Accessories Storage: DON'T DO THIS

    So, don't do this. This is picture is called "Fashion Forward Dorm" and I'm pretty sure it's an ad for the Container store.

    First, the handles on those handbags are suffering and will be warped beyond repair before first semester is over. Second, too much pink and green (I know it's just an ad, people, but I still don't like it). Get a damn neutral. Third, and most importantly, all of this looks so juvenile, that if your accessories even remotely resemble this image and you are over the age of 18, I would like to meet with you to have a little chat.

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Accessories Storage: DON'T DO THIS

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Your Closet Profile: Pants

    Pants come in one of two categories for me: acceptable and unacceptable. I will outline here what you must have and what you should never, ever purchase/borrow/steal under any circumstances.


    1. Basic black pants

    In all-weather wool, silk, or heavy-weight cotton. These are non-negotiable for anyone with a job, and pretty much anyone without one, too. Buy the best quality you can afford.

    2. Neutral pants

    These are your alternative to black pants in solid gray, navy, or chocolate. These are also non-negotiable. Again, get the best you can afford.

    Dressed up or down, these two pairs alone can take you through countless occasions over many years.

    3. Patterns

    We're talking pinstriped and glen plaid, not floral, people. Patterns on slacks should be subtle and from a distance read as a solid color.

    You should have at least two pairs- I recommend one pinstriped, and in a SUBTLE window pane or glem plaid. Again, think longetivity: pink pinstripes might be fun for a while, but an off-white stripe will be more versatile for longer.

    4. Colors

    You should consider adding a psuedo neutral to your pants rotation. Olive, burgundy, cream or white (which are neutral but rarely used), and even light blue are all great pants colors that are almost as easy to wear as neutrals.

    Don't worry, my budding fashionistas, I will discuss options for blouses, tees, and other tops in due course.


    You should have several pairs hemmed for flats, and several others for heels.

    Pants can be hemmed quite cheaply, so don't let the length of a pair stop you from purchasing. If the pair fits properly, a tailor or even the old lady at your dry cleaner's can shorten- and sometime even lengthen- a hem.

    Do Not Attempt Under Any Circumstances

    1. Floral Print

    I don't care how many times floral prints come back around, they do not belong on your pants. I can think of no circumstances when this would be acceptable, so don't do it. Just because it looks cool for 1 second on a 6 foot model does not mean it will translate well on real people. And why do you want to walk around looking like something is growing all over your legs?! If you must have floral on your bottom half, get a damn skirt.

    2. Other Obnoxious Prints

    You know what I'm talking about- that really fun pair covered in martini glasses seemed so great when you got them at that tacky shop in Key West, but they are NOT ok. They are hideous. I really don't give a rats arse if it was The Most Fun Purchase Ever because the guy who sold it to you after 4 margaritas was just so damn cute. They. Are. Gross.

    The same goes for pants with words of any kind of words beyond a (preferably small) label. I find seeing a woman's arse covered with the words "Hard Tail" to be entirely obnoxious and attention-getting in the worst way.

    3. Bright Colors

    There are a few select people who can carry off red slacks or fuchsia cords. If you are one of them, you are already know who you are. For the rest of us mere mortals, these just look cheap and juvenile. Steer clear if you have ANY doubt.

    For the denim-lovers among us, I have not forgotten you. A post dedicated solely to jeans is forthcoming. However, a few choice words on colored denim: VERY few people can pull it off without looking like an 80s throwback in the worst, most costume-y way. Remember the rainbow-colored Bongo jeans options? (Shudder) This is one trend from the last century that 99.9% of us can do without.

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Your Closet Profile: Pants

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Your Closet Profile: Shoes

    Nope, I am not letting the closet-cleaning thing go. So, I am starting my new mini-seminars (bloginars?) on YOUR closet. First up, shoes!

    Rules for Shoe Buying

    1. Go late in the day. Feet swell, get over it.

    2. If the thought of shoe shopping stresses you out, bring an unstressed friend and go places where customer service is a given. Nordstrom is my favorite for service, but I also like Bloomies. Whatever you do, don't go somewhere without sales assistance.

    3. Bring a list. Remember how you are supposed to make a list while you are cleaning out your closet? That's the list.

    4. Don't go hungry/tired/thirsty/hungover. You'd think all this would be a given, but I am constantly surprised by how many women shop with low blood sugar. Don't do it, people, it does not end well.

