yays in my closet

ndwc closet 1

See that sweet little step stool needlepointed by my grandmother 60 or so years ago? Yeah, I hadn’t seen it for months either. I’d forgotten how sweet it is because it’s been buried under a pile of sweaters since September.

I have a small closet. (Old houses = small closets.) Luckily, there is another closet in the hallway, and I rotate most of my cold and warm weather clothing with the season change. There had never been room in my closet for my sweaters, however, so they lived in the hall closet.

In front of that hall closet is a dog bed, upon which Max the 11-year-old dog is regularly perched. Plus it’s hairy. He’s a yellow Labrador Retriever. It’s really hairy. And a little smelly. I digress.

ndwc max

Our house was built in 1888 and has small rooms. The only place the dog bed will fit is in front of the closet. Believe me, I’ve tried elsewhere. So, to get into that closet on a daily basis is…unpleasant, shall we say. Max doesn’t like it. I don’t like it.

Thus the pile of sweaters on the sweet little step stool. And, I don’t know about you, but for me, once a pile is started, it’s really easy to just keep adding to it. The pile was becoming a mountain. It was past time for me to do another Wardrobe Consult.

keepin’ it real

You’d think since I’m a wardrobe consultant my closet would always be pristine. NOT. A common theme of my blog – my everything – is keepin’ it real. Because that’s who I am – just a regular gal with the same challenges, inner critic, procrastinating tendencies, struggles with body image, and crazy life as the next person.

I also have the knowledge of my own personal journey through all of this and the tools to address it. And, let me tell you, it’s so much easier – and fun – to help someone else through this process than to do it alone. Every time I do my own Wardrobe Consult, I whine to my family that I need a wardrobe consultant too. Having support makes all the difference in the world.

organize and purge

My primary goal this time around was to organize my closet and the hall closet in a different way so that my sweaters could be in my closet during the winter. Not only did I have a mountain of sweaters and other clothing on the step stool, I had workout clothes and pajamas on the high shelf in my closet that had gotten disorganized enough to be regularly falling on my head when I reached for something up there. (Again, keepin’ it real, people!)

I pulled all of that stuff down and it became immediately clear that I didn’t need a lot of it. Time to purge. I recycled jammies and workout tanks that were worn out. I donated things that were in good condition but I wasn’t wearing anymore. And I separated winter workout gear from summer so that some of it could go into the hall closet.

ndwc closet 2

Here’s the fun part: I moved a shoe shelf that had been on the floor of my closet with summer shoes on it (very necessary to have handy in the winter in Minnesota, right?) up to the top shelf. New space for sweaters! I can put them away! I can see them! Nothing will fall on my head! It’s the small things that bring me joy.

speaking of joy

Soo, the pile of sweaters was addressed. The abundance of workout gear and jammies was addressed. Now I had a big pile of shoes on the floor. Purge again.

While I don’t subscribe entirely to Marie Kondo’s method of organizing, there is something to be said for getting all of something out to look at it collectively. When you have a big pile of summer shoes all together, it’s easier to decide what should go. And her concept of “Does it spark joy?” is spot on. If an item of clothing doesn’t bring you joy when you wear it, why keep it?

Some shoes I recycled – NO ONE will wear my old running shoes – some I donated, and some I will consign. Then I took most of those summer shoes that I won’t be wearing until May (sigh) and put them into a storage box to go into the hall closet.

ndwc closet 3

That freed up the other shoe shelf and created more space on the floor of my closet. Woo hoo!

I had room to add in an old Ikea rack that was going unused in the basement. I put shoes that I wanted to have easier access to on that, and converted the other shoe shelf to a space – much smaller – for my workout gear and pajamas. Now I can reach these things easily, and they aren’t taking up so much real estate in my closet.

closet love

It’s amazing how doing this helps me to feel better. I’m actually excited to open my closet door now. I use the sweet little step stool to reach for a sweater if I need to. I found sweaters that I hadn’t been wearing because they were languishing in the hall closet behind the hairy dog puff.

I am a person whose mindset is impacted by too much clutter. I know this about myself, but sometimes it takes me a bit to address it. And when I do, I feel so. much. better. I feel like I’m taking care of myself, not just my closet. Yays all around!

Are you ready for some closet love?

Contact me today to schedule your Wardrobe Consult. Together, we can make it happen, and have some fun while we’re at it!

 

the season of giving thanks – and supporting our local community

As we enter the holiday season with Thanksgiving next week, we’ll be thinking a lot about our loved ones, expressing our gratitude and love in the giving and receiving of gifts, and celebrating together.

So many people in our community are unable to practice these rituals because they don’t have everything to meet even their basic needs. A very meaningful way to give thanks is to practice generosity by supporting others. Generosity grows gratitude, and gratitude grows generosity!

purge and provide

ndwc_wardrobe consult_donation pile

“Clearing the closet was remarkably freeing. I can open the door and look in there now and feel good. As we tried on and discarded items, Nancy was able to tell me how and why something no longer worked for me, and I could then see it too.” ~Sue, A Year of Style client

There are a variety of reasons why some may not have what they need – suffering homelessness, losing a job, escaping domestic violence, and arriving to the United States as a refugee or recent immigrant are just a few. One way we can support people facing these issues is to donate the clothing we are no longer wearing to organizations who can get that clothing into the hands of those who need it.

