It’s great to be back after taking a few weeks off from blogging. I have to admit, I really enjoyed my downtime. I love blogging and connecting with all of you regularly but, man, I really needed a break.
The last few weeks weren’t really a vacation, I still saw clients and caught up on other work and personal projects that needed my attention and just enjoyed the freedom of not having a blogging deadline hanging over my head. I also celebrated a milestone. This September marks my 13th year in business as a personal stylist. That’s right, I started Bridgette Raes Style Group 13 years ago this month when I was a very naive 28 years old. I’m having a hard time wrapping my brain around this. In some ways it feels like only yesterday that I threw all caution to the wind and started my business. Yet, when I look back and think of all the women I have worked with, all the ups and downs of building my business and career, and all the things I have done, it feels like I have been doing this forever.
The very best thing about my work is not the fashion, it’s the clients, the women whom I have worked with over the years who I feel so grateful for. There have been times these 13 years where I wondered how long I want to keep doing this. How many closets can I clean, shopping trips with a client I can make and how many times I can revamp someone’s style before I’m just done with it. But then I think about my clients, these amazing women who I have worked with over the years who are, hands down, some of the most incredible women I have ever met and feel privileged to know and it just sucks me back in. Hands down, the most rewarding part of my job has been watching these women change, transform and grow. The bonds I have developed with many of my clients is, by far, the most cherished part about what I do. Without them I wouldn’t have a business (literally) and if it weren’t for them, the true heart and soul of what I do wouldn’t exist. So to all of you who I have worked with, I thank you for giving my business the meaning that it has for me.
Speaking of my clients, as you know, I have a very strict policy of not revealing information about the women I work with unless I have their permission. A few weeks ago, while styling and photographing looks with a client, I told her that she didn’t have to worry, none of the photos would wind up on my blog. Her response? “Oh, you can use them if you want to.” I became excited when she said this because her photos really illustrate how you can get more from your wardrobe, you just don’t know it. Like most women, my client has a client a closet full of clothes that she didn’t know how to use as effectively as she could. In today’s post I am going to show you what I did with her to hopefully inspire you to get more with less.
When I feature clients on this blog I never use their faces and I always give them fake names that describe them perfectly. I have featured clients on this blog like, Ms. Chic, Mrs. Hottie, Mrs. Fabulous and now this client who I have decided to name Ms. Lovely, because lovely is the best way to describe her. She’s younger than most of my clients (she was in high school when I started my business. Yikes!!) but is wise beyond her years. Like most of my clients, I cherish my time with her. She is gracious, smart and just…lovely. Without revealing too much, she is currently doing her medical residency in Psychiatry. Loving the psychological side of my work, you can only imagine the types of conversations Ms. Lovely and I have. I am learning just as much from her as she is learning from me.
When I work with clients in person, most of them go through several steps. It starts in the closet where we purge and edit, we go shopping together and we also do outfit styling sessions where I help clients put looks together and photograph them for reference. The below photos are from this session. Ms. Lovely and I had done just a few hours of shopping a few weeks earlier and I wanted to get back in her closet to put looks together and assess what else we needed to purchase.
Outfits from my session with Ms. Lovely
At the start of an outfit session I always ask a client to pull a piece from their wardrobe that they want to start working with. These pieces are usually ones that the client doesn’t know what to do with or wants to get more use from. Ms. Lovely pulled these patterned navy pants from Ann Taylor that she bought on her own, liked, but was having a hard time styling. She barely finished her sentence about her issues with these pants and I was already pulling a bunch of tops from her closet to wear with them. When we start with one piece I always like to create multiple outfits to show how to mix-and-match and get more looks.
Navy Patterned Pants Outfit #1
The first top I used was this soft coral top. We purchased it together at Lord & Taylor and I wish I could find it online or remember who it is by. I suggested these nude kitten heel pumps to wear with the outfit and, as a flatter alternative, this pair of burgundy ballerinas from Ivanka Trump. As we finished the look, I grabbed a scarf that Ms. Lovely had purchased on her own. It worked perfectly and added a beautiful finish. The benefit of these pants with a small pattern is they can be treated like solid navy pants making all the outfit options quite limitless. The small pattern even work with bold prints like the scarf.
