Monday, October 1, 2012

Closet Crash Course: Lindsay

Anyone still with me? Or did you all die from suspense?!

Ok...over dramatics aside (for the moment), it's time for the big reveal of my first 
Closet Crash Course. (If you're a little lost, check out the intro post.)

This is Lindsay: 

Actually, this is Lindsay: 

See those precious little bugs photobombing her portrait? Those are her babies. Her 13-months-a-part babies. Yep. She's a mama, and a super mama at that! But she's also so much more...In her own words, Lindsay is a "wife, social, wine drinker, mother, church-goer, bar-goer, thinker, writer, passionate" (How great is that? Could you sum yourself up that well? If you don't already know her, you totally want to, right?)

It goes without saying that two kids in *just* over a year is a big transition, but Lindsay is going through a shift in her work world too. Since the babies, she's gone from working full time, then part time, to now starting a business. So now she spends the bulk of her time home with the kids, but prefaces that by describing herself as a "wake up - shower - make-up kind of mom", and cautioning "no rolling around in sweats with my hair a wreck". (What? Staying home, but not wearing sweats? Did I mention that I was nervous I'm under qualified for this?)

In talking with Lindsay a bit more, I found that basically she's looking for some casual outfits, that make her feel put together, even if it's just to go chase the kids around in the park. She's struggling with the same thing a lot of new moms battle- a closet full of clothes in five different sizes, that are all too ratty to feel cute, or too nice to be practical. She feels stunk in the "jean zone" and wants to mix things up a bit rather than just wearing a different colored version of the same top each day. (Ummm, sound familiar? I'm starting to think Lindsay is the voice of all new moms.)

A bit more about Lindsay:
  • Self-described style: classic with some funk
  • Deal breakers: red plaid, logos, wedge shoes, stretchy jeans, horizontal striped anything. (We all know I can't work with that last rule, so we'll see how long that lasts)
  • Quirks: Never wears belts (confesses she doesn't really understand the concept), doesn't like thick sweaters ("they're hot and itchy!"), Gets bored quickly, but doest have the funds to constantly buy new things (again- sound familiar?!)
  • Needs: easy, go-to outfits that she knows look good, with the option to dress it up a bit more for client meetings, nights out with the girls, or dates with her hubby.
So armed with that information, I began the "Crash" part of the process. She showed me around her wardrobe...and I have to say, that though it was fun to poke around someone else's stuff (so nosy!) I was still nervous that I was in over my head with this idea.

Thankfully, Lindsay's closet came with a pep talk: 

So I shoved aside the self doubt, and started making a mess. I mean, making some outfits:
And since you've already waded through a novel of my blabbering, let's move swiftly along to the outfits, shall we?

Outfit 1: 

So yeah, she says she hates stripes. But she owns this shirt, so I felt it was my duty to show her that stripes aren't so scary after all. I paired this boatneck top with a similar toned cord jacket. She can wear the shirt during the day with the kids, and then throw on the jacket to class it up a notch if she's got a meeting, or date. Add some medium-dark denim and you're done. Oh- and how great is this vintage gold necklace? I'm obsessed with it (I had to hold myself back from snagging it as a souvenir) but Lindsay was a touch horrified that I used it. Turns out she doesn't "get" gold...thinking it's too old fashioned, but I love how simple it is with this classic preppy look, and the gold pairs well with the warm colors of the outfit. Anyone else scared to wear gold? I know it got a bad wrap there for a bit in the early 2000's, but it's back, so if you've been on a gold hiatus, give it a try!

Perfect pairing: 
This might be too crazy for Lindsay right out of the gate, but let's have some fun.....How about adding some cheetah flats? (I wish they were leopard because that sounds classier....) Animal prints can be CAH-razy if they're used too much, but a little hit here and there (a belt, a watch band, a shoe) can be a fun but sophisticated touch to an otherwise simple outfit.

Cheetah flats: Target

I'd also recommend a classic watch, with a few bangles to fem it up a bit.

