Dress up Drawer
Want to have some fun on this week?  Head over to The Dress-up Drawer for an amazing week of reader-favorite giveaways!  I just discovered this cute little blog and have been amazed by the wonderful giveaways from all the talented people.  From cute, to stylish, to sweet-smelling - there is something for everyone, especially the mom set!
Have fun!!  (just don't win the ones I want to!)
I have been remiss, people.  And I apologize.
How could I not have featured Diane Keaton before this moment? 
I KNOW she's championed the modest wardrobe for decades upon decades. 
I KNOW she does it in her own unique way. 
What I don't know is why I was so slow to feature her in Modest Moments.
Now I don't always agree with Ms. Keaton's fashion choices.  Sometimes she's quite literally covered from head, to fingertip, to toe.  But in the world of barely-there, see-through dresses held on with tape to cover ones unmentionables, she is a bright and shining star.  She doesn't make excuses for her style and she never looks trampy or trashy.
From Annie Hall to the Modest Hall of Fame - Diane Keaton stands triumphant.  I applaud her dedication.  I'm quite certain she's been approached by scads of designers wanting to dress her in something more "fashionable" (aka more revealing) and the woman has a great body that could wear pretty much anything she wanted. 
But she remains true to herself.  Chic.  Modest.  Quirky.  Fabulous. 
I came across this photo and was about to immediately click past it when the caption caught my eye...
New? Trendy?  I don't think so. 
Well-dressed Europeans have been combining navy and black for ages. (And as luck would have it, what was shown over at The Sartorialist today? A great shot of an Italian girl in... you guessed it, navy and black.)
One of the many style books I read mentioned it several years ago. And I like it.  It's a different twist on monochromatic since the colors are so similar. 

It also isn't anything you have to "dare to try."  It's actually quite safe without being boring.  It's unexpected and sophisticated.  So next time you're headed for that navy skirt and white shirt, grab the black shirt instead.  Or try the black stockings like Michelle did.  I also like a navy top and black jeans with some great accessories.  Just make sure your navy isn't too dark, or you'll lose the necessary contrast.
This is definitely a color combo you can put together year after year!

Coco & her LBD

Q - "You and many others have mentioned the necessity for a "little black dress" but why? And how do I keep it my style?  They all seem to be so "little!"

A:  Excellent questions both!  To which I offer the following answers and examples.

First, the Why.  Everyone needs in their closet the "instant elegant outfit."  Something you can put on and never have to question how nice you look.  Because this outfit must be appropriate for all occasions it has to be a versatile.  Versatile is easiest when it's in the form of a neutral base that can be accessorized a million different ways.  Black is universally flattering - every woman in the world can wear it in some way or another and look lovely.  It's the perfect backdrop to anything you'd like to do with it.  And no, it doesn't have to be "little". 
Coco Chanel created the LBD (little black dress) around 1926, officially premiering it in Vogue that year.  Her design was only "little" in the sense of "simple".  It was actually very modest - calf length, long sleeved and trim fitting but not skin tight, with virtually no embellishment.  Until that point, all-black clothing was mainly reserved for funerals and periods of mourning.  It tended to be long and stuffy.  Her simple design, dubbed "Chanel's Ford" because it was versatile and intended for every woman, like the Model T for every driver, was simultaneously a revolution and instant classic.

It's nearly impossible to find pictures of Coco wearing the dress, but I found the one above that someone took with a stuffed monkey.

Second, the Personalization.  In answer to your other question, I offer the many examples below.  (Click the images to enlarge.)  The LBD you choose should a) speak to your social life and b) reflect your personal taste.  For example, if your social life consists of lots of fancy dinner parties with your husband's company and clients AND you like a dash of retro, you might choose something like the dress on the far right below.
If your social engagements tend to be more casual (dinner here and there, a movie, but maybe the ballet occasionally) and you like something sleek you might choose one of the short sleeved options below, or the wrap dress on the right.  
You can find everything from a vintage party dress to something very avant garde.  Embellished to the hilt or a blank canvas.  Personally, I think Coco had it right.  The more simple the dress, the more versatile it is.  You can throw a colored cardigan over a simple jersey LBD, add some flats and head out to run errands.  Swap the cardigan for sparkly accessories and the flats for heels and you're good to go for date night. I have two in my closet. A simple matte jersey wrap dress that gets the most use, and a fancier, layered chiffon dress for really special events.
If you noticed, I offered up only modest options.  And I wanted to showcase a few below from Shabby Apple.  For being a small boutique shop, their selection of LBD's is nicely varied to fit many tastes.  And all are modest without you having to modify.
So yes, whether it sweeps the floor in satin drama... or kisses the ground with bohemian relaxation, you need one of these dresses.  Take your time. (You didn't have it yesterday so you don't need it tomorrow.)  Enjoy the process. (Your perfect LBD match is out there!)  Buy the best you can afford. (This is most definitely an investment item!)
  And once you have it - WEAR IT! Wear it often, wear it well.

