Last week, a few of my friends commented on the bag I was wearing, asking me where I’d gotten it. It is an on-going joke every time one of us points out a new item the other is wearing, as we are all serious outfit-repeating felons and know each other’s wardrobes by heart. The energy walks the fine line of call out culture meets supportive celebratory compliment. I tried to contextualize it for them, a ‘skeleton from my closet’ of sorts. Later on that day, my friend Claire, who had gone to a lycée in New York, immediately recognized the said-skeleton: “oh my god, I haven’t seen one of those since high school. Yes, chic!”
On my last trip back home, I brought back with me a tote my higher (ahem, college-graduated) self never thought she would assimilate with again: my Vanessa Bruno tote bag. Since my family has moved so often, my parents have gotten my brother and I into a routine of consistently unseasonal spring cleanings, only keeping items we absolutely need and use. Because of that habit, almost everything that is mine lives and breathes with me in my tiny NYC bedroom. With the exception of a few miscellaneous objects I refuse to let my mom get rid of for various reasons, like my last pair of pointe shoes that I barely had the time to break into before our next move. This tote was also one of them, a bag me and every other monster teenage girl within the Lac Léman (or French-speaking population across the world) radius owned. This bag was IT, the ultimate social hierarchy status symbol and I, a girl-turned-occasional-brat longing to fit in, had to have it or my life would be over, duh (gross). I too, wince at this whole situation. My parents couldn’t afford every single absurd thing I wanted, but after saving up and earning this bag, my mom took me to a department store called Bon Génie and we found one on sale.
Upon moving to New York, and once my horrifying and materialistic Swiss bubble had been burst, I couldn’t fathom why a teen would want to wear such a thing and erased its existence from my memory. Almost six years later, I found the glitter peeking from the highest shelf in a closet at home and realized I didn’t feel nauseous at the sight of it, so I packed her with me, pens and hair clips still in the inside pocket. My style has completely changed a million times over since then *cue skinny jeans to army pants swap,* but I was dusting the angst off this old sequin-lined linen, strutting down Stanton to some Rico Nasty with a born again Bruno.
Although April showers did not bring New York May flowers (just more showers), it is still Spring cleaning season, so I asked a few women– whose style I gush at–if they have also come across any old closet items that have gotten a renewed life.
“I was in my other place for about six years and sometimes you just need a palate cleanser. When you live in a place for so long, you collect so many things. Then having kids, they collect a lot of things, especially with Lucienne, my five month old daughter. I needed a different aura, to get rid of a lot and start new. In the move I purged a lot of things, I downsized a lot, but in doing that I found other stuff I forgot I even had and I want to bring back. There’s these Aurélie Bidermann earrings that I got maybe three years ago, but I’ve been wearing them for the past four months after rediscovering them. There’s this jacket I also got about three years ago by an old designer, Patrick Kelly. He was from the late 80s and when he died, a lot of his stuff just kind of got lost. Brooklyn Museum did a small exhibition a few years back–he’s such a rare designer to find. I went to this thrift store that carried a lot of designer stuff and I had asked if by any chance they had anything Patrick Kelly. I didn’t even see what it was, but whatever it was I knew I was going to buy it. It was only $175 and I was like, done deal. Also, he made some of his collections in New York, but there are specific collections he made in Paris, so the fact that the tag says Made in Paris, France is a big thing when it comes to a Patrick Kelly piece.”