Watch: Fossil

Outfit 2: 

This is an easy, easy, example of how to take a favorite summer piece and rework it for fall. Wardrobe extending staple: a drapey cardigan. Lindsay loved this dress for the warmer months, but needed a way to extend its life into the next season. Plus, she wasn't so fond of how much it showed off, so the cardigan is a perfect solution for both needs. I found some yellow hoops that play well off of the subtle safari vibe, and make the whole outfit look a bit more polished.

Accessory extra:
Add a big bag, perfect for lugging around the kids stuff, or toting work files. I like the bohemian look of the slouchy leather and braided trim on this one, but the hardware keeps it professional. (p.s. the peach romper shown with the bag? not professional. ignore.)

Dakota vegan leather bag: Baghaus

Outfit 3: 

Mmmmmmm, mustard. 
Ok- I actually hate mustard-the-food. But mustard-the-color? Can't get enough. This is a great basic piece that Lindsey can wear with almost anything. I chose some warm tweed dress pants, to help push her to the more tailored end of the spectrum, but she could easily wear it with some destroyed denim to kick around on the weekend. To finish off the look, I added a skinny belt, another item Lindsay owns, but is nervous about wearing. If you're not used to wearing belts, they can seem tricky, but give it a shot. It's a great way to cinch your waist in and give boxier tops more of a shape, and can help inject a bit of color into an otherwise plain outfit.

Add on suggestions:

Though her brown belt works, this would be an easy place to try one of fall's biggest trends- Oxblood (not oxblood-the-blood, oxblood-the-color). A skinny maroon belt would look great with these classic autumn colors.

Patent Belt: Forever 21

Another Courtney accessory go-to option: a scarf! I'm not sure I've ever seen an outfit that doesn't call for a scarf....and this look is no exception. I'd go with a woven printed version to contrast against the soft knit of the sweater, and add some pattern to the look.

Vintage Flower Scarf: Madewell

Or, Want to mix it up even more? Try tucking the sweater into a pencil skirt, and adding some boots. Yellow may seem like a bright color, but this shade of mustard pretty much acts as a neutral, so you can still go bold with other pieces. I'm loving this  corduroy pencil skirt for a pop of color and a cozy texture. I'm not sure Lindsay's going to rock a bright pink skirt with such a punchy color up top, but with the current color blocking trend now's the time to go bold. (Ask yourself WWJCD? what would J.Crew do? They'd go for it.)

Perfect-Cord Pencil Skirt: Old Navy

Outfit 4: 
Ok, this one might be my favorite....Not because of the end outfit, but because of how it started. See this drapey lace shirt? Looks good with a tank under it, right?

OH, but that tank is attached. AND it's only half a tank. A front tank.

Yes, we've stumbled upon the elusive mullet shirt. Business in the front, party (i.e. nothing) in the back. What the...?

So I gave Lindsay a hard time about it for a while, but it turns out it's still workable, quirks aside. I suggested pretending the tank wasn't there, and putting the shirt on with the tank in the back. It still lays flat, and then you have more options for what to wear under it, without being locked into the brown/white combo.

I put it over a cobalt maxi dress for an easy flowey combo.

Swap out the shirt: 

One of my favorite tricks is to turn a dress into a skirt, by layering over it. This way she can still rock the maxi, but feel more covered up top, and again...extend one item's life into the next season.

Denim Jacket: American Eagle
Space Dye Sweater: Loft.

Outfit 5: 

Alright...I don't have much to say about this one....I just love this sweater. I'm pretty sure Lindsay will never wear it (it falls into "hot/thick/itchy" territory) but I think it's Grandma-Pretty (yes, that's a compliment. I wore it around her closet for ten minutes pretending it was mine), so it deserved at least a pic or two.

Outfit 6: 

This one is a no brainer...plain T with a cardi over it. I like the "short over long" look because you can show off your under layer, and again- get more use out of your short sleeve stuff all through the winter. This combo is a little plain jane, but adding a bright scarf helps liven it up a bit.

