August 22 2014

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Recessionista: Your Closet Vs. Barneys


I can’t remember exactly how or when I first heard the phrase “shop your closet” (it was relatively recently), but it’s becoming an increasingly common part of my fashion writerly patois. The expression refers to the practice of diving deep into your closet, storage space, or perhaps parents’ basement to uncover your own fabulous clothing from seasons past—so long past, in fact, that they somehow feel new. It was the subject of Bill Cunningham’s “On the Street” audio slideshow yesterday titled “The Keepers.” (If you haven’t experienced one of these, I suggest doing so soon. You’ll fall into deeper love with the O.S.—Original Sartorialist, natch.) Cunningham tracked one woman who dug into her expansive armoire and revived a series of fabulous coats. She was clearly once a world-class shopper—which seems to be a necessity in making this a successful phenomenon. But we all probably have something hidden away that deserves to see the light of day. I, for one, have a black Helmut Lang coat from 2002 with a knit hood (pictured here on a fresh-faced young girl named Erin Wasson) that’s both superwarm and chic and makes me wonder why I ever put it away. Actually, those old Helmut goodies really stand the test of time. My closet “purchases” so far also include a fantastic slouchy pair of Helmut Lang pants that I tweaked slightly, having my tailor cuff them to an slightly more au courant above the ankle length. And a taupe wool double-breasted Louis Vuitton coat from 2000 that was an assistant-era splurge may well show up in 2009, too. What are you going to “buy” from your closet? Tell us what you think is worthy of revival—and what no one should bother dusting off.



  1. tinakeller says:

    One thing that should be revived is woolen leg-warmers. Style plus function rarely have complemented one another so frequently just as each leg-warmer waves to its mate with each strut.

  2. disneyrollergirl says:

    Agree, a finger or two of grey legwarmer peeking out of the top of a pair of tall boots works for me. I’ve also revived my old Bass Weejuns (20 years old), John Moore boots (from the 1990s) and some Levis jeans which I have turned up and given a new lease of life.

  3. lets_do_damage says:

    Every season I had the habit of buying brand new scarves and hats. This season I didnt buy any hats and started wearing some old cashmere ones I have from J.Crew and some wool one from Hugo Boss.

  4. Valerio says:

    In my view you can always wear clothes from years ago, that means designers clothes. I’m a supporter of the new and old styles mixed togheter. It’s always possible I know some people who are now wearing again for example the leather jackets of Thierry Mugler, but also an old design of Coco Chanel. What fashion makes so interesting and adorable is the fact that not only the newer designs are wearable but if you (as you said Meenal) look in your closet you can discover also some older pieces which are now and in the future wearable. This doesn’t mean that you don’t have to shop at Versace or Lauren or whatever high end fashion store they also have to survive :-) but it’s a good posting of Meenal to think also about the clothes you have in your closet. I adore her for that and special because she mentioned the name of Erin Wasson this beauty from Texas is so underrated, that’s one thing I can’t understand. Althought fashion and the people who are working in it, are most of the time not understandebale, including myself

  5. GlennB says:

    I found a lot of pre-internet-bubble-burst purchases in the depths of my closets: Jil Sander wool pants and cashmere sweater from fall 2000, a nylon Helmut Lang vest and a vintage tie from Saks.

  6. traceymarcrumdesigns says:

    I finded renew, reuse will do….taking something old and change it. Pins, shawls, colors mixed in. Never, not take a chance on your own style. I make handbags and using vintage cloths to make new, pins you would never think of using makeing new their own come out..
    Be bold, stand in your own shoes make it your look.

  7. punkglamqueen says:

    I’ve collected and sold vintage clothing for over 30 years so I have a closet full of interesting items I pull out from time to time to freshen my wardrobe. This year I pulled out the snakeskin spike heeled Biba booties, and a gorgeous French made green boucle coat from the 1950′s. Not sure what I’ll pull for spring, but it’s always fun going through my storage and seeing what’s old in a new light!

  8. CocoJazz09 says:

    A wonderful independent designer and one-of-a-kind clothes maker, Ms. Emma Designs (Toronto, Ontario Canada) is where I have found many treasures over the years. My oldest piece from 1994 is a beautiful lightweight jacket made of a finely striped fabric from Guatemala. I also have a plum wool Nehru-collar coat from 1996, which I wore just this past fall to a theatre cast party. I know anything I buy at Ms. Emma will last me at least a decade if not longer.

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