Jill Marinelli Conducts a Wardrobe Makeover
In the May issue of Rhode Island Monthly, we feature personal stylist Jill Marinelli of JM Stylist. Here’s how she helped me streamline my wardrobe and organize my closet.
Many women have the same problem as me. We accumulate a mountain of clothing, but still feel like we have nothing to wear. Part of it is because of disorganization. I recently moved into a new home with incredible closet space. My bedroom closet at the old house was a single door that opened into a very cramped space [pictured right]. Realistically, I could only reach about thirty items; the rest of my clothing was buried way back and impossible to access. I had no choice but to store my things in two separate areas (which meant I stored half my clothes in the coat closet in another room), plus I had two giant Tupperware containers packed away with more dresses and skirts tailored to the season.
When I moved, I grabbed dresses, tops, skirts and pants by the pile, and threw them all into the back seat of my car. At the new house, I marched the piles upstairs and hung everything I owned in my heavenly new walk-in closet. I looked around and noted that my wardrobe had items from college and even high school; things that I had been reluctant to discard. I realized that I am a clothes hoarder and I have a problem.
Recently, I met personal stylist Jill Marinelli of JM Stylist. She told me about her business for which she offers wardrobe makeovers and organizational services. I knew she could help me sort through my issues (I mean, wardrobe).
Fast forward a few weeks later, and we’re meeting for a one-hour consultation at my home. Jill asked me to cut out images from magazines that depict my style. She also had me fill out a questionnaire about my wardrobe goals and dressing for my shape. I will be turning thirty in July, so I tell her my goal is to evolve my wardrobe and become more sophisticated. I want to get rid of most of the sparkly clothing from my partying days and move on to a more sophisticated look. “Less J-Lo, more Kate Middleton,” I say.
She measures me and determines I have an hourglass shape. She then recommends certain items, like belts and wrap dresses to emphasize my shape.
Next, we go into my bedroom to take a look at my closet, which looks like the messy mass of clothing outside a department store dressing room. I admit I am reluctantly attached to everything, so it may be hard for me to part with items. I’ve always been afraid to give away or discard clothing, because I think I might need it down the line. But it’s obvious that some items have stood untouched on hangers for years.
We divide each part of my closet into dresses, skirts, pants and tops. She takes each section out one at a time, and hangs the items on the portable metal rack that she brought along with her.
“I think you do have a record for dresses,” she says, as she organizes about forty of them, and there’s about thirty more to go in the summer section.
She sets each dress going in the same direction on hangers, and then organizes items by color. We go through each piece of clothing, and she asks me to try on certain things that she is unsure about.
I have several dresses from the Simply Vera line by Vera Wang, and after trying them on, Jill helps me realize that these flowy, shapeless dresses do not flatter my figure. They hit me below the knee and there is no defined waist. In other words, they make me look dowdy. We throw three of them into a discard pile for goodwill. She explains that a good place to donate these items is Dress for Success, as they need more appropriate items for disadvantaged women to wear to work or job interviews.
I tell her that I shop mostly at H&M, Marshalls, T.J. Maxx, Forever 21, Target and Kohl’s, supplemented by some designer items and one-of-kind finds from boutiques. Some of the less expensive clothing looks frayed or worn, so she suggests it is time to get rid of those items. One of those items is a long, tan cardigan sweater I love to wear with everything, but there is a bleach streak on the back of it from a hair appointment that went wrong. I have to let it go.
Jill gives me a professional opinion without hurting my feelings. Her advice is like having a best friend over, trying on all your clothes, and then getting an honest evaluation that can not be disputed (This is her job! How can you argue with that?)
My pile of discards grows. Another item that has to go is a big green sweater that could probably fit three of me in it. Two black dresses also need to go because I have gotten too much wear out of them. They are faded and pilling. It’s time for new ones.
Because I buy many less expensive garments made with cheaper quality fabrics, she suggests that I use a steamer to keep them looking fresh. When I wash and dry these items, they tend to look ragged and wrinkled, so a steamer--like the Jiffy Steamer ESTEAM travel steamer--is the perfect solution to make them last longer, she says.
Another suggestion she has is to create a sentimental box of clothing for items that you know you will never wear again, but that you’ll want to keep for memories. I put aside a few items like my high school graduation dress, the dress I wore on an early date with my husband (almost ten years ago!) and several other items.
I also learn that I need to visit a dry cleaner more often. I have many sweaters and dresses that I’ve spilled something on, and then I just shoved them back into the closet because I didn’t have time to stop at a dry cleaner. But I’ve been avoiding wearing perfectly great clothing that just needs a good cleaning. And of course, I am embarrassed when Jill pulls out a cute dress with stains all over it (Oops. Guess I had a great time at that wedding!)
All in all, Jill helps me eliminate some of the younger-style dresses and skirts that no longer mesh with my more polished style. She helps me organize my chaotic closet into a streamlined wardrobe of items that I feel confident about wearing. She also gives me some advice on buying clothing staples, like a good quality black dress and white shirt that will last longer. I am now ready to take on a new, more sophisticated me, thanks to Jill’s help!