Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Accessory Organization

I LOVE accessories.  One thing I've learned over and over from doing this blog and just experimenting with different outfits is that they are the easiest way to bring personality and trends to a look.  If you have great key items in your closet, you can wear them year-to-year and just add accessories and a few key trend clothing items rather than always buying dozens of things you'll rarely wear. 

Organizing accessories is something, however, I haven't always loved.  I just could never find a good system.  Not only did my lack of savvy accessory organization aggravate me, I rarely wore most of my accessories because it was too much of a pain to find them in the first place! I I would strongly recommend either using a closet system for your entire closet (you can find some reasonably priced ones at Lowe's & Home Depot) or a bookshelf to organize your accessories.  A simple bookshelf from a store, thrift store or wherever is a lifesaver!  The money is worth the sanity of having a well organized closet!  It has made all the difference in getting dressed.  Here's what I used to do and here is how I am organizing my accessories now.  

Necklaces, Bracelets & Rings
NOW:  I store them on "accessory stands" and right on the shelves like you see at stores.  It makes sense the way retailers organize them.  I can see my accessories every day and think about how I'd match them to an outfit.  Also, by hanging the necklaces or storing them flat, they don't end up completely tangled.  I had to get rid of several necklaces because they were beyond repair.   I got this gray accessory stand at T.J. Maxx and I think it was about $15.00.  I can also store rings and brooches on the bottom of it.  I love it so much, I am in search of another one now!   

Notice the beautiful, sparkling Amelie
(below the anchor necklace)

BEFORE:  I used to store each necklace or set of bracelets in a plastic bag in clear bins in my closet.  I couldn't see them every day, so I didn't wear them.  And because they were not hanging, they were a total mess! 

NOW:  I also store many of them on this accessory hanger.  Again, the beauty of this is that they don't get tangled and I can see them in my closet. I got this one for $5 at Target!  (However, Charlotte can see them too, which means she always wants to wear them :))

Notice the stunning Mialisia necklace with 

NOW:  I found this scarf rack at Target and thought I would give it a try for my belts.  I've seen other people flawlessly organize their belts on a tie rack on the wall, but I didn't want to affix something to my wall unless it was the last option.   So far, this has worked great!  I separated the belts by color and it's easy to find them and it keeps them in order. 

BEFORE:   I used to roll my belts, put them in clear plastic bags and then put them in a large bin under my bed.  However, if you are in a hurry and need to try on several belts, this does not work well at all.  Who has time to sit around rolling belts back into place?  Needless to say, it ended up being a mess!!  

NOW:  I keep them on the top of the shelves of the closet unit.  This works amazingly well.  I can keep the paper stuffing in them and see them at all times! Oh, how I love them!  Again, this is why a bookshelf is also great!  You can store them on top or on certain shelves of the bookshelf.  

BEFORE:  I used to store them on a shelf in my closet.  The clothes from the top rack would cover them.  I couldn't see them and some of them got quite crushed.  I should have cleared part of the bottom area and put a small bookshelf there to store my bags.  That would have been much better. 

Monday, August 25, 2014

Sweet Closet Organization

Another Look & The Most Challenging But Most Important Step

My closet organization started long before I ever stepped into my new closet.    I wish I could say it magically organized itself - or a team of people came in and magically did it for me - but that was not the case!   This first step is incredibly hard, especially if you are like me and become attached to your clothes and accessories.   I've written about part of this before, but now I can tell you the after effects - and they were far more than I anticipated! 

First, here are a few more pics of the new look...

Cleaning Your Closet: Finding Potential (and Money) in Your Closet
I did a massive cleaning job in my closet before and after we moved.   I purged at least 7 full garbage bags of clothing from my closet.  Here's where it went and here are the after effects:

I. Consignment:  I've made almost $500 ($482 to be exact) so far from consigning items from my closet!  Those items (clothing & accessories) were just sitting there not being used. I am now getting ready to consign fall/winter clothes.  Here is how I did it:

    Second Time Around:  I've shopped at and consigned with Second Time Around for as long as I think they've been around. I brought several bags of clothing to a Second Time Around Store in Portsmouth, NH.  What I love about them is that they donate the items they don't think will sell or that don't end up selling!   So far, I've made around $120 there.  Plus, they reward their consignors.  I got a $10 off birthday coupon by e-mail, so I ended up getting a barely used J. Crew dress for $5 cash (by using my coupon and the remaining $11 I had in my consignment account).

