What Not to Wear or What to Wear? They Both Confuse Me

Joanna Avant
Joanna Avant

Seriously – who has time to think about what to wear – or what not to wear.

And let alone how it looks once I decide.

Some days I’m lucky to get dressed at all with everything I have to do. Working from home can be a blessing and a curse. You can work in sweats and not think about how you look some days. But when it’s time to head out to meet clients, meet a friend for lunch, pick up the kids at school, or head to the grocery store — well, those grungy sweats are not quite cutting it. And getting dressed for a holiday event, wedding, or other formal event can be downright daunting.

That’s why I decided to sit down with Joanna Avant for some advice.  Joanna has turned her passion for fashion into a business for women who are too busy to think about what to where – or like me, just don’t know what to wear and what NOT to wear.

And we love to celebrate Mompreneurs here on Richmondmom.com.

I thought I’d share some of her valuable advice for other Richmond moms and grandmoms who can use a little pick-me-up this time of year or anytime of year.

How did you get interested in such an unusual business?

I remember having a style “all my own” from an early age. I always had fun experimenting with clothing, and at some point, I figured out how to incorporate my sometimes quirky taste into a personal style that worked for me. I had been helping friends and family “get dressed” for years, when it occurred to me that lots of people could benefit from a service like this. I won’t pretend Stacy and Clinton (from “What Not to Wear”) didn’t have a little something to do with it, too!

What’s the best part of what you do?

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Photos courtesy of Joanna Avant

There is a distinct moment when I can see the light bulb turn on for a client. That split second–right after they see themselves in the mirror and right before they say, “I would never have put this together, but I love it” –is priceless. It’s all a breeze from that point on!

What do most women want to know from you?

I think most women are just looking for permission. Sometimes they’re looking for permission to get rid of old clothes, sometimes it’s permission to try new combinations, and sometimes they just need to hear that it’s ok to spend a little time on themselves.

What are your 3 most important pieces of advice for women?

  1. Find a great tailor, and visit him/her often. Clothing rarely fits properly straight off the rack. You might also have some great quality pieces in your closet that only need a quick alteration to go from dated to head-turning!
  2. You’ve heard it before, but it’s better to be overdressed than underdressed. A lot of women are afraid they’ll look like they’re trying too hard, but in most cases, I think it’s better to give the impression that you’ve put a little thought into your appearance, rather than the alternative of looking careless.
  3. Take time to learn what cuts, colors, and fabrics look best on you. This will save you a lot of time, money, and heartache in the long run.

This sounds like a luxury service – and for many moms, there’s not a lot of extra cash. Can you help us understand the long-term benefit?

When you do the math quickly, it does seem like a lot to spend on yourself, but I stand firm on the argument that a 3-hour “Wardrobe Revival” will actually save you money in the end. Most women have so many things in their closets that they rarely wear, either because they don’t know what to pair it with, or because they’ve purchased something pretty that doesn’t work for their figure or their lifestyle. In turn, every time they go to a wedding, on a date, or to a holiday party, they hit the mall and buy something else they’ll rarely wear. In three hours, I help women create loads of complete ensembles from your existing wardrobe, and you can learn how to shop efficiently for items that fit and flatter, no matter your budget.

(“I have this friend…..”) For women who are self-conscious of their size, shape, or weight, it’s hard to step out and ask for help. Any advice?

Photos courtesy of Joanna Avant
Photos courtesy of Joanna Avant

A wardrobe revival is especially important for women who have these insecurities (and I think that includes most of us). Until you see yourself in something that brings out your best, it’s easy to focus on the negative. I wish there were some way for clients to magically see the end result at the beginning of our time together. If that were the case, they wouldn’t waste another second feeling self-conscious.

I also constantly hear women talk about “rewarding themselves” with a shopping spree when they lose those extra pounds or tone up their arms. The problem with that mentality is that you’re selling yourself short in the meantime. I get it. If you’d like to lose weight or tighten up, go for it. Until then, though, you’re just as valuable as you will be when you reach that goal. You can choose to look (and thus, feel) sloppy, or you can learn to dress in a way that accentuates the positive, right now, and impress the heck out of folks!

I don’t know about you, but I find Joanna’s insights a valuable lesson for myself. Rather than waiting until I’m the perfect size (mmm hmmm), or my skin suddenly becomes radiantly young-looking again, or my arms are perfectly toned, or I have the time to spend on myself …… I might just do something now! After all, none of us are promised tomorrow and our goals of self-improvement take us on a lifelong journey that will never end.

So making the best of today makes a difference in how we look and feel NOW!

Click here to learn more about Joanna’s smart style and fashion tips.