My client, Mrs. Sublime, has been getting a lot of love here on the blog. She inspired a post about hidden finds and another one on building an outfit. I knew I was going to write this post because I was not only really pleased with how things have been shaping up with our work together but because I always glean new insights when I work with clients that I enjoy passing on to you.
Mrs. Sublime has, or I should now say had, her own set of wardrobe challenges, needs, and setbacks that are unique, but in terms of how I work with her, it’s no different than how I work with any other client. Women hire me because they are struggling with their wardrobes and have realized that they have reached the limits of their abilities without the help of an expert. Some think I swoop in with some magic powers. And, yes, I may have training, qualifications, and experience that make me more adept than the average person, but what really makes me successful at my job is being able to take what a client has been trying to do on their own and build on it.
In many ways, a stylist is a facilitator. Just like a therapist is a guide who asks their clients the right questions, is trained to notice certain patterns and listens out for certain cues, the same is true for a stylist. When I work with any client, what I am always looking for is what a client is trying to communicate even if they aren’t consciously aware of it. A good stylist can zero in on those small, often hidden, kernels of information. So, in many ways, I don’t necessarily direct how I style a client as much as a client tells me, often without realizing it, exactly what they are looking for. A client may not be able to communicate it, but if a stylist is good, they don’t have to.
As with all my clients, this was very much the case with Mrs. Sublime who took me into her closet and showed me plenty of misdirections and quite a few regrettable purchases. But among the things we could both could laugh about and happily cast off, what emerged had clear and consistent points of view that were very obvious to me. The more we cleared away the clearer things became. Was it as clear to Mrs. Sublime? Maybe not, but that is why I was there.
Obviously, nobody scales Mt. Everest as expertly if they don’t have trained guidance, so I understand that embarking on a wardrobe expedition to discover the gems that will help further excavate a personal style without any expert assistance is a much more daunting process. However, I can assure you, if you have clothes in your closet, you have intel that you can use.
Mrs. Sublime’s Starting Point
I will use Mrs. Sublime’s starting point as an example. My first impression of Mrs. Sublime was her deep, beautiful auburn hair and classic outfit she was wearing. Her stunning home looked straight out of Architectural Digest with its well-appointed, whimsical, and clever design details. Without even going into her closet, I had gathered a great deal. Inside her closet, despite her own recent closet purge, there was a lot in there. As I went through her wardrobe and removed the things that didn’t work, the clearer the direction became. Mrs. Sublime had these beautiful yellow shades, teals, and burgundy tones. It was all right there the whole time, it just needed to be developed which happened as we peeled the unworkable things away. The best and not surprising part was the pieces we kept were the pieces that Mrs. Sublime probably liked best to begin with. So as daunting as this process may seem to go at alone, much of it is just learning to trust yourself, leaning into your instinct, and not muddying the waters with purchases that don’t elicit that same positive response.
It’s also important to view your wardrobe from both a micro and macro view. This is a topic I would like to talk about in more detail in the future, but briefly, most people shop with a micro mindset. They see things individually without thinking about the bigger picture of their wardrobe and how one piece impacts the whole. As I clear out the things from a closet and am left with what’s being kept, I think about the wardrobe as a whole and what will be needed to strategically create balance.
After a closet edit, I have a lot of work to do to put a client’s wardrobe set in the right direction, and even though Mrs. Sublime and I are basically neighbors (a cool fact we didn’t know until she hired me), I decided to shop online. Shopping online is more efficient because I can jump around quicker from store to store, can take my time strategizing and planning my selections, and, given the supply chain issues that are currently happening in retail, online shopping is just more efficient. In addition to developing Mrs. Sublime’s style, I also had to take into account her lifestyle, physical characteristics— which includes physical limitations— and professional and personal goals.
Mrs. Sublime isn’t the first client to have foot issues— it’s more uncommon for a client not to have them— hers are at the higher end of the problem range. Heels are basically out completely, shoes need to have large toe boxes that are either round or square, and comfort is critical. For tall boots, Mrs. Sublime has large calves and a decent budget to spend which can be harder to shop for. It’s more common to find cheaper boots in wide calf sizes than from investment brands. All of these things, style direction, budget, physical limitations and characteristics, goals, lifestyle are all things that get factored in when helping a client develop their style.
