2 In Series/ Wardrobe Wellness

Real Bodies, Real Women: Navigating A Year in Fashion and Style

Some clothes just naturally have an expiration date.

Some clothes just naturally have an expiration date.


Welcome back for part two of my wrap up of select appointments this year inside the dressing room or closet of clients I work with. I’m sharing this so maybe you’ll be inspired to tackle something in the coming year that perhaps you hadn’t considered. I let you know about three clients and things they did this year in my last post. Let’s pick up with number four!


4. Another client has realized that there is not enough time left to wear all the clothes in her closet so she is happy to wear the best of the best and let the rest go. She said, “I need permission to get rid of stuff. I’m looking at several very expensive weak moments. I need to let go but I need your help to do it.”


It’s not often that I come across someone who is the same size at seventy as she was at eighteen. Many of us outgrow our clothes along the way and are forced into new wardrobes. Not her. It makes it a lot harder to let go of things when everything still fits. As I helped her with that process we rediscovered some treasures that had been hidden away. While we purged, I also built some new outfits out of her “old” clothes. She said, “It’s fun for me to see my clothes energized.”

She told me later, “The outfit you made me last week to wear to our dinner party was perfect. Everyone admired it! I had that embellished sweater for fifteen years and had never worn it.”

I bet every one of us has something in our closet that we’ve had but never worn. If it still appeals to you (like that embellished cardigan still appealed to my client), grab it and turn it into an outfit. Styling an item in a more current way may mean you separate a skirt from a matching jacket. Or maybe you pair something with jeans that you’d have only paired with a skirt before. Or perhaps you add current jewelry or current shoes and it makes everything look fresh.

Sometimes new jewelry will make older clothing pieces look fresh again.

Sometimes new jewelry will make older clothing pieces look fresh again.


“Playing” with your clothes can lead to so many “new” delightful outfits.



5. A client told us she was obsessed with tiny houses. I have a sister-in-law obsessed with them too so I was familiar with the idea. My client said, “I feel happier, more content with less stuff.” Purging was the order of the day. When we were done, my client was able to open her closet door and everything that was in view was current and had passed the test of being appropriate, not worn out, wearable and lovable right now.


Everything else that was a mistake, was too worn, or was part of a life she no longer leads is gone. Spending those hours together was transformative. She said that what she learned gives her a “chance to do something different going forward.”

Sometimes doing something different requires really examining why we choose the things we do and then watch them hang in the closet, unused.

Every one has patterns that are hard to get out of. One person’s thing may be cardigan sweaters. She may assume there’s not a cardigan sweater out there that wouldn’t be perfect at home in her closet. But when she views them in her closet and realizes she hasn’t worn them and doesn’t feel good about them, it’s disconcerting.

What she may need to understand is that the primness of a certain cardigan style that she used to wear may be outdated in relation to her current style formula. Instead, she’d be more satisfied with fewer cardigan sweaters in relaxed shapes, not classic ones or ones with something fanciful on them instead of just plain..

Its fascinating to see how fashion tweaks the basics and makes them different. You can find a cardigan that is classic, funky, vintage (but new), sexy, pretty, or edgy. Take your pick. But choose carefully.


Let your style formula take the lead. It can tell you a lot about why something works and something else doesn’t.


No one item is created equally. Choose what's closest to your style formula.

No one item is created equally. Choose what’s closest to your style formula.


6. Another client—not interested in tiny houses—is interested in keeping her closet to just the things that are right, right now. She has a fine closet space. She doesn’t share it with anybody. But she does have a definite system that she adheres to. She has X number of hangers and she won’t have more than that number of hangers in her closet, ever. So if we buy something new, we purge something that’s not useful any more. It means we’re very clear about whether something merits the space it will take up. If it’s not adding something specific and wonderful to her life, it’s not living in her closet.


I’ve met a couple of other people who use the hanger tip: no more clothes than there are hangers for and no cheating by buying more hangers! I don’t do this by numbers of hangers but if things start to get crowded in my modest closet, I’m apt to do some serious assessing and editing. I don’t want hangers touching each other.

