Have you every seen the show on TLC called What Not to Wear? A woman is nominated by friends for a fashion makeover. To begin, the hosts Clinton and Stacy review the makeoveree's wardrobe. They berate the existing wardrobe, give fashion and styling advice, make the contestant cry over losing her awful clothes, then send her off all alone to shop for an entirely new wardrobe. Drama ensues when the poor, fumbling contestant wanders from store to store unsure of how to take the fashion advice. Then, like fashion super-heroes, Clinton and Stacy sweep in, take over the shopping and save the day.
Without planning it, I had my own episode of WNTW this weekend! Only I wasn't the contestant, I was Clinton or Stacy (probably Clinton ... Shut Up!!!).
Here's how the episode went:
A good friend asked for assistance pulling together a wardrobe for a business trip. Sometimes it's hard to see past your own closet and a friend's opinion can help. Since I have committed to the no-buy challenge, I find it painful to shop, still suffering some withdrawals. Why should I help anyone else buy awesome new outfits when I can not? Especially when:
- We are shopping for a size 2 (strike 1)
- She has fun trips coming up (strike 2)
- While not unlimited, budget isn't a looming factor (strike 3)
Why? Because this is my friend and she's having a fashion crisis. I can not send her off to welcome cocktail parties, wine tastings and group dinners feeling self-conscious. I want to her to project the confident, strong, sexy woman she is.
We begin with her potential choices from her current wardrobe. She's got a good start but a few things are needed. I have a strong opinion about what looks good on this friend (and about some garments that should be donated asap). I outline what I think she should be looking for and send her on her way.
A few hours later, my cell phone is lighting up with questions and photos. I can barely keep up. Yes to the blue, no to the stripes. How does that fit. NO to those shoes. Is that the same dress? Is it available in another color? I have plenty to do myself and I set out to do some errands. As if by otherworldly guidance, my car heads over to the mall. I didn't plan it, I just feel like my help is needed. Tie on cape. Cue super-hero music...
I find my friend at the Calvin Klein store, emerging from the fitting room, frantic. Interesting note: the sales person, a "fashionable" gentleman, was also giving advice. Very poor, very wrong advice. PEOPLE WHO WORK IN STORES DON'T NECESSARILY KNOW FASHION. He blathered on about an "it bag" and perfect pumps. I waved him off, gave my friend the "let's go" look and we left with a good dress. Off to the next store ...
I'll spare you the details but I am confident that my friend departed with a spectacular wardrobe. She got two amazing dresses that flatter her perfectly. Beautiful shoes. Excellent jewelry. A What Not to Wear success. I am also certain she could have done this without my help. The very full stores with bulging racks were simply overwhelming. Here are the lessons:
- Know your style and trust what you know.
- Avoid trends.
- Most salespeople do not know you or have your best interest in mind.
- If you have to ask, "is this wrong?" it probably is.
- Ask a trusted friend for help. (I can be available)
And for me, I have learned something else. The more I am forced to observe fashion, the more I learn. No longer able to compulsively buy, buy, buy, I have developed a more discerning eye (eye, eye). I am two-thirds of the way through this challenge year and there is a tiny, distant, sparkling light and the end of the tunnel.