It started happening early on – my clients would say:
“I feel like you are doing more than just helping me figure out what to wear…”
And it’s true. But I didn’t really understand all of it until recently.
The fact is, my work comes from a deep place of believing that every woman everywhere deserves to look and feel beautiful and powerful every day.
It is this belief that drove me to launch H.GRANTSTYLE and what spurred me to create my online offerings (BE YOUR OWN STYLIST and Capsule Creation Crash Course).
And recently I realized something…you can take it or leave it.
There’s spirituality in the process of getting dressed.
When you wear something that represents who you are, who you want to be, the Universe responds in incredible ways. When you celebrate your beauty with clothes you know look good, your body and mind align.
You empower yourself by integrating the inside and the outside.
And it doesn’t have to be expensive. It doesn’t even have to involve new clothes – the best way to initiate this is with a shift in perspective. By making the choice to decide you will honor your beauty, and celebrate it.
I believe that a woman’s closet is her “altar” – it’s a place where her expression of beauty starts every day and it represents a density of symbols – the brands she loves, the things she believes about herself. Your closet is also the one thing in your life over which you have complete control; there is ritual involved when you put on something that makes you feel unstoppable.
And when you feel unstoppable – that’s when you become one of those women who people always say: “WOW, she always looks fabulous!”
In my opinion, this can happen every day whether it’s a Little Black Dress or a pair of jeans that fits just right, even yoga pants can illicit this internal feeling of empowerment and an external reaction of compliments.
Whatever you wear, it needs to FIT you both literally and figuratively.
And as for the “altar” part? That’s where we get into the logistics of organization and merchandising your closet so it looks like your favorite boutique, a topic we cover in a dedicated module of BE YOUR OWN STYLIST.
But all of this takes effort – at least in the beginning as you are setting up to #DressIntuitively (side note: will link to challenge evenually).
It’s so easy to say: “It doesn’t matter how I look.”
I actually hear this a lot. I try not to get too perturbed but, when you say it doesn’t matter how I look, this is what you are really saying:
It doesn’t matter = I don’t care
I don’t care = I’m not worth it
I’m not worth it = a crime against yourself
You are ALWAYS worth the effort. You are BEAUTIFUL. Let your inner goddess shine. Watch and see how differently people respond to you – watch and see how differently your respond to yourself.
Photography by Sonya Highfield
I was sweating.
I felt hot and cold at the same time.
My face flushed red.
Breathing laboriously I tried to bring enough saliva into my mouth to form words.
I thought I might be having a panic attack induced by a profound realization that came through me like the hand of a very strong higher power.
It was moments before I was going live in my Facebook group to teach the final module of my online style transformation program BE YOUR OWN STYLIST.
It was time for me to show up and I realized this time around, it wasn’t enough for me to just to teach the concepts of a “capsule wardrobe” – it was time to LIVE it.
And I was totally, completely freaking out. On every level.
You see, I LOVE my clothes and I relished spending hours on end playing in my closet creating outfits and putting together unexpected pairings. I rationalized that it was all a part of my job as a personal stylist and while this is true (and I still delight in “playing dress-up, and encourage my clients to do so as well) I realized I needed more of a lot of things.
Not more clothes and definitely not more time sifting through the heaps of my collection, getting lost in daydreams (as wonderful and important as they are!)
I needed to focus, to buckle down and start showing rather than just telling.
It was time to get totally real and completely authentic.
It was time to actually create my own capsule wardrobe.
The term “capsule wardrobe” is SUPER BUZZY right now. Not surprising considering the shift towards more conscientious consumerism and movement away from the “fast fashion” that has marked the scene in recent years.
The fact is, not all that long ago, a woman’s closet used to be perfectly coordinated with high quality items that all worked together; and she had an outfit for every occasion.
But, we find we are no longer there.
Instead we have closets bursting with clothes that make us feel judged and overwhelmed.
Often, because of this overwhelm, we end up wearing the same thing every day – and not in a good way.
Can’t it all just be more cohesive, streamlined and approachable?
