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Stella magazine

Anna Berkeley

Too many clothes, nothing to wear? Wardrobe management session

April 1, 2016


Photograph by Alice Whitby.

Kate Finnigan called on me to help her organise and cleanse her wardrobe in readiness for the summer months. In a wonderfully witty piece (in Stella magazine last weekend) Kate explains the process we went through and how she felt about it. Client’s are often nervous before a wardrobe session as they worry about what I am going to think of what lies within. Believe me when I say that I like nothing more than rolling up my sleeves and sifting through other people’s clothes. I’ve seen it all and I don’t bat an eyelid. Rails full of clothes with their tags on? Yep. Clothes that your childhood friends would remember you playing in? Check. Pieces you’ve kept because you wore them once, to a special event, twenty years ago, and you never know – you might need them again? You bet. We all do this and we could all, with the possible exception of Marie Kondo, do with a clear out. It’s cathartic and fun and gives your wardrobe a new lease of life.

I have said it before, and I will say it again. If you have too many clothes you will struggle to make outfits. You will never, ever, be able to wear them all unless you’re a royal princess or starring in a west end play with multiple outfit changes.  I encourage all my clients to wave goodbye to clothes that don’t suit them thereby allowing space for ones that make them look and feel amazing. You may have spent an obscene amount on a garment and can’t bear to let it go for that very reason. This is a false economy. The money is spent. It’s gone. You have used the item (hopefully) and enjoyed it. Now it’s time to move on. In certain cases you can recoup some of your money by using eBay, designer seconds shops or one of the many online sources such as buymywardrobe. Either way, it’s worse to have clothes you never wear languishing in your wardrobe and making you feel guilty about not wearing them, than it is to give them to a worthy cause or sell them on. Go on. Clear them out and make room for hard-working clothes that actually suit you.

Anna Berkeley

Latest Stella article – The hand-me-downs you really want!

March 2, 2015

The hand-me-downs you really want

When a woman has a daughter, her wardrobe can have a second life. Meet the mothers saving their cherished clothes for their lucky offspring

BY Anna Berkeley | 01 March 2015

Discover some of the fashionable pieces that mothers are saving for their daughters

Discover some of the fashionable pieces that mothers are saving for their daughters Photo: Sophia Spring

Margo Marrone, 48, founder of The Organic Pharmacy , and Roxy, 16
Margo Marrone and her daughter Roxy
Margo Marrone and her daughter Roxy (Photo: Sophia Spring)

Margo is saving all her clothes for Roxy. “All of them. Seriously.” In fact, Roxy is already wearing many of her mother’s clothes from about 10 years ago. “Some of them no longer fit me, sadly.” Roxy started wearing her mother’s boots and trainers two years ago. “There’s only one pair of Valentino heels that are out of bounds to her,” Margo says. “I look at them with such love. It’s silly, but I do.”

Margo began “archiving” her clothes when Roxy became a teenager. “I’d always thought about passing on my handbags, that seemed obvious.” And nice bags they are too. Margo recently gave Roxy her first ever Chanel 5.5. “It’s everyone’s dream to have their first Chanel– I was so pleased to be able to pass it on to her now.”

In years to come, Roxy will be able to pick and choose from “some very dressy bits” of her mother’s, such as a pastel garden-party dress and a striking black and yellow full-length gown – both by Dolce & Gabbana– and a black and silver Marchesa one-shoulder evening gown. There is also a satin Prada evening bag with gold clasp and a Diane von Fürstenberg metallic evening coat. These treasures are stored in garment bags in Margo’s wardrobe.

“Roxy’s always had an individual style. I didn’t think she’d want to wear any of my things now,” she says, “but once she expressed an interest I thought, why not? I am happy not to throw out my things but for them to have a second lease of life. She found a Gucci top that I wore to a Cosmetic Executive Women event where I won an award. She wears it out with friends. She’s such a cool kid. Seeing my clothes reinvented is wonderful.”

Roxy: “I love wearing Mum’s clothes,” Roxy says. “I feel good in them – but there is also a lot I wouldn’t wear.” Roxy mainly borrows bags and shoes, and they have joint dibs on a red Louis Vuitton during the day and a small sequinned Dolce & Gabbana clutch at night. Roxy favours classic colours – navy, black, grey and white – but mixes them with wilder accessories. “I love Mum’s Miu Miu glitter boots.”

