Wednesday, August 31, 2016


If you follow me on Instagram or Facebook, you've read my hints about this post, which was initially going to be a "Fall Wardrobe Essentials" post.  But, as I was thinking about my must-have list, it dawned on me that the list hasn't changed much from 2 years ago, when I wrote this post.  Here it is, in a nutshell:

Sure, I there are a few new trends that I'm loving, but for the most part, I think this is pretty spot on! No need to reinvent the wheel.  Looking at this picture got me thinking that I could probably do a whole lot with just a handful of pieces.  I decided to see just how far I could stretch my wardrobe.

My daughter and I (God love her for keeping me company and helping me out) set out in the hotter'n summer weather to see how many different head-to-toe looks we could create with 18 of my current fall essentials.  You'll see that I've made some changes from the above list (added a few tops and a sleeveless vest for a trendy flair, changed up some colors, and left out a couple of things).  I wanted to incorporate a few of the trendy, but versatile, pieces I have in my closet that I think I will wear a lot this Fall.  I still like the original list, though (and would never EVER give up my tailored blazer)!

As you can see, this wardrobe consists of:
-3 jackets
-1 duster-length sweater vest
-1 dress
-5 tops
-1 pair black pants
-1 pair jeans
-1 hat
-1 purse
-4 pairs of shoes

Count 'em with me:

1.  Started simple with the striped top, jeans, and booties.  
2.  Added a jacket, which gives it a totally different vibe.
3.  Same jeans, jacket, boots, but I'm wearing the blush silk top.
4.  I love this one!  Silk top, black pants, and blush pumps.  So sharp.
5.  Cuter model in a similar look, but totally toughening it up with a leather jacket.
6.  Same leather jacket, girly floral top, jeans, black booties, and a hat.

7.  I ain't 'fraid of no hat!  Jeans and blush with the sweater vest.  I love the cream and blush combo here.
8.  Same sweater with the floral top and black booties (but I took off the silver embellishment...versatile!)
9.  Here's a closer look at the outfit my daughter's wearing above.  Black pants, leopard ballet flats, chambray top, hat.
10.  Another look simple look - denim on denim (and I put the silver fringe back on the booties).
11. Everybody's fave - the velvet jacket - pairs nicely with the floral top and brown boots.
12.  It's hard to see in our long grass, but I loved pairing the leopard flats with this buffalo check top.
13.  The top easily converts into a topper for an LBD.  
14.  Another way to change up the black dress.  Chambray top for the win!  (The belt is part of the dress.)
15.  My daughter said I look tall in this one.  Wanna know why?  The shoes are about the same color as my skin, so it's very leg-lengthening.
16.  We honestly didn't think this one would look great, but it was quite cute!  I like this dress best with the animal print flats.   At my age, I think that the shorter the dress, the flatter the shoes. 

SIXTEEN!!  And that doesn't even count the other 3 that I was too tired to photograph:  black dress on its own, black dress with black leather jacket, and brown velvet jacket with blush silk top (soooo gorgeous)!  So maybe 16, maybe 19, but you get the idea.

This is what I do with my Wardrobe Revival clients.  Most of them believe they have very little to wear, but mixing and matching in unexpected ways will take a small wardrobe a long way!  You really don't need to have an overflowing closet to have style, you just have to experiment.  If you're not up for it, though, give me a call.  I'm always happy to help.  

Do you have a favorite look from this post?  Can you think of other ways to mix it up?  

As a personal stylist in Richmond, VA, I strive to make wardrobe choices clear and easy for women who are short on time, overwhelmed by their closets, or transitioning from one period of life to another.  Let's connect! 

Wednesday, August 17, 2016


By now, you've read about my experiences (here and here) with two online styling services, Stitch Fix and Trunk Club.  You may have even had your own experiences with one of these companies (or another similar one).  If you've ever thought you might benefit from hiring a personal stylist, you might wonder why--or if--you should hire a local stylist over one of these online services.  After all, a local stylist will generally charge you per hour, and an online service will cost you nothing but the clothes you buy.  I'm admittedly biased, but in my opinion, these two types of services are totally different animals, meant to serve totally different purposes, both having to do with clothing.  I'm going to attempt to outline my thoughts.

Photo by Sandy Swagger Photography

Who should use an online styling service?

