Sep 202015


In my focus on proportion this year, I am looking to identify the areas of my life that have an outsized impact on the final result. The areas where you get the “biggest bang for the buck” so to speak for your time and effort.

When it comes to fashion, this year has shown me that shoes are one of these proportional differences. If you wear the right shoe, you can be forgiven almost any other fashion flaw.

The shoes above are one such example of the “right shoes.” I say this not to pat myself on the back for having good fashion sense but because every time I wear these shoes, someone stops me tell me how great they are!

I didn’t start wearing them on purpose. My flat summer sandals gave out under the strain of this summer’s activities and completely fell apart. I ransacked my closet for a replacement pair and only came up with the cute high heeled sandals.

“Oh yeah….I forgot about these.”

They were an impulse buy on clearance at Target a few years ago. I have worn them a few times but once you stop wearing heels all the time, it is hard to go back to wearing them while toting children and their gear. I actually looked around for something else more practical but finding nothing, put them on and ran off to the pool with my kids for swimming lessons.

The reaction was immediate.

“Why are you dressed all fancy?” a fellow mom inquired.

I explained that except for the shoes, I was dressed exactly the same as I had been all summer long.

“Well, you’re making all the rest of us look bad,” she humorously responded.

Later, shopping in Walmart with all of my children a woman called from behind,

“I just ran all the way from the parking lot,” she panted.

I paused and wondered if I had dropped something and she was going to return it.

“I just wanted to say . . . ‘You go, mama!’ Look at you, all fashionable. You should be glamorous with all those children!”

After thanking her profusely for making my day, I realized the only thing she was referring to was the shoes! (Unless you think navy shorts and an Old Navy tee would get me on the cover of Vogue.)

After checking out, a retired woman commented,

“You are awfully brave to wear those shoes with all those children!”

I could go on and on. These shoes really are magical. If they were still available, I would buy 10 pairs so I would never run out.

The great thing about shoes is that you don’t have to be any particular size and shape to wear fun shoes. Good shoes look great on all figures. The internet has opened up a world of affordable and fashionable shoes in many comfort levels.

The lesson for me is: resolve to wear good shoes!

What aspect of your appearance seems to make the biggest difference for you? Please share in the comments.

May 022013


*From time to time, I receive articles to consider for publication on my blog. This one from stylist Christie Maruka was well-written and gave some clear tips about how to review white items in your closet during your spring cleaning efforts.

Wearing white all year long has become a new trend – especially in the hot summer months. You’ll want to take into consideration the weight of the fabric, when buying white pieces for all year long.

Here are a few tips to consider while shopping for white articles of clothing:

1. Does white work for you? It works for many women, but not everyone. If you have a great tan or naturally dark skin, it’s beautiful. Warm skin tones go well with white. If it washes you out, forget about it.

2. The hottest way to wear white this season is head-to-toe.
It can be really flattering if the proportions and the fit are just right. White jeans and a v-neck T-shirt or crisp button-down tailored shirt are great looks.

3. A crisp white pencil skirt with a classic white top can be fabulous. Be sure everything is slim but not tight. White can be unforgiving. As for jeans, make sure they are not cropped ,or they can make your legs look shorter. Pass on white skinny jeans unless your very slim.

4. An all-white look can be really great accessorized with one of summer’s uber-bright colors such as coral, turquoise or royal blue. A handbag, sandal or scarf in one of these shades can make white pop. A bright print top paired with white pants and blazer is beautiful. And don’t forget stripes with white, especially navy, black or white stripes.

5. The biggest mistake women make with white is what they wear underneath it. When wearing white, it’s critical to wear lingerie that is as close as possible to the color of your skin. Don’t wear white undies because every line will show. Don’t wear colored undies unless you are trying to make a statement.

6. When shopping for white clothes, opt for natural fibers, especially linen or cotton, which are beautiful in white. Avoid white satin or polyester.

7. Beware of cling when wearing white. White doesn’t take well to being too tight or showing bra or panty lines. Dresses that flow gently past the curves look best. Some flowing and billowing sundresses or flirty tops can be lovely in white as well, especially when paired with a narrow silhouette such as a skinny jean or leggings.

8. Avoid white for photos or TV.
While it may look lovely in person, it can, sadly, add pounds when worn on TV or captured in photos.

9. When buying something white, especially a dress or pants, it’s important to make sure it’s opaque or solid and not too see-through. Try holding the dress up so the light shines through it.

10. Invest in quality white pieces that you will have for a while. This is where you can feel good about spending a bit more..because quality white pieces hang nicely, wash well, and you can wear year after year.

Please check out: for more information on Christie Maruka and The Fashion Fix. She is also on Twitter @ChristieMaruka.


As you are editing your closet based on Christie’s tips:


  • well-made white linen or cotton clothing
  • flowing or billowing white sundresses
  • nude-colored underwear
  • white pencil skirt
  • coordinating pieces and accessories in bright colors or stripes


  • any white unflattering to your skin tone
  • anything too see-through
  • anything too tight
  • white cropped jeans
  • white skinny jeans (unless you are super-slim)
  • white satin or polyester clothing

*I have no affiliation with Christie Maruka or The Fashion Fix.

Feb 122013

Never in a million years did I think I would ever get to see the fashion shows from New York Fashion Week live! And no, I am not special in this regard. Anyone can see them live online, streamed right to your computer for free!

