Book Review: The Curated Closet

Well hello, all! Let’s kick off the first book review of 2017 with a book I loved (and actually read in 2016, but oh well): The Curated Closet.

I’m a sucker for fashion. I don’t follow any fashion blogs (I’m asking myself why?) but I am addicted to Pinterest and my personal account (and my author account, to some extent) is loaded with beautiful fashion & beauty images. Shopping addict? Um, yeah, a bit. I’ve always liked clothes, jewelry, and accessories. Yet despite all this I’ve struggled for a LONG time with never feeling like I had anything to wear. I would pull things out of my closet to try on, only to get frustrated because I hated them on me, they didn’t fit great, or they just didn’t feel like me. For many items, I felt like I was playing dress-up in someone else’s clothes…and not in a good way. For others, I simply felt unhappy with my body or size.

When What Not to Wear was on, I binged-watched it for years. I learned about what looked good on my body type, about what to avoid. I’ve learned in years since that I’m a “Deep Winter” and I’m most flattered by icy blue, deep red, black, white, and others. Camel brown is not my friend. Beige makes me look sickly. Yellow? Hell no.

So, if I knew what looked good on me, and what didn’t, what was the problem exactly? You know how you take fashion quizzes and they tell you your “style”? Well, I could never quite pin down what mine was. When I saw The Curated Closet at work, I snagged it immediately, and devoured it in a weekend. I loved it so much I then purchased my own copy! I learned that fashion quizzes are rather pointless, because no person is only one style, and even in a set of guidelines per style you may HATE things in it—for example, you may learn your style is “Classic” but yet whenever you put on a neutral trench coat you feel uncomfortable. Ring bells?

Anuschka Rees, the author of the book, lays it out in easy to follow sections (some more complex than others, though) and is big on making lists (YES!). I shut off my inner critic, or the second-guessing part of myself, and I listed what I LOVE about fashion and style: Black, gray, blush pink, lace (in small doses only), architectural detail, comfort, black pants and ripped skinny jeans (sorry dresses and skirts), tees, sneakers, simplicity, and ease. I looked at images I’d pinned over the years and realized that only a minute percentage of that was things I’d ACTUALLY wear. There’s a difference, you see, between admiring a style, and being realistic about whether or not it is for you. Don’t mistake liking something and liking it on you. And I don’t mean that it has to always flatter you, either. Rees talks about this—that if something looks spectacular on you, it doesn’t mean you have to wear it. Conversely, even if something may not be the most flattering item you could wear, if you love it, then wear it.

I also learned about things I didn’t like for myself personally: Red, as in bright red/true red/ketchup red. Even though it’s “my color” I never feel comfortable in it. It’s too…bold. I have switched to a few burgundy pieces, which I think suit me better personality-wise. I don’t wear much navy anymore. Why? It’s just not black. In fact, most of my closet is entirely neutral shades of black and gray and white. Because I have colorful accents in my home, and love colorful books, flowers, and art, I somehow thought I liked to dress in big patterns, bold colors, and all that jazz. Turns out, nope. I’m much more comfortable in neutral colors, and sophisticated, yet casual styles.

(My closet, which also just got totally reorganized) Since reading this book, which comes complete with sample color palettes (and yes, I made my own), I did a complete closet overhaul, and got rid of 75% of my clothing, slowly rebuilding my wardrobe the last three months, including buying a gorgeous pair of Doc Marten Flora boots. I still have some “wish list” items, of course, but it’s getting there. And more importantly, it’s me. I no longer reach for something only to put it back in, with a dejected sigh. I have kept what I loved, and tried to replicate the things I love in other pieces, so that I always have something I look forward to wearing.

Buy quality, and buy deliberately, the book says, and it’s advice I agree with whole-heartedly.

My favorite part of the book was the making lists part, where you have to list your favorite textures, colors, fabrics, styles, cuts, and more. Without questioning your instincts, it’s a freeing process to go through. And you just may surprise yourself.

I would rate this 5 stars, even though there were some more weighty sections which I didn’t get fully into. It gave me a whole new sense of style, and I felt like I got to know myself for the first time.

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