Closet Makeovers and 7 Ways to Create a Curated Closet

From a recent Container Store flyer.  Click on any photo to enlarge.

As the year draws to close, I attempt what I always do every year-end…a major closet cleanout.

From the same flyer…and no, this isn’t my closet!!!  I wish!

This year I’m being particularly ruthless about it, and really taking a long and hard look at what takes up my most precious closet real-estate, and getting rid of things that I don’t wear, will not wear, and that just aren’t who I am anymore.

From a Spring 2011 Spiegel catalog.

From Lucky Magazine April (I think?) 2011.

I’m almost embarrassed to admit to the sheer amount of stuff that I’ve been hoarding for years, and never once wore.  I have to finally come to terms with the fact that these pieces were never really “me,” and I was trying to embrace a trend I could never figure out how to style properly in any other way.  My Keep It or Toss It Rules?

Keep It or Toss It? 7 Ways to Create a Curated Closet

{And when I write TOSS, I mean sell, exchange, or donate!  Or upcycle with some DIY only if you will wear it after its makeover…}

1. Keep only ONE item that is a certain shape, style and color, unless this one item is your signature piece.** (More on “signature pieces” below.)  If you never wear capes, how many gray capes do you need?  KEEP one, TOSS the others.

2. TOSS all your “skinny clothes” except for ONE or TWO pieces that you love and you want to keep as a goal.  (If you end up getting down to that size again in the future, you’ll want to buy all new things then in order to show the new you off!!)  In the same vein, TOSS all your fat clothes, except ONE to remind you of how far you’ve come.  Put both the fat and the skinny clothes in a box, out of sight…unless you want a daily reminder hitting you in the face every time you open your closet.  (Could be useful for inspiration…?)

3. TOSS all the clothes that are more than 2 sizes bigger or smaller than what you are now.  Or have them altered so you can still wear them.

4. KEEP basics, as long as they aren’t ripped or stained.  Ripped – TOSS!  Stained – re-purpose as workout clothes, DIY, or TOSS.  Try to pare down your basics to ONE or TWO of each kind (TWO white tight-fitting t-shirts, ONE white loose-fitting t-shirt etc.)

5. For every single piece in your closet, you must be able to visualize at least 3 different ways to style it (that you would actually wear!)  If you’re having trouble coming up with different ways to wear it, then you should probably TOSS it.

6. Make sure that every piece you KEEP is special in some way…either it has a little detail, or a pretty print, or color that looks fabulous on you.  The stuff that you don’t love to death but has a special story behind it and you just can’t bear to part with it? …Box it with your skinny clothes.

7. Stand back often and assess what’s left in your wardrobe.  Sometimes it helps to pull everything out and only put back items you love…but for me, there was just too much stuff!  Standing back from everything gives me a little perspective.

**And finally, to create your own identity within a mass of clothes and other items…

Develop your signature: a piece of clothing, jewelry, or accessory that is something you love and is uniquely YOU.  Though I have a ton of earrings, I always wear a bunch of mismatched gemstone studs in different colors and sizes.  It’s just something I’ve been doing this year that I’ve really begun to like, and if I lose one…hey! I have a whole bunch more that I can replace it with.

Also: a valet bar is a must!  Some people call them an “edit bar,” but even a hook will suffice.  Just somewhere you can stick clothes to put together outfits before putting everything on.  It seriously saves time!

Since I have limited space, I actually hang vests and button-front shirts on the same hangers as dresses and blouses!  Each item on a shirt hanger in my closet also gets a necklace, because I have a huge necklace collection and always forget what I own.  I have to see it or I will forget about it completely.

I’m currently being inspired by well-organized closets (cue Ikea and The Container Store catalogs), and beautiful photos of airy, dreamy spaces to house all one’s accoutrements.

From the US website.

A Pair and a Spare has a great series on paring down (see what I did there?;-) your own wardrobe to pieces that you love, and maybe, as FashionISing wrote, the current covetable closet is a well-edited and curated one?

I’m still working on that, but I’ll be at least a couple steps closer come this New Year.


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Ring Storage Solutions

So this now closes my Rings Week series – it actually ended up being TWO weeks as I’ve gotten so behind on things. This is how I store my rings in my closet: right below my clothing, on top of my tights drawer.