Navy Patterned Pants Outfit #2
In this next look, using the same Ann Taylor pants, I used an ivory sleeveless top from T Tahari and navy Ivanka Trump blazer to create this outfit. Another scarf that Ms. Lovely had on hand was this red patterned one that worked perfectly with these Sam Edelman kitten heeled pumps.
Navy Patterned Pants Outfit #3
Next, I removed the jacket. Of course, Ms. Lovely can throw it on if she needs to. Using the same scarf as the first look, I picked up the burgundy in the scarf and offered these two shoe suggestions, including this burgundy pair from Vince Camuto. Ms. Lovely and I haven’t had a chance to shop for jewelry yet, but she had these two earrings options on hand. For work I told her she could go simpler and for fun she could break out the bolder purple pair.
Navy Patterned Pants Outfit #4
In this next look, I grabbed this red sleeveless top, styled it with the pants and and layered the navy blazer over it. I don’t think the top photographed as well as it looked in person. For this look we kept it more classic and I gave her the options of grey kitten heel pumps, these gorgeous tan flats with laser cut outs or nude pumps. Lastly, the look was finished with a pair of gold earrings she had on hand.
Navy Patterned Pants Outfit #5
Lastly for these pants, I grabbed this hot pink sleeveless top. We could have gone on with even more tops but needed to move on. Here, again, I gave her several shoe options, for comfort and to change up the looks, including these metallic blue flats from Sam Edelman when her feet really hurt, and finished the outfits with two layering options– the navy blazer or a softer white cropped cardigan. For jewelry, I used what Ms. Lovely already had on hand. Once we go jewelry shopping she will have more options, but these work just fine.
Cobalt Pencil Skirt Outfit #1
Next, Ms. Lovely pulled out a cobalt blue Boden pencil skirt that she already owned and wanted help styling. When I worked with her during her closet edit we had already put some looks together using this skirt and with new things purchased I wanted to see how bold Ms. Lovely was willing to go. I was delighted when she seemed enthusiastic when I paired this skirt with a bright coral top. As luck would have it, the same scarf we had used previously worked perfectly. It always amuses me when a client has the perfect components sitting right there in their closets and don’t see it. When Ms. Lovely purchased this scarf she had no idea what a vital piece it would be. I finished this outfit with her nude and grey kitten heel pumps.
Cobalt Pencil Skirt Outfit #2
Knowing that Ms. Lovely is not afraid of color, I kept pushing. Here, the same sleeveless pink top I used with the navy patterned pants was used with this cobalt pencil skirt. In addition to the grey and nude pumps, I threw in these black and white Louise et Cie heels that Ms. Lovely fell in love with at the store. Lastly, as I am dressing Ms. Lovely, I looked at her earrings and found this pair just sitting there. I just love it when something so perfect is just sitting there waiting for me to use it.
Cobalt Pencil Skirt Outfit #3
I took the brightness down a notch in this last look down using this soft pink blouse. The color of the top is a bit too light for Ms. Lovely so we added this key scarf to the mix. Finishing the outfit, I just love the way her burgundy shoes look .
Grey pants Outfit #1
Ms. Lovely has had these grey pants in her wardrobe for some time. The pants have this slight texture to them and they fit her great. Until we worked together she was wearing them in a “just okay” way. Little did she know that she had all these fabulous options to consider. For a more classic look, I added a sleeveless blouse and grabbed a tweed blazer that she already owned. For a pop, I used her Sam Edelman red suede heels and her red printed scarf. Clean, classic, but definitely not boring.
Grey pants Outfit #2
Next, to change things up ever so slightly, I simply swapped out the tweed blazer and added the navy one. I also suggested she give these lace-up wedge booties a try once the weather gets cooler.
