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How to Create a Cohesive Wardrobe

1 Oct

This post originally appeared last week on my column Vegan Vogue I write for I Eat Grass. If you haven’t stopped by I Eat Grass yet, be sure to do so!

It’s taken me years to finally curate for myself a wardrobe collection that all works together. Technically termed a “capsule” wardrobe, I can now wake up in the morning half asleep, in the dark, and pull anything from my closet and it’ll work together.

Here’s how I did it.

My Tastes Change, So Should My Wardrobe

There are two major fashion seasons of the year, spring and fall. With them comes a flurry of new fashion collections, styles and trends. Because of this, I try to keep my wardrobe fresh by cleaning out what I no longer like or wear twice a year, and then shopping to replace it with new stuff I adore.

Despite the fact I love fashion, I absolutely hate shopping.  Sticking to this twice a year model works great for me, being I knock it all out at once and I’m set for the season.  That way my look always looks current, I’m always excited to get dressed, I have plenty of space in my closet, and I’m not cluttered down with a mess of stuff that was last season that I no longer like.

I Have a Well Curated Basic Collection

Basics are the foundation of your wardrobe. Without them, it’s extremely difficult to style outfits for a variety of needs. Your basics can all be styled dressy or casual, so it’s very important to have a well stocked collection to make your other pieces work for you instead of against you. When getting dressed in the dark, a basic always makes up at least one component of my outfit.

I Only Like Certain Colors and Patterns, So I Stick With Them

Despite my trying, I’ve learned I absolutely hate florals and powder pink. So I no longer buy anything with those colors or design. I have however always loved leopard, stripes, geometric/graphic prints, and red, so I make sure my closet is filled with those options.

I’m also careful to evaluate this season to season in case my tastes change. For example, this past spring and summer I transitioned from loving red to loving neon yellow. I updated my wardrobe accordingly.

Mixing my favorite patterns and colors with my curated basic pieces creates my specific style, and allows me to now get dressed in the dark because everything goes together.

I Only Buy What Looks Amazing on Me, or I Get It Altered

No point to wearing anything if it doesn’t look good on you. It’ll just sit in your closet, or worse you’ll wear it and you won’t look your best. I won’t buy anything that doesn’t make me feel awesome about my current body and the way I look. If it’s close, but not perfect, I get it altered. End of story.

I Only Buy Items I Love

If you don’t absolutely love something to the point you just have to have it, there’s no reason it should be in your wardrobe. This also goes for anything trendy, or what you “think” you should have. If you don’t love it, you won’t wear it. It’ll just sit in the back of your closet as you wear the items you actually do love.

Not only does this take up valuable closet real estate, but it makes it harder to select what to wear because the pieces that work for you are buried among other stuff you’re meh about. By only having garments you love wearing right now, you’ll never run into this problem.

All these tips aside, there are still mornings I wake up when I have absolutely no idea what to wear. My go to look? All black. You can’t ever go wrong with it. It’s very NYC chic, and it always looks incredible and in style.

Does your wardrobe work for you, or against you?

Vegan Vogue is a lifestyle and style column focusing on all things in vogue and vegan. More tips from Corrie Feld can be found at her website Brooklyn Bliss. Follow her on Twitter @CorrieFeld

image credits: one | two | three | four | five

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Thrifting Tips

17 Sep

These Thrifting Tips originally appeared last week on my column Vegan Vogue I write for I Eat Grass. If you haven’t stopped by I Eat Grass yet, be sure to do so!

{image credit: www.gingerandthegeek.com}

One of my absolute favorite ways to shop is thrifting. There are so many benefits to finding clothing and accessories second hand. It’s a great way to find really unique items that no one else has, a way to save money, and most importantly makes a global impact being you are purchasing second hand. It’s by far one of the most eco-friendly ways to shop.

When I was in high school, my favorite thrift store had a “bag sale” once a month. The way it would work is you’d bring a paper grocery bag, and as much as you could shove into it was only five dollars. While this was awesome and amazingly cheap, my mother wanted to kill me because my closet was packed to the gills. Plus I’d wind up mostly completely impractical items. A 1970’s mint green polyester mother of the bride dress gown sticks out in my mind as being my worst offender. Sure, I thought it was cool but where the hell was I going to wear it? I think I wore it for Halloween.

