Archive | April, 2012

My Closet, Reimagined

19 Apr

In my last post, I discovered that sometimes the stuff in my closet is not so old and boring after all, when combined in new ways. Here are a few more strategies I have been using to breathe new life into my wardrobe. I am using these pics to illustrate the point, but of course I only wish these were my clothes! They are street style shots photographed by Elle in Paris at Fashion Week and elsewhere. (If you click on the image, skip the Elle.com ad and go to the full slide show of photos for more inspiration.) The point is not to copy the look wholesale, but if you squint your eyes, maybe you can imagine your own version of these trends, using stuff that’s already hanging in your own closet.

Layering

layered-knits

Ordinary items can look very new again if combined artfully. Biker gloves and sequin pants don't have a place in my closet at the moment, but a little patent leather and a little sparkle never hurt an outfit that I know of.

Electric Color: I haven’t sprung for this much electric color at once, but I do have a few electric tank tops from the Gap that I am layering under other tops and showing just an edge of bright color.

Somehow this lady pulls off wearing electric blue pants with ease. If kids love bright colors, shouldn't we? What bright color are you going to try this season?

Another take on electric blue. The grey coat with soft texture really tones it down pleasantly.

White on Neutral: I’m pretty scared to white around my kids, but it makes sense to me if you’re going to wear it, wear it on top, out of reach of dirty hands. A clean white shirt feels so luxurious to me, I might just opt for that on me next date night.

all-white-ensemble photographed by Elle

Here's one way to wear white - multiple white layers, grey pants and a black accessory. (I love to imagine what shoes you could wear with this outfit- anything from Converse high tops to wedge boots would work.)

Color on Color: Our kids aren’t afraid of bright colors, whether painting with them, wearing them, or eating them. An outfit with a great combination of colors has instant appeal. When asking yourself if two colors look good together, I always go with my gut, even if the answer isn’t immediately obvious to others. After all, there’s no reason getting dressed shouldn’t be fun.

Is there such a thing as being too old to wear green nail polish?

Neon: There’s nothing like a pop-of-80’s-neon to liven up a neutral top and pant. I’ve seen neon on everything from T-shirts to shoelaces, but I use it sparingly because don’t like the color to be overpowering.  

A-pop-of-neon photographed by Elle at Fashion Week

One way to tone down a slightly garish pattern is to show just a peep of it. Also, a-pop-of-neon bag livens up a neutral top and pants.

Sweater with Bold Print: I don’t have a chunky sweater with stars on it, but this photo makes me wish I did.

Even the brown paper bag in the other hand can't take away from the freshness of this outfit. I love how the orange bag brings out the warm tones of the stars in her sweater. I also love the pairing of a**-kicking boots with a preppy tweed vest.

Easygoing Leather: It’s not cheap, but a good leather jacket can last for decades, and can take on a range of personalities. It’s warm too! I got one last year with simple styling, and I am not afraid of getting it dirty, because I can wipe it clean with a damp cloth. (And dark colors hide dirt well.)

Wait! Here's an outfit that I could actually imagine wearing as-is.

Boots with Skirts: Just a reminder that boots don’t just go with pants – I love boots so much they probably deserve their own blog post. I keep mine waterproof by taking it to the shoe place for waterproofing at the beginning and end of every rainy season. I don’t mind if my boots take a beating – unlike with more delicate shoes, it only adds to their character. (I do avoid suede boots for kid-related activities because they age less gracefully than standard leather.)

Boots with Skirt

Sometimes pairing opposites like clunky boots and delicate skirts can make for a fun contrast.

Just for Fun

Let's play dress up

I can't imagine what you could take away from this photo, other than, "Ouch, those shoes look like they hurt." On the other hand, my 3 year old daughter would love to play dress up with that skirt (which appears to come straight out of the remnant bin at Joanne Fabrics.)

Nothing Ventured, Nothing Gained: Not every outfit has staying power. This one should probably have stayed in the closet – though without taking risks, you might miss out on creating the outfits you end up loving the most!

Sarah-Rutson puffy vest

I was really glad to see the sporty puffer vest featured as a haute couture item on Elle.com - I pretty much live in mine, though I don't wear it with platform ankle boots and a trippy Native American long john pant.

Last Look: Are moms cool enough to pull this off?

Sandals with socks

The caption to this photo on Elle's site is "Keep your spring sandals in rotation year-round by pairing them with thin cashmere socks." My caption for moms (or anyone over 30) would be, "Don't try this look at home, because on anyone but hipsters in their 20s, this look is reminiscent of wearing socks with your Birkenstocks." (Then again, what do I know, I wasn't the one photographed for Elle.com, was I?)

Overall, I am impressed by how wearable these looks are by us regular folks on the street – putting aside the pricey handbags, on the whole they seem quite achievable with ordinary wardrobe items. There is very little fuss visible in putting these outfits together, especially considering these ladies are among the who’s-who of the fashion world. Rather than conforming to the latest trends, they look like they are having fun expressing themselves through clothes – which is really the point of all this, isn’t it?

