PODCAST INTERVIEW: Jesse Garza & Joe Lupo of Visual-Therapy and the Authors of "Nothing to Wear?" Explain how Expressing Your True Identity with the Right Fashion Look is Not Only Easier than You Think, It's the Key to Authentic Style. FASHIONTRIBES FASHION BLOG & PODCAST INTERVIEW - mP3 File
Who hasn't stood in front of their closet - a fashion disaster overflowing with crammed hangers, unidentifiable piles, and baskets filled with god-only-knows - surveyed the damage, and despite the vast quantities of clothes/shoes/accesories, declared: "I have nothing to wear!"
"Your closet should be zen, not a torture chamber," explain lifestyle consultants Jesse Garza and Joe Lupo of Visual Therapy - Visual-Therapy.com - who have devised a solution to this age-old problem with their new how-to book Nothing to Wear? A 5-Step Cure for the Common Closet. "The world is so crazy and last thing that needs to be a pain is your closet." A significant reason many of us have a closet full of clothes and nothing to wear is that we see ourselves one way, but have clothes which tell a different tale. "Everyone goes through transitions in life: turning 30, 40, 50; going back to work; having a baby. After having a baby, your body changes - we talk to so many mothers who tell us, 'my kids wake up at six, I wake up at six, I feed them, take care of them, take care of things, and suddenly it's 11 o'clock and I haven't even had a shower.' We see all the time; people give up."
Instead of throwing up your hands and resorting to the dreaded baggy sweat pants, Nothing to Wear? makes it fun to embrace the changes in life (fashionwise) with a relatively small investment of time and money - and an almost inestimable payoff when your wardrobe reflects how you feel inside. "Change is a good thing," they explain. "We're so programmed through the media that you have to be young, skinny, and rich to be fabulous...you can be fabulous forever, and at any size. Be comfortable in your skin and accept who your are right now...People look at fashion, style, and image and think it's so superficial. It's a form of self respect; you're putting something out there that's authentic. You own it. Fashion is the icing on the cake of life. It's a tool. Why not use it?"
5-STEPS TO FABULOUSNESS:
- FIND YOURSELF First of all it's important to find out why your outer package doesn't match your inner identity - what they've labelled a "disconnect" - and then figure out your style, even writing out a personal style statement which reflects what you want people to say about you.
- EDIT, EDIT, EDIT Yes, it's time to do battle with the closet monster, weeding through everything to get rid it of anything you don't love, is no longer flattering, and most important, doesn't send a visual message that matches your inner style.
- GO SHOPPING Your reward awaits: go shopping to fill in the gaps - and yes, despite all the mounds of clothes that were in your closet, there will be gaps - the foundation pieces that no respectable wardrobe should ever be without.
- CREATE VARIOUS ENSEMBLES It's time to put together outfits. First, assess how you actually spend your time so you'll know what kind of looks your wardrobe should actually contain for your life as you're living it - ie. if you're a grad student or clocking major hours at work, your closet should probably not be comprised of 80% party frocks. Then, each look is polaroided, labelled as to which activity category it belongs in, and tucked into a handy personal lookbook - which means getting dressed in the morning is now a zen-inducing activity of flipping leisurely through the lookbook to select the outfit du jour.
- KEEP IT FRESH Garza & Lupo recommend keeping a style file & inspiration board made up of tear sheets from the February/March & September issues of fashion & lifestyle magazines. Anything that catches your eye - from shoes to clothes to a new haircut - rip it out & use it to get inspired twice a year when you're shopping at the beginning of the spring/summer & fall/winter seasons to update whatever needs freshening up in the wardrobe.
GETTING STARTED: FIND YOUR STYLE
The first step in the process is figuring out who you are style-wise. In their ten years of working with women, Garza & Lupo have found that most of us tend to fall into one of five general style categories - which they have made super easy to figure out with a fun quiz in Nothing to Wear?:
- CLASSIC "TImeless, always appropriate and not about making a fashion statement." These ladylike types like to keep their clothes simple, clean & tailored, and their chosen silhouettes & colors rarely change. CLASSIC ICONS: Katharine Hepburn, Grace Kelly, Diane Sawyer, Renee Zellweger
- CHIC "That woman who walks into a room and is very obviously put together in an effortless way." Their wardrobes tend to be monochromatic, with sharp lines and accented with bold accessories. CHIC ICONS: Catherine Deneuve, Audrey Hepburn, Carolina Herrera, Nicole Kidman, Halle Berry, Jackie O
- WHIMSICAL Playful, girlie & colorful - typically the young or young-at-heart ethereal, romantic types. Although they may appear "thrown together" their outfits are actually a well thought out combo of colors & patterns. WHIMSICAL ICONS: Sofia Coppola, Mischa Barton, Betsey Johnson, Vanessa Paradis, Kirsten Dunst, Gwen Stefani
- BOHEMIAN Inspired by the hippie look of 60s and early 70s, these modern bohemians favor lots of denim, suede, natural fabrics & earth tones. They tend to be funky, slouchy, and relaxed, with offbeat accessories. BOHEMIAN ICONS: Kate Hudson, Jade Jagger, Sienna Miller, Ali MacGraw, Kate Moss, Stevie Nicks, Joss Stone
- AVANT-GARDE An ultramodern style that uses fashion as an extension of the wearer's creativity, and seeks to make a dramatic statement. Typically, wardrobe foundation is black. "Many women in their 50s & 60s have gotten bored with Classic and start to add Avant Garde to the formula. They have lived their life and are not looking to prove anything, and want to take things to next level." Avant Garde is a great way for the older fashionista to keep it fresh & modern by adding some touches - or even full-on looks - from designers like Yohji Yamamoto or Issey Miyake." AVANT-GARDE ICONS: Bjork, Cate Blanchett, Marlene Dietrich, Greta Garbo, Diane Keaton, Annie Lennox.
