Women’s Belted Cap-Sleeve Knit Dress $25, Perfect Crew Neck Tee $8, The Rockstar Super Skinny Jean $19, Faux Leather Ankle Boots $28, Pop-Color Blazer $40, Softest Sweater Scarf $17, Ankle Strap Flat $25
My closet is out of hand. If your home environment reflects your interior life, apparently a librarian and a go-go dancer are at war in the communal dressing room of my brain.
Fortunately my friend Anna Beth has a system for getting dressed that’s helping me edit things down. She touched on it in her Mighty Closet, but did a whole panel at Camp Mighty outlining how to edit your closet and home. The panel was sponsored by Old Navy, so she chose a bunch of their clothes from this season to illustrate her points. So if you need anything to round your wardrobe out, these are a few of the slides from her presentation. My five favorite tips:
1. Get your classics in place.
This is the part I neglect. You know, the “foundation” part? Once you have basic traditional pieces in place, you have a wardrobe. Stop there, or build, but if you’re having trouble getting dressed, it’s probably because you’re missing some classics. Anna Beth’s are pictured in these slides, but Tim Gunn also has a great wardrobe basics list, and I did a piece on wardrobe classics for The Morning News a while back that’s also a good starting point.
2. “Neutral” isn’t just black.
Classic prints like stripes and polka dots, as well as metallics and animal prints, tend to go with everything and also add a little interest.
3. While you’re building, restrict your palette.
While you’re choosing your basics, decide on a neutral — black, grey, white, navy, beige, brown. This way everything you build on matches everything else. I like navy and slate grey because they go well with each other, gain character as they fade, and make the bright colors I love look more upscale.
4. Enjoy yourself.
This part I have down. I’m an avid thrift store and bargain shopper — so there’s an constant influx of inexpensive, interesting clothes, which I then Gollum until I can’t find the things I actually need. Getting dressed should elevate your mood, but your clothing budget will stretch further if you mostly rely on fun pieces only to punctuate your basics.
5. Embrace the uniform.
Most days, Anna Beth wears some variation on T-shirt, blazer, jeans, scarf, belt, boots, and one piece of accent jewelry. My uniform is usually a dress and some flats with cardigan. Pay attention to the building blocks of the outfit you wear most, and then invest in variations on that theme.
So easy, right? Basics in a neutral color of your choice, add some fun pops as punctuation, and invest in uniform pieces when you get a better feel for your style. Brilliant, Miss Anna Beth.
Photo by JetKat Photo
You’ll find all of Anna Beth’s tips on ABChao.com if you want more info.
And now I have a little piece of nice news. During AB’s Camp Mighty presentation, Old Navy gave each attendee a free pair of jeans and gave us a bunch to donate as well. Go Mighty found out that Larkin Street Youth Services needs both jeans and gift certificates as part of its holiday gift drive for the homeless teens they support. We’re sending certificates for 50 pairs of jeans (thank you Old Navy!), but there’s a whole wish list of simple things they need by December 14.
New clothes are such a confidence booster for everybody. While you’re shopping for yourself, consider throwing a gift certificate or clothes in your cart for the kids and sending them over. And if you do? Please let us know in comments honor-system style, and we’ll enter you to win your own free pair of jeans from Old Navy. Cute stuff for everybody, boom.
I can’t think of Molly Ditmore without picturing her name as an exclamation. MOLLY!
The girl is intrepid.
This photo was taken at Burning Man — which I’ve never attended due to dust, and inhibition.
Molly is less inhibited than me, by a profound margin. But just as fond of costumes. And gin.
We schemed this Mighty Closet for a while because Molly wanted to be back in her favorite clothes after the birth Mabel, whose cheeks cannot be underestimated. I’m teaching her how to say “MOLLY!”
Gaaah! My eyes water with the restraint it takes not to bite her. Hold still you hubbity bundle of perfection! I want to kiss your squealy head!
Now where were we? Before becoming a full-time mama Molly was a couture pattern-maker and seamstress, and before that a writer, editor and PR hustler in Bay Area tech.
Tell us what you’re wearing, sis.
Hi, I’m Molly. (ed: MOLLY!) This jumpsuit is one of my favorite things. It’s on the wavelength of a vintage picnic dress but more modern and urban. I packed it on a trip to New York and had visions of myself walking up Fifth Avenue.
But I couldn’t wear it because no one was home to tie me in.
It’s très chic for sitting in Dolores Park with a large hat or swanning around a pool party in Sonoma. San Francisco summer arrives in late September, so I’m putting this in heavy rotation. Kate Spade sunnies.
I am a fan of bright shoes — bold colors look best against my pale legs. These blue suede sandals from J. Crew have a comfortably low heel.
This is a great day-into-night look. I recently wore this to the playground and then to a Friday Nights at the DeYoung Museum event. For daytime, this is my standard uniform: a short black jacket with the T-shirt plus boots or Keds.