I accidentally came across this discovery when I was watching the documentary, “The Tents” on Netflix. The documentary mentioned that now anyone can watch the fashion shows live online and that it has changed the nature of the fashion business. So I went Googling for the stream and came across the Mercedes-Benz fashion week website.

The Mercedes-Benz fashion week website is an interesting organizational study. There is a daily schedule of shows. You can sign up for a reminder or emails from your favorite designers. When it is time for a particular show, you just log on and wait for the show to start. There you are, front row!

Below are some of the interesting highlights from the shows.

Fashionably Late

The term “fashionably late” is justly deserved. None of the fashion shows start right on
time. For example, the official start time for Betsey Johnson’s show was 5:00 p.m. At 5:02 p.m., online viewers saw this.


At 5:16, we get a message that the show will begin “momentarily” yet from the image we can see that no one is in their seats.


At 5:21, the seats are starting to fill in.


At 5:28, we are watching people take pictures with their fashionably-dressed iPhones. Note to self: if you are ever on a live stream, do your best to turn to the person next to you and start an actual conversation or at least look around at the scene with interest rather than staring constantly into your smart phone or, worst of all, be shown in the process of taking a self-photo. (It’s practically impossible to look cool while taking a self-photo.)


Jada Pinkett-Smith admirably demonstrated how to be cool at a fashion show.  Look like you are enjoying yourself and chat with those around you!

Jada Pinkett-Smith admirably demonstrated how to be elegant at the Vera Wang show. Look like you are enjoying yourself and chat with those around you!

A glimpse of fashion royalty!  Grace Coddington's signature red hair seen in the crowd at Vera Wang!

A glimpse of fashion royalty! Grace Coddington’s signature red hair seen in the crowd at Vera Wang!

At 5:36 they start rolling up the carpet to start the show.


A Show and a Performance

Fortunately, these shows are definitely worth the wait! Wow! They are not just fashion shows but also performance art pieces that make a statement about how the designer envisions the clothes should be worn.


Betsy Johnson’s “BJ kicks A” show began with models in bright outfits talking on their cell phones. After about 20 or so models came out, the models took their places on exercise mats on the runway, then “coach” Betsey Johnson came out and led them in exercises!

Coach Betsey!

Coach Betsey!

Yes, actual exercises like push-ups and sit-ups! You had to be a really good model to make this trick work. How do you exercise in designer clothes? Very carefully so as not to sweat in them, I imagine!

Supermodel took on a whole new meaning at the Betsey Johnson show.  These models had to look good while exercising.

Supermodel took on a whole new meaning at the Betsey Johnson show. These models had to look good while exercising.

Then the show was all over just 10 minutes later! Betsey Johnson came out and turned her signature cartwheel, then fell right into the splits.

At Marc Jacobs’ show, the models wore very sleek and modern clothes with almost no frills to them at all. Dresses and skirts were knee-length. The silhouettes were simple and streamlined. The colors were primarily gray with other tones like muted reds and blues thrown in.


Hair was a big factor in this show. The female models had long, big, teased, curly hair. Makeup emphasized dark red lips and pale skin. The male models had hair that was thick, long and tousled or mohawked on top but shaved close at the nape of the neck. It’s a great look but this is a style that is going to be hard for most men to pull off as an abundance of hair on top of the head becomes a rare commodity with age.

The menswear in this show was really well done. The general style was a tailored top (such as a form-fitting sweater or jacket) with a more relaxed, flowing pant. The pant length was either flood (about mid-calf) worn with a chunky sneaker or boot or extra-long, pooling around the mid-part of the shoe. Menswear is all about subtlety and Marc Jacobs’ rebellion against formal pants was shown in his choice of hem, leaving the rest of the line very classic.

The young models all looked depressed and robotic as they walked the runway. Strangely, this seemed to work with the vibe of the show. It was almost as though the clothes and the show was designed for younger people who are struggling to take on the responsibilities of life. Marc Jacobs seemed to say, “Yes, you are being asked to take on the responsibilities of your parents and grandparents but you are going to do so in your own way. It’s OK to be serious sometimes.”

Like the Betsey Johnson show, this show didn’t last very long, about 11 minutes! At the very end, Marc Jacobs made a super-quick appearance, just poking his head out from behind the backdrop, then disappearing right back behind it. The in-fashion crowd seemed to know that this was all they were going to get and they dispersed immediately after.


This morning was the Vera Wang show. The theme of this show seemed to be “one part shapeless.” In each beige and grey outfit, Vera Wang made one aspect of the outfit not conform in any way to the body. There were huge balloon sleeves, extra folds to widen the hips (you would have to be a 34” hip supermodel to wear this!), peplum, pregnancy-like drapes at the stomach, hoop-like hems on coats and skirts, and armholes slit to the hips. While you may think these looks are completely unwearable, there was one look that I thought really worked. Wang paired oversized capes and jackets that built up the wearer’s shoulders on top with slim miniskirts on the bottom. On the right person, this top-heavy look was fun, fashionable and gave a look of strength.


Vera Wang also showed some interesting black and metallic prints. Like Marc Jacobs, Vera Wang also went with tousled, wavy/curly hair, pale skin and dark plum/red lips for her models.


At the end of the show, also like Marc Jacobs, Vera Wang just barely peeked out from behind the stage to acknowledge the applause and the crowd immediately disbanded.


We are having a ball watching these shows! What a treat! They continue until Valentine’s Day if you are interested in logging on yourself!

P.S. Happy Birthday to my fashionable mom today!

