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Celebrity Stylist Olori Swank Teaches Us How To Master The Art Of A Successful Closet Purge

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We are all guilty of keeping things that we need to let go. There's a comfortability with certain items that causes us to death grip them even though we have clearly outgrown them. For example, that bandage dress that's no longer flattering, or that white shirt that is more yellow these days - it's time to let it go, sis!


Summer will be knocking on our doors come June 21st, and it is our duties to be fully prepared with an effective wardrobe. You should feel joy and excitement to curate a look everyday. Take it from boss babe and celebrity stylist Olori Swank. Olori Swank told us, "Style is how you introduce yourself without opening your mouth. Make sure you're saying all the right things."

In order for you to say all the right things, you need unerring staples that will be indisputable.

Did you know that Olori Swank had dreams of being a doctor? Instead, she opted to heal hearts through fashion. From Teyana Taylor to Lance Gross, Swank is a hot commodity in the fashion industry, so she knows a thing or two about styling and closet purging. Being a serial entrepreneur has also taught her lessons on looking like money without spending too much of it. Swank told ESSENCE, "Being fashionable is really being able to express yourself with what you have. I know people who will spend $10,000 on a jacket and the jacket looks terrible because they didn't know how to put it together. And then you'll have a girl who went to Goodwill and spent $15 on her whole outfit and everyone is asking her where she got it from. There's no direct correlation between how much you spend and how fashionable you are."

We had a chance to chop it up with the blue haired beauty to learn tips and tricks for a successful closet purge. Here's the tea!

Where To Start

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"The one thing is: any item you've not worn in nine months to a year. Nine times out of ten, if you haven't worn it in forever, it's a sign it needs to go. It may not fit well, the trend might be over, it may be damaged, or you may not like even like it; whatever the reason may be, it's time to get rid of it."

The Truth About "Goal" Items

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"Many women see something in a store that they absolutely love but can't quite fit (yet). I do think having ONE goal item is your closet isn't going to kill you; however, if you find yourself in a situation where a lot of the items in your closet are 'goal' items, not only may it discourage you from dressing sharp everyday, it may also cause you to have the 'I have a closet full of clothes, and nothing to wear' syndrome. If you find yourself in this position, it's definitely time for a closet purge!"

The Key To A Successful Closet Purge

"Closet purges are very important! So important that I dedicate a whole section to them in my 101: TheBlueprint For A SWANK Life book. The proper way to purge your closet is to start with items you have not worn in nine months to a year and let them go. Next, let go of items that are too small or too big since nine times out of ten, you will not wear them because they don't fit. Don't fool yourself with the excuse, 'I'll grow into it' or, 'I'll lose weight for it.'

"Another question to ask yourself is, 'What's the likelihood I'll ever wear that item again?' A lot of us have items in our closet that we love; they are so memorable, unique, and distinctive but we are embarrassed to be caught wearing them twice. Unless it's an item that holds extreme sentimental value, like a wedding dress or a vintage sweater passed down from your grandmother, let it go. You should also get rid of any items that are damaged, or don't represent your current style of dress. If a zipper is broken or a button is missing, and you've been saying for the longest time that you were going to get it fixed, and you've yet to get it fixed, most likely you are not going to wear that item again. There's no need to leave it in your closet taking up space when it's not even in the best condition for you to pull out and put on if you feel like wearing it. Also ask yourself, if you were in the mall shopping right now and you were standing in front of this item, would you buy it? If the answer is 'no,' then it is time to let that item go. It's not uncommon for us to love something in the store, buy it, get home, never wear it and then not like it anymore.

"Don't let buyer's remorse be the reason you keep something in your closet especially when you don't intend to wear it. You can donate those items to a battered women's shelter and feel just as good about yourself as the day you bought it. Remember, one woman's 'yikes, I hate this,' is another woman's 'oh my God, I love this.' Lastly, ask yourself if you feel comfortable in an item. If the last time you wore that dress you broke out in hives in front of a dinner party of twenty people, the likelihood of you wearing that dress again, no matter how cute it is, is slim to none."

"One woman's 'Yikes, I hate this,' is another woman's 'Oh my God, I love this.'"

