The Ease of a Minimal Wardrobe

I have a bit more than what you see here–but not much more.

Six years ago, I had twelve huge boxes' worth of clothes, shoes, and accessories. Today, my entire wardrobe could probably fit into one (if I really smushed it in, that is). I've long come to the realization that I actually despise having to think about what to wear. I've spent the past three years culling the best of my wardrobe and happily bidding farewell to the rest. Getting rid of old clothes feels like shedding off the many skins of the past. It's highly therapeutic and cathartic in that way:

Arrivederci to the many Prada sleeveless shift dresses that I will never wear ever again!

So long to all of my H&M and Zara emergency mistake purchases!

Au revoir to my vintage Courrèges silk faille top that would look so much cuter on my friend Amandine!

At the end of the day, I'm left with very few basic pieces, but they're the ones I love to wear most often. That's the goal, really, to just have pieces of clothing that are versatile and mix well together, then scour for inspiration* to fill-in-the-blanks with for the rest. How great would it be to just pack up everything in a giant suitcase and go, knowing you'll look good anytime, anywhere? 

My current wish list includes: a nice handbag, a nice jacket or blazer, a nice overcoat, and a nice pair of statement earrings. Once I have the baseline covered, I'd like to throw in: a really interesting pair of shoes, a special dress, a really elegant and sexy top, some one-of-a-kind vintage pieces, and well-tailored pants. Adding jewelry to the list might be a little bit of a reach, I think, but I do love great jewelry!


*I've always liked Angelina Jolie's monochromatic, anonymous style; Vanessa Traina has an unfussy yet chic and pulled together look; Emmanuelle Alt and Barbara Martelo nail it with everyday looks. If only I could emulate any or all of these muses...

 

Keep On Keeping On

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And it’s a balance of finding your own voice through creation. And sometimes like what [Jean] said about Saint Laurent, how you were really inspired by the way he dressed himself or how you guys are inspired by stylists that help you dress really good but were terrible when it came time to pick things and organize things.

I think people have that perception about what I would do. And I think people have that same perception about myself and what I have learned. We’re going to turn down in 2014. It’s just to have patience. This is basically my third presentation to the world. I mean I wanted to go to [Central] St. Martins but Louise [Goldin] said that I was too famous, so I basically had to learn clothes through Style.com, through Scott the Sartorialist, through Tommy Ton, and luckily I was rich enough to make mistakes and learn just by being a fashion victim, which I definitely have been a fashion victim, and to flip it from being a fashion victim to maybe a fashion icon to a person who can give an opinion, and that’s what I’m in the process of doing. So I just want everyone to be patient with me.
— Kanye West

Sweater Girl Forever

I love a luxurious cashmere sweater. I found a perfectly cozy one to wear around the ranch–snatched from my boyfriend's closet. The term "boyfriend sweater" takes on a whole new meaning when said boyfriend is six-foot-six. It's a supremely masculine piece: a thickly ribbed charcoal-colored sweater with a mock turtleneck. He says it might be by Gucci, but he's not sure because he cut off the tag long ago. On me, it's a "boyfriend sweater tunic". 

This could quite possibly be my new favorite piece of clothing. I've gotten into the everyday routine of pulling it over a long-sleeved tee with my black leggings. Temperatures are chilly here when we wake up but it gets pretty warm around noon, which is usually when I peel it off. The sleeves are far too long, though. I have to roll them up, which makes them look like giant cuffs. Because the weight of the knit is so heavy, I don't think it looks very stylish that way but I do it anyhow.

"I looooove this sweater," I purred, as I curled up in the chair next to him this morning with a mug of hot tea.

"Does this mean that it's officially not mine anymore?" he asked, glancing over.

I do believe the answer to that question is yes.

 

 

 

 

The Myth of the Eternal 24-Inch Waist

Once upon a time, I had a 24-inch waist. It remained that way for years throughout my twenties. A burger and a side of fries couldn't put a dent in my flat stomach. F you, carbs!!! Heh, heh, heh! "Just wait," my older girlfriends would say. I brushed off their warning and considered myself one of those blessed ones with high metabolism and good genes.

