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Style Inspiration

Virtual Styling with the SHU box

I’m so excited to bring you this week’s blog detailing the virtual styling process I went through with Sarah Hart-Unger. You may know Sarah from her blogging exploits at www.theSHUbox.com. As a physician, mother of three, and (co)host of two podcasts, Best of Both Worlds and Best Laid Plans, she needs a wardrobe that’s easy to put together. She also had not addressed her wardrobe needs since buying a few things to get her though post-partum baby number three.

Sarah Hart Unger’s blog unpacking work, life, and motherhood, one box at a time.

Sarah was nice enough to document the process for us (pictures by her and her 8 yr old Annabel!), as well as provide commentary. I urge you to check out her blog, a daily journal of life as a working mother/physician in Florida during these crazy times. I so admire her ability to get in self-care, maintain a career, and spend time with her family. Now that she has completed the RLS Virtual Styling process, Sarah also has a working wardrobe!

P.S. The text below was written by Sarah, followed by my commentary. You can also read even more about Sarah’s take on her new wardrobe in her own blog post, Day 151 // Habit Series: Getting Dressed.

Sarah’s Virtual Styling Story

Lani was a guest on Best of Both Worlds, a podcast I cohost with Laura Vanderkam, all about making work and life fit together. When I heard about her wardrobe makeover services, I was intrigued. I was thrilled when she offered to work with me virtually (and I promised in return to share my experience with all of you!). So, here we go!

Sarah’s Closet “Before” Shot 1

BEFORE: I’m a physician with some leadership responsibilities in addition to my clinical ones.  Like many others, I’m grounded at home a lot these days.  But I know there will come a time when I need to appear in person again . . . and look halfway decent while doing it!  But I was in a major wardrobe rut.

Sarah’s Closet “Before” Shot 2

I admitted to Lani on the podcast that I had started wearing black jeans and a neoprene logo jacket to work most days.  This wasn’t the most professional or most flattering look, and technically wasn’t even in line with our office dress code (jeans were verboten, at least pre-COVID).  I had a few work items, but most of them were years old and losing their luster.  I had a lot of polyester wrap dresses which were starting to look age-inappropriate, as well as tops leftover from my “come back from baby!” era where I was steering away from anything too fitted for obvious reasons.
The one thing I had already done was to find a few pairs of black pants that I liked . . . but when you have nothing particularly enticing to wear with them, it’s very easy to reach for jeans (and neoprene logo jacket . . .) instead. Lani swooped into the rescue!

An online wardrobe session

THE PROCESS: Via Zoom, Lani had me go through my current wardrobe (she was slightly shocked at how minimal it really was).  We discussed what I liked, didn’t like, and body challenges (in my case, height – I’m 5’1″ on a good day and with short limbs to add to the fun).  I tried a couple of items on for her.  We devised a wish list of ideal pieces and discussed favorite colors and silhouettes.  She had me choose a style profile — of the 4 options, I gravitated toward the ‘classic’ and ‘chic’, so she called me ‘classic chic’ and went from there.  This took about 2 hours.

Sarah’s Personalized Style Report

Next, she sent me a list of curated links, filled with treasures I never knew existed!  This part was pure gold, as I am confident I would not have made such successful selections without her guidance.  I created a spreadsheet to track prices & stores (to help with returns and also track how much I was spending – I am a budget-obsessed woman!).

Boxes of merchandise and fresh hangers arrive!

I made my first order . . . and then came the try on!  Lani met me again via Zoom and we went through it all together.  She specifically instructed me NOT to open the boxes prior to our virtual meet up, which a) added to the fun and b) prevented me from making any rash decisions about keeping/returning prior to looking at everything together.  It was love at first with several items (Uniqlo drape neck tees Nic + Zoe pull on skirtMajestic moto jacketPersifor dress!), but others needed returning for size or style adjustments.

Sarah was shocked at how much she loved this top from M.M. Lafleur!

This Persifor dress updated Sarah’s wrap dress game!

She joined me once more for Round 2, and we looked at the gaps in my wardrobe.  One still exists – a pair of perfect cognac wedge heels!  These are apparently a rarity in the online shopping world, and I’ve already had two uncomfortable misses (luckily, both fully refundable).  Finally, Lani sent me printed suggestions of how to pair everything as outfits.  I’m quite minimal (black pants + top = outfit to me) but I still loved seeing how she recommended combining everything. 

