Shopping 911 Call

Have you ever had an occasion sort of sneak up on you? It’s in the back of your mind and then suddenly you realize what Month it is and then your event is this weekend…and you have nothing to wear? Maybe your are busy or maybe, you are like Erin, who would rather go the dentist than go shopping, so you keep putting it off and putting off and next thing you know your event is the next day!

Erin is one of my very best friends, but for as much as we have in common we couldn’t be more different when it comes to shopping. She likes to go shopping about as much as I like to go to the gym, which is not at all. So it was of no surprise to me when Erin called me this past Friday from the fitting room, needing my help. The only issue is that she lives in Atlanta and I was working from home in snowy Pennsylvania. But here’s the thing…that’s really not at issue at all. Thanks to technology we got her entire outfit ready to go, head to toe, in about 35 minutes. So how exactly does virtual styling work?

Tell Me Your Style

Luckily with Erin I already know that she is not super girly Sleek, chic and nothing fussy always suits her best. She has no trouble getting dressed every day but it’s occasions like this (school fundraiser with the word “Gala” in the title) that throw her a little off. She’s most comfortable in solid colors and nothing too bright or with too much pattern.

Tell Me Your Budget

Erin is a very practical person by nature and therefore also in her purchases, meaning if she has to go out and buy something she is hoping to get more than one use out of it. She doesn’t impulse buy and she doesn’t go out just browsing shops. That being said convenience is key so if the price is reasonable she is not going to keep looking for a cheaper alternative.

Tell Me Your Location

She usually has a purpose in mind and wants to get it done quickly. Because of this she does better in stores that are not too overwhelming (so no TJ Maxx types where she has too many choices). Chain stores, department stores, and places with helpful staff are the ideal places for her to shop.

Give Me About An Hour

With face-time and a computer I can quickly locate what you need and where to get it. We started with Erin calling me from the fitting room in the Banana Republic that is located in a shopping center with lots of other stores. She had picked out this jumpsuit and liked it because it was comfortable and definitely something she could wear again.

While the jumpsuit looked great as is, I knew we had to dial it up a notch to get it gala ready. She also needed a shoe with a substantial heel to balance the wide leg crop style of the jumpsuit. Looking online we found these block heel silver metallic sandals that were perfect.

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The jumpsuit came with a belt in the same fabric that could be tied into a bow and hang at the waist, but the casual drape of the belt wasn’t going to cut it. Erin has a tiny waist (even though I know she will say no she doesn’t as she is reading this) so defining it with a sleek belt would make the jumpsuit feel more custom. I was looking for a belt that would have some sort of stretch to it as those are the kind that typically fit the best over a thin fabric and won’t shift around. I didn’t see anything online on Banana but I knew there was a White House Black Market store next door to her. We scored right away with this perfect piece, especially with the silver trim to tie into the shoes.

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Now we have a sleek look of the black jumpsuit, silver block sandals, and the belt. All that was left was to find some simple but bold jewelry that would compliment the feel of the rest of the outfit, and a great clutch.

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While I was looking online and Erin used her phone to have me virtually look through the jewelry I spotted these lucite oversize drop earrings. I loved them for her because I know she can wear them again and the curved shape softens some of the other more linear looks on the belt and the shoes. She absolutely could have added a small necklace or even a larger more bold silver necklace but this is where I believe the jewelry has to fit the personality. She is more minimal in her style and adding a necklace would have felt too much on her, so we decided to skip it and add a bracelet instead.

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They don’t have a picture online of the exact bracelet we spotted for Erin but this bracelet works just as well. It’s perfect because again it will work for everyday but yet add just a touch of interest to the outfit for the party. The clean and sleek nature of it blends well with the belt and earrings. Next it was on to a clutch. While Erin did have a black clutch at home I spotted this clutch as she was walking around. Even better the already reasonably priced jewelry was buy one get one 1/2 off.

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Yes, I know it is blue and the rest of the outfit was black, but the deep blue actually felt like the perfect unexpected compliment to the otherwise all black ensemble. Sometimes it’s that feel of something being a little off, or not so matchy-matchy that take the style of an outfit to a more personalized and unique level. Plus this is the type of clutch that she can throw into her work tote and pull out later for drinks with friends.

The Result…

She looks amazing!!!

I’m not just saying this because I helped her or because she is one of my best friends and is gorgeous, but she looks amazing because she was comfortable. She looks like herself, just kicked up a notch, and the overall effect is an effortless chic. All of the items can easily be incorporated back into her wardrobe for maximum versatility. It was a total success and I got her out of the stores in under an hour!