P.P.S. I have no affiliation with any fashion designer or Mercedes-Benz fashion week.

May 252012

"Group of people, in swimsuits, standing on beach(?), Washington, D.C. area" (between 1915 - 1930). National Photo Company Collection. From the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

While here in Virginia we are practically in monsoon season with all of the rain we have been getting, summer is on its way!  Time to turn over the closets and dress to impress.  Last year, we saw white, nude, tangerine, lace, colorblock and animal prints as big summer trends.

What does British Vogue have to say about Spring/Summer 2012 fashion trends?   Read here for their official designer picks.

More importantly, however, what does Ruly Ruth have to say?  Read on and see examples of these fashion trends from Amazon!

**Please note that when it comes to fashion there are many opinions out there.  I included all of the items below because I think they are fashionable.  As you can see, Ruth and I do not always agree.

Head to Toe Prints

The general theme of Summer 2012 fashion is prints.  Whether mismatched or uniform, wild patterns from head to toe are the big trend.  Wear one print as a blouse and another for pants.  Silky or shiny fabrics seem to dominate.  While it might seem an intimidating task to select two patterns that don’t clash, patterns have the great benefit of camouflaging a number of body flaws.

Nicole Miller Women's Print 3/4 Sleeve Print Dress at

Ruly Ruth says: “Okay–I love Nicole Miller–but this dress looks sci-fi to me–something out of my son’s avatar-based video games.”

Sakkas Flower and Leaves Print Satin Pleated V-Neck Halter Handkerchief Hem Maxi at

Ruly Ruth says: “I LOVE THIS DRESS–AND THE PRICE–fabulous print, gorgeous cut–it’s beautiful!”

Donna Morgan Women's Scoop Neck Sleeveless Dress at

Ruly Ruth says: “This is spring and summer’s little black dress recreated—it’s classic and yet in a very updated print scheme. Love it!”

Maternal America Maternal America Women's Maternity Boarder Print Mini Front Tie Dress at

Ruly Ruth says: “Not in love with this—odd color combos to start with–I’d love to see if the V-neck halter handkerchief dress could also work for early maternity. But I HATE this one! Boring! I do like the idea of the pattern at the bottom of the dress–the floral is a mish-mash of color and undefined–which is very opposite the rigid pattern at the bottom of the dress. I’d like to see the flowers either more defined or the whole thing recreated in an even more impressionistic pattern styling.”

Statement Trousers

Printed pants are the trend in a variety of patterns, the wilder the better.  This is going to be a tough look to pull off correctly because the bottoms can look an awful lot like pajama pants.  For best results, go more formal/dressy in your choice of shoe and top.  Love Maegan recently showed a great example of how she would style an outfit with statement pants.

Ruly Ruth says: “I think the concept is very creative—-but as Anne mentioned again–totally pajama like!”

Apple Bottoms All Over Print Long Pants

Ruly Ruth says: “I think the detailed cut/style of the pants pulls these more toward a beautiful, wearable pant. Love the color, cut, fit, style–gorgeous!”

Rachel Pally Women's Printed Wide Leg Trousers at

Ruly Ruth says: “I think in high-fashion circles these would be a huge hit. For everyday wear. the circle pattern is a bit over the top for me…but I’m not a lover of pure tangerine either–I think only tan people can wear it–and if you do have a medium or darker skin tone–go for it! They will pop hugely!”

Mogulinterior Womens Boho Trousers at

Ruly Ruth says: “I can’t even believe someone would pay $27.50 for these—they look like a craft project gone wrong!! HATE these–too many prints, too mis-matched…yuck! And then they throw in beads and cuffed bottoms–to save it???!!! Throw it away!!”

the grace eboutique summer skirt pants flare wrap beach trouser at

Ruly Ruth says: “GORGEOUS!!! Beautiful color schemes—classic–could go to a casual business meeting, to church, to lunch–gorgeous, elegant! Screams summer/spring to me—love them! And for $22.50–I think I need to personally invest!!”

African-inspired animal prints

Leopard, zebra, jaguar . . . more prints from nature.  Not just a hint of it but a LOT of print in flowing dresses, pants, etc.

Ruly Ruth says: “When I was in 9th grade, I made a really cool leopard-print dress….it was a rounded neck with long straight arms and came 2″ above the knee. I think I wore it with leggings–let’s just say it would be a huge hit and very classical now!”

Allegra K Women Elastic Waist Leopard Pattern Leisure Chiffon Pants at

Ruly Ruth says: “.I LOVE THESE….in XS. I’m not sure someone who would wear a Large or XL would rock these—I think a little of this pattern goes a long way–not sure we need yards and yards of this showing….and I notice they are only selling it in XS…how convenient!”

Jessica Simpson Women's Leopard V Neck Beaded Halter Dress at

Ruly Ruth says: “Jessica Simpson would wear this, and some young women….most of us–not so much! I think honestly the fact the print is on a shiny fabric turns me off–make it more of a muted velvet and darker tones–we may have something then! But I love the cut of the dress itself…”

Michael Kors Black Cotton Jaguar Print Sleeveless Sheath Dress at

Ruly Ruth says: “Michael–I’m a HUGE FAN!! HUGE!!! But–this dress falls flat. You’re trying to get women like me to wear that around–not going to happen….love the cut of the dress–again–fabulous!!! But the print overlay—nah!! Not so much!”