Storing rings (or just about anything) I’ve always found a challenge – because the more you have, the harder it is to make the storage look “neat” and “organized.”  My solution is to store my rings with thin bands in a velour-lined case, bought from a jewelry supply shop; it keeps them visible, neat, and looks a little luxurious.  (This is a tufted ring display, similar to this one here.)(I stack another box and 3 layers below this one that hold small stud earrings, chain necklaces, and larger necklaces.  Similar flocked inserts are sold here, and the trays are sold here.)  But lately I’ve acquired a number of rings that have very thick shanks or wide bands or large, wide stones in them, and have had trouble figuring out how to store/display them.  (For me, if I don’t have it on display in front of my face, I completely forget that it’s in my closet.;-)  At first I tried compartmentalized boxes, but I own such a range of sizes and widths that I was still left with rings that didn’t fit in the boxes, or tiny, delicate rings that were just left swimming in their compartments.  So I now keep my larger rings all jumbled together (they’re costume jewelry anyway) in wide, cotton-lined jewelry gift boxes that have come with one purchase or another at some time.  You can see some of the ring shanks are wrapped with moleskin to prevent them slipping off my fingers.

Right now this is what’s working best for me.

If you like displaying and storing your jewelry in a professional manner, you can certainly just use what jewelry stores do: velour, denim, plastic, or leather stands and cases are all surprisingly affordable and chic.  Some people also like buying tiny busts or miniature mannequins to display their favorite pieces, on top of a dresser or armoire for easy access. You can pile all your rings on long spikes (like those desk accessories that you stab finished receipts onto from old film noir movies) for a long n clustered look.

Brass Desk Spike Paperweight from a DIY Ring Holder?

If you like the idea of a ring tray, Smart N Snazzy has a great DIY for making your own, lined in satin.  It gives the standard jewelry tray and utterly regal feel.

The ubiquitous hand-holder.  (img src)

Some people choose to display their rings on a branched holder; I’ve seen one shaped like deer antlers or trees; some use real sticks and branches to give their collection an earthy, bohemian feel.

Deer from Urban Outfitters; no longer available.:-(

The uber-talented duo from Dismount Creative DIY’d another Urban Outfitters piece: this one, white dollhouse chairs in a tower-cum-jewelry-organizer (which is also a great option if you like the “branch” setup and like to keep things on display).  What an inspiring project!

Do you have any ring storage solutions or ideas that work for you?  Please let me know in the comments!

Well this Week of Rings has been fun!  Hopefully there’s been some info in there that has been inspiring or useful – and helped us all look at those little decorations for our fingers just the slightest bit differently.  Thanks for reading along!


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Finally!  I’ve got my voice back – la la LA – and Lil Tot seems to be on the mend, after about a week of staying inside and doing NOTHING.

I managed to reorganize my tights drawer yesterday with the Perfect Sense Drawer Organizer.  I never trust those things that are like “AS SEEN ON TV!” or items you’ve seen a million places already that just look kinda hokey and unreliable…but this actually does what it says it does and it doesn’t feel like it will fall apart at a single breath.  Though I didn’t take a before piccy, this is what my drawer looked like AFTER…

Everything all neatly stored away.

Apparently the diagonal divider makes 31 or 32 compartments, depending on how you space it…and that’s FABULOUS, except that I have more than 32 pairs of tights AND socks, so of course I still have to figure out what to do with the overflow.  (As you can see from the photo, I’ve stuffed 2 pairs of tights into the same compartment here and there, he he.)  I definitely have Too Many Tights!!

I’ve also lined the walls of the drawer with perfume sample inserts ripped out of magazines…I also cut up my magazines once they’re about 3 months old, saving any photos of clothing, shoes, accessories, or bits of advice that strike my eye.  I also cut out those perfume inserts, open them up, and line my clothing drawers with them.  The scent wafting out of an open drawer is beautiful, and it lingers on my clothes all day.  (That was a little tip I found in the book Wear More Cashmere: 151 Luxurious Ways to Pamper Your Inner Princess, one of my faves that gives little everyday tips for indulging your inner glamour girl.)

And…drumroll please…I also reorganized my under-the-sink storage in my bathroom.  It was pretty awful BEFORE…

And now I think it looks tons better AFTER.

Okay…I have a huge amount of stuff.

I used a bunch of Crystal Clear Shoe Drawers and a Crystal Clear Oversized Shoe Drawer atop one Crystal Clear Sweater Drawer that I bought from The Container Store (tho you can also buy on Amazon thru the links above if you don’t have a local Container Store).  Granted, it would probably have looked neater had I used drawers with non-see thru plastics, but I like to see what’s in my drawers.  I also have my old Kit n Kaboodle makeup organizers (remember those from the 80’s???) and a couple of empty cardboard boxes from orders and chocolate assortments (they’re the perfect size for little boxes to further organize the insides of my drawers with).  More places to put things once I need them!

Somehow, life just feels so much better when you’re organized.

