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A Place for Everything

A stylist transforms my life—uhhh, closet



Stylist and organizer Jean Gordon puts the finishing touches on a full closet re-design.

Photo by Stan Godlewski

Some women fantasize about going on a shopping extravaganza or splurging on costly jewelry. Me? I yearn for an organized, functional closet. Admittedly not a particularly sexy fantasy, but hey, it’s mine! I’m sure you’re thinking, “Anybody can organize a closet!” but you would be so, so wrong.

This quest has eluded me for decades. Years ago I paid a steep price to have a closet system installed, believing this would end my organizational woes. Nuh uh. Within a matter of weeks it was a mess again—crammed with fashionable flotsam and jetsam—clothes, shoes, hats, purses, costume jewelry, cosmetics, and an endless jumble of hair accessories.

 The ultimate irony was that I had tons of clothes and yet never seemed to have anything stylish to wear. So I bought more clothes and soon developed TJ Maxx Syndrome, snapping up “great deals” only to discover these items crumpled on the closet floor, with the tags still on them months later with me asking myself, “Why on earth did I buy that?” In despair, I resorted to wearing a humdrum uniform of black leggings and an oversize top pretty much every day. Ugh.

How could it be that I was so organized and disciplined in other areas of my life, but couldn’t manage to keep my closet tidy? I was consumed with guilt and shame. 

Recently, all that changed when I met professional stylist and closet magician, Jean Gordon. I first noticed her Instagram feed @jeangordon.style and actually swooned over the elegant, curated spaces she documented. Gordon was my last hope. During her tenure as a marketing executive in the beauty and fashion industry (Victoria’s Secret, Mac Cosmetics, Donna Karan, Ralph Lauren) Gordon picked up many tricks of the trade. After moving to Wilton with her husband and young son six years ago, she decided to start her own business: Jean Gordon Style. 

During a phone consultation, I confessed my sins and outlined my wardrobe goals. Gordon assured me that I was not alone. “People lead busy lives and that inevitably leads to a closet full of clutter. I coach my clients on what to get rid of, and why. And then I show them how to do it.” 

Gordon was so knowledgeable and confident about her ability to help me (“I love what I do!” she enthused more than once) that I felt no apprehension at all, and eagerly agreed to a complete closet do-over. Armed with a portable clothing rack, a stack of ivory canvas bins, and lots of labels, Gordon launched her style assault at 10:30 a.m. on a Tuesday. By the time she left at 10 that night, my closet was completely streamlined and redefined.

Clothes that were too small that I couldn’t part with went into a separate bin, others were put aside for a friend, and the rest consigned to a donation bin. Favorite and frequently worn clothing items were reassigned to a more accessible location; shelf heights were changed to allow boots and shoes to be more visible; belts were hung on special hangers; and exercise clothes and sweaters were relocated to individual, labeled bins. 

Now there is a place for everything. It’s a snap to find whatever I’m looking for, and just as easy to put items back where they belong. Special-occasion clothing I was “saving for good” has been seamlessly integrated into my regular day-to-day fare. Gordon showed me how to mix it up and create new looks. For instance a beloved velvet dress is now combined with leather lace up boots, an oversize scarf, and a dash of confidence. Et voila!

The other brilliant thing Gordon does for clients is send them a style recap, outlining dos (Do buy a pair of tailored black pants) and don’ts (Don’t buy any more long black dresses), along with a list of designers that work for your body type, and links to specific items missing from your wardrobe.

Jean Gordon transformed my closet and, in many ways, my life. I no longer struggle to find something to wear in the morning and I’m having fun pulling new looks together. At least once a day I can be found standing in my newly refurbished space, admiring just how inviting and orderly it is. In the world of closets, as in body types, there is no one-size-fits-all. I learned, with expert help from a specialist, that I can have the closet of my dreams. And I do.

 

 

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