my idea of ‘original art’

Since I showed you the art I made for my bathroom, my friend Kate who’s an art consultant, wrote about it on her awesome blog Art Hound. While I appreciated the post, I have to respond to her statement “As Laura would undoubtedly agree, original art is ideal but just isn’t an option for her at this time.”

While I live on a limited budget, it’s not that ‘original art’ isn’t an option, it’s just not a priority and that’s a big difference. Art comes in many forms, not just paintings, drawings, or sculpture. The ‘art’ that is most relevant to me and I opt to invest in is the design of everyday things, clothes and jewelry. Case in point, my recent purchase of this necklace by Etten Eller.
Not saying that Kate meant the statement viciously, she’s very lovely and I didn’t take it that way. I just thought it was a good opportunity to repeat what I’ve said before and will say again; figure out what matters to YOU, whatever that may be, and don’t be overly influenced by what other’s think is important.

taking life advice from karl lagerfeld?

(photo by Karl Lagerfeld)

In the March 2009 issue of Harper’s Bazaar was a Q+A with Karl Lagerfeld. Although he’s a fashion God, I doubted the relevance of his advice for the average woman. Boy was I surprised! His no nonsense, practical advice was totally refreshing. Karl telling someone to go deeper and not take fashion as ‘end-all-be-all’?! Love it…

HB: Bright red lipstick, major chandelier earrings: I am constantly searching for fashion pick-me-ups. What do you think are the newest mood boosters?
KL: I am not sure the new ‘mood boosters’ are in fashion! This is perhaps the moment to think things over. Is your life that flat that you need a new lift all the time? Some people would call you superficial, but as your doctor, I say: Try to look a little deeper into yourself. Fashion is important, but it’s not the only permanent booster. Change your hairdo. Reinvent your look. Start at the beginning. Look at yourself honestly, and don’t ask me to tell you what you want to hear. I am not here only to please you. My job is also to tell you that it’s time for a little change. I hope you don’t mind.
Check out the rest of the article here.

living better with less… getting to the root of the problem

Have you ever hated everything you own? That’s how I’ve felt for the past few weeks, more like months, about my entire wardrobe. Holding back from going on a major shopping spree (well, my wallet’s been holding me back more than sheer will power) allowed me time to think about what I’m really unhappy with, and I realized it’s my glasses. I had a pair that broke a year ago that were my favorite pair ever. I wore them for five years and when they broke tried to replace them with a similar pair but never love LOVED them. The 2 pairs above are the ones I just got and am crazy about them! Having them, now my wardrobe doesn’t look so bad after all…
The point is we all go through periods where we hate everything we own. The key is to step back and try to identify what the main problem is before taking any drastic measures. For example, maybe you just need to replace your coffee table instead of getting all new furniture. Have you ever had a similar experience?

living better with less… new clothes

I did this last year but thought I’d share this money saver with you now…

I was sick of my spring/summer wardrobe and eager to go out and buy all new things. Lacking the funds to do so, I went through everything piece by piece, trying on what I hadn’t been wearing. It seemed the problem wasn’t that I didn’t like my clothes it’s that I didn’t like the way many things fit. To the tailor I went. Much cheaper, quicker, and less stressful than going out and buying all new things.


how to edit and build your wardrobe step 1: do your homework



Building your wardrobe is like anything else important in your life: it’s best with a clear plan that allows for flexibility over time, with the understanding that it’s not going to be perfect overnight.

