Style Advice & Closet Organizing Tips from ModCloth Founder Susan Gregg Koger

updated Jul 15, 2020
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(Image credit: David Dines)

Before founding ModCloth, Susan Gregg Koger was a vingtage-obsessed teenager with a singular sense of style. While most of us cringe at the thought of what we wore in high school, Susan managed to grow her good taste from a passion into a global label. Despite ModCloth’s success and a growing team of designers, her style remains evergreen and entirely her own—an effortless blend of colors and prints that is the signature of all things ModCloth.

(Image credit: David Dines)

She and her husband shared their home with us in their San Francisco house tour. Below she shares some of her personal style advice (and closet organizing tips), too:

How has your personal style evolved along with ModCloth?
At its core, my personal style and ModCloth’s look and aesthetic have always been about colorful, unique fashion—things that you can’t find anywhere else. I never wanted to fit in and just look like everyone else. I’ve always been attracted to clothing, and have always had an opinion about what I wanted to wear, even when I was very young.

When I first started ModCloth, I was 17 and buying all of the pieces we sold. Today, I’m 31, and while I love setting the trend direction and being super involved in the design of the ModCloth label, we have a huge team of incredible buyers that listen to our community and help serve up offerings that they want and are asking for.

(Image credit: David Dines)

Here’s the biggest lesson I’ve learned:
Personal style isn’t about having a lot of money or buying lots of new stuff all the time (although that can be fun!). It’s about finding pieces that speak to you and make you feel amazing. When you have genuine comfort in what you’re wearing, that shows! It’s not about being “on trend”, or having the latest “it” item. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve found it easier to listen to my own inner voice instead of looking outside of myself for fashion direction—and I’ve never felt more stylish.

(Image credit: David Dines)

Music style icon:
I’ve always loved Gwen Stefani’s aesthetic. I totally remember the first time I saw the Spiderwebs video—those plaid pants. Then she had the blue hair with the braces! So good. And so inspiring for a geeky 13-year-old with braces complete with rubber bands. I also love Jenny Lewis. That custom rainbow airbrushed suit from the Voyager album!

(Image credit: David Dines)

What sparked your love for fashion?
As long as I can remember I’ve loved fashion. As a little kid, I had a VERY specific opinion on these shoes vs. those shoes.

My father’s mother, my gram Dottie, has incredible style. Some of her vintage pieces are the most treasured pieces I own. One of my first “fashion memories” is playing dress up and putting on fashion shows in her basement with my cousins.

Proudest thrift store find:
An amazing midi-length Christian Dior coat in bright red wool. I found it in a Goodwill in Pittsburgh for $15 and it fits me perfectly. It’s one of my favorite pieces. I don’t have as much of a chance to wear it on the West Coast, but when I travel back East in winter, I make sure I bring it.

(Image credit: David Dines)

Three of the most unusual items in your closet:
I have so much weird stuff. Because I’ve been collecting for so many years and I have a super visual memory, when I see something that is unique that I’ve never seen before I make sure to get it. Every time I feel like I’ve found the weirdest thing, I find a weirder one at a flea market. I have an incredible metallic pom-pom maxi skirt that I bought at a vintage store in Amsterdam. Every time I wear it people freak out about it.

(Image credit: David Dines)

I also have a big collection of vintage pins—a lot of political pins from the ’50s and ’60s. There are lots of hippie culture references like, “Don’t trust anyone over 30” and “Legalize Fun.”

You went from crammed dorm room to dream closet, what’s your advice on staying organized?
I try to organize by color. So type of item, and by color, and I keep the things I wear more often closer and more easily accessible.

I really love merchandising out my closet and my spaces. It feels more special and gives me more inspiration when I’m in there.

And my biggest advice is not to beat yourself up about it—obviously I cleaned before Apartment Therapy came over and most of the time, my closet is not that clean! Don’t feel bad just closing a door on, or pulling a curtain over, the mess.

(Image credit: David Dines)


Local brick and mortar shop: Pretty Penny in Oakland (vintage store), Monument in SF (Mission) for furniture and inspiration, Stuff in SF (Mission) for antiques—a lot of my house stuff is from there.

Online shop: Etsy

Best jeans: My go-to’s are Acne, the Swedish brand, but we’re launching denim for the first time in our fall ModCloth label collection and I’m really excited about that.

(Image credit: David Dines)

Makeup: I don’t wear a ton of makeup. The only thing I wear everyday is sunscreen and chapstick. Right now I’m a big fan of the Coola mineral sunscreen. My “special occasion” makeup favorites include Nars eyeshadows, Stila liquid eyeliners, MAC lipstick.

Skincare brand: Laurel Skincare. Found them years ago at the Renegade Craft Fair and I’ve been hooked ever since!

Signature scent: Marc Jacobs Fig spray, but I often forget and end up going without!

Go-to source for style inspiration: Instagram, Pinterest, personal style blogs, Style Gallery to see the ModCloth community.

(Image credit: David Dines)

Thanks, Susan!