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Five Fabulous New Year’s Fashion Resolutions

by Carly J. Cais, Fashion Designer & ChicSteals blog
As a designer, I’ve developed an eye for style over the years along with an appreciation for the fact that sometimes, designer pricetags can be downright scary. While life necessitates a splurge once in a while on that can’t-live-without-it fabulous item, much of the fun of fashion is mixing high with low to create outfits that are creative, and also budget-friendly. Each week, I showcase five hot designer-style steals (each for $100 or, in most cases, for much, much less)…along with one must-splurge item.
Now that it’s a new year, it’s time to put those Resolutions to the test & improve physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually…and, while you’re at it, fashionably. Here are our 5 Fashion Resolutions for 2009:


Spring 2009 Brights by Fashiontribes

It’s painful, but bite the bullet and stash all those items guaranteed to make you cringe in the not-too-distant future: yes, we mean the Uggs, celeb-inspired Love Quotes scarves, and matching velour tracksuits. Ditto busy prints that are not geometric, bold, floral or adorned with butterflies (not stars, though: so 2008). The Spring 2009 fashion forecast calls for color, so put away the grays and give all that black in your closet some oomph with cheery brights. To get back on trend, try one-shouldered outfits, rompers, sheer tops, art-inspired prints, and bejeweled items, as well as 80’s-inspired pieces. Here are some of our picks:


Get the Look: Gossip Girl’s Blake Lively by Fashiontribes

If you’re feeling under-the-weather or just fashion-challenged, there’s nothing guaranteed to make you feel even more frumpy like a pair of baggy sweats and stained tee. For little or no more effort, you can pull on a casual go-to outfit that’s comfy, chic, and guaranteed to lighten your mood. (Yes, fashion can be both uplifting & inspirational…when you know you look great, that confidence shines from within.) An easy way to pull together some looks you like is by combing through magazines, blogs (like this one!) and even TV shows…professional stylists have already done the hard work of coming up with the looks; all you have to do is replicate them in your own closet. Alternatively, take inspiration from a celeb who has a similar body type and coloring whose style you like; if she looks chic and pulled together, so will you. We personally adore Gossip Girl Blake Lively, who was recently named one of Marie Claire’s Best Dressed of 2008. Here’s what you’ll need to steal her style:


If your closet isn’t bursting at the seams with unworn party dresses, belts still with their tags on, and way too many pairs of shoes with unscuffed soles – we salute you! For the rest of us, there are just too many options stuffed into the closet, and as a result, a confusing mess. For 2009, we’re planning to donate more and keep less…and then actually wear it. Anything that’s obviously stained, way too small, or somehow never got altered automatically gets purged. And if it hasn’t been worn it in a year, buh-bye! Of the stuff that’s left, why not recruit a girlfriend help you find new ways to create some fresh new outfits? Once we’ve pulled together some fabulous, on-trend outfits, we’re going to snap photos and create our very own lookbook; extra work to be sure, but guaranteed to pay dividends on those OMG-I-have-nothing-to-wear days.


Agyness Deyn Style by Fashiontribes

Day after day, most of us reach for the same handful of items. But much of the fun of fashion is about taking a risk, pulling off the unexpected, and being open to trying new things. Even if you’re not feeling Agyness Deyn-level bold enough to rock a taffeta ballroom skirt with a stonewashed denim jacket and spiked hair, why not try at least one thing you normally wouldn’t? You may be pleasantly surprised. Love day-glo but don’t own a single neon item? Instead of a dress, try a scarf. If you’re more rock ‘n roll than preppy, a slouchy striped tee under a blazer is a fab way to meld the two. Trying something new will also help you get additional mileage out of your closet by formulating more go-to outfits than you would have ever thought of while lounging in the safety of that comfort zone.


We’ve become a nation of fashion slobs by Fashiontribes

People used to dress up. A mere half century ago, even housewives who spent all day cooking and cleaning at home did so decked out to the nines in tight-fitting, crisp hourglass dresses, crinolines, and frilly aprons. Granted, we’re not asking you to don petticoats while dusting or other restrictive garments completely inappropriate to the situation, but the time has come to fight back against the widespread Slide into Slobdom. Since there’s nothing sadder than a closet full of gorgeous stuff hanging unworn, even if you don’t have a fancy function to attend, make up your own and dress the part! Break out those shoes you love and that dress you adore from the back of your closet – even for a short trip to get coffee – just because! As long as you’re chic & pulled-together, you’ll garner stares, extra attention (at worst, they might whisper: “Isn’t she just a little overdressed for Starbucks?” To which we say Pfft!), but more likely you’ll be that woman of mystery who has everyone dying to know what fabulous after-hours fete you’re just now arriving home from.
If there are any high-priced pieces you’d like me to find similar, less costly versions of, please email me at carlyjcais AT fashiontribes DOT com. ‘Til next week, fellow bargain-hunters!

– Carly J. Cais

(photos: Blake Lively –; Agyness Deyn in blue ballgown –; 50s housewife – Roman Holiday; Pamela Anderson – The Fashionable Housewife)

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