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Anna Berkeley photos: Sam Scott

As research for my new book (or what I’m now referring to as the Difficult Second Album) and part of a more general desire to sort my shit out, I did something I’ve never done before. Arrange a Wardrobe Management session with a style consultant. I’m continually assessing and refining my wardrobe – not in an obsessive, expensive way, or for Instagram, just to keep in tune with what’s going on. Items that are no longer worn go to charity, and I do try to practice the “one-in-one-out” rule. Having said that, I seem to have reached a decluttering plateau, a point where a new tactic is needed. Bring on Anna Berkeley. With over 20-years experience as a buyer for brands like Selfridges, Prada and Topshop, and her style consultancy business, Anna also does the range planning for Margaret Howell. Perfect.

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That’s Not My Wardrobe

When you work in fashion, you think you know it all, but sometimes it is hard to be objective about yourself. So. Anna came round to That’s Not My Age Mansions and went through my autumn/winter clothes and shoes, and it was remarkably easy. Like a magician, she’s made all the things I’ve been hanging onto since my fashion editor days (and NOT wearing), disappear. Not physically, I was the one who couldn’t wait to take it all down the road to the charity shop – what a relief. I guess, deep down I knew that this stuff was just clutter, or as Anna politely put it, ‘A bit corporate for your lifestyle, now – and taking up space.’ But sometimes it takes an outsider with a more objective view to sort things out properly. I’m not going to go into too much detail here (that’s in the book!), but, this woman has changed my life.

Have you ever sought professional help from a style consultant?

Read more about Anna HERE. And here are a few stealthy wardrobe favourites:

 

29 thoughts on “Getting sorted: my wardrobe workout with a style consultant

  1. Wow, I bet you feel clearer and lighter without all the random stuff in your wardrobe. I keep trying to de-clutter – I stopped working in an office 3 years’ ago and still hang on to the ‘smart stuff’ which I never wear. Ever. Also, I have loads of ‘just in case’ clothes for an exotic social life that I don’t have or want. My reality knows that I will never want to work in an office again and I shan’t be going to the Met. Ball in the near future! This post have given me the impetus to throw out the detritus and maintain a wardrobe of clothing for my real life. Off to get the black bags now………………….

  2. ‘A bit corporate for your lifestyle now’ – that really resonated. It’s that time of year when I have my season clear out – so this might just make me a bit more ruthless.

  3. I am just the same! I keep going through my wardrobe determined to take things to charity shop or sell on Ebay but somehpw, never quite get around to it. I have several pairs of black high heeled ‘officey’ shoes that I never wear and they also hurt my feet – back to it with renewed vigour !

  4. I started a wardrobe clear out at the weekend and was a bit alarmed to find a handful of boiled sweets in one of my winter coats… It wasn’t the sweets so much as what they had turned into… a melted mess that had run down the inside of the coat (which incidentally is a lovely pale pink wool number), down into the lining and dripped onto a longer coat that was hanging behind it, and finally into my walking shoes! The drycleaner wasn’t pleased to see my offerings this morning! So just remember that the next time you absentmindedly put sweets in your pocket for later…
    As for the style consultant, I tried one for the first time in the spring (Chantelle Znideric) and spent a lovely afternoon getting out of my comfort zone. It was a surprisingly relaxed experience, with no pressure to buy anything at all, and I did go home with a few new pieces and a bit of a refresh. It’s worth doing once (especially for someone like me who isn’t a big fan of shopping).

  5. Realized I have two closets…as my sons are on their own…for quite a long time…why didn’t I ever use the closet in their room for clothes instead of storage??? So yesterday I put the summer clothes in “their” closet and the winter clothes are going to stay in the closet they have always been (They formerly mingled with the summer clothes.)

    I did this all before I read your blog today….great timing.

  6. I am a personal shopper and de-clutter my clients’ wardrobes regularly. Everyone always feels better with less stuff and gentle nudging to get rid of ‘thin days’ clothes and guilt inducing, unworn, expensive buys is always a good thing. Do get in touch! Rosanna.peel@gmail.com

  7. I do so envy you Alison, I would love someone to come and cast a completely neutral eye over my wardrobe. At my age I know what I like,but still sometimes get it wrong , since we can’t see ourselves as others see us.I do have a de-clutter quite often, but then I’ll catch myself wearing something that makes me wonder ” what was I thinking ! “.