*Insider Tip – Think Outside The Box

Although the invitation said Gala most of the men were wearing suits. The go-to would have been a cocktail dress of some kind but a jumpsuit works much better for Erin and she was still completely in line with the rest of the looks for the evening. The best part is how many opportunities she will have to wear these pieces again.

Pair with a denim jacket and slides for a great travel look or for the weekend.

Or put the clutch and silver heels back to any white top and jeans and you have a girls night out or date night look.

Ready To Shop?

Give me a call and I can email you a personalized shopping list for a specific outfit or occasion, or we can make a date to shop together virtually! Send me an email when you are ready…suzie@suziegaffney.com

Thanks for reading!

Suzie

Closet Stalker

Closet Stalker

Have you ever been out at night, maybe in a car or walking your dog, and looked at the houses you are passing? Have you ever stared a little bit longer into the homes where the light is on and you can see inside the windows? I’m not talking about climbing into a tree and watching a family eat dinner, that is illegal, weird, and probably pretty boring in all reality. I’m talking about when you get a glance at certain pattern of fabric on the curtain in the window, or when the tv is on and you think, “That family watches The Bachelor”??? Getting a glimpse into someone’s home isn’t really about them, it’s more about seeing the inside of a space. It’s why I look at real estate listings even though I am hopefully never moving again. I want to see how a space is decorated, what color rooms were painted, what was remodeled or updated. So if any of you are slightly stalker-ish like  me, I thought it would be fun to take you inside the closets of one of my favorite clients, I’ll call her Client A.

Client A and I have worked together for a couple of years now. With that length of time comes a comfortable relationship that creates the beauty of me knowing her fashion style and her life style. She is a very busy wife and mother, multiple kids at multiple schools with multiple activities. Time to herself is limited, as is time in general. She lives in a lovely home with lots of storage spaces, but they weren’t necessarily efficient. She needs to be able to get dressed and feel pulled together quickly. Last year we spoke about shelving and hanging options to add into her existing closet space, as well as storage in what were essentially large storage spaces on a finished 3rd floor. This summer she had the shelves put in and the results are beautiful. But Client A ran into a problem that lots of people do. It’s great to have organized storage options but it can be overwhelming to figure out where to put what, and how to find the time to put it there. If you have ever moved into a different house you can relate. It can be overwhelming to  put the kitchen items away in a manner that you think will make sense for you and your family. It’s common to over think the process, become overwhelmed, and then paralyzed from action. Client A knows that I know what works for her and asked if I could come over to help her do a few things; edit out clothes that no longer fit her or her style, switch seasons so that fall/winter are in her master bedroom closet, and put things into her current closet as well as her off-season closet. Here’s a peek inside:

This is one of the upstairs storage spaces that was essentially an empty small room.  Shelves, drawers and hanging space now make this small storage room deliver huge storage options. Off season clothing and accessories, along with less frequently worn items from the current season, are hanging and ready to go.

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I used a garment rack to organize what needed to go downstairs for fall and winter. These racks fold up and are great to have on hand for organizing when packing, switching season, or even during parties for coats and jackets. No one really likes going into a bedroom and rifling through jackets on a bed. Plus remember that episode of Friends where they flashback and Ross drunkenly kisses his sister Monica because he thinks she is Rachel under a pile of coats at a party? Not good.

 

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The master bedroom closet was already a custom-built installation from the previous home owner. In order to make it work better for my client, I suggested added additional shelving onto a small existing wall, as well as creating additional hanging space for longer items in front of a window that is never really opened (there is a very large bay window at the front of the closet to give plenty of natural light). My client’s contractor was able to add to the existing closet to make it all work together and look as if it had always been built this way.

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So what to put on all those new shelves??? Shoes!!!

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Also organized and ready to go is this client’s enviable collection of denim. I sorted them first by cut (skinny, cropped, straight or flared) then by color and wash. I faced the waistband toward the end of the shelf so that it is easy to check the brand label and the size to find the pair she wants.

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*Insider Tip – Creative Closet Storage

The container store is awesome, but it can be overwhelming. The key to finding good storage solutions is to look outside of your closet. This client has a fab collection of clutches. They work well because they can be stashed into larger bags and make for a quick grab and go. They also allow you to add a stylish accessory to your outfit, without having to break the bank on a larger size handbag. Lots of people like to keep their bags inside a dust cover or maybe even in a drawer. The problem with this is out-of-sight-out-of-mind. To keep them stored safely yet easily available hit up the kitchen accessories section at any home store. I grabbed these racks, technically they are for storing the lids of pots and pans, baking sheets or cutting boards, and repurposed them to keep the clutches upright and easily sorted. I bought the dark color for her main closet and white for her storage closet. They were $6.99 each and I bought 4, putting 2 together upstairs and storing the other dark finish one away. This way if my client decides to purchase more she will already know she has a matching storage rack ready to go. Stylish and simple, these racks keep things in sight and easy to access. So next time you are struggling for storage ideas try looking outside of your closet for solutions!