As a result of these realizations, through the years I’ve created a few rules I now follow when I thrift. If you are a novice thrifter who gets intimidated by the lack of curation in a thrift store, these tips should definitely help your next thrifting experience.

{image credit: www.sammydvintage.com}

Always Thrift With a Plan

I never, ever step foot into a thrift store without a basic idea of items I’m looking for. In general, after I clean out my closet (you can find my tutorial on how to do so here) I’ll create a shopping list of items I either need to replace, or would like to add to my wardrobe based on trends currently in season.

Believe it or not, it’s totally viable to shop current trends second-hand. A great example right now is the fall 2012 color of the season, oxblood (basically, a deep maroon). If you wanted to participate in this trend, you just add “anything oxblood” as a bullet point on your shopping list.

Never, ever step into a thrift store without this list. You’ll just wind up with a lot of cool yet impractical items you’ll never wear. You don’t need a 1970’s polyester gown.

Start Pulling

Once you’ve arrived at the thrift store armed with your list, attack the racks and start pulling items that meet the requirements of what you listed. Need a new blazer? Pull a few options. A pair of red pants? Look and pull those. You’ll be amazed at how easy it is to find what’s on your list, because you are specifically looking for them. It makes the unorganized racks of a thrift store much more manageable. I’ll never forget last August when I stepped into a Goodwill with red skinny jeans being on the top of my list. Upon five minutes of searching the racks, I miraculously found a perfect, brand new pair that fit me like a glove. They were only $6.

Even if the item is a size or two larger than you usually wear, I suggest pulling it at this stage. You can always get it altered and it still would only cost a fraction of what it would new, but be custom fit.

While having the list is important, it’s not 100% necessary to follow it to the letter. If you spot something you love, still pull it. This especially goes for things that suit your “trademark” looks, or “completer” pieces we often forget to shop for, like vests, cardigan sweaters or blazers. For me, if I spot anything leopard I always grab it. Anyone who follows my blog knows I have way more leopard in my closet than I know what to do with. Thrifting after all should be fun and the thrill of the hunt is part of the experience!

One important tip is to only pull the number of items you can bring into the dressing room at a time. It always sucks having to leave half of what you pulled on another rack only to come out and find another thrifter snagged them while you were trying stuff on (because they were no longer buried in the racks among mom jeans and easy to find). I’ll usually do multiple pulls and dressing room shifts until I feel I’ve exhausted the thrift store’s inventory for what I’m looking for.


{image credit: www.sheilaephemera.blogspot.com}

Try On Your Finds

Now it’s time to try on your garments. While doing this, inspect the item for damage, as well as give it a good smell. Always keep the following in mind:

  • Does it fit perfectly? And if not is it something a tailor can easily alter for you? This is why I suggested even pulling a size or so larger. If a pair of jeans for example costs you $5 at a thrift store and will cost you $20 to get altered, you’ll have a pair of jeans that fit you like a glove and look like you spent 4 times what you actually did on them.
  • Does the color look good on you. If not, pass. This goes for all shopping, not just thrifting, and should be followed regardless of trend.
  • Does it smell overwhelmingly musty? If so, pass. No amount of washings and dry cleaning will get rid of that.
  • Is it damaged? And if so are you willing to get it mended, and would it justify the cost to do so?
  • Will it work with at least two other items you already own? Again, this goes for standard shopping as well as thrifting.


{image credit: www.thesaged.com}

Following this plan will not only make your next thrifting experience more productive, but more enjoyable. If you are a thrifting virgin, also keep the following in mind.

  • When selecting a thrift store to target, consider the neighborhood the store is located. If your goal is to find quality mainstream items, target stores in affluent neighborhoods. For example, my favorite place to thrift in New York City is the Upper East Side. If you are looking for vintage or unique finds, the more rural you go the better.
  • Be prepared to have to dig in a thrift store. Garments usually are not organized. You may get lucky and find a store that’s organized by either garment type or color, but most are not. This is why you go in with the list, it makes it easier to manage.
  • If you can, bring a friend. It’s always better to have a second opinion while trying on your pulls. It also helps to have someone who can stay with your finds while you try stuff on to avoid other shoppers poaching. Plus it’s always more fun to shop with friends!