  8. My husband sill works and I’m a caregiver for an ill parent. This has been an eye opening experience in which we realize you only the things are irrelevant to the Big Picture of life. We’ve also had to declutter my fathers home since he is now wheelchair. Another dose of reality which has changed my perspective on life. You don’t need all that stuff of the past. I’ve eliminated so many pieces of clothing which were from the past and would never be a part of my future. I must say its made my life simpler and more peaceful.Wish I’d done this a long time ago. Life lesson learned…..live in the present and look for simple pleasures in your life everyday.

    1. Georgia – I had that experience with a house fire (all my clothes gone!) and then my father with dementia. Now it’s all over I have a renewed interest in style (rather than fashion per se) and keep a tight, curated, quality over quantity, wardrobe. I enjoy it. I enjoy anything which makes me feel good or that makes every day easier or a pleasure (such as my new stylish wet room). Keeping fewer ‘things’, and insisting on good design of those I have, does indeed add to a simpler, more peaceful life. I also know that while they make my mood lift, my happiness has nothing to do with these acquisitions.

  9. I worked with someone who came to my house, made me try every last piece of clothing on and told me why something worked or something didn’t. It was a major revelation. As a result I can skim through stores and not even bother trying on things that I know won’t work (not just for my body type, but for my lifestyle). It was an experience that changed my wardrobe life and I would highly, highly recommend it if you can find someone you trust with a good reputation. The cost my seem like a unnecessary expense, but I’ve found what I learned about my body type and what works best for me has saved me loads in regretful purchases. And it does make a difference working with a professional rather than asking your best friend.

  10. It seems my problem is shared with a lot of other women, like Maudie here. I don`t seem to be able to get out of my office way of buying clothes. I still love my blazers and whenever I find one that fits perfectly, I buy it. Afterwards thinking: Will I have room for this item? And moreover: Do I really need it? Answers are usually no. I need certain things, but love and buy others, like blazers and dresses. My solution to these dated habits is I wear my blazers with jeans and my dresses with chunky leggings. Acually I feel great with both.

    1. This is me as well. I have a blazer/jacket addiction, and am always looking for a good day dress, too. But as a freelancer writer and editor, I have no need for anything corporate or dressy. Still, I love the look of sharply tailored clothing, so I do like you do and wear them anyway: my blazers with skinny jeans and booties or heels, my dresses with boots and chunky sweaters. I also love the look of a good suit with ankle-length pants paired with a T-shirt and sneakers. There are all kinds of ways to make “business” work for a more casual life and work style.

  11. I did it once because I had plateaued with my own closet as well. Hanging onto things out of “guilt”, mistakes that never really got worn etc. Needed someone to help me bite the bullet and get rid of it. It made me feel so much lighter emotionally as well. I think you’re right – we’re not as objective about ourselves.

  12. I couldn’t face the shame of someone making me face up to my wardrobe guilty secrets. Its bad enough that I know what’s in there. Weak I know.

  13. I have often thought about it. Hi n New Zealand ” style consultants” just want to sell you stuff. I have clothes that aren’t quite right but they where too expensive for me to throw out – silly I know. I have just taken a kacket to be altered by a good tailor and I may see if he can do something with the not quite right clothes.

  14. As a book editor for many years and the former owner of a small closet, I still employ the one-in-one-out rule even though I now have a walk-in closet. My problem is that I buy clothes for the corporate life I once had and for the social life I would like to have. Best piece of advice I ever got: Before you buy anything, make sure you can wear it on a casual Tuesday afternoon. It stops me from making so many bad choices!

  15. Congratulations on taking the plunge! It does feel good, doesn’t it? As an image consultant who has been helping women through this process for many years, I can attest to how valuable this kind of assessment is. Plus, I’ve gone through this personally and know that it’s something that usually isn’t ‘one and done’ but something we have to continually keep an eye on. Good for you!

