Over Easter weekend Mr. Darcy, our girls and I drove a few hours away to visit some favorite relatives of mine; an aunt, uncle and cousins.  While there, my Aunt A. let my cousin H. (her daughter) and me give her a closet makeover. She told me she hated her closet, didn't like the outfits it was producing and was eager for the purge and subsequent style pump-up.
Once the rearranging began... here's what we found. 
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Huge pile 'o khaki's
35, that's right, 35 pairs of khaki's in varying lengths and tones of tan.
And 35 is just what was left after the first purge. I forgot to count at the beginning.
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scads of polo shirts
Enough polo shirts, mostly white, to outfit a golf pro shop. Second only to the number of polo shirts was the amount of white button downs.
What we did -
  • Organized everything by color. You can also choose to sub-organize by sleeve length.
  • Rehung everything so that it now faces her as soon as she walks in, instead of facing away. It also gives the clothing the best light. We made sure to button the top button of shirts (keeps the collars and shoulders from warping out of place) and remove any knit/sweater items that were hung. Big no no!
  • Freed up prime real estate! She has a narrow built in floor-to-ceiling shelf located right at the entrance of her closet and in front of a section of double hanging rod. Her shoes, nearly all of them still in their boxes, were stacked behind the shelves, completely hidden by the pants and skirts hanging on the bottom rod. She had to push aside the clothes any time she wanted to get to the shoes. Two long rows of shelves are above the double hanging rod but were mostly full of albums and other long-term storage items that were taking up prime closet space. Filling up the easily-accessible shelving unit were winter sweaters, jeans, and a few more long-term storage items. All the non-clothing items were moved out to a different storage closet, sheets were moved to a linen closet, winter sweaters were put up high (since they're seasonal), jeans were also put up high (they are easy to grab from higher up than shoes) and her shoes were liberated from the back of the closet to occupy those great shelving units along with spring weight sweaters. The boxes came in handy because she can now stack them several high and not waste shelf space. (A.- are you done with all that final rearranging?) 
  • Purged anything unflattering.  That means tapered ankle and pleated pants, boxy tops, worn out items, etc. These all went to the donate pile.
  • Created to-be-altered piles.  A. is smart and already has a talented tailor but some things, like hemming, she does herself. Items that could look nice with just a few alterations (and were actually worth altering) went into one of these piles.
  • Faced facts.  My dear Aunt A. is a beautiful pale blond, curvy, definitely on the short side. We took a hard look at what did and did not work for her in terms of flattering styles. Knowing what works help you avoid those, "Ugh! This just doesn't look good!" moments in the mirror.
What she learned -
  1. Organization = better outfits. As soon as A. walked in to the closet after H. and I had finished rearranging the hanging items, she was amazed! She said, "It looks so good! I can see what I have!" An organized closet is a happy closet.
  2. Lots of clothes do not always equal lots of outfits. Remember those 35 pairs of khakis and gaggle of polo shirts? Not much variety. Hard to build outfits you're happy with. She was quite shocked to discover how many of each she had. Now she knows what she sure doesn't need any more of, and can more easily figure out what holes in her wardrobe need to be filled.
  3. All your clothes should fit in one closet. Unless you're in NY and have a closet the size of a kitchen cupboard.  For many of us Western home owners, we have closets the size of NY living rooms! Parts of her wardrobe were scattered to other closets in the house and yet she was most often dressing from her main closet. When all your clothing isn't in one place and viewable, it's really easy to forget what you have. Forgetting what you have always leads to unnecessary shopping. Most importantly, it's nearly impossible to build outfits when your wardrobe isn't all visible.  You don't need a custom California Closet the size of a small bedroom. Just take advantage of the space you have. Gather all your items in one place as much as possible, and edit as much as possible to make them fit. I'm a huge proponent of the well-edited, quality wardrobe. Less clothing and better clothing.
Thanks Aunt A. for letting H. and I have so much fun.
I'm looking forward to the shopping phase.
MAJOR thanks to Mr. Darcy, Uncle R. and J. for entertaining our kidlets while we did chick things.
 
 
Love this part.
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The treats are always delightful.
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Martha Stewart
Mr. Darcy loves these, if they're stale.
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One of my favorite parts. Always try to win the egg-cracking contest.
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But it's really all about this.  He lives.  Happy Easter.
 
 
She's an icon.  Without question.
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Helen Mirren will be 66 this summer.  You'd never know it.
She looks better than many women in their 40's.
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Even on a casual day, snapped unexpectedly exiting her hotel, she looks pulled together and chic.  One of the things I love most is her hair style.
"Age appropriate" but totally age defying!
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She says her red-carpet secret is platform stripper shoes she buys in Los Angeles. They give her the height and stability to confidently pull of the gowns and the walk. Genius!
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Looking this good at any age, let alone her age, is something every woman should strive for.  Let's all channel Helen when we can!
 
