On Friday I hired a stylist to come over to my house to spend some time with me & my closet.  All part of The Plan.   Part 1 will review the what, where, how part of the day. Later in the week I'll review some of the key outcomes for me - outfits made, shopping list items, how awesome my skinny jeans looked... etc.

Fast Facts:

  • Session booked for 4 hours, my closet took 6.5
  • 1 garbage bag of clothes were 'thrown out'
  • 5 bags of clothes donated to charity
  • 1 suit donated to Dress for Success
  • 1 bag of clothes will go to consignment
  • 5 skirts, 2 dresses and 2 blazers will go to the tailors

The Stylist - Wendy Russell from Style Cat. 

Wendy is a familiar face to many in the Vancouver area as an actor who has appeared in over 30 television commercials, as well as film and television series. She is best known as host and creative producer of HGTV's She's Crafty.     Wendy is schooled in fashion styling, interior space planning and home staging.  She is a member of Professional Organizers in Canada.

I was lucky in this endeavour in that I've known Wendy Russell for several years through mutual friends.   So she knew me, my existing style, my personality and my lifestyle.  But I can only assume a good stylist knows how to ask the right questions to get an accurate read on these things pretty fast.   This also meant the reverse was true and I also knew Wendy's style and personality.  She works accessories like nobody I know.  She arrived at my place on Friday in all black (button down, skirt, tights and shoes) with a great black and white polka dot tie loosely around her open collar.   And I knew she'd be tough with me, but that there wouldn't be any tears.   

Suggestion - As this is a personal service, I'd suggest asking people who you know, trust and have a style that you like if they have used someone.  You want to work with someone whose personality and work style fits you and your budget.

The Service - Wardrobe Therapy

For a little more than buying a new pair of full price Fluevogs  my wardrobe got an intervention. I know Wendy calls it the more friendly "wardrobe therapy".  But really while Wendy was always really nice about it, let's be honest it was an intervention.

Wardrobe Assessment - Done in 3 stages which will feel familiar to anyone who watches "What not to wear" or "Tim Gunn's Guide to Style". Thankfully there was no humiliating 360 degree mirror.

  1. Taking everything out of the closet and drawers.  As we did this I threw some items into the 'donate' pile because they were obviously worn, old or just plain awful. 
  2. Separate clothes into piles. 
    • Keep - this was the LOVE IT ain't gonna give it for up nobody pile (a couple of times Wendy politely said "well lets keep it over here to see what kind of outfit we can make with it" to avoid a smack down).  This also included a few pieces that were for specialty stuff like swing dancing or camping. No styling required there and not really worth wasting Wendy's time on them.
    • Try on - to see how fit OR try on to see how to make outfits
    • Donate/Throw Out/Consign - It if looked tired, worn, stained or was obviously a bad colour on me it was put aside for donation or throwing out.  If it was obviously in almost new condition, but never going to be worn by me it went into consignment.  I was surprised at the items (which I love) that I voluntarily tossed before we even tried them on.  And by how poorly I do laundry (related note - new light bulb has now been installed in bedroom).
  3. Try things on.  At this point we were checking to see how something fit me and what other clothes might be paired with it for an outfit.  Here we added 2 new piles:
    • Tailor - I apparently have lots of skirts which are fantastic but wasn't wearing because really they were too long (and thus weigh down my bottom half).  So no need to buy any new skirts, just hem the ones I have in my closet but don't wear. 
    • Shop for items - There were 3 items that are lovely but that don't match anything currently in my closet.  I need to shop for something to go with them.

Suggestion - Wear good underwear.  First so that it looks good under your clothes and secondly because you'll be changing a lot and will be seen by others.

Learn how to dress your body type

Here we took my measurements to determine my body type.  The 4 key measurements were shoulder, bust, waist and hips.  And to my surprise (after some iPhone conversion from cm to inches) I am more of a  triangle than an hourglass.  I always figured with my bust and hips that I was a classic hourglass.  But my shoulders are narrow and my bust isn't as wide as my hips.  So I need to pay attention to some of the tips for a "Triangle".    This information combined with my height and weight brought us to my "rules".    In essence I need to try to balance myself out so that my narrow shoulders doesn't make the rest of me look wider.  Keeping the attention upwards helps avoid my looking bottom heavy.

Since the day of the wardrobe therapy is often overwhelming Wendy gave me a copy of The Science of Sexy, by Bradley Bayou to read further about what I should wear or not.  

Closet Reorganization

Wendy had great tips and tricks on how to re-organize my closet.  First was great hangers that she called Flocked Hangers that keep the clothes from falling off (and are lightweight and sleek so they take up less space in closet).   She gave me one for my loved dolman sleeve slouch top (blogged about in Fashion Flashback - Dolman Sleeves) which had yet to find a hanger it liked.  Secondly,  a tip to get a clothes shaver (cause that stupid pilling on your nice sweaters makes them and you look messy).  

My closet had been organized by type - dresses, blazers and pants hung on the longer part of my closet.  Tops and skirts on the upper and lower shorter side.  Wendy's suggestion is to organize by outfits and occasions. So the left side of my closet now has work outfits, right casual and lower right playdate "mommy" stuff.  She also suggested actually hanging a top on the same hanger as the blazer or sweater that you will wear it with. Or in the case where the wool sweater should be folded, she put a little tag on the blazer hanger so I know which top to wear with it.  Not sure how this will work for me in the long run. But right now it is great, as I can't remember everything she suggested I wear together.   And it certainly would make getting ready in the am a little easier.

Shopping List for missing wardrobe pieces

We kept a list of things I needed to buy - either because the original item was thrown out (ie: black 3/4 length sleeve cardigan) or because it was missing altogether from my closet (flat front jean skirt).  

And finally, the service included taking away everything and donating on my behalf.  This prevents back-slide after the stylist has gone home.

So in the end... was it worth it?  Well my husband would probably say that he could have emptied out my closet for me for free.  But really it was more than that.  It was an educated partner to help me through all these decisions.  Our clothes and how we dress is very personal.  We tend to get in 'comfortable' ruts and can be a bit hesitant to accept change.  Having someone point out what works best for you and what doesn't was certainly worth it.  Heck I saved more than I spent in just skirts by  re-hemming my existing ones. 

And I feel so much lighter now.  And kind of excited about what is left in my closet.