Girl vs. Closet

64 Arts

Nearing the end of our Art of Dressing arc, here’s the conclusion to my personal mission to decrease my fashion holdings.


Do you know how many pieces of clothing I had between my closet, dresser and in the laundry?


Three hundred and six garments. And that’s not counting things like undies, bras or pairs of socks.


Now, my goal was to get rid of 1/3 or 33% of my clothes. That meant over 100 items out of the closet and dresser drawers.

But I’m getting a bit ahead of my day, here.

Divide and Conquer

The sorted truth of my closet

The "sorted" truth of my closet

The best tactic seemed to be to, first, take everything out of the closet and dresser and sort them into some obvious categories:

  • Frequently worn tops
  • Frequently worn bottoms
  • Almost never worn anything
  • Items with potential fit problems

After the closet, alone, it was looking about 50/50 between the frequently-worn and the problem children. Once I emptied the dresser, though, things shifted a bit. It appears I’d been holding on to more casual-wear clothes and t-shirts than I’d realized. Granted, I’ve gotten into the habit of switching into pajama or yoga pants and tank tops or the like almost as soon as I get home from work so my collection of lounge-wear has increased over the last year or 2.

The first-round draft picks

The first-round draft picks

The items that were in the definite keep piles went straight back into the closet to free up space on the bed. I’ll admit that the closet looked rather bare with only those few pieces in it.

Just Add Bad Lighting

Now was the time I was dreading: trying on the iffy things and being brutally honest in the process. It was like going shopping and dealing with the dreaded dressing room, times 50 or so.

There were a few pieces that I’d put in the fit issues pile that fit better than I’d thought. Some went into a maybe pile (you know, the if-I-lose-5 pounds-these-might-not cut-off-my-circulation-when-I-sit-down borderline cases) and a several went back into the closet.

I thought I’d hit the jackpot when I put on my old black jeans and they were loose. Loose! Just as I was wondering how in the hell that had happened I checked the tag and realized I’d put my new black jeans in the wrong pile. The old black jeans were still just as tight as they’d been the last time I wore them and into the give-pile they went.

Decisions, Decisions

Decisions, Decisions

Try on. Take off. Rinse. Repeat.

And, yes, I did get rid of some frequently worn, fits but does not flatter at all items.

I’m so proud of myself, I might just have to go shopping. (kidding!)

Why Don’t I Wear This Anymore?

Doesn’t fit, forgot I had it, it looked better in the store… the reasons were plentiful and almost everything in the hardly wear pile went into the give-away one, instead.

All of the above took about 3 hours (far less than I thought it would) and I started counting each piece as I put it into the large box I’d snagged from the move for the purpose.

92 pieces after the first culling.

At the time I didn’t know how far that got me to the goal. It was only then I started counting how much was still hanging in the closet:

  • 112 pieces hanging up
  • 45 in the dresser
  • 51 items in laundry-transit

Add in what I’d already tossed (and the 6 items I set aside as wearable but in need of minor repairs), and we get the aforementioned mind-blowing 306.

This meant I was 9* pieces away from my goal.

Girl 1, Closet 0


TaDaa! (please ignore the lower-right shoe-clutter, I'm still dealing with that)

Though the final cull was a bit tougher–I ended up giving up pieces that I really liked but knew weren’t a perfect fit (literally or figuratively)–I’m so happy that, for once, my closet isn’t stuffed to the gills and bulging at the seams. There are a few holes in my wardrobe, now (all of my brown slacks, for instance, ended up being tossed) and I’m in a jeans-liking phase again so I want a few more pairs of the type that fit well (I only own one each of blue and black), but those will be purchased with a clear conscience, knowing that I have the room and will wear them instead of buying just because they’re there.

All of the clothes that I’m giving away filled (to practically bursting) a large packing box from U-Haul that proudly proclaims it’s capacity as 4.5 cubic feet. All will be on it’s way to Goodwill very soon.

*Yes, I realize I rounded down. As soon as the repairman comes to fix the washer and dryer that was delivered less than a week ago and I get a chance to finish my laundry, I promise to toss one more (clean) piece of clothing into the to-go box to make it exactly 33%.


We’re almost finished delving into the fashion files but make sure you come back on Thursday for another helpful how-to and a fashionable giveaway!

A Stitch in Time…

64 Arts

… saves a costly repair fee!

Woman has relied heretofore too entirely for her support on the needle – that one-eyed demon of destruction that slays thousands annually; that evil genius of our sex, which, in spite of all our devotion, will never make us healthy, wealthy, or wise.

