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Episode 70: The Psychology Of Fashion-Learning from a Client’s Closet

Feb 3

Welcome to Episode 70: The Psychology of Fashion-Learning from a Client’s Closet

Dr. Ania Schwartzman

When professional organizers work with clients, emotions and psychology often come into play. Our guest today is Dr. Ania Schwartzman, who combines her clinical psychology degree with a lifetime love of fashion into her personal styling business The Fashionologist. Ania joins us to talk about what professional organizers can learn from a client’s closet, and how we can better help our clients through the organizing process by listening and asking key questions. She also tells us a little about how fashion is changing and gives us ideas about pro organizer work wardrobes as a bonus. 

(01:00) Introduction; working with clients
(04:00) Why people work with a personal stylist
(05:30) What questions to use with clients when organizing to help them make decisions
(09:00) What deep things closets can tell you about your clients
(15:30) Fashion changes/current trends
(18:45) Fashion for professional organizers
(24:00) “Enclothed Cognition”-dressing influences actions
(29:00) The power of clothing and how we help clients
(31:00) Showing up for our clients
(34:30) Pivoting for businesses like ours

If you are considering starting or growing a professional organizing business, we have a brand new for 2021, totally free workshop you can take that goes beyond this podcast–you can register here if you want to check it out!

Links for listeners:

Ania’s website The Fashionologist

The Fashionologist Instagram feed

Want to network with other professional organizers? Here is information on our Inspired Organizer® group.


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Pro Organizer Studio Podcast Episode 70: Ania Schwartzman, The Fashionologist

Jen Obermeier: You’re listening to the Pro Organizer Studio podcast with Melissa Klug and Jen Obermeier. Thank you so much for joining in our mission is to broaden the horizons of savvy business women in the organizing industry by instilling confidence and inspiring authenticity. You’ll gain new insight into strategies designed specifically for professional organizers.

So now let’s get started.

Melissa Klug: I am so excited to be back on the Pro Organizer Studio Podcast today. This is your co-host Melissa Klug and we have a special guest here today, someone who combines two super interesting worlds that are very, very relevant to professional organizers.

So I would like to welcome to the podcast Ania Schwartzman, so nice to meet you and so nice to be able to have you here today with us. 

Ania Schwartzman: Thank you so much. I’m so excited. 

Melissa Klug: I would like you to introduce yourself because you are The Fashionologist. And I would love for you to explain to our listeners what exactly you do and all of the super interesting things about your career and your life.

Ania Schwartzman: So I’m a clinical psychologist. I’ve been practicing psychology for 20 years. I worked in schools. I work in private practice and I started my business two years ago when I had this revelation that clothes have power. In fact, I think I always knew that, but I had an experience with a friend in a closet and I was helping her choose an outfit for her daughter’s graduation. And I just realized  that there was so much more going on than just picking a pretty dress that she needed. She needed more than that. 

And I came home and I was thinking about this idea until I decided like, let’s just start this business. I think I could do for people so much more than what’s already out there. So I’ve been really fortunate.  I work with clients. I’ve been on podcasts. I’ve been seen on NBC. I’ve been in the New York post. So it’s been quite a ride. 

Melissa Klug: I love everything that you do. I just think it’s so, so interesting to have this intersection of psychology and fashion, because as professional organizers, we know when you work in a woman’s closet, it is not about the clothing.

It is about how you feel. It is about the messages that you are sending through your clothing. And. One of the things I tell people who are interested in professional organizing all the time is it really is 90% psychology. It’s a 90% psychology and 10% putting stuff in bags and taking them out of the house.

And so I love that you are actually a professional, you have your doctorate, but you also know the power of that, that clothing. So, so when you work with your clients , what are some of the things that you encounter most often? I assume that they’re probably a lot of things that professional organizers encountered too.

Ania Schwartzman: One of the things I. You start off doing is getting a sense of where, where are they starting? So I had them fill out a questionnaire, which gives me an idea of where are they at right now? What are their goals? What are their values?  What are they stuck with?

And then the kind of questions I typically get are related to, you know, I have either nothing to wear or nothing fits or , I have so much in my closet and I just don’t know how to put it together.  It’s a lot of questioning around like how to actually use the clothing.  It’s not necessarily about finding the clothing, but then how to use it is the kind of questions that I get.