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Let me know how you liked snooping into other people’s closets…I have been into hundreds and I love them all, looking at them, organizing them and talking about them. You know how men go into a home and check out the basement and the garage? I’m all about the closets! I’ll make this a regular type of post to give you an insider peek if you are interested. It’s guilt free stalking!

Want to know what else is fun to look at? Someone’s old school photos – here’s a picture of me from elementary school – clearly a blind, drunk monkey was my hair stylist, either that or my mom requested a feathered mullet. I’m rocking the preppy 1980s Eagle’s Eye wool cardi, and I still love my cotton turtlenecks to this day.

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Thanks for reading!

Suzie

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pinspiration

If I could climb to the top of the mountains to sing my praises for Pinterest I would. I’m just not that ambitious about climbing and my singing voice is just scary. But I love, love, love Pinterest. It’s easy to use, easy to organize, and there are endless photos of just about anything and everything.  When I feel bored with my clothes or I just can’t decide what I want to wear it’s Pinterest to the rescue. Once I find an inspiring outfit I can get back on track, hence my made up word of Pinspriation. This morning my sister sent me a Pin of this outfit that inspired her.
NEUTRAL MIX - Cardigans, White Denim Skinny Jeans, Grey Tee, Nude Pumps, Camel Leather Handbag / Hello Fashion:
I love everything about it. The colors are soothing and simple, yet the the look still feels fresh. Although I adore her patent pumps in the photo my feet would scream bloody murder if I tried to put them into a patent pointed toe heel for more than an hour. To make this work for me all day I’d pair this look back to a great pair fall boots.  The best thing about this outfit is that most of us have these pieces (or similar versions of them) hanging right in our own closets. I put together the pieces below as an example of how simple this can be to put together.

Fall Transition 1

Okay, in all reality I do not have a Hermes belt just hanging around in my closet but a girl can dream, right??  And how pretty is that Stella and Dot necklace? Plus the flower petals are removable, giving you a completely different look with the very same necklace.

The Birdie Necklace features a strand of chiffon petals that can be detached for this versatile look that may or may not have been manufactured on a cold hard bench by little Asian children in the cold.:

One of the questions I hear most often from my clients is “What color shoes? Tan? Camel? Dark brown?” You really can’t go wrong as long as you tie in your accessories to accent a similar shade of leather. For example:

Alessandra Ambrosio Looks Perfect in Winter Neutrals:

Although her boots are suede and the bag is leather, the shades feel cohesive because they are both soft and stay in line with the rest of the outfit. If she had a dark brown leather bag it would feel like it was overpowering the rest of the rest of her look.

* Insider Tip – Make it your own. 

Don’t be afraid to tweak this combo based on what you have in your closet. My sister loved the cashmere cardi on the Pinterest board but she didn’t have one. Working off of the color scheme she used a cream colored CAbi cardigan instead. She looks chic and comfortable for her kid-free girls outing at Grace Winery.  I’m not sure if she’s ever coming home if she gets to hang out in those cute chairs with a chardonnay!

Fall neutrals:

Grace:

 

Thanks for reading!

Oh and if you want to check out all of my Pinterest obsessions you can follow me by clicking HERE.

Suzie

Au Revoir

One of the best things about my job is spending time with my clients. Yes, I realize how fake that sounds, but it is true. One of the worst parts? If I meet the goals of the client, eventually they won’t need me anymore.

Whether it is a closet clean out, or a styling session, I like to spew out a whole bunch of “Insider Tips” while we work. With a recent client the goal was to update her look, so that she could feel more put together, both at work and when she was on mom time. One of the biggest ways to feel put together quickly is accessories. This client had an amazing array of jewelry and belts, but they were all tucked away in her drawers inside of the boxes she brought them home in.  I adore the cute little boxes that jewelry comes in when we first buy it. But trust me on this. Throw it away. You will never again need that box, unless you are planning on regifting an item, (I’m not judging).   I suggested she would be more apt to wear her accessories if she could see them. Her closet space had beautiful built-ins, but it left little room for displaying the bulk of her jewelry collection.  I felt like a proud momma when I went back for our second session.

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While we were editing her clothes, we got rid of some sweaters she was not wearing anymore, freeing up some prime real estate in the form of an empty dresser drawer. What was once hidden away in boxes was now on full display at the simple pull of a drawer. We were able to free up some hooks right inside her closet when we got rid of some unused bags. The client made this into the perfect spot for her everyday go-to belts and necklaces, and/or current favorites.

