Friday, November 2, 2012

Closet Crash Course: Erin

It’s time! Closet Crash Course time!

Quick backstory: Erin is a work at home mom, hoping for some pulled together looks to make the most of what she owns, and make her feel a touch more polished. She’s got some great building blocks, but needed a little shove to take some risks and ease out of her clothing-comfort zone. Let’s get to it!

Outfit 1:

While I was ransacking her closet, Erin showed me this pink cardigan, and confessed she’s only really worn it once, despite really liking it. I’m a firm believer that every outfit could stand the addition of a cardigan so I was determined to show her how to drag this guy out of her closet and show it off.

I love it here with a printed tank…the colors really work together, and when paired with a brown dress pant, the look can start business casual, and extend into date night.

(We also had a little real-talk session on gold jewelry. Turns out Lindsay isn't the only one who thought that was just for Fly Girls and Flava-Flav. If you’re still worried about wearing gold, stop. Find a simple piece you love and pair it with warm toned ensemble, for a classic, not matronly or ghetto-fab look. And if you’re into ghetto-fab? Awesome…grab some doorknocker earrings, and go on with your bad self.)

Necklace: Loft

And see that purse? That’s where Erin totally taught me a thing or two: It’s some crazy contraption called a Miche Bag where you buy the main portion, and then there are “skins” that you drop it into, to change the look without having to switch all of your stuff into a new bag. Uh, GENIUS! I rock a similar system with a giant purse, and a primary colored cloth diaper sack, but somehow no one is knocking down my door to make that a trend….hmmmm….

Miche shells in Dawn, Leah, and Chloe.

Anyway, I loved this look because Erin was stuck in a bit of a “collar shirt + dress pant= business” rut. Most jobs now have enough flexibility that your wardrobe doesn’t have to be that formulaic. She can easily repurpose some of the more casual pieces in her closet for the business world, if the rest of the outfit is classed-up. To tweak this further, I recommend Erin adds a classic pencil skirt to her closet, to keep the sophisticated business look, but mix up the monotonous dress pant parade.

Pencil Skirt: The Limited 

I love the simple, flattering shape of this one, and the brown color pairs well with a ton of the warm-toned pieces Erin gravitates towards. Plus, I know she’s got a killer pair of heeled boots to add to the mix.

At this point I started getting Erin’s daughter involved in the convo….
Me: “So, are you a girlie-girl, or…”
Lil’ one: “Nah, I’m just a girl. My grandpa likes to hike, so I have to be ready to go.”
This is good advice, folks: When Grandpa comes calling, girl’s gotta be ready.

Outfit 2:

I’m coming to the realization that every Closet Crash I do is going to contain at least one item that I try to weasel into my purse and take home. This time, that item was Erin’s emerald cardigan. It is stunning. Rich and yummy, and I may have put it on pretending to explain an outfitting option, when really I just wanted to pretend I owned it. (It did look good with my outfit though!)

I first paired it with a plain white top, which is a no-brainer, but served as a jumping off point for the extra pieces I had in mind:

For real. I’m having a leopard moment, and I refuse to be sorry. I mean, how good would this look with the rich color of that sweater? Yes, please.
Belt Pair: Steve Madden.

And for shoes I think these would be perfect.

Nude Flats: Target

Erin’s got a great collection of heels, and some fantastic boots, but I think a beyond classic shoe would add a sweet finishing touch to wardrobe, and allow her to up the “dressy” quotient of her every day looks just a smidge, to make her feel that much more confident and put together.

Outfit 3:
Alternative option?

How about a bright red-orange dress?

Ok, at first glance I know it might be a little scary. And actually, in this picture it looks a little Christmas-y. (ok, a lot Christmas-y) But trust me that in person, it was really pretty. Pairing two bold colors is something people are often scared to do, because it might clash, but I encouraged Erin (and now, you!) to go for it. When you put together a look like this, every single person may not love it…but they’re not going to think you don’t know what you’re doing.  The way I see it, if you want to try out a look that scares you a bit, you have two options: Just a taste, or the whole enchilada. Dipping your toe in the trend-water is a safe way to go, and can help you build confidence, but jumping in head-first is sometimes just as rewarding. If you go for it, like all the way go for it, people think you have the confidence it takes to pull off the look. And they’re right. Because you just did it.

So how about switching up the orange for another bold, but more similar color:

Dress: Boden.