–Elizabeth Cady Stanton

She may have been instrumental in securing women the right to vote, but I’ll bet even she knew how important it was to look presentable–clothes are our first bit of armor in polite society and a missing button is a target for many things.

Sewing, mending and basic repairs are, often, left these days to the dry cleaner or someone much more “crafty” than the wearer. Or, in a frightening case of predictive fiction, we’ve become like the society in Huxley’s Brave New World:

“Ending is better than mending. The more stitches, the less riches”

We toss items that merely need a quick fix, often because the knowledge of how-to is no longer second nature.

Sure, some things are definitely left to the pro’s–shoe repair is quite specialized and I’m not sure I’d trust walking on a heel held together only by Gorilla Glue (a former coworker’s answer to everything–including bullet holes in our front window).

But basic mending is simple, even if you’ve no desire to make your own clothes from scratch.

The two most common problems (and how to fix them):

  • How to replace a button (shank-style or flat). The trick with flat (2- or 4-hole) buttons is to slip a toothpick between the fabric and button before you tighten your first loop to make sure there’s enough room to maneuver when you’re getting dressed.
  • How to fix a fallen hem with a nearly invisible stitch. It’s the details that make the difference between looking hand-stitched and no one ever noticing (though, in a pinch, duck tape will get you through the day).

Now, ready to wear clothing was a real turning point for the fashion industry. Being able to buy off-the-rack meant more people had access to more styles and things could be made ahead for sale rather than custom tailored.

The down side? We don’t all look the same. One size 10 might be differently proportioned than another size 10, and let’s not even get into the fact that one store’s size isn’t necessarily the same as another’s! Tailored clothing looks better, but it can cost a fortune. Unless, that is, you know how to make simple alterations on your own.

What are the biggies to worry about? Those things that shout “bad fit!”?

  • Hems that drag the ground or puddle around your feet (even when wearing heels).
  • Shirts that ride up because they’re too snug.
  • Shirts that you swim in because they’re too big.
  • Shoulders that slope so far they show your bra strap (no, Flashdance didn’t really come back, y’all!).
  • Bulging zippers or button plackets

Some of these can be fixed with a new hem or a well-placed dart or two, others might require inserting extra fabric of there’s not enough seam to let out. In the latter case, you might want to take it to a pro–they’ll be much better at hiding inserts and such.

Fit is important–it makes us look put together instead of thrown-together and (especially us fluffy girls) can take the focus off the clothes on onto who’s wearing them.

Personal Style

64 Arts

“Style” is an expression of individualism mixed with charisma. Fashion is something that comes after style.

–John Fairchild

Do you know what your style is?

Here’s a quick test to see if your style matches your clothes.

  1. Write down what you consider your style to be.
  2. Go into your closet.
  3. Notice what colors, patterns, and pieces dominate.
  4. Compare the two.

Pretty simple, huh? Our clothes along with shoes, jewelry and other accessories, plus the way we put them together is our way of saying “this is me” to the outside world (or even just to ourselves).

My Closet

My Closet

For instance, I know my style revolves around simple pieces, tops in mostly solid colors, soft stretchy fabrics and that I prefer skirts with a tailored look or details and slacks over jeans. Shoes are a major draw and I like to have plenty of heel, color and style options. My closet?

The facing rack is all tops with dresses on the left and two racks of skirts and pants tucked into the right side. Behind the dresses are built-in shelves of shoes with more stored on the top shelf and still more in my office closet (more about shoes in another post to come). This was taken just after Todd installed the ClosetMaid system–it may only be a rental but that ancient steel rod I knew was going to collapse with the weight of my former walk-in closet all settled on it! I wish it was always this neat, but I do keep my tops in more-or-less color families in the standard ROY G BIV lineup with white on one end and black and grey on the other. Putting my clothes in this sort of order made it very easy for me to see what I was most drawn to.

Sometimes I think it would be fabulous to wear, as Kimberly Wilson does, all black and just accessorize with color but… as you can see, I’m drawn to tops of all hues and just don’t think I’d be happy with such a limited palette!

What if you aren’t particularly happy with your current style?

Longing for a makeover but Clinton and Stacy aren’t knocking down your door to lend a hand? Before you text a 911 to your most fashionable girlfriends, let’s try a fairly simple exercise that will show you what direction your style is heading, even if your closet doesn’t know it yet.

