Making a Statement Without Saying a Word

64 Arts
Collar-style Necklace Trio of Statement Necklaces Lion Collar Necklace

Actions speak louder than words, it’s true, but our very presence can speak volumes and a stand-out necklace can say to the world that you’re as large and in charge as your accessories.

I’ve been watching a lot of Bones via Netflix, lately–it’s great to have on in the background while I’m drawing–and Dr. Temperance Brennan (or, rather, the show’s stylist) loves big, ornate, vaguely-tribal or ethnic necklaces. These sorts of statement pieces are making a comeback in everyday women’s fashion, too, made of all sorts of materials and designs.

When we wear these sorts of necklaces, though, it takes some forethought to keep our statement clear and our visual “words” unjumbled.

How to Wear a Statement Necklace

1. Let a single signature piece rule the day.

Faux Lariat Necklace in Purple and SilverBack when I was in high school the “fashion” (and I use the term loosely) was to wear several necklaces, big dangly earrings and rings on as many fingers as possible. I’m quite happy to have grown out of that stage and into one that knows when to whisper and when to shout.

By wearing a single statement piece–be it earrings, necklace, bracelet or ring–you allow that piece to stand out and be noticed.

2. Complement or contrast, but don’t argue.

You’ve got two ways to go when wearing a piece of very vocal neck-ware: you can complement the colors of your clothes or contrast them but it’s easiest if you keep busy patterns away from a bold necklace. If you’re matching a necklace to the pattern of your skirt (I’ve designed a couple specifically for that purpose), keep your shirt a sold color that coordinates with both and creates a bit of “white space” (even if the shirt is black, orange or any color other than white).

3. Match your necklace to your neckline.

Repurposed Belt as NecklaceGoing back to Bones, the very literal doctor always pairs her large-and-in-charge necklaces with either an open neckline or a tank and blazer combo. The necklaces are framed by these clothing choices and rest against bare skin–but it’s not the only way to go.

Another way to pair a neckline with a necklace, especially useful in winter, is to wear a solid turtleneck or other high-collar shirt as a backdrop for your jewelry. If you go with a button-down shirt, make sure the necklace completely clears the collar edges and that the buttons are covered by a placket (not only can they take away from the style of the necklace, they can pose a catching hazzard for the more fiddly styles).

Celtic Horse Etched Slide NecklaceFinally, by lengthening a standout necklace to below the bust-line (you can extend many styles with ribbon or additional chain purchased from the craft-store and attached to the existing clasps) eliminates any neckline confusion and adds a bohemian flair to the ensemble.

So, now that you know how to wear them, learn how to make one with the Etched Slide Necklace tutorial I put up over the weekend and let me know if you give them a try!

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!

Don’t Let Having Only 2 Feet Stop You

64 Arts

We’re picking up our discussion of the 16th Art: The Art of Dressing with some sole-ful discussions on stylish footwear.


“Ugh, you haven’t moved your shoes, yet?”

That was Mom, about 2 weeks ago.

It was 3-something in the afternoon and we’d been loading and unloading trucks and cars and schlepping boxes and bins since just before 10 that morning. One week before Christmas, the old house was emptying out and the new one was filling up (at a much quicker rate) with furniture and all. those. boxes.

And, no, I hadn’t moved my shoes, yet.

See, Mom knows how many pairs of shoes I have. 85 to be exact (87 now, actually, if you count the 2 new pair of slippers I added this winter, and I do).

174 Shoes. 2 Feet.

I’m no Imelda (not by a long shot!) but even I realize that it’s kind of a ridiculous number.

Not for the usual reasons other people give or ask:

  • You only have 2 feet.
  • Why do you need a dozen (or more) pairs of shoes all the same color?
  • You hardly wear this pair (or that pair, or a handful of specialty shoes).

But because it’s an awful lot of shoes. And moving then requires my entire trunk and then some.

In fact, when I was getting ready to write this post ages ago (aforementioned move = delay reason and then some) I took out all the shoes I owned just to see if they’d take up the entire hallway.

85 Pairs of Shoes

All 85 Pairs

They did.

(Arranging all those shoes, by the way? I did it twice to get the best arrangement. Best thigh workout ever.)

But I’m no Carrie Bradshaw–my shoe collection wouldn’t even cover the down-payment of an economy car, much less a condo in NYC. They’re not big brands, most of them cost $20 a pair or less (I love shopping sales!). But they’re mine and I like them just as much as if they’d cost hundreds each (maybe more since, should something happen to one it’s not the end of the world).

