When it comes to style and closet management, there is a phenomenon I call the Waterfall Effect.

Since there are no rules in the realm of personal expression, in this case a “waterfall” can flow in either direction: up or down; in or out.

And, as with the Style Archetypes (as in no one archetype is better than another) any of these directions can be beneficial… or dangerous. There is light and shadow to everything.

Remember the last time you went shopping and bought something fabulous and you brought it home only to find it made the rest of your closet look “schlubby dumpy”?

Maybe it was a dress, a silk blouse, a new sweater or jeans that fit just right. Whatever the specifics, it’s a piece that gives you a whole new perspective on your wardrobe and maybe even inspires you to purge yourself of the things that don’t stand up to this newly established level.

This is an instance of the waterfall flowing up or out – this piece makes it easier to edit and pare down.

Then there are pieces that perhaps you coveted. Maybe you saw it in a glossy magazine or someone sporting “street style” on Instagram.  It’s something you just know you MUST HAVE, life would not be complete without it. It’s so beautiful. It will change everything. Maybe it’s something with some sort of detail, embellishment or in a color your rarely choose.  Regardless, you get it home and FLOP.

What the hell do you do it with?

How do you style it?

Where will you wear it?

This is when the waterfall flows down or in – it’s something you wanted so badly but when it’s finally yours, nothing you already own quite does the trick. You need to invest in a few more pieces to make it work thus bringing in more and possibly drowning in the decisions you had to make under duress.

So where does this lead you? Here’s a self-awareness tip:

Ask yourself: is this a WATERFALL ITEM? If so, which way will the waterfall flow?

And remember, whatever you bring into your closet, and whichever way the waterfall goes, put it to the styling test using one or all of the 3 Antidotes to I-Have-Nothing-to Wear.

Photography by Daniel Zapata