I’ll never forget the woman who called me from California asking me if I’d come there to make sense of her closet. “You buy the plane ticket and I’d be delighted to come,” I told her. She did and I went. She had told me she had a lot of clothes. Well, that was an understatement. I teach about a closet being a “small room.” Well this closet was a big, big room! There was some sense to the way her clothes were neatly hung according to color on racks all around the room, just not good sense. The variety of reds didn’t go with one another. The blues, greens, and purple fought a battle royal, and so on around the room.
In this arrangement, my client couldn’t figure out which clothes went with which, and no wonder. All the reds together combined winter-weight wool gabardine with summer-weight eyelet. Among the blues there was casual cotton corduroy mixed in with dressy silk satin. Throughout the color groups there was assertive, weighty wool serge mixed in with approachable, lightweight cotton knits, romantic velvet, and sporty seersucker. There were sexy sheers hung next to fleece, flannel, tapestry, and tweed. Linen looked totally out of place next to dotted Swiss and suedecloth, not to mention hopsacking next to chiffon and crepe de chine.
It took me two full days to sort and coordinate the clothes into meaningful clusters and single outfits, all the while teaching my client that within any one cluster or outfit, the textures must work together. But what does that mean? Most people don’t really know. To work together means that to appear in harmony with one another, one texture must be dominant and all other textures must be subordinate. It means that the winter-weight wool gabardine overpowered and clashed with the summer-weight eyelet. The two communicate opposite moods and feelings. Corduroy and satin together communicate mixed messages. Satin and seersucker together make absolutely no sense.
My client had been totally overwhelmed by the visual noise screaming loud and clear from all around the room, and no wonder. Making sense of her closet meant sorting the style lines and shapes, colors, textures, and patterns into outfits that communicated one mood and message; into clusters that communicated one personal style type according to at-home, business, or evening occasions. To un-mix the fabric textures was the key to the initial sort. This my client learned to see for herself, and what an experience in fashion styling it was!
Image consultant and personal stylist. Dani is happily married, the mother of 3 hip kids, and owner of an young pup named Josie Wales.