Earlier this summer I realized my closet was getting a bit out of control. Out of control in the sense that it was full to the brim but still left me feeling like I had nothing to wear. Ughh. I DREADED getting dressed in the morning. Subconsciously, I knew I had outgrown several of the pieces in there (like that short leather mini skirt, yep, not gonna happen), but I just didn’t have the heart to let some of these pieces go. Not really in a sentimental way, but in a – I’ll probably wear that again someday way. Or, you spent way too much on that way. So, one night when I was enjoying a glass of wine with my friend Madelynn of Wide Eyed Legless, we came up with a genius idea, as one so often does when having wine with friends. In exchange for her enviable fashion sense, I would lend her my interior design prowess – a brain swap, if you will. Madelynn would redesign my wardrobe, while I would revamp and warm up her apartment. A novel idea really. The key was we were to work with what we found in each other’s home and improve upon it, without spending a fortune or redesigning our entire wardrobe or home. Simple enough. We were both excited to make this happen.
A couple weeks later we were ready for the undertaking; I invited Maddy over to help style, curate and mostly, gut my closet. I also invited Stefani, our Editorial Director over to take notes on the process and mostly, to hold me accountable (I was gutting my closet and I was sticking to it!). What I discovered was pretty eye-opening and I couldn’t have done it without them. Having honest opinions from someone you trust and admire is invaluable when you’re in a design rut. Maddy was so kind in helping me accept that my body had changed since having a baby, and that’s OK! She said I should look at this as an opportunity to upgrade and tweak the styles I’ve come to love and wear often. She made it really easy to just say “toss or donate” to the things I held on to for impractical reasons.
After all the purging was through, we created my “core” wardrobe and “style pieces” that I could mix and match with basics. Without all the clutter, I could finally see my own sense of style emerge.
I have since found a new appreciation for investing in wardrobe staples that you can wear time and time again and that allow you to mix and match to create a variety of different outfits. I now prefer investing in quality staple pieces that I truly love over quick, cheap purchases that fade and wear out quickly. Below you’ll find a recap of our process plus some helpful tips from Maddy on staying true to your style, keeping the clutter under control, and investing in items you’ll love for decades to come.
Style Tip: Make sure your hangers are consistent! Nothing feels better than a closet full of matching hangers. Velvet hangers save space and look fabulous.
In this 3-step process below Madelynn transformed my closet from a 20-something-year-old to a classic woman in her 30s. This newly curated wardrobe better meets my current needs and style. I have to admit, I’ve evolved over the years; especially as a mother and established business woman. I love how Maddy helped me put together three aspirational outfits that are chic, easy and functional to wear at home and at the office.
The first thing we realized while cleaning out my closet was that I had a lot of basic – non-basics (if that makes any sense). Meaning, I had a lot of clothes that appeared to be functioning as basic staples within my wardrobe but were not quite serving their proper purpose.
What is a basic you may ask?
A Basic – is a piece of clothing that is neutral in color, cut, and silhouette; you should be able to style this piece in a variety of ways.
After Maddy assessed what I had and what I needed we put together a list of basic staples that we think every woman should have in her closet. This list helped me streamline my wardrobe and have fewer pieces that are more functional.
A few other revelations we had while gutting my closet – I have a tendency to gravitate toward stripes, we had to get rid of a surplus of these.
I would also say through this purging experience, I had to say a big NO to several pastel tops or any clothing that resembled an easter-egg-colored-hue. Apparently, I’ve had issues with that in the past. I deeply need to upgrade my heel collection and possibly PJ collection which is starting to look a bit too oversized and worn-in.
Here are a few items that we all knew immediately that I would need to get rid of: my fuzzy ivory baby doll top, my silver-metallic crop, my leather mini skirt, and my 90s knee-high leather and suede boots. These are all looks I’ve most definitely outgrown now that I am in my early 30s.
Below you will find a few basic pieces we bought and/or kept. The equation to outfitting any look is to take a basic staple piece and then layer it with a trend on top. For the style goals Maddy identified for me, she wanted to keep all the basics in the apparel and then layer trend pieces on through accessories. In general, accessories provide an easy and cost-friendly way to make your wardrobe trend right for any season!
If you are going for a comfortable spin on a dressier look we’ve put together the perfect outfit for a day at the office or work happy hour.
This outfit at first glance might look basic, but it’s quite the contrary! It has so many amazing little details and I like that it’s non-fussy with a touch of something special. Red has also been having a major moment lately, and we thought a fun red sandal was the perfect way to add a bit of that color in!
Here we take a simple look with our black floral dress + leather boots and enhance it with pretty feminine accessories.
A floral dress is a classic must-have piece in every wardrobe. When the floral pattern is grounded in a neutral color (like black) it is easy to wear and what I would consider a staple piece. There are so many things you can do with a great floral dress. Boots and a jacket in the fall, or a cute sandal in the summer. The options are endless. I stuck to a black shoe for this dress because I find when I wear black, keeping the shoe black will help continue the lines and it lengthens your legs. I layered on the trend pieces with a scarf, small handbag and an oversized pair of cat-eye sunglasses which help tie the whole look together.
Style note: Tailor your clothes to fit if you really love them.
I love accessorizing my outfits with caramel and tan tones. Below I paired my new rattan purse from Bali with tan suede heels from M. Gemi. I recently discovered a great source for these cute little wicker purses from Bembien which sells woven bags made by artisans from around the world.
Here is a fresh put together look that still feels casual but we dressed it up with cute heels and a matching purse.
A wrap top is a great trendy piece to carry with you from summer to fall. They are so flattering and show off the best part of any woman’s neckline! But they can easily look pretty fancy, so Maddy paired this top with a great pair of blue jeans, heels and a fun summery bag. Perfect for a casual meeting with clients or a date night out with Joe!
Images by 2nd Truth
BY Kate Arends - August 22, 2017
Thank you for being here. For being open to enjoying life’s simple pleasures and looking inward to understand yourself, your neighbors, and your fellow humans! I’m looking forward to chatting with you.