Recipe for Success: Wardrobe Planning

photo(1)Spring is slowly unfurling its leaves here in Seattle–beautiful cherry blossoms providing technicolor relief from the rows and rows of evergreen trees, and an occasional burst of Vitamin D and warmth from the elusive sun mean that I will soon have to retire my trusty Spanx tights in favor of bare legs. Which means this is a great time to do a inventory of my closet, and get started on updating one of my Sunday night rituals–planning out a wardrobe for the week ahead.

As I noted in my Dress for Success post, I lay out my clothes for the next day every night before I go to bed. It’s a habit hard wired from childhood, and one that I love more and more with each passing year. I’ve recently upped by type-A quotient by laying out my entire wardrobe for the week on Sunday nights. Insane? Possibly. Wildly efficient? ABSOLUTELY. I wake up at 5:45 each day (my dog requires a long a.m. walk), and even though I’m a morning person, I would be lying to you if I told you I am at 100 percent the moment my feet hit the floor. So, in order to avoid repeating that one time where I wore two different black shoes to the bus stop, I plan pretty far in advance now.

Here’s what you need:

  • Five hangers
  • Five Ziplock/Plastic Storage Bags
  • Your Local Five Day Weather Forecast
  • A hole punch

Sunday morning is laundry time chez moi, so as I fold my clothes, I make a small pile of things I think I might want to wear the next week. I then take a look at the five day weather forecast for Seattle, have a good laugh and make sure my trusty umbrella is in my purse (people will tell you that Seattleites don’t use umbrellas. This isn’t true. People who walk/take the bus/have curly hair live and die by umbrellas in Seattle), and figure out how I will layer things to ensure that if the sun does come out, I won’t be boiling in a thick sweater. I put my clothes (usually dresses, to be perfectly honest) on the hanger, and then put any accessories, as well as…under things, in the Ziplock bag, and loop it onto the hanger. Hang it up in your closet, with the shoes that you’d like to wear with your outfit underneath it.

I know it sounds a little insane, and maybe over the top.  I like to think of it as the low-tech version of Cher Horowitz’s closet. But, all jokes aside, people frequently ask me how I look so put together each day at work, and the answer is that I am in fact a deeply lazy person who enjoys planning. With my wardrobe planned out for the week, all I have to do each morning is get up, clean up, and get dressed. There’s no thinking about where an earring back is, or where those tights might be, or where that one shirt is. It’s all laid out, and I can get ready in 20 minutes or less. So, embrace your inner type-A, Cher Horowitz, and do a little wardrobe planning in advance of your work week. It’ll save you a few minutes each morning, and give you an extra dose of sanity before heading into the office.

Recipe for Inspiration: Dress for Success

kate spade new york
My very favorite, grown up shoes.

My Grandma Dorothy was a snazzy dresser. I can’t remember her ever leaving the house without a perfectly put together outfit, and never a hair out of place. Her fastidious nature when it came to clothing extended even to me—I remember spending one particularly hot summer afternoon polishing a pair of white Salt Water Taffy sandals until they sparkled.

“You will not go to church looking just any old way,” she’d say to me in her lilting, Mississippi drawl.

On one trip towards the end of her life, she was in a particularly frail state. We thought we’d dress her comfortably for the flight, but she insisted on a smart outfit, and even a lashing of lipstick.

“You can’t go to the airport looking just any old way,” she murmured to us. (I can only imagine what she’d say if she saw how people dressed for the airport now).

Dressing well at that point may have seemed silly to us, but I remember just how much she perked up with just a little change in wardrobe.

Now, as I transition into the next stage of my career, I realize just how important her words were. You absolutely cannot go to work looking just any old way—because people will treat you as well as you present yourself. And it’s not to say that you don’t need substance behind a glossy, shiny veneer, but looking good and feeling confident in what you’re wearing (UGGs are the most comfortable shoes know to man, but their comfort in no way offsets the fact that when I wear them with my winter coat, I look like I’m auditioning for a role in a movie about a half Sasquatch/half human woman’s life in the big city) translates into an easy confidence to those around you.

Over the past few years, I’ve developed a kind of uniform and routine that helps me always bring my clothing a-game with surprisingly minimal effort on my part.

  • Preparation Is Key: I lay out my clothes for the next day before I go to bed. It sounds silly, but it’s a habit I’ve had since I was a little girl (my mom made me do this, and as a child, I thought she was insane, but now I realize there was a method to her madness). It’s one less thing I have to do when I get up in the morning, and on the rare occasion that I don’t remember to lay out my clothes, I’m always rushed for time the next morning because I can’t find that one sock, or that one pair of tights
  • Get a Uniform: I have found that the most flattering and easiest way for me to look put together is a combination of a cardigan, knee-length dress, and opaque black tights. It’s a pretty basic outfit, three pieces, really—but when put together, I look put together, even if it only took me 15 minutes to get ready. And not everyone likes dresses, but find that one key outfit that you look and feel great in, and then replicate it many times
  • Invest, Invest, Invest: I am a lover of fast fashion, but can also appreciate the value of a good pair of pricey shoes. I figure that my shoes endure the most wear and tear of anything I’ll put on in any given day, so those are the things that I should spend the most money on. For instance, I will frequently pair Tory Burch flats with a dress from Target or Old Navy. And by frequently, I mean, every day.
  • Foundation Garments Are Your Friend: You’ve either seen Mad Men or stills from Mad Men. And those figures are, yes, the figures of Hollywood starlets, but they’re also created and accented by quality foundation garments. I went to Nordstrom last year to get properly fitted for a bra, and learned that I had been wearing a bra that was THREE CUP SIZES too small for God knows how many years. The difference a properly fitting bra makes in your posture and the way your clothes fit is extraordinary and worth every penny.