How do I restart my closet?

I think this is a problem faced not just by someone starting – or looking for – a new job, but by all of us after two years of working mostly from home. Most workplaces have an unspoken and very unspecific dress code (officially the line is generally “proper” dress), and for most of us that code is derived from a quasi-osmotic process of to be surrounded by colleagues and people in positions of power and absorption. the ethos of the institution. You usually end up dressing for the office to be part of the group.

When this group is removed (or only seen from the chest up), or changes completely, these signals disappear, leaving us to play a guessing game.

In many ways, we’re all in this together now, trying to figure out how to represent ourselves as we step back into the world. I often catch myself looking in my closet like it’s a foreign country, wondering who I was when I lived there.

Just picking up where we left off feels weird. So many things have changed: the bodies, the context, the social rules. Not reflecting this change with at least a few spare clothes seems like a mistake. But how much to change and how?

Small steps, small steps.

As you forge your way into new spaces and new expressions of identity, it can take some time to decide what you want to look like. It is very good. You don’t want to invest heavily in a new wardrobe only to find that it doesn’t really suit you. It’s not good for the environment or your budget.

Instead, said Alice Moore, digital style advisor for Neiman Marcus in Dallas, try revamping your basics by adding “a pop of color” — perhaps via a top or tee — under classic jackets. . Swap your scarves (which can act as a wormhole to the past) for a chunky costume jewelry necklace from Ben-Amun or Nest.

For a broader statement of intent, Cameron Silver, founder of vintage resale boutique Decades, advised getting “a great motorcycle jacket, since Yves Saint Laurent recognized it as a sign of independence (and of rebellion) when he featured one in his 1960 Christian Dior show. It still does the trick.

Taking inspiration from Mr. Silver’s specialty, and because leather plays a complex role in the climate crisis, this is a great item to resell in store.

Then, he adds, a few crisp white shirts like this one from Everlane, themselves symbols of a fresh start, and a pair of cool sneakers, like those from Missoni x Adidas or Comme des Garçons Play x Converse. They are chic, practical and have a sense of humor. Who can’t work with that?

Every week on Open Thread, Vanessa will answer a reader’s fashion question, which you can send her anytime via E-mail or Twitter. Questions are edited and condensed.

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