shop in your closet A comment from a fan of my Facebook Fan Page inspired me to write an article today on how to shop in your closet.  Let me set up the all-too-familiar scenario:

You have to get dressed, you go to your closet, find nothing and go out and shop for more.  You buy additional items thinking that finally these new things will save your existing wardrobe that you think is so limited that you can barely cobble an outfit together.  Yet, you get home, load these new items into your already overwhelmed closet and realize that you still have nothing to wear.  So, what do you do?  You go shopping again, this time determined to figure it out.  Regardless of the fact that you have a closet full of clothes, much of it with tags still attached, you are convinced that there must be something out there that is going to finally solve the “closet full of clothes and nothing to wear” dilemma.

 One of my favorite quotes is: “When you’ve dug yourself into a hole, stop digging!”

I’ve lost count of the amount of closets I’ve been in, but let me assure you, it’s been a lot.  I see this common problem every single time I visit a client to make sense out of the complete disaster that they’ve made out of their wardrobe.  Not one woman calls me before they’ve taken one, two or even a dozen stabs out of fixing this problem on their own.  Quite frankly, I’m usually damage control.  Yes, while hiring someone like myself is an expense, what most clients realize is that they can either hire me to finally end the madness of wasted money and time, or they can keep trying to find a solution by rectifying the same problem with the same action…the action that isn’t working.  Look, two plus two will always equal four; there is no other option.  The same action will always give you the same result.  Therefore, put the store credit cards away, save your money and listen to me before you head out to the store thinking another purchase is going to save your wardrobe.

And, please take comfort in knowing you’re not alone in the dilemma.  While a handful of my clients have been in the dire situation where they seriously have no clothes to wear I can still help them cobble a few outfits together.  If you have a jam packed closet, however, many of the answers to your wardrobe problems can be solved just by learning how to use what you own more effectively, and in this economy, who can’t stand to save a little money and time.  I mean, don’t you have better things to do than troll a sale rack thinking that another purchase will save the day?

So, what can you do?  The truth is, it’s quite easy.

#1- Shop in Your Closet

Number one, if you think that working through your wardrobe to make it work more effectively is going to be a five minute thing you do in the morning, I’ve got news for you, it’s not.  Another reason why clients hire me is because they know they have to devote some time to this task.  When you’ve gotten your clothes to the point that you can make heads or tails of what you own, to think that you are going to figure it out while rushing around in the morning is ludicrous.  Just like you set aside a few hours for cleaning or balancing your checkbook, dedicate a few interrupted hours on a weekend to sorting through what you own.  Turn off the phone, don’t turn on the TV and make people in your family leave you alone.

The next thing I want you to do now that I have your full attention is to pull out the items you wear all the time.  You know, those work pants that are staples, that little dress that you wear one way all the time and are now sick of, that navy suit that you wear with a simple tank.  Whatever these pieces are for you, these are your workhorses and they need to be used in a few different ways.  What I do with my clients is I take a staple piece from their wardrobe and I style it with them a minimum of three different ways.  Therefore, instead of a pair of pants being worn one way, they now have at least three ways of wearing that one item.  The goal is to pull out the things you already own and shop in your closet to put outfits together.

While these photos are a bit crude, they’re some working photos from a client’s closet.  You can see in the first three photos that the same basic pants were used and by utilizing what she had in her closet, we showed her how she could create three very different looks.  In the second three photos, we used another pair of her basic pants to create another three looks and, if you notice, some of the same items in the first three looks were used again.  Many times, when we do this with clients, they remark that what we put together they never would have thought of and quickly see how a simple outfit session is way more effective than another trip to the store.

#2- Think beyond the basic color palette

 One of the biggest things getting in the way of a client having success in her closet is the fact that she doesn’t how to combine color.  I wish I would wave my magic wand and give you all you need to know about how to do this.  I will admit it is a skill.  I touched on the Color Tripleplay in a past post which may help you understand this concept better.  We actually offer our clients books that teach them how to combine color.  The biggest aha moments come from clients when we show them that they can wear green with purple or or yellow with blue.  I can give you a quick tutorial, however.

shop in your closet

Start with your base: When putting an outfit together always start with your base colors, which are usually your neutral shades and/or your hard pieces. An important point to remember is that accent colors that work with black, in most cases also work back to any other neutral shade you choose to start with. Here are some examples:

Adding a third color to achieve the Color Tripleplay: Add sophistication to your outfitsby adding a third color through your pop pieces which are your accessories. You can go one of two ways.

shop in your closet

Create a totally neutral base and add a pop of color through accessories.

shop in your closet

Start with a neutral base, add an accent color and pop the combination with a third color which would be through the use of accessories.

#3- Make a List

Now, you may find some standout items that you don’t own that could complete an entire look, and if you don’t own them, add them to a shopping list.  Shopping randomly is for people who actually enjoy shopping.  Personally, I’m probably the only style expert on the planet who doesn’t shop for sport.  I’m too pragmatic, time-starved and disinterested in shopping to want to randomly browse.   And, even if you do love to browse the stores, at least have some goals in mind.  Bring you list!