I couldn’t stand my closet. It was overflowing with coats, jackets, work dresses, sundresses, long skirts, short skirts, pants, sweaters, scarves … shoes, boots, sandals. Enough to dress the female population of small country.
I had clothes for multiple roles mom, exercise enthusiast, media professional, friend, girlfriend and more. Let’s not even talk weight gain and loss. It’s no wonder my closet looked like several women lived there. They did.
Enter Jennifer Marks, a closet curator and stylist by trade, headquartered in St. Louis and Cleveland. She helps clients sort, purge and organize clothing. Marks has a Master’s in Public Health with a focus on social and behavioral sciences, something that has honed her skills for understanding human behavior.
She won me over with a few words: “My goal is to get to know you and understand your lifestyle to ensure your outer appearance accurately depicts your true inner self.”
A curator of more than 100 closets, she assured me she wouldn’t run screaming into the night when she saw this manifestation of my psyche. She didn’t.
Instead, she assessed my roles and goals, my aesthetic sensibilities and comfort zone. Then, we determined who I want to be and what that “me” will wear.
In examining the shadows that shape my closet angst, I saw how my personal history informed my attire. I reflected on how my philosophy, friends, cultural background and daily activities move my fashion decisions.
Freud might suggest the abundance made up for the limitations of Catholic school uniforms. Or, perhaps, I had been trying to find myself after divorce. Or, maybe, I’m more like an actor, choosing completely different costumes for each and every role.
Whatever the case, we pruned my closet to express my unique, powerful self without fracturing into personas and costumes.
In chatting, we examined what I liked or looked good in. Long skirts, no. Short skirts, yes. Princess waistlines, no. Cap sleeves, no. Three-quarter-length sleeves, yes. Black, yes. Pastels, no.
We made four piles
We considered each item. Did I like it? Did it fit my self-perception? Did it fit my lifestyle? Had I worn it recently? Would I wear it?
I tried on what I wanted to keep. Sorting was easier with an outsider opinion and moral support. I set free history and sentiment.
- The “Keep” pile went back onto rods, awaiting organization by seasons, category and color.
- The “Donate” pile – clothes that were dated and unworthy of consignment — was bagged and delivered to Salvation Army.
- The “Tailor” pile – if it needed shoulder pads removed, belt loops relocated, hemmed, darts, new buttons it went to the seamstress.
- The “Consignment” pile was full of current, clean, stylish clothing and many labels, including Missoni and Kate Spade. Off to the appropriate retailers.
With my overflow re-homed I still have more work to do. Meanwhile, real world results have been startling.
I perceive more items to wear because I know what I have, it fits and it coordinates. People have asked if I’ve lost weight, but it’s really that my remaining clothing fits right. Now, I feel more confident and put together.