Tell me you wouldn’t admire the girl wearing this if you passed her on the sidewalk. I say be that girl.

Outfit 4:

Ok, back to the orange dress…I can’t help it. It's such a pretty piece, and I’m jealous that Erin can pull off this color (I don't own a stitch of red or orange...). For an unexpected twist on the dress, I layered it under a grey and cream striped lace top. (Did you hear all my favorite words just slam into each other? Grey-striped-lace. It’s time for the fashion cliches to come out: I die.)

Not everyone was feeling it…And by “everyone” I mean my stylist-in-training and unofficial shadow: Erin’s daughter.

Pipsqueak: “Why are you putting that shirt OVER that dress?”
Me: “ummmm. Cuz it looks good? Maybe? You don’t think so?”
Why is it that kids can make you feel insecure? Aren’t I supposed to be older and wiser? With better fashion sense?

But even though it wasn’t an instant hit, I’m digging the versatility of treating the dress like a skirt, to give it a different look. It’s got a built in ruched waistband, so Erin will need to add a belt over the outfit to cinch in her waist and avoid looking like a potato sack. Something simple:

And while we’re talking accessories:
How great are Erin’s boots? And get ready to say, “Whaaaa?” They’re from the Victoria’s Secret Catalog. Oh that Colin Stuart. Her really knows his way around a lady’s foot. Depending on the weather, Erin can go bare-legged, or add a tight. A subtle pattern could add interest without being too “out there.”
Tights: Target

And what’s the finishing touch to all things? A scarf! (How we got to outfit 4 before the scarves started coming out, I will never know.) I know I can be a broken record with this scarf thing, but I like to think of it as my signature move. Like when Russian gymnasts have vault maneuvers named after them? If the Olympics ever expand to include a fashion event, pairing a striped shirt with a patterned scarf will be known as a Courtney Bowden. Low difficulty, High artistic value.

Outfit 5:

For the last look, I wanted to bridge the two sides of Erin’s closet. She had a lot of “dressy” that she deemed appropriate for work, and then a pile of “casual” that was for kicking around that house. It’s a common dividing line, but I wanted to bring together some seemingly disparate pieces, to show her how each item can have a life outside of it’s typical function.

We started with a button-down shirt, with a teeny floral pattern. It’s part of Erin’s go-to look when getting dressed for work, but usually worn unlayered, paired with a dress paint. To go for something a little unexpected, I snagged a heathered fleece top, in a coordinating shade of pink. I suspected Erin had only ever worn it to yoga classes, and I was just about right. This look is a classic preppy pairing, but the floral pattern of the shirt and the laid-back fabric of the top give it a fresh twist.

If she liked the idea, but wanted to go more traditional, the shirt could be swapped out for a simple oxford.

Shirt: Gap.

Or to keep the shirt, and make the look a little bit more polished, she could go with a basic lightweight sweater.

V-neck sweater: Old Navy

Add some skinny jeans, and those nude flats from outfit 1, and you’re done.


That about does it...What do you think? Are you digging this crash? Or are you left with questions? Let’s chat! Tell me what you loved, what you’re not sure about, and what you’d still like to know…And don’t worry about offending me. I can handle an honest critique:

Erin’s Daughter: “You say ‘happening’ a lot.”
Me: “ I know, right? And literally. You should literally count.”

And, scene.

Interested in a closet crash course of your own? Email me for details!

Disclaimer: compensated affiliate links may be used in this post.


  1. ah!!! LOVE LOVE LOVE!! Where is that red/orange dress from!?!? I LOVE IT!!!

    and that yellow one? Link is pulled up in a new tab as I write this :)


    1. ooooh...I can't remember...I'll see if I can find out. It's so great though, right? And it's your color!

  2. I love it! Almost makes me want to tackle my closet.. :/

    P.S. Please stash away that pink cardi for me next time you visit Erin! <3

    1. almost....right? :)

      Erin's going to be so excited everyone loves her wardrobe!

  3. great job... yet, I read through these thinking I have nothing stylish in my closet. sad face. I do have a plan to go through everything and see exactly what I do have and what needs to go... soon. no new clothes for me until that process has been tackled.

    And my current quandry is shoes/boots. I need them so very badly and by need I mean need. I find I'm not wearing certain things b/c I'm lacking the right shoe! ugh