In this episode, we 5 things your kitchen and your closet have in common!

When I’m speaking to big groups, I always end up using analogies to make my points. Most of the time, I share a story about cooking, or grocery shopping to make my point about style–and those examples help the idea stick.

So in today’s episode, I’m sharing 5 things your kitchen and your closet have in common. From going to the grocery store without a list, to serving spaghetti more often than you’d like, you might be surprised at what you can learn about style from your grocery habits!

In Lessons from Linda, I’m sharing the reason one Linda couldn’t part with anything. In this weeks Vocabulary segment, we’re talking all about Caftans, and in Philosophy, I encourage you to look at your closet in a whole new way.

Your homework this week is to plan your outfits for 5 days this week. If planning makes meal times easier, it will make mornings easier too!

Links & Resources from the Episode:

Read about the history of Caftans in this Vogue article.

Caftans we’re loving this summer:

This week’s Philosophy Lesson:

Interested in becoming a Certified Stylist in the Everyday Style Network? Fill out the interest form to get started!

Download the 100 Wardrobe Essentials Checklist!

*This post may contain affiliate links, which means that I may receive, at no cost to you, a small commission from purchases made through links we provide. 

Listen to the Episode Now:

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Read the full episode transcript below! 

Hey there! Welcome back to the Everyday Style School podcast where we believe style can be easy, and getting dressed should be fun! I’m your host, Jennifer Mackey-Mary, and today, we’ve got a fun episode. 

I love to use analogies when I’m speaking, and somehow, I always end up comparing clothes shopping and getting dressed to grocery shopping and making dinner. There are a lot of really relatable similarities between the two, and today, we’re going to touch on five of them. You might think your cooking habits and your wardrobe habits have nothing to do with each other, but I bet you’ll be surprised. 

Today In Lessons from Linda, I’m sharing the story of a Linda who couldn’t part with anything, but her reasons had nothing to do with the usual I’m going to fit in those jeans again, or I paid good money for those shoes–it was something else entirely.. 

In Vocabulary, we’re talking about one of summer’s trendiest items–the Caftan.

In Philosophy, I’m quoting myself. Stay tuned!

Before we get started, your homework from the last full episode was to clean out the swimsuits you no longer wear, assess the ones you do, and, if you need an upgrade, start doing some shopping. Let me know how it went. Head to our post on Facebook and tell us about it. You can find us by searching Everyday Style with Jen, or through the link in the shownotes. 

All right, let’s kick things off, with Lessons from Linda.

Today’s Linda came to me in a completely unremarkable fashion. The usual. Mom whose kids were getting older, ready to reclaim her body, her style and her sense of self. Shout out to you ladies, you’re like my favorite person on the planet.

On the pre-service questionnaire, like I’ve said before, there’s always a word that keeps getting repeated, or a theme that keeps coming up, and in this case, it was “overwhelmed”. She was overwhelmed trying to get dressed every morning. She was overwhelmed by stores and malls. Linda was overwhelmed. Now, I have to say, overwhelmed is a word I hear from a lot of moms, so that wasn’t out of the ordinary, but Linda’s overwhelm was coming off that page and felt heavy to me, so I can only imagine how it felt to her, you know?

Anyway, I got to Linda’s house, got my clothing rack set up, and said, Ok, let’s pull out all the bottoms. She went in her closet and came back with pants and skirts on hangers, She pulled folded jeans out of her dresser, and then said, hang on, I’ll be right back. She went to another room and brought back more jeans and skirts. I said “is this everything” and she said “oh wait, no…and went into her husbands closet and pulled things out”. 

Now, I know you think you know where this is going. Linda was overwhelmed because she had too many clothes, and they were scattered around the house, and I get that you’re a pro after listening to the show for a year, but that’s not the interesting part. The interesting part is why Linda had so many dang clothes.

Once we had all the bottoms together, I said, ok, let’s start trying. She said, let me separate out the things I don’t wear.  And again, you’re like A-HA! I’ve cracked the Linda case, and you’re right, but we still need to dig deeper. I grabbed the first pair of jeans that went into the I don’t wear those pile and they were nothing special. Not perfect condition, premium denim. Not irreplaceable jeans that her mother wore to woodstock so I said, hey linda–why are we keeping these? And she said, I wore those the night I met my husband. I was like, awww, that’s sweet.  A skirt  “I wore that for my engagement pictures”…ok, that’s cute.  Another pair of jeans “I was wearing those when I found out I was pregnant”. Allright, that’s enough. Keep the stick you peed on if you have to, but why do you need to keep the jeans you were wearing that day. 