Anne Klein Women's Lion Print Blouse at

Ruly Ruth says: “Lion print???!!! Looks like paint splotches. NEXT!”

50’s Inspired Plaid and Gingham Sundresses

In a style Vogue calls “Retro Americana,” plaid and gingham sundresses that recall the 1950’s are a big trend, worn with cat-eye sunglasses of course!

Ruly Ruth says: “You know what cracks me up about this come-back era–is that it’s all about young hipsters wearing this stuff! And the look fabulous–and our roller derby girls of course!! If you have a teenager, very appropriate!”

Triple Optic Oversized Vintage Inspired Super & Bold Retro Designer Cat Eye Sunglasses at

Ruly Ruth says: “Love these! I have huge issue with designer sunglasses that they are not always UVA/UVB and polarized–which is the best combo to protect your eyes–but for stylishness–A+! Even to a business meeting at an al fresco lunch–go for it!”

Britt Ryan womens gingham strapless tied bow cutout dress at

Ruly Ruth says: “Cute idea—bordering on lingerie. Wouldn’t wear it out—but a very young girl in her young 20s would look great in a beach environment at lunch in this!”

Gap Tiered Madras Dress at

Ruly Ruth says: “ditto–see comments above.

Esprit Madras Women's Vintage Halter Dress at

Ruly Ruth says: “I hate this print–and not in love with the dress either. Looks like leftover Xmas material repurposed into a dress!!!!”

Beach-themed Prints

What better way to celebrate beach season than with prints inspired by the sea, including seashells and seahorses.  If you aren’t up for the prints, there is also a wonderful selection of jewelry in this theme that is classic and fun for summer.

Ruly Ruth says: “These are all the rage–whether it’s high-end jewelry right now or knock-off cheapies—this is very popular. It reminds me of stuff to be worn in Hawaii….not sure I’d really wear it to be honest!”

Hawaiian Sea Shell Necklace at

Ruly Ruth says: “Cute! Teenagers…..precious, cute. That’s all!”

Sterling Silver Conch Shell Pendant at

Ruly Ruth says: “it’s okay….looks bulky and chunky. No elegance really….”

Your Eyes Lie The Seahorse Ring at

Ruly Ruth says: “Love the concept–not this exact enactment of it–but the concept is good! I do own a ring in a similar shape–fyi–it’s terribly uncomfortable to wear!”

Roxy Juniors Coral Reef Tube Top at

Ruly Ruth says: “Perfect for juniors for summer! Rock it young ladies!”

Carve Designs Women's Del Mar Full Piece Swimsuit at

Ruly Ruth says: “I like this—a lot!! Great classic and yet modern swimsuit top–the top bra part is fabulous! The print is good…”

Lilly Pulitzer Women's Duffy Shirt at

Ruly Ruth says: “This is a women’s cowboy shirt gone wrong!!! Come on Lilly—I love your stuff–this ain’t your best by a long shot!!”

Bianca Nygård Petite Seashells Print Jersey Knotted Waist Dress at

Ruly Ruth says: “The dress style is classic–the knotted waist and the jersey fabric is so forgiving and great with so many figures–the print–I didn’t read it was supposed to be seashells–thought it was jellyfish–not good! Don’t wear jellyfish…not hot!”

A Statement Piece in White

After all those prints, classic white is, as always, a trend for summer.  This year Vogue indicates there are two extremes: “crisp” and minimalist and more romantic and embellished pieces with cutwork and lace.

Ruly Ruth says: “I think white is a very tough, not classic color to pull off. I think medium and darker than that toned people look best in white–it pops more. And white is hard because it is often see-through…not a good thing at all!”

La Redoute Plus Size Sleeveless Sheath at

Ruly Ruth says: “I love the cut of this dress—buy it in black!”

Mango Women's Two Layered Cotton Dress at

Ruly Ruth says: “This one looks beautiful– I’d be tempted by this–but note the length–with a toddler–either put on white leggings or don’t buy it!”

Lucca Couture The Devin Dress at

Ruly Ruth says: “I love this!!!! It’s almost a tan–the cut is fabulous–I’d be tempted to try it–and it looks like it’s double-layered to the thighs–a good thing!

Anna-Kaci Knit Top at

Ruly Ruth says: “Perfect layer over camisoles–all the rage right now–gorgeous–I’d pair it with denim shorts, skirt or jeans! pretty!!”

As you can see, fashion elicits strong reactions. It takes courage to wear a trend and this summer’s prints definitely require courage. Before you quickly dismiss these trends as not your style, take a moment to think about how you might challenge yourself to incorporate something like this into your look. Do you have something in your closet you could dust off and try? It is so easy to find inexpensive pieces to purchase as well. It’s certainly more interesting to see someone attempting a fashionable look rather than the same old shorts and tees or tank tops. I have challenged myself and purchased some new trend-oriented pieces. While I will probably never be a fashion plate, I am curious to see how people will react to them (or if they will even notice at all!)

What do you think of this summer’s fashion trends? If you had to pick just one of the above pieces to wear this summer, which would you choose? Please share in the comments.

Nov 012011

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.

Oct 272011

All this month, we have been trying to identify the items in our closets that never seem to go out of style or that we simply enjoy wearing year after year.  While the clothes may not be that exciting they probably form the bulk of what is in most people’s closets.  But what if you want to look fresh and trendy?  What could you add in to your wardrobe from this year’s fashion collections?