    5. Be realistic. If you are looking for open-toed slingbacks in the dead of winter, you may be disappointed. Fur-lined boots in the summer are equally unlikely. Many shoes transcend seasons, but be aware that what you want or need right now might not be available right now.

    Rules for Shoe Ownership

    Once you've plunked down the cash for shoes, show them- and yourself- a little respect.

    1. Store them properly. You know what I mean- everyone has read an article about storing your shoes in their boxes with tissue in the toes, or using clear plastic boxes with snapshots of the shoes within on the outside of the box. A jumbled mess is just sad. It means you don't care to maintain the condition of your shoes, which brings me to my next point...

    2. Care for them. Wipe them off if they are sandy or wet. Polish them if they are scuffed or looking ashy. Repair worn heel and toe taps. You would do well to befriend/date/know a cobbler.

    3. Tall boots need inserts. I am guilty of not doing this, and believe me I have regretted it on more than one occasion.

    Here's a link for cedar shoe shapers and inserts; plastic is fine, too:

    Shoes EVERY Woman Should Own No Matter What
    This is the bare-bones list.

    1. Casual flats for running errands. This does not include running shoes, flip flops, crocs of ANY kind (they are still foam shoes you can hose off, people) or sandals with socks. Think sleek Pumas, not bulky Reeboks. Any color or non-tacky pattern your little heart desires is fine, since you're likely wearing jeans with them anyway.

    2. Dressy flats for work or going out. A pointy toe is ideal, but not required.

    3. Pumps in black, gray, chocolate or caramel. Goes with everything, a no-brainer in the morning. And if you are in school, you are going to have an interview SOME day and on that day, you will wear these shoes.

    4. Pumps in a striking color, like red, blue, or green. Goes with your work basics. Head to toe black and gray? With black shoes it's dull; add a green shoe and you are rocking it.

    5. Open-toed wedges or flats. For showing off your pedicure, brunch, shopping with the girls, laid-back movie night with your significant other.

    6. Knee-high, heeled boots. For skirts and dresses in the winter with tights and for looking H-O-T with skinny jeans on the weekend.

    7. Really fancy shoes. These are reserved for weddings, the opera, or a cocktail event. They may only get worn a few times a year, but they are beautiful and elevate your LBD. Think satin, velvet, metallics, and rhinestones. These are the super hot shoes with the 4 inch stiletto heel you only break out when it's truly worth it.

    If you only have these 7 pairs, buy the highest quality you can afford. If you have more, you can experiment with pattern, color, texture, and shine. Not to mention heel heights. Happy shoe shopping!

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Your Closet Profile: Shoes

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For the Record...

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For the Record...

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    If cow print is your thing, get a new thing.

    These shoes are 100% unacceptable. Yes, the shape is lovely and black and white is usually so versatile. But the cow is not an exotic or luxurious animal and its hide is not attractive, except as a prelude to a meal. These shoes are flat out hideous.

    Remember how we talked about limiting our kitsch this year? I have not forgotten Resolution #1, nor should you. Do you really want to walk around wearing Guess's approximation of one of the dumbest and most boring animals ever?

    Look, I love animals- I eat them, I wear them. And animal print is great in measured doses. But the professional lady in the know wears the print of an elegant, impressive animal, like a cheetah or a leopard. Wearing cow print is the equivalent of wearing polyester when you could be wearing silk. It's just cheap and gross.

    Before you get all PETA on my arse and start throwing paint around, I am neither defending nor encouraging you to wear real fur. All I'm saying is that if you don an animal print- real or faux- have the decency to do it well.

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Target - A review of some of their latest

    The Thakoon for Target line caught my eye when reading about it recently. I decided to kill a perfectly good hour on a rare sunny day in January by checking it out myself this weekend. After looking through all of the options, I tried on the three tops shown here.

    The first is a slightly a-line striped top that was comfy, but did nothing to flatter me. The second fit like a sack. The third had possibility, but for for $16.99, I'd rather get a Banana Republic tee on sale.
    I really wanted to like the floral prints in this line- on the Target site, they look promising- but in person they just look cheap.

    I walked around the rest of the women's clothes section, and while some of it looked nice enough, most of it was very plain and much of it wasn't well-made. I'm not saying that some people couldn't make some of it work, but for me it was a bust.

