Today wraps up this series on closet essentials. It has been such fun! First, I visited Cyndi and offered tips on how to diversify her work wardrobe. Then I hung out with Mary to learn great closet reorganization tips from her closet expert. Today, you get to meet Julie and see our no-to-low budget closet makeover.
First, let me tell you hanging out with Julie feels like home. Julie and I have been friends for over 12 years. We traveled to Italy together in our first year of friendship and that cemented it (I know she has a weird thing about brushing her teeth all the time, and she knows I have a weird thing about not being able to listen to someone brushing their teeth).
There are only a few houses in Houston my car will autopilot to without checking directions. Julie’s house is one. When I visited her this week, we’d both had bad days, and the ability to decompress with someone who gets your life stage and challenges is like medicine for my soul (we both are lawyers at energy companies who have young kids). Julie’s friendship is a gift.
Julie is also a trooper. She lets me come in her closet (this is her second go round with me) and let me say “um, NO ma’am” and toss a Christmas themed sweatshirt on the floor. There almost no one else I could be so honest with (to her detriment!). (Her adorable three year old snapped this shot of us. So we photographed her back.)
On to the closet! Julie’s closet bones are good, but she underutilized her storage space. In addition to her closet bars and shelving , Julie also has shelving outside her closet (previously linen space) and a bedroom dresser she rarely uses. We looked at some of the most valuable real estate in her closet, the shelving unit in the dead center, and decided to restructure:
1. She had a small shelf of knick-knacks as well as boxes of knick-knacks further down. Those weren’t being used and the “sentimental” keeps should be stored in the attic. Wah-lah…new space opened up. (Also note the tiny jewelry storage boxes. These are rarely useful. Practical jewelry storage needs to be bigger and viewable.)
2. She had top shelving filled with costumes. Julie actually uses costumes because she does some theatre and is a Halloween enthusiast, but costumes needed to be moved to the spare room closet (including her disco ball hat, saddle shoes, wigs, and wacky dress up jewelry).
3. She had jewelry in a conspicuous spot which was smart, but the peg board wasn’t nearly large enough to keep the area uncluttered. She plans to buy a couple of low cost peg boards/hanging sticks for that interior jewelry unit/shelf to make it more functional and keep less items stacked on the ledge.
4. She wears big fluffy house shoes which, along with shoes she no longer wears, take up space in the center of the closet. The shoes we gave away, and the house shoes we moved out of the way to the back of the closet.
As for shelving, her clothing shelves were overstuffed and cluttered. We pulled out a stack of unused and unusable scarfs from a dresser drawer and agreed to put pajamas or off season items in that drawer, thus freeing up space in her main shelving unit. We edited her pajamas, which had multiplied like bunnies, and particularly focused on the ones that were worn or had Loony Tunes on them (nothing harder on a marriage that wearing Tweety on your bum).
With her t-shirts, out-of-date shorts, unused purses, sweatshirts, and pajamas gone, she now had shelving open for her jeans which currently took up a decent amount of space hanging in her closet. Jeans are ideal for folding, and this gave her room to better organize her clothes and evaluate if anything was missing.
Her hanging clothes were in pretty good shape. We donated worn items or those we couldn’t update with tailoring, and then looked to see what pieces she needed to polish her professional wardrobe. She has a solid base but should look for a handful of items to round out her wardrobe:
1. Blouses with pattern, color, and/or texture – she has several solid color shells to wear under her blazers, but they don’t add much interest. Here are a few versatile (and reasonable) layering pieces she could pick up:
This simple timeless blouse from ModCloth features a versatile lavender and blue pattern.
I love this mosaic neutral colorblocked blouse, especially if paired with a brighter skirt or blazer.
Julie loves blues, so either this bold blue anchor print or aqua paisley blouse would be a perfect addition.
This great tunic blouse from Nordstrom’s comes in TEN colors and could be worn tucked in under a suit or worn out over jeans on the weekend. Same goes for this classic tile print dressy tank from ModCloth.
2. Accessories – she doesn’t love necklaces with color but is comfortable with the idea of purchasing, and using, scarves. Particularly since Julie likes to match like color with like color, rather than mixing colors and patterns, adding a scarf is an easy way to tie an outfit together which has different color or patterns. Any of these would do the trick:
This whimsical bird scarf could be used on any number of her outfits.
This Loft scarf combines different neutrals and two patterns that could add a layer of sophistication to most of her work wardrobe (it’s all I can do not to buy this now, I am so in love with this scarf!).
And for a little more money, I love the patterns and colors infused in this Hinge scarf from Nordstrom’s.
3. A pair of camel or chocolate trousers – she has a lot of black trousers and light tan trousers, but she needs some darker neutral browns to diversify her neutral options.
4. Knock Around Clothes (Julie’s term) – her casual wardrobe was sweats and outdated shorts. She hesitates to wear yoga pants around the house because she, like every other American woman, doesn’t love her legs. But a solid colored tee and a comfy, but more modern, set of bottoms can be lovely AND functional for a mom with young kids. I recommend trying things on versus ordering on-line like usual. Start at Athleta or Academy or similar store to try different styles and fabrics to see what works for your body type. (This is my go-to “knock around” skirt from Athleta!)
Now that we’re done with closets, what’s your favorite tip? And we’re starting our Shopping With a Purpose (SWAP) series up again next week – let me know if you have an event or situation dilemma.