Making the most of your wardrobe
Posted on April 17, 2017
If you have a closet full of clothes like I do, yet nothing to wear, it could be time for some professional help: a wardrobe stylist who specializes in “closet therapy.” Mahjuba Levine works with dozens of clients, from CEOs to stay-at-home moms, helping them develop their own unique style while saving time and money.
The process begins with an extensive questionnaire that goes well beyond dress and shoe size. Do I have favorite stores and designers, and why? What troubles me about my closet? Name a celebrity whose style I admire? (Charlize Theron, Cate Blanchett, yes; but Beyoncé, I am not.). Levine asks me to set aside any clothing that has sentimental value, such as my wedding dress and my mother-in-law’s fur coat.
Levine arrives at my home, dressed in chic-yet-comfortable jeans, a sweater, and mid-heel Pradas, and armed with a notebook and clothing rack. “Sometimes, the more you have, the less you have to wear,” she says after surveying my overstuffed closet. “It just becomes overwhelming to coordinate outfits.” Organize by color and category, she advises, to help you dress more quickly and shop more efficiently.
She quickly sizes up my body type — an inverted triangle — which means I’m bigger on top, smaller on the bottom. I need to avoid the “snow cone effect” by balancing the two; for example, adding a chunkier shoe when wearing skinny jeans. “You really have to shop for your body type first,” she says. “Fashion is second.” For me, that means no shoulder pads or ruffles; V-necks rather than turtlenecks.
And here’s Levine’s primer on pants: Lower pockets can make the derrière look too flat; higher pockets can give a much-needed lift. She laughs at the sequined back pockets on a pair of decades-old jeans. “You can’t wear bling on the butt,” she admonishes. “Bling belongs around your neck, on your ears, and your fingers.” Those jeans are tossed into a bag destined for donation, along with a pair of mid-calf capris. “If you want to age yourself, wear capris,” warns Levine.
She discards clothes that, even of good quality, have long since seen their day. Out goes the fuchsia blazer I wore as a TV anchor, the animal print maxi skirts, the matronly two-piece suit, worn-out workout wear, and all the fashion faux pas.
Levine demonstrates how rolling up the sleeves of a jacket opens a look, tucking in a shirt creates a waistline, pairing a denim jacket (instead of a blazer) with a skirt looks edgier and less conservative. She also shares her “3-Way Rule”: You must be able to style every piece in your closet at least three different ways. But perhaps most important, says Levine, “You shouldn’t suffer for fashion. There are too many options.”
Four hours later, I have three bags full of clothes to donate, and more to consign or take to the tailor.
My husband is ecstatic — he no longer has to hack his way through my side of the closet to get to his. A few days later, Levine sends a shopping list that includes white jeans and a few casual tops. I feel a sense of relief — even elation — now that my closet is organized and uncluttered. Thanks to Levine, I am no longer a closet case. 619.838.7706, mahjuba.com, lovewearinspire.com Andrea Naversen
Photo by Becca Batista