And a lot of them? Are 5 years old or more. Some even go back to 1999 and one pair in particular goes back to 1995!

That’s right. For the investment-minded (regardless of the initial outlay), having 50+ pairs of shoes and wearing most on a regular basis means that each individual pair sees much less wear and tear than those residing in merely a 3-shoe-closet.

Granted, my microfiber stretch black boots with the faux-patent dominatrix-style straps along the back and toe ($22, Marshalls, at least 4 years ago) get a lot of wear and have had the heels replaced once (best $11 ever spent). Other shoes need a trip to the cobbler for some minor repairs along the same lines and I do have some favorites that could stand to be swapped out when the right ones come along (or the old ones just give up).

But 85 87* pairs of shoes seems just about right to me.

Unlike clothes shopping, shoe shopping is great.

There’s less in the way of awkward size moments and, pretty much, what you see is what you get. A good heel can make your calves and butt look amazing. A good flat can keep you running errands all day while feeling fab instead of frumpy.

One day, perusing the shoe section of the local Bealls Outlet I came across a pair of black leather, platform ankle-strap heels by Sketchers. I didn’t even know such a thing existed at the time but there they were, outlet priced and on sale even more. Would you believe that they rung up at $0.49? Seriously. And those shoes have served me well for 3 years, at least.

A couple of years ago a local boutique had the unfortunate need to go out of business. Polka Dot Shoes will be sorely missed–their demise a product of the crashing economy and a force of nature that flooded their Lake Ella shop–but I’ve got 9 pairs of their inventory (purchased for under $100 total) to remember them by. Todd and I swung by their sale that morning, I pulled everything that looked remotely interesting and was in my size and in 15 minutes had the stack down to the ones I wanted and we went to brunch. That day or the next it was Todd’s turn: he needed a new pair of all-purpose black work shoes and it took 3 stores and a couple of hours for him to finally decide.

And women get the bad rap as shoppers 😉

My criteria for new shoes:

  1. Will I wear them? Ever. It doesn’t have to be every day or even every week, but I have to know at least one outfit or one occasion where they would be perfect. Keep in mind: a colorful shoe looks amazing with an all-black or contrasting color ensemble.
  2. Is the price right? When you’re on a budget (and aren’t we all?) it helps to know your comfort zone as far as cost goes. For me the upper limit is now in the $40 range, though if I find a sale I’m a happy camper. But just because it’s on sale, doesn’t mean it’s automatically coming home with me, which brings me to…
  3. Does it fill a need? This is a big one, for me, because I already have so many shoes. If it’s another pair of black heels, for instance, it needs to stand out from the rest in a couple of ways to justify the expense and the storage space it’ll take up in my closet. But I also keep a mental list of shoes to be on the lookout for: right now it’s a good pair of gray heels and black and brown stacked-heel loafers to replace a couple of pairs that are wearing out.

Notice I didn’t say anything about comfort–it’s a secondary consideration for a really great pair of shoes. Fit is important, sure, but a little pinch here or there can be worked around if you play your shoe cards right.

*Soon to be 88 when my next Shoe Dazzle order comes in. Just like the Haunted Mansion… there’s always room for one more!


Up Next on the 64 Arts? Our Style Discussion takes a practical turn as I share my shoe storage tips (for both home and away) as well as tips for walking in heels without becoming a moving violation.

Guest Post: The Organized Purse

64 Arts

Thanks to a recent tribe-building activity with the SITS Girls, I’ve had the pleasure of meeting several bloggers in what’s become known as the Creative Living genre. One of these lovely ladies–Kathleen Boland, a professional organizer in Alberta, Canada–has graciously traded posts with me, today, and this week we’re talking purses.


I only have one purse. It is a classic black butler bag. I’m very particular about my purses. I buy them rarely and they have to live a long life. I wish I could say that I have a bag for every outfit, but that doesn’t fit my lifestyle or my budget. I’m just not that kind of girl. So if you are like me and you have one purse, it probably stores your life in it.