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We had also discussed a designated hanger bin. It sounds silly, but having a spot for your empty hangers is key to staying organized. Plus when they are in a bin you can easily carry them into your laundry room or coat closets. This way you will have them at the ready when you need to convert your clothes from the dry cleaner’s hangers onto your own. Because I know you are NOT keeping them in the bags and on those wire hangers right?? Read my previous post here for why this is so terrible. This client had a mix of hangers.  It including, baby hangers. That’s right.  This was a first for me. Her children were no longer babies, far from it, but she had held onto all those hangers. I should tell you that she is really tiny, so this wasn’t a real problem for her clothes, but it was an assault on the eyes.  We actually had a good laugh about it because it was one of those things she hardly noticed, she had just been using them forever. We gave the baby hangers a new home in a big black trash bag that went to good use at a donation center, where they can be used for children’s clothes, again.

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By the end of our second session, we had bags of clothes going to donations and 2 big bins going to consignment. I’m pushing the client to put the money she makes from consignment towards new hangers 😉

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My client said she has been wearing things that she has had in her closet for years, accessorizing them to make them modern and fit her lifestyle. She said she feels great and is getting compliments. It is bittersweet, because I know she doesn’t need me right now.

It was this same client who suggested I place some testimonials on my website. I was only too quick to take her up on her offer…

“In short, Suzie was amazing! She is a girls’ girl and has your best fashionista at heart, regardless of your age.  She came into my home and graciously helped me part with years of clothes that I couldn’t bring myself to let go of.  At the same time, Suzie, with her amazing style and eye for color combinations, retrofitted my wardrobe using my existing classic pieces and tailoring them to meet today’s style trends.  She gave me back my old wardrobe with a new and exciting flair. It was a wonderful experience that I recommend to everyone who has a closet full of clothes and cannot seem to find a thing to wear!  Since she “Suzied” me and my closet, it takes me so much less time to pull together outfits and feel great about what I am wearing everyday.”

Laura (Hockessin, DE)

It is a very good thing no one is writing testimonials about my cooking or it would be something like this…

“Suzie thinks that fro-yo and wine is a delicious dinner. She can even ruin a frozen pizza by forgetting to take the cardboard off of the bottom. She has also tried the crock pot and failed, forgetting to take that weird piece of plastic paper out from underneath the roast when she dumped it into the crock pot. A blind monkey could do better in the kitchen. Her family may starve if someone doesn’t help her soon.”

Suzie’s family (Kennett Square, PA)

*Insider Tip – Shop at Sears

Laura had set out the very next day after our initial consultation on her quest for the organizer trays I had told her about. Her first stop didn’t have the bins. Determined to complete her mission she sent me a text.  I sent her right over to our local Sears Harware store. The best place to buy these is from a hardware store that also sells tool chests, as these are the organizers that are made  to go inside those chests. They also sell the nubby rubber no-slip padding that you can place in the drawer underneath the bins. It also works if you just want to lay the jewelry out inside a drawer but don’t want it to slip and slide around.  Yes, of course you can find other organizational bins at Target or wherever, I just prefer the size and scale, not to mention the price, of these basic black organizers. You can read more about my love for hardware store finds here.

*Insider Tip – Let your bags go naked

If you bought an expensive hand bag chances are it came with a dust cover. I think the dust covers are great for off-season storage or for traveling,  but I find that most people don’t use their bags if they are hidden underneath their covers. My suggestion is to take clean plastic bags from a recent grocery or shopping trip, put them inside the dust bag, and put the dust bag inside the hand bag. This will help your handbag to retain its shape and stand up straight. You don’t really need to worry about dust because chances are you will be using the bag more now because you can see it.  Due to limited space, and my husband’s inability to cave to my desire to turn our guest bedroom into my own dream closet,  I like to keep only what I am using right now in the closet in my bedroom. The rest of the pieces are fighting for room with these imaginary guests that never actually stay in that room. So big bags go up high, clutches below, and oversize droopy bags I hang.

Someday, that guest bedroom will be mine…someday.  I’m wondering if we can fit a staircase in there.

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image via Pinterest

Meet your new BFFs…

Meet your new BFFs…

This weeks post is one big *INSIDER TIP……

SHOP THE HARDWARE STORE. 

Whether it is your locally owned hardware store or one of the big gigantic retailers they have some of the best tools for getting your closet whipped into shape for the upcoming fall season. Here are some of my favs.