Are you a thrifter? Please share your tips in the comments!

Vegan Vogue is a lifestyle and style column focusing on all things in vogue and vegan. More tips from Corrie Feld can be found at her website Brooklyn Bliss. Follow her on Twitter @CorrieFeld

How to Clean Out Your Closet

20 Aug

Closet Cleanout Aug 2011

I usually try to clean out my closet around February and August of each year. Living in a small NYC apartment, I wish I had more room for clothes and accessories than I do but I make do. If anything, it really makes me analyze what items I really love, and purge out anything I’m meh about.

Here’s how I usually go about doing it.

Assess Your Inventory

First i do a general assessment of what I have. This involves taking everything OUT of the closet. This may seem a bit overkill, but trust me it works. It’s a great way to find items you forgot you have! While doing this quick assessment, it’s a great opportunity to filter out some items quickly based on the following.

  • Do you like it? If you don’t absolutely adore it, get rid of it. Otherwise it’s just taking up valuable real estate in your closet. Put it in a “to be donated” bag.
  • Is it damaged, and if so is can it be repaired? Rips and tears are easy for a seamstress to fix. For wear and tear on shoes and handbags, your local cobbler can usually handle those. Put those in an “alterations” bag. Anything with serious damage that you do not want to invest in bringing back to life, trash.
  • Have you worn it recently? If you haven’t worn it within the last year, chances are you never will. Granted it’s not damaged, put it in the “to be donated” bag. If it is, toss that sucker in the trash.

After your assessment, you should have your wardrobe inventory divided up into four categories, Potentials to Keep, Alterations, To Donate, and To Trash.

Try On Your Inventory

It’s now time to try on everything in your potential keeper pile. Look in a full length mirror, and enlist the help of a very honest friend, family member or significant other. Honesty is key! Lots of times what we think looks awesome on us actually doesn’t, so you’ll need this honest feedback to further whittle down your selection. If A piece is maybe a little large or needs a few tweaks to fit perfect, add it to the alterations pile. If it looks horrible on you beyond repair, to the donation pile it should go.

Once you’ve tried on everything in the keeper pile, then it’s time to move onto the alterations pile (the ones you haven’t tried on yet) and repeat the process. That way you can determine any addition alterations that need to be made in addition to the standard repairs. This is also a great time to get creative. Have a blazer with a hole in the elbow? Instead of patching it, how about removing the arms altogether and turning it into a vest. Have a maxi dress that shrunk in the wash? Have it hemmed into a knee-length dress. The possibilities are endless.

Office shot

Create Your Shopping List

This is the fun part! Now that you’ve fully assessed what you have, now it’s time to see what you need to either replace or add to your wardrobe to bring it up to date for the season. I always give priority to my basic and classic pieces, prior to listing trendy items. For example, my trench coat is now several years old and starting to show some wear, so I added it to my donation pile and have added a new trench to my shopping list. Making a list also helps you really analyze your budget so you can realistically prioritize what’s important so you don’t go on a buck wild shopping spree.

Another great way to extend your budget is to turn your unwanted items into shopping cash. To learn more on how to do that, check out my Transitioning to a Cruelty Free Wardrobe post.

Do you clean out your wardrobe regularly? Please share your tips!

Ridiculously Easy Notebook Cover DIY

13 Aug

Notebook Cover DIY

This is seriously the easiest DIY project ever. It’s almost cheating.

Ridiculously Easy Notebook Cover DIY

I’ve been a big fan of Rollabind notebooks for years. As I’ve may have mentioned on this blog, I’m horrendously OCD, especially with paperwork. As a result I can’t stand having old notes in a notebook. The Rollabind works great for me being you can easily pull pages out and reorganize them. It’s like if a spiral and ring binder notebook had a baby.

Only problem was my Rollabind I use for work was fugly. Vegan friendly, but very very fugly.

Ridiculously Easy Notebook Cover DIY

I came across these duck tape sheets at Staples and thought, “Wow! Those are cool!
I love zebra. What could I use these for?” and quickly remembered my ugly notebook. I picked them up for $2 each and had the project done in less than 5 minutes.

