The Personal Style Journey of an Interior Designer

I've talked about looking to your closest for some hints at your interior design style, but I haven't yet done a post on my own closet, my personal style journey as it pertains to clothing, and how that does or does't parallel the styles my interior design projects.



I'll start maybe three years ago with discovering the style blogger Caroline Joy. When I stumbled upon her instagram, she was promoting her 10 x 10 Wardrobe Challenge: 10 items / 10 days / 10 outfits—and the 10 pieces is inclusive of your clothing items AND shoes AND accessories (although, not jewelry). Basically, it's a teeny tiny capsule wardrobe (which I had never heard of until this point) that challenges you to be creative and discover how to use the pieces in different ways over those 10 days.

Carolines blog sent me on a capsule wardrobe kick, and I started researching other style blogs to learn more about the strategy.

If you are new to capsule wardrobes, essentially, it's a wardrobe with a limited number of pieces (a "cap", if you will!), and typically, the pieces all stick within a certain palette or style so that they can be easily interchanged to work with the other pieces in the capsule. Some people are super hardcore about their capsules, (nothing comes in until something goes out!) and people utilize them for all different motivations—like caring for the environment, since buying fewer higher quality pieces tends to be better for the earth, or perhaps for the creative style challenge.

I, however, enjoy the concept of capsules for the simplicity. It's like building a closet of 4-5 "uniforms" you can utilize again and again, and the mental space it saves me on decision making is KEY. I have to make decisions all day long in my business and in our client's design projects, so if I can save myself a few more decisions in the morning while I'm getting ready? YES PLEASE.

That said, the idea of having fewer clothes that all worked together nicely was super inspiring to me! I had spent most of my life until getting married having an over stuffed closet—one of those so many clothes but nothing to wear kind of deals. And that's incredibly infuriating! I also felt like I always had to be thinking up new creative outfits, and never felt like I had a good handle on how my pieces could work together, and I felt like a capsule could solve that problem.

Now, I probably have a closet of 25 pieces (clothing only, not shoes/accessories) in each season, some that overlap from warmer to cooler months, and some that don't. I also like to take all the off-season items out and store them in the guest room closet. This makes it easier to see all the realistic options in my closet and automatically eliminates anything that doesn't make sense for the season. Since I likely wouldn't wear my high waist shorts or super light tanks in the middle of November, I can store those away until spring.

Removing off season items from my closet also helps me not to get sick of the items in my wardrobe! When I haven't seen a piece for a whole season, I get excited to get it back out! I think, "oh, this shirt! I loved wearing that last summer!" If I had stared at it all winter long knowing it wasn't a viable option for that season, I probably would have started to associate negative feelings with the piece. Give your clothing (and your brain) the benefit of being stored away for the off-season!


So, what about adding new pieces to your wardrobe? Under the right circumstances, I do like to shop for clothing, but it used to be very haphazard and impulsive. Now, I do one major "haul" in the summer, and one in the winter. This gives me time to live with each new edition of my wardrobe, and to discover which pieces I loved and wore a tone, which pieces sat on the hanger all season, what my wardrobe is lacking, and what new styles I'm seeing each season that I'd like to recreate in my closet.


I'm super lucky in that my birthday falls in June—a whole six months from Christmas! My parents live on the east side of Michigan, so for the last several years, instead of traditional Christmas or birthday gifts, my mom and I plan one big shopping trip in May/June an another in Nov/Dec. So YES. My mother sponsors my wardrobe!! I'm not ashamed one bit :) Shopping has always been something we've loved to do together, and now that I'm in Grand Rapids, it's the perfect excuse to get together at least twice a year and partake in a favorite activity.

This has turned out to be the perfect wardrobe-routine for me! I know that come summer or come winter, I'll have the opportunity to add a handful of new key pieces to my closet, so I start a little list in my phone and when I think of something new that would make my closet easier to wear or make more sense, I simply add it to the list!


I also do the same with jewelry and accessories. I typically have 1-2 pair of earrings that I wear consistently each season, and one or two other accessories, such as a scarf or bag, that sticks with me throughout the season as well. Not being a personal stylist, or even someone who is particularly interested in fashion, I opt to keep things super simple. I want to look great and stylish (people sort of expect this when you're a designer, and I'm a big believer in dressing the part), but I don't feel the need to be super adventurous or challenge myself with fashion on a regular basis. Each season, I basically want to "set it and forget it".


As for shoes? This is a tricky one for me! I'm a size 10, so just finding cute shoes in my size that don't make my feet look giant is a bit of a challenge. I'm also, for some reason, incredibly hard on shoes! If I have a pair that lasts more than one season—yes, even super nice expensive shoes, which is why I opt not to spend a lot on shoes!—it's a miracle. SO. In winter, I'll usually have one black and one tan pair of fashion boots, along with one pair of winter boots I can wear for shoveling or for SUPER slippery days. Then in the summer, I'll have one nice pair of sandals, usually tan, a nice pair of flats, and usually my boots get worn in the summer months as well.


Lastly, one of the greatest changes I've made over the last 2-3 years is to suuuuper narrow down my special occasion wear. I used to have sooooo many dresses and dress shoes, but all those pieces that I'd wear once a year took up way too much closet (and brain) space. Now? I literally have one little black dress that I ADORE—as see below—and one pair of nude heals, and I wear this one outfit to every. single. fancy. occasion. Which amounts to maybe three times a year. Because it's simple and black, it's not super obvious that I'm wearing the same thing over and over, plus, I can switch up my jewelry for a pop of something new.


Being a curly-haired gal, figuring out how to style, manage, maintain, and communicate to my stylist what I'm looking for has been a journey all in itself, not to mention finding a stylist who truly knows curls. I will say, though, that different clothing combos have looked different or felt better/worse depending on my current do.

Below are a few renditions of my hair over the years. For now, I've landed on an a-line / inverted slightly longer than shoulder length cut. It's fairly easy to maintain, doesn't take a million hours to do in the morning, can still fit into a pony when needed, and needs to be trimmed about every 10 weeks. This seems to be working out pretty well for me in this season!

Above: Three years back, super layered, slightly above shoulder and with face frame (I don't have the bang "step" anymore, which has been a game-changer)

Above: Two years back, layered and SUPER short. The only time my hair has been above my chin. Hated this, mainly because there were so few options, and putting my hair up was impossible.