• emsteinbrink

You've moved on, but your closet hasn't.

Three no-cost ways to create a closet that works for your new life.



I stumbled upon this quote recently from C. S. Lewis:


Isn't it funny how

day by day

nothing changes

but when you look back

everything is different.


It caused me to stop and reflect on what I was doing a year ago, and how my life has so significantly changed, even though there were times when it felt like literally nothing was changing, and everything was completely monotonous. In reality, it's been a gigantic year of change! I went from being happily employed and going into an office daily, to losing my job because of the pandemic, to launching my personal styling biz (officially) during an historic time in our modern lives.


Yep, a lot has changed. My life is now spent doing what I most love, working at home every day in a space that I converted from my kids playroom to my own office. It's a complete 180 turn from where I was a year ago.


While I am not going into an office daily , I spend a lot of time on Zoom or on video where I need to be visible, or meeting up with people in person. Coming from a laid-back work environment where I was never client facing, my wardrobe had gotten pretty casual, and it needed a reboot!


I know I am not alone in experiencing big change this last year. Some lost their job. Others intentionally changed their job. Some enjoyed working from home and are asking to continue working from the comfort of their homes either full-time or at least part-time. Others hated it and are excited to return to back to the office. Some had an awakening and changed careers, or went to work for themselves, or retired. Some work environments even changed their dress code, leaving women with a closet full of useless clothes!


It made me realize that when big change happens - as many of us inevitably experienced this year - our wardrobes often don't change with it. In the past couple months, as I talk with women, I feel their pain of having a wardrobe that no longer fits their life! They have moved on, but their wardrobe hasn't changed with it. And that makes for a lot of stress and frustration on the day to day.


Does any of this sound like you and your current life? If so, listen up!


There are three things you can do right now to create a closet that fits your new life, without having to spend a dime.


#1 Detox

I read a quote recently that nailed the essence of a detox perfectly;


"The first step in crafting the life you want is to get rid of everything you don't."

While this quote undoubtedly refers to detoxing more than just your closet, sometimes we forget just how toxic our closet can be when we make a big change, because it's the very thing that holds us back. Cheryl Richardson, a coach and advocate of self-care, once said:


"If you want to improve your life immediately, clean out a closet. Often what we hold onto is what holds us back."

Wow, talk about a truth bomb right there!


If you're saying to yourself: "But my closet is a mess! When will I ever have time to do this?" Here's my advice: Many women I know have said they are taking a small break in between these transitions in their life, especially if it's a job change. Even women who are in the process of retiring have taken a pause to consider what they want and how they want to spend their time for the next phase of their life. In this case, use this break to clear out what isn't serving you or you no longer use.


Don't have the luxury of a break? Tackle the closet clean-out in sections. Start with jeans, then tops, then jackets, and so on. Be sure to read my blog on What to Keep and What to Toss in a Closet Detox, which has my favorite questions to ask while cleaning out.


And if all else fails, let this single thought be your guide for the detox:


"If you don't love it or use it, it's clutter."

I couldn't agree more! What you don't use or love is taking up space that can be used for things you really do use and love.


#2 Re-imagine Your Clothes

If you are a follower of mine on social, one thing I talk about on repeat is getting more use out of your clothes. A way to do this is to wear your clothes in multiple ways. In order to achieve this, though, you have to stop labeling your clothes into narrowly defined categories. What do I mean? For example, a pencil skirt is only for work. A sequin top is only for going out. A white tee is only for the weekend. Sneakers only go with casual outfits.


This kind of limited thinking is going to get you no where when you are in the middle of a life change and feel like you need an all new wardrobe. When you are going through your closet (did you already forget step #1?), try to reimagine your clothes in new ways.


I always challenge my followers to find three ways to wear every piece in their closet.

Ideally, while you are thinking of ways you can wear your clothes in new ways, also find ways to wear that item for different parts of your life (i.e., social, work, going out, weekend, etc.). P.S. This is also a great tip for when you are deciding whether or not to buy something!


Let's take the example of going from a formal work environment to a business casual work environment. A woman in this situation likely has many matching suits and formal work attire. But before you throw out or donate your collection of suits, consider that maybe you could keep them and reimagine them. Can you still wear the pants with a tee and sneakers, or can you wear the suit jacket with jeans and heels? (The answer is YES you can!) Or what about your nice dress shirts? How about rolling up the sleeves, and pairing it with some jeans and sneakers or flats.


The secret to nailing this mindset is to think that opposites attract, and in the styling world, opposites create interest.

How can you make something fancy or formal into something casual. The answer is, you pair it with something casual. I do this all the time with dresses or fancy skirts and wear them with sneakers. Or I'll add a Moto jacket to a fancy slip dress in the fall for a laid back look.


The key takeaway here is to go into your closet detox with an open, creative mind. And feel free to scroll my hundreds of outfit ideas on IG for inspiration!


#3 Define Your Personal Style

While your age, your job, your work dress code, your social life, your life stage, with kids or without kids, and so much more will change as you go through life, your personal style always remains constant. Which is ultimately a reflection of who you are and who you want to be in this world. I love how Iris Apfel so beautifully states this,


"To have style, you have to know who you are." - Iris Apfel

If you're worried you don't have a style at all, believe me, you do. We just have to find it! I take my clients through an exercise to help them define their own personal style. At the end of this exercise, they write three words that define their personal style. (P.S. You can do this exercise for yourself right here!)


I highly encourage you to take some time to go through the exercise. Why? Because knowing your style will make detoxing and shopping and styling your outfits so much easier. It's a required exercise for my clients for a reason! You can't dress yourself if you don't know who you are or who you want to be.


Think about how you dressed prior to this change, and specifically a time when you felt most confident. How would someone have described you in that moment, related to how you looked? Creative? Bold? Confident? Fun? Bohemian? Edgy? Chic? Professional? Write down all the words that come to mind and then circle the three that feel most exciting and genuine to you. Those are your three style words. Even though you won't be wearing the exact same outfits with your new change, you can still channel this personal style.


If you take time to do these three things, I guarantee you'll be feeling so much better about your closet, and will have a clearer sense of what you have to work with. From here, if you still feel like you need to round out your wardrobe with more pieces, by all means, do it! Just be sure to have your 3 style words in mind as you go shopping!




Need help transitioning your wardrobe?

Every day, I am helping women manage their wardrobe through the transitions in their life, and they love not having the stress or burden of doing it all on their own. If this sounds like something you would really love, let's set up a time to chat! I offer a free 30-minute style consult where you can learn how I am able to transform your style and the incredible results I have achieved for other women. Book your free consult at a time that works for you!



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