Monday, March 30, 2009

More closet therapy

Here's your Monday closet tip, along with some inspiring closet eye candy.

Last Monday's tip was easy come, easy go, which is to say if you don't spend a lot on your clothes in the first place, it's easier to get rid of them when the time comes.

This week's tip: Your closet is a lot like American Idol.
  1. Lots of clothes audition for the top spots, but only 10 get to go on tour
  2. There are three judges, but Simon is the only one who counts. (Yes, there are technically four judges on AI now, but I can't get into that new one.)
Researchers say that we can only hold five items in our active memory. In a similar way, we can only hold a maximum of 10 outfits in our closet memory. Take a look at your closet and think about which items you wear on a consistent basis. No matter how much stuff you have, you'll tend to wear the same few outfits over and over again. That's because they are comfortable, look good or are easy to pull together. It's a law of nature that if you add a new great outfit, one of your former favorites will drop off the other end. You will never exceed 10 good ones.

The trick is to identify your top contenders and more or less get rid of everything else. To do that, your clothes must audition.

Closet organizing experts will tell you to divide your clothes into 'yes', 'no' and 'maybe'. That's the easy part. Now what to do with the 'maybe' category? Run them past your three internal judges.

Paula: It's not terribly flattering on you. But an empire* waist is very popular right now. And if you stand up straight and hold your shoulders back, it really doesn't look that bad. You really do have a budding eclectic taste. Keep developing that.

Randy: It's just awright for me, dawg.

Simon: I wouldn't bury a dead ferret in it.

The Simon voice will become more sharply insistent as the contest continues. Take your 'maybe' outfit and place it front and center in your closet. Make yourself wear it some time in the next two weeks. If it survives that round, make yourself wear it again within the following two weeks. By now, you either love it or hate it. More likely, you hate it. Actually wearing the outfit will bring back to memory why you haven't been wearing it all along - it itches or it's lumpy or too tight or makes you look washed out in the office bathroom mirror. Ditch it and bring your next 'maybe' outfit in for an audition.

You may find a Jennifer Hudson in there. Here's betting you've also got lots o' William Hung.

*For you Pennsylvania Dutch out there, this is pronounced ahm-pire.

Images: Houzz, House Beautiful, New York Times

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Words to live by

"More isn't always better, Linus. Sometimes it's just more. "

The old Sabrina is on tonight. (Sigh, so classy and glam.) The quote actually comes from the new Sabrina with Julia Ormond.

Maybe in 1954, more was better.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Nate Berkus decorates with shoes

So Ha!

(OK, so the place is owned by Brian Atwood. Who happens to be. A shoe designer. )

Friday, March 27, 2009

Decorating with shoes

What to do with all those cute spring shoes that don't fit in the closet? How about displaying them? These are mounted on a fabric-covered wall with push pins and rubber bands.

Is this Yay! or meh?

I'm not sure myself. I should add these are hanging on my cube wall at the office. And I do not work in the fashion industry. (Although hanging a bunch of hard drives on the wall would just be ugly.)

Some more shoe decorating ideas at (They all look a little odd to me.)

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Mmmmh, strawberries

Got the most awesome gift in the mail yesterday via Somebody in California loves us.

Found this picture in the camera later, taken after I went to bed. Guess who already ate all of his berries.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Spot of color

I didn't doctor this photo. It really did have that freaky color against all the grey.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

How to organize the closet

My closet 2.o

There are already tons of resources to tell you about how to organize your stuff. To that tidy pile of wisdom, I will add the Bromeliad perspective - which is how to organize your closet in a way that is cheap and fun. If it's not cheap, we can't do it. If it's not fun, why bother?

My personal closet organizing breakthrough came after moving from a shared spacious walk-in closet to having my own closet that was about three feet wide. Surprisingly, I had a much easier time getting dressed every morning from the tiny closet than I ever did from the large one. All that I owned was visible and within reach. Any item that didn't pull its own weight had to be tossed - I couldn't spare the square inches.

The lesson I learned was that being happy with y0ur closet has little to do with the size of your closet or the amount of clothes you have. (Don't believe me? Have you ever noticed how the paparrazi always manage to catch some celebrity going to the supermarket without her stylist? And she's usually wearing something schleppy and awful like jogging pants and tennis shoes? Why is this? Because she stood in front of her giagantimous closet and could not find a thing to wear. )

So, here's my Monday tip to help anyone along the way to closet trimness:

Easy come, easy go. It's a lot easier to get rid of a $3 pair of shoes than a $30 pair of shoes. So buy cheap in the first place.

My closet organizing secret

I did a little inventory of my closet and discovered that everything in it was second hand with the exception of 12 items and one pair of shoes. The "new" stuff was all purchased on sale. A lot of the second-hand stuff was free.

My Spring Cure purge pile

As long as the global garment industry keeps pumping out billions of tops, slacks, skirts and shoes, you can afford to let go of that too tight pair of white capri pants. Let someone else have it.

You will find another pair eventually. Trust me. And it will be at least half off.

Friday, March 20, 2009

How to make a jewelry display panel

Here's a cheap easy DIY for displaying jewelry that was inspired by Emily Ballard's house tour at Apartment Therapy. This is my favorite kind of DIY - easy and free. Plus, it recycles product packaging.