Melissa Klug: Do you find that people struggle the most with, finding the thing? Like, do you work with mostly people who they really don’t know what to wear or how to wear it? So it’s more actual styling or they have a closet full of things. And like you said, if they just knew how to put it together, They would feel better or they just need to learn a little bit more about clothing 

Ania Schwartzman: I think that when people seek someone like me out, it’s not necessarily that they don’t know where to find it it’s usually for a particular occasion or a particular event.

So for example , in the beginning of zoom, a lot of people were not accustomed to hanging out in their pajamas all day and then turning on their zoom calls and then. It’s being expected to , present themselves well. So I got a lot of questions at that time about, like how do I show up  in my best self while also respecting the culture at the time. I mean, you didn’t see anybody on these zoom calls in suits and ties or, fancy blazers, but you did see them hopefully a little bit more elevated. And that took some skill. And I think that that’s where people were really confused about and needed more help with.

Other kinds of questions are usually I’m doing a webinar or I’m presenting in front of people and I’m not quite sure how to put together an outfit, that’s going to represent what I want to represent. So people will say to me , I’m wearing this and I feel like this sets a tone that I’m expert in something.

And while that doesn’t set the tone for an expert, so it’s about trying to help people navigate who they want to be, how they want to be perceived, how they want to feel typically in moments, not necessarily on an every day. 

Of course I help people on an everyday as well. How to navigate the, you know, sort of zoom to cocktails hour kind of thing, or pick up, drop off to the meeting afterwards. There’s like a skillset to it. You need to know how to layer, right? You need know how to, grab something and be able to pull it over something else so that you can , meet the needs for everything.

Melissa Klug: One of the things, when we work with clients, we want them to feel good about themselves and feel good about their wardrobe is one of my lines I use with clients a lot is your wardrobe. Shouldn’t make you feel bad about yourself. Like you shouldn’t walk into your closet and just have a bunch of things that make you feel like, well, I haven’t lost. Is that 10 pounds or whatever that looks like. But , I know I personally sometimes struggle with a client will say, does this look good on me?

Or,  I have them try things on if they’re not sure. And  you definitely have the things where they’ll say, Oh my gosh, I love this. Or no, this definitely goes away. But that middle ground of does this look good on me. And I struggle with that.  And I try to be really positive with my clients and say, well, how does it make you feel?

And then those reflecting questions, but because I am not a stylist.  How do you do that with clients? What does that tactful, you know what, I don’t think that’s your best piece. What are some of those races that you use?

Ania Schwartzman: That’s a great question. And I think that it’s depends on the style of the stylist, if you understand. So yeah. The way that I work is different than most personal stylists.  I’m not going to come into your closet. You’re going to ask me how is a look and I’m going to say, you know, honey, this is ridiculous.

That I don’t think that not only do I not think that that helps. I think that , the message doesn’t get taken in, and, for that reason, I don’t use that approach. Instead, what I do is I think about working with someone in a therapeutic situation, what is going to help change behavior in general.

It’s not me giving advice directly and telling you what to do. You literally have to come to it yourself. And with my skill, I help you do that. So I think that. When I answer a question, like, does this look good? I mean, depending on the situation, there’s some things that like the outrageous and I’ll say like, but , for the most part, I think about how do I help this person asking me the question understand why it may not look good or,  what about it could look good or something like that. So I might ask questions around, what are you trying to have people see you as  what are you going for? When you say look good, what does good mean to you?  You might ask, you know, good, you know, good for what, I guess this is the good, good for what?

I mean, what are we talking about Saturday night out or at the boardroom? Does it fit? Is that what you’re asking me? Does it fit well? I would just ask a lot more questions and get the person thinking because. You can have something that, that doesn’t necessarily look good to you, but maybe that person is trying to project something that you’re not even thinking about.

You want to understand from their perspective. So I think just asking more questions, not necessarily how you feel, because that’s a hard question for a lot of people, but just , what are you going for me?  

