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Hello, gorgeous. Welcome back to the Everyday Style School, the podcast that gives real lifestyle advice to real-life women. If you’re new here, welcome. I’m your host, Jennifer Mackay, Mary. I’m a wardrobe stylist who has been dressing everyday women for over 20 years. And I’m the founder of everyday style, where we are on a mission to inspire women to love the way they look and give you the tools to make getting dressed easy. If you’re a longtime listener, welcome back. I’m glad we’re together again. If you’ve listened to the show, more than like twice, you’ve probably heard me talk about being intentional. For example, getting dressed with intention, rather than just throwing on clothes, being intentional with your style, really thinking about how you want to look so that you buy the right things and put it together in a way that gives you the results you want. So you can look the way you want to look. intentionality is getting away from this idea. That style should just be easy or effortless. And being honest about the fact that it does, in fact, take a little thought and a little planning and, dare I say maybe even a little effort. But there’s another aspect of style where intentionality is super important. And one we often don’t think a lot about, and that’s wardrobe building. Have you ever thought about the process you use to actually get clothes into your closet? How do they show up? They’re probably not you probably haven’t given it a lot of thought. For a lot of people, it just happened you just buy stuff. Or more likely you have a natural wardrobe building approach. But you’ve never really given it a ton of thought or a name. And you probably haven’t deeply examined whether it’s the right approach for you or not. And if that’s true for you, that’s okay. It’s not your job to think deeply about clothing. That’s my job. So today, I’m going to break down two very common approaches to wardrobe building. Spoiler alert, there is no one best right only way. Anyone who tells you different is lying and probably wants to sell you a system. But while there is no one best way, each approach has its pros and cons, which I’ll talk about, as well as times where one is a better strategy than the other. But before we get into all that, let’s quickly define what a wardrobe is. And I’ve got two things I want you to keep in mind. First, and you’ve heard me say this before, your wardrobe is not all the clothes you own. Your wardrobe is all the clothes you can and do wear. A full closet does not necessarily equate to a big wardrobe. I’m reminded of a client I worked with who had gone from being a young single woman in a band to being a mom and a business owner who could no longer wear red leather corsets to work. She called me because she was struggling to get dressed. And she couldn’t understand it because she had quote unquote, so many clothes. I always ask my clients, how ruthless Do you want me to be? How How? How much are we just tearing apart this closet? And she asked me to be completely ruthless. And y’all I decimated her closet like there was nothing left in it. It was sad. And she looked at this discard pile on her floor. And I could see the stunned, panicked, what am I going to wear now look on her face. And I said to her, you don’t have any less to wear than when I got here. All we did was take out the clothes that weren’t a part of her wardrobe, which allowed us to see what she really had with clear eyes. Turns out she didn’t have anything. So today as we’re talking about this, I want you to think about it in terms of building a wardrobe, buying clothes to build a wardrobe, ending up with clothes you can and actually do where instead of just filling your closet, too many of us are filling our closets instead of building wardrobes. The second thing I want you to remember is that a wardrobe is more like a dinner party than an airplane ride. Let me explain. When you get on a plane, it’s full of people, right? There’s no like, Oh, I got a row to myself anymore. Nope, it’s packed. But does everyone know each other? No, maybe a family is traveling together or there’s a group of friends on a girls trip. But for the most part, everyone on the plane is doing their own thing. They’ve got their headphones in they’re not communicating each other Every one is sort of in their own world. And if this is an analogy for your closet, the families and the friends, those are outfits, right? Those are things that pair well together, they talk to each other. But they’re the exception to all the individual pieces that don’t really work with anything else. It’s just a container full of random individual pieces. A dinner party, on the