What Constitutes A “Piece”?

6423c90b12bd3e865c6cb584b508965dYou know you have fashion problems when you find yourself sitting at a bar on a Friday night having a heated discussion over what constitutes a “piece” in your wardrobe. Welcome to my life.

Most people would define a “piece” in a wardrobe to be something straight out of the racks of Barneys. Chanel, YSL, Marc Jacobs … basically anything in the three to four to five to six digit price range. Me … well, I think that is a bunch of hogwash.

How do I define a “piece,” you ask? Well, it could be ANYTHING, really. The key to having a proper “piece”, whether you obtain it at Walmart or at Barneys, is how you take care of it. To give you an example, I’ve heard that people refer to Forever 21 clothing as “wear two times and toss.” Listen, if I’m spending money on a garment, no matter where I get it, I’m taking care of it, even if it is Forever 21, because it’s true, money doesn’t grow on trees, kids. And because of that mindset that I’m in, I have pieces from Forever 21 like, t-shirts, jeans, and jewelry that might be around four years old. I now call these pieces “F21 vintage.”

A “piece” is something timeless, something that stands out from the crowd, and something that is beautiful … much like a designer piece, except not always with the designer price tag. And if you find something like this at a discount store … Burlington Coat Factory, Marshalls, TJ Maxx, Forever 21, H&M, don’t just turn your nose up at it because you think it is a poor investment. With garments like this comes dedication. By deciding to not spend $1,000 on a sweater and instead spending $20 means you have to put in the work to make it last. It’s very simple … and clearly not something for the lazy people at heart.

I personally think you can find some of the most original and stand-out pieces at stores like Burlington Coat Factory and TJ Maxx instead of walking into a store like Express and getting the same thing every 20- or 30-something is wearing at the moment. So don’t think just because you don’t have designer labels hanging in your closet doesn’t mean you don’t own “pieces,” because you do. Just take care of them like they are your children by following these simple rules:

1. Dryers are the devil: I rarely dry anything. If you are trying to get the longest life span out of a cheap-ish piece, a clothes rack is your best friend. And if you are concerned that they will be stiff as a board by the time they dry, throw them in the dryer at the end to soften them up a bit. But seriously … down with dryers.

2. Hang with caution: I like everything to be hung up so I can see it instead of rummaging through drawers. But I’ve found that hangers aren’t always the best thing for shirts. This is how they can become deformed, hole-ridden, and can obtain the dreaded hanger-shaped shoulders. Hang wisely, my friends, hang wisely.

3. Treat your jewels like they were Cartier: Make sure your bling has a proper and safe home, not at the bottom of your handbag, with copious amounts of space for it to live and frolic so it doesn’t become a tangled mess with out jewels, or even worse, break. And for the love of Jesus … NEVER get them wet. Water is like God damn kryptonite to an inexpensive piece of jewelry.

Do Fall … And Do It Well … Dammit

I do a lot of things well … or so I like to think. So what I’m about to say may shock and appall you … and for that I’m sorry. But establishing a fall wardrobe is something I, indeed, do NOT do well.

I decided in August that I was going to get to the bottom of my issue. Why is it when it came to the season of fluctuating temps and falling leaves did I become green with envy over women dressed to the nines in bad ass outfits instead of going out and finding some of my own?

I would stumble through stores, leave empty-handed, drive home, run to my bedroom and cry myself to sleep on my pillow … tears streaming down my face wondering why oh why I couldn’t find anything :::cue violins:::. But with a little soul-searching :::pan to me staring outside my window, snuggled up, pondering life over a cup of tea::: I was able to figure out said issue. I had what they call Fall Wardrobe Overload … also known as “FWO.”

What are the symptoms of FWO, you ask? 

-Not being able to focus

-Trend anxiety

-Bleeding from the eyelids

-Not starting with the basics

-Nausea

-Excessive drinking

-Lacking in the wardrobe department*

*If you lack in the wardrobe department for more than three fall seasons, see your local stylist immediately.