Melissa Klug: Sometimes answering a question with a question is always a good way to elicit more information. I should have mentioned, you are in New York City, so you are very, you know, you’re in a very urban, you know, sophisticated environment, but these are questions that can transcend no matter where you are in the United States or, you know, Europe, wherever you’re listening to us right now. Asking those questions to clarify, help that person clarify what is important to them.

And we often run into, um, someone who says, well, if I took everything out of my closet that didn’t fit, or I haven’t worn in a while, well, I wouldn’t have anything left. 

Ania Schwartzman: Well, statistically, we wear only, I think, 7% of what we have in our closet, it is just something that happens with everyone in the general population.  There’s so much that goes on in the closet. Right. There’s so much that goes on. It’s when I think about it, the closet is the most private part of the house for every woman.

If you think about it, right. Especially if you’re a mom, there’s no privacy in a house. Right. I mean, the closet is like our only place for respite  and privacy. We think  most of us don’t have people going into our closet unless you have like a teen daughter who’s like taking things, but for the most part they’re in our most private place.

And it’s where a lot of things get played out. It’s so interesting to me, I say that I can get so much more information from someone’s closet sometimes, and I can, you know, six months on the couch with them, it’s just really amazing. So much gets played out. So if somebody says to me, I’ve got tons of things in the closet, and if I take everything that doesn’t fit me out, I’m not going to have anything to wear.

And I might ask them why. Like, why is that happening? What’s going on? What does that say?  Where are you at now? Right? Because as we change over time, so to our closets, obviously,  what you used to wear in your twenties, hopefully you’re not still wearing in your fifties.  What you used to wear as a new mom.

You’re typically not wearing, as a more experienced mom, things change over time and. Typically your closet reflects that. And when it doesn’t, you have to stop and ask yourself, why are you stuck? And is that closet expressing that in your life?  If you’re feeling unfulfilled in your career, is your closet expressing that in some way, are you not buying new things because you don’t care about the job?

Are you unhappy in your marriage? And so you’re not investing in anything new and cute and sexy and that kind of thing. I mean, that gets played out in the closet. So there’s so much more going on, I think , for people to help understand why they’re stuck and that’s, that’s where I come in. 

Melissa Klug: That’s interesting that you say that I’ve never really thought about that. Like everything plays out in your closet, like I’ve always thought about it in terms of it’s a self-esteem it always becomes a self-esteem issue , with women. And when you are in that closet there, no matter what, no matter who it is, You know, there are women that I work with who, uh, you know, say I have three different sizes in here, or I have five different sizes in here, or, you know, all of those things, you’re exactly right.

It plays out right there in the closet. I have never really thought about it that way. 

Ania Schwartzman: And people will ask me, what do I do with all of these things? And, as a wardrobe coach. It’s not necessarily my job to encourage them to throw everything away. There are so many reasons people hold on to things.

When you talk about the three different sizes, I mean, I’ve seen it, and I understand it. And sometimes there are reasons behind why they’re holding onto it. It’s not just, I hope one day I’ll fit into this smaller size.  Sometimes it’s shame. It’s the feeling ashamed that I made a stupid purchase , I couldn’t wear it.

So that’s around there or just this like determination to prove, like, I know I spent money on something and I can’t wear it, but I promise you, I will. And there’s, there’s so much more than just, holding onto it and it, Or weight reasons or it’s so much more emotional. So my job is not necessarily to encourage him to throw it away so instead I encourage them to shift it,  shift it away.  

When you, I imagine as an organizer, that you, you want to organize your closet in a certain organizational style, right? So. I don’t have that knowledge like you do. But what I do feel is that you have to have some sort of system where things that you need come easily to you. So for example, the things that you want to wear for the week should be front and center. The things that you’re holding onto because of weight issues or shame or whatever it is.

They could still be in the closet, but they could be way, way back.  They don’t have to be front and center. They could be in a different room. They could be in a whole other section of the apartment or house or whatever it is. So I’m not asking you to throw it away. I’m not asking you to give up your dreams.

I’m not asking you to change your whole life, but , shift your mindset and say, okay, I still have these things. I still have this goal of losing weight, but I’m going to put it over here and this way it’s not my everyday message. When I opened that closet. Worst thing in the world is to open up the closet and get these negative feelings of like, Ugh, those jeans I can fit in.