It’s kind of like controlling your weight by paying attention to how your clothes feel. If my pants are feeling snug, it’s time to back off of desserts or extra snacks. I don’t need a scale to give me the exact number of pounds I am to understand what action needs taking. Same with my closet: if things get too snug in there, something’s gotta go!


My favorite hanger style

My favorite hanger style


Once you’ve purchased an item, you’re responsible for it. Choose carefully!


7. I love getting a new client especially one that is sure she has problems that are unsolvable, because they’ve not been solvable to her…so far. It’s true that her body shape (which was fabulous, by the way) wasn’t suitable to a fair amount of choices. She’s athletic and fit, curvy, about 150 pounds, and under 5’3”.


What fun it was to find an abundance of choices for her. It was delightful to show her that she could wear clothes that fit her well and would still show off her beautiful curvy body. I don’t think she realized how great she could look in clothes. Suddenly what seemed to have been a problem turned back into the asset it was all along—she has a fabulous shape!

It’s hard to appreciate the body you’re in. It happens to nearly everyone. It’s easy to put something on that doesn’t fit properly and assume it’s your body’s fault somehow. Women do this all the time. But it’s not their body’s fault, it’s the fault of the garment. It just wasn’t designed to allow for their particular shape.


Finding the items that are suited to your shape opens a whole new world to you. It makes self acceptance a lot easier to embrace.


8. One client admitted when we got to her house that she wasn’t feeling her best, sort of down in the dumps. She even thought of canceling. But she didn’t. Two hours of going through clothes she was unsure of and showing her how to turn them into instant go-to outfits to wear in the next few weeks made for a dramatic turnaround in spirit and mood! She said, “I love what we did today. I even got two dresses that I wanted and didn’t know I had! You really made me feel good. I’m happy with everything you made for me today. I feel so secure.”


When I am down in the dumps or feeling insecure, going to my closet and doing something—anything—changes my mood. Maybe you go for a walk or do a crossword puzzle to change your mood. I tidy up my closet, purge an item or two, move things around, make new outfits or discover a new Beauty Bundle and suddenly my problems seem manageable and I feel lighter. It was fun to see how this happened for our client! I also think that when we’re down in the dumps it’s great to know that our clothes will at least protect us and say nice things about us even if we’re not feeling it. That’s the wonderful thing about having a few outfits already figured out, photographed or the details of them written out, so you don’t have to think about it. Plan ahead and you’ll give yourself peace of mind.


Elsie de wolf quote


When I take a broad look back and review goals clients had this year, there were some specific things of course but mostly general things, things maybe you thought of too, like these:


Creating grab-and-go outfits for living life
Looking current
Showing up
Eliminating the unnecessary
Using what I have more fully


Is there anything in that list that would satisfy you? When you take care of your needs in a meaningful, kind way as it relates to your personal style and image, all things seem easier. Take care of one thing and many things get taken care of. That one thing could be your wardrobe.

You live most of your life in clothes. How do you want them to be?

All best wishes for a New Year in outfits that reflect your best self. And if it seems daunting or confusing, don’t worry, I’m here to help!



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  • Reply
    December 30, 2015 at 2:30 pm

    Those slimline hangers are the best. However have found that they can leave those dreaded “shoulder bumps” on certain fabrics. Here’s a trick I found earlier this year. It works! http://www.onegoodthingbyjillee.com/2015/02/no-shoulder-bumps-hang-fold-sweaters.html

    Thanks for your dedication to helping us feel beautiful and special…just like you are, Brenda.
    Mel from Sacramento

    • Reply
      January 5, 2016 at 4:01 pm

      Wow, Mel, how cool is that?? I just took a look at the link and I have never seen that before. Thanks for teaching this not-so-young-but-youthful-just-the-same dog a new trick! I can particularly see this in silk sweaters because they are far thinner than a thicker knit sweater would be. Excellent. I think I have to go to my closet and try it right now! Thanks so much for sharing, Mel!

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