A Personalized Look for You and Your Closet
written by Heather KW Brown
Volunteering myself for the experience of having my own personal stylist was, I imagine, what other people might feel when they sign up for their very first race — an initial thrill that quickly shifts from confidence to panic, followed by the anxious thought, “What was I thinking?” What started as innocuous curiosity had turned into quite the learning process. Having met and watched Jules Salinas, the creative force behind Styled by Jules, in action during several photo shoots, I knew she could do wonders for my sense of style. The question remained: Was I brave enough to change?
As the pile of discarded clothes grew taller outside my closet door, the smidgen of bravado I mustered to give it a go started to teeter, right along with each tossed T-shirt. Beloved, comfy, memory-laden and nearly threadbare, those shirts were far from high-fashion, but I just couldn’t bring myself to replace them. Salinas, on the other hand, was immune to their appeal and after a brief question-and-answer session to narrow my preferences and lifestyle needs, she diligently dove into my cramped closet. Her mission, in my case, was to assess what was currently hanging in my wardrobe and sensitively educate on why it needed to go as well as what was blatantly missing.
CLOSET CLEAN OUT
A stylist for more than 15 years, both in Orlando and in Atlanta, Salinas is well accustomed to working with clients of all ages, needs and budgets. Her diverse base includes everything from Grammy Award-winning music producers, commercial TV/films and renowned fashion magazines to recent college graduates looking to make lasting impressions and local moms eager to balance daily to-dos both at home and away.
A busy mom and a professional herself, Salinas understands the demands of working women and stay-at-home moms alike, which provided plenty of comfort when it came to turning over my not-so-chic closet to her.
I have never watched the popular “What Not to Wear” TV show, but apparently, I could have been nominated and easily fi t the bill of a makeover-worthy participant. Salinas patiently listened as I described a typical day and then with each item — wide-legged jeans, unflattering peasant top, seam-spun T-shirt — she inspected carefully before gently redirecting.
As she worked her way from one side of the closet to the other, she shared several tips for what to wear, how and when. Part of her advice for the athletic among us is that running shoes and yoga pants, regardless of how much we paid for them, are not the most appropriate alternatives for daily tasks elsewhere. Salinas also reminded me that how you dress — for better or worse — can often speak to others long before the first words are spoken.
FINDING THE RIGHT FIT
I am a mom. I am the editor of a magazine. I am a runner. A mom who jumps rope with her daughter and helps her son practice his basketball drills, usually between assigning articles and making dinner. Aside from the necessary cape, my attire needed a tiny tune-up.
Room for improvement is how I tried to look at it, but at first blush, all I could think was how often I’d worn the items now deemed as ideal donations and whether anything would survive the day.
“Now, this is … interesting,” Salinas said as she pulled a sweater into the light for a better look.
“I bought that in Toronto,” I explained, hoping to salvage one of my favorite items and holding my breath that she might agree. She did.
Curious if I even fit into a style category and if so, which one, I asked the expert. “I would describe your style as ultra casual/ athletic casual,” she said, confirming my taste for funky token pieces around which I mix staples such as jeans.
While some stylists might try to change clients to fit the current mold, Salinas blends people’s personality with their needs and styles that are most appropriate for who they are. Focusing on small improvements that are a step in the right direction, she helps to answer the question. “What message do you want to send?”
For all clients, she offers the opportunity to shop with her as she selects cuts, colors, fabrics and flattering options that will better suit them or she will shop solo. In hopes of furthering my coaching, I chose to tag along while she scoured several stores in search of updating my look. Not only was the empty space in my closet liberating, refilling it was beyond rewarding.
For a girl who chooses comfort over trendy, the insight of a professional as encouraging and talented as Salinas was invaluable. Of course, it will take some time before I reach for skirts and dresses to don for anything other than specific events, but at least I’ve swapped my running shirts for significantly more sophisticated options. And to ensure that I don’t even consider reverting back to my old ways, Salinas encourages clients to text snapshots of possible purchases to her as well as share Pinterest boards to confirm how to pair and layer wisely.