A History of the Capsule Wardrobe
The term “capsule wardrobe” was first coined by a London boutique owner in the 1970’s and was subsequently popularized by Donna Karan with her 1985 release of “7 Easy Pieces” which consisted of interchangeable workwear items. This launch coincided with women entering the workforce in droves and they needed clothes that would support them in their roles not just as mothers and wives but as businesswomen.
What is a Capsule Wardrobe?
Currently when someone refers to “capsule wardrobe” it means a selection of about 40 pieces that are interchangeable and versatile and can carry you through all activities.
There are a lot of stylists out there putting together some very pretty looking visuals flaunting their expertise and encouraging you to go out and buy all 40 pieces.
But, from my perspective, there is some serious magic missing in their formulations. Not to mention PRACTICALITY.
Here’s what is typically outlined when you look for insight on how to build a capsule wardrobe:
- Select 40 pieces
- Create outfits
- Get rid of everything else
Ummmm let’s just take a minute here and talk about #1 on that list – how the HELL are we supposed to choose 40 items? Where’s the direction? The structure? The support?! How do you establish COHESION with the items? And really, get rid of everything? Yeah, no.
Ever since that day last Spring when I announced my own commitment to the Capsule Concept, I have worked to employ (my own variations) of the methodologies to my wardrobe — to incredible result.
The exercise gave me new perspective on my clothes and helped me appreciate how little we actually need to feel supported and fulfilled – I saw, true to my hypothesis, that when we have limits, we are the most free.
And interestingly, my desire to create capsules within my wardrobe tends to align with a shift in the seasons; cold weather to warm and back again.
So here we are, with hot days of summer fast approaching.
I’m finding once again that I want more time, more energy for the things I love (not just for all my clothes – as much as I do, and always will, love them.)
And I address it all in the Capsule Creation Crash Course.
I created this offer so that in just 5 days for 10 minutes a day (or less!) you can transform your wardrobe so you can live life with ease during these easy months.
And that is always where we start when it comes to style.
With what you already have.
Your personal brand already exists in your current closet and the capsule is just a concentrated, focused way to free up more time and energy in your life because you have made all your decisions in advance.
In this course we will work through what is serving you in what you currently have and we will build from there, creating outfits within the parameters of your available selection.
And you don’t have to get rid of anything — of course you absolutely can and you likely will but instead we will be creating a section of your closet from which you can FOCUS and delight in new perspective.
So what do I really think results from the Capsule Effect? What have I seen and experienced both for myself and my clients?
Essentially more of what we want, less of what we don’t.
This is about changing your life, starting with your clothes.
And having everything you need no matter what you do or where you go.
That’s The Capsule Effect.
Helena Grant is a Personal Stylist on a mission to liberate women and help them find their most powerful expression. She works 1:1and in groups virtually and in-person. The Capsule Creation Crash Course launches Monday, June 17thand offers closet transformation in 5 easy modules along with a private Facebook group for additional support and style guidance.
You might be wondering:
Why, oh, WHY would a personal stylist be writing about a faux fur vest at the onset of the Spring/Summer season?
Shouldn’t she be trying to sell me something that’s in the boutiques and department stores right now?
Isn’t it a stylist supposed to tell me what to wear for all the cocktail parties, bar-b-ques and weddings that I have coming up?
You’d be more than right to pose any of the above questions… and you might have others of your own.
I hesitated even writing this because in many ways, it doesn’t FIT.
On the surface, this topic does not highlight the trends of the season or my outfit of the day as most stylists propagate and market.
This is about something deeper.
Even if superficially I’m writing about outerwear that I purchased over 4 and a half years ago from a brand that I had never heard of before or since from an off-sell site that no longer exists, this is about more than clothing.
I am writing this at a time when a faux fur vest with toggle buttons is quite possibly the last thing on anyone’s mind, when the weather is fighting to warm up and the blossoms are just beginning to give way to a full-blown New England spring – this is a time when ummmm hello, we are all trying our best to forget winter!
But this is important. What I’m writing here.
Mostly it’s important for me but I know it’s applicable to so many, especially women.
