Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful,
or believe to be beautiful.
Sooner or later I knew my degree in Art History would come in handy,
and so it did just last week while I was shopping with a client who needed to add
some new pieces to her wardrobe – most specifically a new interview suit. Olivia
(her real name) does not enjoy shopping and admits she only buys items on sale,
which, for the most part, never quite hit the mark.
My advice to her was not to buy anything unless she flat out, head-over-heels loved it
– whether it was a $1,500 designer jacket or a $15 pair of jeans. This advice isn't new –
it's been around for a long time. I borrowed it from British artist William Morris, father of
the Arts & Crafts Movement. It hit Olivia between the eyes.
Many people have closets full of clothing that for one reason or another no longer get
the job done. Sometimes items are dated, no longer fit properly, or are the wrong shade
of blah. But more often than not, the item in question was purchased in haste, because
it fit and wasn't horrible, by someone without a plan. You need a plan.
Get the Urge to Purge
Do it all at once, or take it in stages, but before you buy another thing, clean out that
closet and toss things you haven't worn in the past year or two, items you hate but wear
anyway, and clothing that is out of style. Don't forget the shoes and handbags. (Please
consider donating gently worn business appropriate clothing to your
area's Dress for Success.)
Create a Budget
I dislike the b-word more than anyone, but it's got to be part of the plan. Decide how
much money you have to spend on putting together a few basics (skirts, pants and jackets) with
shirts, blouses and tops to round out at least five new outfits. Take advantage of the sales that
are everywhere, including Bloomingdales, Nordstrom and Saks, and don’t forget budget friendly
Dressbarn (if you haven’t shopped there lately, you will be pleasantly surprised – I was!).
Choose Your Neutral
One neutral – brown, black, dark gray or navy – should be the foundation of your wardrobe. If
you work with too many neutrals, you can easily get overwhelmed and back to a closet full of
clothes and nothing to wear.
Less is More
A fabulous addition to your wardrobe is just like love, you'll know it when you see it. If it works
with your neutral and is within your budget, that amazing sweater, blouse or pair of shoes
whispering buy me is yours to take home whether it's on the sale rack or not. As you
learn to discriminate, you'll buy fewer but better items.
Shopping with purpose takes time and discipline, especially if you're on a budget, but
it's worth it. Aim for five or six outfits that will take you from the office to after-hours
in style. Hiring a stylist to help you put together a wardrobe strategy and shop with you
could be an excellent investment. Also, many stores now have personal shoppers at no cost to you.
Olivia decided on a well-cut black suit with a silk blouse in a purple and lavender print (great
with her hair color). When we spied a gorgeous deep purple jacket that fit her like a glove
(and yes, was on sale!), we knew it was meant to be.
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