Whether they have five dresses hanging from a wall hook, or enough designer duds to fill a bedroom lined with rolling racks, generations of women have opened the doors to their closets and pondered the same timeless question: What should I wear?
Local stylist Alix Robinson has found a way to help ladies on the First Coast discover the answer. She calls it a “closet cleanse,” and it involves reflection, purging and a willingness to trying new things.
Much more than folding jeans, lining up sandals and color-coordinating tops, Robinson destroys style-ruts and challenges clients to rethink how they dress everyday. Through her business, Styled by Robinson, she creates an entirely new wardrobe by reassigning the clothes her clients already own.
A sarong transforms into a vest worn over a tee. A button-down shirt becomes a lightweight jacket. Denim pairs with silk and patterns go with prints. And the old rule of not wearing white after Labor Day is thrown out along with donated clothing. Anything goes, and clients and their closets look great after Robinson completes her signature cleanse.
“Helping women get dressed and making them happy, makes me happy,” says Robinson. “Whenever you are confident about what you are wearing, you’re a whole new person.”
Robinson, 25, recently re-vamped the closet of Heather Prediletto, an IT saleswoman. She knocked the dust off a sexy pair of peep-toe leopard-print pumps that Prediletto hadn’t worn in four years by dressing them down with boyfriend jeans and a t-shirt. Then she coupled a snazzy top Prediletto, 38, had designated only for “going out” with a pencil skirt to create a new ensemble for work.
“Before Alix came over I was completely unorganized, and I would always look at my closet and think I had nothing to wear,” says Prediletto, a brunette with a love for skinny jeans and flowy tops. “I felt like I got a bunch of new outfits from my own closet. Stuff that was hidden that I had forgotten about. Now instead of going shopping for a particular event, I try to look at what I have and think outside of the box.”
Fashion risks aren’t the only chances Robinson has taken in her life. She left her home in Kansas City, Missouri in 2007 to attend Jacksonville University after receiving a postcard from the school depicting her name written in the sand. Three years later, the 5’9” blonde graduated with a degree in communications. But it was a gig interning and modeling at Jacksonville Fashion Week in 2011 that stoked her passion for fashion. Robinson started to meet fashion-conscious clients like Prediletto while working at the Jacksonville Beach-based boutique Penelope T, where she says she grew into her craft and enjoyed seeing women light up by putting together the right outfits.
“People kept saying, ‘I wish I could bring you home with me,’” says Robinson, sitting on the floor of a client’s closet meticulously folding a pile of jeans.
Robinson’s talent and love for styling drew more customers seeking wardrobe wisdom. And it was by digging into the fabric of women’s lives that she found her purpose. She built trust with clients who already had well-developed personal style like Sara Fant, a local interior designer, who appreciates Robinson’s “gentle” way and her ability to pull together fun sophisticated looks despite their age gap.
“She thinks of things you would never think of. And she’s not trying to make me look 25 or 55,” says Fant, 53, sitting on her living room sofa, wearing a sand-colored tank top and running her fingers along the chain of a necklace with a driftwood pendant.
Fant, who has “too much love for fashion,” turned an upstairs bedroom in her home into a mini boutique with long rolling racks filled to the max with dresses, skirts, tops, pants and jackets for all seasons.
Styled by Robinson’s
Top 5 Tips for a Successful Closet Cleanse
We asked Alix Robinson to share with our readers her five best stylist tips to help you re-envision your wardrobe.
1. Rationalize: Take a quick inventory of each item in your wardrobe and attempt to justify keeping it. If it is torn, ripped or stained, toss it out. If something is merely dirty, wash it and re-evaluate. Is it flattering to your shape and currently in style? Any classic piece, in good condition, that you love but doesn’t fit perfectly should be tailored and kept.
2. Test Yourself: If you are having a hard time letting go of some items, flip all of your hangers the wrong direction and as you wear pieces, turn the hanger around. At the end of 30 days, consign or donate pieces that are still facing the wrong direction.
3. Categorize: Keep your favorite, most worn clothing and accessories in your closets’ prime real estate. Make more room in your closet by boxing your lesser-used and out-of-season items and storing them elsewhere. Once you’ve established an organization method that works for you, stick to it and take a few extra seconds at the end of the day to put things back in their rightful place.
4. Color Coordinate: Treat your closet like a storefront clothing store by color coordinating your wardrobe. Keeping your clothes color coordinated retains structure in your closet, makes things easier to find and helps you quickly put outfits together when getting dressed.
5. Less is More: It’s not about quantity in your closet, it’s about having well-chosen pieces that you love, respect and serve your personal style well. Think about why you are editing down, and how your taste may be changing and cleanse liberally because everything in your closet should make you feel drop-dead gorgeous!
Indulging her love of design, both fashion and home interiors, Fant enjoys the process of collaborating with Robinson, who edits her collection and helps her decide what clothes, accessories and shoes to pack for special trips like weddings and class reunions. But when it comes to how Fant dresses at home, Robinson acts more like an imaginary fashion angel on her client’s shoulder, reminding her that although the devil wears Lululemon in the ever-active Ponte Vedra Beach she should resist the temptation to go about her day in workout clothes.
“Yesterday I ran around in my bathing suit cover-up, instead of dirty workout gear,” admits Fant, smiling and holding up a multi-colored beach frock while surrounded by packed clothing racks. “I don’t need to be running around like this.”