Archive of ‘Tips & Tricks’ category

“Emergency” Items to Have In Your Closet

Long ago, I used to plan what I wore every day the night before. Hanging it up, making sure everything was ironed and ready to go. Those days are over, and although I will still hang up outfits from time to time, I usually pick what to wear the morning of.

There are a few key items I keep nearby my closet that have come in handy when I’m getting dressed for the day. Sometimes things don’t always go as planned and I really don’t have time to go with another option. Sure I could pick a different outfit completely, but we’ve all been in situations where we either don’t want to or don’t have the time to. It’s smart to invest now in the simple tools below that will make your life easier!

  1. Tide To Go Pen is something I keep both in my purse and in my closet. They are small and effective, and really save the day if I have one tiny mark on a white blouse and I really don’t want to change. I always make sure I have them in stock!
  2. Clothing Tape is something I bought when I was in a wedding last year and I wanted to make sure my bridesmaid dress stayed in place. Since having the entire pack left, I’ve used it on a few occasions where my neckline wouldn’t stay in place, strap is showing, etc. I never thought about keeping them around until they’ve saved the day a few times! these are the ones I use
  3. Safety Pins are another item I have always had around since high school. If something isn’t sitting right, a shirt seems too low, or something needing extra support to stay closed, the safety pin comes to the rescue! I have varying sizes from large to small.
  4. Lint Roller is used daily in my house since I have a cat, but other things can shed and you may not notice them until you’re completely dressed and almost out the door. Lint rollers are a must for everyone whether you own a pet or not.
  5. Static Guard only gets used in the colder months, but in Michigan that’s like half the year. Especially when dressing up for a nicer event, dresses can hold static and cling to your legs. Static guard fights against this and has earned its place in my closet.
  6. Mini Flat Iron is a newer item that I originally bought to help tame my baby hairs, but I’ve used it on more than one occasion to get out wrinkles last min when I’m already wearing an item. Think the bottom of skirts, shirts, etc.

The one item I do not have but am considering adding to the tools above is a mini clothing steamer. I’ve heard really good things about having one on hand since it is gentle on your clothes and works quickly.

 

What are some of your closet emergency items? I’d love to hear what you’d add to this list! 🙂

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Taking Your Closet From Summer to Fall

If you’ve been reading here for awhile, you know I like to talk about how to transition your wardrobe from season to season. That in-between time when it’s not quite the next season but you’re sick of the current one is by far the hardest time to know how to dress. While summer doesn’t technically end until mid September, you’ll see half the population in flip flops and tanks, and the other half in scarves and boots. Let’s talk about how to transition flawlessly into the next season.

Consider the weather and the time of year. This is my number one rule for dressing in between seasons. If it’s still really hot out but past Labor day, I’m forgoing my Lilly Pulitzer dress in favor of a navy shift. If it’s unusually cold, I’ll wear a sweater with pants, but I keep my pants white and my sweater more neutral. It’s a skill learned over time that becomes easier to master when you’re trying to dress both for the weather and the time of year.

Adding in items slowly is key to making this process smooth vs. shorts and a tank one day and pants and a sweater the next. I store my off season clothes, so this time of year I’ll go through them and pull out a few things I can see myself incorporating into my summer wardrobe, and then I’ll put things away I know I’m not going to wear again.

Speaking of adding in items, I used to change over my wardrobe from summer to fall in one day. It was a big task that was time consuming since it meant making a million mini decisions, taking things off hangers, and taking the time to properly store the off season clothes. Now I break it up into smaller tasks and I have an order I tend to follow. I start first with shirts and sweaters since they’re easiest to tie into my summer wardrobe (think olive green sweater with white pants). Next I do handbags and accessories since they’re smaller details that also transiton nicely. After that I usually add in pants one day, skirts another, dresses after that, and then I finish with outwear and footwear since coats and boots are the last thing I’m wearing when the weather turns cool.

Shifting your color palette is an easy change to seamlessly take your outfit from summer to fall. I’m tending not to wear bright colors and leaning more towards deeper, neutral tones. I find this approach makes it simple to build an outfit around when you take out things that scream summer colors. I still wear bright colors but they look different – I have a thick yellow cable knit sweater that appropriate for fall, whereas my bright pink cardigan isn’t going to be worn until next spring.

