First: how I found Sue. I actually just Google'd for image consultants in my area, and three websites popped up. I contacted all three, but I ended up choosing Sue because a) I saw her in action at a local Home & Garden show and I liked her presentation, b) she got back to me quickly when I emailed her, and c) she wanted to talk over the phone instead of doing everything over email (much easier for her to explain her methods and for me to ask questions).
1. Get a bra fitting done: I can't express how important this is for your shape and for your health.
2. Write down your style words: think about what you want your clothes to say about you. Are you trendy and hip, or are you classic and traditional? Do you want to convey that you are confident and professional, or that you are easy-going and grounded? Write these words down and bring them with you when you shop.
3. Alter clothes you already have: this can be an inexpensive way to update your wardrobe. It's also a great way to make generic clothing your own.
4. Purge: get rid of anything that you don't love to wear, doesn't suit you or your body type, is outdated, is losing its color/shape, or is unwearable for any other reason. Do this with your accessories, shoes, and your undergarments too. Don't worry if you're getting rid of most of your clothes! You actually don't need that many to put together a wide-range of outfits.
5. Organize: Put your casual T-shirts into a drawer. Fold all of your knits and organize into topping pieces (those that can zip/button up), lighter sweaters, heavier sweaters, and sweatshirts. Hang all of your casual dresses/skirts/pants to one side of your closet, your professional clothes in the middle (pants together, blouses/shirts together, cardigans/jackets together), and your dressy clothes on the other side.
6. Take stock of what you have and figure out what you need: Maybe you're short on dress pants, or maybe you really need some topper pieces like cardigans or light jackets. Or, maybe you're like me and you need a bit of everything! Don't feel overwhelmed if you have very few items to work with though. It's amazing how many outfits you can make if all of your pieces can go together. Prioritize what you need, write it down, and take the list with you (along with your recipe card). It will stop you from buying duplicate pieces or pieces you don't need or won't work with your wardrobe.
1. Buy 2-3 pairs of neutral shoes first (black, navy, nude, bronze, etc.). Then you can add more unique shoes to compliment your wardrobe down the road.
2. The taller you are, the more shoe styles you can get away with, such as rounded toes (yay for me!).
3. For longevity, buy classic-style shoes that can be worn throughout the year. Closed-toe pumps with pointed toes are always a good bet.
4. Don't buy shoes that you know you won't be able to stand/walk in for more than 10 minutes. As cute/hot/awesome they look, you'll never want to wear them.
5. Prioritize and keep a wish-list! Sure, those red pumps are slammin', but how many outfits can you wear them with? Buy those as your 4th or 5th shoe, not your 1st or 2nd.
1. Get all your basic pieces (pants, skirts, dresses) in neutrals that can be worn throughout the year (black, navy, olive green, etc.)
2. Buy suits - that way you know the pieces go together, but they can also be worn separately, creating a more versatile wardrobe.
3. If you're big-busted like me, it's worth the money to find button-up blouses that fit properly.
4. Buy camisoles with adjustable straps to wear underneath shears, or to cover cleavage with low-neck tops.
5. Tops should be made with thin fabric because they are much easier to layer; they don't stick to each other and they don't add bulk.
6. Add color through blouses or t-shirts, scarves, and accessories.
7. Get items tailored if they don't fit exactly how you want them too.
8. Think about $ per wear, not necessarily the price on the tag. Sure, spending $200 on one item like jeans or a jacket may sound insane, but when you wear them 1-2 times every week (or more!), it's worth to get a pair that will last!
9. Dark denim is always in style and can be dressed up or down as needed.
10. Try things on. Even if it's "just" a t-shirt, you don't know how it will fit unless you try it. It will save you time in the end!
1. Start with a base piece (pants, skirt, or dress), and build up from that.
2. Always include a completer piece (jacket, cardigan, scarf, etc.) to have a more polished look.
3. Create outfits that are suitable for a variety of occasions - from the office, to meetings, to conferences, to casual Friday's, to date nights - to get the most bang for your buck.
4. Things don't have to be matchy-matchy. Just because your top doesn't have orange in it, doesn't mean you can't wear orange bangles on your wrist. Same goes for patterns: you can wear a floral top with snake-skin pumps. It makes things more visually interesting!
5. You don't have to put together every possible combination, or use every single piece of jewelery, right off the bat. This will allow you to come up with new outfits in the future without having to spend very little, if any, money!
So, after all of this, would I do it again? Absolutely! This whole experience was definitely worth it! Sue was really fun to work with, and I learned a lot about what clothes say about a person, what I want my clothes to say about me, and how to put together a variety of polished looks without needing an overflowing closet.
I would recommend working with a wardrobe consultant if you're having problems creating a cohesive look, are wanting to polish or update your current wardrobe, or just hate shopping for yourself! Even though the initial cost is larger, you end up saving money in the end because you won't be standing in front of the closet every morning thinking "why don't I have anything to wear?".
This ends my series on style and working with a wardrobe consultant. I hope everyone enjoyed reading and are inspired to do your own wardrobe style make-over (I would love to hear about it if you do). And, finally, thanks to Sue for working with me!