I like a little detailing in my basics. This black Funky Monkey T-shirt with the cut-out shoulders is a nice surprise under a cardigan or jacket. I bought it at the dearly departed Shotwell boutique in downtown San Francisco.
The Hermés scarf was a birthday gift from my husband. The motif at the center is a man and woman wrapped in an embrace.
These scarves are huge and can be tricky to tie (unless you are French and it’s in your DNA). Tying it without looking in a mirror seems to work best for me. The silver cuff bracelet is a souvenir from Cambodia.
The lipstick is Kate Moss for Rimmel London No. 12. I never look at drugstore makeup but there was pretty Kate, luring me in.
This is Moxie, the family dog, blocking your view of my perfect-length J Brand jeans. Fine, Moxie, have at it:
This trompe l’oiel sweater reminds me of the famous Schiaparelli bowknot sweater. Short-sleeve sweaters are great in San Francisco’s nine-months-of-autumn climate. This one came from the cashmere department at Bloomingdale’s, probably the best place to buy an investment-type sweater. Fabric quality seems better than the stuff from lower-end shops (which is likely cat hair judging by the way my eyes react).
I’ve owned this fit ‘n’ flare skirt for at least six years. Floating Shift typewriter key bracelet was purchased at Urban Air Market in Hayes Valley.
The Frye T-strap shoes are also oldies-but-goodies. They are brown suede with a metallic silver coating and they match everything in my closet. I can bike in them, walk in them and dance in them, so they’re as comfortable as 3-inch heels get.
Moxie! Move it.
I made this dress as part of my final line at Apparel Arts’ pattern-making and fashion design program. It’s made from tropical wool which is a dream to sew. French cuffs on the short sleeves are a nod to my favorite womens’ uniforms: 1960s flight attendants and diner waitresses. It gets a lot of play on the ladies-who-lunch circuit.
This dress is obviously retro-inspired so to keep it modern I wear trendy accessories. The gold-tone House of Harlowe 5 Station Necklace from Bell Jar on Valencia Street was such a score. I thought the grey bits were enamel until I wore it and realized it’s inlaid leather.
When I walked out in this Kate Spade dress Maggie said “You must have worn that a hundred times.” No, actually, it’s pretty new. “Well it was worth whatever you paid for it.” Total reinforcement! The moment I tried it on I knew it was a magic dress. Holidays, dinners, weddings… I plan on driving this sucker into the ground. It’s made from a heavy jersey knit fabric and the neckline is crochet.
My grandmother’s pearls are special-occasion jewelry; this dress works equally well with something chunky and modern.
My mother carried this green patent-leather purse as part of her going-away suit from her wedding in 1967. The construction is sturdier than you see on handbags today.
I bought these pumps in Paris after crushing on them through a store window every day for two weeks. They are timeless and a bit weird. The brass hardware brings a tough element that balances out the girlie ensemble.
In other news, Mabel will not stop feeding the dog from her snack cup. It drives me nuts.
But you try getting mad when she looks at you like this.
Come on kid, you’re killing me here.
Happiest shoot on record. In the future, I shall require that all Mighty Closet subjects rent redheaded babies and puppies before I come over. Big thanks to Molly (MOLLY!), and Mabel, and Moxie for making my afternoon.
Did you like that? Check out more from the Mighty Closet.
So this is (almost) everything I packed in my carry-on for the press trip I took to Oahu. There was also a photo of me in a bikini that I took with my cell phone the hotel bathroom mirror. As you might imagine, it was a little… much. So this is everything I packed for four days in Hawaii except the photo of me in a blue bikini with ruffles. If you’ve already seen me naked, I will totally send that to you. Otherwise, use your imagination.
For trips to warm places, I try to pack mostly one-pieces (dresses, rompers) because they pack smaller and you don’t have to waste any time worrying about whether you’re packing stuff that matches everything else.
I wore this dress to travel, with a yellow slip underneath so my skin doesn’t show through the perforations. It’s poly, so you can pretty much roll it into a ball and it doesn’t wrinkle, and it also unzips all the way down the front, so you can layer it over things in interesting ways.
Here’s a full shot of the dress, which I also wore on our tour of the Turtle Bay Resort where we were staying. I look so happy here because the dress cost six bucks. I’m genetically unable to shut up about that.
I wore this to the luau at the Polynesian Cultural Center, the dress is Urban Outfitters, and the sweater is thrifted. I’ve since shrunk the dress to half its original size, so look for it as a shirt in future posts.
This romper is by a San Francisco designer whose brand I forget, of course. (She’s in the Mission, tiny shop on one of the numbered side streets between Valencia and Dolores. Anyone?) Anyway, it’s an oddly functional piece of clothing. I can belt it, wear it with tights and a long sleeve shirt, add something with a collar to switch it up. It’s become a bit of a uniform, but ultimately it’s a romper. For romping.
There, that’s better.
This is me in a ruffly dress from H&M, wielding a machete. Machetes are apparently still a thing in Hawaii.
