Saturday, January 31, 2015

Fresh Start Closet: Mixing It Up

At this point you should have a blazer or cardigan sweater or some other outer layer depending on what your style is, some shirts within your color palette, and some scarves. It should all go together fairly effortlessly. Below I took one blazer, 5 shirts, and some scarves to make several outfits.
This is the top. You can see that any of these combinations would look great with jeans, camel pants, or a black pencil skirt--my basic bottoms. Some of the blouses are sleeveless and if it's cold the sweater vest adds a layer of warmth with the long sleeved shirts.

The herringbone pattern adds much more visual interest that a flat color. It's a classic pattern that suits my overall concept and as you can see--very versatile. Gray is much less harsh against skin than straight black.

Previously we talked about adding a cardigan for an added layer and pop of color. I love red with my basic palette of black/white/camel/white. Here's how great it works with the black and white blouse and the pencil skirt. But look again at the six pics above and notice how many of those blouse/scarf combinations this sweater would work with. 


Instead of this pencil skirt, I could have gone with jeans or camel pants. With just a few pieces you can pull off dozens of looks without the constant need for more shopping.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Fresh Start Closet: The Shopping List



By this point you should have purged your wardrobe down to the few basic pieces that you wear all the time, know you look good in, fit properly, and go with the other things you are keeping. At this point you will notice some gaps. You may need an extra pair of jeans. Maybe you realize you don't have enough scarves. Perhaps what you are missing some important event outfits.

Quick! Right now--if you had to go to a funeral, what would you wear?

How about an interview?

A wedding?

No matter how old you are you should always have something in your closet appropriate to wear to a funeral. If you have ever had to shop while grief stricken, you'll know why. Anything can happen any time, it's kind of scary but that's just the way it is.

If you are actively looking for a job you probably have the interview outfit, but sometimes opportunity knocks unexpectedly. Be ready to open the door.

You need a pretty dress for a daytime wedding and a cocktail dress for evening. If you are starting from scratch then it's going to be a little black dress.

Besides that here are the basics every woman needs:

Classic blazer in a classic color (camel, black, gray, navy).

Jeans in whatever style suits your age and lifestyle and looks good on your body type. Skinnies are a must have for pairing with boots.

Black (or your choice of neutral) pants. 

A denim or chambray shirt. Personally I get more wear out of chambray and find it more comfortable. 

Classic white shirt. A crisp cotton one and an elegant one.

T-shirts. long and short sleeves for layering.

Cardigan in a neutral color or your favorite color. Red is a great choice; it complements all the neutrals.

Classic trench. 

Cocktail dress. You know if you are only buying one it needs to be black, right?

Two ladylike dresses for church or afternoon weddings. 

Black pencil skirt or A line skirt depending on your body type.

 Denim or khaki skirt. This is going to replace shorts after a certain age on summer days. 

Shoes: Nude heels, leopard print flats, black boots

Scarves in colors that appeal to you and look great next to your face. 

You should be able to get every outfit you ever need from this list unless you are meeting the queen or climbing Everest.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

The Results of the Dan Money Experiment


Remember the money that I gave away at Christmas in honor of Dan, the man who helped my son get to the airport in Phoenix? Read the whole story here. Here's what my family did with the money:

My daughter fave four of her dollars to a homeless man who asked for change. She had been actively looking for a homeless person to give her money to and then didn't have it with her when the moment presented itself. Then she and her husband gave their remaining money to their server on New Year's Day. That waitress got a $36.00 tip on a $20.00 tab. I know that made her day!

My son gave his to a homeless man who came into a restaurant where he was hanging out with a friend. He also gave Dan $35.00 for gas as they parted at the airport.

My husband put his in a can on a counter that went to help people offset the cost of fostering abused dogs.

I was checking out at the grocery and gave ten to the cashier and ten to the guy who bagged my groceries.

These are just small acts of kindness. There's nothing very time consuming or revolutionary here. It is a good start to the new year and is serving as a reminder to me that looking for opportunities to help, being generous, and actually seeing people who need help are all things that should be at the top of that resolution list.

I'm working on making 2015 a year of deliberate living. More about that coming up!

Thursday, January 1, 2015

How the Movie Montage is Sabatoging Your Thinking


It's that time of year and we all have such good intentions. We envision how much we are going to work out. We see ourselves in that yoga class. We envision that this is the year we're going to give it our all at work, or school, or home.

It's not that we don't know it will be hard. We know. After all we saw Rocky which includes the best movie montage of all time. We see him running in the cold, fighting dead cows in a meat packing plant, and eventually triumphantly running up the steps in Philly as the music soars and we get all choked up.

In our pajamas.

With a bag of chips.

We imagine the cold, exhaustion, and determination but we don't feel it.

Then we go out to run and it's cold. The main thing running is our nose. Or every time we sit down to write the baby cries. We just can't seem to keep things organized today because, well, you know, it's hard and we're tired.

Plus no one really cares. Not every minute. Not even every day. They'll all be glad for you when you achieve your goals but they've got their own problems. Let's be honest, we'd all run every day if all the neighborhood kids were running after us chanting our name and cheering us on like in Rocky 2.

In the real world your struggle, whatever it is, isn't going to be documented unless you blog or tweet about it. And sadly, there isn't any soundtrack. In between all the moments where you are pursuing your goal you are doing other things like going to the grocery and driving in traffic. People are going to interrupt you and get in your way. You are going to have to stay focused far longer than the 3 minutes that the movie montage takes.

The only way that montage can work in your favor is to project yourself into the future. On the worst day tell yourself "I'm going to remember this." On your best day mark your progress. When you've run the marathon, graduated, or opened your business, then take a moment to look back. Play whatever piece of music you'd want for the score. Relive every hard moment you pushed through to get there and relish in your success.

But if you are starting today, just make a plan you think you can stick to realistically. Acknowledge it isn't going to be easy. Maybe even think of today as the first scene (the decision) in your personal movie montage.Then just commit to taking tiny, unnoticed, super hard baby steps until you are finished.

In the real world, without a script writer and orchestra, that's about the best any of us can do.