Top 5 Ways I Fill My Studio Wardrobe
I found out pretty quickly how important it was to have studio wardrobe on hand when I began my business. I just assumed women knew what to bring with them. I just assumed women understood how to dress their own body types in the most flattering way. I just assumed women knew their own style and would bring quality pieces to play with. I just assumed women would bring plenty of options. I just assumed that because these sessions were such a grand experience, women would bring pieces that pushed them out of their comfort zone, were creative and eye-popping. I could not have been more wrong. I began to understand how much time it saved me in a shoot to have pieces on-hand that I could grab and change up and entire look, camouflage a body part that my client found unappealing, and really make my client so excited to be photographed. I also quickly saw how much this helped me save SO much time in editing as well because I could make sure that my client was dressed in clothing pieces that matched her style and personality, accentuated what she loved about her body, while making what she wasn’t terribly in love with be less obvious. Having a large studio wardrobe also deeply enhanced my clients’ experiences because it made pieces available to them that they didn’t have to pay for and they felt pampered and had so much more fun because not only were they about to get a makeover and a fab photo shoot with me, but they got to go shopping, for free, to make them feel and look their best. Slam. Dunk. But the BEST thing about that having my own studio wardrobe is that it puts ME in charge of my clients’ looks, rather than themselves, which sets the tone for the entire shoot because it makes me the expert, the decision-maker and the boss of my own studio. Listen you guys…I’m cheap when it comes to my studio. I cannot afford to deck my wardrobe out with the best of the best of the best so over the years I figured out places to shop and other ways to stockpile gorgeous pieces and accessories with little to no pocket money and I’m about to drop it all on you. Ready?? In no particular order…
You guys…I’m such a sale stalker. I never ever pay full price for anything I plan to keep because there is absolutely no reason to. There has been a crazy upsurge of clothing companies out of China and yes, most of them are awful and yes, sometimes you just get duds, but I have found that I have a 90% success rate at Zaful. But be warned: their sizes are for teeny tiny Asian women so unless your clients have the body size of a 9 yr old, don’t bother buying a small. Almost everything I buy is sized as a large and it typically fits all my 4 to 6 sized women. I also love Forever 21and Charlotte Russe, though Forever 21 is my favorite. Their sales are ridiculous and totally affordable and they have so many great sizes for all body types. Remember—you do not need to build an entire wardrobe overnight. This happens over time so just pick up a few things here and there. I also love ASOS. They are a bit more in price but their sales are also incredible.
Estate Sales & Thrift Stores
I don’t watch for estate sales but if I see something or hear about something I never pass one up. I once snagged a wedding dress from the early 1900’s for $20 and, after a fashion, it has become a fan-favorite. I only go to sales at homes I could never in my life afford and I get there about 30 minutes before the doors open because good stuff goes FAST. As for thrift stores, I love them. I love them for my own wardrobe and for the studio. I have found that I have to dig much less in thrift and second hand stores closer to a major city, but the prices are higher. Sometimes that’s totally worth the find. Otherwise, I love taking drives into small towns where they just have no idea what they’re giving up on those racks. Not only can you find some truly interesting pieces, but the prices are soooooo much lower than in the stores closer to a city. I love second hand stores so much I go on road trips to cities just to peruse their selections. It’s more fun that I should admit.
Buy & Return
OK—so yes…this one comes with a morality clause. If you have a strict All Truth All the Time code, move on down to number 4 and skip this one. If you operate on a more looser morality code when it comes to shopping, stick with me here. There are times when I have an idea or a client has an idea that simply requires a very specific type of clothing that I either cannot afford and cannot get my hands on in any others way than to out-right purchase it and then return it. NOTE: I do not do this with lingerie, underwear or any other clothing pieces that touch bare genitals. Dresses, gowns, pants, bras, tops, jewelry, shoes, wraps, coats…etc…those are all things I have purchased. I make sure to keep all the tags on them, I treat them like they are all pieces of fragile glass and I only choose stores that have a very lenient return policy so there are no issues. I don’t do this often, but when I do I always tag the store to give them credit. This has also been more fun that I should admit. It’s like freaking Christmas.
Yeppers—when I need to clean out my closet or if I have an idea for a look and I know I don’t have anything in my studio that will work, I scan my closet for anything I want to borrow for the studio or anything I just don’t use anymore that would be a good addition to my studio. It’s a great way to get more bang out of your buck for what you’ve already paid for!
My Clients’ Closets
My Clients’ Closets. Yes yes yes! This is SUCH a great way to get a variety of styles and sizes. My clients know to NEVER throw anything away without checking with me first. And they LOVE giving their stuff to me so don’t ever be afraid to send out a mass email or include that in your newsletters if you have one. We women know how tickled we all get to give stuff away that we know will go to good use. And there you have it! Now…get ready. Get set. GO!