Stop Woring About Dressing Appropriately For Your Age

Stop Woring About Dressing Appropriately For Your Age

What if I told you that we’ve got this whole conversation about age-appropriate dressing wrong?

Dozens of times a day, I am asked about how to dress age-appropriate.

It’s the first sentence of every email I receive from readers looking for advice, “Hi, I’m 61, 32, 54 … can I wear …?”

So today, I want to share my rather radical approach to age-appropriate dressing to release you from the concept that your age is somehow restricting your choices. 

What if, instead of looking at our age as some kind of limitation, we view it as an opportunity.

Crazy, right? 

I started my career shopping for and dressing women when I was a 22-year-old baby. Today, I’m 40, a mother of three with 20 years of experience, both personal and professional, under my belt. 

In the past two decades, I learned so much about the challenges real women face while aging. I know, first hand, that it isn’t easy maintaining our sense of self and style in a world that wants to limit us after we turn a certain age.

Add to that our ever changing bodies, and increased personal responsibilities, it’s easy to see how many of us, myself included, can get into a rut or feel like we lost our way.

So before I get into the nitty-gritty, let me say this: the one thing I know for sure is that we’ve got this whole age-appropriate conversation wrong. 

Aging should be a celebration, so instead of thinking of all the things you “shouldn’t” wear, it’s time to embrace the world of opportunity that awaits us with each passing year. 

Our site focuses on timeless, classic, ageless style.

Classic style is inherently ageless. You may have to replace a piece I recommend here or there with something that works within your budget or with your body type, but the style tips and theories offered here are all timeless. 

I’ve never liked the idea of telling women what they should and should not wear. Instead, I hope you see this site as a guide to achieving a modern, classic style with a bit of a twist, regardless of the year you were born.

Over the years, I’ve  created a sort of hierarchy, or checklist to mentally go through for clients and readers when they start to wonder about appropriateness.

Age, as you’ll see, is the last piece to consider. 

How to Dress Age Appropriately

How to Dress Age Appropriately

A New Way to Think About Age Appropriate Dress

Body type is perhaps the most important “appropriate” factor to consider. Wear clothes that work best for the body you have right now. Take some time to learn about the most flattering shapes and silhouettes for you. It makes all the difference in the world.

Let’s use an example. Say you are 48 years old and look incredible in a pair of faux leather leggings.  You already know they work for your body type.  Now what?

Consider your lifestyle or the specific event you are dressing for.  Can you wear them to church, temple or any religious service you attend? Probably not.

But a girls weekend in Vegas or a date night out in the city? You bet.  

Now let’s make sure they look elevated. Buy the best quality you can afford, spend a little more or find a better pair at a discount. At 22 you’d probably grab a cheap pair at Forever 21, today, you’ll buy them at Nordstrom. 

Finally, consider your age. Thankfully, for most of us, our tastes evolve with time and we don’t like the same things we did in our younger years.

At 22, you’re wearing a tank top, at 48, pair them with something more sophisticated, like a cashmere sweater or tailored blazer and heels you can walk in.  By pairing them with more “grown up” pieces, you’re grounding the look to match where you are in life. 

My Best Tips to Timeless, Ageless Style

How to Dress Appropriately For Your Age - The Well Dressed Life

Quality over Quantity

Get comfortable with the idea of investing in yourself. Buy the best quality you can afford. Start to think strategically about the items in your closet so you get more wear out of fewer, higher quality pieces. 

Be Cautious with Patterns

The challenge with patterns is that there are so many in retail that look cheap and flimsy and do nothing to elevate your style. Use them with a light hand. A few dresses, in the summer are great. A fun pair of pants? Sure!

But as a layer or a top they need to make sense and bring value to the outfit. And you need to LOVE It. 

Incorporating texture, instead,  is a more sophisticated way to elevate your look.

Be judicious with pattern and bring interest to your outfits with textures and layered accessories. 

Invest in Your Accessories

Nothing elevates a look more than your bag and shoes. Investment is different for every person.  Today, at my age, I would rather have a few better quality shoes than a closet full of heels from the DSW clearance section – which use to be my jam.