It went on and on like that for a couple of hours, and it turns out that Linda’s closet, and her husbands closet, and the guest bedroom closet weren’t places to store her overwhelming wardrobe, they were places to store her memories. They were scrapbooks that had come to life. Where most people would keep the picture of themselves at a friend’s baby shower, Linda kept the dress. 

Linda was someone for whom clothes had a very strong sentimental and emotional attachment. I’m not that way, but I don’t judge it. Some people are just built like that. However, when your past, even your happy past, is making your present harder and more overwhelming, things gotta change.

She really was struggling to part with things, so on our first visit, all we did was categorize memories. We separated things into tiers–tier one being, this was a momentous occasion in my life, and what I was wearing that day was important, tier two being this was a big deal in my life, but what I was wearing wasn’t significant. And tier three was, this was really someone else’s day, what I wore wasn’t actually important. 

The dress she wore for her engagement party was a tier one. The blouse she wore for her first day of work after college was a tier two. The dress she wore to her friends baby shower was a tier 3. By the end of our session, she was convinced to get rid of tier threes, box up tier 2’s and move tier 1’s to a different closet. Once we did that, the remaining clothes weren’t that overwhelming, and on our next session, we went through her wardrobe, organized it, and Linda lived happily ever after. I love a story with a good ending. 

There are two things I want you to take away from my time with this Linda.

  1. First, your wardrobe is not all the clothes you own. Your wardrobe is all the clothes you actually can, and do, wear. Linda thought she was overwhelmed by her wardrobe, but she wasn’t. Her wardrobe was actually pretty average in size. Linda was overwhelmed by her closet and her disorganization, yes. But she was really overwhelmed by her memories masquerading as part of her wardrobe. The only thing that you should be able to see in your closet or in your drawers are the things you can actually wear. Everything else should be in bins or boxes, or simply gotten rid of. When you have all this extra stuff, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed, and not know where to start, or what you have, or what you need. Now, you may not be overwhelmed by a living scrapbook, but this applies if you’re in between babies, or jobs, or sizes–whatever. If you can’t or don’t, or even don’t want to wear the things hanging in your closet, get rid of them. You’ll have a more accurate idea of what your wardrobe really looks like. 
  2. Second, if you’re a person who has strong sentimental attachment to clothes, that’s fine, be you. But remember, not everything can be a special memory worthy of keeping the item. The dress you wore to your baby shower, ok. The dress you wore to your friend’s baby shower, nah. Make sure you take a picture on that day, with your friend wearing the dress, and then let the dress go if you don’t plan on wearing it again. You’ll have a photograph of you and your friend, and the extra closet space.  If you’re one of these sentimental ladies, keep your memories out of your wardrobe. If you’re done wearing it, box it up, or move it out. You might find that out of sight, out of mind, it loses its nostalgic factor, and you’re actually ok letting it go.

Let’s move on to the word of the week. 

Today’s vocabulary word is Caftan. Caftans are having a trendy moment this summer, so let’s talk about em. 

Caftans, which can be spelled with a c or a k, are, very simply put,flowy, loose, lightweight dresses. Now, this is a piece of clothing with a rich history, so I’m going to link to an article in the shownotes so you can learn more if you’d like.

Traditionally, Caftans were long, like to the ankle, and completely closed in front, but if you’ve learned nothing else from this show, you’ve probably learned that what something was supposed to be, and the words we use are meaningless. Now caftans can be short or long, completely closed, or open like a long robe or overcoat. They can be dresses, tunic tops, third piece layers, or swim cover ups. Pretty much any light weight easy breezy dress type item is being called a caftan these days. 

A lot of women are hesitant to try this voluminous shape, out of fear that it will give them no shape, or make them look bigger, and yes, that might be the price you have to pay for the super comfy, ultra chic caftan look, but it might be worth it. Also, there are things you can do to mitigate some of that. 

As always, look for a neckline that’s good for you. Look for a sleeve length and type that doesn’t add to the overwhelming volume. If you like your waist, look for a caftan that has a drawstring, a belt, or some other kind of waist defining feature. Finally, while caftans are meant to be roomy and voluminous, you can find some that are cut narrower to the body, and if possible, size down to get rid of some of the volume if that makes you feel better.

Finally, if you want to try the trend, but you’re hesitant to go all in, pick one up as a swim cover up, or even as a lounge around the house dress. Its a great way to test the waters 

Let’s move on to Philosophy.

Today I want to share something I’ve said a lot over the years to clients. Especially when I was standing in their closets, helping them get rid of the things that were cluttering their closets, clouding their style, and in general weighing them down. 

