PRUNE TO GROW

5.8.17

PRUNE TO GROW

When my apartment was first given a complete coat of white paint - floor, walls and ceiling - it felt so light. I was in love with it. I barely wanted to move any furniture back in, save for the essentials. However, as lovely as it seems to have just a bed, table and chair, life and all the stuff it brings has a way of creeping back in. I often work with clients when they've just done a move or renovation and it is interesting for me to see how they relate to change and letting go. Some people are ready to change it all and others tend to hold on a bit more tightly. I think once you gain their trust and they see where they are headed, most people feel comfortable about letting go.

There are all sorts of analogies to the purging of our things, one being that sometimes you have to prune to grow. A perfect analogy for spring and the gardening I will be doing this weekend. Cutting back the dead things in our lives, the things that are no longer serving us, can allow us to grow in new ways. Getting a bit spiritual on this, but there is also the feeling and intention that can surround holding on, which is more the feeling of scarcity or fear of lack versus a feeling of faith and abundance.

Living in NYC can demand one to be on top of their editing game. I've always tended to get rid of houseware items when I do a big cleaning - or after Hurricane Sandy, when there wasn't much else to do without electricity and internet for a week! And I usually cull the wardrobe twice a year when the weather changes. Except one year, when I did a massive purge of about half my wardrobe and it felt great. After years of collecting clothing, I felt like it wasn't bringing me the joy it once did. I donated a bunch, but then had a big sale at a friend's boutique for the vintage and designer pieces. I thanked my clothes for all the good times, had a little party and said goodbye. I couldn't be happier.

My friend Kim, who is a fashion writer, interviewed me about the sale, letting go and some interior design stuff. I thought I'd share it here . . .

KC: How and why has vintage become a passion for you, and, with your background as a therapist, what role does vintage play for you psychologically? How do you use fashion as therapy for yourself?

JD: I suppose I am just a fan of beautiful things in general. Once I actually learned how to design and construct a garment, however, I also really appreciated the quality and detail you can find in some vintage pieces. It can be a way to bring some character and originality into your wardrobe - and your home. My background as a therapist really doesn't factor into it, but I think, for all of us, clothing can be laden with such a variety of meaning. It can be your uniform, your identity, your creative outlet, your protection, etc.

After the fiftyRX3 project, I began to really want a cohesive, leaner, more functional wardrobe. I edited out a lot. I have a fairly casual lifestyle, so it was kind of ridiculous to have a vintage Oscar de la Renta ball gown taking up space in the closet. That said, it can be fun to dress up, so I did keep some pieces that come out to play once in awhile.

KC: When and where do you shop for the special pieces you find? How did you prepare yourself emotionally to let go of the vintage pieces you "put up for adoption" at the event going on for the next couple of weeks? What made you pick the pieces you did to include in the event?

JD: Now, I am mostly shopping [for furniture] for clients' homes. I will still look at vintage pieces for myself at times, but I already have enough, so rarely buy - maybe the occasional thing of beauty. I have a thing for pretty dresses from the 70s and 20s. Maybe I should start having dinner parties again to give us all an excuse to don our fancy frocks. [Yes, please! - editors]

I had no problem letting go. I have been editing my possessions over the last few years and don't have a ton of attachment to them. I had more of a problem with seeing something pretty sit in the closet and not get worn because it no longer fit my lifestyle or it never really fit my body well to begin with. It isn't all vintage at the Pop-Up Shop, there are some contemporary pieces, too. I also like that there are a variety of price points. This isn't really a money making endeavor - it is more about recycling.

KC: Who is your muse and how does she affect the choices you make for your wardrobe or any style decision you make?

JD: I dress for myself. I love to pull out the vintage pieces I have and make an effort, but that is not always practical on a day-to-day basis. I want to be a wearer, not a collector, so I am just as fond of a great t-shirt and pair of jeans. I have six of the same style j.crew t-shirt and it is a staple in my wardrobe. I am busy, so I appreciate clothing that is easy to care for and wear.

KC: If you could have any notable individual dead or alive visit your pop-up shop who would that be and what items would you want to dress them in or want them to adopt as their own?! Which piece(s) over time have you considered your favorites and why?

JD: I don't know about notable, but the individuals I care most about already showed up - my friends. I didn't want them to feel pressured to buy anything, though. I actually refused to let my friend buy some shoes because I felt they were too big and she was buying two other pairs already. I just want people who will wear the items to adopt them. I love the silk Oscar de la Renta skirt and top and the Yves St. Laurent skirt, because I am drawn to their beautiful, ethnic-inspired prints. The Galanos dress is just impeccably constructed. The Tao Commes des Garcons shirt and skirt set is also amazing - that is a piece that really needs to get out of the house and be seen.

KC: What words of wisdom do you live by, or strive to live by, and when you're working with a client to create an environmental living space, what advice or spiritual/philosophical directive do you give to them? And, I know you strive to maintain a sustainable environment within your world of style, how do you do so on a daily basis?

JD: I try to live with love and positivity as guiding principles. I am in no way perfect, but I try to ask myself  - am I doing what I love? am I treating people with love? When you are acting with love in mind, it is hard to go wrong. I may have negative moments, like we all do, but I try to put positive things out into the world and surround myself with positive people.

When I am working with clients, it is less about directives and more about collaboration. Every client is different, but most are happy to go on the journey. They enjoy the process of learning more about design, different periods and styles and honing their own sense of style. We definitely go through a lot of visual references and some are surprised at the things they like. The job is primarily about taking what the client is drawn to and pulling together a space that tastefully reflects who they are and also functionally meets their needs.

After we have worked together for a time, clients usually begin to develop trust. Maybe this is when the philosophical/spiritual discussions come about more. I don't think people always realize what a huge impact their home can have on their life.

In terms of my own style, it is a lot about balancing what I love with what I need. I live in a small space and need to be practical, so if I both love and use something, then it is a keeper. I think when you start there and thoughtfully consider these things, then you will be happier with what you have and less likely to want to replace it.

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