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.
This post is sponsored by eBay. From the new to the hard to find, when it’s on your mind, it’s on eBay.
If you’re wondering how I plan to pony up the cash to open a Swiss bank account, the answer is, ponies! Well technically, horses.
1. The Brass Age Bracelet | 2. Anthropologie Boucle Racerback Dress | 3. Maggie Mae Designs Hat | 4. Michael Kors Pint Ostrich Handbag (via eBay) | 5. Hello Horse iPhone Case | 6. Tory Burch Flats in Gold (via eBay) | 7. Foley and Corrina Clutch in Red (via eBay) | 8. Warby Parker Trilliny Sunglasses
Now, where can a girl get a julep?
This post is sponsored by eBay. From the new to the hard to find, when it’s on your mind, it’s on eBay.
Say you want to open a Swiss bank account — number 16 on my Life List. I’ve done some research, and the Swiss government requires you to wear black while carrying at least five passports and a satchel packed with cash.
Right now, I can tell you the license plate numbers of all six cars out front. I know the best place to look for a gun is the cab of the gray truck outside, and at this altitude, I can run flat out for a half mile.
1. Kate Spade Plaza Athenee Chandelier Earrings | 2. ZARA Jacquard Peplum Top | 3. Alice + Olivia Black Leggings (via eBay) | 4. Topshop “Skull” Scarf | 5. Mango Suede Stilettos | 6. Loeffler Randall Jacket in Black (via eBay) | 7. Gold Nixon Women’s Watch (via eBay) | 8. Tory Burch Purse (via eBay) | 9. Ray-Ban Original Wayfarers
AT&T sponsored my coverage of Outside Lands this year. Thanks, guys!
Mai Le of Fashionist is my long-time friend and show buddy; this is our second year at Outside Lands together. This year she took some style shots for us. You can find Part 1 of our Outside Lands fashion series here.
Hannah and Jen. Jen made her skirt and earrings at TechShop San Francisco. Hannah wears her bracelets and jewelry every day; they’re gifts from friends.
Look for more of Mai’s shots on Fashioni.st.
Mai Le of Fashionist is my long-time friend and show buddy; this is our second year at Outside Lands together. This year she took some style shots for us:
Carleigh (founder of Fathom and Form jewelry), wearing her own cuff design.
AT&T is sponsoring my coverage of Outside Lands this year. Thanks, guys!
Susan Wagner of The Working Closet always looks like she just showered. It took me years to figure her out, because her exterior is so calm, but her brain is like a hamster on a wheel.
I’ll see her at a conference in some sensible American sport ensemble with a glass of wine resting in her hand. She waves me over, “I haven’t talked to you forever!” And I come-to three hours later with a notebook full of Beautiful Mind scribbles and six new business plans.
Susan likes to get stuff done, son. I’ve never known her to have fewer than four jobs, and I’m pretty sure she’s optimized that way. She is busy, but she is tidy.
Remember last week when Natalie said she always wished she could be a person with a minimalist uniform? Susan is that woman. She’ll come to your house, throw out everything in your closet, and somehow make you feel like you have more to wear afterward:
I’m a style blogger, not a fashion blogger — my preoccupation isn’t with what’s on the runway but what’s in your closet. Or, in this case, in my closet. And honestly, there are fewer things in my closet than you might expect.
Although there are a lot of striped tees.
This is a little ridiculous. (And there are actually more — a couple were in the laundry. I need an intervention.)
Despite my ridiculous collection of striped shirts, I spend a lot of time preaching the gospel of the Carefully Edited Wardrobe, which goes like this:
Less is more, and having fewer things creates more options.
Every successful style makeover starts with a closet clean-out and ends with a small collection of perfect pieces. Repetition is the key to personal style, and accessories are an easy way to upgrade even the most basic outfit.
Tee on me: StyleMint
Tees from left: J. Crew, Lands’ End, Forever21, Lands’ End, GAP, Forever21
Shorts: Old Navy
Necklace: J. Crew
This is my uniform.
I work at home, so my everyday look is pretty casual. Among other things, I’m an editor for a pet website, which is hilarious because the only pet my family owns is a Betta Fish, and it’s kind of a miracle that we haven’t killed him. Yet.
Because I work from home, I spend a lot of my day staring at a screen, but I’m also a full-time mom, and a partner in a boutique social media consulting firm (Engage OKC). That means a normal work day can include editing copy, meeting with clients, and hauling kids to karate and baseball. My go-to look is a T-shirt — usually striped, of course — and a skirt, which is appropriate for everything from lunch out to an hour of kickboxing.
Watching kickboxing, of course. No one kickboxes in a skirt. At least not around here.
I wear a lot of belts; I truly believe that a belt can change your life. Or at least your look. A belt creates a waist and gives your shape some definition; it’s also an easy way to change up a look. I wear a belt with just about everything, including cocktail dresses. I buy them a little long so I can wear them either at my waist or around my hips, depending on my outfit and my mood. I just loop the extra length through the belt and voila!
Tee: J. Crew
Bracelets: Stella & Dot
Sandals: Jack Rogers
I live in Oklahoma, where the average summer temperature is something akin to the surface of the sun. That means that my main style goal from March to October is not to be hot. If you want the truth about my summer wardrobe, it consists largely of running clothes and swimwear, neither of which will be making an appearance here. You’re welcome.
