I am a constant shopper, a clothes horse, a fashion professional. Naturally, my closet is overflowing with stuff, designer and not, colourful and black, dressy and everyday, boho and minimalist. Most of the stuff is good – some stuff is even great. 

But I have nothing to wear.

Each morning I reach for the same black jeans and encounter despair in choosing a top. (It will be better when the weather improves, right?)

Sound familiar?

Of course it does.

Who you gonna call?

A professional stylist, naturally. Friends are nice, but pros are better for a closet cleanse. Trust me.

I called upon Monica Giliati, a stylist with the Les Effrontés agency, a pioneer on the styling scene which opened its doors in 2002.

It took four hours, maybe more, to prepare for our styling session. I assembled a rack of perhaps 30 questionable items – “so-called maybes,’’ according to Monica.

They did not, in the wisdom of decluttering guru Marie Kondo, spark joy.

TO ALMOST NO AVAIL!

Here’s how it went.

Silhouette analysis

We began with a silhouette analysis: I am an hourglass, Monica suggested, with slightly narrower shoulders than hips. That means structure at the shoulders (jackets) and attention to the waist are my best bets.

Trouble is, I like a mumu – to hide my belly, but also to feel comfortable. Nothing worse than a muffin top, in every way.

“Instead of hiding, you should bring out the best in yourself,’’ Monica said. “It’s all illusion when it comes to clothes.”

We took a quick tour of the walk-in, which is arranged by kind (pants, dresses, blazers, kimonos (I have a thing for them), tops, etc., and even by colour as much as possible. I AM a fashion pro, after all, and have done this before. We skipped the deep summer and coat closets, the shoes and the accessories. Otherwise, Monica would still be here, her eyes glazed over, like mine. I pulled a few more questionables from the everyday closet.

Then it was over to a temporary rack with items I have not worn in years, items that are just a little bit too small, items that inexplicably annoy or depress me.

Here’s an analysis of some of those items, the verdict from Monica, and what actually has happened:

The so-called maybes

The maybe pile on my bed before my styling session with stylist Monica Giliati of Les Effrontés. Below, another view of the maybes.

A little black dress with ruffled asymmetrical hem, worn to Chanel couture in Paris some years ago, left to hang since then.

I say: Maybe I’m a bit too old for ruffles, maybe it’s too short.

Monica: “I love this look on you.”

Back in closet.

Moi, in LBD with ruffled hem. It’s back in the closet.

Perfect black microfibre pants, just a bit too small.

I say: These pants are perfection but when I was photographed in them  – on a runway, no less – you could see they were too tight.

Monica: Put them aside for a year, and if they are still not right, lose them.

In holding pattern.

 

Lace cardigan from Urban Outfitters.

I say: I have better stuff. Good for Coachella.

Monica: Very nice coverup for summer.

In holding pattern.

 

Pucci print top with deep V.

I say: It’s too tight, too low and not really my look.

Monica: Agreed after I tried it on for her.

Goes to Reluxe vintage sale to benefit the Le Chaînon women’s shelter.

Pucci print top. Gone to find a better home through Reluxe.

Lida Baday navy taffeta dress coat.

I say: Maybe I will wear this as a dress when I am 80 years old. I do wear it to summer weddings.

Monica: Timeless, fabulous, keep it.

Back in closet.

Coral silk shirt.

I say: I prefer subtler colours and have similar shirts in mauve, purple and black.

Monica: It would be great with lighter jeans for summer.

Back in closet.

Light blue jeans.

I say: The denim is too stiff, but they fit well. Hate them.

Monica: It’s nice to wear a lighter jean in summer.

Holding pattern.

Long brown jersey dress.

I say: Depressing.

Monica: Good summer piece.

Holding pattern.

Black BCBG jumpsuit.

I say: I have better stuff, but it suits me.

Monica: It’s a great piece. Wear it.

In holding pattern.

Catherine Malandrino blue silk jumpsuit.

I say: Too small – something happened at the dry cleaner’s.

Monica. It’s gotta go.

Gone to Reluxe sale.

Anthropologie denim vest with lace inset on back.

I say: Never worn, it’s too young for me. Coachella worthy.

