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?
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.
Then I added my Paige jean jacket, and even a light scarf, since we've had some pretty cool spring days lately. I love this look; I'm a sucker for navy and white.
Next up was this cream silk blouse from Rag and Bone. It's really light, so works best on a hot summer day or evening. I thought it might work with these black, crepe joggers from Aritzia. I love these pants. But most days I find myself reaching for my leggings instead. No more.
And, I thought... if I have another ready-made outfit with these joggers and two of my very favourite pieces. This breton striped tee that I took to France last year. Guess it was a bit like coals to Newcastle, wearing this on our France trip, eh? And my Twiggy jacket, which has had no problem getting out of the closet... at all. Then, maybe I'll get more wear out of my joggers. So I have a spring and a summer plan to wear these pants. No excuses, now.
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.
But what if I needed a day dress or a skirt that was a bit more business-y, a bit less casual than, say, my denim skirt? I thought about my Lida Baday party dress which I haven't worn in two years, but I keep because you never know when you might need a black party dress. Might it be better to store this dress and skirt, just in case? So I did. I decided that a well "curated" wardrobe should include a few "just in case" pieces. And I added to that category a pair of black Theory summer dress pants, and a short Burberry wrap-around skirt that is good for beach holidays. These pieces are together in a garment bag in my storage closet (aka Hubby's closet.) Now that I've designated them as "just in case," I don't feel guilty that I'm not wearing them on a day to day basis. They're doing what they've been designated to do, for the moment, anyway. Clothes also serve which only hang and wait... for the right occasion. Right?
Sometimes, though, the upside of buying "investment pieces" (they're timeless and they never wear out) can also be the downside. A couple of my tops or jackets that don't get out much may, in the end, be because I'm just right royally sick to death of them. And if that's the case, after a while, I'll stick them in my storage closet and reassess them next spring.
So to sum up, I divided my already edited closet into a few new categories. I've identified a few pieces that need to earn their keep. And I'm making an effort to wear them more. I've also stored a few of my "keeper" items in case of a specific need, pieces that I would probably not wear on an everyday basis. I'll let you know how I get on with the rest of my "keeper" outfits. And whether those pieces I've identified as being at risk fall off the list. Or not.
Here's my final break down. I didn't set out to have an arbitrary numerical goal, but I do love to crunch the numbers:
7 pairs jeans, incl 3 blue+ 2 white +2 coloured
3 pairs of black pants of differing styles
1 dress and 1 pant suit
6 jackets and/or blazers
12 tops incl blouses, tunics, tanks, and good tees
4 assorted short sleeved, super casual tees
Total of 40 day to day pieces which hang in my closet + 4 "in case" pieces which are stored.
That sounds like a lot, doesn't it? But some of these items I wear year round. My denim jacket for one. Or my white and blue cotton shirts. Or jeans.
What's important, I think, is that I know what's in my closet. And I know what works with what. And that's the beauty of a "curated" closet.
So what's in your "curated" closet? Have you ever crunched the numbers? Care to share your final break-down with the rest of us?
Linking up this week with these great blogs: Visible Monday at Not Dead Yet Style, #IwillwearwhatIlike at Not Dressed as Lamb, All About You at Mama and More, What I Wore at The Pleated Poppy, Thursday Favourite Things at Katherine's Corner, Passion 4 Fashion at Rachel the Hat, Fun Fashion Friday at Fashion Should Be Fun, and Friday Finds at Forage Fashion.