Inside the Closets of Chicago's Most Stylish

By Heidi Mitchell and Zlata Kozul Naumovski | February 27, 2018 | People Feature

Chicagoans have style to burn—and as these four sartorialists prove, it all starts with a killer closet.



Marie Kondo, high priestess of decluttering and tidying, would be impressed. Ifeoma Ojukwu organizes the closet of her Fulton Market loft not by color, but by texture. There’s neoprene, wool, silk (recently augmented by a navy blouse courtesy of her mother’s closet), leather, fur and, of course, cotton.

“I used to organize by color, which looks best, but it doesn’t work for me because I stick with a few colors, so things get missed,” says the super-stylish, 32-year-old Toronto transplant, who serves as Soho House’s membership director for Europe. “Now I organize by texture because I might wear a turtleneck and have an idea of the silhouette I want.”

Ojukwu feels most comfortable in jeans and a black or white cotton T-shirt (she buys them by the dozen) with some kind of outerwear through any season. “It adds a bit of structure and says, ‘is is my armor.’” –ZKN

INTERIOR DESIGN BY: Herself. “It’s a big space to fill and I’m a minimalist.”

ACCESSORIES OBSESSION: A necklace purchased in Mexico City from a vendor in front of the basilica. “I took it over and had it blessed to ward off the craziness of the world.”

SECRET WEAPON: MAC Ruby Woo retro lipstick. “I have a darker skin tone (I’m half Nigerian, half Kittitian) and it’s hard to find the right red.”

THOSE COATS: Highlights include vintage furs, an Alexander Wang ski coat, a Raf Simons oversize coat, a Max Mara 101801 Icon coat and a Maison Kitsune from a trip to Tokyo.

STYLE INFLUENCE: Phoebe Philo, former Céline creative director. “I’m inspired by her look and want to get into her closet.”



Between seeing clients and raising two young children, interior designer and clotheshorse Jordana Joseph rarely spends more than 15 to 30 minutes getting ready for her day. “It’s always a rush in the morning to get out of the house,” says the 46-year-old. “I like to throw something on and feel good about it.” That usually involves jeans, stacked neatly in the modular Poliform closet of her Krueck + Sexton home in Lincoln Park, and “something else interesting,” such as a patterned jacket or Gucci’s tiger sweater, “[which helps] you feel good even if you’re wearing sneakers and flats.”

Joseph, who honed her eye for vintage jewelry while working at Leslie Hindman Auctioneers, also favors Marni, Chloé, Dries Van Noten and Prada “when there was feathers on everything.” She adores embellishments of any kind: sequins, sparkles, fur collars and bling—fine or costume. “Any opportunity I have to put on something fun, I take it.” She rarely wears all black, and she would never hire a stylist. “I have too much fun doing it on my own,” she says. “I’m the person saying, ‘Put one more thing on.’” –ZKN

CLOSET SIZE: One (10-by-10) in the master bedroom for current items; a larger one (about 14 feet long) in a hallway for everything else, so she can switch things out (“You don’t want to look at a wool sweater in the summer”). And a separate shoe closet, natch.

ORGANIZING 101: Use valet pulls, even in a small closet. “They’re helpful for planning outfits and when packing for a trip.”

SHOPPING SPOTS: “I like supporting local stores such as Blake and P.45, which is owned by my friend Tricia Tunstall.”

SECRET WEAPON: “There’s nothing I love more than a dress with a strong pattern.”

FASHION TIP: “Shop the season, not the designer.”



To say that Rob Wilce lives like a nomad would be an understatement. He splits his time between an 1,100-square-foot Pilsen bachelor pad and a standing reservation at The Ace Hotel, near his Fulton Market barber shop-meets-speakeasy Blind Barber Chicago. Still, the 33-year-old North Carolina transplant and former financier-turned-ad-man finds the time to organize his art books, objets and dozens of pairs of sneakers into an artful 100 square feet. Says Wilce, “I have about 75 pairs of sneakers and more Rizzoli books than I can count.”

Wilce’s uniform is all black—as in black Saint Laurent jeans or Stone Island sweatpants—so he needn’t organize by color; instead he artfully lays out bags, books and knickknacks in a manner that gives him both joy and access. “I moved from a penthouse-level loft, so I did a lot of downsizing,” he says. “What I kept is what I love.” –HM

CLOSET STYLE: Haphazard gallery: Wilce has loads of Japanese men’s fashion journals, art books and fun knickknacks, plus artfully placed sneakers ready to go.

PRIZE PAIR: Nike Virgil Abloh Off-White black sneaks, which resell for $1,500 (if you can find them).

OBSESSION: Limited-editions like a fire-engine-red Louis Vuitton duffle, Jun Takahashi Apple light and Supreme x Hermès tray.

FAVE LABELS: Japanese heritage line Visvim, technical outerwear line Stone Island. “Everything I have seems to be coveted by the Kanye crowd,” he jokes.



When jewelry designer Jane Berg, her husband Kevin and their daughter Abri traded their Southport Corridor house for a loft in the Gold Coast, the family dramatically altered its style. “We took literally nothing,” says the 56-year-old. Her 4,400-square-foot condo is now a study in neutrals with splashes of color and texture, along with one-of-a-kind items like a massive wood-and-stainless steel dining table created by Berg’s sculptor brother set below three LED rings of light.

But it’s the closet that dazzles visitors lucky enough to make it down the hallway, past the Chuck Close and the master bedroom, a fantasyland for anyone who worships sartorial looks and is willing to take some major risks. “I’m all over the board on designers, because I like eclectic pieces of clothing, shoes, bags, belts and of course my jewelry designs,” says Berg. “I mix it up and buy what is funky and what I like.” Her closet reveals a confident woman with an edgy sense of style—and a serious passion for the color black. –HM

CLOSET SIZE: At 400 square feet, just a fraction of her 4,400-square-foot Gold Coast pad.

DESIGNER: The island and cabinetry were custom-made by an Italian firm, “and they were awful,” she admits. After a year, Chicago’s Perfection Closets finished redoing the guts.

UNIFORM: Leather jeans and a skull sweater. Black everything (and Jillian Michaels workouts) makes her look 10 years younger.

SECRET WEAPON: Her own diamond-encrusted cuffs are a signature item, but only for serious nights out.

FAVE LABELS: Dries Van Noten, Zadig & Voltaire, Helmut Lang, Milly, Tom Ford, REI. “I do a lot of high-low— you will never see me in head-to-toe Chanel.”

Categories: People Feature


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