Easy layers make a smart outfit choice. Much like the rest of the country, Michigan can have very unpredictable weather throughout the day. Layers are important to making sure you’re dressed comfortable and appropriately. I especially like layers that are easy to remove throughout the day, such as a light zip up jacket, long sleeve cardigan, quilted vest, or silk scarf.

 

What are some tips you have for transitioning from one season to the next?

Three Questions to Ask Yourself Before Buying Something

I’ll be the first one to admit there has been more than one occasion where I’ve made a mistake shopping. Maybe I bought something I didn’t really need or wasn’t great quality, and I get rid of it the next season with the disappointment that I didn’t make a wise decision. The tips in this post come partly from things I’ve read and the experience of finding out the hard way, but I’m still need to remind myself of this advice when I’m shopping. It’s very easy to use shopping as a fun hobby/activity and cashing in on those good endorphins you get when you make a purchase (whether online or in real life), but in the long run it can be hard to maintain. It’s called retail therapy for a reason – shopping can make you feel good, however, it can create a closet of chaos and confusion. The more random things you buy, the more you’ll say “I have nothing to wear”.

source: time magazine

I’m trying to get in the habit of asking myself these three questions before buying any clothing item:

  1. Can I picture it 3 different ways? My goal is to create a cohesive wardrobe where I can get multiple uses out of each item. This means before I buy something I try to image three different outfits I can wear it with. This helps me avoid buying something too crazy that I won’t find myself wearing because it’s hard to wear. If I can visualize it being apart of my wardrobe then it has value to it. There are some exceptions to this rule – I have a pair of red cowboy boots I only wear once or twice a year but they’re a fun item I look forward to wearing when the occasion arises.
  2. Do I love it? Or do I love the price? Ouch, this one hits home for me. Too often I’ve found myself buying something because I kind of liked the item, but loved the price even more. There is something so fun about getting a deal that we often don’t use our best judgement in whether this item checks other boxes. My first thought goes to a blazer that wasn’t quite my size but bought it because it was a good price. It sat in my closet rarely worn because it didn’t fit correctly until I donated it.  Ask yourself if you really love something before you buy it, or do you need to save up for the best version of the item? (Example: Do I get the cream sweater at Old Navy for half off, or do I save up for the L.L. Bean version that I’ll wear for years?)
  3. Does it fulfill a purpose in my closet or do I have something similar? If you’re anything like me, you probably have way too many of a certain item in your closet – for me it’s striped shirts and blue oxford cloth button downs. Ask yourself if the item you’re eyeing actually will fill a “hole” in your closet, meaning it will serve a purpose to help you wear your other items more practically. Maybe you have a lot of boots, but you don’t have the right pants to wear with them. Investing in a pair of pants that tuck into boots nicely will serve a purpose more than just buying another pair of boots. I fall into the trap of buying similar items to ones I already own, so I’m trying to be more strategic with my future purchases to get the most out of my wardrobe.

 

Practical advice for shopping:

When I’m in a store, I will pick up items as I walk around that I would consider purchasing. After either trying them on, or simply making my way around the store, I take a second look and them and decide if I really love them. This has always given me that joy of shopping “love at first sight” and then I can do a practical run through after I’ve seen everything in the store. More often than not, I leave empty handed or with one item.

It’s also wise to be discerning about who you shop with. Do you have something whose judgement you trust? Or do they love and support everything you pick up no matter what? I find my mom is my best shopping partner because I can trust her to tell me the truth about whether or not I should purchase something.

If I’m online, I will keep items in my cart and leave the website. If I’m still thinking about them the next day, then something tells me I should take a second look. More often than not, I forget all about it!

Do you have any practical advice for shopping? What are some ways your stop yourself from over spending or buying things you don’t need?

That’s a Wrap

I love spending extra time wrapping gifts as I think it shows an extra level of thoughtfulness and care. I even have a section of my basement that’s a “wrapping paper table” and has tons of rolls and ribbons nearby. There are so many cute choices for wrapping paper, but some are too cute to be torn into and discarded immediately!