I spent years not wearing shorts because … well, just because. I had a bit of a mid-life crisis a couple of years ago, where I pined for all the things I would never get to do (like live in Paris or work for Vogue). But that got boring, so I decided to do something constructive instead. I started running (Couch to 5K FTW!) and in the last year I’ve run four half marathons.
I also started thinking about how silly it was to waste time being sweaty and uncomfortable solely because my legs didn’t look like Heidi Klum’s. This summer I’m obsessed with shorts, although fortunately for my wallet the ones I’m really in love with all come from Old Navy and cost less than $25. Score!
I totally believe in dressing shorts up, although I do not believe in “dressy shorts.” I wear my shorts with pretty tops and blingy necklaces and even a blazer. I do not, however, wear shorts with heels. I have my limits, y’all. And you should, too.
Tee: J. Crew
Shorts: Old Navy
Necklace, bracelet: J. Crew
Sandals: Jack Rogers
I’m a big believer in mixing high- and low-end pieces. I do most of my shopping at J. Crew, Old Navy and the GAP, with an occasional stop at Forever21 for cheap t-shirts. The J. Crew catalog — which they’ve just rebranded as their “style guide” — is my bible; I tear out photos and recreate those looks with pieces from other places. If I could, I would shop exclusively at J. Crew, but I have two kids who need things like food and clothes and running water, so that’s not really an option.
My shopping strategy is to choose specific investment pieces — ideally, things I can wear over and over and over — and then pair them with less pricey pieces. This spring, my investment was a denim shirt which I wear aaaaaallll the time, no joke. Totally worth the $98 I paid for it. (Also totally worth the investment, two blazers: one in wool flannel, one in chambray. They go with everything and dress up any outfit.)
Shirt: J. Crew
Dress: Old Navy
Earrings: Stella & Dot
Sandals: Jack Rogers
Did you think I was kidding about wearing things over and over? Hey look, it’s that same chambray shirt! Back again! I also own this skirt in four different colors — navy, pink, and khaki linen/cotton for summer, and purple wool for winter — and I wear it almost constantly, in one iteration or another. (Ed note: If you recognize the skirt, you might have seen Susan recommend it in Wardrobe Basics for Real Women a while back.) And hey, it’s that same belt from before! And the same shoes. Go figure.
(I have ugly feet, largely from the running, so no closeups of my sandals. Again, you’re welcome.)
I get dressed every single day, and I don’t mean that I change out of the yoga pants I slept in and into a different pair of yoga pants; I mean real clothes — a dress or a skirt and tee or some other not-my-pajamas kind of outfit. I wouldn’t say that I get dressed up, although I hear that from people quite a lot (as in, “Why are you so dressed up???”) but I do wear clothes that are not designed for exercise or sleeping for the parts of my day when I am not exercising or sleeping. It’s a simple thing, and it makes a big difference, both in the way I look and the way I feel.
Try it — #getdressed. It’s easier than you think.
Here I am, pretending that I’m in a J. Crew catalog. And by that I mean leaning over awkwardly, for absolutely no reason:
My biggest closet secret is that I hand-wash and line dry almost everything I own.
Jeans go in the washing machine, inside out, in cold water, but other than that, everything I wear gets a bath in the sink with some extra delicate detergent (or baby shampoo). I don’t really like to shop so I work extra hard to make the things I love last.
Shirt: J. Crew
Skirt: J. Crew
Shoes: Jack Rogers
Necklace: Stella & Dot
Clutch: Ellington Handbags
Speaking of things I love, is my go-to look for summer cocktails. The dress is cotton, which is nice when it’s 1,000 degrees outside, and it has pockets, so I can skip taking a bag (leaving both hands free for drinks and food and hugging). I wore this same outfit a few years back to interview Tim Gunn and he admired my shoes. Life = complete.
Please note my sash. One of my super powers is the ability to tie the perfect bow. Unfortunately, this means that if I run into you at a party and your sash isn’t tied right, I will be compelled to untie it and start over. Of course it also means that if I live next door to you and you’re trying to wrangle your toddler into her birthday dress and cannot get the bow right, I will come to your rescue.
Dress: J. Crew
Necklace: White House | Black Market
In general, I would describe my look as fairly classic and conservative. But every once in a while, I like to mix it up a little. And by “mix it up” I mean pile on multiple huge necklaces, shimmy into some skinny jeans, and add a pair of reallyreallytall platform sandals.
It’s good to keep people guessing.
I love this outfit because it’s basically just jeans and a tee, all fancied up. The blouse is silk but it’s washable silk, which is pretty much a gift from God. I wore a version of this outfit to the Versace party at Mom 2.0, but with red shorts instead of the jeans. Love.
Blouse: J. Crew
Jeans: Old Navy
Necklaces: (from top) White House | Black Market, Stella & Dot, Madewell
Bracelet: J. Crew
Sandals: Dr. Scholl’s Shoes
Lips: Butter London Lippy in Snog
So what’s the take-away here? Shop smart, don’t be afraid to repeat outfits, and when in doubt, pile on the necklaces. It’s that easy. I promise.
Thanks so much Susan, for the photos and the wisdom. I miss you and your little pink shoes, my dear. I pinch your ruddy cheeks.