My issue was that I had my sights set on things that were too trendy. I wanted sequins, and loud shoes, and fur collared everything, and accent pieces. Wrong … wrong … and wrong. Expectations get set too high when you go too loud too soon and you set yourself up for fall failure. It has taken me years along with blood, sweat and tears to perfect obtaining a great fall wardrobe with pieces I can style in numerous ways, and listen, if I can figure this shit out … ANYONE can.

So behold, my secret to the perfect fall wardrobe. Are you ready for this? Come closer, because I will only say it once: Start. With. The. Basics. Then work from there.

BOOM. My work here is done :::drops mic:::

It may sound boring, but if you find yourself banging your head against the wall because you can’t get your fall style act together … let me help a sister (or brother) out, shall I? Here is a breakdown of your basic fall pieces that every person needs.

Screen shot 2013-11-02 at 1.43.27 PM1. Start with Skinnies: Start with a gray pair and a black pair. I personally die for the ones at Old Navy. The price is right and I can kick, stretch and kick some more in them. And since I’m cheap (at least I admit it, right?) I try not to throw them in the dryer for fear of shrinkage. Girls gotta save for her dreams, am I right? And outside of Old Navy, I’ve been hoarding my favorite black denim from H&M for years. They are tight as shit, and you will have to dance and high kick a little to get them to move, but oh so worth it.

Screen shot 2013-11-02 at 1.44.44 PM

2. Sigh … basic flats. I know, I know … but hear me out. It isn’t fun when you are running 20 minutes late and just need a God damn simple pair of black flats and all you can find are studded booties and rhinestone encrusted open toed sling backs. Make the investment in a good pair of black, nude and leopard print (yes, leopard print, to me, is a neutral …get over it), flats. So when you ARE running late, you can just throw on any of these go-tos, which will pretty much go with everything and anything, and be done with it so you can haul ass to Point B.

Screen shot 2013-11-02 at 1.47.08 PM3. Shield Your Eyes From Saucy Boots: Over-the-knee hooker boots are my fav. If I could have closets and closets filled with them, I would. BUT … every lady needs a good pair of flat black boots and a good pair of flat brown boots. “Riding boots” … if you will. I was never a fan of brown boots, until I realized it gives a look, especially a fall one, a softer feel, where as black boots tend to give off a “dominatrix-ey” vibe. The OTK boots might be tempting you, luring you with their seductress ways … but remember, we are starting basic, here. BA-SIC. Take a cold shower and buy the basic boots … for the love of God.

Screen shot 2013-11-02 at 1.49.08 PM3. Get Down with the While Button Down: Okay, white button downs don’t just mean khakis from the Gap, tucked in with loafers. Woof. They make them a bit more … how you say … “jazzed up” now. Look outside of the Gap box and try stores like Nordstrom for edgier versions of the once boring button down.

Screen shot 2013-11-02 at 2.04.21 PM4. The Tits of T-Shirts: Call me crazy, but it is really hard to find the perfect fitting t-shirts. But when you find “the one,” it will fit perfectly. Its sleeves will be the right length. And you will throw you inhibitions to the wind and buy it in every color … and some you will buy two. Because they are a rare commodity. And know, you will wear them with everything. Don’t lie to yourself. You will. I’m already kicking myself for not investing in more of my favorite Abound t-shirts from Nordstrom Rack shown to the left.

Screen shot 2013-11-02 at 1.53.59 PM5. Rock the Trench: Yes, they are trendy right now … but they are forever. This is a forever piece. This is when you say, hey I want to invest in a designer piece, but I don’t know what to buy. You say: Burberry trench. Because you will literally have it until you are wrinkled up, old and gray.

Once the basics are obtained and you are cured of FWO … then go buy as much insane sparkle, spikes and studs as you want :::jumps up in mid-air:::

Do Fall … And Do It Well

I do a lot of things well … or so I like to think. So what I’m about to say may shock and appall you … and for that I’m sorry. But establishing a fall wardrobe is something I, indeed, do NOT do well.

