Why I Finally Sprung for a Closet Makeover

I used to fantasize about having a fashion expert come help me clean out my closet and freshen up my wardrobe. But it always seemed like a frivolous expense, not in line with who I am.  

I'm really good at weeding out things I don't wear. There's always a bag for Goodwill or Dress for Success ready to be donated. I'm pretty good at picking out clothes that suit me, and I love to shop. Plus, I don't have the kind of job or social life that demands a fashion protocol I can't keep up with. So why would I pay someone I don't know to help me with a problem I don't really have?  

I will confess to a penchant for buying, what I joke are, "Clothes for a life I don't actually lead."

This results in my having to create the right social event just so I can wear some crazy thing I fall in love with in a moment of retail rapture. My black evening jacket with a feather peplum comes to mind. After I brought that home from a flashy shop on N. Palm Canyon in Palm Springs I had to rush-order tickets for an evening at the Opera.

Recently, I acquired a vintage Bergdorf Goodman floor length patio dress, circa 1972, despite having no place to wear it.  Look for your invitation to a patio party at our place this summer.  

If I really do have an event that calls for wearing something special I tend to exploit it. My friend Cricket throws a fabulous annual party. So at least three times a year I buy the perfect dress..."for Cricket's party." Maybe I do have a problem.

And the fact that I'm not actually 25 anymore has left me in a state of wardrobe confusion on more than one occasion in the last year or two. Why can't I zip these cigarette pants anymore? Is this a dress or a tunic?

So when I saw a 3-hour closet therapy session up for auction at my daughter's school fundraiser I went for it. And I won! A professional wardrobe consultation AND a feel-good donation?  Winner! Winner! Chicken Dinner! I couldn't wait to schedule my appointment with Flair Shopping.  

Jill DeWan started by having me complete a questionnaire about my lifestyle (suburban, working mom), style idols (Audrey Hepburn, Gwyneth Paltrow, Coco Chanel), favorite designers (Trina Turk, Kate Spade, Ralph Lauren, Calypso St. Barth's) and other fun questions about what I buy, where, when and why.  

The questionnaire asked about my most and least favorite parts about my figure (no use going into that in a blog about happy things), my favorite colors to wear (white, blue, black, orange), and what I like to spend on various clothing categories (none of your beeswax.)

When she arrived at my house Jill won me over right away. She was dressed in hip denim and looked super cool, but not like she was trying too hard.  And she's funny with a great smile. 

She marched straight into my closet and made herself comfortable.  A working mom with a child going into high school, I felt like she understood my life.  I told her I wanted my closet to look like a boutique, one that I walk into and fancy everything I see. Fewer items, everything on view, each item something I love to wear.

If you've ever wondered if hiring someone to help you sort out your closet is worth it, I can finally say from experience that it is.  She went through each piece of my wardrobe, one by one, and helped me decide whether or not to keep it. No drama.

She wasn't pushy. If she sensed I didn't love something she put it in the donate pile.  If she sensed I did love something that maybe wasn't working for me, she said so in a nice way and helped me let go.  She raised my appreciation for some overlooked pieces, and she grouped old clothes in new ways so they felt fresh.  

Here are my 6 favorite things about working with Jill:

1. She took all the clothes and shoes in my donate pile away when she left. No second-guessing myself.  Yes, I chased her down the driveway and grabbed back one skirt. But the rest was gone forever, and I've not missed a single item from the 4 trash-bag collection.

2. She took random items that I never imagined being pals, and put them together so I have a lot of new outfits without buying anything.

3. As she fashioned each new outfit, including the right shoes and jewelry, she laid it out on my bed, or had me put it on to try. Then she snapped a picture.   Now I have a photo album I can turn to.

4. She took notes during our session, following up with a list of  basics she recommended I buy to round out my wardrobe. 

5. Later, she sent me links to things I'd been looking for, including a 25% off code for a swanky pair of boots. Then, in the weeks that followed, she sent photos of things she saw in stores that she thought I might like. And she was always right.  I got the coolest pair of See by Chloe leather sneakers that way. I'd never have seen them without her. 

My favorite sneakers ever! Stylish and super comfy.

My favorite sneakers ever! Stylish and super comfy.

6. Once my closet had some breathing room she arranged all my clothes in a new way.  Now it really does look like a boutique! Everything is organized by type and color. And because there's less in there, I can see everything, which makes it easier to get dressed each day.

Though we spent the whole 3-hour session in my closet, I'm now so impressed with Jill's knowledge, professionalism, style, and "gets me" quotient, I will definitely consider asking her to help me shop.  The money I'll save by not making mistakes will make up for her fee. 

I hope this post inspires you to take a look at your wardrobe and create breathing space.  If hiring a pro isn't in the cards for you, then invite a friend to help you. I think you'll be glad you did.