Everyday Closet Essentials

According to Olori, every woman should have these essential items in their wardrobe at all times:

  1. A black suit (comprised of black pants & a sharp blazer that they can either wear together or separately),
  2. A little black dress that makes her feel like a star in any room she walks in,
  3. A white collar dress shirt,
  4. A pair of jeans that fit her like a dream,
  5. A leather jacket,
  6. A pair of classic black pumps,
  7. A pair of nude pumps,
  8. A pair of ballet flats,
  9. A leather daytime bag,
  10. An evening clutch,
  11. And a great pair of sunglasses that suit her face.

The Golden Rule For Maintaining An Effective Wardrobe

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"Buy only what you love and what you feel confident in. Don't feel pressured to follow every single trend. Invest in quality staple pieces that you can have for years, but don't spend too much money on trendier items you know won't last long in your wardrobe."

Want more stories like this? Check out these xoNecole related reads:

Host Kela Walker Gives Us Tips For A Bomb Work Wardrobe

Dress Layering Is A Thing & This Is How You Do It

30 Closet Staples Every Woman Should Own In Their Wardrobe

ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Over the past four years, we grew accustomed to a regular barrage of blatant, segregationist-style racism from the White House. Donald Trump tweeted that “the Squad," four Democratic Congresswomen who are Black, Latinx, and South Asian, should “go back" to the “corrupt" countries they came from; that same year, he called Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas," mocking her belief that she might be descended from Native American ancestors.

But as outrageous as the racist comments Trump regularly spewed were, the racially unjust governmental actions his administration took and, in the case of COVID-19, didn't take, impacted millions more — especially Black and Brown people.

To begin to heal and move toward real racial justice, we must address not only the harms of the past four years, but also the harms tracing back to this country's origins. Racism has played an active role in the creation of our systems of education, health care, ownership, and employment, and virtually every other facet of life since this nation's founding.

Our history has shown us that it's not enough to take racist policies off the books if we are going to achieve true justice. Those past policies have structured our society and created deeply-rooted patterns and practices that can only be disrupted and reformed with new policies of similar strength and efficacy. In short, a systemic problem requires a systemic solution. To combat systemic racism, we must pursue systemic equality.

What is Systemic Racism?

A system is a collection of elements that are organized for a common purpose. Racism in America is a system that combines economic, political, and social components. That system specifically disempowers and disenfranchises Black people, while maintaining and expanding implicit and explicit advantages for white people, leading to better opportunities in jobs, education, and housing, and discrimination in the criminal legal system. For example, the country's voting systems empower white voters at the expense of voters of color, resulting in an unequal system of governance in which those communities have little voice and representation, even in policies that directly impact them.

Systemic Equality is a Systemic Solution

In the years ahead, the ACLU will pursue administrative and legislative campaigns targeting the Biden-Harris administration and Congress. We will leverage legal advocacy to dismantle systemic barriers, and will work with our affiliates to change policies nearer to the communities most harmed by these legacies. The goal is to build a nation where every person can achieve their highest potential, unhampered by structural and institutional racism.

To begin, in 2021, we believe the Biden administration and Congress should take the following crucial steps to advance systemic equality:

Voting Rights

The administration must issue an executive order creating a Justice Department lead staff position on voting rights violations in every U.S. Attorney office. We are seeing a flood of unlawful restrictions on voting across the country, and at every level of state and local government. This nationwide problem requires nationwide investigatory and enforcement resources. Even if it requires new training and approval protocols, a new voting rights enforcement program with the participation of all 93 U.S. Attorney offices is the best way to help ensure nationwide enforcement of voting rights laws.

These assistant U.S. attorneys should begin by ensuring that every American in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons who is eligible to vote can vote, and monitor the Census and redistricting process to fight the dilution of voting power in communities of color.

We are also calling on Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to finally create a fair and equal national voting system, the cause for which John Lewis devoted his life.

Student Debt

Black borrowers pay more than other students for the same degrees, and graduate with an average of $7,400 more in debt than their white peers. In the years following graduation, the debt gap more than triples. Nearly half of Black borrowers will default within 12 years. In other words, for Black Americans, the American dream costs more. Last week, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, along with House Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Maxine Waters, and others, called on President Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower.

