I don’t pursue publicity. To me, my clients are the “stars of the show.” I am strictly behind-the-scenes as a confidential advisor and consultant. So it has always been a surprise to see my name in print, albeit a pleasant one. The following article was offered with reprint permission by the author.
This appeared in Simple Living. I do love the name!
HOW TO BE HAPPY WITH A MINIMALIST CLOSET
by Janet Luhrs
“I’m quite precious when it comes to my closet.
I’m a minimalist: bohemian dresses in summer,
black jeans and T-shirts in fall.”
— Alicia Vikander
I fell in love with this quote that I saw in a Vogue Magazine.
Can’t you just imagine being “quite precious” when it comes to your closet?
A minimalist closet?
Imagine feeling happy when you walk in your closet, and having just a few “precious” things that you love, with loads of air space between hangars, and just a small handful of folded sweaters and accessories on the shelves.
Imagine clean, open space in your closet, and imagine that you can effortlessly get dressed with what’s in there.
Imagine that, already!
My closet had become the complete opposite of a “precious, minimalist closet.” I’d walk in there and I’d have a very difficult time trying to find the right thing to wear. There was no air space between hangars and the shelves were jumbled.
I had fallen into the trap of buying clothes on sale, even if I didn’t love them, and then hanging on to them for years, because my voice of guilt would pop up and say “Janet, how could you toss this shirt or sweater when you spent money on it?” Or, “You might want to wear it some day,” and so on.
I hated this. Walking into your closet and feeling guilt is not conducive to a simple, calm and happy life. Something needed to change but I was stuck.
I can clean out and simplify most things in my life in a nanosecond, but for some reason, I was stuck trying to make decisions about my closet. Part of my stuck feeling was that I didn’t really know which items actually looked good on me.
I dreamed of having a beautiful, minimalist closet that had only a few things that I truly loved, that looked great on me, and that I wore regularly.
I do not want a lot of clothes because who needs the confusion and stress of having to choose from zillions of tops, pants, sweaters and shoes?
I finally realized I needed help. One sign of mental health is seeking help when you need it. Otherwise, you can sit around in procrastination-land for years – and that is definitely not conducive to a happy, relaxed and simple emotional life.
I decided to do a Google search for “style consultant” in my area.
Up popped Gayle Rich Style.
I called Gayle and explained that I wanted a minimalist closet. I told her I didn’t want a bunch of clothes, and that I wanted to be able to easily pick out something to wear when I wanted it. And I wanted to smile when I looked at my closet, and really love everything in that closet. I honestly do not want a bunch of clothes. It’s not about the money – it’s about my peace of mind. Too many clothes means too many choices and too much confusion. Who needs more confusion. Not me.
Before Gayle came over, we spoke on the phone for close to an hour and she gave me some homework. Some of the homework involved her guiding me about how to think about clothing; and what I really wanted to wear.
I did a quick run-through of the clothes I didn’t wear (most of them) and folded them up on a bench, ready for Gayle to help me make decisions.
Here’s what’s interesting – my instincts were right with 99% of the clothes in my pile. I just needed someone like Gayle to help me realize why the clothes in the pile should go. Some of them were just plain wrong for my body, or looked too worn, or were simply out of style. She explained to me that because everybody’s body is different, the shape and structure of a piece of clothing looks different on different people. She told me that we were going through my closet with only my silhouette and my lifestyle in mind. This wasn’t about trying to turn me into a fashion icon – it was about finding the clothes that looked great on my body, and also worked for my lifestyle. I learned that there is a real science to different bodies, and the silhouettes that flatter them: textures, colors and comfortable fit, while also incorporating the way that you want to live.
It’s not necessarily cheap to hire a professional stylist – yet, it can actually save you money in the long run. If you’re like me, and you add up all of the time and money you’ve spent buying stuff because it was on sale, or buying some latest fad outfit, or clothes that simply don’t make you feel fabulous in them – then hiring a stylist is beyond worth the money.
There is a lot more that a stylist can do for you than just help you simplify your closet. You think you know what looks good on you, but oftentimes you don’t. Most of us get stuck in style ruts and it takes someone like Gayle to see possibilities that we don’t see.
Gayle reminded me about salespeople. Most of them work on commission, so their job is to sell you clothes from their store – and that may or may not be best for you.
She said, “Our clothing is a reflection of our self-esteem, because you can tell when a woman likes herself, and that is the core.”
And I know that’s true. You can love simplicity, you can love minimalism – but you don’t have to be a slob, and you can take care of yourself. If you have just two pair of jeans and some tops, then let those few things fit you perfectly and look fabulous.
“Simplifying your wardrobe doesn’t mean you can’t have interesting elements,” Gayle told me, “elements in your wardrobe that make you happy and look forward to getting dressed every day.”
Gayle studied my body type, understood my lifestyle and was able to give me style notes on what sorts of tops, pants, coats and accessories would look great on me: so I could quit wasting time buying the wrong stuff on sale.
Here are a few general pointers from her that apply to everyone:
1. Take the time to learn about what cuts flatter your body. If you can, hire someone like Gayle (even for half a day) to help you, and you’ll have made a wise investment. You’ll no longer waste time and money on the wrong clothes.
2. Even if you’re overweight, Gayle said, no matter what your body type, clothes should skim your body and (an outfit) should rarely be either clingy or baggy; but can incorporate both elements if used simultaneously. As a simple example, slim jeans can handle a loose fitting top over a skimming under-piece.
3. Pay attention to detail. With solid or neutral-toned tops, make sure there is detailing such as ruching, seaming, darts, sleeve detail or other embellishments. Seaming and darting give shape to jackets, tops, dresses and coats. When you have this kind of “structure,” it creates the shape you want your body to present.
4. Buy a perfect bra. The right bra can make you look so much better in your clothing (not to mention your increased comfort and good posture). A bra fitting will insure that you are wearing the correct bra size, and also getting the support that you need. Get bra fittings from a professional. Remember, clothing sales people work on commission, so be convinced that you have truly found the right size, fit and manufacturer for your body.
5. Balance your wardrobe. A balanced wardrobe incorporates patterns, solids, neutrals, colors, textures, embellishments and accessories. These varied elements allow you to mix and match throughout your wardrobe. Following this ideal, you’ll need fewer clothing pieces while you have many choices.
Gayle said, “When you wear clothing that is flattering to your body, you learn to love your body and view it in a different way that enhances your life. Every day, you can reinforce your own positive image.”
Finally, buying the best clothing that really makes you look terrific is worth the money in the long run. Imagine having just a few beautiful items that fit you perfectly, make you feel happy, and are timeless. These items may cost more up front, but take it from me, this kind of shopping will save you a small fortune in the long run; and you’ll be on your way to a gorgeous, minimalist closet that works.