SOME COMMON COMBINATIONS:
- WHIMSICAL/CHIC a chic look of modern elegance with a whimsical dash of color. eg. 3/4 black jersey dress with multicolored print jacket or bakelight jewelry and/or colorful scarf
- AVANT GARDE/CHIC these types typically move between the styles with pieces like a classic blazer that has an asymmetrical closure instead of the usual buttons
- BOHEMIAN/CHIC chic with downplayed Boho touches of unexpected funky
YOU'RE BUT THREE QUESTIONS AWAY FROM A DROP-DEAD WARDROBE
As you're editing your closet, ask yourself the following three questions about each and every item in there:
- Do I love it? A "yes" means it makes you feel amazingly fabulous.
- Is it flattering? It looks as amazing on your person as it does on the hanger. And if something is a size that you currently aren't, consider archiving it until it fits, but don't let it sit in there, unworn and torturing every time you go to your closet.
- Does it represent me and the image I want to portray? Is it age-appropriate? Maybe it was your go-to piece for years, or represents a fantasy life you wish you had, but if it's not where you are now...buh-bye. "This is where people can get stuck in a time warp."
A "yes" to all three questions means the piece is a keeper. If, however, a piece gets three "yes" votes but you're still not sure, ask yourself: Where am I going in it? Possibly, you might need to "demote" it to a different area of your life. Take that cashmere sweater you love so much that's now getting a tad shaggy - maybe it can become your running-errands staple. And then there's fashion karma: if something's sitting around gathering dust, it's doing no one any good. Garza and Lupo recommend donating it so someone can enjoy it and get use out of it.
HAVE YOUR CAKE...THE BASIC CAPSULE WARDROBE:
Surprisingly, it doesn't take a vast amount of clothing to have a vastly fabulous wardrobe. "It's not about a lot clothes, its about the right clothes. There are so many ways you can style things, even a pair of jeans." Garza & Lupo have come up with the absolute basics - or "cake" - which apply to every style type, after which you get to add the "frosting": fun additional pieces and accessories that add spice and flavor.
- three piece suit - jacket, pants, skirt - same fabrics or fabrics that go together. For a Bohemian, this could be interpreted as a suede jacket and skirt &/or pant. (Stella McCartney suit from NeimanMarcus.com)
- one dress - for an Avant Garde, it could have a shredded hem; for a Classic, it may be Brooks Brothers while a Chic may go for Gucci; regardless, every woman needs a great dress. (Dolce & Gabbana dress from NeimanMarcus.com)
- basic knit tops in pastels or bold (v-neck; turtleneck; boatneck, etc.) & short, 3/4 & longsleeves (top from JCrew.com)
- white, collared shirt (shirt from LandsEnd.com)
- pair of jeans that are up-to-date & fit (jeans from Gap.com)
- one fun "frosting" jacket that goes with everything - your choice of: tweed, suede, leather, etc. (Maurizio Pecoraro Jacket from Net-a-Porter.com)
- bag or tote of high quality, in a basic color with a neutral motif (Kempton Harness shoulder bag from BananaRepublic.com)
- footwear - one of each: pump, bootie, flat, strappy heel (Manolo Blahniks from BergdorfGoodman.com)
And remember to be honest with yourself about what you are doing with your time: if you are always at work, your wardrobe should contain a large proportion of work outfits. If you life is filled with fancy benefits and red carpet affairs, your closet should reflect this reality as well. "You need to be realistic and straight with yourself, and know what you do socially in your life."
BE PREPARED: To guarantee wardrobe victory, round up some supplies before you get started. The number one thing you'll need is hangers: "You need everything to hang at same level. It opens everything up and it's pleasing to the eye."
- MATCHING HANGERS You'll want to hang as much as possible, and you'll need more than you think. When everything hangs at the same level, wardrobe zen becomes possible. A case of 24 with skirt/pant clips for around $40 available at ContainerStore.com
- PENS, A PAD OF PAPER & LARGE GARBAGE BAGS Keep a list of which pieces are missing or that you'll need to replace. The large bags are for the stuff you're bidding adieu to. Available at Staples.com
- COLLAPSIBLE ROLLING RACK A temporary workstation for hanging items as you edit your closet. Available at WardrobeSupplies.com
- FULL LENGTH MIRROR If you don't have one already - crucial, we repeat crucial for seeing how everything fits. Available at SimplyMirrors.com
ONLY TWO (FULL) DAYS TO WARDROBE NIRVANA With sufficient determination this transformation can occur in what's essentially the same amount of time as a weekend. Garza & Lupo advise a full day for the initial edit of your closet, and a second day to finish editing & polaroiding of outfits.
- Lesley Scott