A woman in uniform: Angelina Jolie

Los Angeles-based professional organizer John Trosko tipped us off to an interview with actress Angelina Jolie in the December issue of Vogue. In the article, “The Other Angelina,” Jolie talks about the monochromatic nature of her wardrobe and how this helps to keep it small:

“As Brad’ll tell you — and my kids — apparently Mommy only wears black,” [Jolie] says. Because she was a Goth, right? No, she says, it’s utilitarian, it’s practical: “I like to get up so every pair of pants goes with every top, every dress goes with every shoe. I’ve a very tiny closet. Brad’s always laughing at me. Some days, yes, I have the nightgown that looks like a dress that I can sleep in and pick the kids up at school. And maybe take a meeting if I switch into heels.”

I don’t know if all four of her closets are small (the article mentions she has four homes around the world), or just the one in L.A., but knowing at least one female celebrity is capable of keeping clutter out of her closet is inspiring. I also don’t know what nightgown can be worn around town without people knowing you’re wearing a nightgown in public, but I think it’s a wonderfully minimalistic idea if it does exist.

Regardless of how many small closets she has or what designer has created a day-to-nightgown, Jolie’s overall strategy for keeping clutter out of your closet makes sense: A wardrobe of all coordinating, multi-functioning pieces is helpful when maintaining a small wardrobe.

47 Comments for “A woman in uniform: Angelina Jolie”

  1. posted by J on

    I agree with her – I have a ‘mommy uniform’ of jeans and a nice tee-shirt. I definitely cannot walk around in a nightgown thought. (Of course I am not Angelena Jolie – that woman would look great in a trash bag!)

  2. posted by Jennifer on

    I have also read that this is why she tends to dress her kids in simple, unisex white/gray/black clothing. She passes things on from one child to the next, and since they travel so much, she wants to be able to throw clothes in a bag and go without worrying too much about wardrobe.

  3. posted by yvette on

    awesome! I was feeling guilty for having a 75% black wardrobe. the style pressure to add color is a ploy to buy more accessories to coordinate. I.e. CLUTTER !!

  4. posted by Marjory Thrash on

    Nope…..I don’t buy this. She may wear black at home in her personal life, but she has a very busy public life; for those she’s wearing other people’s clothing, picked by her dresser or whatever. She’s doing advertising. Think Rachel Zoe.

  5. posted by Sue on

    This would be ok to wear ‘in public’


    in long or short sleeve
    longer or shorter length

    it was my first thought when I read her comment.

    Or you could do what I do… find “regular” clothes; tshirt & soft pants, and where those as pajamas. Use comfortable clothes as pajamas.

  6. posted by Sue on

    not “where”

    “wear those as pajamas”

    I need more coffee….

  7. posted by Alix on

    What I don’t understand is why they covered her with a tarp on the Vogue cover. Is she supposed to be at a barber shop?

  8. posted by Jen on

    @Marjory – i agree. i don’t buy it. i do believe that she wears mostly black out of simplicity, and i would believe that she has a smaller wardrobe than most other celebrities, but that she wears a nightgown to pick up the children and then go to a meeting? i don’t think so. i think the whole story is exaggerated (by her or the writer, i’m not sure).

    and, while i think it is a good idea in general to have the kids’ clothes all in similar, unisex colors, i’ve taken a different approach. i just don’t care what my son wears. he picks out his own clothes most of the time, and they are all different colors and i just don’t care if they match. it’s liberating. though i can’t claim his wardrobe is uncluttered – we get so many hand-me-downs that he has a gigantic wardrobe, way bigger than he really needs. saves me from doing laundry more than once a week though!

  9. posted by Mich on

    J Jill also has some exceedingly simple day dresses that feel just as good as a nightgown. If you approach it from that direction, I am sure there are a lot of companies that make dresses that can pull 24-hour duty.
    I have always felt that Angelina (in recent years) has a very European way of dressing…simple, high quality and monochromatic, while featuring a handful of beloved accessories. Nice to see a super star with such a grounded approach to fashion.

  10. posted by Kathryn Fenner on

    I wear a knit dress from Garnet Hill as a summer nightgown.


    It wasn’t super-flattering as a dress–the dirndl skirt was a killer on my ample hips, but it works as a nightgown–the nice and thick bodice is somewhat supportive.

    I also wear those shelf bra tanks and cotton knit workout shorts or pants, with a cardi or not as need be. I have only one genuine set of dedicated nightwear….