Mrs. Sublime’s Capsule
Shop the pieces in Mrs. Sublime’s Capsule
1.Ellette Wool Blend Dickey Jacket 2. Parke Blazer in English Shetland Wool 3. Parke Blazer in English birdseye Twill-Wool 4. Tie-Waist Lady Jacket in Italian Knit Wool 5. Garnet Tweed Jacket Choupette Merlot 6. Scoop Neck Stretch Jersey Top 7. Pearl Crepe Chiffon Blouse 8. All-Over Print Blouse 9. Slim-Fit Blouse in Stretch Poplin 10. Ashwick Puffer Coat 11. Treeca Pant in Good Wool 12. Workout Performance High Stretch Twill Skinny Leg Trousers 13. Clever Crepe High Waisted Trousers 14. Mejia Pant- Rust 15. Meija Pant- Haze 16. JEN7 by 7 For All Mankind Ankle Skinny Jeans 17. Stretchy Toothpick Jean in True Black 18. Single Button Blazer in Seasonless Wool 19. Tailored Trouser in Seasonless Wool 20. Vintage V-Neck Tee 21. Silk Blouson Sleeve Top 22. Balloon Sleeve Top 23. Relaxed-Fit Sleeveless Top in Washed-Silk 24. Mongolian Cashmere Tee 25. Side Slit Cardigan 26. Australian Merino Wool Open Cardigan Sweater 27. Frederick Cardigan – Fine Alpaca 28. Edale Knitted Jacket Rust Wool 29. Long Sweater-Jacket 30. Verona Pump 31. Silk Georgette Crepe Bateau Neck Shell 32. Silk Georgette Long Crepe Shell 33. 4-Way Stretch Twill Top 34. Nellie Stretch Silk Blouse 35. Recycled Nylon Hooded Coat 36. Gucci Jordaan Leather Loafer 37. Nims Oxford 38. Grace Loafer – Leopard Suede 39. Baguette Stone Drop Earrings 40. Tortoise Link Necklace 41. Alpaca Stand Collar Coat 42. Roxie Center-Seam Ankle Boots 43. Eve Slip-On Loafer Flats 44. Carisa Bootie 45. Oliveira Medium Brown Leather Knee High Boot 46. Gold Petite Link Pendant Necklace 47. Comfortiva Laina Loafer 48. Patsy Mid Pump 49. Gigi Loafers 50. Merino Wool-Blend Turtleneck 51. V-Neck Cashmere Sweater 52. Lou Sweater 53. Howell Wrap Sweater 54, Crewneck Sweater in Extra-Soft Yarn 55. Alex Printed Shirt Dress 56. Allerton Knitted Dress 57. Long-Sleeved Dress with Belted Waist 58. Stretch Virgin Wool Shift Dress 59. Margot Long Sleeve Sweater Dress 60. Kelmscott Skirt 61. Pencil Skirt in Leather 62. Mabel Necklace 63. Buckle Braided Leather Belt 64. Baby Rebound Leather Belt 65. Petit Square Buckle Leather Belt 66. Britten Belt
This is a replica of the first pass of the capsule I presented to Mrs. Sublime after editing through her closet. A few points to note:
- Not everything was expected to be a success. I’m good at my job but I’m not that good. I have better averages than most but clients understand that not everything will be a win. Some things won’t fit, some things a client won’t like and some things will sell out faster than a client can get to them. I over-select pieces for these reasons and I like to capsule things is so a client can see the patterns and how I envision things working toether so they can make informed shopping selections. If a client has a preference for one item, they can track it’s use and easily see which additional items would make the most sense to also buy.
- Not all things were selections made by me. When I can, I try to incorporate things a client already owns into a capsule so they can see how their existing wardrobe works in. In order to protect Mrs. Sublime’s privacy, I subbed out things from her wardrobe for close matches currently available in stores.
- Some modicications were made. For the sake of example, I like to use product shots in flat-lay outfits. Not all retailers feature these types of images. So in some cases, I subbed a close alternatives for pieces I chose for Mrs. Sublime when product shots weren’t available.
- Multple shoe choices. Quite often, I like to show mutiple shoe options to a client because shoes can be an easy way to change up a look. It can also be helpful when a client has very tricky feet. Instead of seeing Mrs. Sublime’s foot problems as a limitation, I chose to lean into them and work with her issues. And if there was ever an argument against having a closet full of black shoes, this capsule is it. By offering Mrs. Sublime a variety of different shoe colors and styles, she gets a lot of options while still being very strategic in her choices. Despite there being a lot of shoes, there is still a one-and-done, no wardrobe splitting, strategy to each style which means that each shoe does something unique and specific.
- Cut yourself some slack. If this looks hard, go easy on yourself. Pulling this capsule together took many hours within the span of a week to accomplish. If it takes you a while to capture your style and then develop your wardrobe, remember, this is my full time job. I’m supposed to make this look effortless.
Outfits Created from Mrs. Sublime’s Capsule
There may be a lot to choose from in Mrs. Sublime’s capsule, but from it, I created 114 outfits, and I could have created more. Check them out and get some ideas for your own wardrobe and building your own capsule.
As with all my clients who allow me the opportunity to give all of you a peek into my work with them, I want to thank Mrs. Sublime for generously granting me permission to share our work together. We’ve come some way since this initial capsule and I look forward to continuing the journey.