Grey pants Outfit #3
Ms. Lovely has this simple tan blouse just hanging in her closet that, on its own, is sort of just basic but I knew it would look great with her grey pants for a softer look. Here it is with the same navy blazer, her burgundy or tan flats and finished with that standby scarf and simple gold necklace. And don’t you just love that bag? Ms. Lovely got it during Nordstrom’s Anniversary Sale for under $50!
Grey pants Outfit #4
This outfit is exactly the same as the previous one. The only change is the layering piece, this rusty relaxed cardigan that Ms. Lovely had already owned before working with me. And there is that scarf, yet again, working so perfectly. How beautiful are those burgundy flats with that rust cardigan? I bet that is a color combination you hadn’t thought of before. I know Ms. Lovely didn’t.
Grey pants Outfit #5
Same cardigan, same grey pants, only this time we put the ivory blouse back on. Of course, the tan top (in the previous photo) would look just as good. For this look I toned down the outfit with a different scarf and took away the burgundy flats. And in case you’re wondering, that red shoe just happened to make it in the photo. It’s not a suggested shoe to wear with the outfit.
Grey pants Outfit #6
Here the same grey pants are again. This time they look much sleeker with this blouse, relaxed blazer and, for a pop, red or burgundy shoes. I think it was at this point that Ms. Lovely questioned if she’d ever need to buy a pair of black shoes again.
Grey pants Outfit #7
Going back to the soft pink blouse used earlier. Here the grey pants are styled with a very cool Ivanka Trump cardigan and this variety of shoe options.
If you break down all the pieces used in these outfits it’s a pretty small assortment. It’s the mixing-and-matching that matters along with a keen understanding about how to put looks together. Instead of going out and buying more clothes that will not necessarily solve the problem, work on creating looks by shopping in your closet.
I thank Ms. Lovely tremendously for allowing me to share her photos with all of you.
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Thank you both for sharing so generously! 🙂
I was so thrilled when Ms Lovely said I could use her photos. They are perfect examples of multiple ways to use pieces
Welcome back! I’m glad your away time was just what you needed. Looking forward to seeing what’s up. Please tell Ms. L. thanks from your faithful readers. This was a very helpful post. I love the sneak peak into what goes on!
It is always so great when a client is willing to let me share photos from their sessions. It doesn’t happen often and I can’t blame them. They don’t hire me to be publicly displayed. But I make great efforts to not reveal any personal information. I have worked with some clients who won’t even tell friends and family they hired someone. I respect that.
It is great to be back. It gave me some time to not be so under the gun with post ideas and also get ahead a bit. Plus, I also got to have a bit of a personal life. Haha.
Will send Ms. Lovely the appreciative comments. Thanks!
Oh how I’ve missed your work Bridgette! And what a wonderful post to return with. I love the outfits with the very flattering grey pants, and how often you used that colorful scarf to pull things together. Very inspiring!
Thanks Jen, it’s so nice to get a warm welcome back! That scarf was incredible. It just kept working. I love when that happens. There it was, just hanging there waiting to be used multiple ways. A total score! The journey of what Ms Lovely had in her closet to this was pretty incredible. It’s almost hard to believe that she had the most dire shoe situation out of any client I have ever worked with. Ms Lovely’s style has evolved so tremendously and in such a short period of time. It is very rewarding to now see that she looks as amazing on the outside as she is on the inside. She is an absolute treasure.
She looks incredible and her shoes are to be envied now!
Loved this post. You’re helping us learn to look beyond the obvious. And to bow down to the power of accessories. Time to play with my fall outfits.
That is so awesome, Patricia! Even Ms. Lovely said it’s all about accessories too. And she and I haven’t even had a chance to shop for new jewelry yet. Can you imagine how awesome it will be then? Thanks for the comment. Have fun playing in your closet!!
So happy your back, and what a fabulous return!! We all need a refresh and renew in life and you work hard so you deserve it!!