  11. posted by Julia on

    This reminded me of a dear friend, many years ago, who simplified her life by wearing only white. Eventually the white color spread through her life – she had a white car, white furniture in her white painted/carpeted home, white dishes, etc.

    It was her personal bit of “zing,” and she was affectionately known as “the woman in white.” (She even taught me that there are white vegetables – asparagus and eggplant are the ones I remember.

    Sheila, you were a huge loss and I think of you often.

  12. posted by Rhian on

    Neil Gaiman’s also famous for only wearing black, because that way all of his clothes match.

    Apparently he used to only wear grey, but there are too many different shades.

  13. posted by Claycat on

    I read that article about Jamie Leigh Curtis doing the same thing, wearing black. Not long ago, I oriented my clothing in this direction. I don’t just wear black, but I do mostly wear darker colors. My wardrobe is one of the few things in my life that is somewhat minimal. It makes life so much easier!

  14. posted by Letitia on

    I think this could qualify as a nice nightgown for outdoor use….

  15. posted by Keter on

    I have a black satin short bathrobe that has a subtle Oriental dark red and dark green print on it that I wear as a jacket frequently. I have received tons of compliments on it and not a single question other than “where did you get it?” Until the wore out, I used a pair or black satin pajama pants as evening pants. They looked sharp. The thickness and quality of the material is what makes nightwear capable of being worn as daywear successfully.

    I have a naturally large bust and a serious problem getting bras that fit (and all make my back and shoulders hurt), so this summer I found some brightly colored shelf-bra heavyweight stretch camisoles, added some extra elastic to the shelf-bra, and covered the straps with coordinating fabric…resulting in all-in-one summer tops that I also wear as undergarments. (I would not recommend this as outerwear for someone who is much overweight.)

    OTOH, some daywear I see in stores looks like pajamas – plaid pants with exposed elastic tops? No one looks good in them, but I see them around town all the time.

  16. posted by Anita on

    I don’t buy it either, for the reasons mentioned by Marjory. Most of the outfits you see her in at public events, in photo shoots etc are not all-black. Or at least most of the ones I remember aren’t.

    Also: just because a top and bottom are the same colour, it doesn’t mean they match. Fabric, cut, style… all feed into whether 2 items of clothing go together.

  17. posted by Anita on

    Oops, pressed the “Submit” button too soon.

    Also meant to say: just like clothes don’t necessarily match just by virtue of being the same colour, clothes don’t have to be the same colour to match/go together. If you want all your clothes to match, pick a specific style, a specific set of colour combinations, a specific set of fabrics. You’ll have just as utilitarian a wardrobe, but hopefully a far less boring and depressing one as well.

  18. posted by trillie on

    I think other celebrities are on to that nightgown/dress idea 😉 http://gofugyourself.celebuzz......11610.html

  19. posted by Karen on

    I recently read an article about Jamie Leigh Curtis and she does have an all black and white wardrobe. She’s pretty in to being organized as well. I would not call her minimalist since she has a huge collection of tubs in her basement full of stuff. I do give her credit for the stuff being organized and labeled to easily find.

    I don’t think I could go monochromatic. I do stick to neutrals of grey, black, brown and cream and my colors are green, blue, red and eggplant (very little of eggplant). This works for me because I can wear accessories for many outfits. I’m sure I can refine it more.

  20. posted by Jen on

    Could owning four houses and all the contents within be considered clutter?

  21. posted by lola meyer on

    The simple wardrobe idea is ‘spot on’. I just spent 3 weeks traveling with one small carry on bag. It was wonderful not to have a bunch of stuff to deal with.
    My Royal Robbins light weight travel pants were the superstars. They keep their shape, are so comfy, and spots wipe off easily! Add a couple of black shirts and colorful scarves and you are good to go.
    Now that I’m home, I think I need to go ‘edit’ my closet!

  22. posted by Joe on

    Since Angelina is hotter then the surface of the sun, I think she really could just own one outfit and wear it everywhere (weather permitting) and not a soul would care or be the wiser.

  23. posted by ninakk on

    I just realized I’ve worn the same black pair of sneakers all Fall. I have other nice shoes too, but they aren’t on display all the time (small closet at the entry), so I tend to forget about them. Right now my wardrobe is in no man’s land, doesn’t know in what direction to go next. I think I will take over and decide “toward monochromatic”; I liked black and wore it a lot years ago, then got bored. It’s time for good-quality stuff that lasts long and has a very classic look. My scarves for all seasons as well as brooches and other “glitter” will make them shinier. Good for you, Angelina, nice example.