Ridiculously Easy Notebook Cover DIY

The first thing you do is measure the size of the cover. I did mine up to the stitching on the seams being my notebook has a padded cover.

Ridiculously Easy Notebook Cover DIY

Next, you draw on the back of each sheet of duct tape the dimensions. Then you cut it out.

Ridiculously Easy Notebook Cover DIY

Then you peel the backing off the sticker, apply it to the cover…

Ridiculously Easy Notebook Cover DIY

And voila! No more fugly notebook!

Repeat the process with the second sheet and back cover of the notebook and you’re done.

Ridiculously Easy Notebook Cover DIY

Nice part about this DIY is if you get sick of the pattern, you can just peel it off with no damage to the book.

Transitioning to a Cruelty Free Wardrobe

3 Aug

Today I have a brand new column starting that I’m writing over at iEatGrass! It’s called Vegan Vogue and I’ll be writing about all things stylish and vegan. This is a re-post of my first article, but don’t forget to stop on over there to check it out. They have lots of awesome vegan content over there.

prada_bow_pumps
Get rid of your non-vegan designer and wardrobe items with these quick tips. {image credit: style.ish}

When first making the decision to go vegan, the first step people think of is eliminating all animal products out of your diet. It usually takes a little bit before new vegans remember their entire wardrobe is packed full of animal products as well.

Shoes, and accessories more often than not made of leather. When winter rolls around, we often forget our coats and sweaters are full of wool. Purging your wardrobe and replacing everything with cruelty free versions is no small task when you’re first starting out.

Being a big fan of fashion, when I myself made this realization, I was pretty overwhelmed. I suddenly felt guilty wearing about half my shoe collection. My handbag collection was my biggest hit. Handbags were my guilty pleasure, and my closet was packed with pricey designer versions. I also tend to prefer more “rocker” type looks, which are very leather heavy. So it was time to start looking for replacements for all my favorite items. I needed money to do this, so I turned all my non-vegan items into cash so I could shop for cruelty free versions.

Good news is now with the help of the Internet, it’s easier than ever to sell your leather and wool items to other stylish ladies and gents who will get use of them, all while making some money so you can go buy yourself a vegan leather wallet. Here we’re some of the websites and stores that made it easy for me to create my now 100% vegan friendly wardrobe.

Fashionphile

Fashionphile
Fashionphile is the place to go if you have super high end, designer items to move. If you’ve ever tried to sell a designer purse on eBay or Craigslist, you’ll appreciate this being its notoriously hard to sell designer bags and accessories because everyone thinks they are fakes.
Fashionphile is a consignment boutique based on the west coast that will evaluate photos of the items you have for sale, and then tell you what they can sell them for. Being they’re an established consignment boutique, fans of designer items trust the items aren’t knockoffs, so they’ll pay a higher price for them than you could selling them on your own through eBay or Craigslist.

The selling process is easy. You set up an online account and send them over the pieces you want to sell. They’ll evaluate then to determine the condition of the pieces, as well that they’re legitimate and if so what they can sell them for you for. If you agree to their conditions, they give you pre-paid shipping labels so you can ship the items to them. Once they sell, they cut and mail you a check. It’s that simple.

Again, this place is best for higher end designer handbags and accessories. During my purge, I sent over 3-4 of my purses, including some Louis Vuittons and they made me close to my Brooklyn rent back. It was well worth the time and effort.

Threadflip-Copious

Threadflip & Copious
Threadflip and Copious are both web platforms that allow fashionistas to sell their gently used items to other fashionistas. Think of it like eBay with a fashion twist, but better curated and more like shopping at an online boutique. Threadflip even has an iPhone app that makes it easy to post and sell items on the fly. They also allow you to take a quick “style quiz”, and the service will recommend other sellers and items to you based on your tastes.

For both services you can sell and receive credits to purchase items from other sellers. This is great if you lets say wanted to get rid of a pair of leather pumps, and replace them with a pair of vegan ones. Several sellers on both platforms even tag items as being vegan so they are easy to find. I found these neon blue, pointed toe flats on Copious the week before last.