Even when I do a seasonal clear out of my purse I still can have over twenty items in it. If I had to do an inventory today here’s some of things you would find in there …

  1. Wallet (Slimmed down to the bare essential cards and info)
  2. Coin purse
  3. Calculator (I hate doing math in my head for billing clients)
  4. Timer
  5. Crayons in an old card box (Not all restaurants have them for kids)
  6. Keys
  7. Hand cream
  8. Mini-Flashlight
  9. Calendar (For making appointments)
  10. Notepad and pen
  11. Kleenex
  12. Granola bar
  13. Measuring Tape
  14. Dental Floss
  15. Nametag and Association Pin
  16. Matches
  17. Emergency tampon
  18. Hair elastics / bobby pins
  19. Individually wrapped hand towelettes
  20. Lip gloss and chap stick (Absolutely necessary here in the north)
  21. Mascara
  22. Ear plugs (From the activity with helicopters a few weeks back…)

Does that seem like a lot? Not to me. I’m so glad that I don’t have to pack the baby bag anymore. That thing was heavy…probably heavier than my child.

I seem to have a few “what if” items in there. I guess I like to be ready for anything. I could probably slim it down even more it I had to, but I like that I can pull out a Kleenex when someone sneezes or have a measuring tape on hand when I’m shopping for home accessories or furniture.

I love a purse that keeps me organized. The butler bag is separated into section so I just drop my stuff where it needs to go. I love that. I have seen other products that do the same thing if your purse is just an open style, like this one at Kangaroo Keeper or this one at CCKmode .

Before I had this bag I was a slave to the zipper bags. All items that belonged in the same category went into zipper bags into my purse. (Children, Health and Beauty, Work related, Money related.)

As a Professional Organizer I am always hearing about people putting the strangest things in their purses. Here are a few that should NOT be in your purse:

  1. SIN Card or Social Security Card
  2. Credit cards that have not been signed (Do it as soon as it comes in the mail)
  3. Leaky containers …ewww
  4. Important documents like your Power of Attorney (No really, it happened once)

Your purse is a living, breathing extension of you. Take a few minutes each day to pull out the contents that have been deposited that need to be filed, purged or shredded. It will take less than a minute and you will know that your purse is ready for your next adventure.

Take a few minutes now to do your own personal inventory of your purse. What is in there that can go into categories? Can I use something to organize the contents better? Do I need to re direct some items to another home?

Get your purse organized and have everything at your fingertips when you need it!

Tip: If the bottom of your purse is getting floppy, cut out the bottom of a cereal box to make a new support for the purse base. You can pull it out and replace it when it gets sticky or bent.

I’d love to hear how you got organized so please leave a comment so I can enter your name into the draw for a prize of organizing products. Visit me here and follow along each Friday for all the organizing fun.


Thank you, Kathleen!

Okay, ladies–it’s time to spill your purses! Take everything out, take a photo of it and send me a link to it (flickr, facebook, your own blog–anything goes)! On Thursday I’ll post my own photo (already took it a few minutes ago) and announce the winner of the giveaway, drawn from the names of everyone who links me a picture of their purse contents! What will the prize(s) be? I’m still deciding, but it’ll be worth it, I promise you that!

You have approximately 36 hours (more like 38), until 8pm Eastern, Wednesday the 20th, to send me your links.

A Tale of Two Notecards

64 Arts
Thirty-one Notecard

my Thirty-One Notecard

I love stationery.

Actually, it might be that I love getting cards and letters in the mail (bills, not so much). I still have ones I received as a child from family members and a few Mom saved that I wrote to her while away at the dreaded summer camp.

My high school English teacher (I had her 3 of the 4 years for one thing or another and was her teacher’s aide during my Senior Year) gifted me a gorgeous box of personalized note cards just before graduation. I loved them dearly and felt oh so posh sending out my graduation gift thank-yous on those heavy white cards.

Over the years I’ve dabbled in making my own stationery but, as I’m sure we can all agree, we just don’t write cards and letters very much any more. Email, cell phones, texting–it makes the time a message spends traveling over physical miles positively glacial. No wonder we call it snail mail!

Still, there’s something thrilling about seeing an envelope in the mailbox, hand-addressed and obviously not junk mail! I even have a pen-pal these days and it’s been a real treat to get the letters she sends. Sure, I read her blog and can keep up with her that way, but our written correspondence is different.

Reviving the Passion

Just recently I was invited to a thirty-one party by a friend. Their purses may not be my thing, but they have personalized note cards in a variety of styles. Happy to be able to support my friend’s shopping habit I gladly attended the party and ordered my cards (and a purse and a new lunch-tote; I’m a good friend).

Then, a couple weeks after the thirty-one party, I received an email from a representative of Modern Postcard, offering me the chance to try out their service and get a set of note cards or postcards. Was I interested? You bet! (And, yes, I do see the irony in a card company emailing me… first contact doesn’t always happen on the ground, right?)

