AS A PERSONAL SHOPPER, one of the most widely asked questions I get is “Where do you start?” I explain that I start in the same place my clients start each and every morning … their closet.
I come to every first appointment with my trusty rolling rack and a total absence of judgment.
Even I have fallen victim to the last-minute “I need a dress for that wedding tomorrow.” or the “I need one more outfit for vacation” syndrome. Being in the business does not insulate me from the same problems all of you face. It is this compassion and identification I take with me to see every client, both male and female.
I read once that we wear 10 percent to 20 percent of what we have 80 percent to 90 percent of the time. Now, I’m not sure if that statistic is completely true, but it’s probably not too far off. What that means to me is that we’re not wearing the majority of what we have. So, how do we wear what we have, all of the time?
Before I come to a client’s house, I give them some homework: to go through their closet with a critical eye. When is the last time you wore a miniskirt? If the answer is 10 years ago, get rid of it. Does anything in your closet have shoulder pads bigger than a house? Get rid of it, and fast; they’re not coming back in style. Leisure suits, don’t even think about it! By weeding out your closet first, we don’t waste time on things that should have already been gone. The only caveat I have for this step, if something is of great quality or vintage grade, keep it. These treasures are meant to be kept and possibly handed down. I find that men have as hard a time as women getting rid of things. As in Bruce Springsteen’s song, “Glory Days,” they just can’t let go of the past.
The best way to organize your closet is to have an upper and lower hanging rod. Tops, shirts and/or blouses go on top, and pants and/or skirts go on the bottom. Visually, it is much easier to see what you have if your closet is set up this way. Some people prefer to have outfits hung together. The only issue I have with this system is that you limit yourself. It doesn’t allow you to think out of the box, and put things together in a new and different way. If you can fit it, a long hanging rod is ideal for longer jacket dresses and anything that doesn’t fit on the other rods.
Once you have the two rods, I suggest sorting by weight and color. If you have extra closet space in another part of your house, it’s even better if you can limit your closet to fall/winter clothes and then spring/summer clothes. Start with dark colors and go toward light, long sleeve to sleeveless, long pants to skirts. By doing this, you instill order and reason, so that you are not searching for that favorite camel cashmere sweater you love. It’s right where you put it along with the other like-colored garments.
You should strive for a ratio of two to three tops for every bottom. People tend to notice what is on the top half of your body, because that is what’s at eye level. Don’t buy something you have no match for. Think in terms of “families” of clothing, where several pieces work together.
Another hard and fast rule is to get rid of what doesn’t fit or is soiled or stained. Again, it is taking up physical space as well as giving you more to process each morning when you get dressed. I also have clients try some of their clothes on for me so that I can gauge their fit and functionality. Sometimes it takes an outsider to deliver the truth, and maybe an outfit you think looks good doesn’t really enhance your figure. As we experience life, our style changes and our clothes are a reflection of that. Wear what fits and looks good.
Once I am gone, it is up to the client to keep up the good work. Organizing and editing your closet is an ongoing process. Each season is an opportunity to donate, dispose of, collect and consign what isn’t working. This way, it gives you the opportunity to add a few great pieces that you can’t wait to put on in the morning!