To make your items stand out, make sure your photography is on point! The better the pieces are presented either as part of an outfit, or on a unique background (like my new neon flats were) the quicker they’ll sell.

eBay

eBay
eBay is now a household name, and we all know what their service does. They still remain a great way to purge leather and wool items out of your closet.

Buffalo Exchange-Crossroads

Recycled Fashion Stores- Like Buffalo Exchange and Crossroads Trading Company
If you are fortunate enough to live a Buffalo Exchange, Crossroads Trading Company, or similar store, you’ll soon learn they are the easiest and fastest way to clear out our wardrobe (vegan or not!), and replenish it with brand new, eco-friendly styles you love. The way it works is you bring in your gently used items and they’ll buy them from you for either store credit or cash.

Any time I feel like doing some guilt-free shopping, I hit up my closet, grab a few items I no longer wear and head on over. I always sell for credit and then use the credit to buy new items to freshen up my wardrobe.

When selling at a recycled fashion boutique, always remember the season you are in. These stores don’t really keep a stock inventory and will only buy what they can move immediately. So if it’s the middle of summer, don’t bring them all your wool sweaters. Call in advance to see what they are currently buying, or you can check their website as well.

I purged the majority of my mainstream handbags, shoes, accessories and clothes of leather and wool just by bringing them to Buffalo Exchange. Fun part was I racked up a ton of credit, which means I get to shop until I drop now!

Have you transitioned your wardrobe to be 100% cruelty-free? Share you tips in the comments!

How To / Pack for a Trip

12 Jul


Packing Tutorial

I packed for my entire 4 day trip to Boston in this small overnight bag.

Having traveled so much on business, I’ve created a pretty fool-proof method for packing, and this is how I do it.

First, make a quick chart of all the days you’ll be away. I usually divide mine up so I have a box for day time, and evening. From there, fill it out with the activity you plan on doing during that time on that day. Reason I divide it up day/evening is because usually if you’re going out in the evening, it requires you to be a bit more dressed up than what you’d wear during the day, though this may not apply to you. Here was my general itinerary for my vacation to Boston.

  Wed Thurs Fri Sat
Day Travel to Boston Freedom Trail- Explore City Museum of Fine Art Fenway Tour
Evening Dinner/Drinks Dinner/Drinks Dinner/Drinks Travel to NY
Bonus Outfit: Pool

After you figure out what you’ll be doing, then start to fill out another similar grid, making outfits from items you have. The goal is to be creative, and use the items multiple ways just changing things up via accessories. Here’s what I came up with for my trip.

Wed Thurs Fri Sat
Day White Blouse,
Denim Shorts,
Neon Sandals,
Army Jacket,
Red, White and Blue Bandana,
White Fedora,
B&W Colorblock Tote
Black Maxi Dress,
Neon Sandals,
Army Jacket,
White Fedora,
B&W Colorblock Tote,
Tribal Maxi,
Skinny Belt,
Neon Sandals,
Army Jacket,
White Fedora,
B&W Colorblock Tote
Tee or Tank,
Neon Sandals,
Army Jacket,
White Fedora,
B&W Colorblock Tote,
Evening White Blouse,
Jeans,
Neon Blazer- if it’s chilly,
Black Zara Heels,
Wallet
Black Maxi Dress,
Neon Blazer- if it’s chilly,
Zara Heels,
Wallet,
Leopard Blouse,
Neon Blazer- if it’s chilly,
Jeans,
Zara Heels,
Wallet
Same as day.
Pool Outfit: Black Bikini, Leopard Blouse (as cover-up), Neon Sandals

 

 

A few quick tips:

