Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Closet Cleaning Karma

Who wants to clean out their closet and get some major karma points at the same time?  Me, me, me!  How about you?

One of my favorite charitable organizations in Seattle is YWCA Dress for Success.  I started volunteering as a dresser a few months ago and have been amazed at the work the program does.  If you are unfamiliar with Dress for Success, it is an international nonprofit organization that promotes the economic independence of disadvantaged women by providing them with professional attire, a network of support, and the career development tools to help them thrive in work and in life.  The women who come through the program are incredible and have persevered through unbelievable struggles and adversity.  I am constantly humbled and inspired by their stories.

Dress for Success relies on donations and volunteers to do the work they do and this is where YOU and your closet come in!  Did you used to work in the corporate realm and do you have a bunch of interview appropriate attire that you could donate?  Amazing!  Do you have a few gently used purses that you never ever use that you could donate?  Fabulous!  Have you dramatically gained or lost weight recently, leaving you with a closet full of clothes that you want to find a new home for?  Great, read on!

Below is a list of the types of clothing we are looking for and the items that are in the highest demand and lowest supply right now.
  • Interview appropriate attire (especially size 12 and larger and size 2 and smaller)
  • Clean and gently worn pieces
  • Modern and in style items
  • New tights
  • Shoes (especially size 8.5 and up)
  • Handbags (we are currently out of these)
Once you've cleaned out your closet and have your donations ready, drop them off downtown at Dress for Success (1118 5th Avenue, Seattle, WA  98101 - downstairs in the building on 5th & Seneca).  There is a loading zone right out front on 5th Avenue, so you can just park in front, bring your clothes downstairs, and voila, you have done your good deed for the day!  If you are in another city, check the website for your specific location's address and needs.

Let me know if you have any questions.

Happy closet cleaning!


Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Travel Tips Tuesday

Do you ever have trouble packing for a trip?  Each and every trip has it's own nuances and requires packing precision devoted to those intricacies.  Whether you are heading to Hawaii for a tropical getaway, to New York for business, to Europe for a whirlwind biking tour, to Montana for a backpacking adventure, or just driving a few hours from home for a long weekend in the woods, your destination and the activities your trip will entail hugely determine what should be in your bag.

And while each trip is unique and your packing needs to reflect that (I mean, there probably isn't a need for your business suit while you are honeymooning in Hawaii), I have put together a list of universal tips that apply to all packing scenarios.  

I assure you, adherence to these rules will result in reduced stress, simplified strategy, and maximized utility as you pack for your next trip.  So grab your suitcase and let's get packing!

#1 - Bring the Best of the Best

Bring clothing you love.  This seems like an obvious rule, but how often do you pack items that you think you should wear, but don't love, as if forcing yourself to bring an item around the world will magically make the piece seem more enticing?  Trust me, it won't.  Pack your favorite items and you will look and feel great.

#2 - Color Coordinate

Stick to a basic color palette (I usually pick three colors).  This will maximize your ability to mix and match and ensure that all belts, boots, purses, and other accessories will work with each of the pieces you packed.  My go-to winter palette is black with red and blue accents.  In the summer I tend to go with a lighter brighter color combo, like mint, coral, and cream.  

#3 - Stay True to Yourself

I went on a trip to Vietnam and Cambodia a few years ago and brought a backpack full of REI hiking attire.  I wore moisture-wicking boxy blouses with vented back flaps, gray cinch-up cargo pants, and Merrell hiking boots.  Now, this would all be perfectly fine if my style were outdoorsy sporty and perhaps if I had put some of my own flavor into the look, but it is not and I did not.  I felt like an imposter in my clothing and actually had a dream about a sundress one night.  While this trip was phenomenal and no amount of crusty clothing could have brought me down, I would have given up all that hiking attire for a flowy sundress and some strappy sandals.  Pack for your trip, through the lens of your style.  Don't take yourself out of the equation.