    Tradesy:  I saw Tradesy on Facebook and figured I'd give it a try.  I sold two pairs of sunglasses, two handbags and a pair of shoes on the site so far - making a total of $345.  I hesitated to get rid of them because I paid a lot for some of these items.  However, I had to ask myself, what use are they if they are just sitting in the back of my closet not getting used?  I think Tradesy is a great place to sell because people shopping there are specifically looking for designer bags, clothing and other accessories.   I sold all 5 of these items on Tradesy within the last 2 months.

    Local Consignment / New 2 You Fine Consignment Boutique:   There are a plethora of new consignment stores cropping up in many areas.  I dropped off a shopping bag of clothing and accessories at New 2 You.  It's owned locally and the owner was extremely welcoming and wonderful to deal with.   She even took items that were slightly damaged to sell "as is," which some consignment stores will not do.  The bonus was that I found a great pair of ankle length jeans, which I had been trying to find for a year now.  The best part?  I bought them for around $10 or $11 and they had the original White House / Black Market tags on them for $88. Now, that is a deal!

II.  Former Students: I gave several bags of clothing to some of my amazing former students.  I know they are going to do great things in their careers and they just make me so proud.  You can't put a dollar amount on that!

What is the Other Real "After" Effect?  I have actual space in my closet!  I don't have clothes and accessories I never wear weighing my closet down.  Ok, there are still some, but there are now 7-plus garbage bags fewer clothes there.   It makes it much easier to select something to wear every day.  I don't have to go through all of the things that either don't fit or I no longer like.  

Tomorrow, I'll talk about the construction of my new space & how I've organized some of my accessories!

Thursday, August 21, 2014

"The Truth About Style" Words of Wisdom

I just finished Stacy London's "The Truth About Style" and it is brilliant.  After I finished reading it, I looked down at my precious 2-year-old, Charlotte, who was napping in her crib (after trying to read the book herself) and thought, "Don't ever let anyone else define you or your life."  

You probably know Stacy London from TLC's "What Not to Wear."  I've always loved the show but I admire her even more after this book.  As a stylist, she is fierce.  This book shows she is a real person. She has worries, doubts and insecurities just like the rest of us. Her words of wisdom are helpful in both style and in life.  In the book, she tells her story and  details the stories of nine real women with different style challenges. She shares the underlying causes of their common style ruts - everything from the fear of standing out from the crowd, insecurities with your body to putting yourself last in life.  I borrowed the book from the library, but the book contains so many words of wisdom, I want a copy on my bookshelf at all times!

Here are a few of my favorite quotations from "The Truth About Style" by Stacy London:

The Power of Personal Style 

Stepping Out of Your Comfort Zone

"If you don't allow for the possibility of failure in style, you can't achieve success with it either.  There is only exploration and if you don't explore, you can't evolve.  If you don't take a step, a path will never appear."   (Stacy London)

Loving Yourself

"No matter how much you subjectively love or hate your shape, it's still the same body you're going to wake up with each morning.  Stop exhausting yourself hoping, wishing, praying to be someone different, and take pleasure in knowing that you are who you are, in all your fabulous uniqueness.  Go about the business of working with that real body to create a style you love and can love your shape in."   (Stacy London)

Being Confident with Your Life & Your Style

"If you feel you have the knowledge that what you are doing is right for you, then screw anyone who says otherwise"..."You're the only one living your life, wearing your clothes and walking in your shoes. Primarily, you've just got to please yourself."

These is brief a sampling of her wise advice.  She's absolutely right;  style is about far more than just pieces of fabric we put on our bodies every day!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

I accepted the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge and I am proud to support those who suffer from ALS.   As you can probably guess from my personality, I had to do the challenge in style.  And I am multitasking here; this dress is hand wash cold.  On a serious note, below is why I think the Ice Bucket Challenge is far more than just a stream of videos on your Facebook feed. 

Growing up, one of my favorite books was always "Tuesdays with Morrie."  It sheds light on ALS in an emotional and touching way.   In it, a former student reconnects with his favorite professor who is dying of ALS.  Their bond and the time they share is moving.  (Below the picture is an excerpt from the book.) While pouring a bucket of ice on your head does seem rather silly, these videos are in all seriousness, no joke.  They are helping those who suffer from a devastating disease - a disease that very few of us can even comprehend living with every day.  I am sure many who are diagnosed wonder and fear whether anyone will even know what ALS is or take time time to understand it.  These videos show that countless strangers are behind them. 
That is truly touching.  