Melissa Klug: And if I’m not, yeah. Or the shame, the shame spiral is so, so real in both of our combined work. Right. And, and that reminder, so whether it’s. I don’t fit into it anymore, or this still has the tags on it. I spent a lot of money on it. We totally deal with that as organizers as well. And sometimes just saying like, you’re letting this hang over you.

So let’s talk about, is there a deadline you can put in place for yourself or is there an event coming up that you can say I’m committed to wearing this item or things like that to try to get that shame and that wasteful a lot of people feel wasteful and so deciding that and admitting that they’re never going to wear it, they feel wasteful and saying, Oh, I’m going to donate this instead.

Ania Schwartzman: I work with so many different people who are worried about wasting. I mean, there are so many options now.  So nobody’s asking you necessarily to throw it away, but to change it up.

A lot of the styles in life, they just keep coming back, but what’s different is that 10 is different, right? Or the. The neck is different, whatever it is. And sometimes it just takes a little tweaking with an expert tailor to, to fix that. And, and then you have like a whole new shirt with this. You haven’t thrown anything away. So there’s a lot you can do with that. 

Melissa Klug: Uh, just a quick detour.  When you say like, you know, everything kind of comes back.  The other day, my daughter needed to shop for something specific. I was in the gap, which I haven’t been in, in like 8 million years and I walked past and I go.

Are are those overalls. And I texted my college roommate and I was like, Amy. I was like the overalls that I wore all four years of college, are back. Exactly. I go, they just took these out of the, out of the warehouse that I’m like, I know these are from 1994. They have to be. It’s just so funny how everything comes back again.

Ania Schwartzman: Everything comes back.  I remember my mom used to say that and I like, you don’t know what you’re saying? But I see it now also with my daughter. I mean, the things that she’s wearing, the baggy pants cuffed up, I just, I totally, and the, and the  baggy sweatshirts, I’m going, I used to work with your dad’s big shirts and sweaters, completely comes back, but if you’re going to be.

Contemporary and on trend, you’ll notice that there’s a difference. There’s a tweaking in style. So that’s what separates us from the people who were wearing the same outfit that they had, you know, 20 years ago, 40 years ago.  There’s a difference in the hem and all that. So that’s when you want to watch out for yes, they come back and you’re wearing like a cool style that’s in again, but it’s, it looks a little different and that’s where, a stylist is really helpful.

Melissa Klug: Listen, not one person on the planet wants to see me current day and overalls zero people. So I will not be embracing that.  How have you seen the pandemic? How has fashion changed? Other than the obvious during the pandemic, like how has your work changed during the pandemic?  And how do you see that moving forward for all of us? 

Ania Schwartzman: t’s a good question. I feel that, The immediate change was, obviously,  getting people out of their pajamas, it was a lot of talking about like showing up in something other than your pajamas, then it was like change your clothes every day.

And that was really important.  You heard a lot about like the zoom blazer or the zoom sweater that was like on the corner of the chair that people would pull out. And if you’re working with people frequently enough, they’ll see that you’re wearing the same thing over and over again. So. You created direction there in terms of fashionable differences.

I’m noticing that without a doubt, casual wear is like the hot thing. I think that elevated casual wear will really be popular for awhile now because of how people are still working from home. And I’m not really meeting with lots of people. And when I say that it’s elevated, what you’ll see is that the quality of the cloth is a little bit better, the design is a little different. I think tie dye is still in, but you’ll see a more muted tie dye in a lot of places.  I just actually bought a really cute outfit at gap. It was the tie dye, sweatshirt, and matching, super cute from far away. It looks like a put together outfit. I wouldn’t wear that to a meeting, but it definitely helps.  When I want to go get groceries and walk the dog, I look a little more put together than if I were like in my schleppy Mommy pants and big sweatshirt, but definitely I think we’re leaning towards more casual wear. I also think that, headbands are become really big.

Again, you’re going to see a lot of accessories, earrings, scarves. Masks obviously are huge and people are playing around with different ways of wearing scarves and stuff. So I think that all of these like accessories are big. I think people are being encouraged to focus on the top part of their bodies because of zoom mostly.

So I think that that’s what we’re seeing. 