#4 - Remember the Three R's

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle!  Put this maxim into practice when packing by mixing and matching different pieces to make numerous outfits from just a few pieces of clothing.  Every item (excluding undergarments of course) should pair up with enough other items to make a few outfits.  For a week-long vacation, a few shirts, a pair of pants, a skirt and some accessories should be plenty to mix and match a unique look for each day of the vacation.  Take the scarf from Monday's outfit and turn it into a head-wrap for Thursday's look or use it as a belt for your dress on Wednesday - once you start playing with this rule, you will realize the endless possibilities.

#5 - Account for Accumulation

Last, but not least, take into account where you're going and if you are going to want to bring back items or purchase clothing along the way.  Not only will you need room in your suitcase to bring the items back home (something I'm still working on), but you can also pack lighter under the assumption that you will pick up a few clothing items on the road.  On a recent trip to Russia I wish I had taken my own advice and practiced a little more restraint while packing and had a little more foresight (because I really should have known that my fiancé would want to bring back Russian vodka and that I would fall in love with the matryoshka nesting dolls and a pearl encrusted tiger tee).  Let's just say the zipping of the suitcase for the trek home was a major ordeal involving huffing and puffing and some serious suitcase sitting.  Lesson learned!

I hope these tips help you as you pack for your next trip.  Do you have any packing tips that I didn't cover here?  Please share!

Happy packing and enjoy your adventures, wherever they may take you.  Bon voyage!


Dedicated to my adventurous, fabulous, independent friend, Kristina of A World Away.  Check out her blog and get a front row seat as she tromps through exotic lands and finds a way to feed her wanderlust at home in the Pacific Northwest.  

Friday, February 15, 2013

Spring Styles bring Winter Sales

It's that dreary time of year in Seattle where we are all wondering if the clouds will ever part and bestow something upon us other than rain and gray skies.  Luckily, right around now, when the end of winter seems questionable, spring styles start hitting the stores and we are reminded that, yes, around the corner is sunshine and warmer temperatures.  Window displays all around the city assure us that in mere months we will be donning pastels and fit and flare dresses and open toed shoes.  But, in the meantime, the influx of warm weather attire means all that winter wear is...wait for it...ON SALE!

I love me a sale, I really love shoes, and I really really love Nordstrom, so the combination of these three things - a Nordstrom shoe sale - is the equivalent of my shopping trifecta.

Check out my top picks from Nordstrom's shoe sale, going on right NOW!

Cole Haan 'Chelsea' High Pump

Cole Haan 'Chelsea' High Pump - the LBD of shoes.

Anyi Lu 'Caitlin' Flat
Anyi Lu 'Caitlin' Flat - polka dots make me smile.

Freebird by Steven 'Caballero' Over the Knee Boot

Vince Camuto 'Dacoma' Pump (Nordstrom Exclusive)
Vince Camuto 'Dacoma' Pump - H.O.T.  Am I right or am I right?

VC Signature 'Priscilla' Pump
VC Signature 'Priscilla' Pump - a timeless style with a metallic tipped touch of trendiness.

Vince Camuto 'Latese' Sandal (Online Exclusive)
Vince Camuto 'Latese' Sandal - these shoes are the definition of fierce.

While stocking up on most winter items is less than appealing once spring styles start hitting the stores, shoes are less seasonal than general clothing and such a staple that it makes sense to take advantage of sales, regardless of the seasonality.  Wow, I sound like a shoe sale evangelist, but trust me, I have years of experience in this.

Off to scour the stores for more winter style scores.

Happy Friday lovelies!

Images courtesy of Nordstrom.

Disclaimer:  I am not affiliated with any brand or store and receive no payment for these post.  Although, now that I think about it, I really should.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Valentine's Day Duds

Happy Valentine's Day darlings!

I hope you are all giving and receiving some major TLC today!  Valentine's Day entails so many of my favorite things - giving and receiving cards, candy, hearts, sparkles, flowers, chocolate, pink, red, and sharing and showing the love.