Maybe Stuart Weitzman and Jimmy Choo are your kind of splurges, or perhaps it’s Nine West and Sam Edelman, in any case always look to evolve the quality of your pieces.

When it comes to bags, look for simple, clean designs. Avoid logos, studs, patchwork or anything that dangles like charms and chains.  You don’t want your bag to fight with your outfit.

And wear your better jewelry every day – what are you waiting for? 

Shop in the Right Stores

If you were my best friend, and I found out you where shopping in the juniors department, I would say this: You’re too old. I am too old. Anyone over the age of 25 is too old. 

Is that that big a deal? I don’t think so. 

Here are my go-to stores and brands for our over 35, 40, 50+ clients, many include plus, petite, and tall options in their inventory. 

“Age Appropriate” Department Stores 

Nordstrom – has always been my favorite but over the last few years I’ve found them more difficult to shop.  I like some of their private label brands like Classique and Nordstrom Collection, if you like St. John they have a decent selection that isn’t as overwhelming as shopping in their stores. 

Their shoe selection is still the best out there, as is the range of undergarments they offer.  I’m less than thrilled with their in-store accessories and their plus and petite section leaves a lot to be desired.  

Service is not what it use to be, but it’s still better than anything else out there.

For your time and money, shopping online is your best bet to get access to all of their inventory at once. 

Lord and Taylor – their customer service is abysmal, but they have a nice dress selection for work or special occasions in a range of sizes and price points.

Neiman Marcus –  actually has some reasonable prices and better quality.  I love their private label sweaters, especially the cashmere. They also have a great shoe selection and better separates.

Brands (that aren’t cut for kids):

Anne Klein
Ann Taylor
BOSS
Boden
Banana Republic
Clavin Klein
Eileen Fisher
Lafayette 148
MICHAEL Michael Kors
Talbots
Tuckernuck
Everlane
Elie Tahari
T. Tahari
J. Crew
J. Crew Factory

Enjoy Getting Dressed!

Remember when fashion magazines would do Style at Every Age issues and spreads? I read them religiously, and even when I was in my late teens and all through my twenties, I always loved what the 40-year-olds were wearing. 

Looking back, I think it was because the women, often times a celebrity, always looked so poised. Like she wasn’t figuring things out anymore. The experimental phase of life was over. 

Her pieces were well made, they fit beautifully, and the woman carried herself with a quiet confidence. 

That’s what I think we need to celebrate. The confidence, the knowing, the respect we have for ourselves, the not caring so much about what others think. 

And how lucky are we to be living in a time when we are finally celebrating women getting better with age? 

So when dressing your “age” don’t focus so much on what you can’t do, or what you’re told to avoid. Instead, celebrate where you are in life by investing in better quality, focus on fit, and include sophisticated elements that elevate your look.

Have fun and wear what makes you feel confident.  Do that, and you’ll create a timeless, always appropriate personal style no matter your age. 


Become an Insider

Join our Summer 2020 Membership and receive access to our Members Only Portal, filled with exclusive content, our Summer 2020 Shopping List, Summer Capsule, Over 50 Outfit Formulas and LIVE style coaching sessions with me! 

Membership closes July 27th. 

Become A Well Dressed Life Insider

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You Inspire Our Content

Our reader inspire all of our posts and is not sponsored or paid for by brands or retailers. 

Recommendations are based on my experience as a personal stylist and wardrobe consultant for over a decade. I worked with busy, down-to-earth women who wanted to look chic and feel confident but were often confused by so much of retail. 

Some links are affiliate links, which means if you purchase via our site, we receive a small commission.

If you enjoy our content and would like to help us grow, please consider following on Instagram and join our Private Facebook Group to access more advice and exclusive in-depth conversations with other like-minded women.

What to Buy at J.Crew Mid Summer

What to Buy at J. Crew

Before COVID, J.Crew planned to take their Madewell brand public and pay down much of their long term debt. Then the world turned sideways, they shelved the IPO and filed for bankruptcy to restructure.

Since then, dozens of retail brands have followed suit, including Ann Taylor brands (insert sobbing emoji).

J.Crew and J.Crew Factory have long been a top seller here at The Well Dressed Life. Few American brands produce modern, fun, wearable pieces that feel both practical and special, go from work to the weekend, and serve all sizes.

