Evolving Style: Learning to Carefully Curate My Closet

I’ve reached a point in my womanhood, where I want to feel like a woman. What I mean is that I have a strong urge to shy away from cutesy and trendy (girl), and to move further in the direction of classic and timeless (woman). I want my closet, lingerie drawer and jewelry box to be a very carefully curated (buzzword alert) collection of thoughtfully chosen pieces that will last for a lifetime.

Currently, my jewelry box runneth over, so to speak, due to my mother’s affinity for passing her pieces down to me as gifts; they are happily accepted as additions to the baubles I’ve already “borrowed” and failed to return. I’m obsessed with my mom’s jewelry box. (I even wrote a post about it which you can read here.)

In my closet reside a mix of boutique finds, retail trends, things that are of fair quality that I’ve owned for a long time, higher end scores, and a growing number of items lovingly consigned by their previous owners; they have found their way into my waiting hands via my favorite consignment shop (which my good friend AB, who contributes to this lovely little blog, has banned me from ever mentioning by name online).

It is to the boutique buys, consignment items and high end scores that I’m finding myself most endeared; and I’d like to see my closet reach a pinnacle where these items are in the majority. I’m a fan of high/low dressing so I can’t see completely refraining from grabbing the occasional cute sweater dress at Tar-jay; but ideally my eye will be inclined to spot pieces off the beaten retail path.

Some of the types of places from which I plan to start scoring more often include:

1. Flash shopping sites – Sites like Gilt Group, HauteLook, Ideeli, i-Ella and Rue La La feature affordable reductions in price on the designer labels I love. I’m going to make it a point to participate in their sales more often. Sites like The Outnet and Bluefly are similar to this category—their discounts are just as appealing, but they are more accessible and do not require invites, only registration with the site.

2. Etsy/Online vintage shops – Despite having thousands of users, I find that Etsy is an underused resource among the people in my social circle. Yet, there are innumerable adorable shops, many of which feature vintage fashions in great condition. Etsy is social, so sellers are rated and reviewed by other users, which helps you in determining with whom to do virtual business. Privately owned online vintage boutiques are great too and there are tons of reputable ones available to peruse. The best way to find them is through social media (I’ve found two through twitter), fashion sites/blogs, and recommendations from people you know IRL. Though sizes and measurements are listed, be cautioned that most vintage items run small. I think women just used to be tinier. And thus, to my number three…

3. Local vintage and consignment stores - There are two really great things about brick-and-mortar vintage and consignment stores: (1) you have the opportunity for fitting and to perhaps discover you can wiggle into things you might not expect to fit otherwise, and (2) you have the opportunity to be educated by the shop owners who are usually more than happy to share their knowledge and expertise. I am admittedly not well versed in “vintage”, though I pick up tidbits here and there to bolster my knowledge. In the meantime, I rely on the kindness of others to guide me.

4. Boutiques – Finding a boutique owner whose creative vision you relate to is almost like having a personal shopper, since upon entrance, you are immediately overwhelmed with the sensation that much of the merchandise was chosen especially for you. All your fears of running into Miley Cyrus on the red carpet wearing your dress (a la Samantha in SATC 2) are virtually groundless as owners generally choose very few of any given item; or they may be exclusive (or nearly exclusive) retail points for the labels and designers with whom they place their buys. Boutiques are precious little jewels to be stumbled upon by accident one day while strolling in your favorite neighborhood, or to be introduced to by a friend of a friend who’s a friend of the owner.

This is, of course, a plan to be carefully executed over time in order to gain the perfect mix of soignée styles. Next week, I’ll share some of my favorite online sources for interesting, standout pieces so that you too can point, click, drool purchase.