I decided in August that I was going to get to the bottom of my issue. Why is it when it came to the season of fluctuating temps and falling leaves did I become green with envy over women dressed to the nines in bad ass outfits instead of going out and finding some of my own?

I would stumble through stores, leave empty-handed, drive home, run to my bedroom and cry myself to sleep on my pillow … tears streaming down my face wondering why oh why I couldn’t find anything :::cue violins:::. But with a little soul-searching :::pan to me staring outside my window, snuggled up, pondering life with a cup of tea::: I was able to figure out said issue. I had Fall Wardrobe Overload … or FWO.

What are the symptoms of FWO, you ask*? 

-Not being able to focus

-Trying to obtain too many items at once

-Bleeding from the eyelids

-Not starting with the basics

-Nausea

-Excessive drinking

-Lacking in the wardrobe department
*If you lack in the wardrobe department for more than three fall seasons, see your local stylist immediately. 

My issue was that I had my sights set on things that were too trendy. I wanted sequins, and loud shoes, and fur collared everything, and accent pieces. Wrong … wrong … and wrong. Expectations get set too high when you go too loud too soon and you set yourself up for fall failure. It has taken me years along with blood, sweat and tears to perfect obtaining a great fall wardrobe with pieces I can style in numerous ways, and listen, if I can figure this shit out … ANYONE can.

So behold, my secret to the perfect fall wardrobe. Are you ready for this? Come closer, because I will only say it once: Start. With. The. Basics. Then work from there.

BOOM. My work here is done :::drops mic:::

It may sound boring, but if you find yourself banging your head against the wall because you can’t get your fall style act together … let me help a sister (or brother) out, shall I? Here is a breakdown of your basic fall pieces that every person needs.

Screen shot 2013-11-02 at 1.43.27 PM1. Start with Skinnies: Start with a black pair and a gray pair. I personally die for the ones at Old Navy. The price is oh so right, and I can kick, stretch and kick some more in them. And since I’m cheap, I try not to throw them in the dryer for fear of shrinkage. Girls gotta save for her dreams, am I right? And outside of Old Navy, I’ve been investing in my favorite black denim from H&M for years. They are tight as shit, and you will have to dance and high kick a little to get them to move, but oh so worth it. Hell, I may start hoarding them one day.
2. Sigh … Basic Flats: I know, I know … but hear me out. It isn’t fun when you are running 20 minutes late and just need a God damn simple pair of black flats and all you can find are studded booties and rhinestone encrusted open toed sling backs. Make the investment in a good pair of black, nude and leopard print (yes, leopard print, to me, is a neutral …get over it), flats. So when you ARE running late, you can just throw on any of these go-tos, which will pretty much go with everything and anything, and be done with it so you can haul ass to Point B.
Screen shot 2013-11-02 at 1.47.08 PM3. Shield Your Eyes to Saucy Boots: Over-the-knee hooker boots are my fav. If I could have closets and closets filled with them, I would. BUT … every lady needs a good pair of flat black boots and a good pair of flat brown boots. “Riding boots” … if you will. I was never a fan of brown boots, until I realized it gives a look, especially a fall one, a softer feel, where as black boots always give me a dominatrix vibe. The OTK boots might be tempting you, luring you with their seductress ways … but remember, we are starting basic, here. Take a cold shower, and buy the basic boots, for the love of God.
Screen shot 2013-11-02 at 1.49.08 PM3. Get Down With The White Button Downs: Button downs don’t just mean khakis from the Gap, tucked in with loafers. Woof. They make them a bit more jazzier now. Look outside of the Gap box and try stores like Nordstrom and Loehmann’s … those stores are where you will find makers of the classic white button down who thought outside of the boring box.
Screen shot 2013-11-02 at 2.04.21 PM4. The Tits of T-Shirts: Call me crazy, but it is really hard to find the perfect fitting t-shirts. But when you find it, the one that fits perfectly, long enough with the right sleeve length, you buy it in every color … and some you buy two of. Because they are a rare commodity. And know, you will wear them with everything. Don’t lie to yourself. You will. I’m already kicking myself for not investing in more of my favorite Abound t-shirts from Nordstrom Rack, shown to the left.
Screen shot 2013-11-02 at 1.53.59 PM5. Rock A Trench: Yes, they are trendy right now … but they are forever. This is a forever piece. This is when you say, hey I want to invest in a designer piece, but I don’t know what to buy. You say: Burberry trench. Because you will literally have it until you are wrinkled up, old and gray.