I think back to my wedding – a guest gave us a gift in a nicer box that she had wrapped in gorgeous paper. I still have the box to this day and use it for extra storage and display. It was very thoughtful and I enjoy the look and functionality of it.

stripe shirt wrapping paper c/o sara fitz studio

This wrapping paper I used above is just one of 13 eye-catching wrapping paper options that anyone, especially those who like East Coast style, would enjoy. I’m talking lobsters, whales, basket totes, hydrangeas, etc. Sara Fitz’s watercolor looks just as good on wrapping paper as it does her stationary options! The problem I ran into was I didn’t want to wrap someone’s gift in it for it to get thrown away… It’s too cute for that!

So I took a nicer box I got for a few dollars at TJ Maxx. There are several stores that have these types of hard gift boxes and you can find them on sale.

I thought back to the wedding gift I got in the wrapped box and decided to do the same thing. It was quite simple as I just wrapped the bottom and top separately and took extra care to make sure the pattern lined up right.

For now, I’m keeping this box for myself to keep extra accessories in and display in my room. I may eventually wrap one more box in this paper as a gift box for a friend that I know would enjoy the print. They may keep the box themselves, or use it for a gift to give to someone else who may enjoy it. Regardless, I’m getting more out of the beautiful paper than before!

Please check out Sara Fitz Studio for all the beautiful gift wrap options. She is also a fun account to follow on Instagram!

Summer Pattern Mixing

Pattern mixing is a great way to maximize what you already have in your closet by putting things together you haven’t combined before. You’ll also look like a pro and that you know what you’re doing since pattern mixing is daunting for some! Now that we are mid-summer, I like to throw in some stripes with other patterns to mix things up and wear what I have in new ways. Below are my tips on how to do so seamlessly.

  1. Stripes are your friend. I think a easy way to start with pattern mixing is to use some striped pieces. I am not bold enough to wear stripes with stripes since it can often be too busy, but pairing it with another item that has a larger or more spaced out pattern works great. For this outfit, I would avoid doing a smaller, tiny pattern since the stripes on this skirt are already close together.

2. Mix texture with pattern. I think an interesting way to switch up your wardrobe is taking a patterned item, like this skirt, and pairing it with a coordinating item that has the same color palette but a different texture. This tank has a very subtle eyelet pattern that looks great when worn with the striped skirt. Find some clothing in your closet that has a textured pattern to it and try it with a bolder pattern for a eye-catching look.

 

3.  Have some fun. It’s easy to take a patterned piece, like these seersucker shorts, and go the easy route of wearing a solid color with it. It’s not wrong to do so, and is a refreshing look, but pairing it with this lobster motif makes the outfit pop a little more. Sometimes items like these shorts keep me stuck in repeating the same pieces with it, but with pattern mixing I can open up to more outfit choices. Something busy like the shorts looks great with something a little less busy to balance it out.

Keep in mind that style means something different to everyone and these are only my opinions. My main focus when creating an outfit is to look put-together, so I gravitate towards more conservative approach to pattern mixing that relies on subtlety rather than loud/bold.

Want more pattern mixing inspiration? Check out @respecttheshoes on Instagram – she is my favorite girl for pattern mixing. She keeps it fun and everything always looks well thought out.

Lace Tying Hacks & Other Good Tips

We all know how to tie our shoes, but today’s post is going a little more into detail on different techniques that aren’t taught growing up that can make your shoe tying experience a little better. I personally like being able to slip on shoes without spending a lot of time tying them up. Two pieces of footwear that I’ve “turned into” slip-on’s are my slippers and boots from L.L. Bean. You can use this advice on any version similar to what I own.

Let’s start with boots: I love wearing my Bean Boots but found sitting down to tie them a little tedious when I wear them so often. I’ve seen other people tying their boots this way (eastland knot) and decided to try it out, and 2 years later they’re still tied exactly how I did them and they’ve made a huge different in how I wear them. It’s SO easy to just slip them on and off, so I reach for them even more now. No more sitting down and spending time lacing them! I also like the way they look this way better than when I did a traditional shoelace knot on them. Here are helpful instructions on how to do the eastland knot on your boots.

