Organizing Theory & Artistry

Ruly Recap and Reader Feedback: Closet Essentials

Ruly at your service! My Halloween costume this year.

In October at Ruly, we focused on the essentials of a good wardrobe. It was a fun month full of tricks and treats.


We started off with 3 strategies to stay sane during this holiday season.

Then we turned to the women’s closet, identifying classic items for professional and casual dress as well as hearing Ruly Ruth’s take on Fall 2011 Women’s Fashion Trends:

We had some great comments! From the sound of things, we are all going to be wearing a lot of turtlenecks over the next few months.

Ruth commented that my professional wardrobe choices looked a bit bland from a fashion standpoint. Truthfully, they probably are but sometimes that is the way “classic” pieces work.

diadia gave a great tip for saving money on professional blouses . . . shop in the men’s department!

“White or other color true men’s shirts make excellent shirts for me. The cost for each is usually under $30, poly, no iron. Buttons can be changed on the cuff to give a feminine dash–I use pearl or rhinestone. Also I move the cuff button to hold the shirt sleeve firm at the wrist.”

diadia also gave a comment on the casual clothing post, raising a question about a product I had never heard of before — socks or pantyhose with a separate toe for the big toe. She wanted to use them to extend the life of her summer thong sandals into the winter months. I have never attempted this but do something similar for my girls by having them wear turtlenecks and tights with their summer sundresses in the winter to extend their wardrobes. Diadia later emailed me an update, indicating that she had found the socks in question at eBay and that they are called Tabi socks. She also included a photo of her discovered look. I quite like the look and the ingenuity of the idea.

Winter sandals. Vogue's next trend?


Then we turned to the men’s closet, identifying staple items for professional and casual dress.

My son received several positive comments behind the scene for his modeling debut in a thermal shirt.  Also, Ruth received a request on her Facebook page that she consider a menswear version of her commentary on the latest fashion trends.  Men, are you interested in this?

Refashioning Men’s Dress Shirts
I so appreciate all the kind and encouraging comments on this post where I turned my husband’s cast-off dress shirts into dresses for my daughters, particularly since they came when I just confessed my failures at the bake sale on the same day. My wonderful readers taught me a lesson on etiquette here. Whenever someone has a failure, the kindest thing you can do is let them know how great they are at something else!

Fashion and Finances
We contrasted the fashion spending habits of financial guru Suze Orman and fashion blogger Maegan Tintari. Readers provided some great money-saving options for clothes shopping:

Summer commented:

“I NEVER pay full price for clothes, especially clothing for children. I shop sales and clearance like crazy! If there’s something full price I want, I wait for coupon discounts like “friends and family” promotions or those “bounce back” type coupons that clothing stores are now doing (e.g. Gymbucks, Savings Cards, etc.) I also shop for my kid’s clothes at the end of a season and just buy things big for next year. I am totally that customer that walks in and goes directly to the back of the store.”

Ruth commented:

“I’ve been so blessed with amazing friends and my sister’s mother-in-law that love to shop and splurge on their kids’ clothes that my daughter has been lacking very little!! THANKS FOR THAT!! Now on occasion I’ve been very successful in finding out-of-season clothing for especially my son at Goodwill. Especially shorts–most people don’t sell or need them in November–we do!! Goodwill was a god-send then!”


No life is perfect and there were a few bumps in the road this month.

Lessons from the Fall Festival Bake Sale
I shared my poorly organized attempt to contribute to the school bake sale and readers commiserated and shared some helpful suggestions.

Mary commented:

“I completely agree with you in that if they want Moms to contribute, then they better lovingly accept flat cupcakes with little one’s fingerprints, squiggled icing and gobs of sprinkles all over the tops of them. Plus, let’s face it, we aren’t living the lives of our grandmothers who stayed home and made goods from scratch on a regular basis. This stuff is out of our element! In closing, I praise you for your bravery and efforts but definitely think next time keep it simple and use that ‘extra’ time to play with the kids!”

Best Wishes Giuliana
My thanks to Ruth and Mary who commented and shared Giuliana Rancic’s breast cancer story with friends. Per the last public update, Giuliana’s surgery went well and based on her Twitter account, she is still going full steam ahead with her busy career! Bill Rancic has done an excellent job in his role as the supportive husband too.

In Praise of the Black Turtleneck: Remembering Steve Jobs
Life has continued on without Steve Jobs but I do find myself thinking of him from time to time and the hole in humanity that he has left behind.  I just read the beautiful eulogy his sister, Mona Simpson, wrote in The New York Times and recommend you read it too.  I love his last words.

Finally, I had a small Halloween celebration on my site yesterday with two posts about Halloween costumes. Again, many thanks for all the positive comments on the Halloween costumes! I am glad to see there are some Charlie and Lola fans out there too.

Last, I wanted to share my Halloween costume for this year. I spent so much time making costumes for everybody else that I had literally no time to make my own. I told my children weeks in advance that I would go as Amelia Bedelia– another of our favorite storybook characters. I made attempts at cobbling together a costume from a used dress on eBay (which I then forgot to bid on before the auction ended) and had plans to make Amelia’s characteristic apron but ran out of time. My girls insisted that I needed a costume for our trick or treating. So, into my closet I went and came up with the costume you see above. There was literally no expense and no sewing in this costume. The “apron” was the best trick. This is really a white blouse with ruffled sleeves worn upside down with a little clear packing tape to “hem” it. My neighbors had a great laugh when I told them how the costume came together.

It was actually quite fun dressing as the formal maid. On a quick run to the grocery store for candy, I was surprised to discover pride in wearing this outfit. I was not just a mom but a well-dressed professional for my household. I may have to remember this trick the next time I am lacking motivation in my own organizing efforts.

I hope you enjoyed the posts this month and that they have helped give you a new perspective on your own closet.

P.S. In other organizing news.

It was great fun this month reading the advice from South African “Organising Queen” Marcia Francois in her 31 days of organizing questions. Her last post in the series is especially great. Reality happens even to Organising Queens too.

Still following the Apartment Therapy 20/20 Cure posts designed to improve your home in 20 days with just 20 minutes a day. I have not been able to follow all of them to the letter due to the bustle of Halloween but am finding a lot of inspiration just from watching them.