PSYCHIC CLOSET CLEAR OUT: ROOM FOR A WHOLE NEW ME

If the contents of your closet reflects who you really are, what to do when nothing’s working any more? Call in your friend Psychic Betsy to help intuit what should stay and what really needs to move on.

“Who IS she?” Photograph: Megan Gustashaw

The past two years have been a time of major transition for me. A move to NYC, a radical change in my daily working life and a slow and steady slide to the other side of 35 are the obvious, surface things. But internally, things have been shifting too. With Pluto (planet of transformation) squaring Uranus (the future, individualism, radical and progressive ideas) since June 2012, I get the feeling I’m not the only one (you can read more about THAT whole situation here) but one of the major tell-tale signs that I’m no longer the woman I used to be is that peering into the labyrinth that is my closet, I often can’t find anything to wear.

In fact, it’s more like taking a trip down memory lane in my Facebook photo archive. That dress I wore to rave the summers away in Ibiza. The jacket that felt so sharp when I landed my first proper newspaper job, but which I haven’t actually worn since 2007. If what’s in our wardrobe is really a reflection of the person we are, at times it’s been like grappling with a case of multiple personality disorder. I look inside, and it’s like…who IS she?

It had got to a point where I’d just wear the same things ALL THE TIME, waiting for precisely the right meeting, party or dinner date when a 1980s sweater covered with gold sequins would obviously be just the thing. In the meantime, with so many perfectly good clothes waiting to be worn (I mean we’re talking a lot of designer goods here too people) I hardly felt justified buying new stuff to bridge the gap. Clearly, it was time for the closet clear out to end all closet clear outs. But where to begin?

Ruby, are you in there?
It makes me look like Kate Moss, right?

Our personal style is ruled by Venus, and in my case that comes with a serious case of Pisces sentimentality, not to mention a heady dose of fantasy and self-delusion (of course I looked like Kate Moss circa Glastonbury 2005 in that vintage beaded vest). I was going to need external help with this – and who better than my friend Psychic Betsy? A gifted intuitive who specialises in finding practical tools to aid in your personal and spiritual development, I felt that with her help I would finally be able to cut the crap and find the real me.

Before she arrived, I did a brutal edit – anything I hadn’t worn for 12 months or more was up for the chop, as was anything that had been making me feel like an imposter in my own skin. Together, we then did a short meditation to set an intention for the session – basically, to make space in my wardrobe for the new, updated Ruby. We also visualized all the clothes I got rid of finding their way into the hands of women who would rock them like they deserved to be rocked.

And as we began working through the pile, several things quickly became clear. No. 1 – I am no longer the good time girl who danced her way through my 20s and early 30s in a blur of cocktails and fashion forward frocks. “’I used to wear this in Ibiza’ is coming up a lot,” Betsy pointed out. And having got deep into a decade-long love affair with the infamous party island (to the point I even edited a magazine there for two whole summers), there was obviously part of me that still felt very attached.

Taming my inner hedonist has been a conscious choice – mainly because these days I want to be more present for the highs that show up in my life – “but I don’t want to say goodbye to the fun times forever,” I whined. The answer from Spirit? “But you have fun in other ways now, and don’t you need new clothes for that?” Sayonara, frilly pink mini dresses and tiger print crop tops.

The old me: cocktails and frilly pink frocks

It also became obvious that in certain cases my “sentimentality” was masking some serious lack mentality. We unearthed numerous “placeholders,” things I was hanging onto for dear life because I might need them one day – rather than setting the energy in those particular items free to come back to me in new and frankly waaaay cooler form. Now this was a concept I could get my head around. But in some cases, saying goodbye to things that had been with me for years was as painful as kicking old friends to the curb. “So take a photograph. That way you can keep the energy of them close, but make room for new friends too!”

Anything I spoke about in the past tense was also a straight up “NO,” but of course there were some things I was seriously on-the-fence about. “So let’s do a little intuition 1-0-1,” suggested Betsy, who then had me close my eyes and picture another woman wearing and loving the item in question. “How does that feel, in the space right below your belly button?” Well good, actually, expansive and happy. “And now imagine yourself putting it on.” Stifled, stale and tight. This was getting easier by the minute.

