By Traci McBride
It’s an emergency call that for some reason always comes in the wee hours of the morning:
“Something has happened. How soon can you be here?”
Perhaps you’ve experienced such a family emergency or a work situation that had you suddenly throwing clothes into a suitcase and buying an e-ticket for the next flight on your smart phone. No time to make a plan or give thought to what to pack so you can be dressed for whatever situations you will need to deal with once you’ve arrived.
A situation I experienced earlier this year was a text at midnight in below-zero temperatures. “Angela’s water broke, we’re going to the hospital.” The hospital my son was referring to was six hours away from me with clear roads, but we had several feet of snow of the ground and icy roads. Also this was three weeks before she was due, so I had not pre-packed. It was on my to-do list for the following week.
I have the prescription to always be prepared like a good Girl or Boy Scout: A well-edited closet. Yes, if you live every day in a well-edited closet and build a wardrobe that completely supports your life, then packing in any situation will be as easy as 1, 2, 3.
DRESS IN THE DARK! Only kidding (well kind of). Set up your closet so you could potentially dress in the dark. Organize hanging items by type, shirts, jackets, etc., and then within those parameters by color, lightest to darkest.
READY-TO-WEAR CONFIDENCE: Group a monthly cluster together, items that can easily overlap and mix with each other from casual to business-appropriate outfits, including accessories. This way if you find yourself getting super busy during a regular workweek or if the emergency happens, you can grab the pieces and go.
ROAD-READY TRAVEL KIT: Collect those sample sizes of your favorite hair care and grooming items. Ladies, most cosmetic companies make a sample size of foundations and other necessities. I usually always have in my purse a duplicate lipstick and powder for daily touch-ups. When I buy mascara and the expiration date starts ticking away once it’s open, I always buy two at a time. The last thing you want to do is to hunt at a store for whatever items you need in a city you are not familiar with – or paying top dollar, like I did in Paris when I forgot to pack my foundation many years ago. Oh, and go for a clear bag to be ready to fly if needed. Just makes your life easier!
Editing Your Closet is KEY to always being prepared for anything that happens in life. Last time I checked, no matter what the situation is, you need to wear clothes. No exceptions!
Only Own What Honors You: Now, be honest, is there a section in your closet right now at home that you haven’t touched, considered, looked at or put on your body? That is very precious real estate, so get rid of it. Move it out now. Now if you have excuses like “I paid $$$ for it,” then you really need a professional like me to show you either how to wear it or why it doesn’t work on your body or with your goals or lifestyle.
Embrace the POWER of COLOR: Color really is the fountain of youth! You can look like you just got back from vacation every day. Another way to celebrate color is to shop in your personal color wheel. Creating a multitude of cohesive outfits that give you more bang for your buck really does simplify your daily routine, and when those emergencies happen, packing is a breeze.
Master the Tools: Organizing tools are the easiest way to keep track of everything. I love the felt-covered slim hangers. No longer are my clothes sliding off onto the floor and getting lost. I also enjoy hanging soft shelves from the rod, so folding and then rolling my casual tees and tanks saves hanging space, but I can also see the colors I need at a glance. Stacking really isn’t effective for this; those that do either wear only what’s on top or the stack topples when trying to get to something near the bottom.
Seeing is Believing and Wearing: If you can’t see your clothes and accessories at a glance, you tend not to wear them.
Editing your closet is a perfect way to really know your wardrobe inside and out. When you know what you have, you tend to get more wear and enjoyment from your investment of time and money. You end up exuding confidence in everything you do. The bonus is you will be prepared for any emergency that pops up, giving you more time to focus on what needs to be done rather than stressing over what to pack. If all of this seems overwhelming, reach out to a professional wardrobe stylist like me. I often collaborate with professional organizers to create a well-edited closet that serves you every day.
Traci McBride, the chief stylist of TeeMcBee Image Consulting, is dedicated to men and women who are ready to harness the power of their personal image using the most common tool, clothing. She offers support to companies that want to ensure staff at every level communicates the best of themselves and the company brand by elevating and not diminishing the investment of branding.
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