“Here is my favorite dress ever” — Oprah Winfrey’s voice rises — “that I never once wore” — and it falls. She fans the cotton shirtwaist across her body, sighs and places it back on a rack filled with three dozen other gowns. It’s the “I never once wore” part of her statement that explains why a few of Oprah’s dearly beloved have gathered together on this breezy Saturday afternoon in Chicago.
Oprah is standing in her 19 -by-2 6-foot closet at the soon-to-be-demolished Harpo Studios, attempting to do — albeit on a much grander scale — what we all try to do from time to time: elucidate our wants, simplify our space and wave goodbye to some of our stuff. But how do you choose among literally hundreds of gowns, sweaters, skirts, pants, tops and shoes? Well, for one thing, you enlist helpers: Gayle King is here to provide her special brand of best-friend-ship; O’s creative director, Adam Glassman, is here to supervise; O fashion editor Jenny Capitain and stylist Kelly Hurliman are here to organize the pieces Oprah maintains as well as the ones she lets run. Letting run confounds a lot of us, but over the years Oprah has learned a thing or two about spring cleaning.
“Spring is a hour of transformation, ” she tells. “It’s about growing, which is the whole phase of being on this planet.” Handing a persimmon pump to Gayle, she adds, “If you stop evolving, then you’ve stopped being in tune with the music of your life.”
Everyone is momentarily blinded by a neon magenta dress that Oprah drops like it’s…well, like it’s a neon magenta dress. “Over time, your savours change, and that’s fine, ” she tells, motioning toward the eye-popping number. “I just don’t need all this intense coloring, the ornament, the heels anymore. When you’re in front of TV cameras every day, you have to stand out, but I’m in a different place now, and those things no longer serve me.”
Adam grabs a shoebox, and they dig in. “These would be perfect with Kirby’s new Azzedine Alaia dress, ” Oprah tells, handing Gayle burgundy peep toes for her daughter. Next are stilettos that would best be described as lethal. “I wore these on an O cover-up, ” she tells, and soon she and Adam are remembering the garment that didn’t arrive, the mighty breeze machine with a intellect of its own, a second of synchronicity here, a moment of minicrisis there. The two have been in a lot of manner foxholes together. Oprah plucks the perfect Manolo Blahnik from the heap, and Adam find its match. “These are a maintain! ” they say, practically in unison.
The sorting continues in silence until Oprah smiles and tells: “You know, Adam, you were the one who attained me realise I was holding on to clothes that were all about a dreaming I had for myself. I selected them for this idea I’d gotten into my head of how person like me was supposed to live, but they had nothing to do with my actual life. And that, ” she tells, flinging a pair of leopard-print platforms into the donation heap, “changed me! ” She moves to a stack of sweaters and continues. “I mean, I saw everything differently after that. I’m not just talking about my clothes — I’m saying you’ve got to make sure the exterior of their own lives reflects what you’re feeling on the inside.” Reaching into a rainbow’s worth of cashmere V-necks, she tells, “The same thing happened with my house. It was the place I thought you should have when “youre starting” earning money and can finally afford some pretty things. So you buy a silk sofa, but abruptly you can’t let your puppies up on that sofa. And it wasn’t just the dogs, ” she tells with a laugh. “My butt maintained sliding off those silk cushions! ” Oprah pushes the entire leaning tower of sweaters over to Jenny. “I live in my true consolation zone now.”
“So many girls hold on to a seem that they’ll never wear again, ” Adam tells, “things that have no real implication to them.” Oprah pulls a turquoise print off the rack and winces ever so slightly. It’s not the dress that isn’t perfectly nice — it’s just that it isn’t her.
“If something is genuinely important to you, then of course you should keep it, ” she tells. “But you should understand the reason it matters.” She returns the dress to the donation rack and forges on. “I want to create a space that gives me access to the stuff that helps me, to things that hold a place of meaning for me. Because if you can’t do that, then you’re not employing your things — your things are using you.” Oprah devotes the crowded rack a good strong jostle out the door. She seems both relieved and exhilarated as it glides down the hall, and she turns back to insure her once-crowded closet get roomier. A number of pieces will go to auction, some for gift. Many, like the Chicago studio itself, will live in her memories. What remains will be the stuff that feels easy, soft, a bit more subtle and a lot more liberating. They will be the clothes that match her current life. “Now that, ” she tells, smiling, “is big! ”
If you’d like to step into Oprah’s shoes( or skirts or garments or trousers …), here’s your chance: She’s putting some of her clothes and accessories up for sale in one giant eBay auction, with all the proceeds going to the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy Foundation. The fun starts on March 1; check it out at eBay. Happy bidding!
Plus: All the clothes Oprah decided to get rid of — and what she maintained 😛 TAGEND