Fashion Rehab for Your Closet

The Haute Closet provides closet reorganization

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Michael Beck

What's hiding in your closet? Whether you're hoarding expensive designer mistakes or cheap impulse buys, it's time to come clean.

Style expert April Francis, founder of The Haute Closet, is one-stop Chicago shopping for fashion rehab. She edits, refines, recycles, reorganizes and most definitely shops. But first and foremost, she raids your closet.

April doesn't want you to buy an entirely new wardrobe. She simply wants you to find a better way to wear your current one -- sans a few regrettable items that could easily be contenders on What Not to Wear.

She pares down the excess to create an uncluttered closet full of wearable pieces. And once your shelves, hangers and drawers are unburdened with clothes-you-never-wear-but-keep-just-in-case, you can finally see clearly what you have, what you need and why quality never goes out of style.

According to April, one of the best rules for buying is cost-per-wear. While a $600 pair of snakeskin stilettos might make you feel like a million bucks, wintry Chicago weather means you'll wear open-toed, high-heeled shoes only a fraction of the year. However, a $600 winter coat that's both warm and chic can be worn almost daily for nearly 5 months. It's the same spend for either item, but the coat's cost-per-wear clearly makes it a better investment.

As an entrepreneur, fashionista, artist and aesthete who quotes Shakespeare in the midst of closet cleansing, April is more than just a smart shopper. In her own words: "I like to teach my clients to fish."

While she might take on the tough task of clearing out your closet, she continues the wardrobe makeover with a joint shopping excursion, style session and a "Haute" follow-up. April helps clients find their fashion comfort zone, and then provides a little directional help as needed.

While you might think this is a service reserved for trophy wives or wealthy socialites, April shops everywhere from "H&M to Ikram," and works with a wide range of Chicagoans who could use a sartorial boost. She believes staples mean something different to everyone, finding your perfect t-shirt brand is a top priority, and vintage cocktail dresses are both classically beautiful and environmentally friendly.

While paying for shopping help might sound like splurge, April swears the opposite is actually true.

"My clients repeatedly say 'This was worth every penny. You saved me so much money.'"

A 3-Hour initial closet edit and a follow-up costs $500 and a seasonal refresh and one-on-one shopping is $150 an hour. Rachel Gillman is a contributing writer for

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