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Work Wardrobe

Wear Your Power This Year

My wish for all of you this year is to learn how to wear your power! It is easy to get stuck in our existing wardrobes, especially when only our own family is seeing us most days.

As you will see from Molly and Kara’s self-told stories below, learning how to wear your power improves how you see yourself.

I’ve had the pleasure of working with Kara Corridan, a writer, on several stories over the years. Kara contacted me in the fall to discuss gifting her sister Molly the RLS Wear Your Power e-Course. Molly has worked from home for 17 years and lost over 100 lbs since 2015. Kara thought the e-course could help her rebuild her wardrobe.

I assured Kara that the course is appropriate for someone working from home. Then I made my big ask. If I gifted the two of them the four week, on-demand course, would they be willing to write about it for my readers? After the popularity of the blog Virtual Styling with the Shu box, I knew you would want to read about their experiences taking the e-Course.

Happy Reading!

lani signature real life style

P.S. Don’t miss Kara’s tale about her favorite shirt! I know she is not the only one with a story like this.

Molly’s Inspiring Story

Molly Before and After Real Life Style Wear Your Power Ecourse

Molly in 2015/Molly in December 2020

COVID be damned, I’ve used the past seven months to take control of my health in a way I hadn’t ever been able to before. With limited (read: no) social options, all work travel grounded and a reduction in going out to eat by 95%- I’ve lost 55 lbs over the past seven months. This brings my total weight loss to just over 100 pounds since 2015.

As someone who works from home (and has for the past 17 years), I’m not looking to round out my work wardrobe as I don’t have a need for that. [Lani: See if she changes her mind about dressing up for work by the end of the course!] But as someone who is redefining and discovering her style, this course has come at exactly the right time as I look to get rid of all the clothes that don’t fit me (which is basically everything but socks) and build up my closet with clothes that make me look as fabulous as I feel.

Molly’s Wear Your Power E-Course Journal

Lesson 1: The Style Questionnaire

Today’s questionnaire took less than 10 minutes and got me thinking about my wardrobe. Easy enough!

What I learned about myself:

  • As much as I love them, I look forward to changing my daily uniform from workout clothes.
  • My favorite question to answer was: What do you want your “look” to communicate to others? My response = happy, proud, confident and fun!

Lesson 2: Define Your Style Type

I can honestly say I’ve never given thought to my style type. Spending the better part of the past two decades struggling with my weight meant that I mostly resigned myself to not having any style and pretty much living in workout clothes with a lot of give in them. But on the other side of a 100+ pound weight loss, I now have options. I’m no longer forced into an elastic waistband or something that will grow with my weight changes.

As I considered the five style type options, I really liked the shopping suggestions included to give me more ideas of where I can shop as I create my new wardrobe. While I think my style is a cross between Classic and Chic, I find myself more drawn to Classic. But I wouldn’t be surprised if, as I get more comfortable in this new body of mine, I skew more towards Chic.

Lesson 3: How to Edit Your Wardrobe Like a Professional

Truth be told, this lesson took me way longer than the three to four hours it was suggested I set aside. It took more like three to four weeks because I had such a huge task ahead of me. And I forgot to take a before photo of my closet. I did, however, take a photo of the pile of clothes I set aside to donate and resell. I learned a lot during this lesson. For starters, the importance of hangers and the different kinds I should add to my closet.

Armed with the right hangers and the other tools I needed to gather (namely, a full-length mirror), I went to town pulling everything out of my closet to see what I had. Because this was my first real edit since my big weight loss, I had a lot I needed to sort through.

clothing piles on the bed during wear your power ecourse real life style

Molly’s First Edit

Going through this process was so helpful. Asking myself if each item fit/flattered my body, gave me the freedom to not hold onto things that I had spent a decent amount of money on and only wore a few times. I didn’t work this hard to lose weight only to wear clothes that didn’t hit in all the right places.

I felt lighter and enlightened by the process. A few weeks after I completed the edit, I revisited my closet and found even more things to edit.

clothing piles on the bed during real life style ecourse

Molly’s Second Edit

Lesson 4: Gathering Information from Your Wardrobe Edit

Figuring out what items should be on my “fill-in list” was helpful in identifying what was missing from my wardrobe. It was also an accurate reflection of adapting to my new body. I liked thinking about what I needed to complete my ideal wardrobe.

an organized closet after the Real Life Style E-Course

Molly’s Edited Closet

Lesson 5: Finding Your Power Color

Red. Hands down, red is my power color. [Lani: Interestingly enough, her sister Kara’s power color is also red, but a different shade.]

