It never fails to happen around this time of year. I open a drawer or step foot into my closet and just feel this tidal wave of “meh” wash over my spirit. That “I-have-nothing-to-wear” feeling is super real and so universal. It happened to me often enough when I lived in warm climates, especially if I had a special occasion on the horizon. The seasonal pressure is even worse, and if you live in a place with changing seasons, you know the annual emotional rollercoaster. The in-between-seasons dilemma is something I’ve been trying to figure out, but now I’ve got some professional help and perspective. Bellas, meet Allie Chantel, a talented up and coming wardrobe stylist and personal shopper for full figured women.
“No one knows how hard it is to shop for plus size women, other than another plus size woman! I started this journey because I would always get so many compliments on stage outfits and basic things I would wear while running errands or when I would go out to events. One day, a lady told me she would pay me to help her look as “sharp” as I did. I was flattered, and something clicked…that was over 3 years ago and I’ve been styling ever since,” she says. I met Allie at the Eloquii Women of Power event, and I’m so impressed by her vision and capabilities. She shared some great tips on maximizing what you have to build a closet that works for you. Hope this helps you like it’s helped me! Here are her answers to all my closet improvement questions. And here I am, literally trying out her tips in my closet!
Afrobella — What is the main thing most women get wrong about having an organized closet?
Allie — Closet Myth: Organizing your closet is overwhelming… WRONG!
Closets are actually highly underused! They can be an amazing tool for daily efficiency, especially for the morning routine. The thing I find most women get wrong, is displaying too many seasons at once. Too many times I walk into a closet and see a pair of denim shorts snugly fit next to a pair or corduroy pants. Ideally, you want to swap out your closet quarterly, parallel to when the seasons change. But if that’s too often for you, I recommend having no more than 2 seasons at a time on display.
Afrobella — For women like myself with many dresses (note, I didn’t say TOO many!) what’s the best way to organize them? I had mine organized by length, but should I focus on by color?
Allie — You definitely want to organize items by color! Even matching hues are extremely helpful. If you really want to maximize, the next step is organizing by length and sleeve cut. This gives you another subconscious layer of organization. As you think of a certain dress you may want to wear, when you open your closet your eye knows exactly where the dress should be based on your layout by color and hue. This small trick helps eliminate anxiety that may come with a fully loaded closet.
Afrobella — For those of us who live in Chicago, what are we supposed to do to keep it together? One day it’s 90 degree summertime, the next it’s in the 50’s or 60’s, cold and foggy. What are your tips for Chicago closet organization?
Allie — If you’re a Midwesterner, this is definitely our lives! For those weeks where we may encounter 3 seasons within 72 hours, I recommend keeping a few off-season basics. ONLY A FEW! For summertime Chi, try to keep 3-5 sweaters (still color coordinated) in your closet, along with at least 3 pairs of jeans/pants. This way you maintain the organization of a single season, but you’re prepared for those cooler mornings/nights.
Afrobella — You’re an up and coming stylist, and you focus on plus size clients, clients with curves. Can you tell me some of the staple items curvy women need as closet basics?
Allie — Being plus size my entire life, and having so many friends who were not, I realized early on that all wardrobe challenges are not the same. Even within the plus size space! 4 items you can never go wrong with as a full figured woman are:
-Midnight Wash Skinny Leg Jeans
No matter the silhouette, there’s a specific polished look a tapered pant gives an outfit. Lighter jeans can have a similar affect, but the super dark midnight wash is flattering for all body types as it almost mirrors black.
-Easy Breezy Sweater or Jacket.
The easy breezy sweater or jacket serves as your ultimate accessory. It’s kinda like your best friend in your closet. You love taking it everywhere because you know it will take care of you! If you’re hesitant about showing off your arms, or having too much of your midsection defined, don’t get rid of that super cute top, tank or dress, just grab your easy breezy! It’s also a way to add another dimension of color or print to your wardrobe.
-Gold or Silver Flats
Sometimes shoes are an afterthought, but they can completely elevate an outfit-especially a simple outfit! Let’s say you’re exploring different patterns or colors and the look you’ve got is enough for you, but you’re not sure what shoes-almost ALWAYS, either gold or silver flats can be the perfect finishing touch.
-A Casual Dress That Lets You Be Great!
This dress will vary based on your level of comfort. I’m top heavy with a narrow bottom half and I absolutely love my legs. My casual dress is a sleeveless black skater (flares out a bit from the waist down) that comes just above my knees. It gives the allusion of a more pronounced waistline. I can wear this dress for a girls’ night out, dressing it up with heels and accessories, or I can wear it to the family picnic with sneakers or sandals. This basic but staple piece is your confidence booster. It won’t require you to wear much shape wear (it’s too hot for all of that sometimes!) and it doesn’t take much maintenance! It could be your favorite color or accentuate your butt just how you like — as long as it makes you feel comfortable!
Since doing this interview with Allie, I used some of her tips to get my closet together! I’ve been going through my drawers and prepping a bag of donations to my favorite local charity (Sarah’s Circle) as well as a bag of items for consignment. In the process, I’ve rediscovered so many tops and sweaters that I’d forgotten about or overlooked, items that fit better now or looked better if styled with a belt or cardigan or jewelry. Part of my closet rejuvenation process is taking older items I haven’t worn in a while, and doing a weekend closet prep, the same way one might do a meal prep – just taking time to wash, steam and prominently hang up pieces you haven’t worn makes them priority items, rather than items you may typically overlook. Next step – organizing my dresses. Wish me luck! Thank you for the phenomenal tips, Allie!
Allie Chantel is a multi-dimensional wardrobe stylist and personal shopper for full figured women. Growing up in Chicago’s music scene as a performer and vocalist, she has always been passionate about looking and feeling her best both on and off the stage. As her singing career expanded, placing her as background vocalist for some of the biggest names in the industry including Jamila Woods, Chance The Rapper, New Kids On The Block, Alice Cooper and many more, she realized there was an undeniable need for more high fashion and eclectic wardrobe pieces that catered to women like herself- plus size! Allie’s mission is to empower each of her clients to be their authentic selves regardless of their environments, pushing their style boundaries and elevating their self-image one piece at a time. Check her out at @Allie_Chantel and her website in development: www.curvesizeshop.com