The Wardrobe Refinery

style without the carbon footprint

“We are all born naked, and the rest is just drag.” -RuPaul

Kimberly Monaghan

Hi Friend!

Have you ever watched RuPaul’s drag race? I love it because each challenge is unique in its parameters, but each time the people who do the best are those who fully embrace the challenge AND themselves. It is really inspiring to watch someone really show up as who they are in different situations. I love applying this quote to everyday life, too.

For some of my clients work clothes or dress clothes or casual clothes just don’t speak to them. They don’t feel like themselves. They are just wearing whatever they can find to put on their bodies and feeling totally blah. That feeling comes partly from not having the right clothes, but a huge part of it is perspective, because sometimes there is a little part of ourselves that just wants to rebel against the parameters.

NO! I DON’T WANT TO WEAR A SUIT AND TIE. FINE I WILL JUST WEAR THIS LAME ONE IN REBELLION- TAKE THAT, RIDICULOUS DRESS CODE.

DAMN YOU, RULES AGAINST MY SHOULDERS BEING EXPOSED. I WILL WEAR THESE LAME CARDIGANS IN PROTEST.

The rules may be lame, but they are just drag. When you show up in something you hate and feel uncomfortable in, people know it. It seeps into your interactions, setting you up to lose the race. Also, the second that job is done, those cardigans are probably going to end up donated or in a land fill, because they don’t bring you joy.

I will not argue with you, some work dress codes can be lame, but that doesn’t mean that YOU have to be. You are FABULOUS. Show up as you in the proper drag, and people will notice.

You deserve a seat at the table.

You deserve to be recognized.

You deserve better then “meh”.

Now get to werk.

Fail Friday

Kimberly Monaghan

Hi Friends,

Something I used to do when I was a Design Manager was start every team meeting sharing something I failed at that week. I did that because I think it is really important that we celebrate the ability to try something new, fail, learn, dust ourselves off, and try again. if you are failing, then you are trying something new and exciting, and I always wanted my team to feel safe to share the crazy ideas and put themselves out there- that is where innovation and magic happen.

I am going to reinstate that with “Fail Fridays”. I am going to share with you something I failed at because I think there is magic in sharing it out loud- it really helps with the “dusting off” process.

Here it goes.

I hired a coach to help me push my business to the next level. One of the promises I made to her was that I when I got uncomfortable and felt like something we were doing was crossing a boundary I would tell her right then and there.

I am known for not saying anything if I can’t say it with kindness. I take a lot of time mulling over my feelings and how to share something in a kind way. I told her that in our relationship I wouldn’t do that.

Then I did just that.

We were talking about sales funnels, and I totally shut down on her. Some of what she was saying was not resonating with me, and I didn’t tell her. I just got uncomfortable instead of sharing that what she was saying was not working for me, and that we should figure out what was going on TOGETHER.

It took me a couple of days to tell her what I what was going on and how I was feeling. In doing that, I took all of the problem solving and ownership on myself instead of trusting someone else to share it, and I let someone step on my boundaries without saying anything.

But what AWESOME thing did I learn from that? I learned what it feels like in my body when someone steps past one of my boundaries, and I was able to point it out and call it that.

THERE IS A BOUNDARY, PEOPLE. DO NOT STEP ON IT, IT DOESN’T LIKE IT.

Look at this cute little boundary… so adorable!

Look at this cute little boundary… so adorable!

Well, now you stepped on it. That is definitely not cute anymore.

Well, now you stepped on it. That is definitely not cute anymore.

So now my boundaries and I are getting intimately acquainted, which is wonderful.

Speaking of wonderful, if you are in need of a coach, I work with the wonderful Meg Cerney who specializes in helping women unleash in their businesses. You can follow her adventures at @meg_cerney , or join her free Facebook group at https://www.facebook.com/groups/awakeentrepreneurs/






Cancer Sucks

Kimberly Monaghan

Hi friend,

If you couldn’t tell by the title, I am warning you now- I talk a bit about cancer. If you don’t want to hear it, I totally get it, but then you should probably stop here.

Over the weekend I flew out to see my mom and give her a closet clean-out experience. This one was not so much about personal style and how she wanted to look in her clothes, as how she wanted to feel. She needed it to be easier to get ready in the morning because she has stage four metastatic breast cancer, which is unfortunately a terminal and exhausting illness.

Up until this point my mom had been getting dressed every morning out the laundry basket because she couldn't get to her clothes, and just the act of trying was physically exhausting.

The laundry basket “pile method”

The laundry basket “pile method”

As we were cleaning out, I realized we were getting rid of a lot of her “Survivor” cancer walk t-shirts from her first go-around with breast cancer. I asked her why, and she said, “Because I don’t feel like a survivor.” She explained to me that she knows that technically she is still a survivor, but it feels different now that her disease came back, and this time it is terminal.