 Your wardrobe should be a collection of your favorite pieces, to be mixed and matched allowing you to look and feel your best. The following steps done in this order will help you achieve this:
1. DO YOUR HOMEWORK: Determine your desired image
2. EDIT WITH PURPOSE: Remove what doesn’t work
3. LEARN FROM YOUR MISTAKES: Create personal shopping rules
4. SHOPPING SMART: Buy only what you love and fits your desired image and lifestyle
Step #1. DO YOUR HOMEWORK: Determine your desired image
you need: pad and a pencil
Before you edit your existing wardrobe, you need to know your desired image. Make a list of adjectives you want your look to project for casual, business, and dressy outfits.These may be the same or completely different for each category. For example, when casual you’d like to look sporty and fun, but for work you want to look well put together and chic. Be honest and thoughtful with yourself; your style should reflect your personality and lifestyle.
Know your lifestyle. Being realistic about your lifestyle makes it easier to shop for it. Are you a stay-at-home parent taking care of a baby or toddler or are you running around with older children to various activities and school functions? Do you attend many formal social functions? Are you a business owner who doesn’t need to dress in formal business attire? Note: A common mistake people make when they don’t have a strict dress code at work is dressing too casually. Remember: “Dress for the job you want, not the job you have.”
Start an inspiration file or board to help you achieve your desired look. There are no rules for finding inspiration; look at everyday people, celebrities, characters from movies, places and/or eras in time. Look at nature and art for colors and color and texture combinations. Find designers whose look you like and follow their work season to season. (Go to to see pictures and videos from all the runway shows.) Note: When looking at other people, make sure they have your body type or similar shape. What looks good on a tall, thin person won’t necessarily work on someone shorter with curves.

how to edit and build your wardrobe step 2: edit with purpose


you need: full length mirror, large bags or boxes, marker, pad and pencil, and digital camera.
If you have a friend who understands the image you’re trying to project, will be honest about how you look, and is knowledgeable about tailoring (bonus), invite them to help you through the process. If you don’t, then do it on your own.
Go through your closet, piece by piece and ask yourself in the following order:
  • Does this fit my desired image? If yes, continue
  • Does this fit my lifestyle? If yes, continue
  • If no: Can it be styled in a new way to fit my desired image and lifestyle?
  • How do I feel in this? If positive, continue
  • Does this fit, or can it be altered? If yes, it’s a keeper

  • Pull Everything out at once. Go thru piece by piece pulling anything out that you know you want to sell, donate, recycle, or bring to the dry cleaner or tailor, leaving the keeps and maybes in the closet.
  • Feel bad about wanting to dress better. You deserve to feel and look your best.
  • Let guilt make you keep something based on the amount of money you’ve paid for it, or because of who gave it to you.
  • Keep anything that you don’t feel comfortable wearing.
  • Rush the process. If you are unsure about something keep it until you can decide for sure, once it’s gone, it’s gone. This is a process that can take time. It’s ok!
  • Make immediate decisions first. Get rid of anything you know without a doubt you don’t love first, leaving anything you’re unsure about in the closet and keep moving.
  • Try everything on!! Your body changes over time, something that may not have fit properly the last time you wore it may fit nicely now (and vice-versa). Why you haven’t worn something is more important than how long it’s been since you’ve worn it. You’ll learn more about this in step 3.
  • Downgrade. work shirt is now for whatever reason, not appropriate for work anymore but still fits and you feel good in it. Designate it for weekend or to wear around the house.
  • Have something tailored or altered in a way to make it wearable. Shortening a hem or having sleeves shortened to 3/4 length, or having a dress made into a top or skirt.
  • Separate out sentimental pieces that you’re keeping but won’t wear again. These pieces need to be properly stored away, not taking up valuable space in your closet.
  • Keep in mind that not every piece of clothing needs be worn all the time. Those special pieces that you love but only wear once a year or two years can be kept.
Take inventory of what’s left. Go back to what’s in the closet (keepers and maybes) and organize by category (shirts, skirts, pants) in color order light to dark. Put a colorful wardrobe in rainbow order: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet. You can also break it up further separating work, casual, and dressy. The purpose is to make it easy to see what you have and what you may need. Once it’s in order, go thru the process again, trying things on to see how things look and fit and can be styled in a way that works for your lifestyle and desired look.
Go through bags, shoes, accessories, and undergarments last. Anything that doesn’t fit, has holes or stains should be discarded. Some things can be repurposed; cotton socks are great for polishing or as rags for general cleaning.
Find the holes in your wardrobe. Look to your inspiration file to help you experiment combining colors and pieces you may haven’t in the past. Take pictures of the outfits you put together – believe me, you will forget. Write a detailed list of anything that will supplement what you have left. Example: “This outfit would be great if I had a light cropped fitted black cardigan.”
Before you go shopping, you must learn from the previous mistakes you’ve made… That’s Step #3… 


