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In My Closet: Coretta "CoCo" Cuffie

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About the series: In My Closet is a regular Sky Blue Window feature, taking readers inside the wardrobes of some of the city's most fashionable women and men.

Her name: Coretta "CoCo" Cuffie

Her work: A hairstylist, fashion stylist, fashion show coordinator and speaker. Cuffie owns The Master Closet Style Salon & Boutique. The combination hair salon and fashion boutique is at 1060 E. 86th St., Suite 65B.

Her play: Interior decorating. "I love redoing a room," she says. "I'm also a movie buff."

Closet Cliff Notes: Sequined jackets and blazers; graphic T-shirts; bold accessories; high heels; sequined Chuck Taylors; dresses and vintage clothes.

Favorite pieces: A vintage, pastel sequined jacket; a black BCBG leather fringe belt; handmade patterned skirts from Indianapolis-based designer Yemisi Sanni;

Something she'll never have in her closet: "I'll try anything once, but it might not stay in my closet."

Her style philosophy: "Own it!"

Cuffie enjoys "shopping" her own closet for outfits each day. - PHOTO BY JENN KRISCUNAS
  • Photo by Jenn Kriscunas
  • Cuffie enjoys "shopping" her own closet for outfits each day.

The need to be unique began at around age 10, recalls hair and fashion stylist Coretta "CoCo" Cuffie. And she has proof.

"There's this picture of me when I was 10 years old wearing one white sock, one blue sock and a pair of brown shoes," she says. "Even as a little girl, my mother could never get me to comply to what she wanted [me to wear]."

The only thing that has really changed since then is that Cuffie no longer has to ask permission or try to please anyone but herself when she gets dressed each day.

"I dress the way that I feel, so that's why it's hard for me to travel, because you can't pack your feelings in a suitcase all the time," says Cuffie. "I'm a moody girl."

A self-described "glitter girl," Cuffie looks for sparkly fabrics, interesting textures and well-constructed pieces for her collection. - PHOTO BY JENN KRISCUNAS
  • Photo by Jenn Kriscunas
  • A self-described "glitter girl," Cuffie looks for sparkly fabrics, interesting textures and well-constructed pieces for her collection.

She points to a sequined gold blazer inside her walk-in closet as an example of a piece of clothing that represents her sense of style.

"This is a CoCo jacket," she says, with a big smile.

When asked what that means, she says, "I don't even have to talk when I come into a room. I just walk in with this on and some jeans, and it's like, yeah, you felt that, this morning. Yeah, I felt sunshiny and bright."

It's that sense of self, her love of color and texture, and willingness to take chances that truly represents Cuffie's style.

It was on full display during a recent visit to her home.

Wearing a pink blouse adorned with a blue rhinestone broach, a blue lace skirt by one of her new favorite designers, and tortoise-shell glasses (the floral print heels she donned that day were sitting on a nearby shelf), Cuffie opened her closet -- actually a spare bedroom in her home -- to discuss her love of fashion.

Inside are racks of clothes: one for shirts and blouses, another for dresses, one for jeans and yet another for jackets. There are shelves for shoes, and a range of necklaces and other accessories that hang on hooks behind the door. There are also slips. "Things are so see-through today; I don't want anyone seeing my cookies," she says. And she has a few pairs of Spanx -- yes, Spanx. Cuffie says all women, no matter their size or shape, should own a pair of Spanx, because they give women confidence and make outfits pop. "You have to do what you have to do to present your look."

Cuffie searches along a shelf of shoes. Formerly a spare bedroom, the customized space now serves as the fashionista's ultimate walk-in closet. - PHOTO BY JENN KRISCUNAS
  • Photo by Jenn Kriscunas
  • Cuffie searches along a shelf of shoes. Formerly a spare bedroom, the customized space now serves as the fashionista's ultimate walk-in closet.

But her closet wouldn't be complete without the silver chandelier and zebra print chair.

It's in here that she gets dressed each morning.

"I pop in here and go into my own little shopping mode," says Cuffie, owner of Master Closet Style Salon & Boutique, a hair salon and fashion boutique on the city's north side. "A woman's closet should be her store. If you can't shop in your own closet, then you're no good in the mall, consignment stores or anything."

The self-professed "junker" says she purchases most of her clothing at Goodwill, consignment stores and boutiques.

"I shop in all types of places, but I'm not a mall girl," says Cuffie, who has the CoCo Chanel logo tattooed on her hand and back, along with the quote: "In order to be irreplaceable, one must be different." Attributed to the legendary designer, the tat is on her shoulder blade.