In Roxy’s peer group it is perfectly normal to borrow things from your mother. What about the items that are in storage for her? “I love black and yellow together so the Dolce & Gabbana dress will be good, when it fits. But the Marchesa is so not my style. I can’t ever see me wearing that.”

Johanne Mills, 41, stylist, lecturer and fashion consultant, with Martha, eight, and Loris, five
Johanne Mills and her daughters
Johanne Mills and her daughters (Photo: Sophia Spring)

The Mills family cherish clothes. They all enjoy hunting in charity shops or at Portobello Market or in the vintage shops along Camden Passage in Islington, London. And Martha and Loris wear many of the clothes that their mother Johanne wore when she was little.

“The girls love the Clothkits pieces [dressmaking kits that were particularly popular in the 1970s] especially,” Johanne says. Johanne herself wears items from her parents – a quilted cotton waistcoat of her mother’s and a blue silk baseball jacket from her father.

Johanne is mainly keeping pieces that she or her partner, Rory, a textile designer, have worked on. “I’m really interested in craftsmanship – but it’s not a legacy exactly. You’re just always proud of the things you have designed.”

She puts the clothes aside in drawers in her wardrobe. The box of delights that the girls can look forward to contains 15 years of work by Johanne and Rory – including a pair of Giles Deacon fabric shoes, a collection of spotted silk Gucci scarves and handkerchiefs, a fantastic tiered cherry-printed Sonia Rykiel skirt, and some printed Luella dresses that are bold and bright in silks and cottons. There are also fabric samples, T-shirts and bags.

From Johanne’s own vintage collection there’s a beloved black crêpe Ossie Clark shirt with a Celia Birtwell print. “I found it for a bargain price many years ago and have fond memories of wearing it on many special outings.” There’s a huge cream Courrèges coat that is carefully guarded from little fingers, a quilted Chanel denim skirt that is smocked and has stitched details. In addition there is some modernist jewellery with oversized raw and cut crystals. “But I wouldn’t want the girls to feel that they would have to like these things. I really want them to find their own identity.”

She is keen to add, “I like the Ossie pieces as much as the things we have worked on. It’s about the places you wore them, a special wedding you attended, a different time, and the fact that it’s a beautiful cut and print. For me they are memories of a younger time, having the kids – it’s all imbued within that. It’s like treasure.”

Martha: Already with an individual style, Martha enjoys wearing her Arsenal football strip with Nike high-tops in navy and green. “I like going to charity shops for something unusual, special and cheap,” she says. “Some of Mum’s clothes are a bit weird, some are nice. I like her red cord dress and lilac scout’s rucksack.”

Loris: “I love patterns and I love shoes,” Loris says. “I only dress up in her high heels, though, and I never trip. I take them off when I go down the stairs.” Loris loves going through Johanne’s jewellery box and wearing her dress from when she was young. “It’s red, with ribbons and birds and houses all over it,” she says. “Mummy is an artist and she designs things for clothes that I would like to have when I am bigger.”

Su Mason , 65, who sells vintage fabrics and textiles, and Romilly, 32, editor-in-chief at
Su Mason and her daughter Romilly
Su Mason and her daughter Romilly (Photo: Sophia Spring)

Su Mason’s job allows her to pick up all sorts of wonderful pre-loved clothing. She started saving pieces for her daughters, Cleo and Romilly, when they were in their early teens. “My mother handed down things to me and I’ve just continued the tradition,” Su says.

A special piece is a cream and brown Biba trouser suit that she wore to a good friend’s wedding in 1973. “Nobody wore a trouser suit to a wedding then, I was the only person in one. It has extremely wide trousers and a very fitted, long jacket. I wore it to a 60th party recently, as I can still get into it, and Romilly’s used it on some fashion shoots that she’s done.” There is also a pretty lace blouse of her mother’s, remnants of lace from her grandmother, a floral Vivienne Westwood blouse and a lot of fur, including a short sapphire mink.

