a rash decision in order to feel as though we didn’t waste our time.
So often a client will mention that they feel bad if we come back from a shopping trip with nothing. I would prefer we come back without a purchase rather than feeling pressed to buy something that doesn’t offer the right solution. One example of an item that was “too specific” to remain in the closet was a shell that had lace sleeves and a lace back. Megan felt it would work under suit jackets for some of her more professional engagements. In my opinion, this top was not pulling its weight and needed to go.
One of her goals is the “buy less, choose well, and use more” mantra I preach. With this as a criteria, you need to purge the excess. I convinced her to toss this very specific item and rely on her black, white, and gray tanks for her business attire under jackets. Ultimately what we are looking for are dual-use pieces. They work on weekends, of course, but the quality is great so they also work under Veronica Beard jackets and blazers. As her guide to “less is more,” this is an important teaching moment. Once I can convince a client of the simplicity of a great working wardrobe and how when basics are purchased at an elevated level, such basics provide more clarity, consistency, and purpose than a bunch of inexpensive items that only suit one purpose.
Megan had actually already edited a lot from her closet prior to my arrival. I love when clients take time to do this on their own since it helps speed up getting through what needs to go anyway. Once I arrive, by taking time to touch each piece and find out why it “made the cut,” like the Gallian sweatshirt by Isabel Marant above, I can ask further questions. These questions are not necessarily leading to getting rid of a certain item, but for me to understand how it works within the wardrobe, and OK, yes, sometime they are leading and we both know it needs to go. I’m just there to give you permission or a nudge.
The other benefit of going through things piece by piece is that it offers me further insight into who my client is and how she sees herself. Megan is an optimistic woman who loves dressing in feminine and flirty pieces. At times she needs to promote her business and needs her wardrobe to offer a clean and professional point of view. This fall she’ll be teaching at Marymount University; identifying herself as a “teacher” with the ability to implement hands-on techniques and physical examples will be necessary. I take all of this into account as I assess what has worked for her and then can ultimately guide her to some great additional pieces.
Failures may be a bit harsh but ultimately a failure is an item that was purchased and not used to its full potential. However, from the Marie Kondo theory, it’s only a failure if you didn’t learn something from the experience! Case in point…
Megan purchased these black fringe booties with the peep toe. While they brought her immediate joy for the “fun factor,” the reality is that they hurt her feet and cannot stand in them for extended periods of time. Elizabeth at The Shoe Hive convinced her to purchase the black suede Dee mule from Marion Parke (which I urged Elizabeth to order for me after seeing the camel pair). Had I been consulted prior to the fringe bootie purchase, I would have asked Megan how often she was going to wear these versus the more practical closed toe mule. Megan agrees that the suede mule has been the go-to shoe for teaching since they are not only comfortable but easy to kick on and off for the classes where she teaches techniques to her students.
Another process that I teach my clients is how to use their wardrobe throughout the year. Keeping your heavier fall and winter items in clear view with your spring and summer pieces can cloud your view of your overall wardrobe. I prefer packing away obvious winter shoes and sweaters. Around the beginning of October I will flip my closet and introduce these pieces. They feel fresh and new to me and I’m excited to wear them. There are those that prefer to have everything on hand all the time, but if possible, just putting obvious out of season clothing in large zip up garment bags or another closet will keep you focused on what the most suitable choices are when you are getting dressed.
These are just a few ideas that I wanted to share about the closet audit process. Megan and I only had a short amount of time during this introductory phase. I was able to help her edit out a number of other pieces and give her an idea of what she needs to include going forward. To see more of the process of the audit, click here. If this sounds like something you would like to explore for yourself, reach out and I can give you further details. Putting your wardrobe in order is a great gift to yourself. It saves you time and helps you realize the image you want to project to your audience, whether it’s for professional or lifestyle purposes. Organization will save you time and money.