Organize/Prioritize your Clothing Needs

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As I continue talking about closet purging and starting over, I’m realizing how difficult it is to do in writing! It’s so much easier to explain all this when I’m talking to a client in person. I’ve discussed “capsule” dressing before and really that is where we need to start.

When someone needs help re-building I suggest starting with bottoms and third pieces in basic neutrals. Pants and skirts along with jackets and/or sweaters need to fit well as this is what typically gives the first impression. This is where you want to put your money. If you purchase good quality pieces, they will last for several years. Then you can switch out the tops, layering pieces and accessories. Since these are typically more affordable, it makes sense to replace these when you get tired of the same outfits.

Build your capsule according to your lifestyle.

Bottoms will include dress pants, skirts, jeans, cropped pants depending on what you do. Some of you that need “wear to work” clothes will want to build work AND casual capsules.

I suggest laying things out on your bed to really visually see what you have and what will coordinate together.

Neutral capsules will need to start with black or gray. I like to have both shades in my wardrobe. I have dress pants, denim, skirts and now cropped pants ALL in black AND gray. It gives you much more versatility so it doesn’t look like you are always wearing black. We all know that it often seems like we could wear black pants 4 out of 5 days!

Charcoal gray is perfectly fine for spring and summer. Here are some casual options. I think of dark gray as the “new khaki”.

Wit and Wisdom                                      Caslon

I like gray vs khaki because it provides a really great contrast with your bright colors and it does not show dirt as quickly.

Below is a photo of options for bottoms in black and charcoal. Pair that with what is above and you will have a great selection in bottoms in these colors. I need all of these styles in my wardrobe, but many of you will only choose pants and no skirts or no denim. When you begin building the black/gray capsule you may just choose one gray and continue to add gray slowly,

 

Black and Gray bottoms

Next: Jackets and Cardigans

Now, depending on your taste and lifestyle you will start choosing your third pieces in the SAME neutral tones as the bottoms. You have much more flexibility if you can wear separates instead of suits. Notice all the variety in shades of black/gray, different textures and of course different styles. This all adds interest.

Does it look a little boring? I think so. Now you can add your colors and patterns with tops, camis, tanks and accessories!

black and gray jackets

 


A Wear stripe blazer
$68 - awear.com

2nd day
my-wardrobe.com

Miss selfridge
missselfridge.com

Superdry jacket
superdry.com

Jersey blazer
$42 - matalan.co.uk

Rare London baseball jacket
$48 - rarelondon.com

Vero Moda biking jacket
$86 - veromoda.com

Wallis black jacket
wallisfashion.com

Warehouse
$91 - houseoffraser.co.uk

I wear a lot of brown. I think everyone should have a brown/khaki capsule too. You can do the very same thing with those shades.

What about colored jackets and colored jeans? ABSOLUTELY! Next week I’ll show you some ways to wear those colored bottoms and pair the right colored jackets.

Keep sorting and evaluating. Make your lists and then prioritize. Make it fun and don’t stress. Rebuilding a wardrobe takes time and patience and it won’t happen all at once.

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What’s Your Spring Shopping Plan?

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We’ve actually had a little taste of spring here in the rainy NW. It gets us all excited about warmer weather, yet we know not to get our hopes up too much because rain could be very much in the picture the next two months.

The warmer weather plus the fact that we’re  taking a trip to Atlanta in April has made me think about spring clothes much earlier than I normally would.

Going through my spring clothes caused me to realize that next year when I put my spring/summer clothes away I need to sort out the March “transitional” pieces. It’s about this time of year that I get really tired of my fall/winter clothes and want to reach for something else, yet it’s not practical for many of the lightweight sleeveless pieces.

This year I did a major closet purge. I haven’t felt this way in years, but I honestly just wanted to start over! I’m not sure what it was, but I guess I didn’t buy many things last spring. A few pieces I did buy were either worn or I decided I didn’t like anymore. It made me realize that I made some poor choices. As I kept going through each item, it became apparent that a few of my favorites were going on year 4. There is nothing wrong with that. They are still in style and in good shape. However, it’s time to give some things new life or buy new. Most of us can’t  buy a whole new wardrobe in one season. As I was sorting and cleaning I began to formulate a plan. I’ll be sharing it with you in the next few posts. Whether you need a new wardrobe or just a few pieces I think this will give you some ideas before you hit the stores.

I went through all my spring/summer pieces and decided if they were consignment worthy or went to Good Will. By the time I was finished, I had a lot of empty hangers.