Sue, a client who recently completed A Year of Style with me, did a significant purging of her closet (see photo). As she said, it was extremely liberating for her to let go of the clothing that was going unworn and bogging her down. Not only did she take care of herself by addressing her wardrobe, she also helped many others by donating that clothing.

‘pay it forward’

In almost every community, there are small, local organizations that offer services and goods to specific groups of people in need. I published this list last year around this time, and I’m putting it out there again because they still need our help.

The following organizations meet the immediate clothing needs of their clients – interview and work wear for women and men developing job skills to enter the work force, a free-of-charge clothing shop for people who are homeless, winter outerwear for refugees who have been forced from their own countries. These organizations are vital to the well-being of so many of our fellow citizens right here in the Twin Cities.

Look online for local organizations in your community and consider a clothing or monetary donation to one of them. These are the groups making immediate, positive change for so many people. Your unworn clothing (and donation dollars) will be put to good use.

Generosity grows gratitude…gratitude grows generosity.

Dress for Success (national; local affiliate-St. Paul)

Professional clothing for women entering or re-entering the workforce.

International Institute of Minnesota (St. Paul)

Offers many services to new Americans, including winter outerwear for people who have recently arrived in Minnesota.

Joseph’s Coat (St. Paul)

Provides clothing and essential goods to individuals and families facing a variety of challenges, including homelessness.

Ready for Success (Minneapolis)

A program of Project for Pride in Living, Ready for Success offers business wear to low-income women and men entering the job force.

STEP-St. Louis Park Emergency Program (St. Louis Park)

Provides assistance and food and clothing to St. Louis Park residents in need.

Tubman – Harriet’s Closet (Minneapolis and Maplewood)

Harriet’s Closet offers clothing to women who are struggling with relationship violence, substance abuse, and mental health issues.

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new outfits without leaving the house – or spending money!

February is a great time to look at your closet intentionally. There’s still a good 6-8 weeks left before we can consider spring (bizarre, climate change driven 50-degree days in Minnesota aside). Taking a fresh look at ways to help your winter wardrobe feel more inspiring and prepping your wardrobe for spring are something you can do right now to fight off winter doldrums.

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A big part of my work in practicing sustainable consumerism is to help clients make their existing wardrobes more functional. Most people regularly wear only about 20% of the clothing they have in their closets. For real.

Two things you can do to help your wardrobe be more functional are to “shop” in your own closet and to purge. Clothes languish for a variety of reasons. These reasons fall into two categories – “unrealized potential” (shop) and “time to let go” (purge).

shop your closet

Clothes that have unrealized potential
  • items you aren’t sure how to wear, or have only one way of wearing
  • you got tired of it, so stopped wearing it
  • items that need repair
  • things you forgot were there

Approach your closet like you would shopping at a store. First, actually look at each item; our eyes tend to pass things by because we are so used to seeing them there. Look at your clothes like you are seeing them for the first time. Then think about how you could wear each item in different ways. Here are some ideas to get you started:

pair colors in new ways

Try putting colors together in ways you haven’t before. Combine neutrals with bold, saturated colors or pair two bolds. Wearing saturated colors near your face will give vibrancy to your complexion. Pantone’s colors for Spring 2017 are an appealing mélange – use them as a guide to brighten up winter outfits as we make the slow transition to spring.

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pattern mixing

When mixing prints, one should be smaller while the other is bold – two prints of the same size compete rather than complement each other. Finding prints that share a common colorway can help pull them together. Mixing textures with prints adds dimension as well.

mix it up with accessories

Intentionally change things up with your scarves, necklaces, belts, and other accessories. Take a look at all the different choices you have – it’s so easy to grab the same accessories day after day or ignore them altogether. Be deliberate about wearing different items, tying scarves in different ways, and adding polish to your outfit with accessories.

less clothes, more options

Clothing it is time to let go
  • impulse purchases that just don’t work
  • items that no longer (or never) fit well
  • things that are outdated, worn out, or damaged beyond repair
  • pieces you used to love, but don’t feel quite right anymore
  • items you like the idea of, but just don’t suit your personal style

Purging your closet can feel daunting before you begin, but the freedom and lightness it brings are completely worth the effort. Clearing your closet of items you are no longer wearing lifts a burden of guilt, allowing you to see – literally and figuratively – the potential of the items that do work.

Many of my Wardrobe Consult clients feel like they have a brand new wardrobe with less clothing in the closet and without buying a single item. When we work together, we have a running conversation: “When did you last wear this?” “Do you actually LIKE it?” “Does it make you happy to wear it?” “Why do you feel like you need to keep this?” Answering these questions honestly creates the ability to let go.

