Closet Swap / by Darcy Olmstead

original post over at Outfits + Observations

The age old story: girl meets wardrobe but can’t, for all she can muster, come up with a single outfit idea. She’s tried just about every combination in the book. She’s worn scarves on her ankles, transformed skirts into tube tops, even tried earrings as nipple accessories, but her mind is squeezed dry. She doesn’t have time to freshen up her closet with an early morning shopping spree let alone the paycheck to fund it.

This is a problem we’ve all faced - not to mention a tired fashion blog cliche - but it’s about time we at Outfits + Observations addressed it. I for one have done a lot of thinking on the whole “Stylist’s Block” dilemma. Sometimes I feel as if my creativity has been completely cut off (I can’t remember a day when I was truly satisfied with one of my outfits). I’d find myself wishing I had the ability to just hire my own stylist, but who was I kidding? The average person has only themselves.

That’s where I was wrong.

Turns out, most girls who “like” fashion tend to attract others of the same variety. Who knew? I’m surrounded by friends with brains that seem to constantly ooze out style ideas (gross, but I want it). Why not have them style me? Bada bing bada boom this photoshoot/fashion challenge (captured by our own fabulous Jenna Blakeman) was born.

The Goal: each girl (Claire, Bailey, Abby, and I) was to be styled by the rest, in her own clothes, with NO OBJECTIONS whatsoever. We spent the afternoon touring house-to-house and tearing each other's closets apart. The hope was that with other people styling, our clothes and closets would take on fresh perspectives. Maybe we could learn a thing or two. Here’s each girl’s take on the process:

Claire: “I thought it was interesting to see how we interacted with each other's closets! The styling process put a completely different perspective on each girl’s clothes. We would select pieces that instantly stood out to us but the owner rarely touched. My favorite item in my closet is a black maxi dress, and I picked up the silver version (the one I was styled in) when I found it on sale, but I’ve only worn it once or twice. I was stuck on how to style it, but the girls made it fun and easy by adding a graphic tank and a choker that I made when I was five. I highly recommend letting your fashionable friends take a look at your closet!”

Darcy: “I didn’t realize how difficult the whole ‘without protest’ part of this challenge would be for me. I was totally game to be styled by my more fashionable friends, but I had no idea what I was in for. Having my own sense of style never seemed that important to me (I always thought I was a bit erratic in my taste, always down to try something new) but inviting Abby, Claire, and Bailey into my closet definitely changed my perspective. Abby kept trying to get me into a “vest” but I had to tell her that while that may work for her body type, it would just leave me looking frumpier than usual. I also got a lot of flack for my love of neutral tones and my hesitancy about mixing patterns. They eventually landed on an old shirt I hadn’t worn in months and spiced it up with some of my great-grandmother’s old brooches. Then, to complete the whole ‘walking picnic table’ look they tied some of my favorite bandanas to my wrist. I never would have seen bandanas as bracelets. All in all, I appreciated looking at my style through different eyes, but ultimately I learned to trust in my own taste. I’m the only one who knows what works best for me.”

Bailey: “In the beginning, my biggest fears regarding a closet swap were revolved around my friends seeing my messy room. After I came to terms with the fact that they didn't particularly care (maybe thanks to the quick, panicked clean up I did beforehand), I realized that the bigger issue at hand was my reluctance to give up control and let my friends style me. I took it all without any vocal complaints, but on the inside I really struggled with my outfit choice. They chose a patterned skirt for me that I had recently seen on a very pretty and very curvy actress on Riverdale, and to say that it didn't fit me the same way as it did her is an understatement. Pairing it with a thrifted red striped button down didn't make me feel much better, though I don't doubt the whole outfit would look better on any one of them. The outfit just wasn't really me, despite the fact that the two pieces came directly from my closet."

Abby: “Considering the goal of the closet swap, all in all, we failed miserably. Those being styled objected to new combinations. Those styling got worn out quickly. Each outfit looked unmistakably like something the wearer would wear. By the end, the process seemed more like a chore than a creative collaboration. In fact, there was little collaboration as each outfit tended to be dominated by one person (in some cases the one being styled). This is such a testament to how personal style is. Asking someone to wear something they wouldn’t normally is asking them to be someone they’re not. Furthermore, asking them to wear their own piece in a way they wouldn’t normally is asking them to betray the relationship they’ve forged with that piece. While this exploration can be a phenomenal tool to learning more about yourself while expanding your style perspective, it proves to be incredibly difficult. As I was the last to be styled, my stylists were exhausted. I ended up pointing out the outfit pictured and, relieved, they agreed.”