Crazy how a t-shirt can make it so real.

So, we got rid of her suits that she loved from her working days, and we got rid of dresses that used to make her feel sexy, and we got rid of those survivor shirts. We left the things that made her feel good and empowered to go about her day- the soft dresses, the colorful t-shirts with her favorite things on them, and the cozy leggings. We even made a drawer with just her sports team shirts so they are easy to find on game day.

She was so excited to get dressed in the morning, and she told me that she couldn’t believe how much easier it was. She just had to pluck out what she wanted and put it on. No searching. No digging. Just getting dressed without the exhaustion.

That is empowering.

My mom may not be rocking her slinky half shirts or mini skirts from the 80’s (yes, my mom was that hot 80’s mom), but she is still so gorgeous. Also, our closet clean-out wasn’t all serious. Cleaning out these gems had us laughing the whole time.

I don’t know if these are more 80’s or “Clueless”, but they are GREAT!

Also, seriously, isn’t she beautiful?! Cancer sucks, but my mom is a bad-ass warrior woman.

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I really didn’t realize the impact this would have on my mom’s every day life. In dedication to her, I would like to give away one closet clean-out experience to someone who is going through cancer or something similar and needs a clean-out to feel empowered to get dressed in the morning. Sometimes the little things can make a big difference, and bring us so much joy. Contact me if you think you are someone you know would like this experience this holiday season!








Confidence and Gratitude

Kimberly Monaghan

Hi Friend,

Before I even knew I was going to start The Wardrobe Refinery, I was in a pretty rough place and asking myself a really important question, which is, why am I here? When I say that, I mean that on a super deep woo woo soul level, why I was put on this earth and what I am meant to be doing?

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When I look back at all of the moments where I felt wholly myself, the single connecting thread is that I was building confidence. I never became a fashion designer because of the travel or the clothes. For me clothes have always been an accessible way for people to feel great about themselves, and a way to express who they are and what they are about. I LOVE that about clothes.

Looking back, even my jobs that didn’t involve clothes had this thread. I used to teach swim lessons back in the day, and I would always be given the littlest kids and the ones who were too scared to swim the deep end. Every week I would connect with these little people who were doing something super new and scary, and I would help them find the strength in themselves to do something they thought was super big and impossible. That job was so fulfilling, and without even realizing it, I think that is where I found my life’s work- confidence. Boom.

Ok, it took me like 20 more years for me to realize that, but hey, figuring out your soul takes time. When I realized this would be a fulfilling way out of my slump, I started beta testing The Wardrobe Refinery. At first it was just a fun thing to inspire me, but it turned into something SO much bigger. I was having fun, and my clients were having fun, and it felt so great to be creating this joyful and confident experience for the awesome people in my life.

Now, because of the people who took a chance on me then, I have this beautiful company, and spend every day with fabulous and inspiring people doing something I love to do, and I am so freaking GRATEFUL. My heart is seriously full.

Thank you to everyone who gave it a shot in the beginning- TJ, Andy, Le’Spencer, Lauren, Jaime, and the Nite family. I send so much love to you guys for helping me work through the kinks and supporting me when this was just a little idea in the back of my head.

One of my first repairs, with one of my first clients.

One of my first repairs, with one of my first clients.

If you are going through some kind of struggle, and you feel like you need a boost, come on in. I have been there, and sometimes you just need a little self-care to remember who you are, find your voice, and get back to the work of being the bad ass that you are. Can’t Wait!







Being the "Youiest" You

Kimberly Monaghan

Hi Friend,

I had someone ask me about styling services a few weeks ago. He asked if I dress people the way I want them to look based on my style.

I will be honest, I sat there kind of appalled for a second, with a total normal look on my face, while inside, I was thinking, “IS THAT A THING PEOPLE DO?!” You are probably thinking, that is not that big of a deal, but to me the idea of imposing my personal style one someone is just not ok. Then he told me that his significant other liked to dress him in clothes that she chose because she didn’t like his style.

I hear this a lot.

People getting covered up by another person’s idea of what they should look like and how they should show up. It is super well meaning, and has the best of intentions, but that is how we get lost. Next thing you know, you go to get dressed, and you don’t recognize your clothes, or yourself, and you are wondering what else you have given up to be someone else’s ideal.

I do personal styling because I want to peel back the layers so you can be even more of yourself. I want you to walk into a room, and for people to see so much of you that that they are in awe. I mean, don’t be naked because you could get arrested, but be the youiest you there is, so when people see you they go ,”Woah.”

be the youiest you there is

You are awesome the way you are, and you are meant to have a positive impact on this world, but you can’t do that when you are showing up as someone else.

