3 Ways to Style a Suspended Open Wardrobe

 
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I received such a great response from all of you about our new build project - this suspended open wardrobe. I thought I’d take it a step further and use my Art Direction background to teach you guys three ways to style it, and why it works. 

To those of you that will inevitably ask me where the rest of my clothing goes, we have a regular closet in our bedroom that serves to hide that and all our other mundane storage things (Our shoes, our suitcases, our holiday ornaments, and our ski gear, among other things). When we moved from LA to New York two years ago, we got rid of a lot of our things, and I’ve been on the decluttering bandwagon ever since. So, every year I try to own fewer, better things. Getting rid of a lot of our “stuff” has really made me fall in love with what we do own.

So, I  wanted this open wardrobe and shelf to pay homage to those things; a rotating gallery of sorts. It’s actually a lesson in being grateful for what you have. When you love and cherish the things you already own, you don’t feel the need to buy more, more, more.

Without further ado, here are three ways to style an open suspended wardrobe:

 

The Before:

This is our before shot; what the suspended open wardrobe looks like without anything on it. Using some of the things I’ve laid out for us on the bottom left of the photo, we’re going to do a minimalist look, a bohemian look, and a moody look.

 
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Look #1: The Less-Is-More Minimalist

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Not surprisingly, this style is very popular these days, not only because it is visually clean and simple, but also because it is a direct reflection of a specific kind of lifestyle; one where you own fewer, nicer things that are an extension of your values (sustainability, fare wage, a bespoke eye, etc). A bonus with minimalism is that when you are forced to pare down what you own into only what you truly love, your personal style becomes very strongly defined as a result.

Aesthetically, this look is characterized by:

  • Fewer pieces that can all be worn together interchangeably

  • Muted color palette that can easily be mixed and matched (though any complimentary colors can apply)

  • Curated decorations

  • Larger, statement objects (versus many small collectibles)

  • More negative space (breathing room) between objects

  • Lack of clutter

  • Streamlined/structured silhouettes

Let’s break it down:

The first thing to mention is color. I’ve chosen black, grey, taupe and ivory. Even the colors themselves are simple and everything is in the same color family throughout; The shoes, the rug, the clothing, the hat, the bags, the frames, the art, even the shelf itself. Even in the chosen decorations (two bags, two pieces of art, a vase with branches), the color palette still maintains a calming sense of cohesive equilibrium. 

As you may notice, everything is hung from dark to light - a little design trick that uses the direction we read in to create a sense of uplift and optimism as we progress from left to right into lighter shades. 

Also worth mentioning is the fact that this look has the fewest number of pieces. There’s only a total of 7 items hanging on this shelf, which means that each piece has more visual meaning (and reason for being purchased in the first place) than if you were to hand 30, 40, 50 pieces. That gives each piece of clothing a feeling of being specifically chosen for the role it serves, as all of our clothing items ideally should be chosen. We all own multitudes of items when we know we only reach for a few of our favorites, whether that’s our favorite jacket, favorite jeans, favorite bag, etc.

It’s especially evident on laundry day when all of our favorite things are in the hamper and we’re faced with a closet of “leftovers” we feel mediocre about. Minimalism challenges that notion by asking you to get rid of mediocrity entirely (whether in clothing, or in life.)


Look #2: The Vintage-Inspired Bohemian

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This style is super fun, super different, and super Anthropologie inspired. (Super x 3). Where the Minimalist look was very streamlines and muted, this is quite the opposite in that it’s characterized by free-flowing silhouettes, unabashed patterns, and an abundance of “things collected”.

Aesthetically, this look is characterized by:

  • Earthy, muted tones (Brown, beige, burgundy, olive, copper, cottage red, sunshine yellow)

  • A variety of patterns and textures (Suede, cotton, basketweave, studs, sheepskin, floral patterns, and actual florals)

  • Natural, rougher textures. (Wrinkles are welcome here!)

  • A sense of history in the vintage objects (in both the clothing and the decorations above)

  • Flowy/Freeform Silhouettes (both in the clothing and the plants)

  • Tons of plants by volume (a live and let live and thrive mentality)

Let’s break it down:

Just as we did in the previous setup, I’ve hung everything from dark to light to visually “read” your way into lightness as you look at the open wardrobe. The colors are still muted, but earthy, playful, and certainly less silhouetted. Even though it’s a static photo, there’s a lot more movement in everything; the dresses, jackets, even in the long legs of the Golden Pothos plant.

For the shelf above, the items here also mimic the colors of the clothing below while acting as a sort of gallery for collected vintage pieces.

If you notice, nothing is in a perfect silhouette. The blue glass vase is a curvy oblong shape with wild twigs, the candles beside it are imperfectly half melted, the vintage frames (housing an antique botanical print and our own watercolor wedding invitations) are a varying degree of “aged” and the brass objects beside them are also disheveled in a lovely endearing way. Even the plant itself is spreading its wings as far and wide and it can reach.

This look is all about embracing and cherishing the wild and imperfect.


Look #3. The Moody New Yorker

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Ah, #allblackeverything, the uniform of Gotham City. My first thought was “let’s just gather all of the darkest things I own.” Dark clothing, dark books, dark art pieces. I’m not going to lie, this one was both the hardest and easiest to pull together, mostly because there’s a fine line between “I’m a New Yorker” and "I’m Goth, or possibly depressed” (lol! It’s NOT the latter). They might look alike, yet they are vastly different looks, IRL. Goth is about rebellion. New York is about a statement of juxtaposition and attitude.

Aesthetically, this look is characterized by:

  • Dark, cooler tones.

  • An existential disregard for anything overly decorative because why. (haha sad, but true.)

  • Stoic, pensive decorative pieces (I’ve taken the book jackets off to make them look a bit more old school and the art matches the moodiness. The print on the left is by a very talented artist named Clare Elsaesser who I found on Etsy and the piece on the right is by yours truly, of the Sir Francis Drake hotel in San Francisco.

  • Lots of texture (The fewer the color variation, the more texture variation - leather, suede, silk, patent, knit)

  • A hint to minimalism with limited items (since all monochromatic pieces are inherently interchangeable)

Let’s break it down:

The difference is texture. We’re not trying to pile on dark on dark on dark, but rather juxtapose dark with softness. For example:

  • My chunky black knit says “I’m dark, but cuddly”.

  • My silk black shirt says: “Just because I play corporate, doesn’t mean I am”.

  • My black Trench Coat says “I’m a lady, but classically dark, like a Tolstoy novel.

  • My burgundy suede jacket says “No, I don’t own a motorcycle, but it’s not outside the realm of possibility.

Yes, these are all items I own, so I am making fun of myself here, but in a funny way, don’t all of our clothes say something about us?


The most important thing to remember is none of us are just one thing. These styles are vastly different, and yet I own all of them, because I am all of them. And that’s okay.

So let’s not focus on looks because we are all a mix of various styles. Our personality is allowed to be free. That’s what makes people unique. So whether you’re like me (a minimalist-wannabe, vintage-inspired, bohemian-loving, moody New-Yorker) or not, just remember that you don’t have to be anything to anyone but yourself, and just have fun with it.


I’d love to know, which one was your favorite look?