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Sarah Ainslie’s Wardrobe Portraits

October 12, 2023
by the gentle author

We have now raised nearly £26,000 to RELAUNCH SPITALFIELDS LIFE BOOKS and we have 2 DAYS LEFT. We can reach our target of £35,000 if 9 readers step forward to support us as PATRONS by midnight on Friday. They will receive a signed fine art print by Doreen Fletcher, signed photographic prints by David Hoffman and Sarah Ainslie, plus an inscribed copy of my forthcoming book.




Viscountess Boudica of Bethnal Green

Contributing Photographer Sarah Ainslie has been taking portraits of people in their wardrobes since 2002 and she has done over fifty.

“Wardrobes are private places where personal belongings are kept, not only clothes but also objects with special meanings and memories. Children see them as spaces where adults hide secrets and I always felt there were secrets in my parents’ wardrobes. As a child, my grandmother’s knicker drawer fascinated me, and we would search for sweeties that she kept in jars and beautiful evening dresses in her wardrobe that she let us touch. My father had a bespoke wardrobe with special racks for shoes and drawers for all his different garments, and my mother had a big walk-in wardrobe. I conceal letters and strange memorabilia, like casts of my teeth, in mine.” 

Sarah Ainslie

Emily Shepherd

Julie Begum

Hydar Dewachi

Madeleine Ruggi

Sara Sheppard

Luke Dixon

Lara Clifton


Brand Thumim

Jo Ann Kaplan

Sid Dixon

Penny Woolcock

Prue Ainslie

Simon Hoare-Walter

Jenny Carlin

Lel McIntyre

Ryan-Rhiannon Styles


Francine Merry

Sabeha Miah

Kassandra & Dan Isaacson

Andrew Dawson

Shelagh Ainslie

Photographs copyright © Sarah Ainslie

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Sarah Ainslie’s Brick Lane

6 Responses leave one →
  1. Annie S permalink
    October 12, 2023

    What an interesting and original project!
    Great photos Sarah.

  2. October 12, 2023

    Walk-in wardrobes have always been a phenomenon for me. On the one hand sensational, on the other actually unnecessary. — But Mr Hoare-Walter seems to live in one… 🙂

    Love & Peace

  3. October 12, 2023

    Absolutely great collection of wardrobe portraits! Bravo! I really liked them.

  4. October 12, 2023

    Oh, that Andrew Dawson has the right idea. Whenever one needs a little reassuring hug, just snuggle into the closet and have one of your shirts do the job. I love this series. Ms. Ainslie always delivers.

    My parents had two tiny closets in their very-tiny bedroom. On one side of the room, was my Dad’s tidy pristine closet. He was a clothes horse, and looked marvelous in his duds. Everything absolutely orderly, with rows of wooden hangers for his garments, specialized shoe horns for his polished shoes, even a couple intriguing hat boxes up on the very top shelf. Naturally, HIS closet got the full length mirror.

    My mother! — sigh. Her little closet absolutely exploded with dresses, robes, blouses, house coats; everything tangled together and smelling so sweet from her perfume. (Estee Lauder) I loved to poke my head in there, and be surrounded by everything. The patterns and prints of her clothes, oh and the colors. She loved color. Especially pink. A quote from my dear mom:
    “Any color………just so it is PINK.”

    This was a romantic couple who proved the adage: Opposites attract. With closets to prove it.

    Thank you, GA. And Ms. Ainslie; an amazing story-teller with her camera.

  5. boudica Fawkesredd permalink
    October 12, 2023

    Great wardrobe pics by Sarah I remember all thous years ago when she came to secpit towered to film me at secpit toweres in Bethnall green hi to everyone in London and all over thee world we hope you are well

  6. October 17, 2023

    This is a wonderful post – thank you Sarah and the GA. I would love to have a walk-in wardrobe, as opposed to a walk-over one! We all have special clothes that take pride of place – I arrange mine theatrically on a makeshift wardrobe/ coat and hat rack. I adore colours and fabrics and berate myself when I resort to all black or jeans and a t-shirt. Life is dull enough as it is without dressing to match.
    I love the joy and satisfaction on the owners’ faces. “This is my stuff and this is my place”. Lovely!

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