To seal the deal and ensure that I would never allow my waistline to grow beyond this most ideal measurement, I had all of my Prada, Yves Saint Laurent, Balenciaga, and Chanel clothing specially tailored to my skinny-minnie figure. These beautiful clothes were practically sewn onto my body. I wanted to be able to wear them forever, thinking they'd seal in my figure for good. 

Then, I turned 29.

I guess your metabolism does slow down. Even I, who foolishly believed that I was invincible to this fact of life, could not escape it. After being lazy about working out for three months, I found myself with fifteen extra pounds on my hands, or, more accurately: on my cheeks, tummy, hips, and thighs. Disastrous reality. It was a new me, alright. So new that I needed an entirely new wardrobe to match. Nothing zipped up.

Those three months off the track equated to nearly a year of blood, sweat, and tears in the gym. I've lost ten pounds and, as I enter my thirties, I'm now between a 25- and 26-inch waist. Those last five pounds will be the death of me, I tell you!

I learned that nothing lasts forever. Whatever became of those clothes? I certainly didn't account for the fact that my sense of style has changed. As for the 24-inch waist? Who knows, maybe I'll get there again. 

 

 

 

How To Dress Like a Chic Parisian Woman

y friend Didit is in town from Paris.* As an haute couture designer (click: Didit Hediprasetyo) and an honorary Parisian, it's only natural that I look to Didit for insights on what makes a woman's style chic. Specifically Parisian women. What's their secret? I pondered this over brunch with him this past Saturday, as we sipped on our virigin Bloody Marys at Five Points.

"So, how are the chic women in Paris dressing these days?" asked, swirling around the ice with my straw.

"Like men," he deadpanned.

"Really? I've always imagined them looking like Emmanuelle Alt... Skinny gray jeans and a t-shirt with a sharp Balmain jacket and a pair of sexy heels!"

"Sexy heels? They wear shoes like this." He gestured down at his black leather brogues. "And boyfriend jeans," he added, "Everything is a bit boxy and baggy, but you have to have a nice body to be able to pull it off. Not everyone can."

"What about beauty?" I wondered, as I proudly showed off my glossy, seashell pink nails, ""Look, I just got Shellac on my nails!"

"They don't care about manicures so much," he remarked, "I think they do it themselves. Manicures are so nice, though. That's what I love about coming to New York. There are nail salons everywhere." He took a moment to gaze down at his hands. "And they don't wear much makeup, but they do love a smoky eye–although, not so much eyeliner."

After brunch, it was his turn to ask me a style question.

"Where can I find a good thick black sweater?"

I, of course, knew just the place. "We must go to the Acne store in SoHo. They have the best selections of sweaters!"

And so we went. I made a beeline for the women's section as he perused the men's. Just as I predicted, he found not one, but three ideal sweaters. One in particular caught my eye. It was a beautifully textured black cotton sweater that was thick but not too heavy. "I think I have to try this one on," I gasped.

When I emerged from the dressing room, he nodded in approval. "Oh, Jess... This is chic." I turned around in the mirror as he pushed the sleeves up my arm, which were ever-so-slightly too long. The look was nonchalantly oversized. "Really? You think so? You don't think it looks too masculine?" I asked, even though I knew it was a done deal.

"You can wear this casually with white jeans or to dinner with tailored pants and a pair of earrings. For spring, you should wear it with shorts!" he exclaimed, taking a step back while still nodding, "Yessssss... You'll wear it all the time!"

I wore my men's sweater to lunch at Soho House today, with skinny black pants and a pair of heels. For the record, I received compliments from four men, all of whom wanted one for themselves.


*Didit and I first met in Paris in 2008 when I was covering Paris Fashion Week for an online fashion industry trends resource. I was staying at a crap hotel at the time and, after a casual gathering at his beautiful apartment in the 8th arrondissement, which was outfitted with elegantly minimal Christian Liaigre-designed furniture, he graciously invited me to stay in the guest room for the remainder of the trip. How lucky I was! It was better than any hotel I've ever stayed at in Paris. When he visits New York, he stays down the street from me at the Mercer Hotel—which I must note is also designed by Christian Liaigre.