Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Editing Your Closet

If a show existed calling "clothing hoarders," my husband would have nominated me a few months ago.   I am not kidding about this.  I love clothes and I have a huge attachment to them.  Prom dress?  Yes, I had it at my parents' house.  Bridesmaid dresses?  Check.  Old jackets I wore when I first became a news anchor and will never wear again?  Check.  However, I recently spent nearly a month away from my closet except for some key items.  And honestly, I didn't miss most of my clothes while they were packed away in storage.  Before and after we moved, I purged more than 7 full bags of clothes out of my closet and drawers.   I'm now starting to fill my 8th bag.

Editing Your Closet

Here is how I made this transformation.   It wasn't easy but I have to admit, I feel so much better with a fresh clean closet.   Now, my closet is starting to become a reflection of who I am right now - a busy mother and wife -  and a fashion lover. (Not an 18-year-old prom date, bridesmaid 10 years ago, and not a news anchor needing very dressy clothes 5 days a week anymore.)

Editing Your Closet

1.  Define Yourself & Your Style:  For starters, answer the key questions I could never answer  - Who are you right now / what is your style?  What size are you right now?   My problem hanging onto old clothes stemmed from these two key areas.  I wanted to see who I once was in my closet - whether it was 15 years ago or 5 years ago.  I wanted my closet to be a trip down memory lane.  But who wants that when they are rushing to get ready in the morning?  It makes getting dressed a nightmare.  Your closet is filled with clothes that don't represent your updated style or your current size.  Now, if I have a beautiful picture wearing a dress or outfit I once loved and don't use it, it's now gone.  (Except my wedding dress.  I just can't part with it.)   Don't be afraid to discover and be who you are right now.  Sure, it's crucial to have goals about your career, your weight, your income, etc., but love yourself as you are at this very moment!

2.  Think Like a Fashion Editor:  Turn the words/phrases "cleaning" or "clearing out" your closet into something positive - editing your closet.   Just as a fashion editor selects only the best pieces of clothing and best accessories to grace the pages of the newest magazine, you too should be just as selective when going through your closet.  You want to represent your best self at work and on the weekends, so why shouldn't your closet be a reflection of that?

3.  What Do You Wear?  If you are still having some trouble with this, (yes, that's me), make mental or actual notes of what you wear on a weekly basis.  What are your staple items?  (Black pants, patterned tops, jeans, etc.)  When we moved out of our former house and into our new house, I lived out of a suitcase of clothes with three to four pairs of pants, five shirts and several dresses for a month.  Again, this was a shock to me - I didn't miss my closet.  It was actually nice not to have to sort through racks of clothes that didn't fit correctly or weren't the right color, making the process of getting dressed incredibly frustrating.  

4.  Share the Love:  Give someone else a chance to love your clothes/accessories.  When I have clothes/accessories I know I will have a hard time letting go of, I give them to people I know will love them.  For instance, all of those old anchor jackets I had such a hard time parting with went into the closets of some of my smart and promising former broadcast journalism students who are just starting their careers.  

5.  See the Green:  Consign your clothes.   If you're looking to buy some new clothes (wouldn't it be nice to have some cash to help with a shopping trip?), consider taking your old clothes to a consignment shop.  I absolutely love Second Time Around (STA).   I get rid of my old clothes and it gives me an account (and a discount) to shop for clothes!  And, it's also environmentally friendly to buy clothes that have already been worn and loved.   Plus, the locations I've used donate the clothes they don't want or that don't sell to charities.  So, it's win-win-win.

Preview:  Organizing Your Closet (I'll have much more on this soon. I am still in the process!)  Here's what I've learned so far.

Set up your closet like a boutique.  Dressing should be a fun experience.   Organize your clothes by style and color.  Also, put as much on display as you can.  When you can look at all your clothes in an organized and classy way, you'll quickly see which items no longer belong to be part of the boutique.  This is how I have gotten to be the most picky.  I want my closet to look stylish and some clothes are weighing it down!

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

The Pure Joy of Getting Dressed Up

It was one of those moments I will remember forever.  Charlotte and I were sitting together watching Sesame Street.  She wanted to see what she calls "dress up," which is Katy Perry and Elmo singing "Hot N Cold."   Then it occurred to me, why don't we play dress up instead of just watching it?  We walked upstairs to her closet and pulled out a blue antique dress a family friend gave me when she was born.  She was absolutely over the moon when she saw it.  

As soon as we got back downstairs, she put both her little arms up in the air to put the dress on over her clothes.  I couldn't button it and tie the bow fast enough.  I wish I could have captured the wonder in her eyes and face on camera at the moment she looked at the beautiful dress she was wearing.  Charlotte was nearly running to her little pink kitchen to start playing.  Why dress up if you can't have a tea party?  We gathered her little plastic tea cups, cupcakes, tea pot and, of course, her animal friends.  She served them tea and cupcakes and hugged her dolly.  Then, I brought out my pink ballet dance shoes for her to wear.  She proudly stood in her little kitchen in her light blue dress and enormous pink ballet slippers as happy as someone could possibly be.   It was a magical moment.