Su keeps everything in a small wardrobe, which Romilly uses as an alternative clothing resource. “It’s both fortunate and unfortunate that Romilly and I are a similar size in body and feet,” she says. “I always know that she’s borrowed something – usually around Fashion Week – but I have to go round and physically take it back.

“Some favourites have already disappeared – my much-loved Manolos, which are now too high for me – but my wardrobe was never a closed and locked thing, so since their teens both my daughters have always ‘borrowed’ bits. It started when they were both teenagers – trying to make a style statement for themselves.”

Romilly: “I’ve swiped an old cream silk Equipment shirt with a hood, a fabulous collared knit with a button-down front that was my gran’s, a vintage Yves Saint Laurent blazer, a Nicole Farhi trouser suit in black jersey,” Romilly says fondly. Her mother’s wardrobe is “an absolute pleasure”, she adds.

“I see Mum a lot and often I’ll be wearing something of hers that perhaps she hasn’t realised I have. She looks at me oddly for a bit and then says, ‘Where is that from?’ When I say it’s hers she is often surprised, as I might wear something very differently to how she does. She’s saving the furs,” she says. “But I know exactly where they are.”

Anna Berkeley

Scarf story – a wonderful mention from Kate Finnigan

February 16, 2015

The Style Maven: scarves to keep you warm and stylish

Put your scarves where you can see them and your wardrobe will have a new lease of life

BY Kate Finnigan | 14 December 2014

'Rose & Rose’s cashmere blends are good. They feel love-worn, as if they’ve travelled a bit' (LAURA CALLAGHAN)

‘Rose & Rose’s cashmere blends are good. They feel love-worn, as if they’ve travelled a bit’ (LAURA CALLAGHAN)

Not long ago I announced that I didn’t wear scarves anymore. Hadn’t for ages. But having recently had my wardrobe “managed” by Anna Berkeley , the writer and fashion buyer behind Styling Matters , I now realise that I wasn’t wearing them only because I couldn’t find them.

I had been quite pleased with my scarf-storage facility. Scarves silk, woollen and cotton were folded in a deep box on a shelf in my cupboard. All very organised but not conducive to the wearing of. As Anna pointed out, if you can’t see things, you forget about them (same with shoes in boxes) and your choices feel limited.

Anyway, since I’ve been “managed” – a dusty experience but not as painful as I’d anticipated – I’ve rediscovered my scarves in all their glory. I’ve not yet bought the multiple-trouser hanger I was instructed to purchase to drape them on (I will), but I’ve arranged them on three separate coat hangers in my wardrobe, according to fabric type and colour. I see them as soon as I open my wardrobe. And what a difference it’s made.

READ: How to wear silk scarves

I’d forgotten how a scarf pulls you together. It brings colour to the face, adds another layer of interest to a jumper or shirt, makes a coat look more luxurious, makes you look more luxurious, helps disguise a bad hair day and keeps out the cold and damp. What’s not to like?

I’ve got a number of silk scarves, but silk can be slippy and sticky. Only an Indian silk scarf in emerald green and fuchsia that I found years ago in Covent Garden and looks well with a navy Breton stripe passes muster. I prefer fine wool or wool-blends with a bit of traction so they don’t slip and some warmth – but not so much you feel you’re wearing your outdoor clothes indoors. Rose & Rose’s cashmere blends are good. They feel love-worn, as if they’ve travelled a bit.

READ: The dos and don’ts of blanket scarves

Scarves like this are a wonderful gift, if you’re still looking for inspiration. There’s something nurturing about receiving a beautifully soft scarf – a nice feeling at any time of the year but particularly this one.

Left to right: acrylic, £18, Monki ; Rose & Rose cashmere, £195, Start

Left to right: wool and silk-blend, £275, Net-a-Porter ; wool, £55, Jigsaw

Left to right: viscose-blend, £275, Liberty ; Earth Squared jersey, £24.99, Women Worldwide

Left to right: Kenzo modal and wool-blend, £138, Farfetch ; Freda modal and wool-blend, £85, Matches

Left to right: cashmere, £55, Cos ; Christopher Kane modal and cashmere-blend, £295, Net-a-Porter