So, go be you, you badass, and I will see you in the studio for that personal styling or closet clean-out appointment when you are ready.  

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Justin Grant Of The Power of Pop Music

This guy is a great example of so authentically being yourself. He is so him, and I love that you can see that confidence shine through when you meet him, and when you hear him speak. If you haven’t already, start listening to his podcast! It is so fun, and a must listen if you love music.





The Truth About Closet Clean-Outs

Kimberly Monaghan

Hi Friend,

One of my favorite things that I do here at the Wardrobe Refinery are closet clean-outs, mostly because of that free and joyful feeling my clients get when they know everything in their closet speaks to who they are. I LOVE that. I also feel like I should tell them to engage in some self care afterwards, because getting rid of the thing that we accumulate is more than just a physical act. It is deeply emotional.

Doesn’t this empty closet fill you with all the feels?

Doesn’t this empty closet fill you with all the feels?

There are two really common things that make letting go so freaking hard.

The first is an attachment to the person you used to be. I totally get that, because they were awesome. They made you who you are. I mean, look how cute that pregnant lady is?! As much as I love remembering that time, she just isn’t me anymore, and that is ok.

Ah. That is more like it. This picture feels like me… and you know what? In ten years, this might not feel like me, and that is ok, too.

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Every moment of your gorgeous life you are peeling back the layers and becoming more and more of yourself. It is ok to let go of the old you. I do not mean that you should get rid of things that are sentimental, because those things make you feel GOOD. What I mean is, having things in your home and your closet that make you feel tied to someone you are not anymore have got to go. You have cool shit to do. You do not need to be weighed down emotionally by things that aren’t serving you anymore.

The other thing I hear during a closet clean-out is, damn, this all used to be money.

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That is really hard for people, but holding onto those things that aren’t you anymore doesn’t magically turn it back into money, and let’s be honest here, we have a really weird relationship with money anyway, so let’s bust that up.

Know that the money you spent then served you. It put food on someone’s table, it bought you clothes you felt good in, and it served its purpose. If you let it go with love, it will come back to you. Think of it as potential energy. It is all locked up WAITING for you to let it go, so it can manifest something new for you. Potential energy can’t do anything until it gets a little push, and you my friend, are the push.

One of my clients reached out to me to let me know that this WORKS. If you just think, “It is coming back to me.” It does.

If you are ready to let go, and fully step into who you are today, I am here for you friend. Book your closet clean-out today, and let’s do this!

Giving for The Wardrobe Refinery

Kimberly Monaghan

Hi Friend!

We have been in business for almost a month, and when we launched, we made that month about giving to The Bridge for Youth. You guys were so generous by donating packaged undies, and I pledged to give $1 from every sale in September. That total came to $45. It is not a ton, but I am hoping that what we give will compound over time, because I have decided that The Bridge will be the center of giving for The Wardrobe Refinery, and that we will continue to give $1 for every sale we make.

For those who do not know, The Bridge for Youth is an organization that supports homeless youth by providing basic services like shelter and medical care, as well as services like education, counseling, and job training. Last year, the Bridge provided housing, crisis counseling, support groups and other services to over 15,000 youth and families. Talk about a HUGE impact.

The reason why I chose The Bridge is because I started the Wardrobe Refinery to lift people up and help them to see the best of themselves, and I feel that the Bridge does the same thing by offering really important life skills and support to people who need it. Also, I work in clothing, so I can meet a basic and important need in our community. It feels like a perfect fit to me.

On any given night, 6,000 Minnesota youth experience homelessness.  This includes 2,500 minors and 3,500 youth ages 18-24*. Those numbers are hard to look at, but I feel better knowing that there are organizations like The Bridge making a difference, and that the story doesn’t have to end there. With support, each one of those kids could end up in a boardroom, or a classroom, or the head of a non-profit that will change this world and the people in it. That is a future I can get behind.

The full basket of underwear that you guys donated. This made such a huge difference for youth in need!

The full basket of underwear that you guys donated. This made such a huge difference for youth in need!

*stats taken from The Bridge for Youth website





The Best Laid Plans

Kimberly Monaghan

Hi Friend!

So I told myself that once I started this company that I would not buy any new clothes other than underwear, socks, and emergencies. It seemed pretty straight forward, and I figured it would be a while before I needed something. Boy, I was wrong. So, this kiddo right here started kindergarten four weeks after I started The Wardrobe Refinery. She needed to wear a uniform, and I am a planner, so I had been hoarding uniforms for her for months trying to find all of the right pieces. She was growing out of all of her size 5’s at this point, so I got her all sixes, and then made a fatal Mom error. I never had her try them on.

Come to the first morning of school, and the only thing that fit her was this dress. Everything else was falling off of her, because apparently uniforms live in some alternate universe where they don’t fit like her other clothes.

