"Exploring Identity Through Style"
I’m 31 & I’m going through an identity crisis.
If you peek into my closet, you’ll see a mix of tops from high school, various dresses I’ve never worn, multiple colors of the same item, and most of all, no real coherent style. My wardrobe doesn’t have an identity, but how can it when I don’t have one myself? I decided to take it once step at a time starting with my closet. PS Styling is a local business run by style professional Jessica Pfohl Paisley. Their mission is to create opportunities for empowerment through image and style. I always thought of clothing as just a thing you put on your body, not self-expression, but after spending the last week purging my closet, styling what was left, and shopping to fill in the gaps, I knew this process is what I needed.
CLOSET EDIT Jessica and I sorted my clothes into piles of love it, like it, and let it go. It was like Marie Kondō meets the Fab 5—does it spark joy or does it strugg to func? Between ill-fitting dresses and wrinkly linen tops, we talked about identity. I should note, this was an untraditional closet edit. Lu Gerdemann (Lu Supply Co) took photos and Kate McIntosh (Kate&Co) joined to better understand the process. Lu and I bonded over being adoptees, and Kate and I experienced woes with letting go of clothes and not seeing it as throwing money away. Jessica said this is usually the most difficult part for her clients. “It can be difficult emotionally to let things go. Once you decide to book an appointment and allow someone in your space, and then go through your entire closet? We all have emotional connections to our clothing and may not realize it. Like the dress you were wearing when you got engaged or another nostalgic reason, it can be difficult to remove those things from your closet.” The hardest part for me was letting go of “perfectly good” clothes. Dresses with tags, a sweater I just bought last month. I was left with 60 empty hangers and polarizing emotions. On one hand, I felt relieved that the clutter was gone but I was also still wrangling with the feelings of all the money I wasted.
VIRTUAL CLOSET Remaining items were paired up, styled, and photographed. Jessica made notes of things we needed to fill in the gaps— not just a sweater or a dress, but materials that worked with my lifestyle, cuts that flattered my body, and pieces that helped me feel more like me—my style. Each remaining piece was photographed and added to my virtual closet. It’s exactly what it sounds like. I can see every piece of clothing and all of my jewelry— digitally. Jessica can also create outfits with those pieces and add new items that she’s found that I might like.
SHOPPING TRIP To fill in the gaps, we headed to Graham’s, Gotta Have It, and Namasté. Graham’s does free alterations, so Katie McFadden helped me shorten a dress I purchased. I found a fun pair of earrings at Gotta Have It and some new additions to my wardrobe at Namasté. Having spent a few days with my new closet, I had a better sense of what my style is. Jessica played the middle man through the whole process. She helped me cultivate a cohesive wardrobe and didn’t push me to purchase anything. We added and removed some accessories as she showed me how little things can elevate—or style-down—an outfit.
BRINGING IT ALL TOGETHER We finished the week with a photoshoot. Fueled by Paul’s Tavern burgers, Kate did my hair and makeup, Jessica picked and styled the outfits, and Lu shot the whole process. My favorite find was a jumpsuit from Namasté. I immediately gravitated to this cozy one-piece ensemble even though it wasn’t something I would have normally picked out. “I like finding out what my client’s ‘uniform’ is, something they feel comfortable in and don’t have to think about,” Jessica explained. “Kristina likes jumpsuits, an easy complete piece, and we plan to incorporate more into her closet.”
PROJECT LIFESTYLE Jessica and Kate created Project lifeSTYLE to provide styling, beauty, and wellness services to women in need—for free to the client.
“We provide an environment and ‘retail’ space where the women can benefit from our services and be able to shop with a Style Professional in our store free of charge, be professionally styled, and receive hair and make up services prior to a job interview or major event.” you may be wondering what happened with all of the clothes in my “let it go” pile. I gave it all to Jessica and Kate for Project lifeSTYLE. I no longer needed to feel like I wasted money; now I know women in need have new button ups and shoes that fit. Any items that don’t work for Project lifeSTYLE will be donated to local organizations or sold at affordable prices to help offset costs. This experience helped me get a better grasp of who I am while helping local women at the same time. I couldn’t be happier with the outcome. If you would like to learn more about PS Styling or Project lifeSTYLE, visit psstyling.com, find Project lifeSTYLE on Facebook.