When I say all sizes, I mean all sizes. From regular and petite to tall, and 00 – to 3X.

Happily, it seems like they are getting back on track, and their new arrivals are full of what they do best – preppy wardrobe must-haves, with some irreverent prints and gorgeous colors.

As for price points, it’s going to be interesting to see, post-pandemic, how retail in general levels out pricing. For the last four months, customers were inundated with nonstop sales.

Their biggest challenge will be finding a balance around prices feeling affordable to the consumer, room for a profit, and bandwidth to continue producing sizes at scale and investing in more ethical and environmentally responsible manufacturing.

We’ll see how that pans out soon rather than later. For now, lets go shopping, because they have some fantastic pieces at even better prices. 

What to Buy at J.Crew Mid Summer

 

What to Buy at J. Crew

 

 

Linen TunicJ.Crew Linen Tunic

Linen Tunic Originally $85, marked down to $34!

This simple tunic is perfect if you are looking for a lightweight top with some extra coverage. Available in white, sunset and black, from XXS -3X. pair it with slim lined summer weight bottoms, or, how I’ll wear it, with denim shorts. 

Slide Sandals

J. Crew Slide SandalsSlide Sandals Originally $128, marked down to $64!

These are the chicest flat sandals. They are also available in black and red, but the natural (above) is by far the most sophisticated. Pair them with wide leg linen pants in a neutral, or a crisp white sun dress.  All sizes are still available. 

 

Bow Tank

J. Crew Silk Bow Tank

 

Bow Tank Originally $98, marked down to $49!

If you can pull this tank off, scoop it up! It’s so fun and fresh. Wear it with skinny white jeans and wedges or, if you are petite, a pair of white shorts for a hot summer night of hanging with friends. 

Midi Dress

J. Crew Midi DressMidi Dress Originally $118, marked down to $70!

I immediately added this to my cart. Dresses have quickly become my warm-weather work from home go-to. I love how they are comfortable, cool, and easy to maneuver in, especially since I’m up and down all day with the baby. They idea of “throw on and go” has become so popular, and pieces like this make it a breeze to feel pretty, be productive, and easily sneak out for a cocktail at the end of the day;) Sizes range for 00 – 16. 

V-Back Dress

J. Crew V-Back DressV-Back Dress Originally $148, marked down to $88!

This is a GREAT dress for either work in the summer with a pair of comfortable pair of heels or travel. I scooped this up to keep for my now rescheduled trip to Greece NEXT summer. But it will be perfect with flat sandals for day of sightseeing and lunch. It’s a cotton/stretch, so you can pack it, live in it, and wash it with no worries. Size range includes regular, petite and tall. 

Summer Blazer

J. Crew Going Out Blazer in PinkBlazer Originally $168, marked down to $67!

Remember blazers? It may be 100 degrees for many of us this week, but this stretch linen blazer is too good to pass over (you can read all of its 5-star reviews here). Available in sizes regular, petite and tall, from a 00 – 24, I’m featuring the pink, but it’s also in white and olive. I would skip the olive, the top stitch looks odd. 

Crewneck Sweater

J. Crew crewneck sweaterCrewneck Sweater Originally $75, marked down to $34!

This is what you wear when you want a top that is slightly better than a tee shirt. Available in a dozen colors, up to a 3X, pair it with everything from shorts, to maxi skirts, jeans or ankle pants. It’s a year round basics, that works on its own or layered under a blazer in the fall. 

Silk Pants

J. Crew Silk PantsSilk Pant Originally $148, marked down to $63!

Perhaps five months of staying close to home and limited social interaction is starting to get to me, but I am wild for these pants. They are ideal for hanging around the house or at the beach, having a glass of wine with a friend outside. They are like a pair of pajamas but better. Wear it with a simple white tank or tee and your favorite flip flops. 

Scrunchie

J. Crew Silk ScrunchieScrunchie Under $20

In the summer, I love the look of a scarf in a ponytail. But I can never get it so it stays in place all day. That’s why I always buy these scrunchie-scarves whenever I see them in pretty patterns. 