3M COMMAND HOOKS

Can I get a “Hallelujah?” These hooks can and will change your life. You know how I am always preaching about to display your accessories because if you can see them you will use them? These hooks make this possible in a way that is so easy you will almost feel guilty about it, kind of like that feeling I get when I watch A&E’s show Intervention while I am drinking a glass of wine.  Or how I feel when I watch ABC’s The Bachelor Pad.  So wrong yet so satisfying.

Now the commercials are cheesy. Really bad. But you don’t have to act like the medicated mother in the ad that just cleaned up her messy teenage daughter’s room. Although I did smile really big when I realized how easy these are to install. In an ideal world all my things would be hung from gorgeous hooks purchased at Anthropologie or at a Parisian flea market. However, due to time and  money constraints those two things are not happening. And my husband is very kind about installing what I have purchased but it is a committment. He is none too thrilled when 2 months later I ask him to remove whatever he drilled into the wall and he has drag out spackle and paint to cover the holes.

The 3M hooks come in multiple sizes and colors. Pay attention to the sizes and to the weights that each size carries. Oh and actually do read and follow the directions on the back.  There are instructions on the back for how to remove the hooks safely without the use of spackle. Also they ask that you wait (I know, so hard to do) about 1 hour or so before actually hanging anything on your hooks, giving the sticky stuff more time to adhere to the wall without any weight pulling on it. If you ignore this like I did then  you may wake up to an alarming thud in the middle night, scaring the bejesus out of you and causing your husband to roam around the dark house with a baseball bat .”No Honey! That is just my belts that fell down into my closet! Now we can go back to bed! Sorry you have no one to play baseball with!”

image via lolriot.com

My favorite is the clear or white because I like the way they sort of disappear when I hang something on them. The uses and placements are endless. You know that vast no-mans land that builders leave up high in our closets? You can mount these hooks up high and hang up bags that you don’t use that much. Suddenly that space becomes more useful than those counselors they place in the back of the limos with the rejected Bachelor contestants. My collection that was outgrowing my metal racks can now be spread out, with some of the more dainty and delicate ones hanging on the new smaller hooks . Thus helping to eliminate my screaming like a toddler with a temper tantrum when the smaller ones get tangled with the other ones.

They are also perfect for that awkward recess of wall space on the side of closets.

I hung some on the back of my door for my everyday belts.

And before you think “Wow, she really has her belts paired” down I will show you what used to be drawer of shame and how I fixed it. When I started working at Elizabeth Maar Boutique about 10 years ago I had maybe 2 belts. Fast forward a few years and due to the store’s amazing collection of belts my collection has reproduced like bunnies. It was getting out of control.

Hardware store find #2 to the rescue….

TOOL CHEST DRAWER ORGANIZERS

image via searsoutlet.com

These are usually sold in packs of 3 and are the perfect depth and height to fit into most drawers. Their little cubbies corral all sorts of clutter – socks, jewelry, etc. but I love them for my belts.

There, much better.

And my other favorite item from the hardware store is. . .

GLOSSY BLACK SPRAY PAINT

My favorite brand is the one pictured above. Mostly because the trigger does not hurt my fingers (I am a wimp) and it has a primer AND IT COVERS EVERYTHING!!!

I love to repurpose stuff I already have so that I can go out and spend more money on clothes. I’m kidding.  Sort-of.  I think there are simple things that we should all have in our closet to make life easier, a step stool to reach up high, a trash can for tags and threads, and a bin for hangers that are coming or going. In a limited space I like to unify with a color and most items when repurposed look fabulous with glossy black. So you can take the old stepstool from your kid’s bedroom with the little animals on it and paint it shiny black for you to use. This of course is provided your child has outgrown the step stool. I am not suggesting you steal items out of your child’s room just to make your life simpler, although I have.  In the example below I took my proliferate collection of faux terra-cotta planter pots, purchased at a time when I thought I would want beautiful flower pots blooming on my patio. But summer comes around and me and my black thumb don’t water and kill all the plants. In return I have a plethora of pots. I spray painted some glossy black and they are perfect catchall for hangers inside my closet.

But beware, updating things with spray paint is addicting. I started doing frames, chairs, and I even considered the dog just to get rid of the tri-colored shedding of the beagle hair. Just kidding, Duke.

The point of all this is to THINK OUT OF THE BOX. There are useful solutions all around to simplify our lives. I firmly believe in starting with your closet because this is where you start your day. The above solutions are no fuss, no mess and super quick, like the Tom and Katie divorce. No time for this? Remember I have quick fix  mini sessions where I can whip the chaos into shape in 1 hour. Think of it like paying someone to detail your car, outsource it, it’s done, and move on to bigger and better things. And I promise not to spray paint your dog or steal items from your kids’ rooms.