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closet help

my baby is here!

my baby is here!

Nope, no human babies, just made an online course ;) 

Making Space is finally here! Seriously, creating this course has been WAY more work than I ever expected. I came up for the idea over the Christmas holidays last year, when I had a little creative space (i.e. grandparents were taking care of my kid). My original idea was for the course to launch in Spring 2017. I quickly realized that was unrealistic and moved it back to Fall 2017. I didn’t realize that that would still require a lot of “hustle” (my LEAST favorite word) over the summer, and so I chose a slower pace. That pace got us here, launching in Winter 2018. I’m really proud of the work I’ve put into this and I know that if it resonates with you, it’ll be really useful.

mindful closet: making space course

Here are all the details:

The course is four weeks long. Every Saturday, you’ll receive an email with the class for the week. In each class, there is a video to watch, workbook exercises to complete, and homework for you to do in your closet. There will also be a private Facebook group where I’ll be checking in on you and you can share about your progress with the other class members. 

Curriculum

Week 1: Define your why, your style, and take inventory

Week 2: Editing

Week 3: Overcoming editing stumbling blocks

Week 4: Organizing what’s left and making a mindful plan going forward

That’s basically it. By the end of the four weeks, you should have a wardrobe filled with only things you wear and feel good in.

FAQ’s

How much time do I need to devote to the class? It’s going to vary for everyone, but on average, you should be prepared to devote at least 2-3 hours a week to the work.

How is the program delivered? You’ll get an email each week with a link to the course website, where you’ll be able to watch the week’s videos and download the corelating worksheets.

How much does Making Space cost? The course will take you through the exact process I use with my one-on-one closet cleanse clients ($450 and up). You'll get the course for $247.

How many people will be in the class? You can start the class whenever you want, so the number of people taking it at any one time will vary. 

Can guys take this class? Nope. For this class, we’re going to focus a lot on the messages we’ve gotten from others about what we as women should be wearing, so it wouldn't be appropriate.

Of course, let me know what other questions you have, I’d love to hear them!

So who should take Making Space?

I really intended this course to be for people who crave more simplicity in their wardrobes but have a hard time getting from the idea of it to actually putting it into practice. If you don’t know what to keep and what to get rid of, if you feel like you have too much but don’t know where to start, if you know your life would be easier without worrying about clothes but you still think you need options, this class is for you.

mindful closet: st. louis personal stylist

Here’s what a few other people who’ve gone through the process had to say about it.

It’s such a relief to have a more consolidated wardrobe, to know what pieces I need to focus on, and to know which pieces I should avoid. - Veronica

I have felt so much better about my clothes, and I continue to let go of pieces that don’t work for me anymore.  - Michelle

Eliminating clothes from my closet could have been tragically painful. Instead it seemed like the easiest decisions I had made in a long time. My closet has since undergone two additional revisions with Dacy and another on my own. She helped me find the freedom of owning less.  - Brooke

More testimonials from people who've taken the class here. If you're ready to sign up, go for it below! If you have more questions, just shoot me an email

(photos: Celeste Boyer)

organizing your closet to reduce visual clutter

organizing your closet to reduce visual clutter

As the weather finally moves above freezing, we're hit with a a natural urge to clean and reorganize our closets. For general purging and closet decluttering tips, see my post on 5 Steps to Wardrobe Nirvana or use the "does it spark joy?" criteria from Marie Kondo's methodAs you're moving your spring and summer clothes in and your winter clothes out, here are a few more tips to make getting dressed a little less confusing:

 

display only what you're wearing right now


Only keep the clothes you wear on a regular basis accessible. If you have other storage space, this is where out of season clothes, special occasion clothes, and transitional clothes (i.e. the pre-pregnancy jeans) should go. Even if you technically have room in your closet for these items (as I do), I recommend keeping them out of your everyday closet. Seeing too many options makes decision making confusing. The fewer items you have to look at as you get dressed, the easier it will be. No need to flip past cocktail dresses when you're getting dressed for work. If you have to store everything in the same space, make sure the things you wear on a daily basis are front and center.