  • Are you a person who loves getting new clothes every now and then, who is comfortable describing her personal style likes and dislikes, and who loves surprises?  This service is for you!
  • Do you love trying on new items and mixing and matching them with things you have in your closet to get the most bang for your buck?  This service is for you!
  • When you try on clothes, do you know what cuts and fabrics flatter your figure most?  Are you generally comfortable making a decision about whether or not to keep something without consulting a friend or expert?  This service is for you!
  • Do you need just a few things to spice up your wardrobe, but otherwise feel pretty good about what's in your closet?  This service is for you!

Photo by Sandy Swagger Photography

Who should hire a local personal stylist?

  • Do you look in your closet most mornings feeling like you have very little from which to choose, even though you may have lots in there?  Is creating head-to-toe looks a challenge for you?  Hire a local stylist!
  • Are you in a bit of a slump because you've gained or lost weight or because your body has changed with age?  Could you benefit from working with someone who can help you learn how to dress this new body to its full potential?  Hire a local stylist!
  • Have you recently had a "life shift" (new baby, kids back to school, new job, retirement) and need some helping learning how to dress the part?  Hire a local stylist!
  • Do you need someone to give you some suggestions on whether to keep or toss items in your closet that you've been hanging on to?  Would you like someone to take it to a consignment store or donation bin for you when it's all over?  Hire a local stylist!
  • Do you hate shopping and/or have no time for it and want to establish a relationship with a person who knows your measurements, sizes, preferences, budget, personality, job, and who can go multiple places to find great additions to your wardrobe?  Hire a local stylist!  (OK, this one sounds like a horn tooter, and it is.  But it's also true.)

I'm sure you're catching my drift.  Even with a detailed questionnaire and a phone call ahead of time, it's hard for someone to understand your needs and preferences from afar.  A local stylist will take time to get to know what you're looking for.  Her proximity will usually allow her to come to your house and spend time with you looking at the things you have.  Any new pieces she suggests or purchases for you will work in the wardrobe you already have.  And perhaps the biggest difference is that a local stylist may determine you don't need to add much of anything to your current wardrobe.  My clients are always shocked by all of the combinations and "new" outfits we create during a Wardrobe Revival.

Having said that, I have recommended, and will continue to recommend online styling services to clients after the Wardrobe Revival.  Once they've gotten a grasp on their personal style, sometimes they are excited to branch out and get a few new pieces, with or without my help.

Finally, I imagine that lots of folks who read fashion blogs are into fashion and feel confident enough in their personal style to enjoy an online service.  It's always fun to find a package at your door, isn't it?!

So, are these two types of services similar?  In my opinion, they are not.  Are they mutually exclusive?  Absolutely not!  Have FUN with fashion!!

Do you agree with my thoughts?  Disagree?  Let me know in the comments.

As a personal stylist in Richmond, VA, I strive to make wardrobe choices clear and easy for women who are short on time, overwhelmed by their closets, or transitioning from one period of life to another.  Let's connect!  

Friday, August 12, 2016


Happy Friday!  If you didn't read my last post, now's the time!  This is Part 2 of a 3-parter about my experience with a couple of online styling services.  My last post was about Stitch Fix, and today I'm going to give you my thoughts about Trunk Club.

Photo via (NOT my box)

A Quick Overview

Trunk Club, which used to be a men's clothing service and was acquired by Nordstrom in 2014, now serves both men and women.  The way they operate is very similar to Stitch Fix.  You complete and online questionnaire, work with one of their personal stylists, receive a box of clothes, keep what you want and return what you don't.   Unlike Stitch Fix, Trunk Club does not charge you a fee, and there is no discount incentive to keep everything they send.  Trunk Club offers clothing from higher-end, contemporary designers that you would see in Nordstrom, such as Joie, Vince, Rebecca Minkoff, and Theory, so their price per item is quite a bit higher than Stitch Fix.  Trunk Club sends you 10 items to try, and you have 10 days to make a decision and send back what you don't want (free shipping and return shipping).