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Is part of your wardrobe hidden from view?  Are some of your beauties banished to the backs of overstuffed drawers?  Do you know where your t-shirts are?  Do you? 
Do you know how many you REALLY have?

I was recently reorganizing a closet and as I was shifting and shuffling I kept hearing, "I just need something to go under/with that."  When I moved to the bottom two drawers of a large dresser, I found a treasure trove of perfect under/with items. In shock I cried,
"The t-shirts must be liberated!"
The drawers were well organized and quite full.  I'd found a stash of coverage T's, tanks, and camisole basics in a wide range of solid colors to complement and create dozens of outfits.  I pulled them all out and hung each in it's proper place among it's similarly-colored siblings.

I have become a firm believer that you should see as much of your wardrobe as possible and so I propose that you hang up as much of your clothing as you safely can.  (We'll talk about the safety issue in a minute.) I've seen many a closet where the owner said, "This is 'all' I have (except the five drawers of jeans, pants, leggings, tees and camisoles) and I just can't do much with it."  Many years ago, mine was one of them.

To Hang or Not To Hang

That is the question, here are two really good answers-

  1. You'll save money.  If you can't see it, you'll probably end up buying another one you don't need.  Or another 4 or 5 after you put the new one in the same drawer as the first one.
  2. You'll create better outfits.  If you can't see it, you probably won't use it.  Seeing all your options allows for more creativity and inspiration than trying to remember what you have.
How and What to Hang
Nearly all clothes can be safely hung.  We're talking the safety of your clothes here, not you. 
  • Sweaters should never be hung.  Even on padded hangers, gravity pulls at the weave on the neckline and shoulders and eventually, they lose their shape permanently.
  • Hang all your dresses and shirts- be they button down, blouse, or T.  I hate wire hangers (no movie reference intended) and hang nearly everything on plastic hangers.  Wire hangers create sharp points in clothing and have no "hanging aides" like notches, or hooks.  If the item is of a slinky material or has a wide neckline that tends to slide off, either use the hanging loops (if they're there), slip the short sleeve up into the notch on the hanger arm, or use non-slip hangers that are covered in a grippy, velvety material.
  • Use pant hangers for all pants and skirts.  If you have the space, you can follow a tip I once received from a store manager - hang dress pants full-length from their ankles and folded along the crease.  The weight of the top of the pants will gently pull out any wrinkles as the pants hang in the closet.   
  • Jeans are your choice.  I don't hang the few pairs of jeans and shorts I have because I have open shelving in my closet and can easily see them.  The only other items I don't hang are underwear, bras, pajamas, and hosiery. 
  • Blazers and sport- and suit coats require special hangers.  They are curved to preserve the line of the jacket and look like this.
If you're anything like me, you get the urge to purge around this time of year.  Fresh start, new resolutions, a jump on spring cleaning, putting away all the Christmas stuff so might as well reorganize while I'm here... that sort of thing.  An excellent place to channel that energy is into your closet, if it isn't already lovely.  Here's a little more inspiration. 
I'd never want to clean the house that goes with this size of closet, but I love the openness.  The view-ability.  And if you'd like to make this a more stylish year getting your clothes out in the open and organized will be a big step toward achieving that goal.
You'll be happier when you see it and more excited to get dressed.  

Help your fellow readers - what methods do you employ in your closet?  Is it well organized or a major mess?

You have probably never heard of the Crillon Ball.  Most debutante balls have sadly disappeared but this elite little shin dig for the upper echelon of teenage society is still held at the fantastic Crillon Hotel on the Place de la Concorde in Paris.  You have to be invited to come and once you are one of a number of the worlds top design houses will provide a stunning dress for you to wear at the ball.  And your tuxedo wearing escort, aka "Cavalier", who knows how to walz, will also be provided.  Not a bad way for a girl to spend an evening, eh?

I wanted to showcase the ball because the last couple of years Chanel has created modest gowns for their debs to wear.  Take a look.
This is Phil Collins's daughter, Lily, who wore Chanel in 2007.  I couldn't find a better picture but this absolutely gorgeous gown is adorned with wispy feathers.  Dreamy!
Please note that only ONE other girl in this group photo has on a modest dress, the deep purple gown on the far left.  Oh, and the debutante in pink giving Lily the jealous look?  That's a Brazilian named Maria Frering.  Looks like she's a little miffed she wasn't the one seated in the middle.  But that Chanel gown was meant to take center stage.  No question.
This is Jane Aldridge, an up and coming teen style icon from Dallas, TX, who was also outfitted by Chanel for this years ball.  Apparently the beading made the gown weigh a ton but she said it was more than worth it.  The photo above is from one of her fittings at Coco's famous 31 Rue Cambon address, afterwhich she and her family were given a tour of Coco's apartment.  Yes, I'm a little jealous.
This was a shot of Jane heading down the hotel hallway to the ball. 

I prefer the dress from 2007 but that's because I have an overdeveloped romantic side.  I said a while back that finding modest evening wear was always the most challenging but thanks to the House of Chanel, I'm able to start the year off with two stunning gowns!