Every fall and spring I devote some time to cleaning out my closet. When it's done, I love peeking in the closet and seeing so much space. I can literally breathe better when not looking past a lot of visual clutter to decide what to wear. I actually feel like I have MORE to wear.
How did I get my closet to this point and get ready for fall? With about three and a half hours of concentrated effort which, oddly enough, was fun for me. This photo is the end result of one section of the closet. Here is what I did:
Step 1: Prepare. I started laundry so everything would be clean by the time I finished the job, made the bed and removed extra pillows for plenty of room to lay out clothes, and got some black garbage bags from the garage. I wore my workout clothes, so I could work quickly, with energy, and sort of consider it a workout!
Step 2: Remove Clothes from Closet. I started at one end of the hanging clothes, gathered up items, keeping them on the hangers, and laid them in stacks on the bed. My closet was already organized into types of clothing. If yours is not, start categorizing as you lay it on the bed in these groups: Jackets, Cardigans, Tops (Sleeveless, Short-Sleeve, Long-Sleeve), Dress Pants, Jeans, Dresses, Skirts, and whatever other categories work for you. When the bed was full, I started evaluating each item, one category at a time, to easily see the number of jackets or skirts and the colors and types. If I didn't like it anymore, hadn't worn it at all, it didn't fit, or looked pilled or worn out, I threw it in a pile on the bedroom floor, and put the hangers in another pile. I tried on as needed, and as I finished a category, I hung everything back in the closet.
This is the entire pile of clothes I later donated to Goodwill, and the hangers, which I later put back in the closet, some in a bin on a top shelf, and some hanging at the end of one of the rods to use as needed.
Step 3--Drawers. I followed the same process with everything in my drawers. I put the contents of my drawers on the bed, again in categories, and made decisions on whether to keep each item. This included t-shirts, sweaters, camisoles, workout wear, socks, tights, underwear, bras, scarves and a few miscellaneous things like sentimental items. I put everything back, a little differently, because of new extra space and how I will use things for the fall and winter.
Step 4--Shoes. The shoe sorting went quickly. I put away summer sandals and got out my boots, which were in bins on the top shelf, found a place for everything and got rid of maybe one pair.
Step 5--Purses and Tote Bags. My weakness. I had a lot of purses that I didn't really use or like anymore, so added those to the pile. I stored the rest on shelves with dividers. I even had extra room to put some boots on the shelves with the dividers.
I ended up with three more piles: (1) Things my daughter might want, (2) Need mending or altered, and (3) Summer clothes to be stored.
Step 6--The End. Lastly, I put the items to donate in the black garbage bags, put the summer items in the same bins I had taken my winter boots and shoes from, and set aside the pile for my daughter. I also ended the process with a list of things to shop for, which was surprisingly short.
I hope you have a great time editing your closet, and please let me know if you have questions or need help!
It can be difficult to know what colors look best on you, but it's important to know before going shopping. Determining your best and worst colors can be done by a color or wardrobe consultant, or just try draping several colors against your face with a good mirror and daylight to see what looks best.
Then when you are at the store, try to look past any items that are in your worst colors, and look for your best colors. Always ask if something comes in a different color, sometimes there will be other colors online or in the back stock of the store.
The book I use in color consultations is called Color Me Confident: Change Your Look - Change Your Life! by Veronique Henderson and Pat Henshaw. It uses a more thorough method than the "Four Seasons." It considers hair and eye color as well as skin color, and has more categories than just warm and cool, like some methods.
I give one-hour color consultations in my home in downtown Bellevue for $40. Contact me for more information.
Now that Fall is coming, layering will add those needed changes to your wardrobe. It's also a great way to mix colors and prints to show your creativity. Although it might seem like you need to buy more items to layer, it actually helps you use more of the pieces you already have, because you are combining them in different ways.
Scarves are the most obvious addition to your fall outfits. Try a lightweight cotton or linen one in a contrasting color or print to add a little warmth to a late summer top.
Tank tops or camisoles always add a layer of warmth, which can extend the use of your lightweight summer tops, especially when combined with a light sweater or denim jacket.
Have fun with layering and stay warm and stylish!
Several comfort shoe brands, such as Sofft, Born and Munro, make shoes that are fashionable as well as comfortable. They don't look the same as a stiletto pump, but can work with most work outfits. Many regular shoe brands also make comfortable shoes, and there are a variety of inserts and accessories that make shoes more cushiony and comfortable. Something as simple as adding a no-show sock can make shoes more comfortable and long-wearing.
When my shoes and feet feel good, I am more likely to walk somewhere instead of driving, and feel better overall. There are so many shoe brands and specialty shoe stores, not to mention the variety found online and in department stores. Don't give up, the right shoes for you are out there!
In Lesson 85 of my book, I talk about what a big difference accessories make when dressing for a special, formal occasion. You can even sometimes use those same pieces when dressing for every day.
Shoes - Metallic heels, including sandals, are always right for formal occasions, but can also be worn for daytime weddings, and many metallic flats go with almost any outfit. Black patent leather is even more versatile, and is dressy enough for the most formal attire.
Outerwear - Please invest in a presentable, dressy coat to have for formal occasions, or brave the cold without one. Black always makes a coat or jacket more formal, so consider buying something black, fitted and long enough to cover a dress. It will go with more casual outfits as well.