                                                Mary's ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

Excerpt from "Tuesdays with Morrie" by Mitch Albom:

"The last class of my old professor's life took place once a week in his house, by a window in the study where he could watch a small hibiscus plant shed its pink leaves. The class met on Tuesdays. It began after breakfast. The subject was The Meaning of Life. It was taught from experience.

No grades were given, but there were oral exams each week. You were expected to respond to questions, and you were expected to pose questions of your own. You were also required to perform physical tasks now and then, such as lifting the professor's head to a comfortable spot on the pillow or placing his glasses on the bridge of his nose. Kissing him good-bye earned you extra credit.

No books were required, yet many topics were covered, including love, work, community, family, aging, forgiveness, and, finally, death. The last lecture was brief, only a few words.

A funeral was held in lieu of graduation.

Although no final exam was given, you were expected to produce one long paper on what was learned. That paper is presented here.

The last class of my old professor's life had only one student.
I was the student."

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

One Sweet Find: The Striped Skirt

One Sweet Find:  5 Ways to Wear It
The Transition Piece

I snapped up this skirt not only because it's comfortable, but also because it was full of possibility.  It's a great beach skirt paired with a cotton tank top.  But it can also be dressed up rather easily with a shell, blazer, belt and clutch.  It's a great transition piece in a few ways:  1)  You can wear this skirt to both informal and slightly more formal occasions.  2)  You can wear this in warm and cool weather.    I paid less than $30 for this skirt at Target, but this would be a great higher quality investment piece since it can be worn over and over again. 

One of the reasons I first started "One Sweet Find:  5 Ways to Wear It" was basically to experiment and see which clothes were truly versatile.  Those are the pieces of clothing worth keeping in your closet.   I've drastically cleared out my closet and I'd venture to say that I still only wear about 25 percent of the clothing I own on a regular basis.  Why?  The pieces that sit there are not versatile.  They can't easily be dressed down or up or paired with other pieces of clothing or accessories easily.   Of course, you need some of these items in your closet, but not too many if you'll never wear them.    Just some food for thought...


Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Why I Started Sewing & Now Love It

I never thought I'd say I love sewing.  I remember making a gym bag in a home economics class in middle school and wanting to throw the fabric on the ground I was so frustrated.  I tried to sew a few more projects shortly after that and they didn't end well.  I haven't sewed anything since then.  I've always had the mindset that I am a far better shopper than I am seamstress (and I still believe that is true for the most part).  However, I was inspired by Jessica Quirk from one of my favorite blogs "What I Wore" - and Pinterest.  I started dreaming of some projects I could make.  It all started with wanting to make custom pillows for our new home.  I fell in love with some fabric and luckily, my mother-in-law and father-in-law bought me a sewing machine for Christmas.  Only recently did I start sewing (I haven't tackled the pillows yet) and here is why I love it so far.  I know sewing is not for everyone, but, honestly, I never expected some of the reasons I love it, so I had to share this. 

5.  Being Able to Spruce Up Your Home with Gorgeous & Unique Fabrics:  Can't find a pillow or valance shape or print you like?  There are endless fabric choices online and in fabric stores.   And with Pinterest and a huge selection of home decorating blogs, there are endless tutorials with videos and detailed instructions to help you along the way.  (I found this fabric to match the Pottery Barn herringbone rug I bought to the left.)


4.  Doing Minor Alterations:  I've already started altering a few of my clothes.   I recently bought some tank tops at Banana Republic that I absolutely loved but the straps were too long (striped tank below).  This was actually a very easy fix!   I also sewed a damaged top I loved but probably would have just gotten rid of.  I won't be tackling anything major, but, it's still great to be able to do this at home.   I guess I was spoiled growing up because my mom ran her own business as a seamstress, so I rarely had to spend time visiting a tailor.  I had in-house alterations for all of my clothes.   Having your clothes altered to fit your shape makes a HUGE difference.  Definitely find a great seamstress/tailor in addition to sewing minor things. 