  24. posted by Julia1060 on

    She seems incredibly focused and clear about what matters to her. It would make sense that that spreads to being clear in others areas of her life. And, yes, a perk of being a celebrity is being able to sport drop dead gorgeous fashion…but not having to clean it, maintain it or own it is even better.

  25. posted by ecuadoriana on

    I agree with Yvette: “…the style pressure to add color is a ploy to buy more accessories…”

    For me it’s two colors: Black and green. My pants, jeans, skirts, shorts, dresses, and shoes are black. That way they go with anything and everything. My favorite color, however, is green, so that’s my “spike” color and it’s not a trend color because I’ve been wearing green & black for most of my life!

    I have black, green, and black & green tops. I have one super sweet & sexy emerald green satin dress for dressy occasions. It has black trim so any pair of black shoes will go with it. And I have one skirt that is black with green trim. I used to have one pair of dark green jeans, but I wore them for so long that they literally fell apart. Haven’t been able to find a similar pair since. One black short coat, a black hoodie, one dark green wool poncho, one long dark green wool coat.

    All my clothes hung in the closet (including the coats) take up a space of 45″. I have two small drawers- one for socks & underwear, one for junky tee shirts & shorts for cleaning, gardening, painting, putzing. It’s funny, with all the green my husband says that going into my closet is like stepping out of the wardrobe and into the woodlands of Narnia!

    And it IS possible to have a night gown that doubles as a dress! I have a cute black velvet/lace, knee length, spaghetti strap negligee that I wear when I go out dancing. While I wouldn’t wear it to the grocery store (waaay too sexy) it works fine for a night out of hot salsa dancing! I get a lot of compliments from women asking me where I got it. When I tell them off the mark down lingerie rack at Goodwill they can’t believe it!

    So, yeah, sure, Angelina Jolie wears and advertises fancy colorful designer clothes when she’s “on the carpet” and at other Hollywood functions. But that’s her JOB! People who work in places that require a uniform with the company logo emblazoned across the back or front of the shirt are doing the SAME thing- they are advertising the company they work for! (Difference is she gets paid a LOT more than the plumber or exterminator or the cashier at the grocery store get paid! But then again, WE could choose to work our butts off in Hollywood and give up our private lives, too, if we wanted! But we don’t. LOL!)

  26. posted by ecuadoriana on

    Recently I had re read a post from Erin from last year about holding onto clothes from the past, or holding onto the “what if/just in case” clothes. It had inspired me to weed through and get rid of those clothes that were from high school, college, failed pregnancies, “corporate world” clothes, etc. that I wasn’t wearing any longer- or probably SHOULDN’T wear any longer! It’s so hilarious, but THEY were all green and black clothes! When I think about it I must have looked like a giant walking booger back in high school with all those green clothes! Explains why I never got asked out on dates! LOL!

  27. posted by Carolyn on

    I love the idea of wearing black and a simplified wardrobe. Trouble is, black just doesn’t look good on me — I look sick and washed out. The other problem is, I love color. So I’m conflicted. Someday maybe I’ll get it figured out!

  28. posted by ecuadoriana on

    @ Carolyn- my friend had a similar problem. Black made her look older than her age. She said she felt like she looked like an old widow in perpetual mourning- “All I need is a black veil and just point me to a funeral.” All white made her look like a walking ghost (completing the Death Theme!) And she couldn’t decide on a signature color because “I love ’em all!”

    So she bit the bullet and found a color expert who helped her not only find the clothing colors that worked best for her figure, hair, and skin tones, but also helped her with her makeup choices- turned out the eye shadows & lipsticks she liked & still wore from high school did not grow up and mature with her facial structure!

    It did her a world of good- helped tone down the color cacophony that was her closet, she was taken more seriously at her job, and it really helped her self confidence around men. She no longer felt like the Partridge Family bus every time she walked out the door.

    Her colors turned out to be reds, with black accents. Red is a color that would never look good on me! And wow! does she look stunning, even when she’s just wearing a pair of slacks & top & heading to the grocery store!

    For her it was money well spent!

  29. posted by KathyG on

    I call shenanigans on this. Just like the articles in which the middle-aged dewy thin actress with DD’s claims she doesn’t diet, exercise or get plastic surgery.

    Just consider the staff that BrAngela Inc. with 4 homes and multiple children must require! (she’s seriously concerned about clutter? EyeRoll) I think she just doesn’t have much style/fashion sense so it is easier for her to default to the black clothes–hundreds of us do. Honestly? Admitting that would make her seem more human.