Handbag - A small clutch or shoulder purse (about 5 x 7 inches) is much better for evening than your everyday large leather bag. It can be sparkly, metallic or more simple black or a colored fabric.
Jewelry - You don't need expensive fine jewelry. Larger costume jewelry pieces, such as those found at J. Crew, make a statement and highlight your outfit. A little black dress with big, bold, jewel-toned jewelry looks striking and makes a strong statement. Use both necklaces and bracelets, and don't match everything. They should coordinate, but not be from a matched set. You'll find these can be worn with a lot of your more casual outfits as well.
You don't have to spend a lot on any of these accessories. I like to keep my special occasions in mind all year when I'm shopping and if I see a beautiful piece of jewelry on sale, or a fun clutch bag, I'll go ahead and get it, then work it into my outfit when the right time comes. Meanwhile, I try to use sparkly and metallic pieces in my regular wardrobe.
Get more tips on dressing for all occasions and for your everyday life in my newly updated book, Six-Word Lessons to Look Your Best.
I recently met a woman business owner at a networking meeting who was around 60 years old. She had a short, stylish haircut, bold, modern earrings and necklace, an up-to-date gray tunic sweater, black leggings and black boots. She was carrying an orange leather tote bag and wearing well-done make-up. Her nails were short and polished a dark color. I realized the importance of her entire, overall image, and how she truly looked like a business owner with whom I would want to do business.
I couldn't say the same thing about every woman in the room. I saw over-grown hair styles, ill-fitting clothing, too-long nails and other details that made some of the women look less impressive. They probably had knowledge and competence equal to the first woman, but it wasn't obvious by how they presented themselves.
The differences in these women is in both their clothing and the little things. Every detail counts, especially in a business setting. Even if you don' t notice the small things, when they are combined to present an overall image, they send a clear message--good or bad.
Women who don't update their style in even the smallest ways appear to be behind the times and might cause others to question their abilities or relevance in the job market.
This model photo in our local GAP store's window caught my eye last night. I then saw that my son has posted the photo on Instagram and Facebook congratulating GAP for its "Illness Diversity." Obviously this model has some type of skin condition, but is proudly displayed in a major store and mall as someone who looks great in their clothing.
It's great to see major retailers using models of ALL types who can look cute and beautiful in clothes, both male and female. Thank you, GAP!
Shopping for yourself is definitely difficult with small children. Try short amounts of time with promises of things they like to do after you have "mommy's turn to shop." I spent a lot of time in the Disney Store when mine were little, but they had to spend some time in my stores too. We would go back and forth with stores for them, and stores for me. It also helped that we went often enough that they were used to a similar routine on each shopping trip. We always took time for snacks and playing at the mall play areas, too.
Ideally, you need to have regular shopping outings when the kids are with dad or a babysitter. You'll get so much more accomplished, and not feel so pressured to get everything done during those unavoidable times when you must shop with the kids.
Online Shopping. Moms today are fortunate to have this option, so take advantage of it, even if only to get ideas of where to look and what's out there. Use sites that have free shipping and returns, like Nordstrom and Zappos.
Budgeting. Keep a separate budget for kids clothes and your clothes. Make sure you actually spend your budget, and don't use it on the kids.
Here in the Northwest, scarves can be worn almost year-round. Especially with the popularity of lighter weight cotton scarves, they can keep you warm on cool evenings, early mornings, or air-conditioned buildings. A scarf around the neck keeps you warm enough with just a light jacket or sweater, and you can always take it off if it gets too warm. Just as important, scarves add style, interest and color to your outfit!
I saw the scarves below at TJMaxx and they were all priced between $12.99 and $16.99! So no excuses that you can't find or afford scarves! I've also seen a good selection at World Market, Old Navy, Gap and Target. Infinity scarves are especially popular this year, and I just got one for $15 at Francesca's.
Here is a video that shows several ways to tie a scarf, and a Pinterest pin with more ideas. I don't think there is a wrong way to tie a scarf, just have fun and give them a chance!
How can you be authentic, real, and true to your best self? Most women would say they want this for themselves. When I speak to groups of women, I always talk about this concept of matching your inside and outside. I give them the list of adjectives shown, and ask them to circle the ones they think describe them, then we talk about whether their current look sends that message out to people around them.
Here are two examples of women whose inside and outside do NOT match.
How about a woman who is a musician, loves art, is warm, modern, friendly and artsy. She is drawn to bohemian styles, but has a misguided idea that she "should" be dressing "professionally" in structured suit jackets and white shirts with collars. She isn't comfortable in these clothes, and feels like she isn't being herself, because she loves more free-flowing clothing like this long, striped cardigan by Free People and that expresses her artistic side more authentically. She will be much happier and more comfortable with herself if she makes some changes in her wardrobe to reflect her true, best self.
Or how about a teenager who wears all black, hats that cover her face, and t-shirts with scary messages, but is confident, strong, intelligent and reliable, and wants to be seen as approachable? Her clothing is sending the opposite message. This outfit from Nordstrom BP shows those around her how she really feels and IS inside.
Take a look at the qualities listed above, then look at the clothes in your closet and think about whether your clothes are sending the message and portraying the person you want to show to the people you come in contact with every day. Be your best, true, authentic self by learning your style and shopping to fit that style.
Wardrobe Consultant and Personal Shopper. Love to help women match their outside image to their unique inner beauty.