I cannot keep thinking about the wonder and amazement in Charlotte's face with every new experience.  Seeing and putting on a new "dress up" dress is like winning the lottery to an adult.  But it's better - it's pure, innocent unfiltered joy.   

It makes me think not only about how I greet new experiences but also everyday life.  Something as magical to Charlotte as putting a special dress on has, unfortunately, become a chore to most of us.   Even though I love fashion, getting dressed can be a headache.  "My stomach doesn't look good in this." "This doesn't look right on me either."  "This is too old."  "This color looks louder than it did on the rack."  This negative flow of thoughts is something that would never occur to my sweet baby girl.  She is too busy bursting and squealing with excitement. Her moment of unfiltered joy reminded me that I've lost some of that.  I'm sometimes too busy being hard on myself to enjoy putting on a beautiful garment. 

I need to rekindle the wonder of putting on a special - or even everyday - outfit.  I know have to identify those pieces in my closet that make me feel absolutely magical and wear them more often.  Getting dressed isn't just about how you look - it's also largely about how you feel.  It really is about the simple things - putting on a beautiful piece of clothing or an accessory and bursting with joy as Charlotte did so sweetly!  As Kate Spade said, "Playing dress up begins at age five and never truly ends."

Monday, June 9, 2014

Sweet on Style's New Woman of Style

Ashley Firth is a fabulous fashionista, a talented wedding/professional photographer, a reality star (she was on TLC's I Found the Gown), and a bridal inspiration (she was just featured by Brides Magazine). Ashley is one of those women who makes looking like a million bucks effortless. The former Miss Petite America says she is a savvy sale and consignment-minded shopper. That makes me love her style even more! Her personal style suits her outgoing, fun personality perfectly. The shades of bright pink, orange and purple in her wedding bouquet and accessories are a perfect example. She is someone who isn't afraid to show the world who she is and I love that about her!  

Ashley's stunning wedding was at the Boston Museum of Science in June 2013. I hope you enjoy reading about her wedding style and fashion philosophy as much as I did. You can see her work behind the camera as owner of Ashley Lynn Photography here. Her gorgeous wedding photos are by the talented Todd Ward of Todd Ward Studios.  

Photo by:  Todd Ward Studios

Photo by:  Todd Ward Studios

Photo by:  Todd Ward Studios

Describe your personal style in a few words. Champagne taste on a savvy consignment budget!
What/who inspires you when it comes to fashion? Color, joy, shape, and my work all inspire me. As a professional photographer I see so many people and I always tell them to dress in whatever makes them feel great, and they always come to me with the cutest outfits. I like simple looks, and I don't layer very often, so I guess I really like staple pieces. Skinny jeans/pants, ankle length anything (they fit me best haha!), and I'm not afraid of a great animal print!

You always look so chic. Do you have a philosophy for putting an outfit together? I wish I did! I base my outfits on emotion. On a gray dreary day, I dress bright and happy to influence my mood. On a wonderful day, I do the same! For photographing weddings I wear all black, by choice, to blend in to the background, so it's nice to have fun color pieces in daily life.

You are in my opinion, the ultimate bride. Brides Magazine just featured your wedding and you were on TLC's I Found the Gown! Describe your bridal style. THANK YOU! After shooting weddings for 10 years, and competing in hundreds of really ornate and beautiful pageant gowns, I wanted my bridal style to really feel different for me than anything I had worn. For a girl who loves sparkle I asked for none of it. I wanted a structured classic and sleek look with fabric detailing. I wanted to stand out in more of a matte way. My amazing husband is Japanese and for our wedding we were folding 1,000 paper cranes in tradition. When I tried on my dress at Vows for I Found the Gown, the consultant compared the folds of my bodice to origami. It was fate. I am by no means understated, however, and I knew I wanted my accessories to stand out. I had hot pink and orange (our wedding colors) rhinestoned platform heels, a huge pink and gold necklace, and my grandmother's original head-piece from her wedding 45 years prior. I also asked for a cathedral-length veil because I love to photograph them!

Photo by:  Todd Ward Studios

Photo by:  Todd Ward Studios

How did you get the event as well as your gown/bridal style to coordinate so perfectly? Everything was impeccable! (And I absolutely love the necklace!) We based everything on our relationship for the wedding. It was a wedding for a minute, but a marriage for life. My favorite color is pink, and my husbands' is orange. So that was it, there were our theme and detail colors. I made sure that everything had a modern flare to it and that we had straight clean lines-- rosette table runners with sleek square centerpieces, fun and classic. The bridal look was no exception, the clean lines of the rouched dress paired with the absolutely amazing ruffled skirt made me feel like a rockstar. I also kept the same feel of fabrics throughout. I had my best friend-bridesmaids in taffeta to match the formality of the event, but in fun short dresses that they picked out themselves. Everything had a subtle shine  

Photo by:  Todd Ward Studios

Photo by:  Todd Ward Studios

As a savvy bride and also a photographer what mistakes do you think many brides make (with style, make up, the ceremony/after party)? Makeup for me was my biggest thing for photos. I hired a wonderful friend and I went totally glam with big long lashes. I wish that brides would really focus on their makeup and stress that I still want them to look like themselves, and it may seem weird to have more makeup on than they normally wear, but in photos it's how your features stand out! Also, factor in sitting and dancing when picking out and fitting your dress, make sure that you can enjoy the happiest day of your life!

