Have you heard the term – curated closet? In her book, The Curated Closet, Berliner, Anuschka Rees talks about not following trends or buying into a standard list of wardrobe essentials or must-haves. Instead, it’s about creating your wardrobe to work perfectly for your style and life. Having a wardrobe that is about you and not about fast fashion or trends is a great start to a more ethical and sustainable wardrobe. The idea is that if you’re buying clothes that really are ‘you’ you’re probably going to want to keep them for years. It’s a way to break the cycle and stop buying into the ever-revolving fast fashion trends. So, rework your wardrobe to work with you not against you!
Closer to home, Maroubra-based Wendy Mak is committed to the simplification of wardrobes. In Mak’s The Capsule Wardrobe: 1000 outfits from thirty pieces, she introduces you to 30 wardrobe essentials – tops, bottoms, footwear, and accessories – to create your ultimate mix-n-match wardrobe. You can find her ideas at WendyMak.com.
It’s not about not heading out on a fun shopping trip with your girlfriend or daughter – it’s great retail therapy and at times, just simply a good laugh.
The curated closet is a wardrobe that’s perfectly tailored to your unique personal style and your life. It contains everything you need to feel confident and inspired every day – no more and no less. It is not based on trends, style typologies or a one-size-fits-all list of wardrobe essentials. Your life isn’t the same as everyone else’s, so why should your closet be? Anuschka Rees
Rees says, know you colour palettes and make distinctions between accent colours versus neutrals, basics pieces, key pieces, and accent pieces. Accessorise with bangles, beads, earrings, scarves, nail polish, lipstick or even hair colour. While the goal is not to complicate, it is to help you to have a plan so you don’t waste time or money on items that stand out like the proverbial, that you might aspire to but never get the chance (or, to be honest with yourself, you feel comfortable) to wear. By getting an idea of what colours you like and for what types of pieces, it allows for a lifetime of simplicity. Rees explains that by zeroing in on your own unique style, you are never caught up in fashion trends. It’s great to update your wardrobe every few years, and as we all know, some things never go out of style. White t-shirts and jeans will always exist, so will basic black. Mix things up to avoid being a carbon copy of everyone else. Enjoy running away from the pack. It’s one less stressor in life! As Rees says, being fashionable is totally optional – you get to choose.
Mak suggests, try this – 30 pieces to create an outfit a day for 30 days. This will establish your absolute wants vs needs hanging in your cupboard and folded in your drawers. Here’s a twist on Wendy’s guide to kick you off:
5 x skirts or pants: black textured; basic black; soft pleated/tailored; white or grey; statement
2 x jeans (black and blue wash)
6 x tops: charcoal; ivory; light grey; a bold colour that suits; a standout piece; black
1 x bodysuit in a complimentary colour (amazing how versatile this can be)
1 x statement shirt
2 x camis (everyday and silky/satin)
3 x jackets or if not needed, 3 more tops or dresses: navy; black; statement
1 x black coat or waterfall cardigan
3 x bags: work; weekend; statement coloured
6 x shoes: black flats; weekend street shoes/white runners; black ankle boots; patent heels or flats; statement coloured heels or flats; print/suede heels or flats
Anuschka makes a great analogy comparing fashion to music. You wouldn’t force yourself to listen to a song because it’s in the charts and music ‘insiders’ tell you it’s popular. You listen to the music you like and enjoy. So why not do the same with clothes – buying things you like and enjoy wearing rather than what’s ‘hot right now’. There is absolutely no point in buying clothes which don’t work for your lifestyle.
Fashion is a form of art, and you want your clothes to look good, but you also need them to feel good and be practical because you spend your life in them. You have stuff to do, places to go, and people to meet. A functional wardrobe is one that supports you in all that you do, rather than making your life harder.
If you enjoy a visual guide, there are tons of curated wardrobe flowcharts to help. Find your own; one that suits you, or, venue better, create your own.
Discovering your personal style and building a versatile wardrobe will mean you always have something to wear. Your style will likely continue to change and evolve. A reworked wardrobe doesn’t restrict you, it is one which grows and evolves with you. After all, it’s all about you!
The Sustainable Edit; Anuschka Rees; and Wendy Mak
Accessories enliven the outfit possibilities in your wardrobe, without buying up expensive or unnecessarily. This reduces your environmental impact and saves you money. It’s also a way for your creative style and individuality to stand out.
Expanding your array of outfit mix-ups with a few handy accessories can be a great deal of fun. So, what works best? Well, that’s up to you and your personality – and the choices are only limited by your imagination!
Scarves, shoes, hats, belts, bangles, beads, brooches, earrings, bags, glasses and hair trinkets can be found at great prices at all op shops and markets – they’re almost guaranteed to be on-offs and allow you to steer away from following the trend crowds.
A scarf can be worn around your neck, on your head or in your hair, wrapped around a handbag handle or worn as a layering piece (if it’s big enough). Play with textures, patterns, block colours, ones with tassels and ones with furry bits, velvet, wool, silk; ones that wind around your neck, ones that drape, ones that fold into bandannas and ones that elegantly hug your shoulders or hips. Woo hoo…a scarf opens up swathes of possibilities.
