Q+A with top stylist Darcy Camden
Darcy Camden is Seattle's top personal wardrobe stylist well-known for her practical, fun, and budget-friendly fashion advice that resonates with clients of all ages. She created Styled Seattle in 2006 with the goal to help every man and woman harness the power of personal style. She is also an avid Goodwill and thrift shopper and filled us in on some of her favorite treasures and tips.
What is Styled Seattle and how did you start it?
Styled Seattle is my styling company. I started it in 2006 when I was working in public relations for a talent agency and appeared on KOMO-TV as a fashion correspondent. I began styling for a series they did called Ambush Makeover, and viewers would track me down at my day job inquiring about real life wardrobe makeovers, and I realized there was a need. Shopping is very challenging for many people who feel frustrated and unsuccessful when they go to the mall alone. My team and I make it a lot easier through our signature process of styling, and to date we’ve helped over 900 clients. I feel very proud when I think about how many men and women wake up every day and leave the house feeling confident and happy because of what we do.
During spring and fall people clean out their wardrobes quite a bit. Do you have any tips to make it easier?
Know that if you give it your total attention and focus, it really doesn’t take THAT long. It’s a project, for sure. But it won’t eat up your whole weekend. Honestly, when I show up to do someone’s closet, we’re usually done in about 2 hours. I think that’s good news for people who worry that it’s going to take a lot longer. I typically direct people on my "Cut It By a Quarter" method, which means we literally count every type of thing and get rid of 25%. You have 12 pairs of jeans? We get rid of your 3 least favorite. I think everyone can benefit from skimming the bottom 25% off their closet.
Are there any common mistakes people make when organizing?
I see a lot of people hanging on to things that don’t fit. Why? You can’t wear clothes that don’t fit, so I have a pretty strict rule about removing items that are too big or too small. Box them up, get them out of your closet. You don’t need to look at those things every day.
Where does your inspiration come from?
I’m more of a trend reporter than a trend creator. I don’t really invent things in the same way a designer does. It’s more my job to curate items and put wardrobes together like a puzzle. I’m inspired by my clients, their lifestyles, and their challenges. I’m inspired to find solutions for them.
Do you have any tips to update your wardrobe or any trends that you are excited about?
I always encourage people to try things on. You see something new, something you don’t already own, and you aren’t sure how it will look on you? Try it on! Even if it doesn’t work, you’ve learned something about yourself, and you have a new experience. I think people get too afraid. They’re afraid something won’t work out, so they don’t try new things, and they never get anything fresh. The only way to break that cycle for yourself and get excited again is to try things on.
What are some good wardrobe staples?
Sometimes I wish there was a set list of items that every person could buy to get a functional wardrobe—it would make my job a lot easier! But it would also be boring. I’ve found everyone has a different set of cornerstones to their wardrobe. To me, a wardrobe staple is anything that can be worn over and over in a variety of ways. It can be an awesome pair of black pants or a great pair of jeans, but it could also be a colorful blouse or patterned jacket. It’s different for everyone.
Do you have a favorite Goodwill find? I know you have shopped the Glitter Sale a number of times.
Yes, I love the Glitter Sale. Specifically, I go to the Glitter Sale to find vintage fur coats or wraps (I probably wouldn’t buy real fur brand new, but there’s something about getting it second hand and vintage that makes it seem ok). One year, I bought a really pretty vintage fur capelet from a local fur-maker, and I gave it to my friend Tiffany Trioano as a Christmas present. The only hard part about that was keeping it boxed up in my closet for 3 months and not wearing it myself.
Do you have any suggestions for shopping on a budget?
Always buy things at the lowest price you can find, whether it’s shopping sales or frequenting thrift stores; but never buy something ONLY because it is cheap. My trick (I call this the “Golden Rule of Sales”) is to look at the original price of something and ask myself if it’s worth the original price tag. I love it when I find something at Goodwill with an original price tag for $100, and the Goodwill price tag says $19.99. Feels like a huge score! But always look past the $19.99. Would I buy it for $100? Do I like it that much? Am I going to get $100-worth of use out of it? If not, I put it back and save my $19.99 for something else.
How would you define Northwest style?
Northwest style gets a bad rap for being sloppy, which I think is unfair. I’ve traveled all over the country, and I don’t think any other city is doing better or worse than we are. Pacific Northwest style is very comfortable, which isn’t a bad thing. I find my clients have really high standards (probably why they have such a hard time finding things that they love). They want function along with fashion, and they want items that are versatile and can stand up to the rain. Around here anyone who can come in from the rain looking halfway decent is a winner.
For more information go to Seattle Styled or check out Darcy’s Clean Your Closet flow chart below.