Photo by:  Todd Ward Studios

Photo by:  Todd Ward Studios

I have to ask, what was it like being on I Found the Gown? It was surreal, and such a wonderful documented piece of our relationship and journey to the aisle! One of the reasons they cast me is because I am a savvy sale and consignment-minded shopper, and that is the whole premise to the show. Great gowns at discounted sample pricing. I wanted a dress that didn't necessarily top every pageant dress I have ever worn in sparkle, but in the feeling that it gave me. I wanted to feel like the most beautiful bride, and I wasn't held back by my budget because of the show and the store it brought me to. I so completely recommend Vows because I never would have been able to have that dress without them!

Photo by:  Todd Ward Studios

Saturday, June 7, 2014

5 Ways to Wear It: The Bright Pink Bag

This bag is truly fit for a princess.  My wonderful friend Elizabeth Malvasia is Planet Ballroom International's spokesmodel (and an incredible ballroom dancer) AKA "PB Princess."  I love the way she styled this bag with a striped top and gold accessories!  Very chic!  You can follow her accessories guide and all of her adventures on her blog, The Planet Ballroom Pulse: Your Personal Guide to a Life of Inspiration, Energy and Glamour.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

5 Ways to Wear It: The Bright Pink Bag

Going Nautical with Sparkle

This coat is probably the one item in my wardrobe I receive the most comments on routinely.   I found it at Macy's on the clearance rack a few years ago.  It's such a statement piece, I know I've got to take really good care of it so it stays in my closet a long time.   Hot pink was a natural pairing with it for me, but I can't wait to try it out with a yellow bag too!

Coat:  Macy's
Dress:  Banana Republic
Necklace:  Bauble Bar
Sunglasses:  My Husband's / American Optical (AO)

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

5 Ways to Wear It: The Bright Pink Bag

Restyling a Treasured Dress

This dress will always be one of my favorites because I wore it when I was pregnant with Charlotte.   I bought it because I loved the print and it was high quality (and on sale!).  I didn't actually think I would be able to wear it again after carrying a nearly 10 pound baby in it.  However, it went right back to its original size without a problem (wouldn't it be nice if our bodies instantly did that too)?  

Bag:  Charming Charlie
Dress:  Rosie Pope Maternity
Jean Jacket:  Old Navy
Pearls:  Bloomingdale's Outlet
Sunglasses:  My Husband's

I think Charlotte already loves bags as much as I do :)

And here is the original way I wore this dress!
(With my sister, Anne)

With my husband

5 Ways to Wear It: The Bright Pink Bag

Making a Statement:  Black, White & Pink.  One of my staples is always a great, versatile pair of pants I can dress up or dress down.  I got these at Old Navy and they're perfect for nearly everything - errands, playing in the grass with Charlotte or a dressier dinner paired with a black silk tank.   They are the kind of pants that won't last forever though.  The quality just isn't that great.  But for the price, they're perfect for a season of wear.

Sweater:  J. Crew Factory
Belt:  Charming Charlie

Amelie Sparkle Bracelet:  `Stella & Dot by Erika Lehman
Gold Cuff:  Teeney Treasures

Wedges:  Michael Kors (Please excuse the bad self tanner job on the feet :)...)

Sunday, June 1, 2014

5 Ways to Wear It: The Bright Pink Bag

Hello!   I am thrilled that it's finally June!  In my little world, it means after 4 very long months of being away from my husband (because of his new job), Charlotte, Ben and I are finally together in our new house.  We are settling in and going through all the boxes day by day.   After we sold our previous house and waited for our new house to close, I was stayed with my parents for 3 weeks.  My dad (former pilot and aerial photographer) shot these pictures for me!

I found this bright pink bag, called the Clarabelle Solid Satchel, at Charming Charlie and immediately scooped it off the rack.  I wear it every day and it's actually even big enough to carry my essentials and Charlotte's.  The best part?  It has a shoulder strap you can attach (and you can clean it very easily).  It's also lined with black and white striping, which I love.  It's bringing new life to both my new and older clothes.  At our closing, the bank attorney commented on it and mentioned how she has a similar bag but has always been afraid to wear such a bright color until she saw mine.  It's amazing how one accessory can make an outfit!

Dress:  Charming Charlie (Sale Rack!)  
Sunglasses:  Kate Spade
Necklace:  XSRE
Bracelets:  Teeney Treasures and Stella & Dot
Shoes (Below):  Michael Kors Wedges