I chose to review this book because I was looking forward to someone helping me figure out what I should really do about my thrift store wardrobe and being more selective about what goes in it. The marketing materials for this book lead me to believe it was gender neutral, which is certainly not the case, but a man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do. Keep in mind that my review is intentionally from a male perspective and the book’s potential helpfulness therewith. So, The Curated Closet: A Simple System for Discovering Your Personal Style and Building Your Dream Wardrobe, stylist Anuschka Rees’s first book, is definitely for women; however, there are some things us dudes can learn from it.
I immediately found some great material in the “Closet Diagnostics” flow chart (6–7) and distinguishing between minimalism as a style vs. lifestyle (24–25). I like simple and like to dress that way; I can also be rather judgmental of others’ dress. Rees writes, “Our clothes tell a story. Our clothes reflect our personality and what’s important to us” (42). I agree, which just happens to perpetuate the judgmental attitude (e.g., when I see some of my wife’s students on “business formal” day, I wonder if their “business” is conducted during the night shift on the local street corner—yeah, I said it). So, why can’t I walk around barefoot in a simple robe or a cloak and tunic, and what does it say about me for wanting to do that? *sigh* Okay, moving on.
In order to start assessing one’s current wardrobe, Reese suggests saving photos/images of what we have and what we like (and not necessarily have). A lot of folks (women?) use Pinterest for this, but Rees recommends keeping this offline for ease of use and moving around, which cannot be done on that black hole of social media (50—okay, I added that last bit of judgmental speech). We should look for inspiration and figure out what we really like and fits our current life situation, which does matter (is that an answer to my robe question? *sigh again*). This is where the value of Pinterest can be found (55—yes, I admit it), although there are many other avenues we may take to find such inspiration.
Throughout, Rees asks the reader to pay attention to (definition for ignorant men in parentheses) overall vibe (theme or genre, like gunge or western-country), individual items (shirt, jacket, shoes, etc.), colors, silhouettes (this has to do with cuts, the way clothes fit and/or drape over the body, etc.), materials (big difference between natural and synthetics), and styling (how something is worn/put on). She provides examples of what she likes in these categories on page 61. After cultivating our own “like” list, we’re encouraged to go out, try things on, and begin narrowing that list. (There are lists of fabrics/materials and fits on pages 76–77, but men will find this utterly unhelpful.) Once we’ve determined what our new wardrobe is going to be, it’s time to cull the closet and release the shackles of stuff we don’t need (96–101 are very helpful in that process).
The rest of the book helps with basics, budgets, colors, formality, shopping, wardrobe details, quality (“Part 19,” men can benefit from pages 224–237 on fabrics, seams, tailoring, lining, and details), fitting (“Part 20,” men can benefit from pages 240–247) and maintenance (“Part 21,” men can benefit from pages 250–255).
I think women looking to find a personal style and create a manageable wardrobe therewith will find this book quite helpful. Men will likely want to find a way to casually “borrow” it and take an intentional glance at the pages referenced above.
*I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.