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Is There a Stranger In Your Closet?

Who do you see when you look in your closet? Is your mother’s face smiling back at you from that ruffle shirt you’ve never worn?  Or, is your best friend’s favorite dress hanging out in there taunting you?

Most often, in response to the question, “Who do you see when you look in your closet,” I hear:

  • My mother
  • My sister
  • My best friend
  • Myself, pre-children
  • Myself, pre-30 extra pounds
  • Myself, pre-menopause
  • Whoever was working at the store the day I went shopping
  • The store window mannequin…
  • All of the above!

Is this true for you?  If so, what is the first feeling that comes to mind when you open your closet to get dressed? Exhaustion?  Overwhelm?  Denial?  Frustration?  Dread?  Some combination of all of these?  Rarely, under these circumstances, is it joy and delight.

Guess what?  When you look in your closet you want to see YOU…just you. That part of you that makes you smile, that reminds you of fun times and delicious memories (maybe the memories are of pushing your daughter on a swing, lunch with girlfriends, a successful business presentation, or a precious date with your sweetie – these are the simple pleasures that make up life).  You also want these feelings to be reflected in every aspect of your wardrobe down to your nightgown and slippers!

If you’re shaking your head in despair or frustration, you are not alone.  Most women will admit this is easier said than done.

So, let’s shake things up a bit.  Let’s begin to weed out those garments that make you roll your eyes or cringe.  They have absolutely no place in your wardrobe.

Evict the Strangers:

  1. Remove one item from your closet that feels more like someone else than you. If you are near your closet go there right now and do this (if not, take a big piece of paper and write down the first thing that comes into your mind so you’ll remember to remove it later). Even if you don’t know why it isn’t you or what to put in to replace it…the very first step is to get it out of there.

As long as it is taking up space in your sacred closet (yes, this is where your essence is expressed every day!), you will feel over burdened, frustrated, annoyed, despairing or resigned to all of those feelings every time you get dressed, and none of that is good.

It is also very likely that you aren’t wearing those things anyway – it’s more like a security blanket but the security is a sham.

  1. Identify one garment or outfit that makes you smile the second you put it on. It can be a dress, pair of pants and even a pair of shoes or scarf — no item is too small or insignificant.

Lay both of these garments side by side and have a piece of paper handy (your Nurturing Beauty Journal will do perfectly if you have your home study program “Who Taught You How To Dress?”)

For the outfit that isn’t you, write down everything about it you don’t like. Be as picky as you can be.  Maybe it’s the way the fabric feels?  Perhaps the buttons seem overwhelming or there are just too many of them?  It could be that you dislike the pattern or the way it clings or it has a belt and you don’t like belts.  Write down everything!  (If there are a few things you like about it, write those in a separate column.  Maybe the color is pretty if it weren’t so shapeless.)

For the outfit you love, write down everything you like about it. Color, texture, fit…maybe it makes you feel sophisticated, down-to-earth or pretty.  Whatever it is, write it down.

These lists are your lifeline the next time you go shopping.  Don’t leave home without them.  The next time you try on an outfit, run down both lists and compare the garment.

This exercise alone will help you stay focused when you shop. It is so easy to get distracted by all the choices, the lighting, or the helpful “advice” from sales women or your shopping buddies.

Sometimes, your desire to find “something” is so great that you settle for the best of what you find which often doesn’t really measure up to anything even close to fabulous – and that’s what you are shooting for!

Now, take a long, deep breath…this is just one step in creating a wardrobe you love.

How did this exercise make you feel?  Encouraged, hopeful, excited or like, yikes, now what!  If you feel like this is just the tip of the iceberg for you and you need more support, please check out my style classes here:   Imagine feeling empowered and joyful the next time you open your closet — that’s what I’m here to help you do!


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Ginger Burr is a fashion stylist and personal shopper serving clients worldwide from metro Boston.