In Ernest Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises, the character Mike is asked how he went bankrupt (don’t click away – I promise this article is not about finance). He answers, “Gradually, and then suddenly.”
The quote has oddly stuck with me since high school, but it’s only now that I really understand what poor (ha) Mike was referring to. Thankfully, I didn’t come to this realisation as a result of my dwindling wallet, but rather, my wardrobe. You see, about six months after the birth of my second baby, I noticed that my style began to take a backseat. Gradually, Lycra replaced all other lower-body attire. Tops were selected based on feeding access (pulled straight across at the sleeve and stretched until it was no longer clear whether they were tops or very large, sad undies). And then suddenly, there was no notable difference between daytime and bedtime attire, all clothes were black, and my biggest daily style decision was sneakers or thongs. As a lover of relaxed downtime (preferably wearing PJs), I enjoyed every second of this gradual downfall, but the sudden part was a shock. As the silk shirts and gorgeous heels moved further toward the back of my wardrobe, it seemed, so did my self-worth. In this new life as a mother-of-two, between changing nappies, demand feeding and the daycare run, I had managed to lose a bit of myself in the process. And as superficial as it may sound, clothes do play a real role in telling the world (and ourselves) who we are. My track pants were whispering that I was perhaps in a bit of a rut. It was around this time that my Instagram feed began being adorned with posts from GRACE Styling. Women who had style, but with that coveted effortlessness. Mothers whose clothes were just as appropriate at drop-off as they were at lunch. Women who looked as comfortable as they were refined. It took me all of about 12 seconds before I emailed Marisa for to book me in – stat. My thongs were already on their way to the charity bin.
So, what is GRACE Styling?
The GRACE styling team provide three different packages that involve a wardrobe refresh, a wardrobe overhaul, or a digital style consultation. They help to create a capsule wardrobe that isn’t complicated or stressful and has longevity; full of pieces you’ll wear season after season. They help to make every piece of your wardrobe work and have a magical way of figuring out exactly what that missing piece is that pulls everything together. (For me, it was high-waisted denim jeans.)
What did they do?
The process started with a questionnaire, where I answered questions about my day-to-day lifestyle, my favourite brands, my body type, style icons, and so on. A week or so later, Marisa and Georgie arrived on my doorstep like angels dressed in Ganni. Together, we took every piece out of my wardrobe and ruthlessly decided whether to keep, sell or donate. A hoarder would be one of the last words I’d use to describe myself (anal-retentive-organiser is probably much closer to the truth), however as we did this exercise together, I realised how much I’d been holding on to that was no longer true for my new life. That gorgeous DvF skirt wasn’t inspiring me (nor was it being worn); it was simply a daily reminder that my corporate ladder climbing days were over and that my hips no longer accommodated that zipper. Throughout the process, Georgie and Marisa frantically took note of all the items I needed to add to my wardrobe, and how to incorporate them into my existing clothes. At the end of the session, we’d removed about 70% of clothing from my repertoire. I’d never felt better. A few days later, I received the email my credit card had been waiting for, with a list of all the items I should purchase to complete my capsule wardrobe, all within my specified budget. With various options, links to purchase and even recommendations on sizing and shipping options, it couldn’t have been easier. In the weeks that followed, the delivery man got to know my name, and my wardrobe genuinely made me smile. My daily outfit repertoire shifted from yoga pants to flared skirts, from sweatshirts to gingham button-ups, and from old sneakers to chic tan sandals. To top off the experience, Georgie and Marisa returned once all my new clothes had arrived, to help me style my pieces. A few hours and many outfit changes later, I was equipped with at least 20 different “looks” that left me feeling confident, inspired and most importantly, like me I had been struggling to rediscover.
How is life inside my wardrobe now?
Somehow (possibly through years of world-class experience), Marisa and Georgie managed to uncover what I hadn’t been able to see in myself. Now, not only do I get dressed with ease and joy each morning, but shopping is a totally different experience. I know what to look for to best suit my body, how to pull pieces that will complement what’s already in my wardrobe, and how to make my outfits feel ‘finished’, without ever feeling over-styled or like I’ve tried too hard. I’ve received endless comments from friends and family (including my eldest son, who remarks, “Mum, that’s a beautiful dress,” every time I wear anything other than jeans), but most importantly, I feel like me. Just a more stylish, less pyjama-heavy version. If – like me – you’re also somewhere along that gradual-then-sudden slope of losing yourself in the lives of your children, gift yourself an experience you deserve, and email GRACE Styling. Trust me, your new self will thank you for it. Words: Amy Malpass-Hahn | Email [email protected] to find out more