Shift Dress

 

J. Crew Shift DressShift Dress Originally $98, marked down to $68!

In the Philadelphia area we are in a code red heat advisory. It’s so hot outside you can barely breathe. This dress would be perfect for a day like today, when you don’t want anything touching your body.  And the picture doesn’t do the dress a service.

This dress is so summer perfect. It is a linen blend shift with a button back detail. You can dress it up with wedges or espadrilles or dress it down with flip flops. Available in four colors and sizes regular, petite, and tall up to a 3X.


Become an Insider

Join our Summer 2020 Membership and receive access to our Members Only Portal, filled with exclusive content, our Summer 2020 Shopping List, Summer Capsule, Over 50 Outfit Formulas and LIVE style coaching sessions with me! 

Membership closes July 27th. 

Become A Well Dressed Life Insider

———————————————————–

Our Content is Inspired by Our Readers

Our readership inspires all of our posts and is not sponsored or paid for by brands or retailers. 

Recommendations are based on my experience as a personal stylist and wardrobe consultant for over a decade. I worked with busy, down-to-earth women who wanted to look chic and feel confident but were often confused by so much of retail. 

Some links are affiliate links, which means if you purchase via our site, we receive a small commission.

If you enjoy our content and would like to help us grow, please consider following on Instagram and join our Private Facebook Group to access more advice and exclusive in-depth conversations with other like-minded women.

 

 

How to Shop Your Closet

Easy Ways to Shop Your Own Closet

On Friday, I shared my best tips to clean out your closet in an afternoon. So today, we’re going a step further and breaking down how to shop your closet.

Shop your closet! We see the headline frequently, on blog posts, scrolling Pinterest, and in magazines, but what does it mean?

Shopping your closet is an easy process that allows you to see what you have, and helps you get creative while discovering outfit combinations you never knew you had.

Right now, between the hot temperatures, and many states still under stay at home orders, the last thing many of us are thinking about is getting dressed. We may as well take advantage of a slightly slower pace and spend some time getting ourselves organized, so we know what you we like and what we need to as we move optimistically into the fall.

How to Shop Your Closet

Easy Ways to Shop Your Own Closet

Before you can shop your closet, you have to make sure it is well edited. Our guide, How to Clean Your Closet in An Afternoon, will walk you through the process. The most critical step is to get rid of what doesn’t serve you anymore. 

If the garment doesn’t fit, is damaged or dated, or is no longer your style – out it goes. You can donate, resell, or recycle, but it does not go back into your closet.

Once you’ve completed your cleanout, it’s time to shop your closet.

Create a Pinterest Board

Step #1: Create a Pinterest Board to Define Your Personal Style 

Create a Pinterest board reflective of your personal style. You’ll find the more you pin, the more your style will start to show itself. 

I worked with private style clients for over a decade. I learned that most women have a hard time defining their style. They don’t know what they like, or maybe they like everything and have difficulty narrowing down their favorite looks. 

I found this exercise personally helpful after I had my babies. I became used to being limited to maternity clothes and then comfy at home outfits, that I started to forget what I liked. 

Often, these kinds of life-changing events, from childbirth to turning 40, to finally retiring, are the catalyst for wanting to reevaluate our style. 

Having a visual of aspirational style helps you curate your wardrobe, and serves as a source of inspiration when your wardrobe choices feel a little blah.

I reference my Pinterest boards and find inspiration for color combinations, shoes, layers, and accessories. 

Spend some time searching for and “pinning” the looks you like; then, go back through your board, and only keep what you love. You’ll be surprised by what you see. 

Set Up Shop

Step #2: Set Up Shop

Separate your basics from your trendy pieces.

Basics would include jeans, black pants, a simple navy dress, layering tanks and shells, a cardigan, etc. These pieces are at the center of every look. Keep similar items together.

Your trendy (what I sometimes refer to as novelty) pieces are everything else: a skirt with embroidery, a patterned blouse, a tweed jacket, anything in a bright or bold color, also keeping similar items together.

I like to have a rolling rack on hand for this exercise to stay organized and see everything that I have.

Keep basics on the left and novelty items on the right.