For this fall’s guide, we look to Vogue first, who says that some of the major trends for fall include “winter lace,” “the long green dress,” “graphic prints,” bright color block designs and even a “utility” trend which includes “refined, smartly tailored updates on the sweatsuit.”

But, the real question is what does Ruly Ruth think about these trends?  Read on for her analysis.

Winter Lace

BCBGMAXAZRIA Women's Fae Boat Neck Lace Top at

Lace for winter? Vogue says yes. You might need to wear a jacket over these chilly pieces but they certainly add a lot of unexpected style and glamour to a cold winter day. 

Ruly Ruth says:

I LOVE THIS TOP! Needs a camisole under it for sure—looks great!! Can be worn everywhere–from casual day at work to playgroups to night out. I’m such an all- or mostly cotton gal I want to know if this is “itchy” on though!!

Graphic prints

Missoni for Target Sweater Skirt at

The sell-out trend this fall has been the Missoni for Target collection. 

Ruly Ruth says: I totally get this zig-zag print is hot! I hate the skirt–too casual and not a place to accent for most people with a bright pattern—could use the hoodie as a one-off piece and not worn too often–same with the shoes. They’re definitely memorable–but not for every day! They would get tiresome quickly.

Missoni for Target Tunic Hoodie at

Women's Missoni for Target® Zig-Zag Ballet Shoe Flats at

Shimmer fabrics

bebe Dolman Sleeve Lurex Sweater Dress at

Glimmers of silver and gold are hot for fall. One particularly striking trend is a variation of this summer’s head-to-toe nude look where you wear a khaki or beige pant with a gold shimmery top. 

Ruly Ruth says: I used to wear almost this exact dress in the late ’80s! Glad it’s back–the skinnier you are the beter it looks–back then I was 112 pounds and 5’8″–it popped! For skinny people…sorry to say! (which is NOT me right now) I don’t think even regular-sized people should wear a shimmer dress or fabrics….for models only.     If it were a wrap–like I like a touch of shimmer in regular fabrics–that would be more wearable for everyone!

Bright Colorblock Combinations

Vivace Crystal Chain Removable White Bib Racer Back Top Aqua at

Fila Women's Pleated Supplex Jacket at

The bright look, echoing the 1980’s, is still a trending look–layering on colors of hot pink, bright blue, etc. 

Ruly Ruth says: I love the concept–not really thrilled about any of these specific offerings. I think with black bottoms it would be easier to translate for all body types.A longer hoodie in a bright color over a cute basic white or black t-shirt or tank top would be an easier way to rock this!

Utility Jacket

Vince Camuto Women's Utility Jacket at

The utility jacket, which appears to be a jacket with cargo pockets on the outside, is a trend for fall. 

Ruly Ruth says: We should all buy this! I’d like mine in a darker tan or even black—but I love this jacket concept–it’s asymetrical–chunky–love it!! Everyone could wear this.

Chic Sweatsuits

Diesel Women's Fohpa Snap Front Sweatshirt at

The most surprising trend this fall is the tailored sweatsuit look where humble sweatpants and sweatshirts take a designer turn. 

Ruly Ruth says: This is part of the trend I go with the pajama jeans—UGH!! I think the bad economy is making us use inexpensive fabrics in very fashionable ways. I’m sure they’re soft and comfy and have great cuts—but I prefer my sweat materials to be in super cute sweat-type exercise styles…not high-fashion. Done with this–wouldn’t buy any of it!! And by the way–the black jacket in sweat material will most likely not wash and dry and wear well for long! Those snaps will eat it up!!

David Lerner Women's Cassie Cardigan Sweatshirt at

David Lerner Women's Rollup Cargo Sweatpants at

Long green dress

PacificPlex Strapless Taffeta Beaded Formal Gown at

For formal occasions, the trend for winter is a long, dress billowing in green silk or taffeta fabric. 

Ruly Ruth says: THIS IS GORGEOUS! And it would look so great on so many body types—LOVE IT!!!  Great find!! And the price is so right–hoping this will be for some proms this year—esp. with a beautiful bolero wrap!

The 1970’s

Another trend that Vogue did not focus too heavily on but that we are hearing a lot about in the general media is the 1970’s trend. Specifically, high-waisted bell-bottom pants with skinny belts, tie blouses, maxi dresses, middle parts, big disco hair and braids. (The most beautiful braids I have seen recently have been at the blog of designer Gina Michele who also gives excellent instructions.)

HALSTON HERITAGE Women's Removable Tie Blouse at

Ruly Ruth says: High waisted pants are only good on women with flat or skinny stomachs. Their wearability is very limited in that way. When you do have the body type for that–they look amazing and polished and elegant. The tie blouse is a classic–it reminds me of the late 50s and 60s but this pattern of polkadots reminds me of the 70s. I think it’s gorgeous and it’s gorgeous on everyone!!

Ruly Ruth’s Fall Fashion Picks

What does Ruly Ruth want in her closet?

2b by bebe 2b Faux Fur Collar Cardigan at

I would love this!! I think it’s a staple piece, it’s casual–but classy enough to be worn to a casual office–I love it!

BB Dakota BB Dakota The Garrett Faux Fur Vest in Light Camel Beige at

LOVE this too! Vests are hot and perfect for those in-between temps–esp. with gorgeous turtlenecks underneath.

Coral Bay Misses Coral Bay Solid Long Sleeve Turtleneck Top at

I think this is a stealing price for an all-cotton turtleneck! (I love black!)

