5 Fashion Directors Tell Us the One Piece in Their Closet They Can’t Live Without

by Jessie Ajluni

January is in full swing, and its endless waves of cold weather have beaten down any inclination to dress any way but practical and utilitarian. I admit that, more than any other time of the year, winter is always when I dress with a uniform in mind; jeans, turtleneck, and some form of over the top fur, or faux fur, coat. These core pieces, more than anything else, define my sense of winter style. A little relaxed, a lot covered, and with that ridiculous statement-making something added in to feel validated in my life working in fashion.  

One such item that, beyond any other in my wardrobe, has seen me through every New York winter, since I first came here, a wide-eyed college grad trying to make her way in the industry, is a vintage leopard faux fur coat that I picked up for $20 bucks while in Mississippi for university. It’s one of the prize pieces in my wardrobe and, no matter how many luxury items get added in to the collection, will forever be one that stands out among the rest.

Which got me thinking: what other Holy Grail pieces reside in other people’s closets? Being the nosy person that I am, I tapped some of the most stylish ladies in NYC to share what their one and only items would be.

Laurel Pantin, Editorial & Fashion Director, Coveteur

A friend of mine, Randi, (who is a female mechanic/sailor/captain/the most interesting person I’ve ever met) gave me this jumpsuit. It fits perfectly, and is insanely flattering—plus, I can wear it the normal way, or with the sleeves tied around my waist. I get endless compliments on it—to the point where I’m trying to replicate it exactly.

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Aya Kanai, Fashion Director, Cosmopolitan, Seventeen, Redbook, Good Housekeeping, and Women’s Day

My wedding shoes will stay in my wardrobe forever. I got my whole wedding look at Prada but the shoes continue to be worn, they’re a black suede kitten heel with a blue crystal jewel embellishment. I often toss them on when I happen to be wearing sneakers in the office and have to attend a last minute meeting. It feels fun to put something so special into my everyday wardrobe. It’s like having a little secret that reminds me of a wonderful day.

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Malina Joseph Gilchrist, Style Director, T, The New York Times Style Magazine

My favorite Item in my wardrobe is a Comme des Garcons black patent coat covered with streamers of buckles. Every time I move the belt buckles clack and make this announcement that I am coming through, which works better when entering a fashion show, less so at Duane Reade. I love it because it is a very powerful piece without being loud. It also doesn’t subscribe to a particular genre or season.

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Julee Wilson, Fashion & Beauty Director, Essence

Behold my amazing engagement bracelet! Yes, my husband presented me with a bespoke rose gold and diamond bangle rather than a ring. Although unconventional it’s my most prized possession and a truly unique representation of our love. It’s also inscribed inside with a line from a poem he wrote me early on in our relationship. It reads: “To love is to be happily ensconced in a dissonant equilibrium. Will you be my partner in this journey of love for life?” It’s not hard to see why I’m obsessed with it… and my hubby! 

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Caitlin Burke, Fashion Director, Moda Operandi

I would probably say it’s my Rodarte SS15 military jacket with sequin paillette sleeves from Moda Operandi. It’s ridiculous and the antithesis of an “everyday” item, but that’s why I love it so much. Because it’s so over the top, I like to mix it with more casual pieces, like sneakers and denim. I have pictures of me wearing it all over Europe, in front of the coliseum, the Eiffel tower, the Trevi fountain, etc. It’s my tourist jacket.

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