other hand, is full of people who are connected in some way, or through someone like the host, in your closet. The host is your style, that’s the connection. And while there could be people you don’t know what a dinner party or maybe even someone you’d rather not sit next to, there are a lot more connections and a lot more intermingling. There are more outfits to be made, rather than just those one off random pieces that don’t talk to each other. The next time you get dressed, look at your closet, and ask yourself what percentage of the clothes in your closet are actually a part of your wardrobe? And then ask yourself, are your clothes on a plane ride? Or are they at a dinner party, the goal should be to have a dinner party in your closet made up of clothes, you actually can and actually do wear in your real life. Now that we’ve covered what a wardrobe is, let’s talk about two wardrobe building strategies. Hunting and gathering. I know you know what they mean. But let’s define it more job terms. Hunting is having a list. It’s having a plan. You intentionally shop, whether it’s online or physically going into stores, you’re doing it on purpose. You’re focused on what you need or what you want. You’re not just browsing, shopping is sort of a means to an end, you do it and then you’re done. The best example I can give of this approach is capsule wardrobe building. Most capsule creators, us included recommend collecting all the pieces for your capsule at the beginning of the season. And then being done. That way you have a whole wardrobe to wear for the entire season. However, capsules aren’t the only way to hunt for your wardrobe. I remember a woman I worked with at one of my earliest corporate jobs, her mom would fly up twice a year and take her shopping. I know that would have been lovely. But they would do spring and fall shopping and then supplement a little in the other seasons. But she would get everything she needed for the season in one day. And then she would not step foot in a store for three months. She wasn’t capsule Lee, but she was definitely a hunter. The point of hunting, whatever style of wardrobe you end up with, is that it is a targeted event with a purpose. And then for the most part it is done. Gathering on the other hand is the opposite. It doesn’t really end gathering is strolling through little boutiques or browsing the clearance racks. It can be seeing an influencer on social media where something that you love or an Instagram ad or an email that your favorite brand is having a sale. You never really know what you’re looking for. But you know, he’ll know it when you see it. You just want to find pieces that catch your eye and you’re willing to take it slow to fill your closet with good things gatherers shot more often, but buy less each time. When it comes to shopping. Most of us are gatherers. But a good example if you need one would be Stitch Fix. Every month or so a box of fun stuff shows up at your door, maybe a keep it maybe I don’t it’s all part of the process. Gathering doesn’t have a clear beginning or a clear end, this type of wardrobe building again, it’s ongoing. So now that you know exactly what they are, let’s talk about the pros and cons of each. For the most part, the pros of one or the cons of the other. So I’m just gonna sort of talk about it all together, you’re smart enough to figure it out. When it comes to hunting, one of the biggest pros is the time it saves. I often say that waste no matter how small adds up. And a lot of time is wasted when you’re constantly shopping, or gathering. I found an article that said women spent 49 hours per year window shopping. That’s like more than a week of work. The article was old. So I thought well, maybe it’s changed with the rise of online shopping. But no, I actually think that’s just made it worse. I found a Reddit thread. And women were talking about how much time they spent looking at clothes each day. Most of them said they spent 30 minutes a day or more looking at clothes. And while Reddit is not scientific. I don’t think it’s a totally crazy estimation. You know you get an email. Oh look, they’re having a sale you go you know you check it out. Even if you don’t buy anything, you’ve probably spent 15 minutes right there. I also found a UK study that found women spent more time shopping for clothes each week than they do socialising with friends. Hunting eliminates the time spent just browsing when your favorite store sends you an email. It eliminates the 10 minutes spent wandering To the target women’s department, all of those little things add up. Yes, hunting takes more time per shopping session. But eliminating all the minutes spent casually browsing adds up to hours saved.