Check out my Valentine's Day style picks to take you from daytime casual to night-time glam.  Whether you're planning on going out with your girlfriends, hanging with your fam, or staying in with your honey, these pieces are sure to amp up the amore factor in your day.

Oh La La Boyfriend T-Shirt
Zoe Karssen 'Oh La La' Boyfriend T-Shirt - gotta love the talkative tee.

Banana Republic Skinny Jeans - inspired by my friend Erin's pink pants, muah muah darling!

Wildfox Sparkle Heart Graphic Sweatshirt
Wildfox Sparkle Heart Graphic Sweatshirt - from the new Nordstrom Savvy collection!

Hi There from Karen Walker Bow Pocket Blazer - red and bowed and oh so sweet!

ASOS Skater Dress - prepare to be swept off your feet in this fun frock.

Image 4 of Ganni Peplum Dress in Vicose Crepe
Ganni Peplum Dress in Viscose Crepe - bring on the champagne, flowers, and chocolates!

What better way to get into the festive spirit than incorporating some of these Valentine's Day inspired pieces into your ensemble?!

Now get out there and show the world some love!

Happy Valentine's Day!

Aiming my fashion tipped arrow your way,

Images courtesy of Nordstrom, ASOS, Anthropologie, and Banana Republic.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

New Year, New Closet, New You*

"Women usually love what they buy, yet hate two-thirds of what is in their closet."
~Mignon McLaughlin, The Neurotic's Notebook (1960)

Ain't that the truth?!  How many of you look in your closet and feel uninspired?  As you know, I am a huge believer in the importance of the closet cleanout and creating a closet that serves as your own personal boutique.  While I've covered
general closet cleaning guidelines and closet overhaul recaps with tips and tricks (of Christina and Courtney's respective closets), I want to take a step further and challenge you to parse down that closet to its beautiful bare bones.  The less you have in your closet the more and better you will utilize what you do have.  Trust me!

The start of the new year is the perfect time to go through your closet.  If you got into spring cleaning this past year, you probably didn't go through your winter attire.  Now that winter weather is here and you know what you are wearing and what you aren't wearing, you can confidently throw that crochet sweater in the Goodwill pile, toss that fedora in the consignment pile, and haul those worn out and torn jeans to the trash.

Here are my tips for taking your closet cleaning method from mediocre to magical...seriously.

1. SHOP YOUR CLOSET - Try on the item (this is time consuming, but makes all the difference in the world).  Pretend you are out shopping with your girlfriends.  Would you buy this item?  If not, give it the boot.

2. CHECK YOURSELF - Take into consideration your body type, personal style, and lifestyle.  Ask yourself if this item serves each of those categories.  If it doesn't hit all three, say sayonara.

3. CHECK THE ITEM - Ask yourself, "Is this in good, quality condition?"  And if it isn't, ask yourself, "Is there anything I could do to repair it (and will I actually do this)?"  If the answer is "no" and "no," or "yes" and "no," put it in a Goodwill or garbage pile.

4. FEEL THE LOVE - Are you excited about this piece being a part of your closet, or are you keeping it because, well if fits, it's in style, it was expensive (for high end pieces, consider consigning them at a designer boutique a la Sell Your Sole Consignment Boutique), and/or it was a gift that you feel guilty giving away?  If you don't love it, get it out of there and donate it or sell it at your local consignment shop.

5. PAT YOURSELF ON THE BACK - Check out the fruits of your closet cleaning labor and give yourself a pat on the back!  Your closet thanks you and you will be thanking yourself for days and weeks to come.

Adding these considerations to your closet cleaning process should pare down your collection considerably. I clean out my closet a few times a year and integrating these additional auditing aspects to my cleanout this last go-around made a huge difference.  I eliminated items that looked worn out (which is hard, because those are some of my most loved pieces), pieces that seemed a bit too young (mostly junior's clothing, shhhh), a few flowy tanks and sweaters that do absolutely nothing for my figure, and items I never ever wear.  And while the elimination process is difficult, the act of getting rid of stuff that doesn't serve you or your closet will be totally rewarding and cathartic.