 

 

keep everything where you can see it


When I reorganized my closet last summer, I realized that I had more necklaces that I could see at once. I wanted to have a way to display them all so that I might be more likely to wear some of the neglected ones. Since my closet has more hanging space than I really need, I decided to use some of the wall space to display them. Since doing this (and taking this photo), I've gotten rid of many necklaces, since seeing them on a regular basis still didn't entice me to wear them. The same thing happened with my shoes. And my clutches... (they're hiding up on the top shelf there, in IKEA magazine holders)

 

mindful closet - closet organizing tips

 

use matching hangers


Find a style of hanger you like and spend a few dollars to fill your closet with them. Some people love the thin felt hangers, but I'm lazy and they are hard to get clothes on and off of! My ideal is all wooden hangers, but until the budget allows, I have the basic white plastic ones. Such a simple thing can make a huge impact.

 

mindful closet - closet organization.JPG

 

hang everything


You can't wear things you don't remember you have. Feel free to differ in opinion on this one, but I hang as much as I can, even t-shirts and some sweaters. Chunky sweaters, workout clothes, pajamas, and jeans are the only things that go in bins or drawers. I often see clients with drawers or stacks full of t-shirts, most of which never get worn. Even a t-shirt is a building block of an outfit and requires consideration. Isn't it easier to flip through hangers to see your options than to dig in a drawer or refold a stack? A note: I only have four pairs of jeans in my closet right now, if you have more options, it probably would be a good idea to hang them so that you can easily see your choices.

 

mindful closet - closet organization tips

 

put your shoes on shelves


After trying every possible shoe tree/rack/hanging pocket system out there over the years, I've come to the conclusion that simple shelves are the best way to go. They're easy to get shoes in and out of, heels sit nicely without getting caught on anything, and they look cute (place all pairs of shoes heel to toe for more room). I use cheap shelves like this tucked under closet rods, but check out this super sweet version by Laura Cattano.

Do you have any other tips to share?

closet case study: sara's fall capsule wardrobe

closet case study: sara's fall capsule wardrobe

Capsule wardrobes are all the rage right now. First there was Kendi's 30x30, then Project 333, and now the Unfancy blog has added a whole new level of coolness to the capsule. For a very thoughtful and methodical approach, I love the Into Mind website. For me, capsule wardrobes aren't necessarily about finding crazy ways to wear things ("I'm going to wear my shirt as a skirt!"), but about wearing only things that you love and that all work interchangeably with each other.

Last spring, I started working with Sara, a mostly-stay-at-home-mom. We first worked on a post-baby transitional wardrobe (she'd just had her second son). Recently, she was ready to solidify her fall wardrobe. She'd started out with some basics and bought some great pieces on her own, but then wanted my help finding the last few pieces to pull it all together and creating multiple outfits. Since we'd worked together before, she knew I wanted to see some styles that inspired her, so she started a Pinterest board for her fall wardrobe. Here are a few of the looks she loved:

(Images: Atlantic Pacific, Karla Reed, Celebrity Street Style)

After we added a few new items, here's what we had:

Six tops, one sweater, two jackets, four pairs of pants, three pairs of shoes, and a scarf (see sources for exact or similar items at end of post). Seventeen pieces.

Here's a little of what you can do with seventeen pieces
(click on any image to start a slideshow):

Granted, Sara's activities are mostly casual in nature. Attire for rare occasions like weddings isn't included here, but there are plenty of options for date nights and other social events. If you are someone who works in an office, you could easily add a pair of trousers, a skirt, and a dress or two into the mix to multiply your options.

Capsule collections are a trend, but in reality, it's how I believe all wardrobes should work. In Sara's words: "When I open my closet now, I only see pieces that fit, that I actually wear and that are in season."
How many pieces would you be left with if your closet fit those parameters?

