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Part 1. Styling tips from Anne Benshaw

Updated: Nov 16, 2021

Auckland based personal stylist, Anne Benshaw (Bio linked below) has a passion for helping women look and feel fabulous. EA Inc. and Anne will be partnering for an event in the New Year to bring you a not to be missed personal branding session. In the mean time, to tide you over, Anne has shared some wardrobe and trend tips with us. Read on to find out more....


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Part 1: The wardrobe exchange - A stylist's perspective


So, we have cleaned, organised, re-organised and in some cases “Marie Kondo-ed” our home office spaces, our kitchens, our linen cupboards, and our garages. The kids' bedrooms… are another issue, or at least in my house. I can take out all used plates, change the sheets and making all surfaces clear and hygienic again then within minutes we are back to somewhere between an episode of hoarders and a science experiment on feral habitats. But what about the holy grail that is your wardrobe? How is that looking and feeling right now? Does the thought of getting dressed to go work in an actual office space with other real people fill you with dread??


A large part of my work this lockdown, and last, was getting my clients wardrobe space ready for the coming season. I mean I know many of my clients are currently zoom meeting with makeup, a beautifully ironed blouse, slippers, and tracksuit pants on!! However, at some point people will see what has been “under the desk”. But apart from literally packing away winter and bringing summer items into the wardrobe I now appreciate just how much peace and satisfaction my clients gain from organising their wardrobe and knowing exactly what pieces to look for when it is time to bring something new into the wardrobe.


So, what is my process? Well firstly I need to make a few disclaimers...for me, personal styling (wardrobe organisation, body shape analysis, colour work, outfit cataloguing, shopping and everything in-between) is very personal to each client. Everyone needs something slightly different. Clients often embrace change at a different pace and in some cases, there is some larger factor at play which has led people to contact a stylist in the first place. I often hear people say, “I think I just need a few new tops” or “I end up putting the same pieces on every day, I’m bored”. Then I look in the wardrobe and find it bursting with items that actually don’t work for their body shape or I find 50 tops that have been lurking in the wardrobe for some time which really need moving on. So, it is much easier for me to gauge what each person needs when I’m standing in their wardrobe rather than simply heading out to find new items of clothing…However there are some of the techniques that I use to assess and organise a wardrobe that remain consistent.


A few further points to note; I divide my wardrobe into tops (short and long sleeve), jackets/coats (short and long), dresses (long and short), pants, skirts, shorts. I have 2 wardrobes - my bedroom wardrobe and a spare room cupboard which houses the “out of season” survivors! This spare wardrobe is not huge but in the middle of summer I don’t want to be looking at winter coats and to get to a particular top I want so I like to order by season. I do this exact wardrobe cleansing/ organising process 4 times a year - following the seasons. Yes, I have a lot of clothing and I am

clearly not a friend of Marie Kondo! However, because of the amount of clothing I have and the fact that my wardrobe space is not huge, I need to be organised. Now that is out the way let me share with you my process.


1. Assess each section as I’m taking it out

2. Pack away non-current seasons survivors

3. Hang up the current season (each section is hung by category and colour order)

4. Deal with the “outcasts” NOW

5. Form a list of what you actually need for the new season


1.LETS HAVE AN ASSESSMENT.

Assessment sounded horrible when we were at school but it is absolutely liberating in your wardrobe. I start by taking everything out of my wardrobe and assessing each item of clothing as it comes out. One section at a time, items go out from my wardrobe into two piles: one for heading out of my house and another heading to my spare wardrobe. This sounds excessive but it does not take long! And I find it gives me a chance to see if anything has passed its use by date, what needs repair, what needs dry-cleaning before it sits in a cupboard for a few months or what goes back in straight away because I wear it all year round. Going section by section allows you to see just how many black jackets you have or how many tops you have that really are the same! When doing this with clients, I can easily see whether you have loads of colour or none. It can tell me what your buying patterns are and where your gaps are. By the end of this I will have items that go straight back in the wardrobe

(because I wear them all the time), items that need to go into another space because they are not going to be worn this season and finally a pile that need to have their future freed up!


2. STAY AND PACK AWAY.

I love dry-cleaning my well used coats before I put them into storage but for some this process might just simply be moving the hangers to another wardrobe! I put all my jumpers into plastic boxes (with tissue and moth catchers on the outside of the box as I would be devastated to loose jumpers to hungry bugs!!!). I pack my boots with boot trees to ensure they keep their shape. Regardless of how you “pack” your clothes and shoes you don’t want winter coats that you won’t wear for the next few months hanging in prime position in your wardrobe. If you do not have a spare cupboard then put these “out of season” items into the edges of your wardrobe. You need to have your current season items, which you wear every day in the best, easiest to access spots. Dressing shouldn’t give you a headache each morning!!


3. THE HANGING.

Next rehang all your current seasons items in your wardrobe. Re hanging section by section can help you take stock of just how many or few items you have in each category. This process gives us a chance to really see where the gaps are in a wardrobe. You have all probably guessed I have my phone handy and jot down any items I’m removing and need to replace as well as where my gaps are. This way I'm buying exactly what I need not getting caught up in the moment and spending my seasons budget on a kaftan that won’t help me with my day-to-day dressing!!