I also like green and blue when I want to feel my most confident and powerful. The examples of power colors and how to wear them from the lesson packet helped me realize that I need to invest in some red heels! I hadn’t considered my foot choice to be factored into the power color equation. But of course it should be.

organized closet Real Life Style E-Course

A Close-Up of Molly’s Edited and Organized Closet

Lesson 6: Five Must-Have Pieces for Your Work Wardrobe

The line “It is better to have one perfect pair of trousers than five mediocre pairs” has been so helpful to me as I invest in pants. Before the course I didn’t have a single pair of trousers and now I have three. I am lacking a dress shoe I can walk in, so I’ll be spending more time on the blog figuring out some good options.

five power outfits flat lays real life style wear your power ecourse

Molly’s 5 Optimal Outfits

Power Lesson 7: Putting It All Together, The Seven Ingredients of a Good Outfit

I’ve spent decades having limited options of where I shop and what I could wear. Clothing shopping, trying things on, looking in a mirror…none of that stuff appealed to me. But now, more than 100 pounds lighter from my heaviest weight, I’m standing in front of a closet filled with clothes that make me feel fabulous. More than that, they are a reflection of the work I’ve been putting in over the past five years, but most especially since March of 2020. So this assignment to pull five outfits together is actually FUN! I’ve been building back my wardrobe since the summer taking advantage of various sales. I’ve ditched the wardrobe that’s predominately made up of workout clothes. It’s not just a closet filled with black clothes. While I still find it sort of painful to have to part with clothes I spent a lot of money on and only got a few uses out of, I’m determined to not wear blousy or baggy clothes.

Real Life Style E-Course

The New Molly

While there are a few pieces I could still purchase, I was happy to discover that I had plenty of options to choose from. All the shopping I’ve been doing made it possible. And organizing my closet per previous lessons, meant it was easy to see everything at a glance and mix and match the outfits together.

Real Life Style E-Course

The New Molly

Lesson 8: Keep up with the Trends and Ask Me Anything!

What “aha!” moments did I have? Organizing my clothes was a game changer for me. Implementing Lani’s organization method truly does make it easier to choose what to wear. Using the different types of hangers was helpful to better capitalize on the space in my small closet.

In my consultation with Lani she pointed out that even though I work from home, I can and should take the time to dress up. Feeling good and powerful makes work better, so I’m going to incorporate that into my work week.

Real Life Style E-Course

The New Molly

When you sign up for the e-course, the confirmation email says: “Regardless of what life or fashion stage you’re in, our goal is to help you feel and look put-together and powerful, use style as a tool for enhanced presence and self-confidence, and have one fewer thing to worry about.” I can honestly say that my expectations were exceeded! I truly feel put-together and powerful. After feeling like I was hiding for so long, I’m grateful to the Wear Your Power e-Course for getting me on the right path as I rebuild my closet and wardrobe better than ever.

After taking all of Lani’s suggestions from our call, my closet really came together so much better. And when I open up my closet it actually looks fun and makes me happy and excited to pick out an outfit. So thank you for that.


Kara’s Story

While the idea of “fashion” has always intimidated me, I like to think I can be stylish. But I never really knew what my style was, or whether I was presenting myself in the best possible light. With this 8-part e-course, which I could take at my own pace, I wanted to identify my style and figure out what basic rules I wasn’t following (or wasn’t aware of), and bring some new perfect-for-me pieces into my wardrobe. Here’s how it unfolded.

women in blue blazer before photo wear your power ecourse real life style

Kara’s Before Look

Kara’s Wear Your Power E-Course Journal

Lesson 1: The Style Questionnaire

As the first step, I filled out Lani’s Style Questionnaire, with questions like “What words describe how you feel when you open your closet?” (uninspired) and “What do you want your look to communicate to others?” I had never given that much thought, but came up with “Maybe just ‘I love what she’s wearing’?” Lani also asked which celebrities’ style I admire. I came up with two people whose body types couldn’t possibly be more different than mine, but when I think of women who look fantastic in everything and anything, I see Kate Middleton and Gwyneth Paltrow. [Lani: I should probably change the prompt to, “Who besides Kate Middleton is your style icon? Everyone—okay, nearly everyone—picks Kate!]