    I made my way over to shoes, where I found two pairs I was into- these sandals and these white skimmer flats.

    The sandals have a laid-back 70s vibe. They were pretty comfortable, but fake leather isn't always a great choice because it doesn't wear as well as the real thing. In the end, I would rather spend more on quality shoes than $19.99 for shoes I will have to trash after 1 season. But I like their look and still have them on my radar...
    The white skimmers are cute, would be fun for Spring and Summer, and they also come in this cool bright green. The only reason these didn't come home with me is because I was between sizes and couldn't make either the 8 1/2 or the 9 work.
    I did go a little crazy in the pajama department, so do not fear- I didn't leave empty handed.

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Target - A review of some of their latest

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Slingbacks from Hell

    I am wearing these shoes- yes, the ones pictured here, but in light brown- and I love the way they look but can't stand the way they feel. Below is my tragic tale of woe.

    I bought them years ago at Macy's, and wore them to work periodically. They are a lovely shoe for spring and summer, and look great with pants, skirts and dresses. This morning, I scoured my closet for the perfect shoe for my awesome brown striped anthro trousers and it hit me- the Guess Rally peep toe sandal! Neutral but fun, and high enough so my hem won't drag on the ground. I strapped them on and was out the door.

    Sadly, upon walking on any surface other than carpet, my feet slip, the slingback slides down, and I am generally a wobbly mess. Not cute, people, not cute.

    I buckled the strap tighter. Now it hurts and it's STILL slipping. WTF?!

    I haven't even gotten to the part where my hems are getting all bunched up under my heel.

    I have heard tell that a shoe repair shop can shorten the strap or add extra holes for the buckle. But does it really work? I have even seen apparent solutions to the pants bunching issue: Kix by Katie ( is the most convincing one I've seen so far. But is it worth it?

    Also, I saw these Strappy Strips from Foot Petals ( do these look promising?

    A friend and fellow shoe lover has tons of slingbacks and loves them. Does she have a bumpy heel?

    Ladies, I beseech you: How the HELL to do you wear slingbacks?!

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Slingbacks from Hell

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    Really? REALLY?!
    I cannot say enough about how I hate this sorry excuse for a purse. I don't care if it's "green" or something your crafty friend made you, it is flat-out HIDEOUS.
    Don't do this to yourself, ladies. It is not cool, it is not trendy, it is not even close to barely acceptable.

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To Buy or Not to Buy: Resort Wear

    This is not a pretty picture.

    I don't care if you heart Marc Jacobs/love pinky salmon/think dressing head to toe in one color is fly. Unless you are the activities director for Norweigian Cruise Lines, this is not ok.

    Resort wear is what designers put out between seasons to keep us interested and buying. Instead of buying clothes for your real life, you are buying for exotic places you'd like to visit and fabulous vacations you'd love to take. In short, it's a fantasy that designers are selling us- the idea that we all hopping from one sunny destination to another is hilarious given the current economic climate and the fact that it is still JANUARY.

    I'm not saying that all between-season clothing lines are useless, but you should choose what you take home with care (unless you live in Miami, in which case, dive right in).

    A few common traps:

    White pants

    I know you envision yourself lounging on your yacht, sipping mojitos in your crisp white pants. Unless you are meticulous, they will get dirty. And unless you actually own a yacht, you probably don't need these. Most women are really uncomfortable in white pants and unless they fit perfectly and are sparkly white, they won't do you any favors.

    Straw purse

    Sure they are roomy and summery. But do you really think it looks nice with work separates? Or even jeans in the city? This is a passable look on the weekend when it's warm, but trust me, you can do better.

    If you are ACTUALLY going to the beach or pool, these are totally appropriate.


    If pastels are a good color palette for you, then pre-Spring and Spring are your seasons to shop. If not, just don't do it. Know why it looks great on the fair-skinned blond model? Because she has the coloring for it or the makeup to make it seem that way.

    Some good peices to look for:


    If you love sandals, they are starting to get easier to find. And the Spring collections of high-heeled and platform sandels are awesome right now. I am loving a lot of what is showing these days.


    A good choice for work or weekend because wearing a dress is an easy way to update your look without a lot of thought. I like what Banana Republic and Anthropologie are offering right now, and there are amazing sales online at retailers like Bluefly and Tobi.

    In keeping with our resolutions, try one in a fun pattern.


