Every season brings new closet thrills, (and some calamity), but there is a richness about fall clothes that pushes those “let’s go shopping” buttons like no other season for us. Maybe it’s the deep, rich, luscious colors, or the way those leather and suede jackets smell so earthy, or maybe it’s being able to cover up my legs, which greatly reduces my use of shaving cream and weekly loss of blood.
But these days there is a paradigm shift in our approach to the season’s hottest new looks. We shop in our own closets. Clearly driven by our mutual financial situations, this technique will give you a lot of the same jollies as pulling out that credit card and hating yourself when all the bills start arriving. It’s like drinking water out of the tap and feeling like you just uncorked the Dom Perignon.
This may be where you use your “phone a friend” however, someone who has fantastic taste and loves something you have or do. Barter services—bake them that fantastic torte you make for their next dinner party OR mow their yard OR hem a few skirts for them. Maybe loaning them, (for a designated period of time), a possession of yours that they have admired would stimulate the deal. There is almost always something that you can trade, think creatively. *
Here is how we have successfully done this for ourselves and for VERY special people in our lives.
- Buy a current fashion magazine that has realistic combinations of what is hot this year:InStyle, Elle, and Lucky, (they are skewed toward the young, but you can adjust to your comfort level)—we will ‘prime the pump’ with all those tasty, luscious combinations. www.polyvore.com and www.refinery.com can also be useful tools.
- Your clothes hording defects can come in handy during this process. Your old long blazers have come back as “boyfriend jackets”, if you have a couple of those stashed in your back bedroom closet, you have a great start on fall/winter, 2010.
- Put your scarves, bags, or any other cool accessories, in close proximity to the area in which you are working. Usually working in a bedroom is the best because a bed is perfect for staging. Keep the above mentioned accoutrements around the perimeter of the space so as not to impede traffic flow.
- Organize your clothes in terms of types. All your pants together, and then the same style of pant together, (crop, long, dressy, casual). Put all your shirts/blouses together and then separate according to sleeve length. Items in drawers, like folded sweaters and tops should join the accessories around the edge of the ‘main event’. (At my house vacuuming prior to this drill is advisable.)
Start with an old favorite, something that fits you perfectly, or that you feel fantastic in. Lay it on the bed and then start playing. Let me give an example of what we put together for a friend this weekend:
—She already had a pair of great fitting, Pendleton, gray wool pants. That’s where we started.
—I asked her if she had a red jacket or blazer, she said “no”. Somehow I just thought red would be perfect. I snooped in her guest room closet and found a red jacket that she hadn’t worn for many years because it was too long –BINGO.
—We added a crisp white shirt, (a great staple that everyone should have).
—Black shoes, bag and belt, and a scarf under the lapel of the jacket that was white with a giant black and metallic silver window pane plaid, and the “new” outfit was killer. And it all came from her very own collection.
—Silver jewelry was the “icing”, because it complemented the big silver belt buckle.
Try it all on to make sure you can still get the pants zipped up and then either photograph it or use our handy-dandy fashion form to document your creation. You think you will remember, BUT YOU WON’T. Attach the photo or form directly to the major item in the ensemble. In this case, our photo went on the red jacket. (You may need to make jewelry or under garment notes on the back of the photo). This will save you tons of time and crazy making.
This is hard work; it takes hours, and can be frustrating and exhausting. You have to want to look GREAT! This exercise is NOT for fashion sissies! Although we caution you to attempt this at your own risk—we also assure you the rewards are enormous, it’s the biggest bang for your buck that we know of.
*It actually helps to have 3 people participate: the dressee, the dresser and the hanger/folder upper, note/photo taker.