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Bonus: you can even earn money by consigning clothing that is five or less years old and in good condition. Consignment shops are accepting spring clothing now, and some will even store cold weather garments until the fall.

If your purged items are too old to consign but are still in decent condition, donate them. You will help someone in need with clothing that otherwise would be hanging unused in your closet. Items that are damaged or worn beyond repair or very outdated should be recycled.

 

 

 

“meh” to spring shopping right now? do what these friends did instead

Clothing stores, even new-to-you consignment venues, are making the big switch to spring stock. It’s February. In Minnesota. We will not be wearing spring clothing for at least three more months!

Some folks are inspired by shopping for spring clothes now – it’s the carrot that leads them through the last cold months. Others can’t even fathom it. Here’s another option.

Prepare your closet for the spring season. Then, when you can imagine wearing spring clothes – say in April – you and your closet will be ready! That’s what this group of friends did.

Jill, Jessica, Meredith, and Amy – each expressing her individual personal style after their Wardrobe Consults

Meredith has been a client since 2013. She first hired me for a True To You Voila Service Package (a Wardrobe Consult + two 3-hour personal shopping sessions), and then for other personal shopping sessions since. This time we did a Wardrobe Revisit, where we went back to her closet to do another round of purging and to integrate more recently purchased new-to-you items into her wardrobe. In essence, making her wardrobe fully functional and fun.

Amy, Jessica, and Jill are friends of Meredith’s and wanted to get in on the fun as well! Each of these fabulous women has her own individual style and desires for her wardrobe. We worked together (each on her own with me) to set goals for their personal styles and for making their wardrobes work better for them.

what does that look like?

The Wardrobe Consult is different for every person, depending on her goals (or his goals – I will use “her” in this post, since we’re talking about these specific women). Sometimes it’s doing a big purge of outdated or ill-fitting items. Sometimes it’s purging very little. In both contexts, I show a client how to pair items in new ways to best match her personal style and to make her wardrobe more functional.

During the Wardrobe Consult, we put together a “look book” of photos of new outfits (from clothes already in the closet) and ways to wear items so the client can remember them all. The photos illustrate many things: color pairings like Meredith’s teal cowl sweater with a fun pop of orange peeking out; the statement belt with the sweater partially tucked for definition; and skinny jeans worn with tall boots.

We also talk a lot about proper fit and cuts that are best suited for her body. I show my client the difference between something that fits well and something that doesn’t and explain “the why” behind it, so that she’s able to apply that knowledge later. When something fits well and is the best cut for your body, visual balance is created, which looks great. I help my clients literally see that with clothes in their own closets.

Accessories are an important part of an outfit – they add polish and personal style. A graphically-simple, chunky metallic bracelet goes well with this bold print tee and white pants for spring and summer.

Putting together color, patterns, and textures as well as accessorizing outfits are other big topics in the Wardrobe Consult. We use favorite accessories and incorporate others that have been sitting in drawers and closets unworn.

wardrobe consult - shoes and skirt pairing

As I tell all my clients, “Shoes can make or break an outfit.” These metallic ballet flats are perfect for creating balanced lines and adding polished fun to a knee-length skirt.

After the Wardrobe Consult, I put together a set of personal Style Guidelines and a shopping list for my client. With these tools, she can move forward with expressing her personal style and finding clothes that will fit well and be highly functional in her wardrobe.

let’s hear it from the girls

Here are some reflections from Meredith and Jill in their own words about their experiences in working with me.

Meredith

As an environmentalist, I’ve always valued “new to you,” so working with Nancy was a natural fit. Nancy embraces the “true to you” piece with her holistic approach – she is equal parts therapist and fashionista, both conservation-minded and fashion conscious.

“I was stuck in a bit of a rut after my daughter was born, clinging to all my pre-pregnancy clothing and feeling like I ‘should’ make them work for me again. But ‘true to you’ is not just about who we have been. It is also a window into who we are becoming.”

– Meredith

Working with Nancy has helped me get to know myself better, assess my goals, and focus on what’s most important. Feeling comfortable, purposeful, and confident in my own skin is not about having a jam-packed closet, but about having a few well-made, timeless pieces that help express what I bring to my professional and personal life on any given day.

Jill

My wardrobe, while clothing me fairly appropriately for work and fun, was dated and lacking in creativity and freshness. Nancy helped me purge my dated clothing while educating me on the subtleties of great fit.  She was discerning without being judgmental.  I really enjoyed our morning together — Nancy brought lots of curiosity and inspiration to our session.

Following our session, I have gaps in my wardrobe – but I’m excited by that because I’m armed with the specifics of what to look for (item, style, color, fit), and I will steadily refill my closet with functional clothing that is a joy to wear.

“At Starbucks this morning the barista took one look at me at and said ‘Wow!  Look at you.  You did great getting dressed this morning!’  When I looked at him with a quizzical smile, he said, ‘You look like a classy assassin.’

Maybe so…. and that makes Nancy Dilts my secret weapon.”

– Jill     

Ready to dive in to your closet? Contact me today to schedule your Wardrobe Consult.