Check out my closet post-cleanout!

And here are the castaways, about to head off to Buffalo Exchange in search of a new home.

Happy closet cleaning stylistas!


Images courtesy of ME!

*Warning - closet cleaning epiphanies may result after reading this post.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Turtleneck Tuesday

Happy Tuesday everyone!

As the temperature drops, my outfits have been consisting of more and more layers and my favorite layering piece this winter has been the turtleneck.  Long gone are the days of the dorky plain cotton turtlenecks that made you look like...well, like a turtle.  This season's turtlenecks are offbeat, figure flattering, and funky.  Throw one on over your tees and tanks, don one for a night on the town, or use the high necked staple as your base layer and work your way on up from there.  

No need to break the bank on high necked pieces.  Here are a few of my favorites at varying, reasonable price points.

Milly Shirred Turtleneck Sweater
Milly Shirred Turtleneck Sweater - figure flattering and such a beautiful basic.

Forever 21 Shag Turtleneck Sweater - I want to pet this and wear it and lay on it, gotta love the shag.

ASOS Crop Top with Polo Neck - don this bad boy on it's own or over a plain dress to up the funk.

Image 1 of ASOS High Neck Cold Shoulder Top
ASOS High Neck Cold Shoulder Top - would be stunning with a statement necklace.

Image 1 of French Connection Skinny Jersey Roll Neck
French Connection Skinny Jersey Roll Neck - who said turtlenecks had to be demure?

Banana Republic Sweater with Detachable Neck - genius!  Thanks for the hot tip Christina!
KAMALIKULTURE Turtleneck Dress
KAMALIKULTURE Turtleneck Dress - the perfect winter base layer.

And now, here are a few of my favorite turtlenecks from my very own closet...

Trouve Sheer Seamed Turtleneck - layer one under a button down for an offbeat, cutting edge look.

Kensie and Pink Rose Turtleneck Dresses - add skinnies or tights and boots and you are good to go!

Which are your favorites?!  What are your go-to layering pieces when the winter weather strikes?  My favorite is the white cold should turtleneck top...the shoulder cut-outs get me every time!

Staying nice and toasty in my turtleneck,

Images courtesy of Nordstrom, ASOS, Forever 21, Banana Republic, and ME!

Monday, January 14, 2013

Winter Workout Style

We have been blessed with some beautiful clear and bright weather the past few days in Seattle and in Seattle, in the winter, when it isn't raining and the sun is shining, that is something to celebrate and take advantage of.  I have been dying to go for a run outside, but the chill in the air has held me at bay...until today!   I threw on my winter running layers and hit the pavement this afternoon for a rejuvenating run down to Golden Gardens.  

For all my fellow runners and outdoor activity enthusiasts, here are a few of my must-haves when I'm working out, outdoors.

Women's Brisk Run Toque
lululemon Brisk Run Toque - keeps the head warm and the hair back.

Merrell Tubular - works around the neck and pulled over the mouth/nose if need be.

Merrell Astor Hoodie - bright and comfortable and easy to move in.

Nike Knit Women's Pants
Nike Knit Women's Pants - my go to running pants.

Timex Ironman Shock-Resistant 30-Lap
Timex Ironman Shock Resistant 30-Lap - using a watch helps me assess my speed and set goals.

Jox Sox - these are the most comfortable, moisture wicking, structured athletic socks ever.

Women's Chenille Gloves - no need for anything fancy, just a little something to keep the hands warm.

And while motivating myself to work out outside in the winter can feel like a chore at times, I am always rewarded for my efforts ten-fold.  Check out these pics of Golden Gardens from my run this afternoon.  SO worth it!

What are your winter workout essentials?  Do you move your workout regimen indoors when inclement weather hits or do you brave the elements?

I hope you all had a terrific start to your week!

Until tomorrow,

Images courtesy of lululemon, Merrell, Nike, Timex, Jox Sox, and ME!