When you’re trying to decide whether to keep something, I want you to keep this in mind–you ready? Here it is.

If it doesn’t fit, flatter, or make you feel good, it doesn’t deserve space in your closet. 

You should not be spending your time when you’re getting dressed flipping through clothes, trying to figure out what you CAN wear. You should be looking for the things you want to wear that day. Imagine yourself going through your tops—nah, too tight, nah, a little too short, nah, I always feel drab in that, nah, the seams are scratchy. Oh! This one works, I’ll wear that.  I know this is how a lot of women get dressed–by settling on the first thing they can wear. Its frustrating, defeating, and a complete waste of time. When you start looking at your tops, or dresses, or whatever, you should be able to wear any of them, and instead, just pick the one that lights you up that day.  

Keeping things you can’t, or don’t want to, wear makes no sense. I tell women who are hanging on to these things that there is no wardrobe fairy that’s going to come in while you’re sleeping and magically change things. That top that’s too short for comfort? It will always be too short for comfort.  That sweater that’s itchy? It will always be itchy–and there will never come a time where you want to be self conscious that your shirt is too short, or go through a day in a scratchy sweater. You just won’t. 

Start to think of your closet as valuable real estate, instead of a dumping ground. What you put in there determines, in part, how your mornings go, and how you feel about yourself all day long. Only put, or keep things in there that are going to make it easy to get dressed, and make you feel good about yourself. Once you change your thinking about what your closet should be, you’ll find it’s pretty easy to part with things.  

When we come back, I’m going to share what your kitchen, and your closet, have it common. 

A few episodes back, I told you about the Everyday Style Network that we were planning to launch in 2021. The response has been so overwhelming that we’re moving it up, and our first stylist certification workshop will be happening this fall!

If you have no idea what I’m talking about, let me explain. The Everyday Style Network will be certifying stylists in the Everyday Style Method and Philosophy, so women everywhere can find a local stylist to help them build the wardrobes they’ve always wanted.  

We’re looking for people with an eye for style, and a heart for serving women. Interested applicants will go through a Certification Workshop, and put in some practice hours. Once you’re fully certified, you’ll be listed on our website so women who are looking for help can find you.   

Plus, I’ll be teaching how to start, and market your styling business. I’ll show you everything you need to know, as well as all the mistakes I made when I started out, so you can build a successful business.

If you’ve listened to the show and thought “I wish I could do that”, now you can! If you’ve wanted to start a styling business, but it seems overwhelming, let me help! If your daughter, sister, mom or friend would be an amazing stylist, let her know about it!  You can head to our website and fill out the interest form to get details as they’re released! 

And if you’re one of the ladies who’s emailed to ask if we’ll have stylists in your area, hang on, we’re working on it, and we’ll let you know as soon as it’s up and running

And now, back to the show!

We’re back, and about to dive into 5 similarities between your kitchen, and your closet. By the way, when I say kitchen, I mean all things food related like grocery shopping and cooking dinner. When I say closet, I mean all things clothing and style related, like shopping and getting dressed. Don’t take it too literally–just go with it! Ready?

Number 1- Shopping without a plan is a terrible idea. 

Let me tell you the story of a time I went grocery shopping without a plan. It was a day in early fall–like those first days where you can smell fall in the air, you need long sleeves–life was good. I stopped at the grocery store on the way home from a client to pick up food for dinner. I was feeling fall, and I walked around with my little basket, collecting pumpkin coffee, pumpkin butter, a pumpkin roll, and inexplicably, blue cheese. I got a few other little things as well, and when I went through the checkout I was shocked to hear that my purchases were over $40. But, they were all yummy fall things, so I paid, and went home, and my husband said, Hey hon, what’s for dinner? I was like, uhhh…that is a very good question! Would you like pumpkin roll with blue cheese, or maybe pumpkin coffee with pumpkin butter in it? I had spent my time, and I had spent my money, but because I didn’t have a plan, I still had nothing to eat.

It’s a little crazy to think that you can go to the grocery store without a plan, or a list, just buying random things you want…and then expect to be able to make meals you actually want to eat out of it.

But this is how women shop all the time. Some sale tees here, a pair of clearance pants there, oh, this jacket looks fun.  Wait, why can’t I get dressed?  

No one goes recreational shopping at the grocery store and buys boring old chicken breasts that can be used a million different ways. No, they buy pumpkin rolls and pumpkin butter.  Likewise, no one recreationally shops for clothes and buys the perfect black pants that cost too much, but make your butt look amazing and make every top you have look expensive. 