 
Happy Friday! Let's translate some more Spring 2011 Trends, shall we?
There are a lot of trends right now, you can pretty much choose from any decade and find something fun to work into your wardrobe right now.
30's - bias cut dresses and strong shoulders
40's - tailored dresses and lovely waved hairstyles
50's - full skirts or wiggle dresses
60's - mod anything and dark-lined eyes
70's - tunics, high-waist flare jeans, wedge sandals
80's - color blocking and touches of neon
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One trend I am MOST excited about is anything Asian inspired.

I think the prints are gorgeous and the clean lines so elegant.

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For years, I've been dying to get a silk brocade cheongsam/qipao as my go-to cocktail dress. 

Now that I'm at a healthy weight and won't look like a stuffed sausage in it, I just need to decide on the color!

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You can look for a modern cut with an Asian twist to the print or decorative details like frog clasps.

Or go traditional, like this top.  I have one in a deep turquoise that I love to wear with jeans for date night.

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You can work in just a little touch, like this tassled pendant neckace.

Or a brocade print on a clutch.

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Something like this would make a great spring jacket!

This timeless styles and prints can work no matter your age.  It's all in how you style them!

Me? I love Asian prints mixed with either modern wavy hair or swoopy 40's styles.

I definitely suggest adding a piece to your wardrobe.  It's especially easy if you have a Chinatown near you.

A few designer inspirations from Style.com.
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L'Wren Scott Oriental Dress
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A few housekeeping items:
1. I'm still hoping the perfect buyer(s) comes along for the wedding dress and crib bedding (see previous post).
2. My L.L. Bean items arrived and are great! I'll profile them later this week.

Before I launch into a study of more spring styles, I'd like to start this week with a little inspiration to dress better. The main goal of this site, as evidenced by it's name, is to interpret what is out there by way of fashion and translate it into real style for real women, most specifically modest dressers.  But I subtitled the blog section "Fight The Frump" to serve as a reminder that frumpy is never stylish.
As further inspiration this lovely Monday, I am showcasing one of my favorite ad campaigns: Piperlime's "Let's Get Dressed" series. Enjoy!
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I believe the sweats ad above and "OK, IT'S TIME" ad below were the first to hit the streets. Apparently some women were not happy about being called out, publishing blog posts along the lines of, "Forget you. I love my sweats!" I for one, sat up and took notice.  These ads hit at a time that I was getting really tired of my really casual baby-mommy wardrobe. 
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As with the Dockers ad for the men, this ad really resonated with me. It IS time to dress like we respect ourselves and our fellow humans. To embrace the joy that is looking chic; whether you're dressed to the 9's or simply dressed for the park. To remember we're worth the effort and it is absolutely true "you get what you dress for."
I so love the line, "It's time to give up lazy dressing altogether because it's time to LOOK FABULOUS again." Hear! Hear!
And I'd like to make one small edit.  "Let's put Saturday-night effort into Sunday Best!"
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How about, "Let's try harder than modesty t-shirts!"
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I own a hoodie. It's packed in my 72-hour emergency kit with our camping gear.
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I told you! Shoes make the outfit!
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Review this post if your actual heels & feet need help.
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I hope you heed all this good advice.
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I often hear the excuse, "It takes too much effort to create actual outfits."
Baloney! It takes less actual physical effort to put on a dress than to pull on sweat pants and a t-shirt. And it takes the same effort to pull on a skirt and shirt. 10 seconds to grab a couple accessories and put them on. Next excuse?

"Why bother? I just stay home with the kids."
Bother for YOU.  Bother for your kids who will remember what you were like growing up.  Bother for your husband who will come home at some point that afternoon and see you. You're worth the effort. You're worth the fun that clothing and accessories can be.

"My friends will think I'm weird."
Why? You're not naked at the park. What will most likely happen is half of them will think and acknowledge that you look great. The other half will be jealous. Either way, you'll inspire someone to dress better. Good style, just like a smile and happiness, is contagious. Infect everyone you know!
 
 
No, this isn't a style post, but the right owners for these two items might be readers. 
I'm in spring cleaning mode and ready to purge the house of "I'll never use them again" items.  The first one is my wedding dress.
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This gorgeous dress did for me exactly what I needed it to on my wedding day.  It made me look beautiful.  And a lot skinnier than I was!  I initially hunted for a flowy gown with straight lines but they were not at all flattering on my plus size frame.  And voluminous gowns just made me look like a huge cupcake.  I finally found this one and instantly knew it was right. The clean lines I wanted, the unique detail and sparkle to make it special, and just enough volume to camouflage and flatter my figure. My husband just reminded me that as we were getting our pictures taken, three other brides passed us and all commented on how gorgeous and "cool" the dress was.
You might be asking why I'm selling it instead of saving it for my three girls? 
Because I hope my daughters aren't this size when they get married.
If they are, so be it, we'll find their perfect dress.  But I still hope they don't have to battle the bulge like I did. Keeping it for years "just in case" seems like an awfully negative self-fulfilling prophecy. And I know there are plenty other plus-sized brides out there who could benefit now from the magic this dress offers.
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Here are the details:
Eternity Gowns wedding dress. $400 or best offer. Unique and truly stunning.