On April 27th, I hosted my first Style Archetype Workshop at my Boston studio space. The women who attended experienced remarkable transformation in how they viewed themselves and expressed their self-worth.
Most importantly, this time I not only lead the workshop, I also put myself through my own paces.
I didn’t expect how deeply it would touch me to respond to my own prompts meant to get to the heart of the stories we’ve been told, the self-limiting beliefs we cultivate in our psyches.
But it did.
It hit me hard.
In the best way possible, so many things came up.
And I channeled it all into completing the homework I gave the workshop attendees.
I told them:
Take the energy of today and all you learned about yourself, from your own Style Archetype Trifecta to your Style Directives, and apply it all to your current closet. Spend just 2 hours editing and styling what you already own.
Even though I knew this was sound advice and it was exactly what I needed (personally, myself), I wasn’t going to do it.
I was tired from planning the workshop and feeling overwhelmed with everything else I needed to be doing.
But, I also knew on the other side of the effort of editing my own closet was a both a palette and a canvas for me to create.
And I decided to focus on that.
One of the exercises towards the end of the Style Archetype Workshop was to think of ONE THING in your closet that, after having learned so much throughout the day, you KNOW you can let go of immediately.
For me, it was this vest.
It came to mind instantly the minute I verbalized the assignment and, frequently this past winter, I had considered wearing it. But, I always hesitated because it, like so many things, holds a specific energy I was ready to release, even if I wasn’t quite willing to let go.
I bought it in 2014 from the website MyHabit (now defunct) when I was 9 months pregnant with my daughter thinking it would keep me feeling glamorous as I made my way through the post-partum months. It was still steamy in September at the time I clicked the buy button.
Just a few days later I went into labor at 35 weeks and Belle, though technically healthy, was not ready to come home when I left the hospital.
It was an excruciating time for me.
For three weeks I commuted between our apartment and the NICU at Beth Israel Medical Center. Every night I woke up hourly to call the nurses’ desk and ask for an update on Belle’s vitals and to see how nighttime feedings had gone. During the day I spent 8 hours holding her with tubes and monitors beeping and hissing, narrating all the things we would do together once she was ready to leave and see the world with me, the one that existed beyond the picture window.
And every day, I wore this vest.
It arrived a day or two after I was discharged and I had forgotten about ordering it (as we are wont to do when it comes to online shopping…) but when I opened the box, I was filled with childlike emotion.
I tore away the plastic and gathered the bulky fibers into my arms, hugging it like a teddy bear.
When I put it on, I felt held, caressed and supported.
Walking into the hospital each day, the staff soon began dropping comments about me being a “moviestar mom”. Not only was it perfect for the early fall weather but it also magically fit it in a way that an anxious new mother needed so badly.
It served me well.
Not just during those daily trips to the confines of the hospital but beyond. I even wore it to what would have been Belle’s baby shower but instead was a welcome party where snapshots of her proved she was an exact physical replica of my husband.
I lightened the mood by joking that I wanted a maternity test all while I stroked the soft fibers, burying my hands in the deep pockets – holding it together on the outside, a wreck on the inside.
The vest became a go-to every winter since and though I am certainly one to revel in compliments, this past winter I knew something had shifted in my relationship to this piece.
Every time I looked at my closet this past season, surveying it to see what outfit I wanted to create, my eyes passed over this vest and something stirred inside me – I felt sad, leaden, weighted.
Ready to let go, a voice inside me said.
But I wasn’t ready. Not yet, at least.
And how surprising considering I talk so much about the importance of editing your closet and only having things in your immediate vicinity that you are excited about wearing, that fit right now and are seasonal.
But we often get where we need to be eventually, and now I can accept that this vest is ready to move on.
It’s ready to help someone else through something whether it be a celebration or a time when they need comfort.
I could keep holding onto it, to wait and see how I feel about it next time the winds usher in colder temperatures but, to be honest, it takes up a lot of space; in more ways than one.
It’s physical and psychic space.
And I am ready to let go just as much as this vest is ready to let go of me.