As little as an hour later, virtually everything on the pile was ready to be packed up and shipped off to my local clothing exchange store – save for a few items I had got a very strong sense I should pass on to my friends Gabby and Gala (the three of us recently formed a sort of fashion maven holy trinity on an impromptu trip to Gabby’s favourite store, Reformation, on the Lower East Side). Maybe it was Betsy’s presence, but I just *knew* they’d love them.

The sense of clarity, lightness and relief I’ve been feeling since has been liberating to say the least – as a friend recently confided to me, “purging (as in, energetic purging) might be my secret favourite thing.” Of course there are huge gaps in my wardrobe that now need to be filled, but how much fun is THAT going to be? And of course, there’s a fittingly serendipitous P.S.

When I took my haul to the exchange the woman next to me was unloading a job lot of Helmut Lang samples, including just the black jacket to replace my faded “placeholder.” I walked out wearing it, with a cheque for $142 in my pocket for the rest of my swag. And when, the next day, I found myself with five minutes to spare in Soho, I wandered into the Jerome Dreyfuss boutique. I’ve been on the hunt for a new wallet, as Gala has a theory that an upgrade can help attract abundance into your life.

#abundance

And what do you know, after weeks of searching (it had to be red and the right size for my mini Marc Jacobs handbag – not an easy score) it turned out they had just the thing. But it was from last season so they had to fetch it up from out back, and it also happened to be on sale. For precisely $142.

Betsy Cohen is available to assist with your psychic closet clear out too! To make an appointment, go to www.newyorkcitypsychic.com

 

GABBY BERNSTEIN: FASHION JUNKIE

Spirit Junkie Gabrielle Bernstein is as famous for her fabulous outfits as her modern girl philosophy on living a miraculous life. She talks wedding dresses, turbans and shopping from an abundance mindset with Ruby Warrington. Portraits by Annie Powers.

So did you always dress like the fashionista babe we know and love from your Instagram feed Gabby?
No – I used to dress like Mariah Carey, I’m not even kidding. Horrifying! It was like the tighter the better because I used to work out so much, I was like I may as well wear tight clothes. Also when I was building my business really wasn’t into spending money on clothes.

So that wasn’t something you ever used to of make you feel good about yourself? That’s a trap a lot of people fall into…
No! I wanted to always look good, but I didn’t need it to be a designer brand, or some major fashion statement. But that changed when I met my fiance Zach. He has very, very strong interest in fashion, and he would take me to McQueen and Barney’s, and places like Costume National and Comme des Garcons  – for me it was like going to a museum.

Was there a turning point when you got into high fashion yourself?
I think that happened when I bought my first pair of Isabel Marant sneakers, which coincided with me starting to be in the mindset of like; ‘oh I can afford to buy them’, you know? And that was kind of like a big deal for me.

“My new pink wallet. #abundance”
“Got distracted in the #surflodgemtk boutique…”

I remember those first experiences too – spending real money on clothes and feeling like ‘this isn’t going to completely bankrupt me’. It’s like getting into an ‘abundance’ mindset…
Yeah! It was amazing. But really if you always shop within your price range you can always feel abundant – buying on credit automatically creates a feeling of lack. And if you’ve saved up for something special the energy is clean. I’ve also got to a place where spending $300 on one special piece makes me feel way more special that walking out of H&M with ten bags of cheap plastic stuff.

We’ve spoken about this before, but tell me about detoxing your closet from all the ‘plastic’…
I was addicted to hi-lo shopping, and I had to recognize that it was an addiction based on my old belief system. My parents weren’t wealthy, so my experience of gifts and shopping growing up was all about quantity over quality – that was normal, but not right. When I was able to witness that I put myself on 90 days of no hi-lo shopping. And I’ve remained abstinent!

You must get loaned a lot of stuff these days too?
I was introduced to one of my favorite designers, Camilla, through my friend Annie Ladino, a really great stylist in New York. She put me in touch Camilla’s publicist Denise, and then they just started loaning me a ton of stuff – amazing. Now I own so many of her kaftans it’s insane. It’s become a go-to look for me because it kind of works anywhere anytime, even though it’s more beachy and summery.

“Doing a meditation for prosperity on the beach”
“It’s a good day when…@camillawithlove”

And it’s also so the opposite of the whole ‘Maraiah Carey’, in your face sexy thing.
Exactly, yeah. And you know, I used to dress like super hippie at college too.