Page 1 of Sarah’s Outfits Doc

AFTER . . . THOUGH STILL A WORK IN PROGRESS.  Let’s face it:  I am not ‘done’.  I still need cognac wedges.  I still need to make a trip to the tailor (low priority but actually now seems like a pretty good time, particularly if I can drop things off with pre-pinned hems!).  I think Lani would love some more perfect closet pix from me but . . . honestly, I think I am at a place that is quite functional — much more so than before and certainly functional enough for mid-pandemic!  In no way do I feel like I could have done this on my own.  I am good at many things, but choosing successful online shopping items is not one of them.  

Returns ready to go back and an empty hanger box

She also empowered me to spend a little on myself.  As I mentioned, I am budget conscious, though certainly more in some areas than others.  By acknowledging that a reasonable work wardrobe is going to actually cost something — yet the right choices will last quite a while — she helped me to take the plunge and invest a bit in my professional appearance.  

Sarah’s final budget, including purchases and returns. A lot of these items are on even deeper sale now, so click through if you like them!


Finally, I will add that many of her recommendations are still relevant right now, mid-pandemic.  I can Zoom away and see patients wearing a Uniqlo drape neck tee (with jeans) and look like I am dressed for work.  
If you find yourself with some extra cash on hand and want to invest in your re-entry wardrobe for when the time comes, I highly recommend working with Lani!  This would also be great to do around a milestone birthday or event (like a promotion).  Thank you again Lani for this experience and I will think of you every time someone compliments me on my new outfits 🙂

A final look! M.M. Lafleur top, Nic+Zoe skirt, and Cole Haan Wedges

Another outfit: Uniqlo drape tee, her black pants, Cole Haan wedges

Sarah in action at her desk, comfortable in her new work wardrobe!

Lani Says

Thank you Sarah! I had so much fun working with you! It is amazing what can be accomplished over Zoom. And don’t worry, I will not rest until we find you the right cognac wedges! Sarah likes wedges because she is very petite and is on her feet all day when she is seeing patients.

Sarah’s Closet “After” Shot 1. Give her a break that she didn’t yet change every hanger!

Most clients have not already edited their closet Marie Kondo style before I start working with them. Because of this, we actually did not “edit” any items before we replaced them with new pieces. Sarah didn’t have the clothes to spare!

Sarah’s “After” Closet Shot 2

Even with an already pared down wardrobe, you can tell what a difference going through the virtual styling process with a personal stylist made on Sarah’s closet and wardrobe. Just because someone’s closet is practically empty, doesn’t mean it is already “done.” I’m sure Sarah would not have categorized her closet as practically empty, but to this experienced personal stylist, it was!

Sarah’s “After” Closet Shot 3

Every client is comfortable with a certain amount of clothing and outfits. Sarah usually wears the same sentimental (and very pretty) necklace every day, so she didn’t need to style accessories for each outfit. We have clients with five times as many clothes in their closet and extensive accessory collections. Others have even less! You do you. We are here to help. Our clients run the gamut from globe-trotting lawyers to stay-at-home moms. Everyone deserves a wardrobe they love, even if they are not leaving the house most days!

If you are interested in a virtual styling session, learn more here and shoot me an email at lani@real-life-style.com. You can also read even more about Sarah’s take on her new wardrobe in her own blog post, Day 151 // Habit Series: Getting Dressed.

Lani Inlander is a personal stylist who has been working with clients who want to feel their best and look put-together every day for over 20 years. You can find her in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area. Learn how you can train with Lani and Kyle to become a personal stylist at The Stylist Studio. 

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

(6) Comments

  1. Lori C says:

    This was great! I’m very intrigued in the process and it looks like it worked out well for Sarah. I also have a minimal wardrobe and wouldn’t mind spending that much to feel more comfortable with what I have.

    1. Lani says:

      Thank you, Lori! If you would like to discuss the process further, please email me at lani@real-life-style.com.

  2. This is intriguing! Do you style plus sized women? I was a slip of a thing until a medication that I have to be on caused a lot of weight gain, and I have not been good at clothes ever since.

    1. Yes! We absolutely style plus sized women, and especially enjoy it as we feel they are under-served at retail. Email me to set up a time to chat if you are interested in learning more about our service! lani@real-life-style.com

  3. Anne says:

    This is so interesting! Seeing the process is awesome and love her new wardrobe 🙂

    1. Lani says:

      Thanks, Anne :)!

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