We couldn't agree more. By forgiving $50,000 of student debt, President Biden can unleash pent up economic potential in Black communities, while relieving them of a burden that forestalls so many hopes and dreams. Black women in particular will benefit from this executive action, as they are proportionately the most indebted group of all Americans.

Postal Banking

In both low and high income majority-Black communities, traditional bank branches are 50 percent more likely to close than in white communities. The result is that nearly 50 percent of Black Americans are unbanked or underbanked, and many pay more than $2,000 in fees associated with subprime financial institutions. Over their lifetime, those fees can add up to as much as two years of annual income for the average Black family.

The U.S. Postal Service can and should meet this crisis by providing competitive, low-cost financial services to help advance economic equality. We call on President Biden to appoint new members to the Postal Board of Governors so that the Post Office can do the work of providing essential services to every American.

Fair Housing

Across the country, millions of people are living in communities of concentrated poverty, including 26 percent of all Black children. The Biden administration should again implement the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, which required localities that receive federal funds for housing to investigate and address barriers to fair housing and patterns or practices that promote bias. In 1980, the average Black person lived in a neighborhood that was 62 percent Black and 31 percent white. By 2010, the average Black person's neighborhood was 48 percent Black and 34 percent white. Reinstating the Obama-era Fair Housing Rule will combat this ongoing segregation and set us on a path to true integration.

Congress should also pass the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, or a similar measure, to finally redress the legacy of redlining and break down the walls of segregation once and for all.

Broadband Access

To realize broadband's potential to benefit our democracy and connect us to one another, all people in the United States must have equal access and broadband must be made affordable for the most vulnerable. Yet today, 15 percent of American households with school-age children do not have subscriptions to any form of broadband, including one-quarter of Black households (an additional 23 percent of African Americans are “smartphone-only" internet users, meaning they lack traditional home broadband service but do own a smartphone, which is insufficient to attend class, do homework, or apply for a job). The Biden administration, Federal Communications Commission, and Congress must develop and implement plans to increase funding for broadband to expand universal access.

Enhanced, Refundable Child Tax Credits

The United States faces a crisis of child poverty. Seventeen percent of all American children are impoverished — a rate higher than not just peer nations like Canada and the U.K., but Mexico and Russia as well. Currently, more than 50 percent of Black and Latinx children in the U.S. do not qualify for the full benefit, compared to 23 percent of white children, and nearly one in five Black children do not receive any credit at all.

To combat this crisis, President Biden and Congress should enhance the child tax credit and make it fully refundable. If we enhance the child tax credit, we can cut child poverty by 40 percent and instantly lift over 50 percent of Black children out of poverty.

Reparations

We cannot repair harms that we have not fully diagnosed. We must commit to a thorough examination of the impact of the legacy of chattel slavery on racial inequality today. In 2021, Congress must pass H.R. 40, which would establish a commission to study reparations and make recommendations for Black Americans.

The Long View

For the past century, the ACLU has fought for racial justice in legislatures and in courts, including through several landmark Supreme Court cases. While the court has not always ruled in favor of racial justice, incremental wins throughout history have helped to chip away at different forms of racism such as school segregation ( Brown v. Board), racial bias in the criminal legal system (Powell v. Alabama, i.e. the Scottsboro Boys), and marriage inequality (Loving v. Virginia). While these landmark victories initiated necessary reforms, they were only a starting point.

Systemic racism continues to pervade the lives of Black people through voter suppression, lack of financial services, housing discrimination, and other areas. More than anything, doing this work has taught the ACLU that we must fight on every front in order to overcome our country's legacies of racism. That is what our Systemic Equality agenda is all about.

In the weeks ahead, we will both expand on our views of why these campaigns are crucial to systemic equality and signal the path this country must take. We will also dive into our work to build organizing, advocacy, and legal power in the South — a region with a unique history of racial oppression and violence alongside a rich history of antiracist organizing and advocacy. We are committed to four principles throughout this campaign: reconciliation, access, prosperity, and empowerment. We hope that our actions can meet our ambition to, as Dr. King said, lead this nation to live out the true meaning of its creed.

What you can do:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
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