Lesson 2: Define Your Style Type

For this lesson, we were asked to determine our style, choosing from five basic types: Classic, Chic, Whimsical, Avant-Garde, and Bohemian. I think of my taste as veering toward “classic with a twist.” I like traditional items that have an unexpected element, like my Lilly Pulitzer navy v-neck cotton tank with mini pom-poms at the neckline. Navy tank: boring, mini pom-poms: fun, maybe even whimsical. I felt validated to see that the very first example of a celeb with a classic style was… Kate Middleton. At the very least, I know what I like when I see it.

before cluttered closet real life style wear your power ecourse

Kara’s Unedited Summer Closet

Lesson 3: How to Edit Your Wardrobe Like a Professional

Lani explained that this would be the most time-consuming lesson, requiring between two and four hours, not including how long it would take to gather the supplies needed to have a truly organized closet. I needed to get my hangers in order.

Then came the hard—but also kind of fun—part: going through each part of my wardrobe, category by category. As I went through my closet, I tried to be ruthless. If I didn’t love it, I put it aside.

If it didn’t fit me anymore, I put it aside. If the only thing it had going for it was that it fit me, I put it aside. There was one item I wasn’t sure about: a deep purple velvet blazer. (See before picture.) I loved the color, but it wasn’t that flattering, especially when I buttoned it. I decided to wait and check with Lani during our 30-minute conversation at the end of the course.

I was moving along at a pretty fast clip. The pile of clothes I would not be keeping grew larger. Then I got to an Ann Taylor button-down oxford that I’ve had for 18 years. That sounds crazy, but the cut and color (a sort of light cornflower blue) flattered me, and it was made of some kind of magic anti-wrinkling fabric. These days it was a little more snug than I’d like, but to solve that, I figured I’d wear it under a crewneck sweater.

So I tried it on… and hated how it felt. The buttons in the bust were straining to do their job, and my biceps made me feel like The Incredible Hulk. It’s over, I decided. We had a good run there, but this top no longer made me happy. I put it in the donate pile. But I had mixed emotions. Part of me was glad I faced reality and another part felt like I was giving up.

No joke, the very next morning I got an email from Shutterfly: “Your memories from this week ten years ago…” I opened it up to find a picture of me and my younger daughter, then two years old. I was sitting on the floor, she was on my lap, and I was dressed for work—in The Oxford. In this shot, the shirt doesn’t only fit me—it’s almost baggy. The arms are loose.

Real Life Style E-Course

The Infamous Oxford Shirt Picture

Is it overly dramatic to say I felt like l’d been slapped? I was stunned to see how much better I looked back when I was a harried mom of two kids under five, commuting four hours a day for a demanding job. Today, I’m permanently anxious because I’m trapped at home with those kids, now 15 and 12. In theory I have more control of my diet than ever before, since we have so few obligations and zero work events or social gatherings to derail me. So why is it so hard to get my weight under control?

All I know is I felt compelled to run down to the basement, tear through the Donate bags, and yank out that Ann Taylor oxford. I made a vow: By the time my birthday rolls around at the end of March, it will fit me—maybe not the way it used to, but at least the way it’s supposed to. [Lani: Keeping a piece to gauge your size is OK!]

before cluttered closet real life style wear your power ecourse

Another Angle of Kara’s Unedited Summer Closet

Lesson 4: Gathering Information from Your Wardrobe Edit

The goal of this lesson was to take what I’d learned from my wardrobe edit and create a Style Report, which would serve as the blueprint for a wardrobe I’d love. I printed out the questionnaire and was stumped by Lani’s first question: Do you think you have cool or warm coloring? I like silver (cool) and gold (warm) jewelry, and I’m not sure which one looks better on me. Does bright white flatter me more than ivory? 🤷‍♀️ I love yellow (warm) and pink (cool)—so what does that mean? Another question for my call with Lani at the end of the course.

What are your best necklines? That one was easy. V-neck, boatneck and sometimes even halter. What necklines should you stay away from? I’ll pass on cowlnecks.