Tight Budgets Inspire Creativity

Yeah, I was just slapped in the face by reality when someone alerted me that there is only ONE more “shopping weekend” until Christmas. What? Seriously, I still feel like I’m getting over my food coma from Thanksgiving, but I digress.

So yes, it is normal for people to feel a little strapped for cash this time of year with all the gift giving and what not. But I still jones for new clothes for myself. A new pair of boots, a new dress, you know just something that pops and is new. But if you are anything like me, you find it extremely difficult to shop for yourself when you know you have a million other things to buy for other people in your life. For example, I went out today to buy a pair of gloves for myself, but instead found this amazing dress (on the sale rack, discounted like a thousand times) and that was the only way I justified buying it. But I still was having an anxiety attack over buying it because of all the other nonsense I have to take care of before Christmas.

So when I got home I decided to look at my closet. Like legit stand in front of it and look at it. Eye to … eye. I’m not kidding you, the steel bar holding all of my clothes is bending in the middle from all of the stuff hanging off of it. And I thought to myself, how could I possibly be bored with all of these options! I’m crazed, I’m jaded, I need to reevaluate …  IMMEDIATELY.

Sure I’m ridiculously bored wearing my black blazer with my black skinny jeans and a white tank top, or that black dress with my cheetah print cardigan (I swear it looks less J.Crew than it sounds). So instead of the normal, crazed morning rush of me figuring out what I should wear by violently ripping things off the hanger, throwing them on, not liking it and then throwing it on the floor … I took some inventory of the items I had to work with.

I pulled stuff out of my closet, still on the hanger, placed it on my bed and played a little game called “mismatch the clothes.” I know you are probably thinking, “don’t you mean match the clothes … and you call yourself a copy editor,” but no … MISMATCH the clothes. One of my fashion weaknesses would be the ability to mix patterns. I love when people do it, but I look like a mismatched fool whenever I try to rock it. I just kept calmly moving my black and white striped jacket with my patterned dress, or my polka-dotted shirt underneath my brown and black striped blazer … until I found something that worked. And oddly enough … it did.

Of course, I found a lot of stuff that matched and looked fab, but without playing this really refreshing game, I would have never thought to pair the pieces together. I not only walked away with a bunch of new and edgier outfits, but I also found inspiration in pieces that I had 100 percent thought I had lost faith in and was so prepared to donate them to Good Will.

We all deserve to bond with our closets a bit more. They need love too. I bet most people just look at them as places that store their clothes, just a steel bar and a door. But if you look at a closet that way and slide a new piece of clothing onto the steel pole, it is destined to get sucked into the abyss of all the other good pieces you own … the vision of “outfits” will therefore become blurry, limiting what you wear and what you piece together. If you love, nurture and become one with your closet … you know, talk to it and stuff … this won’t happen. A simple, “Hi closet, how are you and my clothes doing on this lovely morning,” wouldn’t kill you, now would it? (No I’m not on crack or a crazy lady, I swear).

So I recommend everyone play this game and spend some quality time with the good ol’ closet … it deserves it. For Christ’s sake, the steel bar in my closet might collapse at any moment, I’m shocked it hasn’t already, the poor guy needed some TLC. I’m just glad I didn’t feel the need to buy more pieces when I already had so many fantastic outfits that just needed time to be thought up. It is so easy to just keep buying one thing here and there continuously that end up getting lost in the clothing shuffle.

So there it is, I saved myself some cash that I can therefore spend on obnoxious amounts of presents for all of my loved ones, I’m no longer bored with my clothing options and instead will get more wear out of the pieces I already delicately picked for my wardrobe.

It is therapeutic, it is cost-effective and it is actually fun. Enjoy talking to your closets.