Friday, September 13, 2013

Closet Re-Do: Andrea

Closet Re-Do: Andrea

Today's photos are going to blow you away. I am just so incredibly lucky to work with such smart, fun, gorgeous women. Andrea is no exception. We got together last weekend to transform her closet from one full of incredible vintage finds that she never wore (or only wore in one way) to a versatile, playful, organized treasure trove full of outfits made just for her. Not bad for three hours!

All images from our time together.

The Process

We met up over chicken and bubble tea in the fashion capital of Maryland: Rockville. Just kidding. Yes to chicken and bubble tea, no to fashion. However, leave it to Andrea to have scouted out not only a great lunch spot but also a fantastic thrift store next door.

Clearly, she's the type of person you want to know! What she told me was a fairly typical story: she likes shopping, especially finding unique items, but when she gets them home she doesn't always know how to wear them. She found herself wearing the same things the same way-often on the same day! When she told me that she has a "Tuesday dress," I knew we could have some fun together shaking things up. Here's how it went down!

In her own words

Start Close in: What were you hoping to get out of our time together?

Andrea: I was stuck in a rut--bored with my clothes (even though my closet was pretty full). I was wearing the same thing every week (dress+belt+flats) and had bought a few items I really wasn't sure how to pull together. I'm a clothing scavenger--I pick up items that I like here and there but never really think about how they will work with my other items. I was hoping I would feel excited about my clothes again without buying new ones. Lastly, I was hoping it would be fun and relaxed--which is was.

What was the experience like for you?

Bringing the clothes of out my closet and looking at them made me realize I have many more options than I thought. The pile was huge (and there was a lot we didn't even get to!) A few times you asked, "what do you usually wear this with?" and I couldn't even remember the last time I had worn that garment. It was great to have fresh eyes on clothes that I have owned and seen hanging in the closet for a long time. It was also fun to have some validation about some of the more interesting clothing pieces in my closet. There weren't too many things you couldn't make an outfit out of (plaid shorts, not-withstanding).

Did anything surprise you?

The time FLEW by! Also, you were able to make my most unwearable pieces wearable (too big old lady skirt and grandpa shirt: I'm looking at you!) and make them look good. It's easy to forget good combinations, which is where the pictures come into play. I didn't think my wardrobe is as versatile as you showed me it can be.

What are you most excited about that came out of our time together?

Having outfits grouped together will help me fight the urge to grab a dress and a belt in the dark at 6am. The pictures are reassuring so I know that I don't look silly in something if it's out of my comfort zone. I feel like I have "new" clothes to wear since some of the outfits are very different from what I would have picked out myself.

Anything else you'd like to say?

I'd say if you are at all considering working with Ella--go for it! You have nothing to lose by spending three hours hanging out with someone fun, chatting, and playing dress-up. Since you already own the clothes you might as well get some use out of ALL of them (grandparent era clothing included!) As if re-arranging my closet wasn't enough, she brought us some home-grown tomatoes, which was really sweet! (Oh, thanks, Andrea! You're adorable.)

Andrea's adorable dog in our fashion show front row!

The Closet Consultation (aka Shopping Her Closet)

After meeting with Andrea, I created a Pinterest Board to get myself focused on some ways to help Andrea feel more polished in her professional life (blazers, belts, monochromatic looks as well as pattern mixing) and also take more risks in her weekend wear. I knew that she relied heavily on wearing dresses since they're simple to throw on and that she, a distance runner, often wore t-shirts and shorts when not at work. I knew there was a balance between the two that would reflect her personality and flatter her figure, too. I think the result was incredible, don't you?

 Her yellow and black skirt suit (top shown here with the infamous "Tuesday Dress" and over a sundress at left) was one of Andrea's incredible vintage finds. We went from her not knowing exactly how to wear it to us describing it as "a staple." The key was breaking it up into a blazer and a skirt. Both fit well and had great texture. It went with everything once we broke it up into pieces!

Andrea has great shoes so that made it easy to infuse some youthful style into even the most professional looks. Some of her vintage clothing veers toward the grandma end of the spectrum, and we loved contrasting that with her edgier footwear.

Here, I layered the suit jacket over a sundress to help her wear it into fall or winter. The belt was an easy addition to cinch in her waist because it was yellow, too. The booties and rolled sleeves helped the look feel youthful despite the vintage touches. We discussed wanting to maintain a balance between professional at work with her keen sense of personal style while not feeling too young. I love this look!

Andrea is smart about buying shoes that go with almost everything but are classic, too. In her office, most people don't wear heels, and she's most comfortable wearing flats to work. I found it easy to work with her shoe selection because her clothing tends to be more colorful, letting the shoes fill in as an easy neutral. Yes, I consider a wedge desert bootie a neutral!

We had a lot of fun pulling out items from Andrea's closet that felt to me like they belonged together: a rugby shirt and gingham collared shirt disguised a high waist on a pair of basic black pants that she hadn't worn in years. Adding the incredible plaid bag she said she never uses (!?!), pearl earrings, and a scarf was just the icing on the preppy chic cake. And yes, I've threatened to take that bag home myself if she doesn't start wearing it more!

We also had a blast putting together things that visually count as neutrals (the skirt below left and jacket below right) with patterns and a few contrasting accessories to tie the looks together. And yes, that yellow and black jacket counts as a neutral! That means it can make friends with any other color and patterns, too!

Some Insider Tips

Andrea worried that her eye for great fabric and shape had led her astray with this lavender skirt, above. It didn't quite fit her, and she just wasn't wearing it. But, adding a whimsical "Free People" inspired shirt and belt meant that we'd fallen back in love with the skirt and convinced ourselves she could wear it often.

Here are a few more tricks I had up my sleeve that might apply to your closet, too! 

Thank you, Andrea! I had so much fun playing dress up. I'm glad you feel like you have a whole new wardrobe now! See you soon, and you'd better have that plaid bag with you. 


  1. Love this! So much fun! Thanks for sharing XOXO

  2. I LOVE the collegiate look and the green dress!!! Hubba hubba!

  3. I favor the too big skirt solution!

  4. Thanks, guys! Tahira, I loved that outfit on her, too. And Erika, don't you want her clothes?