What items do you need to complete your ideal wardrobe? I had never sat down and mapped it out before like this. I realized I need more basics than I’d thought—specifically, a good crisp white button-down; a black blazer; a navy blazer; a simple crewneck sweater to wear with oxfords; a jumpsuit; perfect black pants.

after organized closet real life style wear your power ecourse

Kara’s Organized and Edited Fall Closet

Lesson 5: Finding Your Power Color

As a faithful reader of Lani’s blog, I had been turned on earlier in the year to the concept of a power color, which is a strong shade that makes you feel confident and powerful. I’d decided mine was yellow. Yellow makes me happy and it pops. In warmer months I’m a big fan of every shade of pink, so I considered that another power color. I’d thought red too predictable as a power color, but during my edit I’d come to realize I have several cherry-red tops. I made a note to ask Lani whether the color was as flattering as I seemed to think it was.

power colors red and yellow on clothing rack wear your power ecourse real life style

Kara’s Power Color Pieces

Lesson 6: Five Must-Have Pieces for Your Work Wardrobe

It was time to make sure I had the five essentials. For the ones I was missing, Lani provided links to her tried-and-true picks.

Lesson 7: Putting It All Together, The Seven Ingredients of a Good Outfit

The assignment for this lesson was to curate five outfits that encompass the basic elements, as outlined by Lani. These include well-fitting pieces, a modern shoe, and an interesting or personal detail. She also emphasized the importance of “the third piece,” whether that’s a blazer, cardigan, vest, or scarf. I’m low on blazers but high on scarves, so I’d like to have another jacket or two. (I’ve since added a second M.M. LaFleur jacket to my closet thanks to a flash sale.) Once I’d put the outfits together, I took pictures on my phone for easy reference.

after photo in yellow power color wear your power ecourse real life style

Kara’s After Look

Lesson 8: Keep up with the Trends and Ask Me Anything!

It was time to take advantage of my 30-minute call with Lani. I had my questions ready, starting with: Am I warm or cool? Based on my coloring, my hair color (blond, albeit chemically) and my preferences, Lani determined that I was a “Sun,” a subset of warm. She also suggested that in order to come up with a customized palette for myself, I keep a running list of the colors that look good on me. I asked what she thought of my plethora of red tops, and she approved. I guess red is one of my power colors after all.

Lani also gave recommendations for some of the holes I learned were in my wardrobe back in Lesson 4. Where could I get a flattering jumpsuit, something I’ve never owned as an adult? As it turns out, Lani had dedicated an entire blog post to the very Everlane jumpsuit she’d recommend for me. And when I asked about a perfectly crisp white dress shirt, she thought for a second and all but snapped her fingers: “The Shirt!” There is actually a site called the-shirt.com, and its calling card is “No-Gape Button Technology,” which should prevent the issue I had with my formerly perfect oxford (wearing the proper size will help, too). I can see myself getting a white shirt as well as this amazing rich orange one.

Lastly, I asked about my purple blazer. As soon as Lani saw it on me, she nailed the three reasons it wasn’t working: “It’s a little snug, plus it’s too short, and the sleeves are too long.” Now it’s in the Donate pile, and I’m in the market for a different purple jacket.

But in the meantime, I now have the foundation for a polished wardrobe. I understand the value of adding a third piece to outfits, and I’m going to feel more confident on my daily video calls for work, and on the rare occasions I’m socializing, whether virtually or in person. Just as important, I’ll be eager to select my outfits each morning, instead of semi-dreading it. And one day in 2021, I will stroll back into my office, feeling secure in and excited about what I’m wearing.

Thank you so much Kara and Molly for sharing your experiences taking the Wear Your Power E-Course with our readers! Register for the course before Jan 30th, 2021 and you will receive the same upgrade as Kara and Molly, a 30 minute Zoom consultation at the end of the course.

Real Life Style is a style consulting firm that teaches busy women to wear their power so they can live their lives fully and confidently. Lani Inlander and Kyle Dunphy are based in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area and serve clients across the country. We offer personal styling services, an on-demand e-course, corporate services, and training to become a personal stylist.

You can find Lani Inlander and Real Life Style on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram.

(1) Comment

  1. Amy Murphy says:

    Thank you for sharing. Such inspiring stories! Molly, be proud of yourself. You look stunning in your new workwear, and comfy.

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