Change it up:

I'd stick with a scarf, but swap the bulkier yarn version for a lightweight loop scarf. The pattern adds a little color, and the fabric contrast better against the chunky knit of the sweater. And for those of you who still panic about wearing black and brown together...don't. If it's neutral, you can mix it, with very few exceptions.

Floral Eternity Scarf: Urban Outfitters

And though there's nothing wrong with a solid white T, this outfit could benefit from a shirt-switch. A medium heather grey would be nice (1: because grey is always the answer in my mind, and 2: because it's yet another neutral tone to build this outfit, giving the whole look depth.) And if she was feeling crazy, she could go with a stripe.

Striped T: Old Navy


And that my friends, wraps up this edition of Closet Crash Course. I had a blast playing around....Lindsay was so gracious about letting me root around in her stuff, and her angel babies slept practically the whole time. (Can I swap fashion advice for baby-whisperer techniques?)

But how about you armchair fashionistas? Do you have advice for Lindsay? Do you identify with her struggles? What would you have liked to see for her?

And if you're interested in being featured in the next round, send me an email and I'll get you all the details. cjsbowden at gmail dot com

Happy Shopping!


  1. 1) you are funny.
    2) you are talented; way to break it down for my fashion mental blocks!
    3) i'll be shopping for these accessories/shirts, etc VERY SOON. and i'll probably just get exactly what you told me to because, i'm that kinda girl. (usually shopping off of what the manikin has on!)
    4) thank you for being so easy going; for graciously rooting through my closet and not judging my closet insanity.

    1. Thanks Lindsay! Hopefully this helps get you "unstuck" when you go to get dressed in the morning. And I'm excited to see what you pick up when you go shopping next...Your adoring fans will need an update! ;)

  2. I'm super impressed that all those great outfits were discovered already in her closet! This is a FABULOUS idea - to rethink the worn out and stacked high piles of neglected clothes and put together actual outfits, complete with jewelry and scarves. I'm inspired.

    1. Oh Kathryn I'm glad! I think everyone has some gems hidden away...sometimes a fresh eye can help discover some new combos!

  3. LOVE! The first outfit is my fav i think - I love this idea.

    1. Thanks meg! I like that one too....It's crazy how different people's style is. I don't own a single red piece, and Lindsay has a ton of it. It was good for me to get out of a rut too!

  4. Can I be next? I'm a little past the new mom thing, but still generally clueless. I read People's "fashion watch" fall mag over vaca and was generally horrified. I'm also in a transition between working in an office and working from home...
    I just realized this isn't facebook, but I'm Lindsay's sister Erin.

    1. Hey Erin! I'd love to work with you....I'll send you a message!

  5. THis is GREAT!!! I love this concept Courtney - And I see every time I read your blog why you rock at your job - but seriously. LOVE THIS!

    1. Aw, thank you Kacia! It's a fun project...I think I could get addicted to it!

  6. Your friend Lindsay has beautiful eyes. And bless her heart having babies that close together. I thought three in four years was tough, but she takes the prize!

    This is such an exciting little project you have started here! I certainly want to be a future client at some point. Although you will probably look in my closet and say, "Happy, I'm good, but I'm not a miracle worker."

    The selection is so sparse I could probably hang them from the back of my van, making a trunk closet, and bring them to a future book club meeting! I wish I were joking.

    Ps. This post was great, but the Piper-less aspect was a little sad so I hope you have a new post with some baby girl cuteness in the hopper!

  7. Courtney -- Seriously, you need to add me to your future list!!! This post is awesome!!! (and inspiring...I really need to purge the excess in my closet - help!)

  8. Wow! I just realized that I hired you without seeing outfits 4-6 because I didn't click on 'read more' before! I love all of your fashion insider tips and am so glad I was able to snag you before you're famous and charging outrageous fees! :)