  16. I was delightfully shocked that you had a consultant come in to weed the stuff you don’t wear/need/whatevs. I honestly never thought about having someone come in. And I’m not a clothing hoarder but I have “fat” clothes and “skinny” clothes and “clothes-I-may-wear-at-some-point-but-not-now”. When I became unemployed, I thought that I might donate my “work clothing”. But then I realized that I’m frugal–and would not want to spend on a new wardrobe when the day came to go back to work. Luckily I held on because I’m wearing my corporate clothing again. Ugh. I really should start weeding clothing out but I’m too damn lazy. I’ll live vicariously though you!

  17. I had a very expensive Burberry jacket that I didn’t wear. I almost parted with it several times. Then, I took it to my tailor and had the arms shortened to elbow length. Now I wear it with something colourful, white or metallic underneath and you just get enough of it to feel special. Worth considering if you can change an expensive item to make it work.

  18. Hi, I’ve never had a session with a formal consultant but on a trip to New York several years ago, I did put myself into the hands of a friend who is a stylist. She took me round the city for two days trying on clothes, shoes, make-up. She is the type of person assistants warmly welcome to the most haughty places which relieved me of having to deal with them – and she picked out things which pushed my style comfort level. It was a fabulous experience; I came home with things which I still love and which still get comments. Having someone else dress you (and provide frank assessments as long as they’re kind) is a revelation, everyone should try it.

  19. I hang on to clothes for all sorts of silly reasons: the memories I have when I wore the clothes (even if they no longer fit), the deep-rooted conviction that I’ll eventually get back into THOSE jeans, the what-if-I-went-back-into-banking suits, the fur coat (I don’t wear fur) I bought at a vintage shop when my friend and I got drunk when we were supposed to be packing up her flat, etc etc. I allow myself to hold on to just a few pieces that are loaded with memories, but as a rule, I’m pretty ruthless. If it hasn’t been worn in a year, it gets donated to someone who needs it more than I do.

    1. Oh, man, drunk buying, LOL. Last year that resulted in an oversized 1970s-style brown felt hat that I side eye every time I have to get something off the top shelf of my closet. It looks good on me, but, really, where and for what reason would I wear that thing? I really just need to give up and give it to my niece, who rocks a brilliantly put together Boho style.

  20. I recently moved house and knew I would have less cupboard space. I tend to keep too many clothes waiting until the colour, shape return to fashion. For the past six months I edited my clothing trying everything on before summer season to see if I liked the fit and look on me right now. I gave bags of clothes to my dressmaker for her own use as well as to give to her sisters. I told her anything they didn’t want should be donated to a charity shop. She wore one silk jersey wrap style dress for a special birthday dinner out. It makes me feel generous and pleased to recycle good clothes I had hung on to in this way. Then I donated good other clothing to a vintage clothing shop for a children’s hospice charity. They were thrilled to get “designer” labelled clothing they could sell to raise funds for hospice care. I gave shoes and clothing to my sister and niece. I still have plenty for myself and other charity shops to give away. Now a new season is upon us I plan to repeat the exercise, laying everything out, seeing if I want to wear it now. Otherwise I’m sending the clothing to a new home. To do this successfully I haven’t made use of a clothing consultant because I’m very clear about what looks good on me and how I wish to look. I do buy or look at online many fashion magazines from Grazia to Vogue to French Marie Claire and French Elle especially for ideas about how to style clothing, proportions, colour combinations etc to look stylish and up to date. That’s my objective despite being in my mid60s. I haven’t given up yet. One needs to stay vital in mind and body.

    1. Mrs. Tonia,

      I so agree with you ….mind and body….forever.

      Theresa

      Wanting to be outstanding in one of the above does not negate the other.

  21. I did my twice a year seasonal wardrobe switch today, putting away my summer clothes and bringing out the winter ones. In the process, I did manage to fill a fairly large bag for our local thrift store, but I do have trouble parting with things, even ones I haven’t worn for a long time. I really must be more disciplined and start practicing the “one-in-one-out” rule.

  22. For the first time I used a stylist last week the first thing we did was to go for a proper bra fitting. From wearing a 34c I’m now in a 32e and I look fantastic in all the tight fitting knitwear/ tops I would never have bought. That was followed by lk bennet leggings . I look like I’ve lost 10lbs. Previously I was buying clothes for a corporate life I no longer have and a nightlife I no longer do leading me to have nothing to wear for a casual Tuesday. Best money I’ve ever spent.

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