Keep, Praise, Love: A Closet Makeover Story

This post originally appeared on the September digital issue of Rhode Island Creative Magazine

I have dreaded this moment,” a client once confessed as we prepared to purge her closet.  The sentiment is understandably common among those who secure my closet makeover service.  To give a complete stranger carte blanche to take a critical look at your wardrobe; to scrutinize every item of clothing, shoes, and accessory you own– gives the person access to all of one's past and current fashion choices.  While intimidating at first, the experience is not nearly as mortifying as it is liberating.

 Unlike the popular, quirky, highly dramatized, brutally honest and entertainment-focused “What Not To Wear” on the TLC Network, I can most certainly guarantee that there won't be cameras following your every fitting room move; documenting some fashion intervention and the big ta-da moment where relatives and friends are impatiently waiting for you to sashay through curtains. YOU are in full control of your style. 

 A closet makeover session is an experience of style embrace, renewal, and inspiration. My role as a stylist is to guide, direct, and re-direct with creativity, expertise and professional diplomacy to achieve the vision you have. Stylists should not impose a particular style on a client, but assist them through the process of crafting or selecting their own while understanding what will/will not work with their body/hair/skin/fill in the blanks.

Therefore to help me understand clients’ current buying habits and patterns prior to our session, I ask them to do two things: 

  • Fill in a questionnaire where they are asked to dig a little deeper when it comes to their personal style and answer questions from ‘What’s presently lacking? Why?” to “What are you mostly drawn to when you are retail shopping (colors, type of clothing, fabric)?”
  • Create a vision board where they get to pin celebrity/trendsetters/bloggers whose style they admire, but could never bring themselves to try or integrate into their wardrobe or fully explore. This is one of the most exciting phases of our time together as I witness the client’s imagination run glamorously wild while remaining true to her taste and likes at the same time. 

 On the day of, both she and I are armed with qualitative and visual ammunition to tackle the closet at hand – with three easy rules:

 1.     KEEP items that flatter from all angles,

2.     PRAISE items that no longer fit/please/deliver. Why praise? Because that bodycon dress did serve a purpose at one time, but hasn’t been worn or wasn’t missed for the past 10 months; therefore why not let someone else enjoy it (Fascinating conversations have stemmed from the give-away piles; difficult ones too),

3.     LOVE what you buy for what you already own. A detailed shopping list of clothes and accessories is created throughout the process to complement the newly refreshed wardrobe and keep with the style vision of the client.

 Keep in mind that stylists are not exclusively hired for/by celebrities and up and coming stars; or something that happens to lucky raffle winners on the Today Show. Stylists are for everyone who wants to give purpose to the clothes they wear; longevity to the retail investment they’re making; and want to be in control of their style and feel confident every day.

According to last year’s findings reported by the chief design officer for California Closets, interviewed for The Wall Street Journalthe average person only wears 20 percent of the clothes in their closet on a regular basis. So when a client tells me after her closet session is over, “This was liberating”, I have a feeling she’s talking about the 80 percent.