Small flat cardboard boxes or squares of styrofoam. (I used two packaging inserts from a laptop box.)

Scrap fabric or two scarves

Push pins

Scrap posterboard


Office stapler

Spray adhesive (optional)

Paper cutter (optional)

Cut the fabric a few inches wider than your boxes.

Staple the fabric on the back beginning in the middle of each side, pulling the fabric tight across the front of the box.

Working from the center of each side, staple toward each corner, pulling the fabric tight and toward the corner.

Fold the corners and staple them.

Tidy up the back with a piece of posterboard attached with spray adhesive or a set of push pins.

To hang the display panel, the cardboard can be shoved directly onto a nail, or you can make a hanger on the back with two push pins and a rubber band. Or you can make an easel.

Cut a square piece of posterboard and then cut the square across the diagonal.

Fold each half into half and attach with push pins.

For more tilt, cut the bottom edge at a sharper angle.

Use more push pins to display your jewelry.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Open in New Window

When one works in the technology field, the last thing on earth one wants to do on one's free time is blog about technology. Ugh. Ugh. Especially when there are cute spring shoes to talk about. But this little tip will save you so many minutes that you'll have time to read blogs all day and make your own shoes.

So, have you ever gone Googling for, say, 'Kelly Wearstler fabric' or 'diverticulitis' and the next thing you know you're down the rabbit hole to somebody's vacation pictures in Toledo, Ohio, which can be real hoot but then when you try to find your way back to your original brilliant search term, it's 45 clicks the other direction?

For you dear attention-deficit web browser, I present "open in new window." This Google feature has probably has been around since Larry Page and Sergey Brin were in diapers. Nevertheless, yours truly professional-tech-person never noticed it until a few months ago, and it has transformed my life. Click Preferences on the Google home page and then check "Open search results in a new browser window."

A similar feature is available in Internet Explorer, which will spare you carpal-tunnel-clicking through a big blog when you take the off ramp to some house tour that ended up kind of meh, and when you return, the mad bloggers of say Design*Sponge or, worse yet, Apartment Therapy have added six pages of stuff, and your only way back is to start all over at the home page.

Instead, just right-click on any link and choose 'Open in New Window.' Your original spot will be saved while you skip off onto a new page. No backing up required. Just close the new window when you're done.

So what do you think about decorating with shoes?As in 'placing shoes somewhere other than the closet in a decorative way', not as in 'decorating your shoes.' There were no Google results on that one to even open in a new window.

Ode to the fancy new clock

When turned on, the date read 2068
By which time
I will be 101
Or more likely
It does not receive AM radio
And will not accept my pictures because the usb is male and everyone knows that if you put two male usbs in the same fish bowl they will fight
And it's so bright
It keeps me awake at night
Faces of strangers slide past
On a clock that never ticks

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Dream closet

From Jamie Drake.

Glad I'm not the only one who grabs her girlfriends and drags them to the closet.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Closet makeover

While waiting for my Apartment Therapy spring cure book to arrive, I'll entertain you all with a tour of my closet. I have a feeling closet cleaning will be part of the program. Also, I just love my closet. When visitors come to our new place, what's the first thing I show them? The Manhattan view from the balcony. Nooooo. The closet! Now you all have to see it. (If you prefer the Manhattan skyline, go to the Manhattan category of this blog. What are you doing in Closets anyway?)


So here's my closet before. It's already pretty organized since I regularly groom it. I find it soothing. Also, for the past 10 years, I've worked with closets that were three feet wide. The discipline required was valuable. Compared to what I had before, this closet feels like a Home Depot aisle.

The main changes were decorative, inspired in part by Nicole Balch's closet makover at Making It Lovely. I liked her glass wig head and jewelry tree.



The 'jewelry tree' is a candleholder my mom picked up at Goodwill years ago. The drawback is that I have impaled my hand more than once on those wrought-iron leaf tips. The wighead and scarf were freebies. The sunglasses are vintage via my mom. (I got the idea about the wighead after taking most of the photos, so sorry about the now-you-see-it, now-you-don't effect.)

Here are some of the organizational details: I hang clothes first by item then by color, jackets and shirts on one side, sweaters and skirts on the other. Out of season clothes go in the back corner of each section.

I have mirrored metal bi-fold doors. Long items like dresses and raincoats are hung on the back with magnets.
Out of season shoes go in pretty shopping bags or beach bags.

Little purses and my horde of decorating magazines go up top.

Belts and jewelry below. I leave the other two dresser drawers mostly empty. After any cleanup, you need to leave some empty space for your dump zone. Otherwise you will dump new things on your closet floor, which is an aesthetic no no.

More scarves and belts are stored inside of the purses. When I'm really organized, the scarf or belt actually matches the purse.

Here's my secret to not overstuffing the closet - I limit the number of hangers I own. I'm Joan Collins about it. ("No wire hangers!") Also, since I'm a little intestinally retentive about my closet in general, the colors matter - I only have black, brown, white, pink or beige hangers. Which is pretty similar to my wardrobe (plus a little green.)

OK, now you can get some chips and go sit on the balcony.