Okay, you've seen this happen on TV before. Fashion legends Stacy London and Clinton Kelly secretly record a poor, frumpy soul for weeks until finally announcing their intentions – to throw away all of her clothes and start anew. Ouch, right? Maybe initially, but makeovers and fashion interventions are made to increase your self-esteem. A little change-up in your life is sometimes just what you need to combat an impending mid-life (or quarter-life) crisis or a bout of the winter doldrums. Do you know a friend that could use a little TLC? Here's how to stage your own fashion intervention, and help your friend look as good as she feels.
The first step to solving any problem is to identify the specific thing you want to change. Fashion is too general a term. Does your friend dress in boxy or baggy tops that hide any semblance that she is a woman with a woman's body? Does she dress inappropriately for work, showing too much skin? You can help! Determine what aspects of her style are not working and come prepared.
2. Approach With Caution
People, especially your friends, are sometimes hesitant to take criticism. So be cautious. You don't want to come out right away and say, “Your clothes are ugly and you have no style." That's why we got specific in step 1. Join in with her, not against her. Say something like, “Hey, I've been thinking it's time for a change…" Include yourself in the intervention. Have her join you shopping, and tell her what clothes you think would look good on her. Make her feel good, and she'll trust you. Most importantly, stay positive.
Now's the time to get into the meat of why she dresses the way she does. There's almost always a psychological factor involved. Maybe she dresses in baggy clothing because she's ashamed about her body. Maybe she dresses in promiscuous clothing because she feels a need for attention. Do a little bit of probing without getting too Freud on her. You basically want to determine if she's satisfied with her look, and what she wants to change. Also, figure out what's holding her back.
4. Set Goals
Now that you've determined the problem, come up with a list of goals. Some goals might be as general as, “I want to feel more confident," or specific as, “I want to be able to walk like a supermodel in Louboutins." The goal should be to feel like the best version of yourself. Interventions are not meant to change a person's style or personality, but to enhance their natural features.
5. Attack the Closet
Here's the fun part. Open up that closet and behold the spectacle (or more likely, mess). Start by taking out all the clothes and laying them out on the bed. You need to then go through them one by one. Have your friend try on each item and give it an evaluation. Ask questions like, “Does this make me feel good?" and “Do I need 100 okay white t-shirts, or three really great ones?" Then create three piles: a Give Away pile (for those clothes that are outgrown and or any other variety of still-wearable), a Throw Out pile (for those clothes that are damaged, shrunken, just unbearable and unwearable), and a Keep pile (only for those items that she loves intensely and cannot live without.) The Keep pile should be kept to a minimum.
Now that you've stripped the closet, it's time to restructure. What kinds of clothes didn't make the cut? How can they be replaced by better garments? A wardrobe should be built on great foundational items. Neutral pants, skirts and dresses, bright tops that enhance the features. Broad-shouldered women need tops with supportive straps. Women with wide hips should wear A-line dresses and skirts that cinch at the waist. Figure out what type of clothes would best complement your friend, and get going!
7. Brainstorm the Best Stores
You don't want to spend hours going to every store in every state looking for the best bargains. Start by looking online at a big department store's site. Department stores are great because they have a large variety of items all in one – including accessories! If you narrow down what you want to get by looking online, you'll have a much quicker in-store process. Even though it's tempting to fill up your virtual cart and order right there, it's essential to physically see the clothes before you buy them. Remember, try it before you buy it! You'll end up saving money and time!
8. Take to the Streets
With all your research in hand, take on the stores. Focus on one store at a time, and try to find as much as you can. Don't skip over sections that look too flashy or not your style. There are incredible finds lurking in all sections, and you just need a little patience.
9. Survey and Grab
Before you start snagging clothes off the racks, do a walk-through first. Take a quick-paced power walk through the various departments and get a feel for where you'd like to start. After your walk-through, split up. Have your friend grab clothes that she likes and you grab clothes that you think would work for her. Then meet up at the dressing room! Pick clothes that you think would be a bit outside her comfort zone, because most likely, she'll try to stay within it.
10. Try On!
Trying on clothes can be not a fun process for someone that doesn't feel confident. Keep it fun and upbeat! Give her compliments, and if something isn't working, try to pinpoint what it is about the look that's not working. Make sure you try a variety. First have her try on her picks, then have her try on yours. Notice the differences and get feedback after every outfit. Your goal is to make her say, “I look good," and believe it.
No outfit is complete without tasteful accessories. We're talking shoes, bags, jewelry, the works. You can look at items as separate pieces, but it's a great idea to see how they work with the outfits you've put together. Hold up the clothes to the accessories and imagine them together. Or better yet, try it all on together! This extra bit of added time can help you really perfect your accessory game. It's always good to have the basics though. Black pumps, elegant studs – they never go out of style. Pick items that are versatile and easy to mix and match.
12. Hair, Skin, Nails and Teeth
These are the big four that are also an important part of fashion and need not be neglected! You don't have to go dramatic here, but these features really round out the intervention and turn a style into a “look". For hair, take your inspiration from magazines and blogs. There are some amazing resources out there for DIY hairdos. There are innumerable makeup tutorials out there on the web that are easy to follow and informative. Spend an afternoon at the salon getting mani/pedis. Then, if you feel like it, there's always in-home teeth-whitening treatments that are quick and easy for that added zing!
13. The Big Reveal
Are you ready to show off your latest human masterpiece? It's time for the runway show! Invite over a bunch of friends and choose three of the best looks. Take a day look, a night look, and a Va-Va Voom look (just for fun!). Have your friend do some turns in front of a full-length mirror. Do a before and after. You should both be pleased by the results!
14. The Debrief
The whole point of a fashion intervention is not just to change the physical, but your friend should still retain her personality. The added bonus is that she'll be more confident, better able to understand which fashions work for her, and develop self-sufficiency. Reflect on the process and see if her original insecurities still remain. Rome wasn't built in a day, but being on the right track is half the battle!
We should look out for our friends. Whether helping them through a rough patch in a relationship, helping them cope with tragedy, or sprucing up their wardrobe. We should not worry about embarrassing them or being mean, but helping them to look their best and feel their best. Because that's what real friends are for.