When you’re planning a trip, do you feel the need to run out and pick up a whole new wardrobe? Yeah, me too. So when I got the chance to go on my first international trip since having le baby, I felt frantic, like I needed to create a massive shopping list immediately. That is, until I realized there was actually an entire wardrobe waiting for me – in my own my closet!
Thankfully, my friend Caroline Rooney, a talented fashion stylist and style expert, reminded me that you need to look at your existing closet with a fresh eye. With one quick trip through the pieces I already own, Caroline helped me realize I could devise an entire packing plan without having to buy a million things. So I thought I’d share a few of her tips about how to shop your closet. And bonus, you get a sneak peek at my closet that I designed with California Closets! I won’t lie – it’s basically a dream closet come true.
this shirt by Kamperett is hand-painted and seriously stunning
To get over the feeling of “having nothing to wear,” I needed to get out of my outfit rut. I hate to admit it, but I’ve totally fallen victim to the mom uniform of tee, jeans and sneakers – on massive repeat. I expected better of myself but when you’re a professional toddler chaser practicality often wins out. That’s why a trip is such a great excuse to rediscover your style. And while I consider myself reasonably decent at getting myself dressed, anyone can benefit from an outside perspective.
A camel blazer is a girl’s best friend
This Amour Vert dress is perfect for an afternoon lunch in Milan!
Caroline came in and was able to look at all my pieces with a fresh eye. She was a like a kid in a style candy store. She started pulling out things I hadn’t even looked at in months.
But stay focused and be productive we decided to set some parameters. When you’re packing for a trip it’s helpful to think about two things; your destination and what you’re going to do while there. You want to think about your destination’s customs so that you can be sure to dress appropriately. In my case, Italy is a bit more formal, a bit more sophisticated and a bit more fashion forward than California, so I wanted to create some looks that feel pulled together. I also knew I was going to be doing a lot of wine tasting, sight seeing and doing lots of dinners out so I need a variety of looks from day time casual to much more formal.
So we got to pulling out tops, skirts, even dresses that I hadn’t worn in forever. After shopping through my own closet (it was like visiting old friends!), the trying on commenced. I cannot recommend taking the time to actually try your clothes on enough. Whether you’ve gone through a big life change like having a baby, or simply haven’t revisited pieces in your closet for awhile, it is so helpful to remind yourself what the clothes look like on you. You’re much more likely to remember why you bought the piece in the first place.
Caroline helped me combine my pieces into looks I had never even thought of. Throwing a leather jacket over a dress and pairing it with low-heeled sandals made it more causal and perfect for day time. Adding a blazer over a classic black tee dressed it up, while wearing flat sandals with my white trousers made the look perfect for a day of window shopping in Milan. All told, I was able to create more than enough looks with just a few pieces. In fact, I probably could have pared things down even more, but I am one of those people who likes to be over-prepared for a trip. I do like to have options should itineraries, the weather or my mood change! While I could have easily edited things down to fit into a single carry on, I did end up bring a few additional options. Plus my size 10 shoes are not very space efficient!
But with two pairs of a jeans, a pair of trousers, a couple of dresses, a skirt, a mix of casual & formal tops and two blazers I knew I was going to be able to see Italy in style.
And as an added bonus for you all, Caroline, who works on photoshoots with brands like Google, Macy’s and W Hotels, as well as with private clients, is sharing her top five tips for making the most of your own closet.
TIP 1: Keep your closet tidy so you can access all of your garments easily. Out of sight, out of mind! Hang your favorite pieces toward the front for easy access. If there’s a piece that you haven’t worn recently, or find intimidating, hang that in the front as well, so you can remember to try it out in a new way. If it stays there for a few weeks and you still haven’t worn it, donate it or give it away.
TIP 2: I prefer to organize a closet by the type of garment. That way, you can see all of your top options, then all of your bottoms and skirts, all of your dresses, and then all of your jackets. Keep sweaters folded to avoid hanger marks at the shoulders, and fold down your jeans to save space. If you’re a die-hard denim head like me, fold all of your jeans the same way, and stack according to style. I keep mine in organized piles like “Everyday”, “Flares”, “Distressed”, and “Summer/Whites”. This saves me from digging through the piles every morning (and having them topple to the floor!)
TIP 3: After cleaning your closet, create piles for donations, sale, alterations. I recommend that you do this every 3-6 months to make sure you’re getting the most out of your wardrobe, and not wasting both time and money shopping for pieces you already have!
TIP 4: It doesn’t help you to have a dress that doesn’t fit, or a new pair of jeans that you love, but are too long. A great tailor can give these pieces a new life. In Erin’s closet, we first organized and hung favorite pieces, and even pulled a few items out of storage. This made the pieces feel new – it’s really like shopping in your own closet!
TIP 5: As you’re developing your wardrobe, focus on investing in well fitting basics. Look for timeless pieces that you can mix and match for years, and never look “out of style.” Then layer in a few trendier pieces every season. Invest in the basics, and spend less on the trend items that will go out of style faster. And once you’ve worn the trendy pieces to death, and see the trend starting to fizzle, donate or consign the pieces. You’ll be left with a great backbone of basics to build off of for the next season.
If you’re looking to add a little Italian style to your closet right now, below are a few of my favorite pieces. And as an added bonus, Amour Vert is offering Apartment 34 readers a special bonus. You can save 20% on any order when you enter the code APT34 at check out! Click HERE to start shopping.
And if you’re curious about my adventures in Italy at the moment, be sure to follow along on Instagram and Snapchat!
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original photography for apartment 34 by delbarr moradi