Before you move on, be sure you have edited your shoes and accessories and, then, similarly divide them. Keep the jewelry you wear every day away from statement necklaces and oversized bracelets.

Build Outfits

Step #3: Build Your Outfits

Now, let’s create some outfits! Start by taking some items from your basics.

For example, a navy ankle pants and a tank (see below).

This is your base.

Next, go to your novelty pieces. Add a lightweight sweater in a current print, or a jacket with fun details. Layers provide depth to a look. They are “outfit finishers.”

Get creative and step outside your comfort zone.

With a base and a layer, move to your shoes and accessories.

Play around with what you have:

What does the outfit look like with a classic pump? Now switch it out for something with pattern or texture.

Could you wear it both ways?

Probably!

Now, add jewelry and accessories.

With an edited closet and a clear idea of what you like, you will discover several combinations and new ways to wear old pieces.

Pro tip! Be sure to take pictures of the looks you love so you don’t forget them. Keep them on your phone for easy access. 

Quick Tips While Shopping Your Closet

Break things up

We tend to wear the same combination of items repeatedly, to the point that we can’t see other options. You probably have a few favorite outfits, so start with them and break them apart.

Force yourself to find a new way to wear the individual pieces.

Make minor adjustments and alterations

I can’t tell you how many times I would clean out a client’s closet, and she would have several items that would be perfect with a few minor alterations. 

If a pair of pants are a little big, a hem fell out, or buttons need replacing, action them immediately. You don’t need to buy something new when you can simply fix what you already have. 

Stop saving things for special occasions

That black dress you think is only appropriate for a rare cocktail party might look fresh if you throw on a denim jacket.

Don’t wait to have a reason to wear your finer pieces, especially if you have better jewelry and accessories, celebrate everyday by wearing them with a simple pair of jeans and tee shirt. 

Push yourself outside your comfort zone and try everything on before dismissing it.

Purge as you go.

You’ll come across items you can get rid of, so keep a designated area to place them and donate immediately.


Join Our Insider Community Today!

Our three month, seasonal membership gives you access to our members only portal, our summer shop your closet checklist, mix and match wardrobe capsule, over 50 outfit formulas, and LIVE monthly group coaching with me.

Summer membership is form July 13th – September 14th. 

Hurray! Registration closes on July 27th.


Become A Well Dressed Life Insider


 

Our Content is Inspired By Our Readers

Our readership inspires all of our posts and is not sponsored or paid for by brands or retailers. 

Recommendations are based on my experience as a personal stylist and wardrobe consultant for over a decade. I worked with busy, down-to-earth women who wanted to look chic and feel confident but were often confused by so much of retail. 

Some links are affiliate links, which means if you purchase via our site, we receive a small commission.

If you enjoy our content and would like to help us grow, please consider following on Instagram and join our Private Facebook Group to access more advice and exclusive in-depth conversations with other like-minded women.

How to Clean Out Your Closet in an Afternoon

6 Steps to Clean Out Your Closet in 60 Minutes - The Well Dressed Life
The 60 Minute 6 Step Closet Clean Out

Let’s talk about how to clean out your closet. Really clean it out. Get in there, get it down to the barebones, and rebuild it with a wardrobe you love and want to wear every day. 

It can feel like an overwhelming task, but, if you follow my steps (the same ones I used with private clients for years) it won’t be. 

The best part is that once the work is done and you have a functional closet space that works for YOU, it is so much easier to keep it that way. 

I do a deep clean and reorganizing twice a year. I take some time right after the holidays as a way to rest for the new year, and then again right now, mid summer.

And this summer, with the collective “pause” we are all experiencing, there is no better time to do it!

How to Clean Out Your Closet

The Challenge of A Messy Closet

When you can’t find your clothes, when things are everywhere, when you’re digging through boxes and drawers looking for an accessory, you waste so much time and energy.

The good news is, with a little bit of time you can easily get your closet in order.

Even if all you have is an hour, you can make serious improvement and immediately benefit from a more functional space. 

Your Closet is the Nucleus of Your Life

If clothes are pouring out of your closet yet, you wake up with “nothing to wear” it’s time for a closet detox.