Another point in the hunting pro column is the money it saves. When you buy more at one time, but shop less often, you have a greater awareness of how much you’re spending. It’s not a $20 top here, a clearance skirt there. Oh, look at that cute t shirt all by three. All of those things. Again, no matter how little they cost, they all add up. I’ve often found that gatherers don’t feel like they can afford to invest in better pieces for their wardrobes. But if you add up all the little purchases along the way that you didn’t wear enough to really get the value out of you probably have been able to buy a few more real investment pieces that would last a longer time. Now, on the other hand, hunting requires more money at one time, which can be really challenging, especially if you’re trying to uplevel your wardrobe and buy more of those investment pieces. When you get in the habit of seasonal shopping or seasonal hunting. Budgeting does get easier, but it can be really challenging to switch from spending less more often, to spending more less frequently. Those first few seasons of hunting versus gathering can be really, really tough. Another pro for hunting is the natural wardrobe cohesiveness that this approach gives you. I know this might come as a shock, but it’s way easier to put outfits together when you actually buy outfits. I know crazy but true. I promise it’s true. Even if you’re not buying the outfit straight off the mannequin, like a lot of my clients used to do. When you buy everything together, there’s probably a more defined color palette and you can see in the moment, how you can wear the things you buy rather than adding a skirt that super cute but doesn’t really go with anything you want. Those are just a few of the benefits of hunting and based on the fact that hunting saves you time and money and results in a more close and wardrobe. You might think that I am solidly on the side of hunting. But there are a couple of key areas where gathering is a superior strategy. Let’s talk about those. First, it allows you to be choosier. I remember shopping with a client years ago, when curved hem tops rounded hem tops, you remember those, they were all the rage. It was like the only option out there. And on the day that we went shopping, that’s all we could find. And she hated curved hem tops. So she was just kind of out of luck I guess. Obviously a shopping trip with me is a hunting expedition like we we have a time limit, we have a list, we’re going to check it off. But if the source don’t have what you want, or what you need, when you decide to go hunting, you can come home empty handed gathering allows you to take your time and wait out a season or two when styles simply don’t resonate with you, hunting can feel a little bit more high pressure. The other big pro for her gathering is that it encourages a more unique, stylish wardrobe. Hunting leads to a cohesive wardrobe. Absolutely. But that’s often tempered by a lot of practicality and utility, which frankly can make your wardrobe a little bit boring if you’re not careful. Gathering by nature means you’re collecting pieces you love which if you’ve gotten clarity on what your style is or what you want it to be mean, you’re going to end up with a wardrobe that reflects that. I’ll never forget a client we will call her Linda as we always do, who described her style as Linda style. She was a gatherer through and through. Now the challenge being obviously that a wardrobe stylist who only has three hours with you can’t gather enough in that time to really help your wardrobe in a meaningful way. It was it was a very frustrating trip. But I asked her to describe Linda style to me and she said, I don’t know how to describe it, but I’ll know it when I see it. Yes, definitely one of my more challenging shopping experiences, because I was on a mission to help make her wardrobe more functional. And she just wanted to wander the stores in search of Linda style, which I still could not describe to you to this day. When she found those things when she found the Linda style things. They were admittedly wonderful and stylish and totally her and they were nothing I would have or could have chosen with my hunting approach. Obviously, both wardrobe building strategies have their pluses and their minuses. And like I said from the beginning one isn’t the right answer. The trick is knowing when to use each one. So let’s wrap this up with a couple of scenarios where you should hunt and a couple where you should gather First of all, first things first, until you have your basics nailed, you need to be a hunter. Let me say it again, until you have your basics nailed, you need to be a hunter. Here’s why. Nobody goes gathering and ends up with an expensive pair of basic pants that go with everything and make your butt look amazing. That just doesn’t happen. It’s not what we’re looking for when we’re gathering. This is why Stitch Fix is such a huge waste of money for a lot of people. They’ll send you a cute top or a cute jacket. And you keep it because it’s cute and you’re like oh, it’s so fun in different than you know, it’s nothing like I own but your jeans don’t fit right or you don’t have that perfect pair of pants that goes with everything. So you either can’t wear it or you wear it you