As I take it a little easy this summer, I’m sharing a few “Lessons from Linda” to help you look at your wardrobe in a new light!
This week, I share the story of a Linda who loved a good deal, but didn’t realize how much it was costing her in time, stress, and yes, even money. From this Linda, you can learn when a good deal really isn’t, and why free clothes can be costly!
If you find yourself drowning in clothes like this week’s Linda, do yourself a favor and get the Ultimate Closet Makeover. It will help you cut through the clutter, uncover the gems I know are in there and make it easy to create a style you love.
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Read the Full Transcript Below:
Hey Style Sisters! Welcome back to the Everyday Style School Podcast! Whether you are on a walk, folding laundry, or driving to work, thanks for listening and sharing your day with me.
Today, we’ve got a short and sweet episode for you, and you’re actually going to hear a few of these short and sweet Lessons from Linda episodes this summer. I am doing this new thing called “taking it easy” and enjoying the summer with my kids. I didn’t want to take a 2-month break altogether, so over the course of the summer, I’m going to be sharing some interviews with you that I hope you love, and some of these Lessons from Linda, which I know you love.
If you’re new, Lessons from Linda is when I share my stories of actual clients I’ve worked with, whether in person or online–or conversations I’ve had–anything style-related that has lessons you can use to make style easier and more fun for yourself.
You might be asking yourself, who the heck is Linda, and I don’t think we’ve talked about that for awhile, so let me fill you in if you’re confused. Linda is the name I use to protect the innocent. “Linda” means “pretty” in Spanish, and I think all of my clients, and all of you, are beautiful women, so there’s that. But it’s also an homage to the woman who gave me the kick in the pants to start my business. After I gave a talk to a mom’s group on dressing your body shape, Linda asked me if I would go shopping with her or help her in her closet. I’d been asked that quite often over the years, but something about the way Linda asked hit different for me, and I realized that people weren’t asking to feed my ego, they were asking because they were struggling and they wanted help. The lightbulb went off, and I started my business the next weekend. So, thank you to the OG Linda–and all my Lindas.
Alright, let’s get into it.
Today’s Linda called me, as so many do, because they have a closet full of clothes, and was overwhelmed by it. I could tell right away that this Linda was going to be a memorable one. I’ve never had someone work so hard to get a deal on my services. First, she asked if I had any coupons available. I didn’t. Next, she asked if she scheduled an appointment when I was already in her area if I could reduce the rate. I couldn’t. Then she asked if she could split it with a friend—we all know how I feel about that. She asked if she could just do half the session..again, no.
It wasn’t looking good, but way back in the day, when I had a cancellation or a weird opening on my calendar, I’d throw it out on social media as a last-minute hot deal. She waited months for one of those to come up and then used half of a vacation day to save about $50. And you know what? No shame–I’m all about saving money. But assuming her hourly rate at her job was more than $12.50, she took more in vacation hours than she saved. This was the first clue.
Anyway, I arrived at Linda’s house and got set up, and we started talking about what she was struggling with. She told me that she wanted a much more minimalist wardrobe–she felt like she was drowning in clothes, and objectively, she had a ton of stuff. So I asked about her shopping habits. Sometimes, people with overstuffed closets have a shopping issue that needs to be dealt with first–you’ll never get out from under Wardrobe Mountain if you don’t stop adding things, right?
But she said, “oh, I hardly ever buy anything. I hate spending money on clothes, people just give me things”. She said all of her friends and family know that she doesn’t like to buy clothes, so when they cleaned out their own wardrobes, they would deliver bags of stuff right to her front door. She was like their own personal Goodwill drop-off location
We talked a little bit more about that, and then she said she did sometimes buy clothes, but only on the clearance racks. She told me she couldn’t understand people who pay full price for things, because if you wait until they’re out of season, you can get things really cheap. She had a $15 dollar limit for new clothes, shoes she’d go up to $30-40.
With clients like this, you can’t just say “Well, stop taking hand me downs from your friends, and build your wardrobe like an adult” because where she was, and where she thought she wanted to be were so far apart. That advice, even though it’s accurate, would have fallen on deaf ears. She wanted this effortless, minimal, easy to manage wardrobe, but those are based on intention, and being picky about every single piece. We weren’t there. We weren’t even close. Most clients could see where they wanted to be, and I could help them change the one or two things that would help them get there, but this was not that.
So, I did what I do, and I started asking questions. What do you like? What is your style? Show me your favorite outfit. Do you struggle to get dressed most days? If you were invited to a nice dinner tonight, what would you wear? Show me the 10 pieces in your closet you value most. Stuff like that.
Linda’s Light-Bulb Moment
As we talked, I could tell she was starting to get it. That it wasn’t necessarily that she was drowning in clothes–although that was also true. It was because she had no control over her wardrobe. And even though all of these things were free, or darn near free, they were actually making her life more difficult. Yes, she was saving money, but she was losing time, and getting dressed was really, really stressful.