Melissa Klug: I was taping a podcast with someone yesterday and she and I were talking about how, your earring game has to be strong. Now, like she said, every time she goes to target, she will purposely buy a new pair of earrings because she goes like, well, that allows me to kind of dress something up. And cause people are only seeing from your shoulders up most of the time. 

Ania Schwartzman: Absolutely. Um, that’s funny. Cause I intended to wear something a little bit more bold, but I wasn’t sure what I was doing with the ear pods and all that, because I seen that, you know, sometimes yeah. Your pods actually make there’s people who are wearing ear pods or wires or whatever.

And it kinda like , it’s a lot of commotion going around the ear. So you just have to be mindful of that as well, whatever you choose to wear , at your ear. But absolutely. I think that you have to be up on your ear game  or necklace. I mean, people are busting out beautiful accessories , around their neck and it’s really something.

Melissa Klug: One of the things that we deal with in professional organizing is when you are in someone’s house, it’s very. Physical work.  No matter what room you’re working on it, unless you’re working on paperwork, it’s pretty physical. And so finding something as a professional organizer, I’ve tried to find like a uniform that both looks nice and looks professional, but also is comfortable enough to be accommodating for  that physical labor.

And sometimes that is very stressful just going down like a very specific lane, but sometimes it’s really, really hard to do that. 

Ania Schwartzman: Great. So you’re talking about , being in a profession where you really have to do some dirty work and you ha you know, if you showed up in pearls and a blazer with high fields, that would make no sense, right. That just completely would send a message like you have no intention, I think of getting on the floor and doing that. That said, if you weren’t comfortable reasonable shoes with,  I don’t know, a button down that over jeans, you’re looking put together, without looking sloppy, but you could still get down and work hard at something.

So it’s really about choosing the right uniform. Right? Organizers need a uniform of sorts, just like any one of us do and whatever field we’re in. , it’s also become sort of our brand, right? It’s like how we let people know who we are. So again, if you show up in overalls and like a tool kit,  then you’ve got it together and you’re ready for work.  As compared to it, like I said, someone shows up in like high heels and a dress. 

Melissa Klug: It’s a nice middle ground. Like one of the things we talk to our clients about is on the consultation that you do with a client. And I’m sure you go through this too. Like when you do a consultation, like you can show up to that consultation. In the blazer and the pearls and the jeans and whatever, you can really dress up that consultation, but then find that uniform for those actual workdays that is also still professional  yet also comfortable.

Ania Schwartzman: And I think it’s important to know what that looks like. So, you ask friends who are in the field, what are they wearing? You look at pictures.  It’s really important that you keep it consistent and then again you’re your own brand. So you want to show up looking like you’ve got it together. Being too sloppy, it’s going to send a message. Like you’re not serious and you’re not committed or maybe you’re not knowledgeable enough. I mean, it says psychology behind it.

Melissa Klug: So do you think that there might be a resurgence, after we’re kind of through this and after,  things go back more to normal, whatever that means, do you think there’ll be a resurgence of people who are like, I have been wearing my sweat pants for 10 months and I am ready to get dressed up. Or do you think that it’ll be a little bit more, that elevated casual, do you think, or maybe it’s a little bit of a center? 

Ania Schwartzman: Well, in New York we definitely had that this summer. I mean, people were. Busting out of their, you know, their apartments, you know, dying out there. Absolutely. We were , dying to get dressed up. The problem  was there weren’t that many places to go. So, you know, our version of dress up was not wearing sweatpants. And I know that myself, I was so excited to wear skirts and heels and things , and I’d be running around the streets with again, nowhere to go. 

So winter in general, I think psychologically gets us all in a different mindset. We’re typically just more invested in keeping comfortable and keeping cozy. So usually if we have nowhere to go, we’re not going to really be thinking about , dressing up. But I hope that. As COVID comes to an end at some point, I do think people are going to want to dress up again.

I’m hearing a lot about people who have things in their closets that they haven’t worn yet, that they’re dying to wear. And it doesn’t mean you can’t wear them.  If you’re up for it, wear it baby, like in your house, where in your house take pictures. If you want, show a friend, do a zoom call.