White satin a-line dress with beaded and embroidered white sheer lace overcoat. Elbow-length sleeves. Dress looks like a two-piece but is actually one. Sheer overcoat forms the train and can be bustled for dancing. (I suggest holding it out to the side a 'la Eliza Doolittle for your first dance! It looked so beautiful!)
Small pearls along square neckline. Zipper back with button detail. Temple ready.

Used only once. Size 16 but is the perfect style to be let out or taken in.

Includes a matching beaded length of lace meant to be either a wrap or become the veil but I didn’t use it. Dress has been professionally cleaned. I will also include the BodyBeautiful corselet ($75 value). A corselet is like a corset but more comfortable and not confining. You can view the corselet at:
http://eternitygowns.com/accessories.php?c=Accessories&i=C203.

Unfortunately, the company no longer has an official photo of the dress on their site so I've posted a couple of pictures to show you the detail and style as best I can. Click the pics for larger images.
Feel free to come view the dress if you’re local. I'm willing to ship and the sale will be considered final.

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The second item is my deliciously cute Glenna Jean Sticky Rice baby bedding. 
It's unique, it's Asian!, it won't make your nursery look like a cupcake exploded.
(I must have cupcakes on the brain.)  We're done with the baby phase of life so it needs a happy new home. It was only used with one baby and is in pristine condition. I intended to use it with all our babies but when we got the surprise that we were having twins I couldn't find a second set for less than $450. My "holy-crap-twins-are-going-to-be-expensive!" side just couldn't pay that much. So my "twin-girls-must-have-matching-bedding" side searched for months and scored really cute pink Pottery Barn sets for less than $50.
Still wish I'd had two of these, though. 
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Here are the details:
Glenna Jean Sticky Rice crib bedding set. This Asian pattern has been retired and is now impossible to find for under $400. Used with only one baby and is in perfect condition.  

Gender neutral and so classic.  My set includes the bumper, crib skirt, matching brushed cotton crib sheet (slightly fuzzy and really soft!), panda mobile, blanket (that we used as decoration on a chair) and I'll throw in the cute panda stuffed animal also used as decoration (mine doesn't have a little coat like those pictured but is the same size).
 
Truly looks perfectly brand new. Matched our black crib set great but the multiple patterns allow it to match dark or light wood cribs as well. Probably won't look good with white cribs.


If you're interested in one of these items either comment here or send me an email by clicking the Email Me button at the top.
 
 
I had a personal Pride & Prejudice moment a few days ago.  The L.L. Bean catalog arrived in the mail.  I've only mentioned L.L. Bean on this blog one other time, in this Top 5 Banned Wardrobe Items post. And I used them simply as an example of style-assassinating mom jeans. Even though I have never ordered anything from them, the catalog has continued to arrive. And the other night as Mr. Darcy and I lay snuggling in bed, I pulled it off my nightstand to have a good snark-session and chuckle at the unflattering pants and boxy shirts.
Until I got to page 9 and saw this.
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Double L Rib-Knit, Elbow-Sleeve V-Neck Tee
Now, this may not be earth shattering to you. You might be thinking, "What in the world would make her pause on this?" Well let me tell you. A v-neck shirt with elbow length sleeves is extremely flattering on my particular shape. I think it's extremely flattering on many women, if not most. The v-neck draws the eye up to the face and opens the neck space to lengthen and slim much better than a scoop or crew neck tee.
But the sleeves are the real kicker. I greatly dislike t-shirts with short sleeves that cut across the widest part of my upper arm. That would be nearly ALL t-shirts that aren't long sleeve. It's infuriating. And yes, with all my recent weight loss my upper arms are much slimmer than they were a few months ago but there is still some under-arm waddle I'd like to keep under wraps.
So I stalk elbow-sleeve v-neck tees with great vengeance. If you also prefer these tees, then you know how difficult they can be to find! Hence, catalog pg. 9 stopping me in my tracks.
The next morning, I went to the LL Bean site to order one of these tees.
And lo and behold, I found a few other cute things.
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L.L. Bean Signature Rayon Wrap Dress


If L.L. Bean can do this...



(This dress is so mine. A wrap dress with vertical stripes?! Express shipping please!)

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Vacationland Blazer


... and this.






(Really cute edging on this blazer.)

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L.L. Bean Signature Stretch Denim Flare


... and this!









(I'm wanting to add a gray jean to my new wardrobe and these look good!)

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Then why do they also put out THIS?!?

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and this?!?
Elastic waistband. Shudder!

Maybe the key is to shop in the Signature section, though the pink blazer is from the regular side.  One thing that L.L. Bean is known for, and I'll be putting it to the test shortly, is their quality. At my old company when we were choosing company logo-embroidered shirts for conferences, several people wanted to get L.L. Bean Double L polos instead of the generic corporate versions. That didn't get approved but they raved about the quality of them and I do need a good polo shirt. I've shrunk out of all of mine.
So I put aside my prejudice against the Bean and placed an order. (They offer free shipping, no minimum order. That's nice!)
If the t-shirt fits the way I'm hoping, I'll be getting it in multiple colors. I'll let you know as soon as my things arrive. Keep your fingers crossed!