First I took inventory of my bottoms:

-skirts

-denim (long and cropped)

-pants

-shorts

I wrote down what I had in colors and added anything to my “must have” list.

Next I looked at my jackets and sweaters a.k.a those THIRD PIECES  of an outfit.

When you categorize this way it’s easy to see redundancy and gaps. I was heavy on green sweaters and my black cardigan had seen better days. While I put black cardigan on the list, I will wait to see if it really is a gap as I start wearing my clothes. Don’t just buy because it’s on the list. I always suggest keeping an ongoing list in your closet because it becomes clear what you need as you get dressed each day.

Now it’s time to look through tops and layering pieces and how they fit in with pant and jackets for a variety of combinations. This is another way to help the purging process. If you have a stand-alone piece that doesn’t work with a bottom or a jacket AND you don’t want to purchase something to coordinate, then it has to go.

When I look at the pieces in my closet, I have shopping to be done and possibly more purging.

I’m starting a list and then I’ll prioritize.

Next Up: Must haves for spring

 

 

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Love My Zella

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Several years ago I didn’t even know what Zella activewear was. Now it’s one of my favorite lines. It’s an exclusive Nordstrom brand.

Zella pieces are fitted and stylish. They don’t look like typical “sweats” and are not just for the gym. I love wearing Zella on my days off. It is so comfortable, yet you can still look put together.

The jackets are fitted and don’t look boxy. I love the great seaming. You have some choices in fabrics. The jackets can be heavier and therefore warmer, the last photo shows a fabric that is very lightweight.

These are great jackets to wear to the gym OR out/about.

There are plenty of more casual choices for the gym. The Zella short sleeved tees are wonderful. They have ruched sides–yes you can even choose flattering pieces for the gym.

 Then there are the pants which are my personal favorites of the the line. They are reversible which gives you a dull and a shiny side. This allows you to wear the leggings, for example, with a sweater or top and it won’t look like gym clothes.

The Booty Fit and Balance Fit are very similar. You will get a nice fitted leg with a “boot-cut” bottom. The Balance Fit is the style I wear. This is going to be similar to fitting in a nice pair of jeans. They will be fitted in the thighs and you will feel like they are too tight. But the slightly flared leg helps balance out the fitted thigh. The Booty Fit is a little more fitted than the Balance Fit. Overall, they are so much more flattering than the baggy sweats from days past that many of us still own AND wear.

Then there is the Soul Fit with a full leg from the thigh to the ankle. The capri looks pretty comfortable too although I haven’t tried them on.

Whether it’s Zella or another brand, be sure and keep your casual wardrobe up to date too. It’s Ok to look great walking into the gym or when you are running errands.

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Florals & Patterns or Solids?

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I meet many women who prefer solids ONLY when it comes to tops and jackets. Just like those women who prefer neutrals over color, I find the same aversion to florals and prints. It’s solid colors only for many.

If you belong in that camp, I hope that after reading this post you will rid the idea that prints “look like something that your grandma would wear”, which is what I hear all the time.

1. Prints and patterns add interest to an outfit

2. Prints are much more versatile because often there are several colors in the pattern

3. Prints can camouflage the middle.

If you are worried about a pattern making you look larger:

-start with small prints

-wear a floral skirt with a solid on the top

-wear a print with a coordinating SOLID 3rd piece

I will admit that there are some prints that worn alone could very easily look “old lady”.

However, as I often say, IT ALL DEPENDS ON HOW YOU STYLE IT!

What can I say, I’m a “print” girl. Even when I wear solids I have to put a patterned scarf. I will try to show you some ways to add florals and prints in a subtle way.

I realize that you might not want to jump in with something like this right off the bat.

 

Polka dots are everywhere this spring. Start with small dot if you’re afraid to go to bold. Gingham is also an option.

I love the combinations below with small black/white patterns with bold colors. The third photo shows a very small pattern that is very versatile (wear it with a solid bottom)

These patterns could be those that are considered “old lady”. Picture either of these with a pair of ankle pants and heels and a fitted jacket. Or pair it with a black skinny jeans and a denim jacket.

Wear florals on the lower half. These skirts are a great example.

So, it’s been a little quiet here on the blog. What say you? Would you entertain the idea of adding more patterns or do you still think certain patterns and florals remind you of something your Grandma would wear?

 

 

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Stack your Wrist

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Several months ago I introduced bracelet stacking combined with a Silpada Giveaway last fall.