3.  Being Able to Make Custom Clothes:  Imagine looking at an incredible design in one of your favorite style magazines or on Pinterest and being able to say, "I can make that."  Sometimes, I know exactly what I want, but I just can't find it.   That is what motivates me to be able to sew better.  It's definitely going to be a journey, but I really want to sew myself a blush pink coat.  I've been looking for the perfect coat for years and I just haven't found one.  I actually found the pattern in the place I least expected - Walmart - and it cost me $2.97.  I know there will be lots of frustrating moments and mistakes but I think it will be worth it in the end.  

2.  The Pure Joy of It:  I honestly remember sewing being a terrible process.  I was wrong. It's been 20-plus years since that middle school sewing class and I now have more patience and am able to actually ask for help.   Sure, there will be moments when I will constantly be ripping out the stitches I just sewed incorrectly.  But there is a lot of pride in being able to spend my time creating something rather than sitting in front of the TV every night. 

1.  Sewing for Someone Else is Such an Incredible Gift:  This was the true turning point for me.  I was addicted to sewing after this.  My first two projects were dresses for my 2-year-old daughter.   My daughter was so proud of the first dress I made her, she wouldn't take it off for bed.  She was yelling, "Mama made this!  Mama made this!"  So, we let her wear it to bed.  It brought tears to my eyes to think she could be so happy and proud of something I made her.  I've done lots of DIY crafts for her from name banners to a custom chalkboard, but nothing has made her this happy.  Even during the fittings, she wouldn't take  the first dress off.  She was bursting with excitement.   And, honestly, the dresses were not that difficult to make.  My mother-in-law showed me how to make the first and surprisingly, I actually did it all by myself.  The fabric was already pleated at the top (turquoise dress), so I hemmed it, stitched the side seam and made the straps. For the second, the pink dress, I bought the white top and sewed it to the skirt, which I created with the help of my mother.   It was very special creating a dress with my mom for my daughter; it's something I will remember forever.   I am a huge shopper, but I now realize, I honestly can't buy dresses like these anywhere. 

The first dress I made!  

And the second! 

Monday, August 11, 2014

One Sweet Find: The Striped Skirt

One Sweet Find:  5 Ways to Wear It
Black, White & Bright Pink

Black and white can be eye catching on their own, but adding a bright pop of color is always fun, especially during the summer.  I added bright pink, but I also would have loved to add a bright green or yellow bag or clutch to this combination. 

As I study personal style, proportions are, of course, very important to note.  I played with proportions here just for the fun of it. By wearing a longer black top, I am lengthening my torso visually.  This would be good for someone who thinks her legs are too long.  Wouldn't it be nice to be all legs, though?  :)  

I also rolled the elastic waistline and wore this skirt shorter rather than longer in the left photo.   I'm curious what you think because sometimes it's harder to evaluate ourselves than evaluate others.  I think the skirt gives me the illusion of longer legs and a taller frame as its worn on the right.  There are other variables like the jean jacket which visually cuts me at the waist also making my legs also appear longer.  The tank top worn alone on the left, makes me appear leaner, however.  And I could see how some of you might say, this photo is more "long and lean."  I think it gives me the illusion of a long torso and shorter legs.  With the top worn closer to the waist, I'd look more proportionate.  I'll have to try the same exact outfit with different skirt lengths to show you the illusions you can create.  Style is a fascinating science!

Another hint?  If you want to visually lengthen yourself, wear pointed shoes to give the illusion of length.  I found that piece of advice from Stacy London of What Not to Wear and author of the book "The Truth About Style," which is absolutely brilliant. 

Skirt:  Target
Top:  Target
 Handbag:  Charming Charlie

Sunday, August 10, 2014

One Sweet Find: The Striped Skirt

One Sweet Find:  5 Ways to Wear It 

Striped, Denim & Tory

I found this striped stretchy skirt at Target and I immediately snapped it up because it's so versatile - and it's comfortable!    The fabric is soft on your skin and breathes well even on the hottest of days.  I love that it's versatile enough to wear to the office, the beach and everywhere in between.   It's also one of those skirts you can wear long or short.   Here, I paired it with a well loved denim jacket and a classic handbag I've wanted for a very long time - a Tory Burch leather and gold handbag that I scored at Second Time Around. 

Skirt:  Target
Top:  Target
Jacket: Old Navy
Bag:  Tory Burch / Second Time Around
Sunglasses:  Coach