Before Celine, before The Row…there was Eileen.
My mother dressed me in classic 1950’s style. Then I was a hippie. Then a preppie. Followed by Manhattan career woman in Brooks Brothers suits and jogging shoes. (ugh) I finally found my fashion self when I went into advertising (where the quirkier you are, the better) and shopped at Barney’s (the downtown original, thank you) and Dianne B. I wore Zoran, Issey Miyake, Comme de Garcons and early Agnes B. In other words, I am not a girley girl.
Then I got married and moved to the tropics where I raised kids and lived in jeans and jogging shoes. Investment dressing was not an option. Clothes here rots, molds, bleaches in the water and sun. It wrinkles and is sweaty wet within five minutes of putting it on. I despaired. A friend told me the way to live in the tropics is to go to the Gap, buy a bunch of basics (white, beige, black, navy), wear them till they die, then buy again.
Okay, fine. Then my parents passed, I got divorced, my kids grew and flew. I felt unkempt and without style. What is it with the retired snowbirds who think that tropical living means tramping around the city in shorts and flip-flops. Not attractive on the 60+ set.
Frustrated every time I went into my closet, I got dressed and then felt bad. That’s no way to live. So I made a conscious decision to explore what kind of older woman would I like to be.
Time to closet clean. That was painful. Where to begin? My friend Mariana said,
“If you don’t absolutely love it and feel beautiful in it, get rid of it.”
Put that way, it was easy. I called upon a friend from high school, Barbara Berman, a savvy and sensitive professional organizer. “There are three piles for a clothes edit,” she said. “Trash. Keep. Donate.”
First one’s easy. Anything that’s old, faded, worn, torn and doesn’t fit goes into the garbage bag and out of your life.
Next, you commit to the clothing you love. Keep it if you love the way you look and feel in it and you wear it a lot.
Third, is the grey area of stuff that you loved enough once to buy, that’s still in good condition, but either you never wear it, or when you do, meh, it’s not you. This is the painful category. All that money badly spent. Put these items in a shopping bag and let the bag sit in your closet. You’ve gotten rid of them, but they’re still there if you feel remorse. You won’t. Then give these perfectly good clothes to a women’s shelter and don’t look back.
Today, my closet is 90% Eileen Fisher . EF changed my gestalt, as they say. She launched her design aesthetic in 1984 with $350 and four pieces. Basics of different proportions to be layered and wardrobed together, all based on the simplicity of the kimono. When Eileen worked in Japan she was struck by the timeless perfection of the kimono. It always looked good, never went out of style and was comfortable.
The remaining 10% I round out with some Euro artisan designers that I pick up when I am in Europe: Manuelle Guibal (France) Rundholz (Germany), Pas de Calais (France), Yukai (German) and Album de Famiglia (Italy).
I went about assembling an Eileen Fisher wardrobe conscientiously. I went into the EF stores and let the SA style me. I learned about layering and proportion. When clothing is this perfectly cut and minimal, it’s about the undeniable luxuriousness of the fabrication: organic linen and cotton, Peruvian alpaca, Mongolian yak and Italian merino. Blue sign certified silk from China.
Win, win, win: beautiful design, luxurious fabrications and responsibly made. The look is powerful, quiet, unassuming. It is clothes that doesn’t call attention to itself, but that is luxe and strong. “Chasing timelessness” is Eileen Fisher’s design philosophy.
Eileen Fisher is the expression of the woman I am: Interesting and interested. Stylish and minimalist. Powerful and unselfconscious.
Okay, that’s me. What about you? Are you happy with your look? Ever have a clothing crisis? Are you searching, or “there?” And how is your closet looking these days?
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