"You'll rarely see me in the mall. I love boutique and junkin' and consignment shopping, because this gives you your uniqueness. I've never dressed like anybody anyway, so this is the key to having uniqueness."

Here's a peek inside Cuffie's closet at just a few of her favorite things:


Cuffie had to have this vintage wool jacket with fur trim the moment she saw it on the mannequin at Boutique on the Boulevard.  - PHOTO BY JENN KRISCUNAS
  • Photo by Jenn Kriscunas
  • Cuffie had to have this vintage wool jacket with fur trim the moment she saw it on the mannequin at Boutique on the Boulevard.

Blue wool jacket

"I saw this and said, 'There's no way I'm leaving that. I'm spending lunch money and everything for this. It's just all of that,'" says Cuffie about a blue wool jacket with a fur collar and lapels. It came with a matching dress.

Cuffie purchased the ensemble from Boutique on the Boulevard, right off the mannequin. "I've worn the jacket with the dress and I've worn the jacket by itself. But the dress is the same blue; it's just simple. And I've worn it with a white blouse underneath," says Cuffie.

She loves that the jacket is classy, regal, vintage, unique, and that it's fur.

"So you're getting all kinds of textures and happiness with that. It just made me happy," says Cuffie. "And the coloring of the fur, my hair has been this white before, and I thought, 'Oh, it's my hair.' I've had on all my pearls with this jacket, and I just felt real 'Sex in the City.'"

As Cuffie put the jacket on to show the fit, placing her hands in the pockets, she asks, "Is that hot or not?"

Skirts from Stylenspire

While on the hunt for new, fresh designers, Cuffie found Yemisi Sanni at Midwest Fashion Week.

It was love at first sight for the ethnic-inspired, patterned skirts and dresses that Sanni creates in a range of fabrics. Cuffie now owns several pieces from the Stylenspire collection.

Cuffie says she loves the colors, the fabric, the construction and the style of Sanni's designs. Apparently, so do others.

On a recent trip to New York City, Cuffie says she stopped people in their tracks while wearing a blue, yellow and orange skirt by Sanni paired with a yellow blazer and a graphic white T-shirt that read "Young and Beautiful" in French.

"I was going to meet my cousin at a restaurant called Sylvia's, when a man stopped me and said, 'You're glowing in the daytime,' " says Cuffie, laughing.

Cuffie shows off one of her statement necklaces (left). She considers her fringe black belt (right) one of her favorite accessories. - PHOTO BY JENN KRISCUNAS
  • Photo by Jenn Kriscunas
  • Cuffie shows off one of her statement necklaces (left). She considers her fringe black belt (right) one of her favorite accessories.

Black leather fringe belt

Not every woman knows how to wear accessories, but Cuffie does.

"Some women are scared of accessories, but there should be no fear," says Cuffie, who often wears multiple necklaces at one time and isn't afraid to put accessories on top of blouses or jackets that are already heavily embellished.

Although she adores her necklaces, earrings, bracelets, rings and sunglasses, there's one accessory that stands out above the rest.

"This belt will take your outfit to another level," she says, pulling the wide, black leather fringe belt from a hook inside her closet.

The belt from BCBG Max Azria is adorned with black metal studs around the top.

"This belt is a statement piece, so I would not have on a bunch of jewelry," says Cuffie. "You want this [the belt] to talk. The neat thing is you can wear it empire-waist style, which is more slenderizing because it will camouflage things, or you can wear it around your waist."

This intricately sequined vintage jacket uses delicate beadwork throughout. - PHOTO BY JENN KRISCUNAS
  • Photo by Jenn Kriscunas
  • This intricately sequined vintage jacket uses delicate beadwork throughout.

Sequined jacket

"I'm a glitter girl, and jackets have always been go-to things for me, because a jacket can change from casual to dressy," says Cuffie. "Jackets make me happy."

When she saw this vintage sequined jacket, she had to have it.

Cuffie fell in love with the soft pastel colors in the jacket ("most sequined is black, silver or gold, but this one is a pearl type sequined, which I thought was hot").

Not one to wear the same thing the same way each time, Cuffie says that she's worn this jacket in various ways.

"I've worn it with a fuchsia short that kind of was like a balloon-type short, with a green tight and a flower shoe," she says. "And if I feel edgy and funky, I'll put on some denim boy-cut shorts and a (tank top) and keep it moving.

"I mean, just mixing and matching is my thing."

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