Ronnie Caplane | March 2005

“I’m going to a seminar in Sacramento and then to a school board meeting,” I said, giving Micki a run down of my schedule for the next day. “What should I wear?”

Micki is an old friend turned image consultant. She knows the contents of my closet as well as I do and I had come to rely on her more than I liked to admit.

Micki asked a few questions–the nature of the seminar, would I have to do a lot of walking, would I be inside or out.

“Your brown pant suit, brown boots and the black cowl neck sweater,” she pronounced after weighing the facts. “The pants and sweater will work for the daytime and then you can add the jacket for the board meeting. You’ll be comfortable and then professional.”

It was a perfect solution, obvious and simple, one that I wouldn’t have come up with myself. I’m fashion challenged with a dash of retail anxiety. But now that I have a fashion maven, my sartorial life has improved.

She gives me the courage to weed out “guilt clothes”–shopping mistakes that I wear only because I feel I have to–and lets me keep things I’m irrationally attached to.

She separates jackets from pants, skirts from sweaters and makes up new combinations. Wardrobe deconstruction she calls it. It would never occur to me to wear a bottom with anything other than the top I bought for it.

When Micki’s done, I magically end up with bags of give-away clothes and more wearable outfits than I started with. She takes me shopping, fills in the holes in my wardrobe, and ushers me into new styles I never would get to on my own.

These days going to my closet is a pleasure, having lots of choices and clothes that I love to wear. But sometimes I wonder, what had happened to me. Where was the casual, minimalist girl who never thought clothes mattered? Had I turned into a self-indulgent, image conscious woman? And if so, why do I feel so good about myself?