Now that I have a new look, it was time for my closet to have the same.
ROOM FOR IMPROVEMENT
Like my clothes, my closet was in dire need of change. What better time to revamp than right after it’s been gutted, right?
On cue, a Commercial and Residential Design Specialist from Marietta-based Artisan Custom Closets arrived with a canvas bag full of creative choices to peruse. While I flipped through the various types of materials ranging from basic white to textured finishes, Shaker or raised panels, Teresa Safranek measured my closet from wall to wall. For all that I was lacking in vogue variety, I now found myself lacking in space. Unaffected, Safranek said, “I can turn any closet from ordinary to extraordinary. We can keep it simple or make it look like a boutique.”
While I could dream of a closet big enough to add an island, my main focus was to minimize the wasted space and maximize the functionality of my current wardrobe. Days later, a 2-D rendering appeared in my inbox complete with descriptions such as: Wall A has your shoe shelves with a mirror door; Wall B will now hold all of your folded clothes.
“This will also give you a feeling of a larger closet since your upper body will not be challenged by shirt sleeves reaching out to grab you,” Safranek said, continuing with “Wall C is all double hang and Wall D is your long dress hang with a few shelves above for purses.”
Safranek, who was recently the guest speaker at the local National Association of Professional Organizers (NAPO) monthly meeting in Sandy Springs, provided several suggestions for structuring every closet.
“Organize by sleeve length first, not color. Start with the tops that are ‘inside the hanger’ (no sleeves), which includes camisoles, tank tops and sleeveless, then work your way down the arm to short sleeve, three-fourths length and long sleeve,” she said. She left me with the tip, “The biggest benefit [of reorganizing your closet] is there’s a place for everything and everything has its place.”
My own closet, not yet an award-winning one, is however much roomier and has become a happy little haven of well-organized stylishness.
Artisan Custom Closets Advice
shared by Teresa Safranek
- After organizing sleeve length, organize by color. Either light to dark, or, ROYGBIV (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet) with neutrals at either end.
- Placement is also critical. All “inside the hanger” shirts should always be at the top. They only hang out 18 inches into the aisle, whereas sleeves hang out 21 to 24 inches. This creates a neater look with the flush sides of the garment and more aisle space.
- Pants that are hung over the hanger should also be placed at the top. We usually put them on the bottom because that is where we wear them, but it is so much easier to see them at the top. This also creates a cleaner look and makes the aisle space wider at shoulder level.
- Organize pants by style – dressy, casual and jeans.
- Organize by color after you organize by style.
- Organize dresses always by hem length. Go from the shortest to the longest, which creates a triangle where you can store more items if necessary.
- Shoes are best stored on flat shelves to maximize space. You can store them with toes to the front and heels to the back.
- If you need another inch or so, try placing the shoes with one facing front and one facing heel. You gain a little space doing this.
- Flip-flops and sandals can invert on top of each other, then turn on their sides and sandwich them all the way down the shelves. You can easily get 20 pair on a shelf.
- Do not buy shoe cubes or shoe cubbies. They are too small to hold a pair of adult shoes.
- Purses are not meant to hang on hooks in the closet. They are best stored on flat shelves. To keep their shape, try stuffing with acid free tissue paper. You can also use shelf dividers to keep them from falling over.
California Closet Tips
shared by Carolyn Musher
- Ceiling lighting is important for illuminating the whole space, but you’ll want to include other types as well to really get that showcase look. Closet lighting within your shelves and lights that are strategically placed to highlight specific items will create a stunning display.
- Be sure to dedicate space for your non-showcase items that allows them to remain organized, yet out of sight. For instance, flip-flops and sneakers can be stowed in baskets, while workout clothes can be neatly folded in drawers.
- What you hang your clothing on makes a huge difference when it comes to creating that boutique look in a closet. Be sure that all of your hangers match and your clothing is all hung facing the same direction. Also, always take the plastic off of your dry-cleaned items before putting them back into your closet.