This article is so timely for me. In two weeks we leave for a month in Eastern Europe. Yesterday, I spent the whole day trying things on, mixing scarves, paring down. With each choice your reminders of multiple use and purpose resonated in my head. I noticed your beautiful Ms. Lovely wore a thin chain under a scarf. Yes, I am off to buy one…
Thanks to you I have my travel wardrobe down to twelve pieces, YES!!
I’ll so look forward to catching up with your posts when we get back. Thank you so much for your inspiration and encouragement.
A faithful fan,
Hi Pat, thanks for the welcome back! I really missed connecting with all of you! It was nice to have some time to myself though, I will admit. You’re right, we all need breaks. I don’t take nearly enough.
Yes, I really wanted to show a necklace with a scarf. I get a lot of questions about that and I am always stymied by the fact that it seems confusing. As I told Ms. Lovely, there is probably a good chance she will take the scarf off at some point, so it’s good to have a necklace there when she does. I do it all the time.
Have a great trip and I am thrilled to hear you whittled your wardrobe down so well. Your back (or your husband’s back) will thank you and the luggage fees will be much less, I am sure!
So glad you’re back! Here’s to the power of the scarf!
Welcome back, great post. I love seeing post’s like this one, and being able to look at
an outfit I like and then figure out what I have that is similar and how I can
make it work for my own coloring (true/cool winter).
Thanks, Janie! It’s like looking at a recipe and trying it out for yourself, right? I hope this helps!!
Absolutely. Most of these for me is just substituting the corals and soft whites, for fuchsias and a winter “white”. All the other colors would basically work, grey, navy, and cobalt are all within my colors. 🙂
it’s great that you can easily figure out how to swap to make these workable for you! Would love to see what you come up with!
Bridgette, more often than not with your posts I find there is a lot of workable colors for me that I already have in my wardrobe.
I find I struggle when I see something that doesn’t have any colors that are in my wardrobe, like a Light Summer or Soft Autumn palette, I would have no idea where to start making changes.
Welcome Back!!! You were definitely missed, but glad you were able to get some time away from blogging!! Like some of the other comments, I love seeing the actual outfits and start going through my wardrobe to see what I might put together that I hadn’t thought of before…Thanks to Ms. Lovely for sharing her wardrobe with us!
Thanks, Stacie!! It’s always great to see clothes on people, for sure! I wish I could do it more often.
Great post! So helpful to see a real person wearing the clothes. I love the scarf. Thank you!!
Thanks, Keri! I love the scarf too. I went looking for it but couldn’t find a link to it.
That was a fantastic education in assembling outfits. Since I often use handbags as pops of color, I am curious as to what bag colors you would choose with the different assemblies. Would they all be neutral black, tan or navy, or would you put the orange bag (such a deal!) with some/all of the outfits?
I am glad it helped. As far as bags go, that bag she bought is more of a cognac than orange, so Ms. Lovely would be able to use it with most of these outfits, for sure. I think a black bag, navy bag and even a burgundy bag would be an awesome addition for her.
This was very helpful to me. I really liked the way you showed the combinations and explained why they work. I am donating all colours from my wardrobe that do not suit me. I realise I have been given them as gifts, but the buyers of them choose their own colours not mine. I am only keeping the things that go well together for this winter. I have realised I am a medium autumn and the colours for that season look amazing on me. I am sixty next week and I see no reason not to wear clothes that make me look and feel fabulous. Thank you
You are so welcome and happy birthday! Life is definitely too short to wear the clothes you don’t love.
Thank you for your good wishes xx
I was looking for a large lightweight scarf recently that goes with many outfits. I could not find one, but did find a sarong in the right colours, I cut off the ties and made it into a scarf. It can even be made into a lightweight cover up by tying the corners to make a light jacket.
Isn’t it amazing, with all that merchandise out there, that it can still be hard to find the right thing! I am glad you could improvise!
The clothes you showed would make a great capsule for work or travelling
Absolutely. Every wardrobe should be mix-and-match and most women don’t realize just how much theirs actually are. I am glad you saw that!