Columbia Women Greenway T IV Turtleneck at

or this one in gray.

Things2Die4 Camouflage Studded Rhinestone Buckle Purse at

Camo’s HOT right now–just look at the Camo-print diapers Huggies now has! This bag is fabulous–love the blinged-out camo print!

Calvin Klein Women's Knit Maxi Skirt at

Maxi skirts are STILL haute….already own one–should probably wear it more–but it is fabulous!!

Overall, I have to say, the fall collection is extremely wearable. There are very few pieces that aren’t wearable right off the runway–and that is extremely unusual in my book!

Happy Fall everyone!

-Ruly Ruth

P.S. on 2010 Trends

In the spirit of streamlining your closet . . . reflecting back on last fall’s fashion trends, which ones have held up over time?

The leopard print booties, the feathered items, and the Halloween colored makeup may look a little dated this year. The boot cut pants are right on trend and the other items aren’t really in or out. Some, like the capes and simple, streamlined pieces, might be tucked away for future when these trends inevitably come back around.

What do you think of Fall 2011 fashion trends? Which ones will you be wearing this year? Please share in the comments.

Oct 202011

One of the biggest hurdles to dressing well is having enough money to afford the latest looks or the highest quality clothes.  Recently, two fashionable women weighed in in the issue of money and fashion, with answers you may not expect.

First, my favorite financial adviser, Suze Orman, talked about the issue on her show.  While the clip was primarily about whether women should be allotted more money in the family budget to take care of their appearance, Suze also weighs in with some fashion advice!

While I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised that Suze has a frugal approach to her clothes as she does with all things money-related, I was surprised.  I assumed that anyone in such a public role would require an enormous expenditure on clothes.  Now, I am certain Suze’s clothing expenses still dwarf all of ours, but it was interesting to know that even a celebrity can live on a clothing budget.

Second, one of my favorite fashion bloggers, Maegan Tintari, wrote a recent post on her blog . . . loveMaegan about how she spends money on clothes.  Maegan, who has the good fortune of looking like a beautiful, human Barbie-doll, posts photos of her outfits several times a week, if not daily.  While she achieves so many different looks, often she is recycling the same wardrobe pieces all the time.  She also adds in these really clever, simple, but very cool DIY projects that adopt high fashion runway looks for pennies.  Yet, in the post that was so interesting to me, she reveals that she is not necessarily about budget fashion and that she does spend a lot of money when she wants to and that she is picky about certain items.

Clothes are one area we try to save money on in our household budget.  When you are dressing children who are constantly changing sizes, you have a lot of clothes to buy–not to mention accessories like shoes, boots, pajamas and coats.  We haven’t had a lot of luck thrift store shopping but we do patronize a lot of discount stores, browse clearance racks, buy online, request clothes as gifts for birthdays and holidays, share hand-me-downs with younger siblings and sometimes I sew or knit things as well.  We also try to buy classic things in the off season sales to wear the following year.  I don’t have a set pattern for what I splurge on.  It’s more of an “I’ll know it when I see it” sort of test.

Where do you stand on fashion and money?  What items are you willing to spend a lot on and where do you try to save money?  Do you save elsewhere to splurge on fashion instead?  Please share in the comments.

Oct 112011

Fall is just about to start here in Virginia. Within the next week or two we will enjoy the trees in their fall colors. The temperature has dropped and we have some chilly, rainy days. It’s definitely time to get the fall wardrobe ready!

Last week, I posted my wardrobe essentials for professional women and today I wanted to post my fall casual staples. These are not necessarily the Vogue-worthy pieces but rather the pieces that don’t seem to go out of style and I find myself turning to year after year. After much thought, I decided that my fall casual wardrobe basically revolves around 5 types of outfits.

I actually had to think a little harder about my casual selections than my professional ones, even though that is what I am wearing most often these days! At the moment, due to the recent birth of my son, I am between sizes– somewhere between maternity clothes and my regular size. So what I am truthfully currently wearing is the oh-so-attractive combination of maternity pants with a belt to hold them up!

But what would I like to be wearing?

The Steve Jobs Look – Jeans, turtleneck and boots. I probably wear this outfit the most often in fall and winter. My body freezes below about 70 degrees so I definitely need to cover up to stay warm. I like that this outfit can be either casual or semi-formal so it can adjust to the preschool run or dinner out with friends.

Eddie Bauer Basic Long-Sleeve Turtleneck at

Lucky Brand Women's Vale Easy Rider Five Pocket Jean at

Nine West Women's Magic Boot at

Leggings & Tunic – For more casual days, I like to wear leggings and a long tunic-style top, which can be anything from an oversized sweatshirt to a long sweater. I pair this combination with athletic shoes if I am headed for a workout or cute boots if I am not.

Woolrich Women's Laurel Wool-Blend Tunic at

SPANX Look-At-Me Cotton Legging (1064A) at

BEARPAW Women's Pasador II Fur Boot at

Skirt & Sweater – This is the outfit I keep hoping I will wear more often but it takes more energy to put on so I usually default to the previous two looks! It is also a great causal/dressy adaptable style. Comfortable sweaters are wonderful in fall and winter. At a minimum, I like to have one Aran-style (usually a neutral color like white, cream or beige, with cable patterns), one Nordic style (two-color patterned knitting) and a solid color in a plain style without any details. I would pair this outfit with either a fun clog or ankle boot.