I promised a little more on this topic so here you go. Even if you are not a bracelet girl, I hope you will give this fun trend a try. It is a great way to wear bracelets that have been sitting in your jewelry box that seem out of date or “too small” compared to today’s trends.  I have dug out bracelets that I wasn’t wearing and gave them a whole new look! There were a few I was just tired of because I seemed to wear them with everything. Just adding a few helped them look different.

Start with just 2 or 3 and work your way up to a stacked wrist. Here are some tips.

1. If you are new to bracelets, start with something bold in color or design. This will be your center bracelet or the focal point.

2. Next, decide what colors you want to add. For example, the bracelet I have below will look wonderful with something black or teal. I’m going to add bracelets with gold and another one with similar stones to complement that part of the bracelet. It needs some sparkle to brighten it up.

3.  Don’t be afraid to mix metals and stones.

4. Vary the width and styles as much as possible for an interesting stacked wrist.

5.  It adds even more variety when you can vary the textures in your series of bracelets

6. If you don’t like the idea of a large stack, add a few with your watch to make a statement on your left arm.

I always liked bracelets, but I wore one, maybe two at a time. I have Stella & Dot to thank for showing me how to layer a couple of years ago. They have great ideas. I’ve had two jewelry shows and just loved all the free things I earned. Now, bracelets are everywhere and you can find very reasonably priced pieces. Stretch bracelets in particular are easy to layer together and they lie  flat so they do not move on your wrist. Many women prefer this.

In years past I found myself bothered by the “clingy-clangy” bangles. They were a nuisance and the noise probably got to others around me. Layering other lighter bracelets in between helps. Some of my favorite light layering bracelets are the Seasonal Whispers now ON SALE at Nordstrom.  They add dimension and depthy quickly without being too heavy on your wrist. 

 Watch this Nordstrom video for even more ideas on stacking.

I also prefer a hinge bracelet to a regular bangle. If you have a hard time getting bracelets off/on your wrist, then go with the hinge. Look at all the possibilities with these fantastic colors!

 Be sure and enter the NORDSTROM SWEEPSTAKES to win one of TEN $500 Gift Certificates. (bracelets can be from any store.)

Deadline is March 10th.

Below more ideas:

 A little gold AND rose gold!

A few bracelets on the watch arm.

One of my favorite new “creations” mixing some old and some new.

My wrap pearl bracelet with black trim was one I wore constantly. I added the black whispers from Nordstrom and pearl stretch bracelets from Silpada to give it a new look.

What do you think? Will you give bracelet stacking a try? I’d love to see a photo if you post it on instagram. Send one to ME too.

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Oscar Fashion 2013

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I’ve blogged about red carpet fashion a number of times. I thought about taking a year off.  Then I started watching the coverage and fell in love with so many styles. I just had to share.

There was a lot of beautiful shades of blue this year–a nice switch from red and of course black.

THE BEST OF BLUE:

Reese Witherspoon and Jennifer Hudson were two of my favorites and also grabbed my attention for their hairstyles. LOVE!

And while they may not make fashion history, I must recognize Robin Roberts who looked stunning covering the red carpet especially after her health struggles.

Youngest nominee at nine is Quvenzhane Wallis.  Adorable!

Helen Hunt’s dress was designed by H & M! I love that she wore a necklace because you often see the earring statement now. I like a little bling around the neck.

BEST BRIGHTS: Kerry Washington and Olivia Munn

And BEST COUPLE: Jennifer Garner and Ben Affleck

Elegant in Neutrals:

Jennifer Lawrence and Jessica Chastain. Normally I prefer color on a pale complexion, but I thought both of these women looked incredible. Again, the hairstyles were perfection!

Octavia Spencer looked wonderful last year when she won for The Help and I admired her in my “not a size 2 category”.  This is an extremely flattering style for her and I think she looks fabulous again.

 UNIQUE DESIGNS: Zoe Saldana and Naomi Watts

JUST DIDN’T LOVE…

 

I have a great deal of admiration for each one of these talented and beautiful women.  I just didn’t care for their style choices this time.

What did you think? Did you have a favorite I missed?

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What’s in my Makeup Bag Part 2

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After giving an overview of all the neutral products I use, now it’s time to talk about eyes.

I’ve already highlighted the cream eyeshadow I use for a base. One reason I was drawn to Bobbi Brown products was the neutral eye shadows. I’m not sure, perhaps it’s the memories of using blue eye shadow in the seventies that has me turned off, but I don’t like a lot of color on my eyes. It’s crazy because evidently I have one of those eyelids that every makeup artist loves to work on.