Tips for tying boots:

  • Loosen up the laces to the point where you find them easy to slip on and off. They won’t be as tight as if you laced them up each time, but you will hardly notice a difference.
  • Start on notch lower than you normally would (see photo) to keep them at that loose point.
  • Know that if you keep this tying arrangement for any period of time your laces will probably be bent that way if you undo it. Laces are fairly inexpensive and I found the trade off for this slip on option to outweigh having straight laces later on. So far I haven’t undone them and don’t plan on it!

 

I also own and love the Wicked Good Moccasin slippers, but like most slippers that you tie, they used to come untied constantly and it became annoying. L.L. Bean came out with a how-to video on how to tie them using the seaman’s knot to ensure they don’t come untied too often. It’s pretty easy, and although they do still come untied, it only happens once in awhile and not everyday. You can tell in this photo it’s slightly different than a regular shoelace knot.

 

I tie a regular shoelace knot for my workout shoes, and then “double knot” them so they don’t come undone during my workout. I do, however, sometimes get in the bad habit of just slipping off my workout shoes when I get home instead of untying them. Make sure you always untie your shoes completely to help the laces last longer. The pair above replaced a different pair I had where I kept it tied all the time, and the laces had worn down and the shoes were not very snug when I did use them. I learned my lesson and now take the time to untie everything.

Do you have any shoe tying woes that you’ve solved?

A Tip for Watch Owners

If you’re someone who owns a lot of watches, you may find yourself only wearing some of your watches seasonally. I have a few watches I wear more in the colder months, and don’t wear them at all in the summer months. They’re usually bulkier/darker ones that I tend not to choose in the summertime.

A great way to save your watch battery is to take the watches you aren’t wearing regularly and pull out the side knob so that the time stops. If it’s not running, it will help conserve your battery and give you double the use out of timepiece.

My mom gave me this tip recently as I brought a few of my favorite watches in to get the battery changed. I only wear them in the winter and wish I would have known this tip before. Hope this can help someone else!

J Crew Shopping Hack

top row: coat / vest / hat / gloves

bottom row: scarf / skier pajamas / nordic boots

J. Crew’s holiday line is full of great finds this year with lots of plaids, gold, shearling, & preppy motifs. Some of these “stand out” items are hot sellers come Black Friday and it’s not uncommon for them to sell out quickly. To ensure you get exactly what you want from J Crew without missing out on their Black Friday / Cyber Monday deals, you’ll want to buy less than seven days ahead of time.

Works for online orders only: When you buy from J Crew’s website, you have one week from ship date to get a price adjustment. So if I buy something tonight with 25% off, it most likely won’t ship out until Friday at the earliest (if not later than that). This means come Black Friday when they normally run 40% off, I’ll be able to call and get the price adjusted. Buying in-store is a little different so keep this in mind!

I’m interested in getting the nordic boots shown above (comes with neutral and red laces), and last year they sold out very quickly. I figured if I use the strategy above I’ll be able to get them before they sell out and still get a great sale price – hopefully 40% off.

My husband doesn’t care for them, but I think they look so warm and will be a shorter and more lightweight option to slip on since my other winter boots are taller. Not all my pants are “tall boot friendly” and instead of stuffing them into winter boots when the snow hits, I would like to put these on instead. I really like the vintage nordic look that these boots have! I’m not asking for many clothes this year since I’m pregnant and my normal size no longer fits, so I figured boots might be a safe bet for a Christmas gift.

Have you ever used a price adjustment strategically?

What do you think of the nordic boots?

As always, I don’t use affiliate links so no money goes towards me and all my opinions are 100% my own.

 

Getting Boots Ready for Winter

Every year I assess my leather boots and decide what needs to be taken care of so they look great and serve me well for an additional year. Before the start of every season and at the very end, it’s a good idea to wipe them down and condition them. Truthfully, I wear them a few times in October and then wait til November to do this task, but it is something that needs to be done at least once a season. If you aren’t taking the time to take care of your leather shoes then you may not get the full life out of them. The beauty of genuine leather is they can be taken care of and look great for years to come.

boot guard / kiwi saddle soap / kiwi cleaning clothes / kiwi express shine

Above are the products I used when taking care of my boots. I have not tried the kiwi express shine before but would recommend it more for touch ups and not what I’m explaining today, which encompasses a more heavy duty cleaning.