  • Wear bulkier items, like jeans, boots, scarves, jackets, hats etc so they don’t take up room in your suitcase.
  • Bring only footwear suited to what you’ll be doing, and make it work with everything you’re wearing. I’ll usually do one pair of hybrid casual/dressy heels (wedges are great for this), one pair of flats (like sandals, loafers or chucks), and my workout sneakers for when I hit up the hotel gym. If I’m going to a wedding or a more formal event, I’ll pack appropriate heels for that but only if necessary. Same goes for business trips, if I’m on a business trip I’ll go for pumps and not wedges.
  • When given a choice, I always pack the dressier version on items I may have multiples of at home. For example, I’ll choose my black jeans over blue. That way they work for casual daytime activities, but are also dressy enough I can wear them someplace fancy in the evening if need be.
  • Include handbags and accessories in your outfit ideas. This makes it easier to create different outfits using the same items you already know you’re bringing.
  • Keep your main clothing items, like tees, pants, shorts etc. neutral (black, gray, white, beige, etc) and add color with jackets, scarves and accessories. That way everything matches. Try to keep a consistent color theme with what you pack. In my Boston trip example, my colors are black and white as my basics, and I accent it with gray, neon yellow, leopard, B&W stripes, hot pink and metallics.
  • Don’t be afraid to wear the same thing multiple times. It’s super easy nowadays to wash and air dry certain items in the bathroom sink. Jersey is great for this. Plus things like jeans can be worn multiple times before washing anyway.

After your grid is filled out, then it’s easy to just list all the items you used to put your outfits together. Looking at all these items, I can think of another 4-5 outfits easy I can make out of these, so I at least have other options should I not want to wear exactly what I charted out above.

Clothing

Packing Tutorial
Packing Tutorial
Packing Tutorial
Packing Tutorial
  • White Blouse- worn on the trip there
  • Denim Shorts- worn on the trip there
  • Neon Sandals- worn on the trip there
  • Red, White and Blue Bandana- worn on the trip there
  • White Fedora
  • Jeans
  • Black Zara Heels
  • Black Maxi Dress
  • Tribal Maxi Dress
  • Skinny Belt
  • Striped Tank
  • Black/White Tanks
  • Army Jacket
  • Neon Blazer
  • Black Bathing Suit
  • Leopard Blouse
  • Socks
  • Bras & Underwear (7 pair)
  • PJ’s

Toiletries

Packing Tutorial
  • Shampoo
  • Conditioner
  • Curl Cream/Gel
  • Razor
  • Shaving Lotion
  • Shower Cap
  • Hair Towel
  • Face Wash
  • Medications
  • Hair Clips
  • Bobby Pins
  • Headbands
  • Blow dryer and attachments
  • Straightening Iron
  • Comb
  • Deodorant
  • Makeup Bag
Another great time saver that I do for toiletries is a keep a quart size (TSA Approved) toiletry bag packed at all times.  That way if I need to hit the road quick, I don’t have to worry if I forgot my shampoo.  It includes travel sizes of all my usual products, sample sizes of medication creams, an extra razor and shower cap.  When I return home from a trip, I refill everything so it’s ready to go next trip.

Carry On

  • iPhone and Charger
  • Headphones
  • iPad and Charger
  • Camera and Charger
  • Wallet
  • ID
  • Sunglasses
  • Tissues
  • Snacks
  • Water Bottle

All in all, using the process above I was able to easily figure out 7 outfits plus alternate options using only 17 items (most of which are smaller accessories that take up no suitcase room and many of which I’m wearing on the travel to and from my destination). The only other items you really need to add from there are PJ’s, toiletries, under-things and workout gear.

Here’s a few more tips to make packing a breeze:

  • Keep a standard list of everything I you need as far as toiletries, basic clothing needs (under-things, PJ’s, workout clothes), necessary electronics (iPhone/charger) and documentation (wallet, ID, keys, etc).  I keep mine in Evernote so each time I need to pack, all those items are already on the list for me. Then all I have to do is figure out my clothing for whatever activities I’m doing and I’m good to go. The less I have to think about, the better. I even include on this list a section for pet needs if the pets are coming with me, because it’s easier to delete that if it doesn’t pertain to my trip, instead of last-minute needing to remember what I should bring for them.
  • When finally packing your bag, always remember to roll your clothes, never fold them!  Rolling clothes helps prevent wrinkles, plus you can fit way more stuff in your bag than with standard folding.
  • Also, always remember to leave a little extra room in your bag.   You know, just in case you go shopping.

This system took me years to perfect, and it works super well for me. Stay tuned for additional posts of my Boston trip so you can see how I put these items together for the outfits I wore on the trip.  You can also see a few photos I posted of them to Instagram, my handle is @BrooklynBliss.

Since I’m always looking to be even more efficient at everything I do (bad habit), I’d love to hear your tips! Please comment and share them.

How do you pack?