 

P.S. A few more sweet comments from Sara about our work together:

"You've changed my perspective on how I view my wardrobe and how I approach shopping. You really showed me how simple it is to mix and match items to create multiple outfits. Now I see what I need to make my wardrobe more complete and functional. When I go shopping now, I know exactly what items to look for rather than buying random pieces that simply appeal to me. I really appreciated your objectivity. You never tried to change my personal style. Rather you helped me identify it and showed me what pieces I currently have that fit that style. It was also helpful that you took the time to make a board on Pinterest and Polyvore. I ended up buying some of the items you suggested because they were perfect! All in all you really helped to boost my self-confidence. So thank you!"

Want your own capsule wardrobe? Go here to sign up for my 5 day capsule creation challenge! You'll get my capsule planner and emails leading you through the process of setting up your capsule! 

closet case study: colleen

closet case study: colleen

It's been a while since we had a case study, and Colleen was the perfect candidate for one. She contacted me because she was getting frustrated getting dressed every morning. Before we met for a consultation, I sent Colleen a questionnaire I send to all my clients (you can see it here). During our meeting, we discussed her answers on the questionnaire and clarified her needs. We diagnosed her style by looking at images from the Lucky Guide - definitely American Classic. Then we moved on to her closet. Colleen's wardrobe issues did not result from too many clothes, in fact, she's a great purger and her closet was very small and tidy.

colleen closet.jpg

Isn't it awesome?! We started to go through piece by piece to figure out why she was having so much trouble getting dressed. A lot of her shirts were boxy and ill-fitting and many of them looked well-worn. Both of these problems stemmed from the fact that they were not great quality in addition to overzealous washing, resulting in pieces that were only a few months old but were already faded and pilling. Feel free to disagree, but I believe that unless you've worked out in it or exerted yourself, most things don't need to be washed after one wear. It varies for each person and each type of garment.

Even with those problem children, Colleen still had plenty of great basics and cute pieces, but she felt like she didn't have any options because she was very unsure of how to put them together. Her workplace is pretty casual and she didn't want to appear too dressed up. She also had a fear of wearing the same thing too often. Of course, I quickly reminded her that's not usually a real issue (outside of your own thoughts) since most people are too self-absorbed to pay much attention to anyone else.

Because Colleen's wardrobe was so small, I was able to photograph the majority of it. To help her see the options she actually already had, I made a series of photo collages showing outfits she could make from her closet. I added in a few things that we already knew she was going to add to her wardrobe - a white tee, brown boots and the two necklaces.  This gave us a total of 12 tops, 8 bottoms, 1 dress, 2 necklaces, 1 scarf, and 4 pairs of shoes. She had a bit more than that, but that's what I ended up using in these images. I very quickly came up with more than 30 outfits (a month's worth!) and could have kept going indefinitely had I had more time. Here are 27 looks (27 only because it make 3 neat squares of 9 looks each!) Again, keep in mind this is only with what she already owned.

If some outfits look similar, it's because they are. Sometimes all you need to do is change the accessories from brown to black, or change a necklace for a scarf for a whole new look. If some of the outfits look simple, it's because they are. You don't always need a million complicated pieces.

After we went through everything in Colleen's closet, I came up with a list of pieces she could add to maximize her options and refresh her wardrobe. We decided her neutral would be brown to make sure that everything went together and so that she didn't need different accessories or shoes for each outfit. Here's her shopping list by priority:

First priority:
-lightweight jacket for layering in a neutral color
-white boatneck or long sleeve tee for layering
-dressier, classic brown knee high boots

Second priority:
-one more pair of work pants, in camel/tan
-1-2 fun printed blouse, other than button down, in a silkier fabric, flowier shape
-1-2 fun statement necklaces
-1-2 accent scarves
-long cardigan in a neutral

Third priority:
-(replace) brown flats
-bright or leopard flats
-(replace) dark skinny jeans

At this point, some clients like to just take the list and run with it, sometimes checking in to ask my opinion on various options. Others prefer to have me do the shopping for them. Colleen had always been overwhelmed by shopping and wanted to get a little better at it, so we planned an afternoon of shopping together.

