Fashion: Shopping Your Closet

Build by Janel on The Sentimentalist

A few months back I made the decision to take a break from shopping. I had hit a point where I realized I was consuming far more than I needed – shopping online almost daily. It was gross. So I put the credit cards away and took a “time out”. One thing I thought a lot about was how much stuff I had in my own clothes closet that I never wear. Was it time to purge? Perhaps. Or maybe an even better solution was to figure out how to rework the things in my closet and give them a second life. Enter Janel Alexander. I first met Janel in yoga class. She’s a certified yoga teacher which is super cool and you can check her out on the blog here.

Prior to teaching yoga Janel worked in fashion and she recently decided to get back to her roots and start a fashion consulting business called Build by Janel. It’s an understatement to say that she has incredible style so this business makes perfect sense for her. Even before our meeting when she came to rework my closet I knew I would be thrilled with her advice since every time I see her she looks fantastic. She has an eye and soon after looking through my closets she had whipped up a handful of new outfits for me to wear this summer. The way she uses accessories is also a key part of the plan. We dug through my drawers and chose bags, shoes, and jewelry to finish off each look. Ideally I’d meet with Janel each season so that she could tell me what to pair together and what to purge that no longer looks good. The day we met Janel showed up with a simple clothing rack and within just a few hours together she had come up with a few outfits for daytime, a few for work, a few for evening, and a few just for fun. Thanks to Janel I now feel like I have a completely new wardrobe and I bought not one new thing. Yippee!

And the coolest part is that her assistant snaps pics of all of Janel’s outfit ideas. After the session she sends you great “tear sheets” with the outfit images so you know just how to style them when you don’t have Janel there in person to tell you. If you see me bopping around town in the next few weeks I can guarantee you will see me in one of my new “Janel inspired” ensembles! Merci Janel!

Build by Janel on The Sentimentalist Build by Janel on The Sentimentalist

Q&A with Janel Alexander of Build by Janel Build by Janel on The Sentimentalist

What is Build by Janel?

Build is a personal styling concierge service. I come in to your closet and together we work to determine your Personal Style. I help to put outfits together to support this style from your own closet as well as help to shop for those pieces that you might be missing to pull it all together. I also offer additional services to support you looking and feeling your best in wherever life takes you. I can be there if you need help packing for a trip, or need a head to toe look for an event, or if you are standing in a dressing room and need a second opinion. I work with busy working women who just don’t have time to shop, individuals who don’t need to shop but want to streamline their own closets, and clients who want to be on top of the latest trends regardless of location or store. Unlike a specific store’s stylist, I will know what you already own in your closet and how you tend to put it together. I also have the luxury of choosing from any store or designer – instead of only one store or line. I want to make the shopping experience more about the personal and not just what is new in the stores.

Why did you start your business?

I am a firm believer that if you feel good, you will look good and you will be outstanding. Fashion is the outer shell of how we represent ourselves. We as women often leave taking care of ourselves to last. Having a personal stylist is like having a personal trainer or a nutritionist – it’s that extra support system that makes you feel and look your best. I wanted to bring the luxury of professional styling to the sensibility and approachability of a person’s lifestyle. I have 2 young kids, teach yoga, and am always bouncing back and forth from one thing to another. I wanted to look pulled together without looking overly styled. Whether you are going to work, the grocery store, or going to exercise – the right outfit can transform your mood and your whole approach to your day.

What is your background?

I worked for years in the Fashion industry as a fit specialist. I headed up Banana Republic’s fit and pattern making department. I studied fit from a clothing shape, as well as body type, point of view. I believe the right fit is critical in making clothes look like you are wearing them, rather than them wearing you. We come in all different shapes and sizes and knowing what designers and styles work with your body type can go a long way in taking away the mystery of fashion. There are tons of tricks and tips that can help you highlight what you want to accentuate while de-emphasizing what you don’t.

Can you explain what happens once a client makes the first call to Build?

I always start with a client consultation. This helps us to get to know each other better, your lifestyle, your likes and dislikes and where I can best serve the client in our work together. And of course, a peek inside your closet! After that, based on the clients direction, I can do a shop, bring looks to you based on your pre-set budget and show you how to mix those integral pieces into your existing wardrobe. You decide what to keep, I return the rest. I like to follow up with a personalized “lookbook” for my clients so they can wake up and easily refer to that. No more standing in front of your closet with 10 min to go and wondering “what do I wear today”?

Who are your style icons?

My personal style leans more towards boho so I love Bianca Jagger, Sienna Miller, my mom in anything from her wardrobe in the 70’s and Iris Apfel (for fearlessly marching to her own drum!).

What five pieces should every women own?

A well fitting black blazer, a pair of jeans that are so comfortable you could sleep in them, a great shirt that goes under or with everything, a killer shoe (that does not necessarily mean 4” high…), and one piece that is unique to only your style and only you love it more than anything.

Accessories: less or more?

It depends on the individual and their personal style. For some women a simple stud earring and a great bag is perfectly chic, while some like to illustrate their style through a statement necklace, a bold shoe or a hat. The right accessory can pull it all together in a unique way, but can also send it over the edge like too much salt in the soup. Generally Coco Chanel gave the best advice…always take off one piece before you walk out the door.

Favorite stores?

I shop on-line and in stores. I love Tibi for their unique take on structured/professional clothes, Zimmerman for their dream like quality, and who doesn’t love Zara for the occasional pick me up shop?? I like Net-a-Porter and Shopbop for late night endless shopping pleasure – with a glass of wine.

Favorite trendy summer pieces?

I like to play with trends so my clients don’t have to. So for me personally anything 70’s is right in my wheelhouse – you had me at high waisted bell bottoms. A current summer trend that I think works well for most is a sleeveless blazer.

You can reach Janel by emailing her at [email protected].

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