Hair trinkets like vintage, retro, Bakelite or ceramic clips, hair bands and pins, and colourful and textured scrunchies can add some fun colour and focus points.
Belts – large, small, wide or narrow – can be worn at the waist or the hips to enliven a plain outfit, and take day wear to hitting-the-town wear in a second. Especially if it’s beaded, metallic or adds a little bling! Winter or summer a chunky belt over knitwear can dress up a casual look or pull a lightweight shirt dress into an elegant piece.
There are some amazing hats styles around, and so many find their way to markets. Hat colours and styles serve up such a wide choice. Pick a hat that you feel comfortable in and it’ll add some pizzazz to your outfit and have you feeling like a million dollars. Choose hats that are classics and that compliment your hair and facial skin tones.
Glasses or sunnies are a fabulous accessory. If you wear glasses for medical reasons it can be a great way to have some fun – the styles can change your look (excuse the pun!) instantly. And, sunnies – well, the sky’s the limit!
Shoes. Now, this accessory along with multiple coloured leather bangles for every outfit is my personal favourite. Your outfit can be taken from casual to smart, classic to retro, chic to boho simply by a change of shoe style. An outfit changes if it’s worn with ankle boots, knee high boots or over the knee boots. A block colour dress or jeans and tee combo can be instantly enlivened with a different colour pair of shoes and scarf – great for travelling or when a capsule wardrobe is happening. Shoes and boots are a great way to add patterns, prints or colour you may not ordinarily want to wear in bigger amounts. Whilst animal print is everywhere at the moment it’s a classic, and some say, a neutral colour. A scarf, hat, bag or shoes in print can look fab. Chunky shoes or boots can add a quirky feel to a soft floaty feminine dress or a conservative pant suit.
Being inventive with what you’ve already got in your wardrobe opens up a whole world of options. And, knowing what you’ve got and where your gaps are can make market rummaging so much easier. Need an orange scarf, a retro pair of psychedelic earrings, or a pair of animal print brogues…a market’s the place.
If you’re travelling or want to carry something small to change up a day to evening outfit straight from work, jewellery like earrings, bangles or necklaces can be perfect. Add a smear of your favourite lippie and it’s a whole new look. What about a different earring for each ear? Or if you’ve multi-ear piercings, the combos can be numerous and so much fun. Experiment with dangly versus gold or pearl stud earrings; colourful resins or glass earrings or bangles; leather accessories are funky and I find personally that a leather bangle the perfect solution to eliminating the jangling on my work desk!
And, last but not least, bags. We all know that a bag can be a real focal piece on an outfit. Adding a scarf or tassel can be playful and add some colour. It’s a whole other world if you don’t mind moving all your essentials (!). Bags in bright colours worn across the body or as backpacks are handy as well as funky. Handheld clutches are elegant, and larger bags over the shoulder are casual and practical if you’ve lots to carry. There’s no end to the options and you’ll be spoilt for choice at markets where you can pick something you’d not ordinarily wear and take a risk.
It’s a wonderful playground!
Thanks to ideas from stylists Anna Mabin and Amy Richmond and ABC Life by Kellie Scott
Fast fashion is like fast food. After the sugar rush it just leaves a bad taste in your mouth. — Livia Firth, ethical fashion advocate and founder of sustainable fashion consultancy Eco-Age
As consumers we have so much power to change the world by just being careful in what we buy. — Emma Watson, actress and ethical fashion advocate
Don’t be into trends. Don’t make fashion own you, but you decide what you are, what you express by the way you dress and the way you live. —Gianni Versace, fashion designer
What if we started by slowing down and not consuming so much stuff, just because it’s there and cheap and available. It’s amazing how that process makes sense financially, it makes sense ethically, it makes sense environmentally. — Andrew Morgan, filmmaker and director of ‘The True Cost’
One day we’ll wake up and Green will not be the new black, it will be the new invisible. Meaning, no longer will sustainable be the exception or something that’s considered au courant; instead it will be a matter of course – something that all designers incorporate into their design ethos. — Summer Rayne Oakes, world’s first ‘eco’ model and serial ecopreneur. From her book Style, Naturally
Consumer demand can revolutionise the way fashion works as an industry. If everyone started to question the way we consume, we would see a radically different fashion paradigm. — Carry Somers and cofounder of Fashion Revolution. From Safia Minney’s book Slow Fashion: aesthetic meets ethics
When you wear vintage, you never have to worry about showing up in the same dress as someone else.
— Jessica Alba, actress, author and entrepreneur. From her book The Honest Life
Clothes aren’t going to change the world, the women who wear them will. — Anne Klein, fashion designer
Become an active citizen through your wardrobe. — Livia Firth, Founder and Creative Director of Eco-Age
Clothes could have more meaning and longevity if we think less about owning the latest or cheapest thing and develop more of a relationship with the things we wear. — Elizabeth L. Cline, author of Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion.
Jennifer Nini 2018 – ecowarriorprincess