  30. posted by Kim on

    I tried the black and white wardrobe once for a long time. Simplicity was acheived but after a while, it got extremely boring.

  31. posted by JC on

    My husband gives me yardage of very nice fabrics as gifts. He picks them out himself and fortunately has good taste and an eye for quality. It’s also fortunate that pinks and reds are good colors for me because lately he’s been gravitating towards those hues.

  32. posted by LT on

    She isn’t talking about what she wears to public events. She’s talking about what she wears on her own time. I’ve seen many photos snapped of her in airports & she’s ALWAYS wearing black. Usually a loose fitting dress & flats. Sometimes black top & slacks instead.

  33. posted by Anne on

    The costumes (and they are costumes, not everyday clothes!) for events are mostly borrowed from the designers; I doubt whether she considers those part of her wardrobe.

  34. posted by Gianna on

    Sounds nice, but honestly wearing black all day just makes me feel depressed. I discovered some time ago how much fun I had when wearing bright colors and how much better I felt, so I will definitely not change to black! I prefer to sort out my closet twice a year than go all black.
    And regarding the pj-dress, nice idea, but I don’t feel awake when I wear my pj all day and changing to my pj in the evening gives my body and mind the signal that it is now time to relax.

  35. posted by JustGail on

    While all black wardrobe will not work for everyone, I think the concept is good – find a color that works for you, and build around it. You don’t have to wear that color only, but make sure all the colors you do buy go with it.

    As far as what Angelina wears to public appearances, she’s got the “star power” that designers would love to loan her their clothes for the publicity.

  36. posted by Nat on

    I agree with Anne. If I had people letting me borrow their clothes all the time, I’d have a very small wardrobe of black clothes too.

  37. posted by Leonie on

    We have a year round resident and one in the mountains for summer hiking and winter sking….that I don’t have to lug ski gear from the south to colorado every december is awesome. and we have a home in europe.

    I don’t understand why some people assume having more than one home is clutter….

  38. posted by Leonie on

    opps typo…year round residence….in the south. ie this is the area where my kids go to school and I work.

  39. posted by Jen on

    A single person owning multipe homes which requires multiple contents could be viewed as cluttering the planet. Simplifying one’s wardrobe is admirable, but there is always the broader context of one’s lefestyle choices to consider.

  40. posted by Jen on

    Sorry, typo: meant to say “lifestyle choices”.

  41. posted by Lee on

    I have several white J. Peterman night shirts and wear them all year. In an emergency, I have added jeans or leggings and a belt and maybe a piece of jewelry. Definitely works for answering the door and driving the kids. I would wear this to some places but not all.

    The book “Color Me Younger” suggests that black may not look good near a woman’s face as she ages and suggests gray instead. Their photos made the point. The book also suggests adjustments in clothing, makeup, and hair, plus covers other subjects. I found it helpful.

  42. posted by stargazngal on

    I have a tiny closet myself, so I totally understand having a utilitarian wardrobe. I’ve see several pictures of Angelina over the years wearing a loose black dress, which may very well be the nightgown she was talking about. I’ve read some real critical comments from people about that it…that it looks like a sack and she wears it all the time…looks comfortable to me, lol.

  43. posted by Ninjanun on

    Another reason stars such as Angelina would opt to wear a subdued, monochromatic wardrobe when they don’t have to be “on” for the cameras may be due to the Paparazzi. Pictures of Angelina wearing a distinctive outfit could be sold to Style or Glamour magazine for a nice price, but several pictures of her wearing basically the same outfit again and again would probably get passed over entirely. This helps cut down on not being hounded by the paparazzi, and gets rid of the annoying side business of people making money off your image without your consent.

  44. posted by Kimberly on

    I’ve done a monochromatic wardrobe for years now. I wear mainly black, white, and gray. Everything pretty much goes with everything. It works out really well, keeps life simple, and saves money (I already have pants and shoes to match that new top.)

  45. posted by Patch on

    Amen JustGail. Wardrobe is another thing I’m currently downsizing. I love wearing black pants, but my actual complexion is Autumn so I’ll stick more with those colors ONLY during the closet re-do. And every top I add will have to go with every bottom I own, or else I don’t need it.

    Quick quiz to help focus your style (esp. for women 40+), with celeb examples of each: Are you a Classic, Casual, Romantic, Dramatic, Innovative, or Alluring?
    Of course, this was marginal help to me because I found something to like in all the categories *sigh*

  46. posted by Sabrina Mix on

    Maybe she uses the Tim Gunn’s 10 pieces theory. But all pieces in black color. Maybe…

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