Work From Home Style Diary: The Secret Benefits of Spring Cleaning

In her weekly column, Work From Home Style Diary, FN Style Director Shannon Adducci takes a real-life, no-filter look at the meaning of fashion and style during the time of quarantine and social distancing. 

Spring cleaning activities always ramp up right around now, but this time it seems like there are no excuses. As stay-at-home orders are continuously extended, it’s difficult to find justification in further procrastinating. Ambitions of an upside-down, Marie Kondo-style reorganization of home spaces abound on social media.

I still find it daunting. I’m not even a messy person — family, friends and colleagues can all attest that I love a clean kitchen (and even more so now). But my apprehension has less to do with common spaces (which I tend to reorganize every day, all day) and more about my closet.

I have always found the space to be a constant battleground. Part of that has to do with my occupation; most fashion editors’ closets read as smaller versions of the office closets they work in, with a frequent rotation of product through trends and seasons. Over the past few years as sustainability has become personally more important to me, I have reevaluated this system, option out of fast fashion and using consignment sites like The RealReal to both buy and sell my clothing, shoes and accessories.

But trying a lot of different shoes is still technically part of my job. It’s also the part of closet organization that always confounds me. Like most people who live in New York City, I have not been blessed by the closet gods. In all of the apartments I’ve resided in, through my 12 years in the city, I’ve struggled to squeeze my wardrobe into laughably small spaces. And that’s before I’ve even considered where to put my shoes.

Part of the problem has to do with an unrealistic portrayal of closets in pop culture. When Mariah Carey showed the world her “shoe room” on a 2002 episode of MTC “Cribs,” my expectations — and those of millions more — were forever changed. But it wasn’t just the singer’s 2000+ pair collection on display as if they were in a high end boutique. From Cher Horowitz’s ahead-of-her-time digital closet system in “Clueless,” to Jennifer Garner’s fantasy fashion editor closet in “13 Going on 30,” my youth and young adulthood was peppered with these images. Watching Carrie Bradshaw get a closet as a marriage proposal (complete with a Manolo Blahnik engagement pump) in the 2008 “Sex and the City” only added fuel to the fire. (Even Carrie’s pass-through closet in her studio apartment was three times the size of any NYC closet I’ve ever had.)

We may have set some very unrealistic standards when it comes to shoe organizing, but this month I have vowed to finally get a handle on my expectations by finding real solutions. Over the years, FN has compiled a good catalog of organizational tips and tools to try to help keep shoes in order, so I combed through them (admittedly over not just one but three weekendsand). My own personal solution seems to be a mixture of bringing shoes out into the open and purchasing the right shelving. I’ve also discarded a good amount of items, which are still sitting at home in a bag until donation centers like the Salvation Army and Goodwill deem it safe enough to accept items in my area(for anyone who’s wondering, these

My organizational transformation is under way, but the best part of the spring cleaning process has been the rediscovery of my shoes. Every pair that I have kept comes with a crystal-clear memory of the places I’ve been or the person I was when I was wearing those shoes. In a time of at-home introspection, looking back to joyful memories to keep us moving forward, that’s reason enough to keep cleaning.

Here are five shoes — and shoe memories — I’ve rediscovered in my closet clean-out:

  1. Burberry Check Wellington

I may not have worn them quite as often as I wore Uggs in the mid 2000’s, but Burberry’s classic check rain boot is still a strong totem of my college years. Worn through my study-abroad travels in Spain, to music festivals and even just house parties, I was shocked when I did the math and counted them as my oldest pair of shoes still in my closet — they are exactly 15 years old. They went out of style a while ago, but I never had the heart to throw them away. As Burberry’s check makes a comeback, I’m starting to wear these sporadically.

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Burberry check rain boot.
CREDIT: Courtesy of Burberry

To buy: Burberry check rain boot, $390.

2. G.H. Bass penny loafers

My mom used to buy me baby versions of G.H. Bass loafers for holidays like Easter, so when I got my very first pair as an adult last year, it meant a lot more than the usual pair of flats. The look of the penny loafer also brings me back to the prep-school look of my childhood in the late ’80s and early ’90s; in fact, Weejuns (a subset of penny loafers from Bass) are listed as the number one loafer in the Preppy Handbook.

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G.H. Bass penny loafer.
CREDIT: Courtesy of G.H. Bass & Co.

To buy: G.H. Bass Diane penny loafer, $85 (was $110). 

3. Timberland boots

Timberlands have a strong history in pop culture, but when I look at my first pair I can’t help but think of all the DIY home improvement projects I did when my partner and I first bought our house. Timberland purists would scoff at the scuffs on my classic 6-inch boots, but I wear them as badges of honor from the hours of labor I’ve put in.

timberland, boots, timberland boots
Timberland classic 6-inch boot.
CREDIT: Courtesy of Zappos

To buy: Timberland six-inch boot, $170.

4. Christian Louboutin snakeskin

My first pair of Louboutins were purchased on a credit card in 2008, right before the September crash of the recession. For me, they represent not only the excess of the time but also my early years living in New York City, when I could (and would) stay out all night dancing. These sandals saw many a nightclub.

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Christian Louboutin snakeskin platform sandals from 2008.
CREDIT: Courtesy of Tradesy

To buy: Christian Louboutin vintage snakeskin platform sandals, $720.

5. Alaïa cutout booties

I bought these shoes on my first work trip to Paris in 2012. I had read that Alaïa had a “secret” stock shop on a tiny street in the Marais, and I was determined to find it and buy a pair of shoes. After getting lost for half an hour, I found a small courtyard where a shop the size of a closet was filled with five women trying on shoes and the designer’s iconic stretch-knit dresses. These cutout booties feel like the equivalent of a glove for my feet, and they still feel like a prize.

azzedine alaia, cutout booties
Azzedine Aläia laser cut bootie.
CREDIT: Courtesy of Azzedine Aläia

To buy: Azzedine Aläia lasercut bootie, $1,370. 

All products featured have been independently selected and curated by our editorial team. If you buy something through our retail links, we may earn commission and the retailer may receive certain auditable data for accounting purposes. 

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