Those are the items you buy when you’re shopping with an actual plan. When you make a list of what you need, you tend to prioritize the basics–those foundational items that make it easy to cook dinner or get dressed, and then you add in the fun stuff last. When you do that, making meals and outfits is easy.

The second similarity is – No one’s at their best on short notice. Over the years, I’ve heard from a lot of women that they have cute clothes, but they never seem to wear them. So I’ll ask them what their morning is like–and it’s usually, oh my gosh, I’m running out the door, trying to get kids ready, I don’t have time for a cup of coffee–you know the deal, right?  So here’s the thing. I’m a meal planner. Every week, I sit down, and I make a list of what we’ll be having for dinner. I head to pinterest and usually type “easy weeknight dinners”, and go from there. Then I made a list, we go to the store, and we’re good for the week. I even have a pretty chalkboard in my kitchen with the week’s menu on it. When i’m good about doing this, my family eats really well. We try new things, we have variety, and food doesn’t go to waste. However, there are weeks that I’m busy, or that I’m lazy, or I simply forget. And during those weeks, what we eat for dinner is boring, repetitive and uninspired. Here’s a little peek into my life–I hate 5:00. Pm that is. I’m a huge fan of 5:00 am. But at 5:00 pm, I’m usually trying to finish up my day, sending emails while my kids ask what’s for dinner, or saying they’re bored, or asking for the 47th snack of the day. I feel stressed, and harried, and then I make spaghetti. It’s easy, I don’t have to think about it, I know we have the ingredients, and I know my kids won’t complain. It’s not exciting, it’s not even that good–it’s just my default. The weeks I don’t meal plan, we eat spaghetti a lot. There’s other stuff I COULD make, but in that moment, on short notice, I can’t be creative. This is often why you have cute stuff you don’t wear. You have the clothes, you COULD put a great out together, but it’s short notice, and there’s a lot going on,  so you default to sartorial spaghetti. 

Try putting out your outfit the night before–it’s a simple trick, but when you’re not in the moment, your brain has space to be creative, and use the clothes you have.  You might find your mornings are easier too. 

Ok, number 3 One more way your closet is like your kitchen–buying a little at a time is a terrible strategy.  I talked a little about this during the Office Hours episode on Stitch Fix, but it’s an analogy I use all the time, so we’re talking about it again.  The weeks that I’m good about meal planning, making a list, and putting in an instacart order we don’t have to run to the grocery store all week long. And if we do, it’s for something they were out of, or to a specialty market–but we’re not at the grocery store every single day. The weeks I don’t plan, or the weeks that the big shop doesn’t happen, it seems I’m sending my husband to the store for a few ingredients every single day. Our closest grocery store is at least 10 minutes away, so those little trips add up time wise.  He also spends more money buying a few things each time that we do when we do one big order. Finally, there’s a lot of waste. I might buy cilantro for one thing on Monday, not use it again, and forget I have it until I chuck it out. All week long we struggle to make meals, and all that time and money don’t feel like they add up to anything satisfying. All of this is the same in your closet. 

When you do lots of little trips to stores, or even lots of little online orders, it takes a lot of time. I know you’re saying online shopping takes no time, but the time you invest in finding items, ordering them, waiting for them, returning or exchanging them does add up, and the time from when you start, until you actually have a functioning wardrobe is a lot longer that you realize.  Second, adding a few items to your wardrobe at a time adds up money wise too. Just like with grocery shopping, 20 dollars here, 40 dollars there may not seem significant. When you’re doing a big grocery order you have an idea of how much you’re spending, and you probably rein it in when you look at the full cart–those things you don’t really need might wait a little bit. Same with clothes. When you do a big wardrobe shop, you can see exactly what you’re spending, and prioritize if your spending is going off the rails. Like wise, when you’re doing a bigger wardrobe shop, you’re less likely to buy one-off items that won’t go with anything. You can see how they all work together–I can wear this with this, I can put that top with that skirt–you get the idea. The items aren’t separate and removed from each other. Finally, when you buy a couple of things at a time, you’re never done. You always feel like somethings missing, or that your wardrobe isn’t complete. When you do a seasonal shop, you shop once and you’re done.

If you’re stuck in a pattern of buying things a little at a time, I encourage you to go on a 60 day spending freeze, and then do a big shop in the fall. I promise you, you can get by until then, and your fall wardrobe will thank you. 

Number 4 You need the right ingredients

In an old episode, I shared the story of a Linda who was so excited to make interesting  outfits, but she didn’t have anything to make outfits with. Her wardrobe was super basic, she had tees, jeans and cardigans–that was it.  I literally couldn’t come up with an outfit she hadn’t thought of, because I had nothing to make outfits with.  Its just like your kitchen–if you don’t have any ingredients, you cant cook something interesting. 

