Ask Roxane: How To Detox Your Closet

BY Harper's Bazaar Arabia / Sep 19 2017 / 13:42 PM

At sixty-something, Roxane Zand, deputy chairman of the Middle East at Sotheby’s, has made it to the top of her profession as a Middle Eastern mother and mentor. Sharing her wealth of life experience, Iran-born, Harvard- and Oxford-educated Roxane answers Bazaar readers’ questions on love, life and luxury

Ask Roxane: How To Detox Your Closet

I travel abroad a lot for work. How can one finesse the art of packing and travelling well?

The art of packing well, travelling in style, and arriving with the right wardrobe is a life skill to be treasured. One that is even more crucial if you are a professional woman with an expectation of looking just right at any given destination and time-zone. 

The fashion industry is increasingly catering to the needs of the modern woman, aided by advances in technology used in textiles and fabrics. From Teflon-based materials, innovative 3D Stretch Seam and moulded fabrics, to ladder-free hosiery, glorious polyester-mix scarves and wicking underwear in beautiful designs. I have learned to refine packing, since the auction world involves a lot of travel.

When going to a warm city like Dubai, my best friend is a passe-partout silk jersey dress, coupled with a matching light jacket that takes up little space, does not crease and protects against the ubiquitous hotel lobby AC. For more artsy events, Issey Miyake is a life-saver – classics which don’t date and can be mixed, matched and updated easily. A gorgeous flowing abaya slipped over a pair of loose harem pants is a saviour in any location. Fitting your clothes into a suitcase well is also vital: treat it as a jigsaw puzzle. Roll hosiery and underwear into shoes, fill handbags with a camisole or bikini, stuff small scarves into brassiere cups, layer plastic dry cleaning covers between clothes...

Tissue paper is to packing what bread is to butter, and I use liberally to keep clothes fresh and crinkle-free. Really, the possibilities of smart, precise packing are endless.

I have been tempted to do a complete clear-out of my closet and belongings. What should stay and what should go?

Once in a while it is vital to declutter our belongings and reconsider what is worth keeping through the journey of life. I believe there are items with sentimental value, others with practical value and some with investment value, which we hand down as heirlooms and legacies.

Feng Shui has come into prominence for good reason, and its rule encourages you to discard anything you haven’t used in the last three years. Though, for emotional hoarders like me, it would be painful to part with a cherished piece that was a present from a late family member. Plus, there would be no vintage universe if all things old and unused were dispensed with. But the world is waking up to recycling, upscaling and repurposing, which can well apply to clothes and personal items.

Rotation, renewal and revival are almost always a good idea, with a secret satisfaction in uncovering ongoing pleasure from a dormant item. The category of belonging that is most worthwhile is what we consider a legacy. Family heirlooms and items handed down are of enormous value, because they embrace history, financial value, sentimental relevance and continuity; often nothing can replace that beautifully-cut diamond necklace gifted from someone you love. In this instance, it is not always about frills and seasonal fashion.

My advice is to think which three items you would save in a fire. My bet is that it would be only your best jewellery and that lovely cape your grandmother gave you.

What would you like to ask Roxane? Post your question to Instagram or Facebook with the hashtag #AskRoxane

Photography: Heath Cooper. 

Roxane wears clothes at The Modist. Necklace by Sothebys Diamonds. Hair: Mahogany. Make-up: Charlotte Tilbury at Fenwick of Bond Street.