Really? Like what kind of stuff?
Oh my god like, corduroy pants and Birkenstocks and all of that shit! Ripped t-shirts…

Sounds rad… Do you still have any clothes from that period? Do you get sentimental about keeping old clothes, or do you prefer to keep the energy in your closet nice and clean of memories?
The only things I have from back then are like, the things I stole from my college room mate…she had great style, but maybe don’t put her name in this story!  But in general I’m not sentimental about material things, I don’t get attached. You’re setting yourself up for failure that way, because at some point it will be lost, or break, and if it’s become so special there’ll be a sense of loss.

The wings she wore on her first book cover; “a statement about being a spiritual girl in the material world”
Black Milk galaxy dress. Oh yeah I went there”

I think you’ve always been inspired by the way your friends dress too – right?
Yeah, like my friend Elisa has become a sort of fashion guide for me. I just really like the way she puts herself together, so I started to buy what she was getting, you know. But it’s less about copying than enjoying and appreciating how somebody looks.

Some women can get territorial about their ‘look’ – what’s that all about do you think?
That comes from a place of comparison and attachment to being uniquely ‘you’ – it’s a way for your ego to enhance your ‘specialness,’ as if only you can have that look. I say, when people want to dress like you see it as a compliment.

Do you feel like you do that with people, in the same way that you’ve had lots of different guides, teachers and gurus in your life as well?
Yeah. I think in every area of your life you can definitely pick up different things from people you find inspiring and make them your own…even Zach has been a great teacher to me when it comes to fashion. But again, it’s about taking those ideas and making things your own – constantly bringing it back to what is real to you, and not getting too into the comparison thing of thinking ‘I have to be like you’.

Gabby’s portrait of kundalini guru Yogi Bhajan: “being well dressed was a sign of self-respect for him”
“Wooden prayer beads obviously”

You’ve told me how you like to gift yourself also. Why is that important?
When you buy something as a gift to yourself, the energy behind it is coming from a place of gratitude, as opposed to neediness. That’s when it becomes a gift, not an indulgence. A celebration of yourself.

So when do you gift yourself?
Well around the time that I sold my fourth book I kind of had a little shopping party for a few weeks…

Oh, good!
Yeah…but I have to be careful, because I can still find myself doing these weird, sporadic shops when I just end up with stuff I don’t need. I think a lot of women have this problem. So, I try to stick to only going out shopping with an intention, you know? You also said something once that really hit home for me – when you’re contemplating a purchase, ask ‘is there something else that will do the same thing?’

So what’s on your spirit junkie shopping list right now?
Well since I got into Kundalini yoga I’m trying to buy more whites. Like yesterday I bought some white jeans and a turban online. The turban was from Venuis Turbans in LA, I basically just googled it!

Love it.
I also got Zach some mala beads, which are for meditating with – it’s a necklace with 108 beads, which you count through your fingers as you chant a mantra. Usually when I’m teaching I’ll have a mala in my hand too, or if you’re like having a bad day you can just carry them with you.

Cool. I want you to talk to more about turbans, and why they’re important too…
So, you when practicing Kundalini, you want to keep the energy you create in your body, that’s why you cover your head. From a personal perspective I also feel like I want to respect the sacred tradition – I feel like if I’m a teacher I’ve got to play by the rules. And I also do feel the difference. As you open your chakras, you can feel pain in your crown chakra. Like you can get headaches, or you can feel like, almost bruised on the top of your head – and when you wear the turban it feels better.

Almost like a little bandage? Why is that, that you feel sore?
Because the energy is soaring through the top of your crown!

“OMG my new whites”
“Rocking my new @v_keen pants”

Okay wow. So back to the “whites.” Why?
It’s about reflecting positive energy out into the world, whereas dark colors, and particularly black, can soak up negativity. So in general I have found myself clearing a lot of black out of my wardrobe. I just don’t feel that good when I’m wearing it anymore.

Did you wear a lot of black in your PR days? That’s the classic image of a New York City PR girl…
Yeah, I think I’ve always worn a lot of black! And I love my black leather Acne jacket, it’s one of my most treasured items, but it can feel kind of like I’m wearing a dark hole, you know? It feels heavy. I’m actually thinking my new staple is going to be white jeans.