I find sometimes, not just for myself but also for my clients, that some things are easier to release than others. We know something is interfering, maybe even weighing us down and yet we hold onto it.
Maybe we feel an obligation to the item, to how it served us, or maybe it didn’t get a chance at all, and instead wallowed with the tags still attached.
Or we worry we will want it someday and look back with regret.
This might very well happen to me in a few months, a year – maybe more.
I might look back and say: what was I thinking letting go of that vest? That glamorous shawl collar and a cut that covered the hips. So what if it was ratty at the armpits, burned at the back from standing too close to a fire one day? How could I have let it go?
I might not remember all the reasons but when (or if) I do come across any feelings that resemble regret, I will recall this moment of commemoration – these words, these photos that take up less space than the garment itself.
And, instead of focusing on lack I will think about the woman, on the other side of this process, who is benefitting from the warmth of being swathed in style.
I think of this woman often when I am clearing away remnants of my past self during my own closet edits, and I encourage clients to do the same.
Think of the woman who will pick up this piece wherever it ends up. She lights up with delight wondering how anyone could let it go but grateful they did because it might be just what she needs right at that time. It might just change her life that you were willing to part with it.
I’ve cleaned out the pockets in preparation to donate the vest – two wads of tissue, an incense cone and a few stray almonds leftover from an abandoned snack.
And there was something else.
I couldn’t quite place it at first.
A few oddly shaped pieces, brittle and a deep, rusty red.
The remnants of a leaf plucked at the height of a resplendent New England fall. Given to me by my daughter who thinks every leaf is worthy of commemoration and honor.
A symbol, broken yet no less profound, of the incessant transitions we face and the beauty of letting go.
Helena Grant is a personal stylist offering 1:1 services as well as virtual courses that help women uncover the power of their personal expression through clothing. Her self-study Capsule Creation Crash Course is currently available for pre-sale. CLICK HERE to purchase the beta version and teach yourself to create a newfound harmony in your life and wardrobe.
I recently worked with a client, let’s call her Francesca*. She had her work wardrobe down pat and felt empowered and confident every day of the week.
Except Saturday and Sunday.
And anytime she got dressed to go on a date with her boyfriend.
Or go out with friends…
The reality of her closet made her dread off-duty time and she was seeking fast, easy-fix style solutions at places like Target and H&M, which she had identified was making the situation worse.
She knew there was a gaping hole in her wardrobe. But, because it represented her personal life, and not “professional,” she was seeking fast-fashion solutions that compromised her self-worth.
Lack was holding her back.
Her closet was not in HARMONY.
She didn’t feel worthy of looking and feeling beautiful and powerful in the clothes she wore to restore herself on the weekends.
As an entrepreneur she thought that only her work wardrobe deserved attention.
Listening to her, I identified viscerally with her struggle and was transported to a time that was easy to re-live emotionally, when I didn’t want to get out of bed on a Saturday morning because I felt like I didn’t have anything to wear.
Lack was holding me back.
I wanted it to be Monday when things were more clear-cut and I knew exactly what to wear.
These experiences, the ones I have lived myself or helped my clients overcome, drives me in my work as a personal stylist and also lead to my design of the Style Archetypes™ as a way to understand the most effective way for women to express themselves through their clothing.
Francesca was exhibiting a strong CEO Style Archetype™ but so many of the other six archetypes were out of balance which was interfering with her living life to the fullest – ummm hello? Not wanting to go out with her boyfriend and her friends because she didn’t like the clothes she had to wear for this activities?
Her DANCER needed attention, the energy that would enable her to embrace her curves, and her GYPSY was calling for liberation.
After our session, Francesca now cultivates her style with pieces from stores that support the newfound vision of herself.
She now has a closet that supports her life and lifestyle.
*I highly value the confidentiality of my clients and thus all names have been changed.
On April 27, 2019 I am hosting a Style Archetype™ Workshop at my Downtown Boston studio.
I will be unveiling a whole new way to understand what is YOU and how to harness the power of your current closet and make the best decisions possible in future purchases.
CLICK HERE for more information and to sign up.