My client’s closet was a walk-in time machine of her life—the unabridged version! It had everything from her Paris days 15 years ago to her boho phase from her 20s, along with a mishmash of items that didn’t fit her body anymore. When she reached out to me for styling help, she was feeling lost. Despite having a huge wardrobe, she was stuck wearing the same few outfits on repeat. Shopping only exacerbated her frustration because she never found clothes that were right for her. As a result she always felt like the frumpy friend next to her more stylish peers.
How To Find Your Style
My job, as her stylist, was to help her dial in on her personal style so she could reestablish a sense of clarity and purpose in her wardrobe and have more fun with what she wore. Keep reading if you’ve got a lot of clothes and want to know how to find your style amidst the hodgepodge of stuff!
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Remember What You Love
When your style’s gotten lost through the years (or within a closet of too many clothes) you need to get back to the basics, and this begins by reconnecting to your preferences. Sometimes life gets in the way and we forget what we love!
At some point, my client adored everything in her closet. However, her tastes have evolved since her Parisian and bohemian phases, and now those styles don’t do it for her anymore. She needed to rediscover what felt exciting to wear.
So into her closet we went! With fresh eyes, we pulled out everything that made her happy. There was more than she expected! With so many clothes cluttering up the space, she had lost track of her favorite gems hiding in the back. Once we pulled out all the pieces that resonated with her taste, we searched for the common threads. What similarities did these pieces share? Tailored silhouettes and fabrics with structure. This would be part of her updated style.
Tune Into What Looks Good
After tapping back into your personal preferences, you need to figure out what looks good. One reason my client’s closet had gotten so full was that her body changed and she was holding onto her old clothes in hopes of wearing them again. But what we discovered with these pieces, was that even if she could fit into them, she didn’t like how they looked. We had to reassess and find styles that suited her current shape.
Our initial focus centered on the silhouette of her pants. As a woman who carried most of her weight on top, skinny jeans didn’t provide balance to her natural shape. Her closet was filled with skinnies! There’s nothing wrong with wearing these, if you love them. But we wanted to explore options that would provide a bit more volume on the bottom. She ended up loving the straight leg styles as a fresh alternative. As we combined her personal preferences with what looked good, her unique style started to emerge. (Click here to discover your body shape so you create more balance with your outfits).
Align Your Wardrobe With Your Current Lifestyle
The final step to finding your style is to get the hodgepodge of your wardrobe into alignment with your everyday life. For my client, this meant facing the closet mismatch that had developed. There was a glaring gap between her boho styles, Parisian pieces, and her current work-from-home lifestyle in the US. We had to bridge this gap and ensure that her wardrobe reflected her present reality.
To make this happen, we honed in on her style non-negotiables — those essential elements that would make her wardrobe both functional and authentic. We considered external factors like the climate in her city (San Francisco, in this case), as well as her internal expectations, like the need to be comfortable while working from her couch. (If you want help defining your style non-negotiables, read this post here!)
The truth was that her Parisian clothes were too dressy for her low key California life. By holding onto these pieces, she was creating more confusion. Each time she saw them in her closet, she’d think — should I wear this? And she never did because they didn’t suit her current lifestyle.
By taking a truthful look at how she spent her time, she could match her wardrobe to support her daily activities and clear out everything that no longer aligns.
Finding Your Style
If your style has gotten lost in a sea of clothes that no longer feel true, you need to get back to who you are! Reconnect to what you love. And then open yourself up to new possibilities of what could look good. So many women have limiting beliefs about what they can wear and this holds them back. They stick with what they’ve always done and sometimes that’s not the best option! So get current with who you are today and how you’re spending your time. Then clear out everything that doesn’t align.
The bottom line: Your style is hiding in the hodgepodge! You must delve into it to extract the details that will set you apart. If you need help putting together a new outfit from your old clothes, check out my free style guide. It’ll help you make more of what you already own! Click here to get the guide.
– Eylsha Lenkin
Elysha Lenkin is an expert personal fashion stylist whose mission is to help women stay true to themselves while looking current and feeling confident. Throughout her 20 year career, she has styled women of all shapes, sizes, and ages, including Carrie Underwood, Tina Fey, and Serena Williams. For more style tips and inspiration, head over to Elysha’s website: elyshalenkin.com and follow her on instagram: @elysha_nyc.
Photos: Canva and Istock
You may like to read more of Elysha’s styling posts like Am I Too Old To Wear That Trend? 3 Questions To Ask and How To Know If You Need A Wardrobe Overhaul: Expert Stylist Advice
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5 thoughts on “How To Find Your Style When Your Wardrobe Is A Hodgepodge”
This is such helpful advice, Lauren!
I’m a nomad with everything I own in my carry-on. Any thoughts on how to look less road wary yet still be functional?
Make sure everything is iron-free! And clean. Wrinkled and stained are not a good look. I roll my clothes when I pack and I find that helps.
I would find it so difficult to part with any Parisian clothes. I still have a dress that I bought in 1996 and even though it no longer fits, it makes me happy just to look at it. The remainder of my clothes that no longer fit are usually donated.
It’s OK to keep a piece or two that no longer fits as long as it brings you joy and doesn’t upset you when you look at it.