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Free closet help (really!)

16 Apr

I discovered a really cool closet trick that I’ve been meaning to post about, but I have had writers block from seeking an interesting way to introduce it. So, in order to get the idea up quickly, allow me to skip the intro and get right to the meat of the discovery. Maybe you will appreciate it on the day before income taxes are due – who couldn’t use a little closet help without spending more money.

The idea came from something I read online someplace (if I remember where, I will update this post with the credit) and it goes something like this:

It’s pretty clear that a closet cleared of clutter serves the owner much better than a closet full of unappealing or ill-fitting stuff. Yet, the problem is finding the time to get it organized.  Well, now you don’t have to set aside special time to do it, if you follow this handy little trick.

Image

After you wear something, hang it back up in your closet with the hanger backwards. Try to wear everything at least once, before wearing the items again with the hanger turned around already. After a few weeks, you will have identified the stuff that you’re not wearing, which you now need to take a closer look at.

The clothes that are left unworn will probably fit into these categories –

1) Don’t like anymore -> Get rid of it. Give away to charity, offer it to a friend, sell it, or go to a clothing exchange. (I always have a plastic bag in my closet that I am filling up with stuff to give away.)

2) Doesn’t fit -> If it can be fixed by tailoring, create a pile for “take to tailor”. Otherwise, let it go into the “get rid of” pile. (Caveat: If you are within one year of having given birth, cut yourself some slack, but put away what you’re not wearing and pull it out again in a few months. The point is to only leave stuff in your closet that you are actually wearing *now*).

3) Out of season -> Box up and put into the garage/ attic/ storage space until the weather changes.

4) Need something to wear with it -> Start a “wish list” of what item you are missing to go with it, whether it’s a matching top, bottom, shoes, belt or bra.  Keep the list somewhere in your closet with a pen nearby, so that you can add to it easily, as inspiration strikes. When filling in the gaps, shop your closet first, and encourage yourself to re-imagine wearing something with it that you already own. (Pick up a good fashion mag like InStyle or Elle for some inspiration about unexpected combinations that work, like below. I’m not saying you need to wear avant-garde runway looks to the playground, but don’t be afraid to go a little outside your comfort zone.)  And next time you go shopping, take your “wish list” with you.

Elle magazine spring collection

Check out a fashion mag like Elle magazine for inspiration; sometimes combining two patterns and textures can look fresh and inspired.

By sticking to this system for about three weeks, I freed up about half of my closet by putting away the stuff that was not being worn. After filling a large box with stuff for warmer weather, and another bag for give-away, I was looking at a closet full of stuff I could actually wear. Now, looking at my closet doesn’t start a panic attack – getting dressed is faster, feels better, and I can get creative with new combinations.

Street style photographed by Elle magazine

Orange and burgundy? Consider re-imagining color combinations in your wardrobe, in any way that feels right for you.

I haven’t applied the weeding out to the folded part of my closet, but I think the same technique should work, if I start with an empty drawer and only put the stuff I’ve worn in there, leaving the questionables behind to be sorted out.

Why I love this approach:

1) it points honestly to the “deadwood” in your closet – either it’s been worn or it hasn’t

2) it has inspired me to find ways to wear the stuff I was passing over before

3) it has caused me to feel grateful for the stuff I already own

4) I did this at my own pace and felt no time pressure to complete the task – you can take as much time as you need to get to the end result.

Because I stopped wearing the same three pairs of jeans every week, I got myself out of a fashion rut. I even got myself to wear a skirt, and realized with tights and boots on colder days, I really enjoyed it. When I found something missing a top or bottom to go with it, I reconsidered which colors and patterns could go together. You might be thinking “uh oh”, but it doesn’t mean you have to look like a kid dressing themselves for the first time.  Most moms I know (myself included) could stand a little kick of color in their wardrobe – and certain bright colors are very “now”. (Even neon and printed pants are making a comeback, with 1980’s flair, though I don’t think I am ready to go there just yet.)

Printed pants are making a comeback from the 80's

With all the 80's trends being revived lately, it was just a matter of time before pants with patterns made their comeback. I'm going to stay on the sidelines for that trend, at least for now. (Fashion week in Paris, 2012)

I am especially loving yellow, coral and turquoise, as a promise of the warmer, sunnier weather soon to come. And for the stuff I wasn’t wearing because I didn’t have the right shoes, I took the time to pull out all the shoes I had, and, looky here – I had forgotten about several pairs which actually filled the gap.

Next month, when Uncle Sam isn’t knocking on my door, looking to get paid, I may take my  own “wish list” and hit the stores. But then again, I am liking the challenge of trying to shop my own closet for everything I am missing – because I am convinced, as I let go of my own rules, I am bound to make even more new discoveries of what to wear inside my own closet. You might even say where creativity leads, inspiration follows. Or something like that.

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