“Most of my closet is vintage, but I’ve had this blazer from my grandmother for six years that I just brought out. I found it before she gave it to me when Balenciaga’s shaped blazers were coming out and it kind of has the same feel to it. It wasn’t as structured but it had an exaggerated hip, strong shoulders and made of this grey tweed. At that time, I was super doubty, it was old and oversized and it looked manly on me so I didn’t think it would really work for me. I was really into blazers ever since I was in middle school, I would dig into my mom’s closet and vintage places to find them, which is funny because for private schools that’s their uniform. I recently started to wear it as a dress and I wore it with a mini skirt and it started looking a bit more modern. To me, this blazer was a chance for me to re-style something that was really old. ”
Pam Nasr, Film Director and Stylist
“I take whatever is left of my mom’s wardrobe that she hasn’t thrown away. Every time I visit her in Lebanon I go into her closet and take stuff. She threw away all these beautiful clothes and accessories that I see in old photographs because she thought they would never be in style again. She kept a very limited amount that she thought were classic pieces. Something that I took from her that I wear on a weekly basis are my white pointy leather boots. I don’t remember her ever wearing these, but when I was younger I used to make fun of her pointy shoes and I realized that today all my shoes are pointy. I’m trying not to wear them as much because they’re slowly coming apart. I find it so hard to find good shoes today, they’re either too expensive or too trendy and I like to go for more timeless pieces. These are white leather and I love them so much because I feel like your feet are just glowing when you’re walking, they go with everything and I feel really sexy in them. They have a tiny heel so I can wear them pretty much all day without feeling like I’m wearing heels. Every time I wear them I polish them, I respect them extra because they’re my mom’s and because I want to wear them forever. Something else that I took from her are these clip-on earrings. I hadn’t seen anything like them that is made today, so I took them and she couldn’t tell me no because she doesn’t wear them anymore. She didn’t have the pairs, so I have one of each and I wear them together all the time.”
“Something I’ve been wearing a lot lately are these mini hoops that I’ve had since I was about five years old. They just feel really effortless with a plain white tee and a black cardigan. Having experimented with different styles the last four years living in New York, I’ve cycled through a lot–and now I’m just drawn to really simple and basic things. I’m in a place where I’m quite busy and it feels really satisfying to be a little more strategic about the outfits I’m picking. It helps me in this time where I am feeling very busy, and transitional, and not always in control of all these factors. Since I was two, my mom got my ears pierced and jewelry has always been super important to me. It’s the kind of thing where before leaving the house my mom’s always like ‘wear your earrings, put on a pair of earrings,’ that’s always been a thing for her and now it’s just deeply ingrained in me. For a while crazy statement jewelry, specifically big and colorful earrings, became a staple for me. Maybe I’ll go back to that but right now, it just doesn’t feel very me. I definitely still don’t leave the house without earrings–it’s a nice touch that makes me feel put together. I’m happy just having this one sophisticated element.”
“I was spring cleaning one day, which I never do, but I had to because there was no more room for stuff. I gave a lot to Housing Works. I was rummaging through my jewelry drawers, I have a lot of accessories and I discovered this fabulous ring I had gotten at a boutique in Harrods in London when I had gone right after I graduated Parsons. My style hasn’t really changed, I wear a lot of business attire with a little punch to it. I bought accessories all my life and I just keep buying them because accessories update clothing. I’ve always rolled up an old belt that I also got on that trip to Europe, in Paris, at the Yves Saint Laurent boutique. I finally looked at it and I realized how old and terrific it was. I polished it and it really came up beautifully. I didn’t wear it for decades, but it’s one of my most favorite belts now.”
“In the past six months, not only has my lifestyle evolved so much, but also my style. I’ve been forced into this minimalistic lifestyle of only having the things that I can literally travel with, because it’s a nomadic period right now. I recently moved back home to Michigan while my husband and I work on our startup company. All of our stuff is still in storage and my suitcase, with my favorite pieces, is still in Dubai, because that’s where we thought we were going to be moving. So I literally only have pieces that I can fit into from both my mom or my husband. I find myself wearing more simple pieces because that’s what’s accessible to me now and I know that I can re-wear it, kind of like a uniform. The pants are my mom’s from the early 2000s, I don’t remember her wearing them, but I remember her wearing this style. The shirt is my husband’s, it’s about 12 years old. I would wear anything of his because he has a simple and similar style. The reason I like this particular shirt is because Miilkiina’s main colors are black and red, so whenever I wear the shirt, I feel like I’m representing the brand. It’s like an embodiment, I want to always be remembering what we’re working on and having a piece of him when he’s not there with me.”