ALEXIS MALEDY | September 18, 2016


Like flat bottoms and high foreheads, the clutter gene runs strong amongst the women in my family. Unruly drawers, shelves brimming with knick knacks, and vast collections of lost socks create homes for dust bunnies - and raised eyebrows from prospective mothers-in-law.

The fact that psychologists attribute clutter to increased levels of stress, anxiety, and shame is a reality I face every time I have unexpected company, try to find my car keys, or attempt to choose an outfit that doesn’t involve sweatpants. So when a recent attempt to cull my closet of unnecessary distractions only amounted in more confusion about what to wear in the morning, I knew it was time to bring in a professional to help me simplify my style.

I first met Elim Chu when she was the resident Brand Stylist at lululemon athletica. When she once complimented me on my outfit in the ladies room, it was like getting a high-five from Anna Wintour. But, with all due respect to the Vogue editor’s calculated sartorial choices, Elim’s ability to make a pair of stretchy flare pants look ready for New York City is the embodiment of effortless cool. Now helping individuals and brands uncover their personal style as a freelance stylist, Elim gracefully coaches clients to take on their closets – and as I discovered firsthand, the process can involve taking on yourself too.  

When I confess that my scarf problem is getting in the way of living a life I love, Elim admits that before she took on a minimalist approach to style, she suffered from the effects of a hundred-plus shoe collection. “So often we think we need to buy more clothes,” she says, “but there are clues to our personal style within our wardrobes already. It’s about seeing the potential in what you have, and choosing to keep only the pieces that you feel powerful in."

Helping her clients simplify their wardrobes ties in with her belief that when we eliminate the doubt and confusion often associated with getting dressed, we’re able to take on the really important things in our lives. Though she can make no guarantee that I’ll have my life together by the end of our wardrobe edit, she assures me that at the very least, my closet – and my #ootd woes – will soon be under control.  

As we spent the better part of three hours sorting through every sweater, jacket, scarf, and shoe I owned, Elim gently helped me let go of the old me I was clinging to (goodbye grade eleven J-Lo blazer) and allowed me to see where in my life I can take more risks (from wearing colour to saying no). Though I may have a ways to go in my quest to simplify my apartment – and my soul  – after an afternoon with Elim, my wardrobe is now exclusively home to the clothes that make me feel beautiful, powerful, and ready to take on the world.

Here’s some of Elim’s advice for choosing to live beautifully by simplifying your style:

Get inspired. If you’re stuck on what your personal style is, search Pinterest for outfits that you could see yourself in. After you have a clearer picture of what you love, then you can search your own wardrobe for like-items.

Sort by category. Instead of looking at your closet as a giant, overwhelming vortex, go through it in a way that lets you see where you have multiples, and where you need to add key pieces. If you have ten pairs of jeans, choose the ones with premium fabrics and impeccable fit. I said goodbye to my cheap white tees –  and kept the well-made ones that I wouldn’t be embarrassed to run into an ex in.

Choose destinations for your pre-loved clothes. We chose four destination piles to help make the sorting process easier: My Modern Closet, donate, gift (Do you have a friend who has always said she loves that sweater?), and tailor. When Elim suggested I could salvage the ripped sleeve of my favourite long sleeve shirt by turning it into a three-quarter length, I couldn’t believe I hadn’t considered hemming it an option.

Find your power-suit. Elim is inspired by Matilda Kahl who has worn a “uniform” to her job as an art director every day for the past three years. Elim suggests saving time by finding the combination you feel most confident in. My five almost identical white button-ups and extensive jean collection helped Elim and I determine my go-to, no-hassle, badass outfit.

Elevate the casual. When I told Elim that I was terrified of wearing half the things in my closet for fear that I would be “too overdressed” for Vancouver’s low-key vibe, she suggested shifting my mindset, “If you feel good in it, who the eff cares?!”. She also suggests pairing a dressy item with more classically casual items for a more relaxed approach. Who knew I’d be able to rock the faux fur coat I never wear with jeans, a pair of chucks and a black baseball cap?

Buy less, choose well. Elim is passionate about helping each client find the versatility in their wardrobe. Though she’s a believer in trusting your gut when it comes to fashion, she suggests that for those who want to be on-trend, choosing a more subtle version allows for more longevity. “By choosing beautifully tailored, premium fabrics your clothes will not only last longer, you’ll be able to wear them anywhere” she says.

Your clothes should make you feel joyful, if it doesn’t make you feel good, find it a new home

We couldn’t agree more.

For more style inspiration, follow @elim_chu on Instagram, or visit her at to find out more about brand styling and personal wardrobe edits.