Even if you take it right off afterwards, just, there’s no reason you can’t wear it.  But I do think that people are dying to get out there. Fashion is fun also, and it says so much about where we’re at. And I think you’re going to see hopefully more color, more excitement in clothing, I think.  

Melissa Klug: Well, it’s funny that you say that like just wear it in your house because one of the things I do with my clients is , and this is not in clothing, but in other things in their house, like for instance, china, they they’re like, Oh, I have this china and it’s my wedding china, and we never use it or we use it once a year, but I don’t need it, but I don’t want to say goodbye to it. And I’m like, okay. So start using it more often, like this is a very simple answer. So for your clothing, like there’s nothing that is stopping you from well, like, you know what, I’m going to get heck dressed up today.

I’m going to like really blow it out and, um, use that stuff. So use the china, use your fancy outfits, get on a zoom, get dressed up. Like there’s nothing that’s stopping you from doing that just because you’re in your house. 

Ania Schwartzman: I agree. Years ago, I was, when I started to make more money, I was able to buy more designer clothing, and I had a really beautiful closet full of beautiful clothing items, and it was really something.  My sister stopped by one day and I remember she was looking through and she said, you know, it looks like a museum in here. You don’t wear anything. I said I’m waiting.  It’s so special. I have all those things, especially handbags and special belts and stuff. 

And, and it occurred to me like, what am I waiting for? Really? What am I waiting for? And this was years ago. So especially now, what are you waiting for? Just even if it’s just to wear it to the grocery store. So what enjoy, this is something that brings you joy, then absolutely wear it, use it. Um, that’s what it’s for. 

Melissa Klug: And it really does make you feel totally different to get up and get dressed. Even if you’re just staying in your house like today, because we were taping this, I said, well, let’s do my hair and let’s put on some lipstick and whatever. And I feel like a different person today versus the days where you’re like, well, here’s my sweatshirt. I’m going back downstairs to get to work.

It really does make you physically have a little bit of a change. And I think that is a good thing to give that delineation of it’s work time. So. I’m going to get dressed up and go to work. Even if that is downstairs, it doesn’t matter. 

Ania Schwartzman: So you’re bringing up the psychology piece again, which is actually , it’s a real solid research behind this. It’s called enclothed cognition. And I discovered it when I started looking into this business, the idea that clothes really do have power, not just in terms of how people perceive you, but how you feel about yourself. Putting on certain clothes can actually change your cognition, how you think about things, how you process things.

There’ve been so many studies that have proven that, you know, what you wear matters. There was a great study done in 2012 with the white lab coat. It was a group of people split up and. Both wearing the exact same white lab coat. Right. And one group was told it was an artist smock, and one was told it was a medical coat. They were given cognitive tasks, the one wearing the medical quote, unquote, a coat actually performed better. There’s something about when you’re wearing something that  is supposedly powerful and expert makes you feel expert, and then you put out into the world more expert, if you will.

So. It happens with shoes. It happens with clothing. It happens with accessories. It happens with eyeglasses, Melissa, you know, that, in interviews, if you wear eyeglasses, you’re perceived as smarter, no matter what presenting as it’s just phenomenal to me. So,  it does matter. And we also know in terms of mindset, that there’s something that shifts in your mind when you putting on a certain outfit, right.

If you’re putting on jeans and a t-shirt that’s one cognitive set that you’re. Carrying that day, but if you’re putting on a suit or heels or, something a lot more conservative or professional, a hundred percent, your mind set changes, and that’s why all the experts are saying it’s super important, especially now for anyone working from home, to put yourself together in a way that says, I mean, business I’m ready for the day. I’m here to do what I need to do. 

Melissa Klug: Clothing does do that very, very well.  What is your favorite part of your job working with clients? Like what makes you super happy and what makes you continue doing this with people? 

Ania Schwartzman: I love clothes. I don’t know why it’s always been like this since I was little. I just, I’ve always used clothes as a way to connect with people and I find it  just fun. So getting to use this, this fun. Material to connect with other people is really fulfilling to me. I also love to help people and it’s a different way of helping people.  But it’s still, it still gives me satisfaction, that I’m able to connect with people and, help them , in the way they meet.