wonder why your look isn’t coming together. Basics need to be acquired on a hunting expedition. You need to be on the lookout for the perfect layering pieces, jeans, you know black or brown, whatever your neutral is pants, all of those things. Those have to be bought with intention. And for me, this is a do not pass go do not collect $200 situation. Once you have great wardrobe building blocks, you can buy that Linda style top and you know you’ll be able to wear it. Another time you have to be a hunter is when you’ve gone through a transition and have very little to wear. I know that sounds like a captain obvious statement. But a lot of women don’t really understand that they’re struggling to get dressed because they literally don’t have anything to wear. Thinking back to the client I shared earlier, whose closet I took down to absolutely nothing. She couldn’t have rebuilt her wardrobe slowly over time, because she would have struggled daily until she had enough to wear and that would have been a long, long time. So we had to hit the stores, we had to buy a few pair of pants, a few pair jeans, couple skirts, dresses, couple of tops, basically a mini starter wardrobe that she could build on. When you truly have nothing to wear, you need to go hunting just to stop the daily struggle. Now on the other hand, when you’re looking to infuse more of your personality and style into your wardrobe, you should gather, it’s really hard to find unique, special, totally you pieces on purpose. Often when women feel like they need more style in their wardrobes and they go hunting, they end up with colors and prints that aren’t really them or pieces they never end up wearing. It’s like they find things that should feel special, not things that are special, those special things, those unique things, those totally you things they have to be gathered. The other time I think gathering is a better approach is when you’ve got a difficult body to dress, whether you’ve got fit challenges or your shape doesn’t align with the styles that are most popular in stores right now, you’ve got to be on the lookout for things that will work more often. There’s a neckline I love and when I find it, I buy it. Same with a certain shade of blue. If I find it, I buy it. And I’ve always got my eyes peeled whether it’s, you know, the store sales emails, or when I’m walking through Target, I don’t care. I know that my shape and my coloring aren’t the easiest to find perfect things for. And if I want a wardrobe that’s as good as it can be, I can expect to knock out my shopping in one trip to the mall. It’s going to take a little bit more time. Okay, the last thing I want to leave you with today is my personal hunting and gathering strategy. And if this works for you, awesome. What works best for me is doing a little bit of both, you could say that I’m a gathering Hunter. What that means for me is that I’m always aware of what I have and what I need. For example, I went through my closet a couple of weeks ago, and I know I have enough shorts for summer. But I’m always on the lookout for casual tops that look good on camera, and tops that feel a little bit special. So when I go out with my husband for date night, I don’t feel like I’m going to work. So when I’m at stores or browsing online, I know what I’m looking for. It keeps me on track, I don’t have to go to the shorts, I don’t have to go to the dresses. I’m just looking for those tops. It’s not as targeted as pure hunting, but it’s not as chaotic as pure gathering. It’s a little from Column A, a little from Column B and it gives me the freedom to take my time. Find pieces I really love, but also make sure that my wardrobe stays cohesive and functional. All right, there you have it, my friends, the differences between hunting and gathering some of the pros and cons of each and when to use them. I hope this episode encourages you to be thoughtful about how close get into your closet so you can end up with a wardrobe that is as fabulous and functional as you are. Hey, if you are enjoying the show, will you do me a big favor and subscribe or follow on whatever platform you like best. That way you will never miss an episode. And it helps other women find the everyday style school so they can feel fabulous too. I so appreciate it and I so appreciate you. That’s all I have. I will see you next time. And until then remember your everyday matters. So get dressed for it.
And that’s a wrap. Thank you for listening today. If you love the Everyday Style School podcast, I’d like to invite you to become a member of the style circle. It’s our monthly all access membership that gives you everything we create to make style easy, so you can save time and money have easier mornings and more confidence all day long. You get our seasonal capsule wardrobe guides, all of the masterclasses we offer and our exclusive members only podcast, the everyday styles will extra credit. Plus, you’re invited to the Facebook community where you can get even more style support and inspiration. I would love to get to know you and support your style journey. It’s just $19 a month, less than the cost of a clearance shirt you’re never going to wear. Come join me and make your everyday style easier.

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