I also do not like any shimmer or sparkle on my eye lid. I like it on other people, but on on me it just looks heavy. 

I use a Bobbi neutral on the lid (cement) a darker neutral in the crease, with really light shades in the inner corner and below the brow. I like a charcoal, dark brown, green or purple in the crease. My biggest tip with eye color: Blend, blend and then when you think you are finished, blend again. I’ll get to brushes in a minute, but a good blending brush is your friend.

I have used the Dior palettes in the past and love them. I’m trying one in shades of purple to get a litttle more color on my eyes. I’d love to achieve something like this.

Eyeliner: You can use a number of eye shadows as liner just by putting a little water on your brush. However, I prefer the gel eyeliners. Previously I used Bobbi Brown, but just recently realized they changed the formula. I now prefer Laura Mercier. It’s creamy and glides on.  I do NOT put any liner on my my lower lid. I had read about this trend some time ago, and my Bobbi Brown artist really encouraged it, but it was a very hard habit to break. I’ve worn eye liner on my lower lid forever!  A year later, I like it so much better. The brush shown below is a must have for this gel liner. You want your liner to be an extension of your lash line so a good brush and steady hand is important.

Mascara: I use drugstore mascara with a primer. Just recently I found this Dior product that is supposed to promote growth. I’m anxious to give it a try.

Last, you cannot achieve a natural and professional look without the proper brushes. There are a great deal of brushes out on the market. I have gone cheap and had the bristles falling out. Since then, I’ve slowly purchased Bobbi brushes. I have also tried and liked a few brushes from Sonia Kashuk from Target and they are very reasonably priced.

I plan to try some ideas and take photos so stay tuned for Part 3 in the next couple of weeks.

I’d love to know what you love when it comes to eye make up. What are some of your favorite products?

 

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What’s in My Makeup Bag?

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Recently when I asked for feedback on topics for posts several readers mentioned makeup.

First and foremost I am not  an expert on makeup. I get more compliments on my hair than my makeup. That tells me I have a long way to go. However, I have learned a great deal in recent years, and I’m eager to share some basics with you.

There are so many products available that it can be very overwhelming. This 2- part post will help you weed your way through.

Before we get to the products, here are some things to keep in mind.

1. A change will do you good! If you’ve been using the same brand for years and it works there is nothing wrong with that. Add a couple things from a new line. Eye makeup is an easy and fun place to start.

2. Use the store’s resources. Trained makeup artists are on hand to help you. Use their expertise to help weed your way through all the choices. Ask for samples. Do not feel you have to purchase everything shown, but at the same time don’t take advantage of this service either and be mindful of their time.

If you’re a magazine reader you’re familiar with the celebrity feature–”What’s in your makeup bag?” This post is my version with a few more details.

First of all you need a great skin care routine. I’ve covered this in previous posts and given you guidelines on what to look for with ingredients.

A number of years ago I wanted a change in makeup. I had always admired Bobbi Brown when she did guest spots on the Today show. I liked her natural approach to applying makeup. Nearly ten years ago I made a switch. Her line can be found at most major department stores or online.

Foundation: Previously it had been difficult to find just the right shade to match my skin tone. I use Warm Sand 2.5 in the moisture based foundation coupled with the foundation stick. I have looked long and hard for a drug store brand that gives me this shade and I can’t duplicate it. It’s a key part of your look. Do it right, even if you have to pay the price. (remember most brands have several formulas. Find the right one for your skin type.)

Concealer: Bobbi Brown

Blush: Bobbi Brown Tawny

Pressed Powder: Mac’s Finishing Powder  (I’ve also used a Neutrogena product that works well)

There is a fair amount of moisture in my foundation so the powder “sets” the makeup and helps it last throughout the day. You may prefer a loose powder over a pressed one.

 Cream Eye Shadow by Bobbi Brown: I use this product in a neutral tone under my eye shadow which helps it last ALL day. Seriously! You could sleep in your eye makeup and the next morning it would still be on.

This is an overview of the neutral products I use which is the base of any look you create.

Next up: Adding color.

What is your favorite foundation product?

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Jiffy Esteam Review

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One of the first blog posts I wrote tackled the topic of steaming vs ironing your clothes. My steamer has been on its “last leg” for a while, so I’ve been doing the research on what I wanted to purchase to replace it.

If you are new here, let’s start with a quick review on why I believe you want to invest in a steamer. First of all, I want to emphasize that a steamer cannot take the place of ironing when you need a crease or crisp shirt collar.

