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Like many people during quarantine, Katie Couric used her time hunkered down at home to do a major closet clean-out. And we do mean major: She parted with over 250 sentimental styles, including glam gowns and history-making blazers, to start fresh- and to give back in a big way.
"I realized I had a lot of items in my closet that were absolutely gorgeous, but that I was probably not going to wear again," the iconic journalist, 64, tells PEOPLE. "I had amassed so many, for example, black tie dresses through the years, and I just felt like it was kind of a waste not having them worn and enjoyed by someone else."
"The pandemic made us all sort of realize that some of us probably had too many things and it just made us recalibrate what we needed in life to be happy," she adds. "I still love wearing beautiful things, but I just realized I didn't need so many of them."
Couric realized it would give her joy to give her pieces a new life with someone else,so she teamed up with online consignment site ThredUp, to put her most treasured items up for auction with 100% of proceeds benefitting the charity she co-founded, Stand Up to Cancer, which raises funds to accelerate the pace of cancer research.
"I'm hoping that people who purchase these items will have had some great experiences in them," she said. "I thought about just giving them to a resale place, or donating them, but I thought, 'Wouldn't it be fun to find out a little bit more about the people who are going to be wearing these beautiful things?'"
In the massive collection of designer finds, superfans will spot history-making outfits and glam red carpet gowns from her storied career. Two of the most recognizable pieces are white Giorgio Armani blazers from memorable days in her career: The fit-and-flare design was worn on her last day as co-anchor of the Today show ($244.99; thredup.com), while the single-button jacket was worn at CBS Evening News when she became as the first woman to solo anchor a network evening broadcast ($479.99; thredup.com).
Richard Drew/AP/Shutterstock Katie Couric during her last broadcast for Today in 2006
"It was just sort of coincidental that I wore another Armani blazer on my first day at the CBS Evening News, which I thought would be really kind of nice and sharp," she says of the jacket she chose for its "suffragette white" connotations.. "I got a lot of criticism for it, because I wore white after Labor Day. But I loved it. That night was, in my mind, a very important night for women ... I was excited to be able to include this in this collection."
Other standouts she especially loves include the long-sleeve white lace Carmen Marc Valvo gown ($194.99; thredup.com) she wore to the 2014 White House Correspondents' Dinner.
"I spent the night with my parents in Arlington, Virginia. My mom and dad took a picture of me in our living room, as if I were going to the senior prom," she recalls. "I was really feeling myself that night, I think I looked pretty damn good in that dress. I hope someone wears it and feels as good in it if I did."
Her epic ThredUp collection includes a few other Valvo designs, including a floral-print dress from the 2015 White House Correspondents' Dinner ($196.99; thredup.com) and a curve-hugging black cocktail dress worn to one of Howard Stern's birthday parties ($140.99; thredup.com).
"[Valvo] and I became good friends throughout my career, and he is a colon cancer survivor. So, he cares deeply about raising money for cancer research, and has been really helpful in that regard," Couric says. "To be able to include a lot of his dresses is also really meaningful for me."
Despite almost giving away her wedding dress from her 2014 nuptials to John Molner (another Valvo design!), she decided to only part with a navy sequin number she wore on one of their first dates ($196.99; thredup.com). "I laughed that I looked a little like [country singer] Barbara Mandrell because my hair was sort of pouffy. But it was pretty."
Now that Couric has a freshly pared-down clothing collection, her new goal is to rethink her approach and invest in pieces that "up" her streetwear game.
"My goal in life is to actually develop street style, whatever that is, because I don't have it, I don't have any street style. This is an SOS for stylists out there, but I'd like to know how to look really cute in casual clothes," she says. "Because it's one thing to wear things that are anchor-ish, that you would wear hosting a television news program, or something like that. But to look chic and stylish when you're just walking around the city in cool sandals, and pants, and a cool shirt, and have that effortless, 'I just threw this on,' look. That is completely foreign to me."
While parting with a few pieces was hard for the "extremely sentimental" star, it all was worth it in the end to support Stand Up to Cancer's "incredibly brilliant and hardworking scientists" and make someone else feel as good as she did wearing them.
"I love the idea of spreading the joy and saying, 'Enjoy this Carmen Marc Valvo dress that I wore to the TIME 100 Gala, or this Max Mara suit I wore on the CBS Evening News or this Michael Kors dress I wore to my 55th birthday bash and felt like a million bucks in it. If you get it, I hope you feel like a million bucks in it too, and it costs you a lot less than a million bucks.'"
And to anyone who's lucky enough to snag something from her ThredUp collection, Couric wants to see! "I hope that some of the people who buy these items will take a picture of themselves in them, and that I can enjoy helping someone else feel really beautiful."
Shop over 250 pieces from Couric's closet with prices ranging from $12.99 to $739.99 at at thredup.com/closets/katiecouric.