how to edit and build your wardrobe step 3: learn from your mistakes

you need: full length mirror, pad and pencil
Make a list of the reasons why you are getting rid of what you’ve edited to create your personal shopping rules. Identifying your bad habits will help you avoid making them in the future. In the next post I’ll give you some basic rules that everyone should adhere to when shopping, but now you need to find those specific to you.
  • Continuing to shop a certain brand or at a certain store that you always have, but for whatever reason doesn’t work for you anymore.
  • Buying pieces that are uncomfortable; specific fabrics, style and/or cut like high or low waisted pants, stilettos or too high heals.
  • Buying pieces that don’t flatter you; specific colors, style and/or cut like crew or v-neck tops, cropped pants, certain length skirt/dresses.
  • Buying something you think you’re supposed to have, but actually don’t love wearing; specific colors or type of clothing like button-down shirts, turtlenecks, pinstripes.
  • Shopping with someone who influences/pushes you into buying things you ultimately don’t love.
Anyone can give you tips on how to edit your closet. The point of these posts is to help you figure out what does and does not work for you so you don’t continue to edit bags and bags full of clothes every year. To help you save time, energy, and money and to help you look your best.

how to edit and build your wardrobe step 4: shopping smart



you need: pencil and your personal shopping rules

When shopping, ask yourself the same questions when editing your wardrobe with one addition, does it fit with the rest of my wardrobe. For instance, a top that doesn’t go with anything else in your wardrobe so you’ll have to buy all new pieces to wear it. Just because something is pretty doesn’t mean you have to have it.
Building a wardrobe you love takes time and patience. Time to define your image and the patience to break bad habits and stick to your personal shopping rules. The rule that people have the most trouble with at first to buy only what you love. Doing so limits what you buy, forcing you to be more thoughtful when shopping, helping to avoid costly mistakes. This also allows you in time to ‘shop your closet’; instead of buying something when you feel like something new, simply wear something you haven’t in a while and create a new outfit. At some point you go against your rules, simply identify the rule you broke and try to return it (which is why it’s good to shop at places with forgiving return policies), then move on…
  • Buy something just to have it, even if you need it. You buy a white button-down shirt that’s not quite perfect. Since you don’t love it, it stays in the back of your mind that you need one so you’re likely to buy another one which probably also isn’t perfect. By the time you find the one you do love, you may feel like it’s too much money yet you just wasted money on two that you don’t even like.
  • Buy for price. Buying something expensive thinking “it must be nice” or buying something because it’s on sale is a waste either way if you don’t love it.
  • Get swayed into buying something you don’t love.
  • Feel rushed to ‘finish’ your wardrobe. It will only make you buy impulsively and repeat past mistakes.
  • Only buy things you love, that fit you and your lifestyle.
  • Buy things you can afford. Mix high and low pieces to keep your look interesting.
  • Find labels, designers, and stores whose style and clothes fit you and shop them consistently.
  • Find salespeople whose opinion you trust at the stores you frequent.
  • Know how things should fit. Check retailer’s websites or catalogs to see how garments fit the models (J.Crew, Banana Republic). Remember you need to fit the biggest part of your body first, then have the rest taken in if needed.
  • Know your bra size. Be measured by a bra specialist at a nice lingerie shop or higher end department store, not Victoria’s Secret.

all organizing advice is not equal

There’s a lot of organizing advice out there, some good and some bad. Before I give you any of the good, I thought I’d start by pointing out some of the bad. The first one has to do with cleaning out your wardrobe (yes, I say wardrobe not closet but we’ll discuss that another time):

Rule: “If you haven’t worn it in six months (or three, or a year, whatever) get rid of it.”
WHY THIS IS BAD ADVICE: Because it’s never said that you should try it on before simply getting rid of it.
GOOD ADVICE: TRY IT ON!Our bodies change over time so if you haven’t worn something in a while you need to try it on to see how it fits now. Some things just need an alteration to fit you or your current style (like shortening a skirt’s hemline). Maybe you don’t know what to wear it with; try mixing it with something new or wear it in a way you hadn’t before like pairing a work shirt with something more casual. Or, start wearing that comfy old sweater that has holes around the house. But if you try it on and it doesn’t fit and cannot be altered, isn’t comfortable, or doesn’t suit your taste and lifestyle then it’s ok to pass it along to someone else.