It can be very intimidating: a big, empty garbage bag that needs to be filled with clothes that don’t fit your body or lifestyle and literally don’t fit in your closet. Many haven’t been worn in years or may never be, but they’re still here.
“It was expensive. What if it comes back in style?”
“Just 10 more pounds and I can wear it again.”
That’s where wardrobe editor and style strategist Megan Jedlinski of Chicago, formerly of Crystal Lake, steps in to hold you to your discards, and to hold your hand. Jedlinski focuses on helping her clients edit their wardrobes by minimizing quantity while maximizing quality and versatility.
She’ll take a closet from an overflowing eyesore to a wardrobe’s best friend. She knows from personal experience the pain and anxiety that stem from paring down, because her first project was her own closet.
“I got rid of 80 percent of my wardrobe,” said Jedlinski, nee Campbell, who graduated from Crystal Lake Central High School in 2003. “It was definitely scary. I was afraid I wouldn’t be stylish or relevant, or that I would have nothing to wear. I had all of these fears that never came true. I found my signature look, and once I decided I wasn’t going to try and keep up with the Jones, so to speak, I was content.”
The former fashion blogger of Stylish and Scatterbrained read Marie Kondo’s “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing,” and not only changed her life, but also her career.
“Being a fashion blogger, I had so much access to clothes, shoes and accessories, but it was overwhelming and expensive to try and keep up on trends that seemed to be changing by the minute. I realized I didn’t want to promote things that people don’t need and don’t need to be spending money on. I didn’t need 70 pairs of shoes,” Jedlinski said.
A graduate of the University of Illinois’s business management program, Jedlinski went straight into the working world but eventually quit her corporate job to work at a nonprofit to raise awareness for eating disorders.
There, she developed a strong desire to do something that encouraged men and women to have a good body image. Jedlinski loved to put outfits together and noticed a trend of fashion blogging and decided to make a go of it.
Jedlinski said her parents, Leann and Alex Campbell of Crystal Lake, offered unconditional support for her to go after her dream.
“It’s amazing to have that type of encouragement,” Jedlinski said. “I quit this very secure job to start my own business, and my whole family was nothing but supportive. I don’t take that for granted.”
Then she discovered Kondo’s book. Jedlinski enrolled in a few online courses geared toward organization and was inspired by other minimalist blogs.
“I noticed a definite shift in where my passion was being directed. My personal posts seemed to flow out much more freely than if I were blogging about an outfit,” Jedlinski said. “I wanted to put more out into the world, and I lacked passion when it came to writing about what I was wearing.”
Jedlinski said she was inspired by her artist and fashion designer twin sister, Kristine, who led her down the creative path, and her older sister, Erin, opened her closet to Jedlinski when she first started.
Since opening her business in Chicago in 2013, Jedlinski continues to build her clientèle with a less is more kind of attitude.
“We start with a questionnaire. Why are you doing this and why now? Then we take everything out,” Jedlinski said. “We organize and decide on other pieces that can be brought in to maximize your wardrobe. From there, we shop and figure out what works best for your style and develop habits to achieve this.”
Jedlinski admits that one of her hardest tasks when helping someone do a closet edit is not giving in to them.
“I understand there are sentimental pieces, but it’s important to not give in when I know that keeping certain pieces won’t benefit them. I ask them, ‘do you love it? Does it make you happy? Would you buy it today?’ I take all of the discard items with me that day to keep them from diving back in to save anything,” Jedlinski said.
Jedlinski believes there are no negatives to simplifying, and her repeat client, Angela Smalley, agrees.
“I love my simplified wardrobe. Besides organizing, Megan has helped me feel confident in styles I never thought I could wear, like skinny jeans. Being an uncommon size at 4 [feet] 11 [inches] definitely makes shopping for me more challenging, but with Megan it’s never been an issue,” Smalley said.
“She knows which brands, styles and cuts will suit me best, so we hit the ground running. I’m sure it goes without saying that I appreciate that Megan works within my budget and helps me prioritize which pieces will give me the most bang for my buck.”
The 37-year-old Smalley is readying for a trip to Thailand and is working with Megan on a capsule wardrobe for the trip. A capsule wardrobe is a simplified wardrobe made up of really versatile pieces that Smalley loves to wear.
“It is so much easier to keep things organized now. Every piece has a place, and I know where that is. Now I buy pieces that speak to my overall style, and I know the difference between quality vs. quantity,” Smalley said.
With a growing list of satisfied clients under her belt, Jedlinski looks to the future. She is gearing up to expand on her media presence in 2016 and is working on downloadable e-guides for clients as well as looking to implement an online series, where she will be answering questions from clients and readers of her site, www.meganjedlinski.com.
Her larger online presence will not be keeping her out of your closet, and because her parents still live in the area, she continues to offer her service in McHenry County.
“People don’t realize the effect that having an excess of clothes and clutter has on your life. Coming out on the other side, I feel so free,” Jedlinski said. “I have my mornings back since I’m not trying to figure out what to wear. You’re still going to have your style, in fact, you’re going to have more of a style. I’ve increased my confidence because I know that what I have in my closet fits well, is made well and is versatile. If you have an overflowing closet, take a pause. The benefits outweigh the negative, and there is no negative to simplifying.”
To get started, visit: www.meganjedlinski.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Packages range from 5-9 hours and $350 to $650
Personal shopping is a la carte at $300 for first 3 hours and $75 for each additional
Allow a minimum of 5 hours for wardrobe edit.