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My kiddo in the only thing that fit her.

Thank goodness she was not naked.

I ended up at Target dropping $90 on brand new uniform clothes so that my daughter would not be naked, and I would not be arrested.

There are two lessons here. The first is that you have to go easy on yourself when you are making big change in your life and in the world, because sometimes ish happens, and as the beautiful problem solving survivor that you are, you roll with the punches. Secondly, it is super important when making a decision like, “I will never buy brand new clothes again”, that you give yourself some wiggle room, just in case.

I want you to know that I will forever be transparent with you guys. The struggle is real, and we are in it together. I also most definitely cried that morning, less because my daughter is growing up, and more because putting a piece of your heart on a bus with a stranger and hoping for the best was a really new feeling for me. Ok, the growing up thing got me, too.

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Insert tears here.

then I went to Target.





Styling Cues

Kimberly Monaghan

Hi Friend!

Let’s talk style cues. If you are new to them, I define them as the small details that say that your outfit is uniquely you, and that it is complete. Style cues done correctly make people think, “Wow, you are super put together.”

I wear mostly jeans and t-shirts around my friends, and I often get, “Why are you so dressed up?” First, I always take this as a compliment because I would always prefer to be overdressed, but secondly, that question has nothing to do with the actual clothes I am wearing, but how I am wearing them.

I have styling cues that I use everyday that are signatures, even when I am running errands, because you never know who you are going to meet. I always want to be remembered in a good way, not the bad meme on the internet kind of way. I also have other styling cues that depend on the day our the outfit.

My everyday styling cues include:

 

1. Rocking my white streak.

It started as a super small streak when I was 17, and has been expanding ever since. I feel weird if my hair is up in such a way that you can’t see it.

2. Rolled Sleeves.

I work and talk with my hands. For me this cue is casual, approachable, and functional.

3. Lipstick.

Even if I am wearing no other make-up, putting on lipstick makes me feel more me. I want my smile to be SEEN, because my teeth deserve it after all of those years in hiding behind braces.

4. A simple necklace and rings.

I feel naked without them, and each piece I wear tells a story about me or my family, so they mean a lot to me.

 

My sometimes cues include:

 

1. The French Tuck.

A french tuck is a teeny tiny single tuck in just the front or one side of your pants. I am a high waisted jeans girl, and I like to show off my waist, so I do a little french tuck with my tops to show off my waist and add a little polish to my outfit.

2. A Bandana.

At my going away party at Target, my team had a “dress like Kim” theme, and so they all wore bandanas, so clearly, I do it pretty often. I like the nostalgic feel of them and how they dress up a casual outfit.

3. A Jacket or Blazer.

One day I will do a whole post on my jacket collection. Seriously, it is immense, but I love how it dresses up an outfit instantly and it makes people take you seriously like a magic “I have cred” wand.

4. Statement Shoes.

Statement shoes make me so happy. Seriously, shoes are the most looked over part of outfitting, and I love when a shoe can carry the whole outfit. To me, a fun speaks to my playful side.

 
 

What styling cues do you use, that tell people who you are and what you are about? If you don’t have any, hit me up, and we will work on it together!

Hi Friend!

Kimberly Monaghan
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I am so excited to start this journey with you, and would love to tell you a little about me and why I am so passionate about personal style, second-hand clothes, and confidence.

I have spent the last 13 years of my career as a fashion designer, and have had the privilege of designing for men, women, and kids. Everyone gets into their chosen field for different reasons, and for me, it was always about the people. I love that clothes are an accessible and quick way for people to gain confidence in themselves, and I was meant to lift people up, so I did, and I saw my clothes everywhere, which was inspiring and fun.

About a year and a half ago I started to have more in depth conversations with people about their personal style. I sat with them one-on-one and really dug deep, and I heard story after story about people thinking that their clothes were fine, but their bodies were the problem. It broke my heart that so many people I spoke to didn’t see how beautiful they were, and I started to think about how I was going to change that, even if I had to do it one person at a time.

At the same time, there were a lot of conversations happening in the design industry about the environmental cost of producing garments. If you have not seen “River Blue”, watch it. It is intense and eye opening. I was encouraged that major companies, like the one I was working for, were making huge strides to change the way clothes are produced, but I wasn’t sure it was enough. I am also a mom with two little kids, and for me, bringing two really special people into the world really made me question what legacy I was leaving for them.

On the side, I started working as a Stylist using only second-hand clothes to build people up, and to make zero carbon footprint fashion really fun. Every client I had was having a ball, and so was I, so I started to take it a little more seriously. That is when The Wardrobe Refinery was born!

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I am so excited to be on this style journey with you! You are fabulous, and I cannot wait to get started.

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