The problem: The cramped armoire in Charissa Almonte’s West Orange, New Jersey, apartment just isn’t cutting it. (And it doesn’t help that her work commute includes a shortcut through a mall, where she is tempted to buy more.) But close quarters isn’t the only issue. During the week, Charissa, 32, a sales consultant for an investor service, spends her days buttoned up in business suits―a far cry from her charismatic nature, as demonstrated by the statement-making tops, jewelry, and shoes she saves for the weekend. “I feel like I have an eclectic sense of style,” she says. “But for work I’ve fallen into the monotony of basic suits.”
The expert advice: Mix business with pleasure. “Charissa needed to break up her suits,” says stylist Sarah Davidzuk. By combining her “strictly weekend” clothes and accessories with her work attire, she can multiply her options instantly. “I’ve learned to make sure that the pieces I keep are in line with my personality,” says Charissa. One of her new favorites is a slim-cut leather jacket that can take the place of a blazer when it’s layered over a workday sheath. “I see my closet differently now, and I’m finding new ways to pull together a fashionable yet professional look.” Mostly, though, she says, “I realize that I do have enough to wear.”
2 of 3 Jessica Antola
Charissa’s Closet Confessions
Number of pairs of shoes I own: 50.
Number of pairs I actually wear: 20.
Number of items I’ve never worn: There are 10 items with tags, and two pairs of shoes and two pairs of pants that are still unused.
Favorite pair of jeans: I haven’t found jeans that flatter me. I have owned only five pairs in my life.
I always buy but never wear: Belts, even though I most often use a red leather one that I bought in Buenos Aires.
Number of wardrobe changes before I leave the house: For work, I limit it to one or two. For a night out, it takes four.
Number of purchases within the last six months: Seven.
3 of 3 Jessica Antola
The way things were: Charissa has trouble getting dressed in the morning due to all the clutter. “She resigns herself to wearing just a few suits,” says Davidzuk.
Paring down: Fashion consultant Joe Lupo recommended that she hang clothing by category―jackets with jackets, shirts with shirts―and then by color, from light to dark, because “you have to be able to see everything you have in order to wear it.” In the process, many of Charissa’s hardly worn sale items got the boot.
New looks: Organizing her clothing forced Charissa to split up her standby ensembles into separates and inspired her to create new matches. For instance, the lacy blouse and embroidered heels she would normally slip into for a Saturday night out can now pump up a conservative black skirt on Monday. Finally, her closet is cohesive and everything is in its place.