Last week, I wrote a post about my spring closet cleanse and the benefits therein. Usually I “turn my closet,” as my friend Margaret says, make my lists, send some stuff to the consignment store or to a charity shop, go shopping… and then sit back. Satisfied that I’m organized, and ready for the new season, sartorially speaking. But when Chris asked, in a comment on that post, how I thought a “curated closet” might look. And then Patricia recommended a book by the same name. I started thinking. About what the term “curated closet” might mean.
According to the Oxford on-line dictionary the act of curating includes “selecting, organizing, and looking after” whatever is in question… like art, books, or even clothes, I guess. And it can also include “presenting” that collection using “professional or expert knowledge.”
Okay. I select, I definitely organize, and I’ve always “looked after,” my clothes. My sisters and I learned early from our mum, no playing in our good clothes (including school clothes.) So now I still change out of good sweaters, suits, and even jeans whenever I come home. Like making the bed, it’s just one of those learned-early habits that stick. “Looking after” also includes proper hand-washing or dry cleaning, if necessary. And if you take off your good clothes and don’t cook or sit around in them, you don’t have to wash your nice blouses, sweaters, or pants every time you wear them. I remember a heated discussion about this one day at work before I retired. Some of the younger members of staff were aghast that I didn’t throw everything I wore every day in the wash. And I was aghast that they didn’t wash wool sweaters by hand in cold water, or dry clean good jackets once a season. Generation gap, do you think? But, I’m digressing, as usual. Last week I decided that I would write about, i.e. “present,” my “curated” wardrobe, with which I am eminently familiar, hence an “expert.”
After I read Chris’ comment, I started looking at “curated closets” in various articles and blogs. I checked out the book and the blog that Patricia mentioned. As she says, The Curated Closet by Anuschka Rees won’t be published until this fall. So in the meantime, I visited the writer’s blog Into Mind. There is a ton of info there… a ton. Maybe a bit too much. I think that Anuschka over complicates things. And that’s saying a lot coming from someone who keeps lists like I do. I also read about “capsule wardrobes.” I like Rachel the Hat‘s approach; you can read about Rachel’s “capsule wardrobe” here. Rachel was inspired by Caroline’s blog Unfancy, which is all about creating a capsule wardrobe. Lots of good stuff here, I think. Caroline has great ideas, even if I don’t agree with them all.
So how, I asked myself, do I turn my very tiny, fairly minimal, pretty well organized closet into a “curated closet?” Or even a “capsule wardrobe?” And what’s the difference between the two?
I already have a plan for each season. I try everything on. I weed out things that don’t fit, or which I know I’ll never wear again. Like my lovely corduroy Laura Ashley dress which I owned years ago and which still fit, but suddenly… kind of didn’t go with my face anymore. I had, as Lisa said in a post about shorts, “aged out” of my Laura Ashley dress. I sort into three piles: wear (love, still fits, in good condition), store (won’t wear this season but may sometime in the future), and jettison (hate, doesn’t fit, not in good condition.) Then I re-sort the jettison pile into consign, give away, or toss sub-piles. Then I put away the keepers and make a shopping list. So does that make my closet “curated” or “capsulized?”
First off… I store things I know I won’t wear this season. That doesn’t fit with my understanding of a capsule wardrobe, but I think it is an important part of what a “curated closet” should be. I don’t box them and put them in the garage, then get rid of them if I haven’t worn them by the the end of the season, as recommended on Caroline’s blog. If I buy a good jacket or a suit, I do so because it’s timeless, and well made, an “investment piece.” And I know if it goes out of style one year, it will be back in the not too distant future. Like a green tweed Max Mara jacket that I bought in 1998 and which I started wearing again last fall. Or my blue Max Mara spring suit which I hauled out of the closet in April for the first time in years. I’m particular about what I store, and I store them carefully. No way I’m cramming a good jacket into a box in the garage. Even if we had a garage, which we don’t. And I’m not going to limit myself to an arbitrary number of items, like most definitions of a “capsule wardrobe.” That just seems silly to me. And since it’s my closet, I get to make the rules.
So here’s what I’m doing to turn my closet from pretty organized, into my definition of “curated.”
Before I made my trips to the consignment shop, and the charity shop, I had another, rather more severe, look at the items in my closet that had made the first cut. If I was going to keep them then I had darned well better start wearing them. I identified the pieces that hadn’t been worn as much as they should. Two skirts, two long-sleeved tops, two summery tops, a sweater, and two jackets. I love them all. But if they were going to take up space in my tiny closet, they needed to get out more.
And I thought that writing this blog post would give me the perfect opportunity to see how, and if, I wanted to wear them anytime soon. I bought this light, long-sleeved Alexander Wang tee last winter and have hardly worn it. Maybe spring is more suited to its weight. So I paired it with my white, cropped NYDJ jeans, and my sneakers and I really like this combination.
I’m not finished playing around with my “keepers.” I’ll be figuring out how I can get more wear out of the other pieces in the next few weeks. But there were a couple of items that made the initial cut, which didn’t make the second cut. I tried various combinations and had to admit that they really belonged in the consignment pile. And that’s where they are now. At Fiona’s store. Where I hope they find a new home.
I made one last revision before I was finished. I had a few items, like this Elie Tahari dress and pencil skirt, that still fit, I still loved, but which I couldn’t see myself wearing on an everyday basis. At least not in my current, very casual, everyday life.