    Good for keeping sun AND strangers away. Check.


    If you don't already have a trench coat, now is a great time to consider one. It is a good time of year for selection and prices are becoming increasingly reasonable. Grey, khaki, black, whatever- this is a must-have for all closets.

    This is not my last word on the subject, my darlings...

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To Buy or Not to Buy: Resort Wear

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Closet Cleaning - Just Do It Already

    I have read at least 10 articles in the last 3 weeks about how to shop your closet and make wise purchases. They aren't necessarily useless, but they are all the same in that they are missing something very important, which brings me to the theme of today's post:

    Clean the Crap Out of Your Closet

    This means that you have to take everything out and try it on and decide whether you are keeping it. Yes, it takes time, but since you are not shopping right now (probably) and you have recovered from the holidays (hopefully), you have both the time and the energy to tackle this.

    I have realized, after helping a lot of women clean out their closets, that it is easiest do to so with a friend, a glass of bubbly, and your sense of humor in tact. So find a friend who either loves cleaning closets or is at least very honest and crack open that bottle you've been saving.

    I like the following approach, but you might find something that works better for you. Just be ready to spend several hours on this and have several bags ready for your discards.

    Pull out every thing you own, either all at once, or peice by peice. You and your closet cleaning companion should decide how you want to determine what to keep and what to toss. My preferred factors are a) Fit, b) Condition, and c) Suitability.


    We have discussed this before, and surely we will do so again. Suffice it to say that if it fits, you can get to points b and c; if it does not, you must toss it.

    The only exception to this rule is when minor tailoring (hem length, strap adjustment, etc.) can make the item fit. To keep the item, however, you must take to the tailor IMMEDIATELY. Like, tomorrow. Otherwise, it's just taking up valuable space.

    (If you are having a hard time parting with something because you think it COULD fit at some point, ask yourself whether you have worn it in the last 3-6 months. One trick I play with myself is to move those items to another closet, out of sight. If, several months later, I haven't even thought about them, then I know I can- and should- get rid of them. More often than not, I don't even remember what I put in that out of the way location, which is a sign that I never needed that stuff in the first place.)


    If it's stained or torn, seams are pulling apart, or there are any other signs of disrepair, you must toss it. I know you think that you will one day turn Martha and hand-sew all of your garments back to their original condition. Get over it. Unless there is a very simple repair that will make the item wearable, like replacing a button or repairing a hem, it's not worth it.


    This is where most of your justifications to yourself and disagreements with your friend will start.

    Suitability means that the items is appropriate for your (actual, not imagined!) life, your personal style, and the current fashion climate.

    One woman whose closet I made over was keeping stuff from middle school and high school because the clothes weren't in poor condition and they still fit. But the styles were 10-15 years out of date and didn't work for her business casual office environment or active lifestyle on the weekends.

    Another woman had a several prairie skirts and bum-around-the-park tops that she loved for sunny days lazing around the parks in the City. Unfortunately, the clothes did not flatter her, nor did she have a lot of time for lazing around. And jeans or walking shorts would work just as well when she did have time to lounge outside, and would also suit her structural, more modern aesthetic much better.

    One of my own closet issues revolves around button down shirts. I buy them, thinking I can make them work with peices I already own, and I can. But what I can't do it get comfortable in them. When they fit my bust, they are huge in the shoulder; when they fit my shoulders, it gaps at the button-closures at the bust. And I don't even like them! They don't make my professional clothes look sharp; I feel stuffy. And they don't make my casual looks polished; I feel like a soccer mom. So they aren't my thing. So even if one fits and is in good condition, I should get rid of it.

    After you have been through everything, you can put away the keepers and sort the discards into one pile to give away and one pile to toss entirely. You should also make a plan to deal with anything that needs repair or tailoring.

    Along the way, I keep a list of what's missing. Great burgandy cords but no top to go with? Put it on the list. All work clothes and nothing for weekend? On the list. Wear jeans to work everyday (lucky dog!) and only 2 pairs of jeans? List!

    All of the above should be done at least once a year. I cull my closet 3-4 times a year, have gotten my methods down to a (somewhat tipsy) science, and each session takes less than 2 hours now. And I have a constantly evolving list so when I shop, I can be focused on something I should get versus getting distracted by all of the delicious sales...

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Closet Cleaning - Just Do It Already

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