There are many more times that I need a quick touch up rather than a crease and the steamer fills that need. It’s a huge time saver and I think it is easier than ironing. The steamer gets in the hard to reach corners and I don’t have the “shiny spots” the iron leaves on some fabrics. I like steaming my jeans. It’s so easy to steam around the pockets. My husband has also discovered the benefits of steaming and steams way more than he irons.

My $25 steamer from Costco has served me well, but I decided I did not want to go with the upright model that is a little cumbersome. Would a travel steamer be powerful enough?

I started to do my research and after a great deal of reading I decided on the Jiffy Esteam Travel Steamer. I decided to buy one for my college son who HATES to iron. And quite honestly, I have to admit being in the same position in college. Who had time to iron and who really cared? However, he works part-time in an office and has to look presentable so ironing is a necessity.

The steamer is  hit and he is quite pleased with how easy it is to make his clothes look great.

The only downside I can find with this steamer is the fact that it has a small water canister so it needs to be filled frequently. You are only able to do a few garments before a refill. I rarely press more than a few garments at a time, so this negative really didn’t seem like a bad thing to me.

The website gives lots of helpful information. I especially liked this explanation and diagrams showing steaming vs ironing.

You can also purchase an upright steamer from Jiffy that received good reviews as well.

 

 I ordered from Amazon. Google the Jiffy Esteam for more sources.

Let me know if steaming is the answer to your ironing woes.

 

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What’s the Word on Wool

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Spring styles are filling the stores and I’m writing a post about wool? Yes. Most parts of the country have many chilly days ahead. I often address questions from clients and readers. Pieces made from wool have raised several questions lately. First, here is the factual information.

Wool is  resilient and garments will last many years.  It will return to its original condition after being stretched or creased. For that reason, take time in between wear so it returns to its original shape. Wool  is pretty resistant to dirt, and wear and tear.

It will also absorb up to 30% of its weight in moisture without feeling damp, which makes it excellent for winter wear.

Wool is generally thought to be  bulky and heavy. Wool often gets a bad rap for being “itchy”.  Times have changed. You will see many wool blends that are beautiful easy to wear fabrics that are soft and smooth. In recent years Merino wool (named from a certain breed of sheep) has become popular. Wool is typically considered as a warm weather fabric. In actuality, wool can be worn in other seasons. Wool breathes.

Merino wool is common in high-end, performance athletic wear. Several properties contribute to merino’s popularity for exercise clothing, compared to wool in general and to other types of fabric:

  • Merino is excellent at regulating body temperature, especially when worn against the skin. The wool provides some warmth, without overheating the wearer. It draws moisture (sweat) away from the skin. This is known as wicking. The fabric is slightly moisture repellent, yet you won’t feel like you’re wearing wet clothing.
  • Like cotton, wool absorbs water but, unlike cotton, wool retains warmth when wet, thus helping wearers avoid hypothermia after strenuous workouts (climbs) or weather events.
  • Merino is one of the softest types of wool available, due to finer fibers and smaller scales.
  • Merino has an excellent warmth-to-weight ratio compared to other wools.

Caring for Wool:

  • Don’t wash wool too often! Washing wool too frequently can wear out the fabric, and shorten its life.
  • Instead, in between washing wool garments brush off the dirt and don’t let it settle. 
  • You can ‘refresh’ wool by putting it in a steamy bathroom. A warm iron on the wool or steam setting can also be used.
  • Treat small stains by rinsing them with cold water or seltzer and then blotting them dry with a clean cloth.
  • When you do need to wash wool, put it on a delicate settings and don’t rub it. If your washer allows you to adjust the spin cycle, make sure it is very low.
  • To remove excess water after washing, gently roll the garment in a towel.
  •  Dry on a flat surface away from direct heat or sunlight. Wool should never be put in the dryer, as that is likely to result in shrinking. 
  • When traveling, loosely roll or fold wool garments with tissue paper to keep the fabric’s shape and avoid wrinkles.
  •  Dry cleaning once a season is usually sufficient to keep wool garments in good shape. Some people like to dry clean more frequently.

The idea for this post was a result of clients being frustrated with their wool items shrinking even after following the directions carefully. I wish I could provide all the answers. Simply said, there are many different types of wool and many inconsistencies, often based on price.  Hopefully some the tips above will be helpful.

I have not had much trouble with my wool pieces, but I typically spot clean and dry clean because I’m often wearing something underneath the wool piece and they don’t need to be cleaned as frequently.

Over to you. What is your take on wool? Do you wear it often or not at all? How do you clean your wool?

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