Monica: Pitch it.

Gone to Reluxe sale.

Anthro vest, donated to Reluxe.

Red silk velvet skirt, bought at Barney’s 15 years ago, at least.

I say: Haven’t worn it years, but love it. Would sooner make a pillow from the fabric than get rid of it.

Monica: Great holiday piece.

In holding pattern.

Ancient red velvet skirt. Who am I kidding?

Black/white floral shadow print spring vanity coat from Elie Tahari.

I say: Beautifully finished, looks very polished, and I wrote an article about cost per wear when I bought it. Yet it’s not quite me.

Monica: Great piece.

Keeping for now, especially after I dressed it down later with white T, cropped black pants and slide sneakers.

Tara Jarmon heavy wool black beaded cardigan jacket.

I say: Too small, too hot, very beautiful.

Monica: Are you sure you can’t wear it?

Gone to Reluxe sale.

Purple lace bed jacket.

I say: Love it, but I look like ma vieille tante in it.

Monica: Can you try it with that leather top?

Gone to Reluxe sale, then pulled from pile of donations. Love it. (It still sparks joy.)

Purple lace bed jacket. Just can’t part with it.

DUY black silk negligée with frayed chiffon floral appliquées (very couture).

I say: Never worn, but it can be styled with leggings and a tube top or dress.

Monica. Love the idea.

Saving it for the future boyfriend.

Filippa K minimal black halter gown.

I say: My only gown, but it’s a bit passé with everything being so covered up these days.

Monica: Looks great on you, as I try it with a mesh bolero.

Back in closet.

Malandrino A-line LBD in textured ponte.

I say: Not my style – too conservative, never wear it, have better LBDs.

Monica: It really suits you. Try to dress it down.

Back in closet.

Catherine Malandrino LBD. Is it me?

French Connection white vacation dress with neon lime and black sequins.

I say: Took it on vacation to Mexico and never wore it. Too dressy for my kind of travel.

Monica: Can you say goodbye?

Nah. Back in deep summer closet.

 

Advice on three items, bought to refresh for spring:

White voile shirt.

I say: Love it but I already have good white shirts that I don’t wear. But look how fabulously professional it looks with this vest!

Monica. Beautiful!

Returned.

Sack’s flood pants.

I say: Are they too big? I need a country life for these.

Monica: I want them. They look so comfortable.

Kept.

Black AG cropped slim flare jeans.

I say: Perfect refresh for spring.

Monica: Agreed.

Wearing them every day almost.

Says Monica:

“It has to fit three conditions: lifestyle, body and then, do you really love it?”

We have a complicated relationship with our wardrobes. Clothing is so linked to our sense of identity, so intimate, so personal – and sometimes so expensive – that purging is more than about just getting rid of stuff.

I’m holding on to the items in the “so-called maybe” pile, Monica says, perhaps because they fit well, or they have a story behind them, or sentimental value.

“If you don’t really go to it in the next season, it says a lot about it.’’

So what’s missing from my wardrobe? “Nothing,” Monica says.

(I think I need a few casual summer dresses.)

Sometimes, Monica said, stylists give recommendations on building a professional wardrobe.

“You’ve really established what it is that makes you happy, that makes you who you are, that says something about your personality, the kind of woman you are.”

Looking back on some of my questionable items, I am able to say definitively that two things don’t bring me joy: tight clothes and the colour brown.

Monica Giliati with my maybe rack.


Top three rules for purging

Comfort is key

“We have to be comfortable with our bodies. If you’re always saying, when I lose, lose, lose (weight) – it’s kind of suffocating to build a wardrobe around that. Make sure that the clothes you keep feel good.”

Timing

“If it’s something you’ve been questioning, after about two years it’s time to say goodbye if you haven’t found a way to be happy about it.”

Damage control

Just get rid of anything torn, stained or pilled.

Les Effrontés offers a Wardrobe Therapy service to review your wardrobe.  It costs $375 for up to three hours and includes 

  • Initial sorting: what to keep, give away or recycle
  • Coordination of clothing
  • Recommendations for purchases

Reach Les Effrontés at 514.521.4734 or rendez-vous@leseffrontes.com