The Questionnaire

The Trunk Club questionnaire was far less detailed than the Stitch Fix questionnaire, which puzzled me at first.  Then I realized that after you answer a few introductory questions, your stylist will actually reach out to you to determine if you'd rather chat on the phone or via email to go into a little more depth.  I chose the email route, mainly because it's hard for me to carry on an uninterrupted conversation this summer with kids at home!  The questions she emailed me asked for much more detail, and most of the questions were open-ended, whereas a good number of the Stitch Fix questions were more "multiple choice."  I did disclose to my stylist that I am a personal stylist, and I wonder if that had any effect on what she chose to send.  I guess I could just ask her;)

My Trunk

The very day that we returned from the beach, I received an email from my stylist with a personal note ("hope you had fun at the beach") and a preview of what would be in my trunk.  There were descriptions and pictures, and I had the opportunity to say "yea" or "nay" to all of it.  I nixed 5 of the 10 items in the preview--a couple of things because they didn't appeal to me and a couple more because I had similar pieces in my wardrobe.  I totally understand why they do the preview, but honestly, I would rather skip that step and just be surprised.  Having said that, when the trunk arrived, my stylist had replaced those 5 nixed pieces with 5 more!  Surprise!!  And once I received my trunk, I received an email with some styling suggestions.  I prefer the cards that Stitch Fix sends, but I love that they give you a little help!  Here's what I got:

Vince Camuto Pants, Splendid Tank, Topshop Blazer, Corso Como Pumps (and my son)

I really do like how this all looks together, but I have black pumps, cropped black pants (yes, even ones with a flared leg), a couple of black blazers (yes, even a long one--though not this long), and a black tank.

Corso Como Pumps

These are lovely, but a little boring for my non-coporate lifestyle.  I already have a pair of pointy black pumps that I can dress up for a cocktail party or wear with jeans out to dinner, which are really the only times I would wear them.

Vince Tank

Vince Tank

I LOOOVE this top.  I like the shape, the slits on the side (which you can't see), and the neckline.  It fit like a dream; however, it was really sheer and required a camisole and, more deal-breakingly, it cost nearly $200...for a white tank top.

Rebecca Minkoff Bag

This bag is perfect.  I love the size, the sturdy shoulder strap, the lack of hardware, and the addition of the fun tassels.  But guess what?!?  I already have a basic black bag.  Can't justify $300 for another.

Equipment/Kate Moss Oversize Blouse

Equipment/Kate Moss Oversize Blouse

This animal print is really fun, especially with the addition of the polka dot bow!  You can remove the bow altogether, too, if you're not feeling it.  It's intended to be oversize, but it overwhelmed me a bit, even with very skinny pants.

Rails Button-down

Rails top styled with my own skirt.   

Meh...I have better.

Cupcakes and Cashmere Top

I love the pattern and the neckline!  It's adorable now and would go right into fall with the addition of a sweater or jacket.  It's weirdly cropped in front, with an elastic seam around the bottom.  As long as I'm not raising my arms, I'm not showing skin.

Stan Smith Sneakers

These are cute and uber-trendy.  But I think we can all agree that I'm too old, not cool enough, and my feet are too big.  I need to stick with a darker color for casual sneaks.  Maybe I need some black Converse.  I saw some at Marshall's yesterday!

Price List

The Verdict

Back it all went.  I blame part of this on myself.  I'm a shopper!  My stylist had no way of knowing how much of this mimics what I already own.  I did tell her that I like to keep things classic, but I also told her that I like to add some edge and trend to my outfits.  Many of these pieces are so basic that either they border on boring, or I would assume most people (especially personal stylists) already have similar items in their closets.  The rest just wasn't enticing enough for the cost.  Whereas with Stitch Fix I had to carefully consider what I might keep and whether or not I'd regret returning the rest, there was no question I would ship all 10 of these items back.  

My Takeaways

1.  Just like I said about my Stitch Fix experience, this was fun!!
2.  Just like I said about my Stitch Fix experience, I love the anticipating of getting new clothes shipped to my house.  Or really any mail, for that matter!
3.  Again, the style questionnaire and follow-up questions were gathering great information, but it could be hard for their target audience to be able to explain their personal style preferences in writing.
4.  I am familiar with all of the brands that were sent in this shipment, and I generally like their respective aesthetics, but even if I had a completely empty closet, it would have been hard for me to stomach paying full price for most of these items.
5.  I probably should have been a little more specific about what I was looking for, which might have bridged the gap between "totally age appropriate" and "way too trendy."
6.  I haven't decided if I'll try it again.  I think I'll get in touch with my stylist to discuss it.

Have you tried Trunk Club?  What did you think?  Let me know in the comments below, and stay tuned for Part 3 of this discussion, when I give you my take on the differences between using an online stylist service and hiring a local stylist (and possibly how they could be used in tandem.)