As I like to keep myself challenged and trying new things, I thought it was about time for a new experience. What better way to do this than with the help of my friend Cat, who has recently established a new business called Your Wardrobe Edit, designed to help you with your style and your confidence. Cat, like me, comes from a background in design. She had studied Contour Fashion and went on to be a lingerie buyer in both the UK and US. After working in many charities, she went on to study Personal Styling at the world renowned London College of Fashion. From here she found she had a passion for helping others to rediscover themselves.
How many times do we go through our wardrobes thinking there is so much there and yet nothing feels quite right? Sometimes this feeling is perpetuated by personal circumstances and a general feeling of being a bit lost. Your Wardrobe Edit offers a personal one-to-one consultation where Cat helps you to review your existing wardrobe in the comfort of your own home.
Cat had started the process by sending me a form to complete in advance of our session. I was asked to rate how I felt about my current wardrobe in terms of work and play and how they were working for me. Also to think about any changes I wanted to make. I don’t know why this is, but often I find myself more nervous about ‘putting myself out there’ amongst my peers or people I know. This relates to my singing, guitar playing, public speaking…and now was going to involve me baring my wardrobe! As I looked into my wardrobe I felt extra apprehensive as the sea of black clothes looked back at me. In fact the wardrobe was so stuffed full I could hardly tell you what exactly was in there!
Of course as is the case with any nnoodl type activities I have done, the apprehension is always unfounded. This was no exception, and although I nervously opened the door to Cat, immediately explaining to her why I was wearing what I was wearing (why??) she immediately put me at ease.
We sat and had a coffee and talked through what the process would be. Cat ran through my questionnaire and picked out some of the key things I had said. I had become stuck in a bit of a black rut, and although I felt my work wardrobe was functional, it didn't really reflect my personality. I wanted to try and get more outfits that would translate from day to evening, and also to bring out some more of my slightly quirky personality. She picked out key words like 'professional' and 'bold' from some of the language I had used. She explained how this session was not intended to make me throw away most of my wardrobe, but instead to look more carefully at what I wore, how I wore it and consider better options. She said that there would be no pressure to get rid of anything, and she would definitely not be taking anything away with her. This was not going to be a Gok Wan detox, but instead intended to make me think more mindfully and make conscious decisions when buying clothes in the future. She explained how we would review my wardrobe together, and talk about clothes that work for my body shape, colours that make me look brighter and healthier and make me feel more confident.
As we ventured into my bedroom Cat wheeled in a portable rail and asked me to hang on it all of the items I had put aside as having recently worn, or that I wear regularly. My first little task was to pick out an outfit that I would wear for an important work meeting and put it on. I chose an a-line beige and black check print skirt with a slight sheen to it, along with, yes, you guessed it, a black fitted top with a sweetheart neckline. Cat asked me what I liked about it and I said I liked the sit and the pattern of the skirt, and the fact that the top was quite fitted and gave me more of a waist. Cat agreed and said how the neckline on the top suited me too. However, she explained how black was quite a draining and also ageing colour. Eek, in my advancing years, I can't be having that! She picked out a purple coloured top and asked me to hold it against my face and then try it on with the skirt. I immediately understood the difference, as Cat explained how I have quite cool colouring and so colours like this, and blues and greens would be more flattering and less harsh against my skin tone. Cat then delved into my overstuffed wardrobe and started to pull out pieces and asked me what I thought of them and when I wore them. Some I could easily explain, and Cat hung them up on the rail with the other pieces. However, I was suddenly very aware of LOTS of clothes that I couldn't remember even owning, and had never worn. I was also already starting to question why I had bought certain items. I think I had fallen victim to the old 'that looks nice in the magazine/on the model' routine, but hadn't considered what it actually did for me.
We trawled through a sea of black as I tried to justify to myself why I had so many items in this colour. Also, some of them had clearly seen better days, showing the tell tale bobbling that many overworn items have. Cat reminded me of the word 'professional' that I had used and gently reminded me that clothes that looked washed out or ageing, would not be portraying that image. We started to amass a series of small piles of:
We had a short break and I was already feeling very positive about the experience. Cat explained that this last part of the session would be ‘quick fire’ and as she pulled items out I very quickly allocated them one of the above piles. This was VERY interesting as I amassed a huge pile of things to either dispose of or put to the charity shop! Cat admitted that even she was surprised at how ruthless I was being.
As we re-visited some of the kept pieces, Cat helped me to look at them differently. We looked at how I could team different skirts and tops together to work better and there was a huge revelation when I realised that high-waisted trousers are very flattering on me as I have a long body. We also picked out a great little combination of a navy blue shirt with stars on it teamed with a red skirt. Both items I had worn individually, although I had previously struggled to pair the shirt with anything. This we jokingly called the USA outfit!
Cat bagged up the clothes I had assigned to get rid of but reassured me that she would not take them away with her. I still had a cooling off period! Ah, but I was to be the model client as I quickly (well actually very slowly as they were very heavy) got them out of the flat the same day.
Now here was one last final detail that was to prove quite telling. Cat then put ALL of my kept clothes back in the wardrobe with the hook of the hangers facing me, or the ‘wrong’ way round. As she explained, as you wear them, turn them back the right way and observe how many of them are still the wrong way round in a month or two. Very interesting, and I’m not going to tell you the result of that so far!
But it doesn’t end there, Cat does a great follow up service and so she emailed me the following week with a comprehensive overview of our session. The main take away from my session was to start looking for alternatives to black, and how navy is much softer. Rather than just chucking out the black I have though, she suggested I break it up a little with one of my many pieces of jewellery for a softer effect. She went over the shapes that flattered my figure, and reiterated the trouser shapes including some really helpful links to retailers who sell the shapes, colours and styles I should go for.
This was such an interesting experience, very different from anything else I have done and has really made me think. Each time I reach into my wardrobe for the 'safe black' option, I think twice and usually choose another colour. People have actually started to comment really positively on some of my outfits and I haven't even bought anything new. I highly recommend this - thanks Cat!
Denise Yeats is an events director, communications consultant, endurance athlete and avid adventurer.