MINKPINK Women's Argyle Crop Cardigan at

!iT Jeans Juniors Basic Knee Denim Skirt at

Capezio Women's Ultra Soft Footed Tight at

Dansko Women's Riki Clog at

Dansko Women's Bobbi Ankle Boot at

Pants and Sweater – This is a more formal outfit great for situations like Thanksgiving dinner or church services. I would pair this with heels, probably the same ones from my professional wardrobe.

Dale Of Norway Peace Ski Womens Sweater 2012 at

ESPRIT Women's Favorite Fit Straight Leg Pant at

Formal Dress

Ella moss Women's Daphne Long Sleeve Maxi Dress at

For formal occasions like a company holiday party, it is great to have a long sleeve long skirted dress that you can dress up or dress down as the situation warrants. If it is really cold outside, pair it with leather boots or otherwise a cute pair of heels.


Duofold Women's Mid-Weight Two-Layer Thermal #627A at

Duofold Women's Mid-Weight Two-Layer Ankle length pant Thermal #627B at

Last but not least, the staple for all of these garments when the weather gets REALLY cold….long underwear! If you are the kind of person who is always cold, long underwear is a must. I don’t tend to wear the bottoms very often unless I am going to be outside for a long period of time but the tops get worn all the time.

So now it is your turn!

Ruly Challenge: Think about your own fall casual wardrobe and see if you can recognize any outfit patterns that you wear all the time. Remember these patterns the next time you are organizing your closet or shopping. If an item of clothing is not something in your regular pattern, it might not be worn as often. Less worn clothes are prime targets for uncluttering efforts.  When shopping, you might not want to spend much money on something you don’t wear a lot.

What are your cold weather casual “uniforms”? Please share in the comments.

Oct 062011

When I first started working fresh out of college, I did not have a large clothing budget and was shocked at the price of suits. As a result, my early “suits” tended to be combinations of separate jackets, skirts and pants I found on sale. At the time this was a bit of a fashion risk but now you often see suits where the jacket and bottoms are in different colors or different materials. The trend has shifted in women’s professional wear to be less matchy-matchy and more separates that you can interchange with different items of clothing. This is great for women with limited closet space!

Dressing for work isn’t all that exciting.  There are so many restrictions on what you can wear that often dressing for work feels more like putting on a uniform that someone else chose rather than expressing your own fashion.

While I don’t claim to be a style maven, below are the items I wore the most often as a lawyer (and/or things I would wear now). These are the pieces that don’t go out of style and can be accented with trendy jewelry and accessories.

*Note: My picks include a lot of black. Black is a color you see a lot of in Washington and in New York as well as in a lot of fashion magazines. I have met quite a few people who find black unflattering and it can be harder for fairer skinned people to wear black close to the face without looking sickly and pale. Navy, gray or beige may be a good substitute in that case.


Evan Picone 2 Piece Blue Hues Skirt Suit at

One dark gray or dark blue knee-length skirted suit for interviewing

Other suits. If you work in a formal office where you must wear a suit every day, you will need at least 5 other suits. These can be either skirted suits or pantsuits. Suits in conservative colors where you can interchange tops and bottoms to create new looks will give you the most flexibility. Black, gray, navy and beige are general staples. Brown and olive green can work too. Classic prints like pinstripes or black and white houndstooth add interest. White or cream can work in summer.

Anne Klein Core VI 2 Piece Pant Suit at

Calvin Klein Skirt Suit at

Anne Klein Stretch Classic Fit Skirt Suit at


AK Anne Klein Women's Classic Suit Jacket at

Black jacket – This is absolutely essential and you need at least one. An all-purpose black jacket that can be thrown over slacks, a dress or a skirt gives you endless possibilities. The most classic is a single breasted (i.e. one line of buttons) jacket with inconspicuous black buttons. You may be able to use one of your black suit jackets for this purpose.

BGSD Women's Heritage Three-Button Suede Leather Blazer - Misses & Petite at

Casual jacket. For those odd occasions where you need to look a little more formal than business casual but not as formal as a suit, a casual jacket can add polish. The casual jacket generally has the same cut as a formal jacket but is made out of a more casual material like cotton, linen or suede. You want the fabric to “read” as a casual and not a formal jacket. Again, if you keep the color neutral you will have more opportunities to mix and match in your wardrobe.

Dress Pants

Karen Kane Women's Jackie Wide Leg Pant at

Black dress pants – Black dress pants in a formal fabric like rayon, with a straight/wide leg type of style and a modern waistline somewhere between the hips and bellybutton are universally flattering. They can also be worn with millions of different tops from your jackets to sweater sets or blouses.

AK Anne Klein Women's Straight Leg Pant at

Beige dress pants – This is the female equivalent of men’s khakis. Cotton khaki pants can be unflattering and add bulk. A beige dress pant in a style similar to that described for the black dress pant will be worn again and again. If you can find good dress pants that are machine-washable, so much the better!


Jones New York Women's Platinum Pencil Skirt at

Black short skirt – A knee-length rayon skirt in a standard suit-like cut with a mild slit offers a lot of possibilities. You might be able to borrow one of your skirt suits for this purpose. You can pair this with your black jacket for a suit-like look, with a collared shirt for a formal casual look or a sweater or blouse for a casual Friday look.

Mango Women's Skirt Japo at

Khaki short skirt – A knee-length khaki skirt will give you a lot of business casual options paired with a collared shirt or sweater.