Good idea. What are your favorite denim brands?
I like Citizens of Humanity and I actually don’t own a pair of Mother jeans yet but I love the way they look on people. I also really like Isabel Marant’s jeans, of course!

Now I’m interested to hear how else the contents of your wardrobe has shifted since you’ve began following a more spiritual path.
Well apart from the white, I feel like I want to dress more beautifully, if that makes sense. I’m inspired by people like my Kundalini teacher Gurmukh, who always wears her turban and her whites, but might have a color she’s representing that day in her beads that is also reflected in a gem on her turban. She’s very artful about the way she adorns herself, almost like she’s dressing herself like a priestess.

Displaying necklaces in her wardrobe space at home: “I don’t wear them but I love how they look”
“Love my new #kundalini snake tee”

 

Actually Gurmukh’s turban is really amazing.
It’s outrageous. She hasn’t actually cut her hair for 45 years, and when she doesn’t wear her turban you just see this like huge bun on top of her head. It’s not dreadlocks, she washes it, but it’s probably down to her butt, you know?

Amazing. Are you going to stop cutting your hair as well?
Absolutely not! But in terms of how I want to dress, in Kundalini in particular, it’s almost like a sign of respect for yourself and the class to show up really well dressed. I remember during my teacher training I was doing like a praktikum and I wasn’t wearing all white that day, and my teacher…

Sorry, what’s a praktikum?
It’s where you take a fake class to practice. So I was teaching in front of my ‘class’ and I was being graded on it. And I didn’t wear all white that day and my teacher told me off! Even if you’re wearing wrinkled clothes, they’re like, ‘go iron your outfit!’ But it all comes from an emphasis on self-care. Yogi Bhajan was also really into jewelry and gemstones.

A dreamcatcher from Colorado above her writing desk; “I just dig it – a good thing to have around”
Crystals on her alter; “they all have a different energy – I just have to remember to clean them!”

It’s interesting, in ‘The Doors of Perception’ Aldous Huxley talks a lot about how in visionary experience the world often reveals itself in this kind of glowing, jewel-like state. He thinks that that’s one of the reasons jewels have been so revered throughout history and why precious stones became precious. Because in some way they reflect to us the way the world was really made.
That’s neat, that makes sense to me. And there’s also the energy and the healing properties of the stones. Gurmukh has told me I really need to get an emerald for my pinkie, because it’s the finger that represents the voice, the speaker, and the emerald amplifies the voice.

Nice. And I know we’ve spoken as well about the whole thing of living in your yoga clothes. Does that still happen?
Yep! By day I’m in my yoga clothes which means by night I’m ready to get dressed up and go out.

“Biker jacket and #yoga pants. Always a good look”
“Sat Nam folks!”

 

Which is probably the reverse to how a lot of women dress!
Exactly, but I love to get dressed up for my evening lectures for example. For that my outfits can really vary. I mean I’ve worn anything from a really wild Camilla caftan, to like my Isabel Marant fringe boots with like tight black pants and a top. Then other times I’ll wear something more conservative, like a Helmut Lang blazer and jeans. It really depends on the crowd and the overall vibe.

Totally. And what about how an outfit makes you feel?
I feel really empowered wearing nice clothes. It wasn’t always like that, I didn’t always care, but I’ve realized that fashion can literally make me feel like a different person. Whether I’m teaching or lecturing, wearing something that will expand my presence is important.

Absolutely. But do you ever have those days when nothing you put on makes you feel right? Like the hours are counting down to your lecture and you’re like ‘no, no, no.’ Have you got a go-to that always works?
A good jumper is always a go-to. I have long ones, short ones, and actually if I were to buy anything new right now it would be more rompers because I like the way I can put it on and then I’m done. And I mean, even I had to go to a black tie wedding I think I’d wear like this Catherine Malandrino jumper I have.

Well speaking of weddings, how did you chose what to wear to marry Zach? This is like, the most important public speaking gig of your life. I take it you are doing a speech?!
I’m wearing the second dress I bought…which it typical of the bad habits in my shopping style, like, get the first thing you see then go back and get it right! I wanted to wear something that was a real wedding dress, so I could feel like a bride. For anybody who wants to see it, we’ll be doing a #spiritjunkiewedding hash tag on Instagram. See you there!

www.gabbyb.tv
@gabriellebernstein