We started at Nordstrom Rack, which can definitely be overwhelming with its racks of seemingly unorganized clothing. I asked Colleen to focus on finding one thing at a time. For instance, instead of attempting to find all the items on her list at once, we started by just searching out lightweight jackets. Next, we focused on printed blouses - easy to pick out of the crowded racks. I encouraged her to grab anything that remotely looked like a possibility.

When shopping, it was easy to show Colleen the difference between the quality of a few different pieces in the same store. She was drawn to a Vince henley style silk top, but it was about $120. For a more affordable option, we pulled a similar style from a cheaper brand, about $30. When Colleen tried it on, she could tell that the cheaper top was made of polyester and had a bulky fit. When she put on the Vince top, she sighed audibly. It was soft and draped in all the right places. We didn't end up getting that piece (or the cheaper version), but it was a great experience to have. Colleen did choose to spend a little more on a different quality silk top, from the brand Joie. Of course, being at Nordstrom Rack, it was still a great deal. She absolutely loved it and will wear it for a long time.

We moved on to the Galleria and quickly picked up a few additional items at H&M and the Limited. Colleen also picked up a few pieces on her own. Between her work and our shopping trip, she ended up with almost everything else on her list (all the pieces in italics above were purchased).

With the new pieces and the basics she already had, she'll be able to make dozens of new combinations. 

Here's a little of what Colleen had to say:

"I really appreciated your calm, cool demeanor and kind way of handling the clothes I had and the issues I had with them. I never once felt embarrassed or uncomfortable. You are great at putting someone at ease in what is obviously a really personal situation. I also liked how customized your service really is - you seem to value the fact that everyone is going to have unique issues and so there's not a perfect formula for how you interact, you can just go with the flow and tailor it to what they need most.

I learned how to tackle the Nordstrom Rack craziness and how to speed through the mall staples. I also learned you should take half days off work to go shopping so you don't have to torture yourself on the weekend!

I seriously feel so much better. I wore the jacket yesterday and just smiled whenever I caught my reflection - I felt pulled together, just like I wanted! Thank you so much. I feel a million times more confident."

closet makeover: mr. mindful closet

closet makeover: mr. mindful closet

I guess the effects of all of my recent personal styling, closet making-over, and wardrobe consulting have been felt at home. Recently, my husband got inspired to clean out his own closet.

Dave collage 1.jpg

Clockwise from left: the before - it doesn't look terrible, but there is clothing just piled on shelves and nothing on hangers. During: having a clothing rack available to put everything on during the process is really helpful. You can actually see everything you're dealing with. Also during: note our adorable Yorkie, Bruiser, attempting to take a nap.

I honestly didn't really help much on this one, except for one suggestion. I thought it might make sense to move the shelves from the center of the closet to the outer edges so that the hanging racks would be more accessible. I also helped with a second opinion on the "maybe" pile. Most of the "maybe" items were things that were good quality, but hadn't been worn in years, so out they went.

Dave closet after 2.jpg

Didn't it turn out well?

the happiness project and having too many choices

the happiness project and having too many choices

I am constantly overwhelmed by the amount of choices in my life. I love going to a restaurant with a set menu - no choices! You know the Cheesecake Factory menu? The one that is more like a catalog than a menu? It makes me anxious just to think about it. On a more serious note, I've also been paralyzed by choices of which life path to take at various points in my life - after college, after grad school, after moving to various cities. I once heard on an Fresh Air interview that President Obama has completely removed as many minor decisions from his daily life as possible so that he can save the decision making for the important things. For him, one of the choices he removed was what to wear every day. Makes sense to me.

