Sheryl Bolden: the fashion enthusiast who takes you shopping… in your own closet

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The Sai Ying Pun fashion stylist who runs Make My Wardrobe Work tells us how she can make our existing clothes work for our bodies, our bank accounts and the environment

If you’re a dedicated follower of fashion then you’ll know that American supermodel Kendall Jenner has been channelling the 70s in her latest looks. You’ll also know that popstar Selena Gomez has been spotted wearing her boyfriend’s denim jacket practically every day, never failing to make the whole outfit look new. You’ve probably also clocked your colleague at work, who’s been turning heads with her new look, from her eyeliner to her boots. And you? How are you keeping up with the Kardashians? Have you just seen a look you want to emulate but you’ve found there’s nothing in your closet to make it a success? Well, we’ve got just the person to help you: Sheryl Bolden and her business, Make My Wardrobe Work. Prepare for this fashion enthusiast to take you shopping… in your own closet!

Bolden, who lives in Sai Ying Pun, speaks to us at theDesk co-working and events space in Sai Wan. The fashion enthusiast and stylist, originally from the UK, reckons she can make ‘any wardrobe work’. She says: “Your wardrobe should be your favourite boutique! It’s my job to show you that.” Bolden basically ‘edits’ your closet, ‘weeding out items’ that no longer fit or look right on you. The whole process is meant to leave you with a wardrobe where every piece makes you look great and feel confident. She reckons, in fact, that ‘self-confidence is always your best outfit’. “I’ve met so many women who, with a different look, change the way they think about themselves,” she says. “They are so surprised when they find out that they can look great and feel amazing in the clothes they already own.”

“Your clothes should work as hard as any other investment. If you wear something worth $1,000, the more you wear it, the less it’s actually cost you.”

Make My Wardrobe Work was launched in Sai Ying Pun in 2013. Bolden says her aim has always been to ‘educate and empower women in Hong Kong’ through fashion. She travels across the city to the homes of her clients to, quite literally, ‘make their wardrobes work’. She says: “Your clothes should work as hard as any other investment. They should give you a good return for the price you put into them. If you wear something worth $1,000, the more you wear it, the less it’s actually cost you.”

Let’s do the maths, then. If we buy a pair of well-fitting, figure-loving Miss Sixty jeans worth $1,000 and we wear it five times, then each wear is worth $200. But if we wear it 10 times, it’s then worth $100 each time. And if we wear it 20 times, it’s worth $50 and so on. The more you wear an item of clothing, the less it’s cost you, using Bolden’s logic. She says: “If you wear a piece of clothing a lot, it’s money well spent. It also means that wearing it made you feel good and happy.” Along with her ‘wardrobe editing’ consultant sessions, Bolden also offers shopping sessions to help her clients pick up pieces they will always find themselves wanting to wear, thus bringing down the cost over time.

With social media, however, many people don’t want to be snapped wearing the same outfit twice. So this is why Bolden doesn’t only teach you how to wear one outfit in ways that will make it look consistently new, she also organises an annual ‘Frock Swaps’ session on the first Thursday of every December. Here, women can ‘swap’ clothes with other chicks, leaving behind the dresses they’re done with and picking up dresses they can’t wait to flaunt. The women who participate in these ‘Frock Swaps’ also donate dresses to Bolden, who then styles domestic helpers who can’t afford new clothes. In fact, she did just this for a new Hong Kong documentary, called The Helper [thehelperdocumentary.com], which was released earlier this year and is now going through crowdfunding for possible international release. Throughout the year, Bolden also helps non-governmental organisation Redress with its clothes swapping events. Bolden says she wears ‘pre-loved’ clothing herself as it’s wallet-friendly and it ‘keeps the lifecycle of a garment going longer’.

When a city likes its fashion as fast as its cars, though, the environment can be hugely adversely affected. Bolden emphasises how important it is for Hong Kong to move from fast to sustainable fashion. She says that even if the outfit is made with the most eco-friendly materials, it is most likely to have been ‘shipped in on an oil container before sitting in a shop for a long time and then being bought by somebody who never wears it’. Bolden says this is an ‘absolute shame’ because then the item ‘gets dumped in a landfill in an area like the New Territories’ and that is ‘not sustainable in any way’.

Bolden says: “Fashion concerns all of us, whether we like it or not, because we all wear clothes. So there’s a responsibility that needs to be shared by all of us.” In fact, the stylist shared insightful and inspirational words like that at a panel discussion in May, where people came from across the city to hear opinions on the subject: ‘Is Fast Fashion Slowing Down?’ Here, she says she learned that ‘25 stadiums full of clothes are buried in Hong Kong every year’. Following that discovery, she’s now putting more of an emphasis on trying to get her clients to ‘have a lower negative global impact when it comes to their clothing’.

As Bolden integrates everything she’s learned into her personalised shopping and ‘wardrobe editing’ sessions, she promises that her work with a client will ‘lead to a more empowered woman’. “Clients can, with my help, get clothing that is flattering, sustainable and wallet-friendly,” she says. So, with Make My Wardrobe Work, let Bolden dress you after you’ve gone on a long shopping trip together to… your closet, Hong Kong.

By Sitara Samtani

To book an appointment with Make My Wardrobe Work,  visit makemywardrobework.com. For more tips and updates from Bolden, follow her on Instagram @makemywardrobework.

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