This is part of Redesign Everything, a new series about creative ways to reinvigorate your life in the new year, whether it’s your wardrobe, your side hustle, or your Zoom bookshelf. Read the rest of the series here.–Editors
Actresses are famous for their endless closets, packed with the trendiest, most glamorous designer looks. Not Gwyneth Paltrow. While she always looks chic and put together, she says her wardrobe is made up of a relatively small selection of comfortable garments, in neutral colors that she wears day after day, year after year. “I buy classic pieces, and I keep them forever,” says the Goop founder and the star, most recently, of The Avengers and The Politician.
It’s a fashion philosophy that might look more appealing than ever, now that many of us are at home and looking to downsize our closets. Over the past five years, Paltrow has thought a lot about the principles of building a wardrobe. In 2016, she launched her own fashion line, G Label, which replicates her favorite pieces from her own closet and manufactures them in Italian factories. While G Label pieces are pricey, Paltrow believes that it’s possible to invest in high-quality durable basics, whatever your budget.
Throughout the quarantine, her wardrobe hasn’t changed much, since comfy basics have always been her go-to pieces: She has stuck to a uniform of trousers and sweaters, adorned with the occasional piece of chunky jewelry for a Zoom call. And yet, she says this approach to dressing can still be fun and exciting. “I dress like myself,” she says. “I express myself and cultivate my presentation more sartorially than through any other expression.” Here are her top tips for redesigning your wardrobe in 2021 and beyond.
Define your style
It’s much easier not to be swayed by the latest trend if you feel confident in your own personal aesthetic, Paltrow says. In her case, she says she developed her style in her teens, while attending a school where she had to wear a uniform. She liked the preppy look of the outfit, but she also embraced the challenge of getting creative with accessories to cultivate a unique look that stood out from her peers. Decades later, she has a similar approach: She picks classic clothes, but with a little twist to keep things interesting—a simple cashmere sweater with puffed sleeves, or utility pants with an extra wide leg. “I’ve always gravitated towards these pieces, and I feel most like myself when I wear them,” she says.
Your aesthetic may be different from hers, but knowing what you like allows you to have a clear-headed approach when you shop. It also prevents you from falling for whatever color or silhouette happens to be in vogue that season. Paltrow isn’t completely opposed to trends. Occasionally, she adds something, like jewelry or a sweater, that fits into the rest of her wardrobe. “It spices up the look and keeps things interesting,” she says. “But I’m not overhauling the whole closet.”
Stick to window shopping
Shopping is one of America’s great pastimes, and like anybody else, Paltrow likes walking into beautiful stores, decked out with the latest products and fashions. But she says she doesn’t often bring home new clothes from these excursions. Unless she feels she really needs a garment and will wear it for years, she won’t buy it. “For me, visiting a store is almost like walking through a gallery,” Paltrow says. “It’s a form of entertainment to me, because I feel so inspired by what I see in stores. But it doesn’t necessarily mean buying something new.”
Paltrow recommends making a slight mental shift: Rather than shopping to purchase new clothes, think about shopping as a form of inspiration and a way to appreciate creativity in the fashion industry. This will spare you for accumulating a lot of stuff you don’t need.
Even Gwyneth rents
Throughout her career, Paltrow has had to go red carpet and black tie events, where she wears glittery gowns. But she doesn’t often buy these pieces; instead she rents or borrows. “I was into Rent the Runway before the brand even existed,” she says, with a laugh. “When I go to these events, and I’m photographed, I know I’m not likely to wear the outfit again. So why buy, when I can just borrow?” Of course, most people don’t have designers offering to let them borrow clothes–but fortunately, the rest of us can turn to rental companies to pick up a fancy frock we’ll only wear once.
You don’t need to reinvent yourself
In Hollywood, some celebrities like to reinvent themselves every few years with a complete makeover. (Looking at you, Madonna!) Paltrow has never felt the need to do this, but that doesn’t mean that her style hasn’t changed over the decades. Her tastes have evolved over time to adapt to each new phase of life. She still has some outfits in her closet from her twenties, but she has also picked up pieces over the years that fit into her current lifestyle which involves running a company and being a mom. “These days, I’m looking for clothes that are chic, put together, comfortable, and also a bit sexy,” she says.
The fashion industry is premised on constant change and brands are invested in selling you a different look each season. But rather than taking cues from designers and brands, Paltrow recommends thinking carefully about your current lifestyle. How can your wardrobe serve your current lifestyle and help you project the person you are right now?
But do get dressed, even in quarantine
It’s easy to let your look devolve as the pandemic stretches into months, and years. But Paltrow says it’s worth putting some effort into your outfit, even if you’re not leaving your house. “I think it is easy to get demoralized when you don’t get dressed in the morning,” she says.
The good thing is that it’s easy to put on real clothes when you’ve pared down your wardrobe to your favorite, most comfortable pieces. And ultimately, even though Paltrow’s philosophy is to make dressing as easy as possible, she believes that clothes are important because they allow you to express who you are to the world, even if only on Zoom. “Clothing plays an important role in helping you feel like yourself, or helping you imagine the next iteration of who you’ll be,” she says. “That’s more important than ever right now, when everything in our lives has been so disrupted.”