First, an admission: I am not a fashion or lifestyle writer. I work in the world of politics and policy in Washington DC. But a girl’s gotta have a break every so often and get her life (and closet) together. Plus, this election cycle is killing me. So join me as I turn my mind to something a little more productive, will you?
Spring is officially here, and that means my closet needs an overhaul. Like women everywhere, I face the daunting task of packing up all my sweaters and coats and boxing up my heavy boots to make room for lighter clothes and open-toed shoes. But for a slightly organization-obsessed type like me, there are few things better than a cleaned-out closet.
Don’t get me wrong—the latest Japanese purging trend is in no danger of taking root in my house. I am a big fan of online shopping. How big? Let’s just say that I’m on a first-name basis with my UPS and FedEx guys, who likely believe I’m a shut-in. My husband now thinks it’s normal that our recycling pile is so full of shipping boxes that it looks like we might be selling produce out of our house.
But over the last few years I’ve begun to choose quality over quantity. Yes, my shoe collection still rivals Imelda Marcos’s, but if I’m honest I have only about a dozen pairs that I wear regularly.
Below are a few simple rules I try to keep in mind when doing a seasonal edit of my wardrobe. While they won’t be any help to Melania, I think they would serve the rest of us pretty well.
Items to Keep
Good basics: We all know this stuff. Keep the things you really like—the clothes you feel good in and that fit you well—and donate the things you don’t. You will likely never be a size ____ again, and if you are you will want new clothes, trust me. Ditch dated cuts and prints, and store clothing in colors that are better suited to fall and winter. While I love a LBD as much as the next woman, there’s a lot to be said for adding an LWD (little white dress) to your spring-summer repertoire.
Next, color-code. I know it sounds a little OCD, but it makes the whole process of getting dressed so much easier. If you’re like me, half the clothes in your closet will be black or navy anyway, so it’s not nearly as difficult as it sounds.
Items to Pitch
Synthetic fabrics: I’m not talking about your gym clothes (although we do find ourselves wearing them a little more than we’d like to admit). Yes, I know a little lycra can help a good t-shirt keep its shape. But with few exceptions, natural fabrics wear much better. Yes, that thin polyester print looks really breezy and cool on the hanger, and the price is right. But you will look like a hot, sweaty mess when it hits 80 degrees outside. Remember, silk looks like silk, cotton breathes like cotton; a good linen dress can last for years. Invest in nice fabrics, and keep cycling out the clothes that come with warnings to stay away from open flames.
Items to Purchase
Accessories: Now that you’ve purged your closet of ugly prints and suffocating synthetics and are left with some clothes that you actually like and fit you well, it’s time to dress things up with some gorgeous accessories.
This is the fun part. I am a firm believer that accessories make an outfit. Jewelry, handbags, shoes, scarves, even a great pair of glasses—these are the things I spend the most on (added bonus: they always fit). My rule is to buy the nicest accessories you can reasonably afford. If you don’t have a quality handbag in a neutral tone like camel, grey, or taupe, make that your top priority. After that it’s all about color.
One of my favorite purchases this spring is an oversized bright yellow leather tote by Céline. You might think that a rather limiting choice, but yellow is actually a great neutral. It pairs beautifully with navy, grey, white, or even pastels for an unexpected jolt of color. Yellow is all the rage in 2016, so pick your favorite shade and wear it with confidence.
Jewelry is also a great investment. Long gone are the days when you had to break the bank to have a great-looking piece of jewelry. Costume jewelry designers are having their heyday, and this is great news for most of us. But beware: if you’re tempted to buy those earrings in every color, they’re probably too cheap. You should wince just a little when the salesperson rings them up.
The statement necklace is now a well-established staple, but a pair of long earrings or a stack of mixed media bracelets can also take an outfit from ho-hum to on-trend. As a rule, try not to match too much. If you’re wearing a cobalt dress, try a pair of turquoise earrings and a neutral clutch.
Shoes are my weakness, but I’ve become more practical with age (and children). Where I once preferred a four-inch heel, I now prefer a three-inch wedge (can I hear an amen, ladies?). Your standby for warmer months should be an open-toe pair in a hue that matches your skin tone; they’ll work with nearly everything you wear while elongating your leg and giving you some height.
But if you’re like me, flats are your go-to. Try a bright pair from Tieks, purveyor of simple ballet flats in beautiful Italian leather, for slipper-like comfort in a stunning selection of colors. Plus, they fold into a truly tiny storage bag, making them an ideal extra pair of shoes to toss in your luggage or purse. And who could get through the summer without a pair of metallic sandals? I’ve been loyal to Jack Rogers’s Navajo sandals for years (if they’re good enough for Jackie…), but choose a strappy number if you’re so inclined—they look adorable with skirts and dresses.
Well, dear reader, I hope this gets you through the warm months. We’ll have to re-do it again in the fall, but I’m pretty sure most of us will be looking for another distraction around November 8.