— Life — , — Style —

What’s In Your Closet?

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When was the last time you cleaned out your closet? The rule of thumb is that if you haven’t worn it in a year, you’re probably not going to wear it in the future, so toss it. Seriously? That’s not the only criteria for keeping clothes. Clothes are part of our history. For most of my adult life, in addition to what was “in” my closet, my closet, itself, was a memorable part of my history.

When I lived in the infamous “Nazi spy house on the hill,” my closets and my dressing rooms were like something out of a 1930’s Hollywood film noir. The only thing missing was Lana Turner in a silk dressing gown.


There were “his” and “hers” dressing rooms. Because they were so big, I could store clothes I no longer wore, but wanted to keep. I could archive my memories. Now my closet is smaller than my shower, so I’ve been forced to cull my wardrobe. Gone is the grey Calvin Klein pantsuit I wore on the first Concorde flight from New York to London. Gone is the belted, denim duster, Stetson hat and Lucchese boots I wore on my Indiana Jones adventures.

Today many homes and apartments have elaborate destination closets, but my spy house dressing rooms were ahead of their time. Built in the 1930s, every room of that fabulous house was huge, with glamorous curved walls, indirect lighting and stunning tiled bathrooms. It was elegant, European Art Deco.

My, and my husband’s, dressing room each had a full-length mirrored wall, framed in Honduran mahogany. Some of the closet doors were mirrored, while others were beveled, mahogany panels. Inside, closets were lined with cedar. Built-in shoe closets had discreet little rails that kept shoes at a 45 degree angle. Mahogany drawers were dovetailed—no nails—with smooth cutout areas that let me see the contents of each drawer. I had drawers for underwear, scarves, sweaters and belts and shelves where I could lineup my bags and hats.

My husband’s dressing room had a bar and a hidden passageway that accessed another part of the house. My dressing room had a built-in vanity: tucked away in the middle drawer was a six-inch-square, tin-lined sink, complete with tiny spigot and drain. Round, smooth mahogany knobs, on either side of the drawer, turned on and off, hot and cold running water. Imagine that in the 1930s!

Both dressing rooms had Art Deco chandeliers and curved mahogany sconces with silk shades. Each dressing room had a secret, built-in, fireproof wall safe. Inside were dovetailed drawers with small, gold-plated pull rings. Below the drawers was an area big enough to store important documents and things I didn’t want anyone else to see…

I miss that dressing room! With the city lights sparkling below us, my girlfriends and I would drink champaign, talk about our lives, try on clothes and listen to music. My husband loved that room, too… The mirrors were tailor-made for fifty shades of everything we wanted to do… Oh, if only those walls could talk…

Love, Brenda

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