So this brings me a lot of joy every day, working with. Something that really is fun for me. Something that, fulfills me. It just, it makes me want to come back every time. I always say that when I’m done with the client, I don’t even feel like I did anything. Work-wise I feel like we were just hanging out, it just it’s fun for me. 

Melissa Klug: It is super fulfilling to see someone so happy at the end. Of a session and to really have them feel like whether it’s they feel better about their wardrobe or they feel better about the organization of their closet, whatever that looks like, that fulfillment they get out of that is so satisfying to me, at least I just, I get happy because we are able to make other people happy.

Ania Schwartzman: Exactly. I mean, you put it much better, but I think that, you know, sometimes I encourage people to put on a dress or an outfit, or , we’re done with the session and I see how their body language changes and the smile on their face and like the, the relaxed shoulders. And there’s something about the body language that expresses like real. Contentment. And that brings me so much joy because I know that I did right by them.  And that I just, Oh, I’ve always wanted to help people in different ways. And this really is something it’s, it’s just, it’s truly remarkable how much it means to people. And that makes, that makes me really happy.

Melissa Klug: I love that. I have told clients on many, many occasions, if like for instance, that they are trying something on, I will say to them, I wish you could see what I see now, because either their face lights up, like you said, or the way they stand is better. Or versus in something that they don’t feel good and they, they shrink or they start to frown.

Or, and sometimes I’ll say, please look in the mirror, like, please look at your face right now. Like see what I see. And so clothing is like, you have such, so, so, so powerful for us. 

Ania Schwartzman: And, and the psychology behind it is, um, remarkable. It’s just really remarkable. And I guess as an organizer, you just have to go into each and every session.

Just remembering that keep that in the back of your mind that, it’s not as simple as just people saying, I don’t know what to do with my closet in here. And, I’ve got so much stuff. I can’t wear nothing fits. It’s so much more than that. And if you’re inclined to do it, then ask some more questions to get a little bit more understanding of what’s going on.

I mean, not everyone’s comfortable doing that and that’s okay.  But if you can ask them questions, ask them, you know, why. Why are you holding onto this or what makes it so disorganized for you? Or what can I do to make you feel fulfilled and content every day?  Those kinds of questions are really gonna matter.

You don’t have to be a psychologist each and every time, but you definitely can be sort of that mindful person who keeps these ideas in your head. And I think it’s going to expand the work that you do when you keep that in your head. You know,  you’re not just. A person who literally organizes you’re so much more to that client.

Melissa Klug: I always say, it’s not the stuff, it’s the stuff under the stuff. And it is, it absolutely is no matter what you’re working on, whether it’s a paperclip collection or, too many pens or whatever, it all has a psychological root to it, which is, I think one of the reasons that I love this work.

Do you have any opinions on capsule wardrobes? 

Ania Schwartzman: I personally never had a capsule wardrobe,  but I didn’t really need it, that being said , I feel like there’s certainly some core pieces that every woman should have in their closet.

So by that, I mean that every season  you should have certain pieces in your closet that can work well with everything.  Depending on what you do, you should have a couple of, white or solid color t-shirts that you can put under something you should have maybe a blouse of some kind that, elevates the style.

In the wintertime, you might include a sweater typically solid classic is what I would suggest.  If you have more personality that you want to bring forth and, keep that one extra funky sweater in the closet as well. And then a pair, two pairs of pants that you can wear with everything.

I think that just having that in the closet and then mixing and mingling all different things with those five pieces or six pieces are, what every woman should have in terms of a core, capsule. Closet. 

Melissa Klug: Some clients of professional organizers are interested in that concept. I have never tried it myself.  And so I’ve always wondered if actually achieving that is possible, but I love your idea of these are you can have a core capsule. And then have things around it. You know, it doesn’t have to be the only thing that you have in your closet, but having those core pieces for every season.

Ania Schwartzman: And again, it depends on the culture that you work in.  As an organizer also might depend on the client, if you have, a new mom who’s frenzied and harried and just , needs help organizing her life. Um, if you show up in a,  in a way too sophisticated put together way, I don’t think that that mom is really going to relate to you because they’re going to feel like, Oh God, she’s totally got it together.