At one point, I had her pull out some items she loved, so we could make some outfits. This was interesting to me because all the things she loved were things she’d purchased. They didn’t randomly appear at her doorstep–so even though she had her $15 dollar limit on them, she purchased things she liked. I pointed this out to her and she said she’d never thought about liking clothes or not–she just wore things that were there. I asked if she wore the things she said were her favorites and she said no because she had nothing to go with them. Most of them still had tags on them.
I asked her if she liked those pieces enough to invest more to be able to wear them–and not $15 clearance deals–actual clothing pieces purchased with intention, with price not the determining factor. She really struggled with that one. Finally, I was like “Listen, you will never make a cohesive wardrobe from hand-me-downs and clearance racks. You just won’t. your friends aren’t handing you basics in great shape that will tie everything together, and those items don’t end up on clearance racks either.
Things on clearance racks are often out there colors, patterns that didn’t go over well–and items that aren’t staples in your wardrobe” I said “eventually you have to put some black pants and basic tops in this closet, regardless of how much they cost” that one kind of hit her. I could see the light bulb go off–if she only had some of these things to tie everything together, so much of what she did have would be more useable. She wasn’t totally ready to burn down hand-me-down mountain, but we got a step closer in understanding that to have a wardrobe you love, you might have to spend some money on it, and buy with intention.
In the end, we did a few things–we started with the pieces she loved as her wardrobe foundation and created a list of basics that she could purchase to make them wearable, and would also make a lot of the hand-me-downs in her closet usable too. Then we tried to minimize her closet a little. Unsurprisingly, her mother, mother-in-law, 2 sisters, and 10 friends weren’t all the same size as she was, so she had a ton of simply unwearable clothing. She was around a size 10 or 12, but had everything from 4’s to 16s in her closet. We didn’t have time to try everything, so we just got rid of the most obvious offenders. I left her to try on everything from 8’s to 14’s on her own. That right there got rid of 30% of her wardrobe. Finally, I asked her just to pull out everything she simply did not like and would never ever wear. That got rid of another 20 percent.
When I left, I felt like she could breathe a little easier–and had a plan to get closer to the wardrobe she wanted. She promised to stop taking hand-me downs from friends and family, and I really hope she stuck with it. She did send me an email after we worked together, telling me I was “worth every penny”, which I think was pretty high praise indeed.
What You Can Learn from Linda
There are a few things I’d like you to take away from my time with this Linda. This one has a lot of lessons.
First, I know I’ve said it a million times, but you need to pick your priorities, and then take the actions that are going to get you there. Clearly, Linda prioritized saving money. But when she called me, having a minimalist wardrobe was a priority. The actions she was currently taking–like accepting everyone’s cast-offs, and not spending more than $15 were not going to help her get to that minimalist wardrobe. She’d have to come up with a new action plan to get there.
Second, be wary of other people’s cast-offs. I call these things “clothes that happen to you”. In all my years of closets, I never heard “oh, I love this, it’s a hand me down from my mother-in-law”. Best case scenario, they’re things you feel ambivalent about and don’t really want to wear. Worst case scenario, like with Linda, they cloud your vision and make it difficult to see what you really have. You are better off choosing a few things you love to wear than just accepting what other people don’t.
Third, be doubly wary of clearance racks. At least hand-me-downs are free. I can’t tell you how many clearance items with tags on I’ve seen Lindas part with over the years. A $15 dollar skirt you can’t wear, or don’t want to wear, is still a waste of $15. When you’re in the clearance rack, ask yourself if you’d still love it if it was full price, and what you’d wear with it–that currently hangs in your closet. If you wouldn’t love it at full price and you don’t own anything to wear, you’re staring at a bad deal. Put it back.
Fourth, basics, basics, basics. I know the Capsule Guides aren’t full of 35 fun, crazy, trendy pieces. You know why? Because then you couldn’t combine them with as many things, and you couldn’t reuse them season after season, year after year. Into every wardrobe, some basics must fall. If you can’t get dressed, but you have a lot of stuff, I’d be willing to bet my kids’ allowance it’s because you don’t have enough basics. Put your efforts there.
Fifth, and finally, focus on value, not price. I told you I asked Linda what her most valuable clothing items were, right? She couldn’t tell me. Like, she couldn’t even understand the question. She kept saying, well, I paid more for this, so I guess it’s valuable. I kept saying, it’s not about price. What are the things in here that make you feel great, that make it easy to get dressed, that you would miss if something happened to them? She would just stare at me blankly. There are things in my closet I Have paid very little for–but they make me feel great, they make it easy to get dressed, and I would for sure miss them if they were gone–those purchases were good deals. Then I have things I’ve paid a lot for, but they make me feel great, they make it easy to get dressed, and I would miss them if they were gone. Those are good deals too–because those are the pieces that are valuable. Focus on building a valuable wardrobe.
That’s it friends–we’ll be back next week with an interview about finding your purpose in life. I know that sounds like a heavy topic, but I think you’re really going to love our guest’s approach… Don’t forget to head to youreverdaystyle.com and grab your Summer Capsule Guide–i can’t wait to meet you in the Facebook group!
Have a great week everybody and I’ll see you next time!