Book Review: Nothing to Wear? by Garza and Lupo

What woman has not opened up her closet, surveyed its contents, and declared, “I have NOTHING to wear”?

And what woman, if she has declared this in the presence of a man or child, has not heard the response, “What are you talking about? Your closet is stuffed with clothes”?

Many a book attempts to help women out of this predicament–some helpfully, others not so helpfully. The majority of books within this category lay out a simple solution: Create a basic wardrobe where everything goes with everything and then accessorize from there.

Jesse Garza and Joe Lupo’s Nothing to Wear? offers this standard piece of advice–and gives a 5-step process for making it happen.

The five steps are:

  1. Define your style
  2. Edit your wardrobe
  3. Fill in the gaps
  4. Pull it all together
  5. Nurture the new you

I think the biggest advantage of this particular book’s approach to a wardrobe makeover is its first step. Defining your style consists of identifying your age group, your body type, your lifestyle, your arena, and your style type and then using that information to create a personal “style statement” that gives you a point of reference to use in evaluating your current wardrobe and any purchases.

A disadvantage to this book’s approach is that the authors recommend taking a great deal of dedicated time for making a wardrobe overhaul–and recommend purchasing several specialized closet organizers for the project. I don’t see the need for devoting so much time or money to such a project.

Of course, any wardrobe overhaul is going to take time–but I don’t think it has to be done in a single window of time, or that it needs to take as long as the authors of this book intimate.

I decided to reassess my wardrobe a couple of weeks ago and completed steps one and two in an afternoon. Now, admittedly, I might be a little more aware of my wardrobe and its quirks than many women are. For example, I didn’t have to try on many items during my “edit your wardrobe” step because I am already very aware of how each clothing item fits or doesn’t fit, flatters or doesn’t flatter, etc. So I spent most of my “editing” time holding up each item and evaluating how I felt it fit within the “style statement” I’d made for myself. From there, I divided my items into a giveaway pile (which I let my little sister “shop” in that evening), an alteration pile (for items that needed mending or tailoring or perhaps a complete makeover), a fabric scraps pile (for items in too poor of condition to give away, but which still had potential for quilting/sewing/crafting.) Clothes that could be kept were returned to my closet.

I am a bit anal-retentive, so as I returned each item to my closet, I logged it on an Excel spreadsheet. That meant that once my closet was complete (after 3 or 4 hours), I had a complete list of each article of clothing I owned. I categorized these by major categories and created a shopping list for myself (and a budget, since I’m that kind of person!) The next morning, I went shopping and completed step 3 in another 4 hours.

Total time for steps 1 through 3 and reading the entire book? Nine or ten hours. A far cry from what the book would suggest is necessary.

I also skipped step 4, which I thought was pretty extraneous. Step 4 consists of creating a collection of looks with your different separates and photographing yourself in them so that you can just pull out your personal “look book” and have a complete outfit ready to go in minutes. This might be useful for some people–but I find that I enjoy the spontaneity of creating different variations day by day. And since I set out my clothing for the next day as part of my evening rituals, I don’t have to worry about being pressed for time in the morning and ending up with a less-than-professional look.

In short, this book was pretty typical of its genre and perhaps a little too regimented to be of use to some people. Its great strength was the idea of creating a personal style sheet with which to evaluate your closet. Its great weakness was insisting on uninterrupted time and specialized closet organizers. If your library has a copy, I’d check it out and read through the first two steps, following the first to a T and using the second as a general guideline. But I wouldn’t buy this book.

Rating: 2 stars
Category: Fashion/Style
Synopsis: Two stylists talk about how to get your closet under control–so you never again have “Nothing to Wear”
Recommendation: First few chapters are interesting, first “step” is definitely worthwhile. The rest is ho-hum. Borrow it from your library and scan it, but don’t buy it.

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