I’m so ashamed that I haven’t got to get it. But if you show up in something, that’s still says professional without making the other person feel intimidated. I think the client’s going to relate a lot better.  You’re not, you really have to think about who is this client that you’re meeting and you don’t want to overdo it with them.

You want to set the tone that you’re kind of on the same level. Clearly you’re more expert than they are, but they want to be able to feel like, all right, she’s got me, she gets me.  I know she can help me out. And so you want to keep that kind of outfit. That’s going to convey that in your core capsule, Along with something maybe more elevated for somebody who’s got a different kind of closet that maybe this is a super organized person who just needs help tweaking , all her designer stuff or whatever it is.

Melissa Klug: I like what you said about, don’t be intimidating, like change it per client so that you’re not intimidating to them. Years and years ago, early in my corporate career,  we had to wear suits everywhere, no matter what. And I remember there were some times where yeah. I was like, I was on a manufacturing floor and I remember saying to my boss, like, I don’t think it’s appropriate. Like, I don’t want to make myself look like I’m better than you because I’m wearing a suit.

But I remember thinking, like, I don’t think this is a good message to be sending. So looking at your clients on a case by case basis and not.  Being approachable to them and not being intimidating. I’d never really thought about that and chat.

Ania Schwartzman: It also,  matters in terms of the accessories that you wear and,  generally speaking, I try to. I try to show up personally, like, you know, I’m, I’m put together I’m stylish, but I’m not going to bust out in like the craziest styles that are really hot right now.

It’s not me, but also it’s just not what I want to put out there. I can wear them. Other days, but for the client, I want them to see me also as somebody who’s relatable and who’s, not really focused on myself as much as I will be focused on them. And if you think about it, if you’re overdoing it on your own outfit, sometimes that conveys a message of like, are you even able to think about me?

You know, how much time on yourself are you going to be able to stop and say, like, what about her? So that’s also something to think about. 

Melissa Klug: That is super good advice. We do try to tell the people that we coach, you know, really always think about your client. Always think about how you are showing up for them and how you show up physically and emotionally and everything else, and really thinking about how does this project to them.

So tell me where people can find you on the internet and where people can connect with you. If they want more information. 

Ania Schwartzman: So I am, uh, working on my website right now, but it should launch very soon. It is I have an Instagram account, @thefashionologistNYC,  and you can find me on LinkedIn on Facebook. 

Melissa Klug: And do you do virtual consultations with people? So if people are not in New York city, are you able to connect with people via zoom? If they want to get some style advice from you? 

Ania Schwartzman: A hundred percent. So I’ve pivoted myself and I am doing virtual consultations, virtual work with people. I’ve gotten to the tons of closets with people’s laptops and I phones and all sorts of things. And yeah, it’s been really fun, different, um, but completely efficient. And, we get the job done, so it’s great. 

Melissa Klug: I have been shocked at it. I have really been surprised at how easily you can do our jobs. You know, like mutually we do a lot of things that are similar that you would think like, Oh, there’s no way you could do this virtually. And you absolutely can. It’s really like technology has really made this a little bit more tolerable from a business standpoint. 

Ania Schwartzman: I agree. I panicked in the very beginning of March and April, for sure. And, you know, it’s all about adapting and, and, you know, that’s where we’re kind of in the business about right. Is it like adept at that station and, and teaching people that they can make changes and we’re doing the same ourselves. And, you know, we are proving that. Yes. It might be hard. Yes. It might be scary, but  we, we can make changes.

It may not be perfect and that’s okay. Closets may not be perfect. Wardrobes may not be perfect, but whose was looking for perfection at this point, we’re just trying to do our best. And if anything, I think the pandemic has taught me that, a there’s no such thing as perfection, as long as I’m doing my best. That’s okay. And. And I feel like I’m conveying that in each and every time I meet with clients that , may not be perfect, but that’s okay. 

Melissa Klug: Well, I can’t think of a better note to end on. Perfection is never the goal for either of our sets of work. So thank you so much for joining us today. I have learned a ton and I know our audience has too, and we look forward to finding you on the internet. 

Ania Schwartzman: Thank you, Melissa. This was so much fun. Thank you. 

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Photos of jen by ANGELA ZION