My wardrobe update is long overdue on this site, but I actually provided Lani from Real Life Style with some pix and commentary a few days ago, and she published it in a blog post on her site!
The backstory: Lani Inlander was a guest on BOBW a few months ago (Ep #141: Style Advice for Working Women) and I was very impressed with her approach to dressing at work and intrigued by the services she offered. The episode was recorded just before the pandemic really hit (March 4!), so at the time there wasn’t much thought about the changes to come.
As things unfolded . . . it became clear that life was going to be different, at least temporarily. Lani and I stayed in touch, and she ended up offering to do a virtual styling session as a thank you for the podcast appearance. To be completely honest, I didn’t quite understand what I was signing up for at the time, but it ended up being essentially a virtual wardrobe overhaul, and turned out to be incredibly helpful and fun!
I ended up deciding to spend cash that would have gone towards a 40th birthday celebration on a wardrobe update instead because a) HELLO, 40!!?! and b) it was long overdue anyway, as you’ll read in the recap on her site.
I will include some pictures here, and then discuss a little bit about current wardrobe habits . . .
First, some closet “before” pix:
BEFORE, OUTFIT HABITS: I have to admit I was in a major wardrobe rut. No jewelry, black jeans (technically not really allowed . . .) and a neoprene logo jacket (with our hospital logo) many days per week. Sometimes an aging wrap dress.
AFTER, OUTFIT HABITS: Well . . . this is the tricky part, because COVID. On working from home days, you can find me often in black jeans or pants plus one of these miraculously washable and stylish Uniqlo drape tees, plus a necklace. This is such a simple outfit but it’s 10x better than what I was wearing before.
On working “at work” days (none since mid-July but likely starting up again soon as we begin seeing patients in person again), I have either been putting on a dress (so comfortable for summer) or the super-versatile and comfortable skirt shown below, since it’s hot. I have a moto jacket that I looooove as an outer layer when the air conditioning in the office gets to be too much – better than the logo neoprene.
OUTFIT HABITS on non-work days: In full disclosure I am not dressed to the nines on every day off 🙂 I do often spend some portion of the day in workout gear. But my daily uniform is typically jeans + a tee of some kind. Which means I do (usually) try to get dressed in actual non-legging pants at some point.
And for these crazy times. this is actually a habit worth noting!
Even though I may not be going anywhere, I do feel better when I shower / makeup / put on an intentional outfit. And now I have the wardrobe to fully support that, especially for when (someday) things head back to normal. Plus, it’s nice to be wearing a decent looking top on video calls/presentations!
I definitely recommend working with a stylist (and Lani was fantastic!) if you have the resources and have reached a point in your work life where you just feel like you need an overhaul (post-baby, new career, post-residency, etc). I do not feel that I could have been nearly as successful in finding pieces that really fit what I was looking for without her. AND, I now feel confident in which brands/styles are best for me so I feel like I can go into the future and expand (when needed) without further handholding.
Finally, I felt like Lani gave me permission to spend on myself, which sounds sort of silly especially since I was primarily using funds that would have disappeared on a vacation. It does cost something to look nice at work, and that’s okay. I know many of you are probably curious, so here is the breakdown of what I spent and what I ended up getting:
If you do an overhaul with online shopping like I did, I highly recommend tracking your returns so you make sure you follow through on those! As you can see, I kept about 50% of what I ordered. The rest were returned for full refunds.
Listed below is what I kept for the above price (~$1600):
- 2 work dresses (1 Persifor, 1 MM LaFleur)
- 2 work skirts (Nic + Zoe)
- moto jacket (Majestic)
- long sleeved wrap top (MM Lafleur)
- sleeveless draped blouse (shown above w/ skirt) (MM Lafleur)
- tailored shirt x 1 (The Shirt)
- 3 drape tees + 2 casual tees (Uniqlo)
- black wedges (Cole Haan)
- new wedge sandals (casual) (Flexx)
- new jeans (not for work but I needed a pair) (AG)
(note: I already had black pants I was happy with, so did not need to spend on that.) This amount seems like plenty for right now though I still do want another neutral / cognac pair of closed-toed comfortable shoes (apparently HARD to find!).
SO, there you go! Feel free to ask questions. I am very happy I went through this process and grateful that Lani took the time to work with me!
Loved seeing this post – I really love that greenish dress on you!
Last week on my birthday I won a one-hour style session with a consultant (we had a competition for Women’s Day) and I’m kind of dreading it. I am, like you, a jeans and T-shirt, type of person 4 days a week pre-Covid, and 6 days a week now (on day 7 I just stay in my workout clothes the whole day since Zumba is at 9 am).
For work I buy a few things only when my items need replacing and I buy such non-trendy things that they last 10 – 15 years.
So we will see how this session works out – I don’t know if it’s going to be valuable to me given my boring “style” but I will report back 🙂
Such a fun post. The green top with the black jeans looks amazing on you.
I have been waiting for this post! I am weirdly obsessed with seeing other people do wardrobe makeovers or updates, and I REALLY appreciate you being transparent about the cost. It looks like you got tons of great stuff! I also especially love the green dress on you (really, I have never seen ANYONE look bad in a wrap dress like that – they are fantastic, easy, and work for nearly every body type!).
