Tuesday, October 11, 2016

The Curated Closet (book review)

The Curated Closet: A simple system for discovering your personal style and building your dream wardrobe; by Anuschka Rees. Ten Speed Press, 2016.

"Curated" is to 2016 what "artisanal" was a few years ago. It means approximately the same thing, and that thing isn't necessarily a bad thing, it's just an overused thing. The positive side of "curated"  is that it implies something carefully chosen,  involving individualized perception and taste; and it also assumes some kind of a "less is more" approach. All of this applies to the advice given in The Curated Closet and on the blog that preceded it, Into Mind. It is a non-multiple-choice way of clothing yourself smarter and better. You don't have to fit into any particular box of physique, season, or blood type, says the book; you can combine elements of this and that, create a style that is your very own.

Unfortunately, assuming that we all have enough fashion sense, say to be able to discern "menswear-inspired French chic" from "Grace Kelly goes to college," is where a book like this leaves some of us in the dust. Some of us don't know our Boho colours from our "contemporary mod," or who Carrie Bradshaw was or what she dressed like (I had to look that up). The open-ended advice of "do what's right for you" can be either empowering or just frustrating. It doesn't matter whether we're told to cut up fashion magazines (which many of us don't have around the house, other than freebie mags from Walmart); or to look at Pinterest for inspiration: the problem, for the average person who doesn't normally spend  time perusing these things, is that we still don't know what we're looking for or at.

But if you take this book slowly, in the right order, and don't let it overwhelm you, there is more help included than may first appear. Simply making a list of things you like can get you halfway there, whether you can come up with a name-in-quotation-marks for it or not. If you're happy with the majority of what's in your closet, and it functions well in your current lifestyle, then you probably have an idea of what you need to buy next or what small changes you want to make. I appreciate Rees' advice to to buy new clothes slowly, both for budget reasons and because it's easy to overdo any sudden change.

If you're confused by the personalized colour-palette approach, as Rees points out, that's.only one way of grouping clothes, and she offers at least two other methods that might work better for you. If you can't tell your key pieces from your statements (another irritating word that should disappear soon) or your basics, that's still okay; you might be better off writing down what your usual pattern, uniform, or formula for an outfit is. Do you usually wear jeans, t-shirts, and cardigans? That's fine: just make sure you have enough of everything to get you through to the next laundry day.  Obviously the point of a curated wardrobe, for Rees, is not to hang it in a museum but to let it be worn and enjoyed.

If you have a great sense of your personal style, you probably know most of what Rees has to say already. But if you find shopping frustrating, and kind of wish you could get yourself a little more together, this book might be what you need.

I borrowed a copy of The Curated Closet from the library to write this review. All opinions are my own.

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