In the world of accessories, there is jewelry and then there is jewelry –the kind of jaw-dropping, show-stopping treasures that elicit where-did-you-find-that shrieks. As founder of the vintage costume jewelry collection House of Lavande, Tracy Smith undoubtedly specializes in the latter. Inspired by her lifelong love affair with costume baubles, Smith’s handpicked collection features thousands of one-of-a-kind dazzlers from the likes of Kenneth Jay Lane, Lanvin, and other major names from the 20th century. Hollywood stylists have taken note: these days, the collection's treasures are virtually ubiquitous on the red carpet, adorning everyone from Gwyneth and Cameron to Sarah Jessica and J. Lo. But leading ladies aren’t the only ones under Smith’s spell: here at Clos-ette, we’re so crazy for House of Lavande that we collaborated with Smith on a special-edition Clos-ette Too Travel Jewelry Case in the company’s signature purple and silver. How else would you globe-trot with those fabulous French Deco earrings or that 1980’s Chanel gold cuff?
We caught up with the jewelry connoisseur to find out her secrets to staying organized and chic (and no, a custom Clos-ette closet with a special jewelry room –currently in the works at Smith's Palm Beach home –certainly doesn’t hurt.)
We can only imagine your personal jewelry collection. How do you store it all?
I have jewelry display bars, busts and trays, much like how I display in the [Palm Beach] store. I also use men’s tie hangers to hold long necklaces. That way, I can not only see the jewelry better in my closet, but I can also put together groupings of earrings, bracelets and necklaces to style the look before getting dressed.
How do you travel with your jewelry?
I now travel with the Clos-ette Too for House of Lavande Travel Case. It’s the best way to not only protect the pieces, but bring much more than I would normally, as it keeps everything organized and compact. Costume jewelry can often times be larger and more fragile than newer pieces, which can make storing and traveling a challenge. The case offers the right amount of space for holding your larger pieces, while also keeping them safe and secure in their separate compartments.
What are your other packing tips?
I take everything out first and determine, if possible, what I will need to wear on certain days, then make sure I have both day and night options. I always take a pair of jeans, t-shirt, scarf, toothbrush, and makeup in my carry-on just in case my luggage is lost, or something gets spilled on me while traveling –and traveling with kids, this is bound to happen more often than not!
What are your wardrobe staples?
Two great blazers: a relaxed, boyfriend-style one from Chloe and a more structured and fitted one from Stella McCartney. I also rely on lots of scarves. I love that you can take any casual outfit and have instant chic when you drape a scarf with it. My Yigal Azrouel is by far my favorite – it’s super-soft and has a great casual drape. [Smith swears by our Signature Hangers for storing all of her favorite fashions!]
How do you know it’s time to clean out your closet?
When I start to have a hard time finding something to wear. It’s usually an indication that I have too much when I start to lose sight of the great things that are actually in there. I try to go in with the idea that it’s OK to get rid of pieces even if they are barely worn. It’s a shame to have something that doesn’t get use, so I like to give it away to someone I know who will find use for it, or donate it. Either way, it gets more respect than it does hanging in my closet not being worn.
What’s on your jewelry “wish list” right now?
Huge 60’s collar necklaces form Kenneth Jay Lane, because they are getting extremely rare to find in good condition; anything Chanel with star designs from the 30’s and 40’s, because it’s not what you would typically think of with Chanel, so it has more mystery; YSL all day long –it’s so easy to wear with anything; and a 1969 Fratti for Cadette gilt-stamped brass fish necklace. I am kind of obsessed with finding one.
Who inspires you?
I've always been inspired by Lauren Hutton’s style, and today I really like how Lauren Santo Domingo dresses. They represent a casual elegance that always looks pulled together without trying too hard. I like the combination of relaxed romance mixed with tailored and modern pieces, whether it’s a feminine dress paired with a statement bootie and structured blazer, or jeans and a lace blouse. To me, they best represent that effortless style that’s always inspiring.