I've always heard rumblings about celebrity stylists creating so-called outfit books, so naturally, I've always been curious how a mere mortal such as myself could apply the method to my wardrobe. What would I need? Is it complicated? Would I be able to stick with it? My curiosity led me to Tara Swennen, stylist to It girls such as Emily Ratajkowski, Kristen Stewart, and Lauren Conrad.
As luck would have it, Swennen is a self-professed fan of the books, which she regularly provides for her clients when they travel or just need a little help creating a mix of long-term outfit ideas from their own closet. Swennen assured me that the method is simple, and the key is investing in a Polaroid camera (if it's any incentive, all the cool girls are Instagramming photos of Polaroids lately). According to Swennen, "Most stylists are Polaroid diehards."
So here's how it works: When putting together a look, she'll take a quick Polaroid (I recommend the wide camera as opposed to mini) of a fitting or a flat lay and write descriptions next to each piece (the white space on the Polaroid is perfect for this). Next, she'll simply label what occasion each look is for. Swennen always gives her clients options to choose from depending on the occasion (e.g., multiple jackets or shoes to go with each outfit, in case they haven't decided where and when they'll wear it yet). From there, she tapes the Polaroids onto manilla folders (taped back to back to create a book) if they're traveling, or slips them into a photo album if the book is staying in the client's closet (a binder, cardstock, and sheet protectors also work).
Armed with Swennen's expert knowledge, I set off to test the stylist outfit-planning method on my own closet. I decided to make my first attempt a week's worth of work outfits (for a creative office environment), opting for flat lays in this instance. While it was admittedly a bit tedious at first (which may have had something to do with my lack of Polaroid-taking skills), I was on a roll by the fourth outfit.
When it was all said and done, I discovered that the experiment helped me think more creatively when it comes to planning outfits, since I was actually documenting them. I plan on adding to the book every time a fresh outfit idea strikes me, and dividing it into different categories according to occasion (travel, night out, etc.). After the initial investment of a few supplies and a little Polaroid-taking trial and error, I can say from experience that this celeb stylist–loved tool will save you loads of time spent seeking outfit inspiration in your own closet.
Keep scrolling to see exactly what you'll need and shop the outfits that I came up with in the process!