By: Claire Locking
One of my New Year’s resolutions was to de-clutter my wardrobe. I had visions of a beautiful colour-coordinated capsule collection of stylish separates with the odd statement piece. The new me would be a vision of classic chic, all quality colours and fabrics beautifully accessorised with just a nod to current trends.
Making this dream a reality was not quite so stylish or chic. The floor of my dressing room (cum study and junk room) was strewn with clothing in every shape, size and colour and yet every time I tried to put something into the junk pile, a memory came flooding back or a thought that it might just come in handy for some random event in the future.
Time to call in the experts! Brit Sheryl Bolden has over 10 years in the fashion industry. She’s been a buyer for everyone from Evans (the UK’s leading outsize label) to Marks & Spencer, so she has a handle on what looks good on all shapes, sizes and budgets.
After the birth of her daughter last year she decided it was time for a change from office life (Sheryl managed the product development of the Per Una range in Asia), so she set up Make My Wardrobe Work.
“When I arrived here from London three years ago, shopping here made me tear my hair out; it was so hard and I soon realised that almost every expat felt the same. There are fewer shops and therefore fewer options and yet people go out more here and care more about their appearance.”
Along with the lack of options for real retail therapy, Sheryl was also aware that people had bulging wardrobes but just weren’t making them work. “I hate wasting beautiful clothes but I’m aware that some people just don’t know how to put things together. Luckily, I’ve spent all my career working with people who do and it’s something I love.”
Sheryl offers three main packages to those who don’t have the time, the know-how or the inclination to make the most of their wardrobe. The Edit is a two-hour clear out and reorganisation with styling advice along the way. The Transformation covers things in more detail, taking in shoes and accessories. The Reinvention does all of the above with the addition of a personal shopping trip, plus advice from make-up artist Sarah Carter.
When Sheryl arrives at my door she is, as you would expect, on trend, perfectly colour-coordinated and effortlessly chic. She’s also a petite size 8 which I’m certainly not. How on earth is she going to be able to relate to my wardrobe dilemmas?
“I keep up with trends but I’m not driven by them,” she admits. “I’ve worked in retail for so long that I know how to dress and I know the rules; my aim is to help clients, no matter their style, size or budget, to see what they have with fresh eyes and make it work for them and their lifestyle.”
We start with an edit of my evening clothes. Sheryl suggests I get a dress that has been lying dormant for several years shortened to a more current length and update it by wearing it with tights and boots and a fitted cardi. She names my plain Cos black tunic dress my “canvas dress”; I discover it has a multitude of uses, from day dress with scarf and flats to ultra-glamorous with towering heels, hair up and statement jewellery.
On to daywear, and my wardrobe contains several printed wrap dresses that I bought way back when magazines proclaimed them to be the answer to every larger-chested woman’s wardrobe dilemma. Sheryl says that prints come with a warning sign and one of my former purchases was too obvious and slightly dated.
“When it comes to prints, you almost want to find what I call a non-print print; a design that morphs into nothing. Monochrome prints are good choices as they never date and are sophisticated.”
A theme begins to emerge during our clear out: anything slightly mumsy or frumpy has to go. Anything I’ve bought with my hippie-chic head on just doesn’t make the grade. Sheryl says that everyone has their own style DNA and the key is to stick to that and not waver. I am, it seems, “urban chic” and that means out go my Sunday-morning rugby-watching checked shirts, my shapeless linen trousers and oversized tunic tops. Colours should be muted and pared down and, although some fun statement pieces are allowed, in general I should be looking for a slightly more sophisticated palette and more fitted pieces.
Just when Sheryl can see light at the end of the tunnel, she discovers my mountain of jeans, insisting I try them on one by one. Half are immediately culled for being too mumsy, too short, or too unflattering. Although I’m managing to pull off the skinny, she claims most women look much better in a straight leg, insisting I head to Top Shop to try on their Baxter range.
The two-hour wardrobe edit seems to fly by and the result gives me the same rush as a successful shopping trip in Zara. Sheryl has devised four new outfits for me out of my existing wardrobe and given me a clearer idea of what suits me best for different occasions.
For generations, women the world over have bonded over a love of shopping. An edit with Sheryl is both a good investment and a fun experience. She leaves me with new confidence, renewed enthusiasm for my wardrobe, a concise shopping list and a bulging bag for the charity shop!