Clos-ette Too is all about researching and developing the very best hangers and accessories for your wardrobe. But after speaking with the oh-so-charming Nigel Barker, we think he might be the perfect addition to one’s closet. First, there’s the fact that he’s made a veritable career out of helping women look their best (17 “cycles” as an America’s Next Top Model judge will do that for you). The noted fashion photog has even written a book on the topic – 2010’s Nigel Barker’s Beauty Equation: Revealing a Better and More Beautiful You. Then there’s his self-confessed neat freak tendencies, and –wait for it –the fact that he actually enjoys picking out his wife Crissy’s clothes. Be still our beating hearts.
Here, Barker dishes on his penchant for color-coding, favorite old t-shirt, and the one thing he thinks every woman should own.
How would you describe your personal style?
I have a slight joke about my personal style: I call it “the fashion mullet,” which is basically business on top and party on the bottom. And the reason being, a lot of times, especially on Top Model, you only see me from the waist up. So I’ll wear a shirt and a jacket and sometimes even a tie, and then I’ll wear jeans and Converse. Even when I’m out and about, that’s sort of ended up becoming my style. When I have to shoot, I have to been physical and maybe crawl on the ground if I’m taking a picture. So, I’ll turn up to a shoot in a shirt and jacket and jeans, but then I’ll take the jacket off. [Our Signature Coat Hangers are the best of their kind].
Which labels dominate your shelf space?
Mostly my wardrobe consists of Ted Baker. They’ve actually been dressing me for about a decade. I shoot their ad campaign and I work a lot with them in many different capacities. It’s a great English designer –they’re a little quirky, they have a lot of fun colors and stripes and what have you. I particularly go for things with stripes –I always have. As far as jeans, I’ve been wearing a label called Vintage Revolution for about six months, and I now have about eight pairs. They’re perfect for me. And then with shoes, I’m quite fussy. I like them to be really well-made. I have a lot of Tod’s. Right now I’m wearing Tod’s driving shoes, which I love –they’re almost like slippers, but kind of smart at the same time. I also wear a lot of English shoes made by companies like Church’s – you know, well-made, expensive shoes. But I always feel with shoes, if you buy an expensive shoe, it lasts.
What should every woman have in her closet?
I happen to purchase all my wife’s shoes and clothes. She pretty much doesn’t shop – I do all of the clothes shopping. I’m a huge shoe person, so it has to be Christian Louboutin. Every woman should have at least one pair –and if you are my wife, many pairs. Unfortunately for me –or fortunately for me –there’s a Louboutin store on the street where I live. I cross it rather frequently, and I just noticed that Jimmy Choo is opening up just around the corner as well, so I’m really in a mess. But I think every woman should have a beautiful classic black pump no matter what. I know they have multiple versions of that. It doesn’t have to be outrageous. But a decent heel –at least three inches, and really four if you can do it –that for me is something everyone should have.
Who’s more organized – you or your wife?
I’m very organized. She’s not very organized. Her clothes are everywhere in terms of summer clothes with winter clothes, short and long together, different colors. My side is all done by color. So I have only white shirts in one section, then it’s completely color-coordinated: green, red, blue, brown, black, grey. You know, the whole way through. I try to do it like a rainbow.
Have you always been such a neat freak?
Yes, I have, and not just in my closet –everything in life. I kind of like things to be ordered and in a certain place. I’m the sort of person who will go into the bathroom and put the toothbrush back in the holder, and put the top back on the tooth paste, and that kind of stuff. [Our Folding Boards and Acrylic Shelf Dividers are the ultimate ‘neat freak’ accessories].
How do you stay organized on the road?
Funnily enough, my wife does the packing. I will pull out all the clothes, and she’ll pack them. She’s really good: she’ll fold everything really perfectly and neatly, and she’s very good about dealing with space in the suitcase. I’ll be the one to pull out [the clothes] and say ‘wear this, wear this, wear this.’ She will pull out her own looks, but she’ll often ask me, ‘should I bring this? should I bring that?’ And I would never ask her what I was going to bring!
What’s the most cherished piece in your closet?
Well, funny you should say that. I have a t-shirt [from] a company my brother had when I was a kid. It was a company called Xaymaca. It was this great black t-shirt, and I actually had a few at the time, but I’ve only got one remaining. My wife has asked me to throw it away a few times, and now she realizes not only will I not throw it away, it will probably end up framed on the wall at some point. It’s just one of those things that, as a kid, I remember putting it on, and it always looked good, [and] I always felt good in it. I wore it during a pivotal time in my life: I was about 16 years old and I had my first motorcycle, and all that kind of stuff was happening. I still have it now, and it’s going on 25, 30 years later. It still actually fits me. Now it’s shredded and has holes all over it, and it’s totally lost its color – but it’s really cool, and I remember wearing it into a secondhand store in Soho about six or seven years ago, and store owners actually buy it off of me for over $2,000. So it does have a value and I’m not mad.
Whose closet would you raid if you could?I think it would have to be a mixture between Steve McQueen and James Bond –you know, Sean Connery’s wardrobe from the Bond era. I love those classic ‘50s men’s suits –[that] one-button, two-button, slim kind of look. And Steve McQueen’s style in general –I think he had a really great, elegant style, and even when he was casual he looked good.