Most things in this world get “matched” with something as opposed to existing completely on their own. Peanut butter with jelly, chalk with a chalkboard, JLo with back-up dancers, you get the idea. I mentioned in a previous post about my failure in the kitchen. It also extends to food shopping. My husband will quietly shake his head after I shop, left helpless by the items missing their “partners.” I don’t mean to do it, but somehow I get complete A.D.D. at the store and I end up returning home with salsa…but no chips, ham and cheese but no bread, burger rolls but no burgers. I didn’t forget I just don’t shop smart. In reality I just food shop with the mental capacity of a goldfish.
I know what would make the difference. A LIST. Such a simple thing yet I am just not consistent with writing one, keeping one, and bringing it with me. My kitchen is littered with post-it lists that are started and stopped. One year for mother’s day my husband thought he was being helpful (to us both I’m sure) by treating me to the Smart Shopper Electronic Grocery List maker. I’m totally serious.
Like something out of the Jetsons the goal was to mount this oh so handsome device in your kitchen and when you discover you need something you press a button and “tell” the machine. The machine would then hear you and repeat your item back to you. When you were ready to go to the store the machine would organize your items into categories and you could press print and take the list with you. Great in theory. However this was before advances in voice recognition like Bluetooth. So I would say “Raisin Bran” but machine would answer back to me with “Rat Poison.” “Carrots” would come up as “Condoms.” “Wine” would be “Lime.” Okay now it was messing with my alcohol consumption. Soon the machine and I were screaming at each other. It got ugly. Remember that scene in the movie Office Space where they give the fax machine a beat down? That’s how I felt.
The gift was expensive so I left it out and we stared at each other like bitter enemies. Eventually I slipped it away to our basement where all unwanted items in our house go to die. And now my husband buys me gift certificates for shoes and clothes, things more related to my comfort zone.
Frequently when I see the contents of a client’s wardrobe I see many of these lonely unmatched items. I have often said to treat your clothes like employees that work for you. They are a labor union and you are the boss. Are they producing? If an item is sitting idle what is wrong with it? Often it has no match. It needs a “date.” The client will pull out a beautiful printed skirt, something they bought because they fell in love with the print. But then they get home and find they have nothing to wear with it. So the poor skirt gets relegated to the deep dark depths of the closet, left to die alone. But it doesn’t have to be that way. You can be the Patty Stanger matchmaker for your “single” clothes. The best way to do this? MAKE A LIST!!
It sounds weird at first but I tell my clients to keep a notebook in their closet. Right there, with a pen, ready to go. As soon as you put that item that you want to wear on and then find your self taking it back off decide why. If it is too small get rid of it. Live your life for right now because that is who you are. If it needs repair take it and put it in your car to immediately go to the tailors. If it is great but you don’t have something to match WRITE THAT DOWN!” You might have the right color shirt but maybe the fit is wrong. Or maybe there are just no shoes that really go with the outfit. Maybe you have the outfit 90% of the way but it is missing an accessory that would complete your look. Whatever it is, write it down. And even if you don’t know what exactly is missing write down the item that needs a match. You can also take a photo so you have the colors and style right with you when you are out shopping.
*Insider Tip – There are no rules. You are only limited by your comfort level in expressing your own personal style. So your sequin top that you bought to go with the black pants for a party can also go out with those distressed jeans for a girls night out. Usually you will have more tops than bottoms so make sure those bottoms have multiple partners.
*Insider Tip – If you are planning a specific shopping trip bring your lonely item with you. Think of it like taking your single friend out to happy hour so that you can be her wingman (wingwoman) and fix her up! I can tell you from working in a boutique that we love when customers bring in a piece to make an outfit. Don’t be afraid to ask the sales people for help and suggestions. Ask them how they would make an outfit out of an item. And then ask for different suggestions to dress it up or dress it down. You don’t have to buy the other items from them but it can help you do think of ways of making the items in your wardrobe versatile. And if the sales people look at you funny or are rude? Then leave. Trust me, there are plenty of other stores where there are knowledgable, willing staff on hand who will like helping you.
*Insider Tip – Hate to shop? Hire me! You don’t need to be a celebrity to have a stylist come right to your own home. A personal stylist’s secret weapon is the ability to “shop your own closet,” creating outfits out of things you already own but just hadn’t thought to put together. Other than the money spent on the consulting time you don’t have to go out and spend a dime on more clothes. Chances are there are numerous items in your closet just waiting to become wild and crazy swingers with other items in your closet.