Cards with Matching Envelopes

The grey goes so well with the pink, don't you think?

Now that both orders have come in and I’ve had a chance to hang out with the finished product for a bit, a review is definitely in order.

Thirty-One, Notecards & Envelopes

  • Variety: 15 different patterns available, including one where you pick your characters to represent you or your family.
  • Ease of Ordering: Through a consultant or the consultants website
  • Personalization Options: Each design determines how many lines and characters per line are allowed. Font selection is what is shown on the sample, no changing from the pre-set designs.
  • Packaging: Delivered by your consultant or the party hostess, they came in a clear plastic snap-closed pouch that makes keeping them from getting crushed very easy. I could see carrying the pouch in my purse if I were travelling and wanted to leave a little note or something.
  • Extras: Envelopes are printed in a color that coordinates with the card design, even on the inside to look like they’re lined. It’s a nice touch!
  • Usability: The cards are nice and sturdy but completely uncoated, which means that pretty much any writing instrument will work–pencil, pen, gel, etc.
  • Price: $18 for 20 cards and envelopes ($0.90 each, before tax and shipping)

Cute cards. I got the Pixie Pink Medallion design because it seemed fun. The only thing, design-wise, I would have liked was an option to have my name printed down in the lower right corner instead of front and center but I understand why offering that many options would make the process unwieldy for the company.

Modern Postcard, Postcards

Photo Postcard by Modern Postcard

Photo by Qedrin, Postcard by Modern Postcard

  • Variety: Postcards and Greeting Cards come in both standard (4.25×5.7) and deluxe (5.7×8.5) sizes, with over 500 different pattern choices.
  • Ease of Ordering: Online ordering only, the website is very easy to follow through the different options available.
  • Personalization Options: With the pre-designed cards it looks like you’re locked into the personalization placement but you still have full advantage of the font options (11 fonts, 6 font size options, 12 font color options). With one of the 14 design-your-own options you choose your size, orientation and layout and can upload a photograph or your own original art for the image. Basic editing tools are available for photos. This would be great for artists dealing in small-run cards for shows, just trying things out.
  • Packaging: The order was delivered in a bubble-mailer (via USPS) with a length of pearl ribbon keeping the cards from shifting around. Simple and effective.
  • Extras: They offer cards for the postcards at an additional $1.50 per 25 (again, for standard size), and return addresses printed on those envelopes for $17.50 with a sliding scale for larger orders. They also will direct mail your order (great for invitations!) if you want them to, for an extra fee per card of course.
  • Usability: And this is where Modern Postcard let me down a little. I ordered a set of 25 standard postcards, so I can’t really speak to the greeting cards. The cards are coated on both sides, glossy on the front. Now, working for a printing company as I have these past 16 years, I know that coated stocks can sometimes resist certain inks and even pencil marks! So I did a test. Pencil was actually okay, ball-point pens needed a little coaxing but were fine once you got them started, but gel and archival-ink felt-tips smeared up to a minute after writing with them. Permanent marker, of course, poses no problem. Not the worst thing in the world, but if you were planning on ordering postcards and actually using them as such, you might want to be aware that your pen choice will be limited if you want it legible. My recommendation to Modern Postcard would be to investigate C1S (Coated 1-Side) stocks for their postcards to increase the user-friendly nature of the cards.
  • Price: $19 for 25 standard postcards, no envelopes ($0.76 each); $29 for 25 standard greeting cards & envelopes ($1.16 each); free shipping
Smear Test on my New Notecards

Smear Test

For all that the coated backs made certain pens a liability, the cards really came out great. The print quality was excellent on the photo (please note: they do give instructions about what sorts of files to upload–if you send them garbage you won’t get roses, folks! dpi is important!) and would not hesitate placing an order with them for show cards or items for conventions should I got that route. The cards were processed in a timely manner and it was a pleasure getting to try them out. It should also be noted that they offer larger quantities (increments of 25), with a decreasing cost-per-item as you go up.


Style isn’t just what we wear, it’s in everything we do, say and believe. Fun stationery is a little luxury, a small price to pay for something miles removed from a blank sheet of copy paper or a screen full of pixels. Indulge a little (very little, with prices like these) and show the world your style even when you’re no longer in the room.

Disclaimer: I was provided a $19 credit to use towards an order with Modern Postcard in return for trying out their service. The opinions expressed above are entirely my own.