I have long been an advocate of putting in a little time/effort with getting dressed because it really does make you feel better throughout the day (at least, I find that it does) and I think I originally learned this lesson from Stacy and Clinton on What Not to Wear. For the same reasons as you, I get dressed, do my hair, and put on 17 seconds worth of makeup about 95% of the time even while working from home. Part of it is that I have video calls five days per week, but the bigger reason is that it makes me feel better/more productive. The getting ready is sort of my morning ritual, I guess.
One thing that I also learned about myself was that I have a very limited color palette in which I feel comfortable so now, I only buy things in those colors. My MIL once called that boring and while she’s right, I was NOT at all offended because I’ve found what works for me and it basically allows me to mix and match everything I own. This took me until about age 34-35 to learn, and now my wardrobe is much smaller but much more functional and I regularly wear almost everything in it!
So glad you enjoyed the experience with Lani!
Really cute outfits. What do you think of MM LaFleur? I always get ads for them popping up in my feed, but I’m worried about the quality for the price.
I just bought myself a new pair of joggers from Amazon because my old ones are gross. When I wfh I basically never “get dressed” into nice clothes but I do change out of my pajamas. I will put on a t-shirt that doesn’t have writing on it when I have a zoom meeting. Ha.
I think the quality is good but I did return half of what I ordered from them bc the fit is inconsistent!
Thanks for sharing! I am a minimalist with clothing, like you are. My closet looks similar! I’d love Lani’s help shopping. Do you know how she is compensated? Is it a styling fee?
yes, typically I believe she charges a flat fee. Check out her site, you can definitely contact her and ask!
Sarah, I am also a dr (in private family practice) in Norway and we wear street clothes at work. So I really enjoyed this post. Also, I know you are short because I have read your blog for a while, but none of these outfits makes you look short or like you are drowning in your clothing. So I loved it. The dress was my favorite here.
Hi Sarah! Your fashion overhaul looks great.
This isn’t directly fashion related but I’m curious if you’ve gone in for Japanese hair straightening post-COVID. I am way overdue but nervous to go into a salon, especially for such a long treatment!!
Yep, went in late May. Masked and it was just me and the salon owner in there.
Yay, I’ve been looking forward to this post! Would you mind posting a picture of you in the moto jacket sometime? It seems like a really versatile piece but I’m not sure I can pull something like that off… Are the Cole Hans worth the price? I have been eyeing those for a while now as I used to have some nice Nine West wedges but they only seem to make a sky high wedge anymore and I don’t think they look as professional (I’m a CPA). Mine are TRASHED and need replacing though. Although, maybe not so urgently if we keep working from home? Last thing, I saw you couldn’t find a cognac wedge. These might be too casual, but Frye has a really beautiful cognac color available in several different shoe styles, even a ballet flat. They’re really high quality leather and last forever. You might even like them for casual wear if not workwear. https://www.thefryecompany.com/collections/women-shoes-heels/products/reed-shootie-3470403-70403-caramel
Uh oh, did my comment get flagged as spam because I included a link?
Looks like maybe so. I’ll try again. I’ve been looking forward to this post! Will you post a picture of you in the moto jacket sometime? Wondering if I could pull that off. Are the Cole Haans worth the price? Have been eyeing them to replace my trashed old Nine West wedges they no longer make. Re: your cognac wedges, check out Frye. They make things other than boots (check out the Reed Shootie, they even have ballet flats) and have a really beautiful cognac color. Might be too casual for work but I think you’d like them, they’re great quality and last forever.
it went into moderation 🙂 out now! i’ll work on the moto pic.
Cole Haan do not last forever but they are very comfortable and last pretty well! They often have good sales too . .
I loved this overview of the process with Lani! How many hours did she put in with you to get here? I love clothing and am very happy with my wardrobe, but I do have some obvious holes in my wardrobe. Like one or two structured work outfits – which aren’t my style and aren’t necessary for everyday office wear, but are useful to have already in the closet when briefing higher ups. Handbags and shoes are also weak areas. Even though I love clothes, I hate shopping, and maybe I could use Lani’s services to do the browsing and help me narrow down the options.
I appreciate you sharing how much you spent on clothes. I struggled to figure out how much to spend on clothes in my first post grad school job. I finally figured out that I just spend an exorbitant amount of money on clothes each year (3-5k), but it doesn’t actually bother me so its okay. I have a lot of self-imposed clothes rules to guide my shopping – the main one being limiting myself to natural fibers – that wind up pushing up the price I spend per item. A good quality sweater can be quite pricey, or I’m willing to spend a lot on shoes and pants because I have a hard time finding ones that work for me, so when I do, I don’t actually care what they costs. But I love clothes like you love vacation, so it’s where I want to spend my money and buy the best I can afford.
Your wardrobe sounds amazing (esp the all natural fibers – wow!). Spending on what makes us happy is worth it!
I think she spent probably ~4-5 hours. 2-3 of them face to face with me on zoom. We had 3 meetings – one to review closet, one to do a ‘try on’ and one for a follow up try on after 1st round of returns.
I’ve been looking forward to this post, too! She did a great job! I love the outfits you shared. The skirt/top is my favorite but you look great in all of the outfits you shared! A friend of mine did something similar with a local stylist and I got to go along on their shopping trip. I was the helper who stayed behind and paid for clothes so they could get to the next store. I picked up some tips along the way and would like to work with her stylist after this pregnancy is behind me and I’m back to a normal/stable size. So maybe next winter? It’s a good investment and can really make a difference in your confidence and how you feel about yourself!
Ps I have the same watch and wear it with everything 😂😂