While I certainly am never going to wear the same thing every day, I think that it's interesting to think about limiting our choices in our wardrobe. My sister and I were having a conversation recently about our closets and how we both purge them obsessively (in fact, she got up from the couch right after our conversation and got rid of a few things). She mentioned the book The Happiness Project, which I had heard lots about but never read. When I got home, I checked it out from the library. Here's what the author, Gretchen Rubin, had to say about cleaning out clutter:

"Having few clothing choices made me feel happier. Although people believe they like to have lots of choice, in fact, having too many choices can be discouraging. Instead of making people feel more satisfied, a wide range of options can paralyze them. Studies show that when faced with two dozen varieties of jam in a grocery store, for example, or lots of investment options for their pension plan, people often choose arbitrarily or walk away without making any choice at all, rather than labor to make a reasoned choice. I certainly felt happier choosing between two pairs of black pants that I liked rather than among five pairs of black pants, the majority of which were either uncomfortable or unfashionable - and which made me feel guilty for never wearing them, to boot."

Thoughts?

(Read more of Gretchen Rubin's work at http://www.happiness-project.com/)

a closet filled with regrets

a closet filled with regrets

I posted last Monday about "mistake purchases". On Thursday, my friend Elise alerted me to an article that had just been published in the Wall Street Journal titled "A Closet Filled with Regrets". The summary for the article read "most people only wear 20% of the clothes in their closet". It made me wonder if there is a way we can change our behavior so that we stop contributing to the 80% we don't wear. I've devoted a lot of my energy throughout my adult life working on aspects of my behavior and personality through meditation, yoga, reading, and therapy. Why not apply it to this area of our lives as well?

It's helpful to know what triggers purchases that we end up not wearing. In the article, the people interviewed said things like, "Who knows, maybe I'll be able to make it work down the line" and "I'm holding out hope that I will feel sexy one night and have an event to wear it to". One man purchased pants with a vibrant print on them even though all of his shirts are also printed, leaving nothing to pair with the pants. He lets them take up space in his closet because they are "really nice quality." One woman in the article acknowledges when things don't work, but just doesn't get around to returning them. She then keeps the items out of guilt.

The most surprising statement from the article was this: "In fact, shoppers most regretted, over the long term, passing up an indulgence for something practical or less expensive, according to research in the Journal of Marketing Research in 2008." This explains how we feel when we see all the rarely worn $20 Target purchases hanging in our closet and wish we had saved for one special thing instead.

It's not all our fault. We are constantly pressured by retailers to act without thinking. A relatively recent example of this are "timed" sales that are designed to make you feel as though you're going to miss out on things if you don't buy them immediately. There are even countdown clocks on some of these sites. Other websites now tell you exactly how few of the item they have left in stock. There are constant notifications about discount codes that are only valid for one weekend. With all of these attempts to speed up the process, how can you be mindful about your purchases?

Think twice if you hear yourself say:

"I'll get this altered" (will you?)
"I don't like this detail, but maybe it won't bother me" (it will)
"It's not 'me' but it's a good deal" (even if it's free, if it's not you, you're not going to wear it)
"Maybe I can make it work" (unless you're Kate Moss you're probably not going to make it work)
"These shoes hurt just a little, but I'll break them in" (if they hurt in the store, it's only getting worse)
"They only have one left in my size! Must buy now!" (is that true?)

Mindful ways to prepare for temptation:

Have a wish list and stick to it
Avoid flash sales and unsubscribe from sale notification emails
Find ways to satisfy the shopping urge without spending a lot of money: go thrifting,
buy inexpensive accessories, or shop online and pin the items you like without buying them
Take advantage of sales and specials when you've been tracking something you want to buy,
not when the item is suggested to you by the sale

For what it's worth, I'm guilty of all of these triggers. Just this week I was swayed by a "last minute" sale at shopbop.com for 20% off any purchase. I bought several pairs of jeans to try. At least "quality dark skinny denim" was on my wish list, but I still felt a little manipulated. Because I often shop in thrift stores, the temptation I fall prey to is the "it's only $3, it's no big deal if it doesn't work". Actually, it takes time to bring that item into my closet, creates frustration when it doesn't work, requires energy to get rid of it, and even "only $3" adds up over time.

Just like the emotional work we do to control a temper or overreactions to stress, learning how to react to shopping triggers is a process. Over time, we can learn to pause before we buy. I'd love to start a discussion about this - what are your triggers? What purchases have you regretted? If you're a master of self-control, please share your wisdom!