I know I’ve talked a lot on this show about MOPS, which is an organization near and dear to my heart. Before I was a MOPS speaker, I was a MOPS member, and one of my favorite speakers ever came to talk about family dinners and  meal planning. As we’ve established, I’m a pretty good meal planner, but she took it to the next level, and one of the resources she gave us was a pantry staples list. She actually had us go through the list and give ourselves a point for each item on her list that we had in our pantry right then. The higher your score, the easier making dinner was for you because you had a variety of ingredients. I don’t remember how I did, but I do remember being really inspired by that list to add some ingredients that would make cooking dinners on short notice easier. Now, there were also some ingredients on there I didn’t have because I simply didn’t like them, and that’s ok. I can’t stand curry, so curry powder wasn’t something I needed to add. But, I rarely bought black beans unless I had a plan to use them, but it turns out, once I made sure they were always in our pantry, I found I could add them to a lot of things, and I use them all the time.

You need ingredients in your wardrobe too. If you only buy the basics that you wear every single day, you’ll never have anything different to mix up your outfits, and you’ll wear the same thing all the time. 

In honor of that pantry list, I made a checklist of 100 closet staples for you. I’m not going to call them must haves, because you know how I feel about that.  If you feel the way about white jeans as I do about curry, you don’t need to add them. However, if white jeans are to you what black beans were to me, and you think, “you know, I would probably wear those a lot”, then put them on your shopping list.  Look at this as a way to spark ideas, and not a 100 item shopping list.  To get the checklist, just go to, or through the link on the episode shownotes.

Finally, the fifth thing your closet and kitchen have in common is that Mastery Takes Practice.

I hear a lot from women who say, I just wasn’t born with style, or I’m just not good at this. 

Ladies, great cooks aren’t born with all the knowledge and skills they’ll ever need. Instead, they’ve got an interest in cooking and a desire to be better. Then they learn, and practice,, acquire a new sill, try it out, learn from their mistakes, and grow. Its the same with style

My brother in law is a good cook. For him, cooking isn’t drudgery he goes through to feed his family each night. He actually enjoys it. But, he also watches a ton of cooking shows, and tries new recipes and techniques. 

Worse than the women who say they weren’t born with style, or they’re not good at it are the women who apologize for not knowing. I can’t tell you how many women I worked with who would say “I’m sorry, I don’t know how to find pants that fit” or I’m sorry, I don’t know which patterns to pair together.  If there was one thing I could wave a magic wand and change, it would be the idea that women are born with an innate sense of style and the ability to dress themselves. This idea is simply incorrect, and it leads women to think “why bother” because they feel everyone got the gene but them. Its not true. If you want better style, you can have it. It’s a skill that you can hone. 

Now, my brother in law will always be a better cook than me. You know why? He likes to do it–and therefore he WANTS to learn. People may have an inherent desire to do something, but from there they work to get the skills. So, you can tell me, I have no desire to have better style. That’s cool, not your jam. But don’t buy into your own bs that you can’t have great style because it doesn’t come naturally to you. I guarantee you every single woman you look at and think, oh, she’s stylish, has worked at it. She’s tried new things, and had some wins, and probably a long list of “I can’t believe I wore that”. There are so many resources out there to help you learn the skills you need to love the way you look, including this podcast and our classes and guides. Don’t take the easy way out and say you weren’t born good at it, get good at it. If it matters to you, invest in yourself and build the skills you need.

I guarantee you can learn what it takes to have the look you love 

So there you have it–5 things your closet and kitchen have in common. Your homework this week is to pick out your outfits the night before for 5 days in a row–down to shoes and accessories. See if it makes a difference–if you’re wearing more of what you have, or you feel like your look is a little more polished and interesting, or if your mornings are any easier. 

Don’t forget to grab the 100 Wardrobe Essentials Checklist. It’s free, and it will help you identify some holes in your wardrobe, and spark some ideas of items that could have a big impact. You can get it by going to or by going to the shownotes at and finding the link.

If you’re an all Access Member, be sure to check your dashboard. I’ve added your monthly resource which is a whole wardrobe planning workbook. It includes the Essentials checklist, as well as wardrobe planners, a printable shopping list, the outfit formula sheet, and more–as well as a short video on how to use the planner if you have a super small wardrobe, or if you’re trying to use more of what you’ve got. This month, it’s a super easy resource that can help you have huge results–make sure you don’t miss it!

That’s it everyone–I’ll see you Monday with office hours!

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