Lucky Style Collage, September 2010

Lucky Style Collage, September 2010

What you’ll need:

  • Fashion magazines (Lucky, Glamour, Cosmo, Elle, etc.)
  • Sticky tabs (optional)
  • Scissors
  • Plain paper
  • Glue or tape

Grab your first magazine and your stack of sticky tabs. I admit, I’m partial to Lucky as they give you the sticky tabs right in the magazine–so considerate of them! Now, you can skip straight to the scissors but I like this first-pass to be look-and-tag simple.

Simply flip through the pages. Don’t read the articles, don’t look at the brands or prices or any of the fine print, just tag whatever catches your eye and makes you think WANT or LIKE! Just do it, don’t think about how it’ll fit funny here or there, we’re going for broad strokes, here.

Once you’ve tagged a magazine or three (I usually do an issue at a time but doing 3 or 4 from the still-to-be-read pile can give you a broader look to work with), start removing pages that you tagged and cutting out the items that interested you. These can be clothes, accessories, colors, textures, the entire image or only a detail if that’s what caught your eye.

Take all your pieces and start to arrange them on your blank sheet of paper. This is collage 101: match up pieces that go together (again, I don’t necessarily mean outfits, just shapes and colors and items that look fun together–we’re not ready to analyze yet) and move them around the paper until you can see the parts you want and like the arrangement. Glue or tape them down.

Analyzing your Style Collage

Lucky Style Collage, October 2010

Lucky Style Collage, October 2010

First we want to look at colors–what color(s) drew your eye most? Going back to your recent closet evaluation, is this something you have in abundance or are you totally lacking that color in your wardrobe? If it’s the latter, you’ll want to look for it the next time you go shopping and buy one or two pieces in that hue (or at least try them on in the dressing room) to see if you like that color on you. If it’s a color that doesn’t work with your skin tone, it’s okay, look for accessories or accents in that color, instead.

Next, did you pull out any total outfits? What about individual garments that have a particular detail you like? Again, if you don’t have it in your closet, considering adding a piece or two that reflects the style your drawn to. You don’t have to buy exactly what’s in the magazine! Visa knows those sorts of things aren’t in my budget, but knowing what you like can help you be on the lookout for items of similar style in the places you already shop.

For instance, the red sweater with the black buttons in my October collage would never stay shut with just those 3 buttons at top–my boobs would make it into a gaping mess! Instead, though, I can look at updating one of my current red sweaters with some over-sized black buttons to get the look without flashing everyone! Same with the skirts–I can find a simple wrap skirt practically anywhere and add my own edge treatment to make it look more tailored.

Give yourself permission to be a little daring. After all, a makeover is most effective if it’s totally unexpected!

Why not ask your girlfriends?

Just because you bff is a snappy dresser, doesn’t necessarily mean her style is for you. Once you’ve determined what sort of things you want to add to your wardrobe, then you can call her up and plan a shopping day or a weekend at the nearest outlet mall.


Clothes may not actually make the man or woman, but I know for a fact that I feel loads better when I’ve put together an outfit that is more my style than someone else’s. Wearing jeans and a t-shirt, even if that’s what everyone else at the event will be wearing, makes me feel frumpy and uncomfortable.

It’s better to be comfortable and have people wonder where you’re going to or coming from to be dressed so differently than wear something that doesn’t reflect the real you.

So, are you planning any wardrobe updates this season?

the 16th Art: The Art of Dressing

64 Arts

To choose garments and jewels to embellish the body, according the place and circumstances.

Who’s up for a little window shopping?

The art of dressing can be summed up in one word: STYLE.

And style is a very personal thing. While it used to be that a select few designers or magazine editors would determine silhouettes, hemlines and palettes which the majority strove to emulate, these days the number of designers is multitudinous, the off-the-rack clothing options nearly unlimited and the diy-aesthetic so entrenched that having a personal style is more achievable than ever. The globalizing effect of the Internet is not to be ignored, either!

In fact, why don’t we start there?

I don’t consider myself a fashionista or trend-follower (I tend to choose what I like from what’s available and ignore the rest), I enjoy following a few fashion blogs that keep me up on what other folks are wearing while existing on their own wonderful wavelengths:

Gala Darling

Doe Deere Blogazine

Jazzi McG

Nubby Twiglet

Even though I don’t share these ladies’ style preferences, I still love seeing how they put outfits together and live their style choices.

Do you have any fashion bloggers in your RSS-closet? Do you share their style or just like to look?