Ladies Long Black Jersey Skirt- 8 colors available at

Black long skirt – A long skirt is especially nice in winter to keep your legs warm and as an alternative to pants.


AK Anne Klein Women's Split Neck Shift Dress at

Black dress – You can’t go wrong with a black dress, preferably in a slender but not tight cut, knee-length in a rayon-like material. A short to elbow-length sleeve will give you the most possibilities. You can throw a jacket on top for a formal look, top it with a sweater or wear it solo with nice jewelry for a casual or cocktail party look.


GUESS by Marciano Margo Bodysuit at

White collared blouse – Collared blouses provide a signal of authority and polish. Most women look odd with a menswear-styled blouse buttoned up to the collar. Look for a collared blouse with nice feminine styling around the neckline that could be set off by a simple necklace. A bodysuit style will keep that shirt from coming untucked.

Other collared blouses. You can get creative here and try out the latest colors and patterns to add interest to your suits and pants. French blue (a medium-shade of blue) is classic and generally flattering on most skin tones. Cream, pale pink, peach, light blue, light green, light yellow, and burgundy are other classic tones. Subtle stripes or checks could also work. Bright colors like red can be very fun but may look dated more quickly.

Women's Affinity open neck 3/4 sleeve shirt at

UltraClub Ladies Whisper Elite Twill Shirt. 8992 at

Chaus Women's Fine Stripe Shirt at



Women's Cardigan Twin Set Cashmere Sweater at

Sweater Set – A cardigan sweater with matching tank underneath in a neutral color like white, beige, cream, brown or navy is an easy, polished look.

Layering Pieces

Tank Tops or Short-Sleeve Blouses – I always found that women and men wore their suits and jackets quite differently. Men must wear a long-sleeve collared shirt under theirs. Women sometimes do but it really depends on the cut of the suit. Many women’s suit jackets are cut so tightly through the arms that it is uncomfortable (and/or unflattering) to wear a long sleeve shirt underneath. Hence, many women prefer a tank top or short-sleeve shirt, or sometimes nothing but underwear. Women don’t tend to take their suit jackets off as a result.

Tanks or other layering pieces can also be worn underneath your collared blouses to add color and interest to your casual outfits. White is the most wearable color for layering pieces and you should have at least 3 white layering pieces. Black is the second most wearable color and you should have at least 2 black layering pieces. The rest can be any trendy color that coordinates with your other wardrobe pieces and looks flattering on you.

AK Anne Klein Women's Basic Tank Top at

Ladies Purple Tank Top with Racerback, Cotton Spandex at

Kensie Girl Juniors Sleeveless Scoop Neck Tank at


Simple but interesting jewelry is the rule at the office.  For practicality, jewelry that won’t break your heart if it is lost or stolen is best.  You also don’t want to cause offense to your coworkers or clients by showing off expensive jewelry.

Kate Spade New York "Lady Marmalade" Clip On Earrings at

White Freshwater Cultured Pearl Necklace with Sterling Silver Clasp (9-10mm) , 18" at

Moonstone Round Necklace in 24 Karat Gold at

Citizen Women's Eco-Drive Silhouette Bangle Watch #EW9012-59D at


Calvin Klein Hosiery Active Sheer Pantyhose with Control Top (904N) at

Gold Toe Women's Micromodal Trouser 3 Pack at

I stick to two colors of hosiery: nude and black. The nude color should match your natural skin tone as closely as possible. I also try to keep at least one unopened pair of hose in my dresser drawer so that when there is an important meeting or event, I don’t have to worry about runs.


I always feel the most polished wearing high heels so all of my work shoes tend to be heeled. For comfort, I look for a square toe or a wider toe box and if I can find a thicker heel, I will take it. I generally stick to black leather heels, brown leather heels and for the winter months, brown leather heeled boots.  If I take any fashion risks with my work outfits, it is generally in my shoe choice and I don’t go overboard.

Nine West Women's Lil Mary Jane Pump at

Nine West Women's Abalene Platform Pump at

FRYE Women's Miranda Slouch Boot at

So that is my basic professional wardrobe. Now it’s your turn! What would you add (or subtract) from my list? Please share in the comments.

Apr 222011

I used up quite a bit of my cotton yarn on the girls’ Easter dresses but still had plenty left! I decided to make something for myself. As I went looking for ideas, I came across this incredible Latvian vest designed by Kieran Foley for  I loved the colors and patterns. Also, since the overall effect was kind of a patchwork, it would be great for using up leftover yarn since I wasn’t exactly sure how far each color would go.  I needed to modify the look, however, to be more feminine.  Also, I wanted it to be appropriate for summer and warmer weather.  You don’t typically see these types of patterns on warm weather clothes but I was feeling adventurous.

I found the Sahara racerback tank pattern by Teresa Chorpeza for Tahki Stacy Charles that I used to guide the basic shaping for the top.  I changed the front to be a button front and added significantly to the length.  I then charted out Kieran Foley’s Latvian patterns to fit.  It was a bit of a challenge but fun to experiment as a designer!

The long part of the tunic was knit in the round and as I ran out of one color, I just tied on the next and kept going.

I was hoping to have enough yarn to make a dress but I needed about 6 inches to a foot more in length that I didn’t have.  So, the dress became a tunic that will look great with jeans. I am a bit of an odd-shaped model at the moment (a temporary condition to resolve in a few months!) but I like how the final result came out!

After all this knitting, I still had yarn left! Hmm….what do do? Click to see the final projects!