I love my leather riding boots! Both are the brand Bandolino that were purchased from Lord and Taylor 6+ years ago and can still be found at many retailers including DSW. Since I wear them a lot, you can see some minor signs of wear that need to be addressed. Cleaning and conditioning them really works well in this case to make them look great again. I’m hoping to get another 6+ years out of them. Here are the steps I took:

  1. Use a paper towel and warm water to get off any excess dirt/dust so you have a clean slate to work with. Let dry.
  2. Use the polishing cloths and get them slightly damp in one area, dip that area into the saddle soap and produce a lather.  Always test the saddle soap in a hidden area and let dry before doing your whole boot just to make sure it works well.
  3. Work the saddle soap into the leather in a circular motion to cover the whole boot.
  4. Let dry and wipe off any excess soap.

I do this every year and am always impressed with the results! The black boots are gorgeous, but I was worried that they were looking rough. This process cleaned and conditioned them and made me a believer all over again. I couldn’t be happier.

I ended with an optional step of using this Clark’s waterproofer on the lower part of my boots that hit closer to the ground. Again, this is something to test before spraying on. I found this waterproofer in a Clark’s store.

Here is a before and after shot of the boots. The photos are untouched, but it is still hard to tell how drastic of a difference it was. You can see there are less cracks in the leather and they have more of a rich depth in color on the right. I can’t imagine not doing this to my boots every year!

BEAN BOOTS

Next up I took a look at my Bean boots to see which ones needed some TLC. If you own Bean boots, it’s worth it to get this Bean boot guard to make them last and look great. I find it’s always good to condition the leather, but more importantly you’ll see some of the stitching on the boots start to stick out. This stuff works almost like a wax that you work into those stitches that keeps them nicely intact.

From the website: Protect your L.L.Bean Boots and other leather footwear products with our boot dressing, a mixture of beeswax, lanolin and oils that waterproof, preserve and restore leather.

This before picture mainly shows a lot of dirt on the rubber portion, but you can see the stitching ends that I referred to above. The pair of the left also has some common scratches inside the tongue of the boot under where the laces go. The boot guard does wonders for all of this.

  1. Use a damp paper towel to wipe down the bean boot, especially the leather portion. Let try.
  2. Use the kiwi cleaning cloth to dip into the boot guard and work into the leather in a circular motion. Again, always test the polish out on a hidden area and let dry before proceeding. Sometimes it may darken it more than you’d like, but I only found this to be the case with my Bison Bean boots which are already a dark brown. 
  3. I spend extra time going over the stitches with the boot guard to keep them nice and intact.
  4. Let dry.

Again, it may be hard to tell in this before and after but in real life the leather looks much better after using the boot guard and has prepared them for another season of brutal winters. I’m especially impressed with how it lessened the appearance of the scratches of the pair on the left.

Do you take the time to take care of your boots? I don’t think many people do, but it’s really important. This whole process (including taking pics during) took maybe half an hour even with dry time. Sometimes it seems tedious, but I often enjoy owning the same thing for many years and it continuing to look great with just a little extra care on my part.

 

Q&A Friday: How do I un-shrink a sweater?

After getting home from vacation, I washed everything I wore and accidentally shrunk the sweater shown above. I got this sweater when we were on our honeymoon 3 years ago, and along with the cute whale print it’s one of my favorites! I’ve shrunk sweaters before and successful stretched them back to normal, so I was confident I could do it again.

Step 1: Fill a sink with lukewarm water and add a little bit of hair conditioner to it. Place sweater in a let it soak for ten minutes. Be careful about what you last used in your sink, some cleaning products and acne products can take the color out of an item. 

Step 2: Drain the sink, but don’t rinse the sweater or ring it out. Instead, place a towel on the ground and place the sweater on it. Roll it up carefully to get a little less damp and transfer to a new flat towel.

Step 3: Carefully start to pull and tug it apart to form it’s a original shape. Make sure you do this right after step 2 while it’s damp so it takes to the pulling. I spent a lot of time gently pulling the sleeves and sides away from each other. Let it dry and then you are all set!

Why does this work? Soaking it in the conditioner is going to soften the fibers in the sweater and allow you to rework the shape. I was so happy that mine went back to normal so I can continue to wear it!

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