Here’s the full dress with one of the vintage cardigans I brought. I used that sweater constantly, by the way. It was warm, but the breeze at night was a little chilly and there was some rain while we were there.
To save space, I try to pack jammies that can double as clothes if I need them. This is an Old Navy tank, and a pair of workout shorts from American Apparel. Can you imagine how bad the aforementioned bikini shot has to be if I’m willing to post this? Exactly.
Beach coverup! I wore this Urban Outfitters romper over my swimsuit when we headed down for surf lessons at Turtle Bay.
I got the sunglasses at a flea market. They’re made for shooting, and they feel heavenly because of those little side shades. Our trip lead, Mike, said they make me look like a 70-year-old man. I told him to get off my lawn.
American Apparel high-waisted side zip shorts and a random transparent shirt I’ve had forever. This shirt is an awesome suit coverup, so I wore it kayaking because I knew it would fit under the life jacket.
(Aside! Holy crap, have you ever seen a sea turtle? These sea kayaks had glass bottoms, so you could see them swimming around, and I didn’t expect to be so affected by them. One looked right up at me, and it was like I could feel my heart beating in my mouth. Please put “see a sea turtle” on your Life List.)
This is my American Apparel bikini top, which I bought for a trip to Jamaica. The bottom is super high-waisted, which is convenient if you have stretch marks from baby havin’.
You can also cover stretch marks with a lightweight scuba skin, which is excellent for snorkeling. And sexy times.
Right now, my closet looks like the wardrobe rack at an amateur theater company — bright, bedazzled, schizophrenic. As an avid thrift and vintage shopper, my dresser drawers overfloweth. Still, I seem to wear the same ten things again and again.
The clothes I buy on a whim always get the most play, and that got me wondering about other women’s wardrobe standbys. So I asked some stylish girlfriends about their basics.
Susan Wagner from The Working Closet
“My go-to item this summer has been the khaki City Mini from J. Crew.”
“It has an elastic “paperbag” waist that is perfect with a tank or tee and a skinny belt and a great A-line shape that makes my legs look thin (score!). I just bought the winter version, which is wool rather than cotton/linen, in bright dahlia, because it’s the perfect skirt and will go with everything I own and require no thought at all when I get dressed in the morning.”
Joanna Goddard from A Cup of Jo
“I’m obsessed with Emersonmade’s skinny jeans. They’re ridiculously flattering; honestly, they make me feel so sexy and shapely when I wear them.
“They’re super dark because they’re dyed with indigo. I wear them all the time, with T-shirts or blouses or sweaters.”
Katie Spence from Your New Favorite
“It is so very hot in Austin that mostly I wear skirts and dresses to keep things breezy. My favorite skirt this summer has been a chambray skirt that I got at Land’s End, but which is currently sold out.”
“However there is one on sale at Madewell that is almost identical. Lately I’ve been obsessed with natural fabrics, like cotton chambray and linen.”
Jordan Ferney of Oh Happy Day!
“These Gap slim crop pants in black. I can wear them with ballet flats or heels.”
“People dress up more here in Paris than in the US so these are my version of casual everyday pants.”
Rebecca Woolf from Girls’ Gone Child
Had to think about this because I don’t fit into any of my “usual” go tos (Ed note: Rebecca is currently 32 weeks pregnant with twins!), but last Fall it was this little corduroy half-jacket my friend Dani got for me at a thrift store:
“My ‘go-to outfit’ is the dress + cardigan + booty + sock combo:”
Melissa Cotton from Poppy Cotton
“These are the most perfectly iconic ballet flats I have ever come across, and I have bought so many over the years looking for the perfect look and fit.”
“They are truly transformative to both my legs/feet and my outfit, quietly underscoring my entire fashion identity — classic and pulled together with a nod to the mid-century.”
Margaret Stewart from Fountly
“I have a dress I got this summer from Anthropologie that has proven to be the most versatile article of clothing I’ve ever owned. Seriously. I took it on a month long trip and wore it morning, noon, and (literally) night. Was great for sightseeing, casual or fancy meals, and (genius!) also an incredibly comfy nightgown.”
“Normally I shy from things without a waist; it’s my best feature! But in hot weather, it’s too binding to have a fitted anything! This thing was so damned comfy.”
Gabrielle Blair from Design Mom
“A scarf from J.Crew. It’s silk, but feels more like cotton, which I like.”
“It’s a warm pink and it has an almost florescent pink printed pattern. I picked it up on clearance last summer and I’ve worn it way too many days over the last year.”
(You can still find a couple of these babies on eBay, happy bidding.)
Interesting, right? Thanks, ladies!
Ok, team, now you. What’s your favorite item of clothing? If you have a link, all the better.
The beauty of the little black dress is that you can score one cheap, without looking cheap. Here’s to a little more celebration in 2011.
Velvet Tee Dress, $80
Emily Dress, $40
A Cheerful Sip Dress, $80