For me, when my personal items are a mess, it’s a indication that other things are out of wack. I’m usually over committed, and running on empty. When I spend the time getting back on track, I immediately feel better and more focused.

Below is what my usually tidy closet looked like right after last Christmas.

My Closet: Before

Closet_Before
Before: My closet right after the holidays.

I’ve been in thousands of closets from my time as a personal stylist, so I’ve seen worse. But the holidays always do a number on my closet. I end up just dropping stuff and running out. 

By the time my closet reaches this point I’m too busy and overwhelmed to care. 

But once I can’t find my things, and start wasting time getting dressed I end up being annoyed before my day even started. 

It was time to reevaluate my current system and get back on track. 

How to Clean Out Your Closet

Create a Manageable System 

Most of us have to work with the space that we have. Thankfully, by editing down to your must-haves and favorites, and investing in a few organizing tools, you can create an oasis of inspiration and practical functionality. 

You can see some of my process in my own closet over in my Instagram stories

In my experience, I’ve learned that most women’s closets are in decent shape. You need to go through everything with a dedicated eye, make quick decisions and organize your items into like categories, but you can do it in about an hour or two.

It’s amazing what an organized space can do for your mood and how you navigate your entire day when you start off less frazzled.

This closet clean out can be a refresher if you’ve already done the work in our Wardrobe Challenge or be the kick in the butt you need to dedicate more time to purging and organizing.

If you are planning on joining our Insider Membership  (launching on Monday – I’m so excited) a quick clean out will help you build our capsule wardrobe.  

A Little Prep Work Goes a Long Way 

First, it’s helpful to be able to articulate your personal style. How else will you know what to keep and what to “toss”? The better you understand what you like, and the look you are trying to create, the easier it is to complete an edit. We talk more about that in How to Define Your Personal Style

To start your closet clean-out you’ll need:

  • Rolling rack : use this as your “keep” pile. 
  • Trash bag(s): for any trash or damaged items. 
  • Your dry cleaning bag: have it ready for items to have cleaned or mended.
  • Empty laundry baskets: have a few of these around so you can easily create piles. 
  • Vacuum, multi cleaner, rags, etc. 
  • Notebook and pen or take notes on your phone.
  • Storage option for out of season clothes. 
  • Flocked hangers These are the BEST. I’ve used them for years. They are in every closet in my house.
  • Wine (optional, but helpful)

Tip: Want to resell some pieces? This article will help you figure out where to sell, donate and recycle clothing. I keep a Thred Up bag handy and add garments to resell as I go through my closet. 

Set Up Your Work Space

My rolling rack gets a lot of use. I keep it under my bed and pull it out whenever I pick up a big dry cleaning haul.

I use it when I pack for trips and find it extra helpful when tidying up my closet. You’ll be surprised how many times you use it once you have one.

I also like to have a few trash bag and my dry cleaning bag on hand so that I can work quickly.

If you plan on storing your out-of-season pieces elsewhere, be sure to have your bins ready as well. A simple plastic storage bin with some cedar inserts works well. I also like these under the bed storage bags.

Having an extra laundry basket to collect items that do not belong in your closet is helpful.

Be sure to have a space for all of your piles, including: keep (rolling rack), trash (trash bags), storage (bins), donate (basket), sell (basket), and clean and mend (dry cleaning bag)

Finally, have a notebook and pen hand, or the notes app opened on your phone, so you can jot down a quick shopping list as you notice items you need or pieces you have to replace. 

How to Clean Out Your Closet

Start to Edit

Now you’re ready to edit!! 

First, remove everything from your closet.

I just throw everything on my bed, and line shoes and bags around the room. 

Then begin to edit, working as quickly as possible. Don’t give yourself too much time to think or you’ll talk yourself out of getting rid of anything. 

You don’t need to relive the life history of every garment you’ve ever bought. 

First, pull any pieces that are out of season and place them in either a pile or directly in their storage box.

Next, pull anything that is dated, damaged, or that you just don’t like anymore and sort into your piles accordingly. This is where we start to lose our minds.

What if it comes back in style?

It won’t, the idea of it might, but it will not be the exact same translation. All styles evolve. Holding on to dated clothes make you look dated, and you loose the opportunity to be chic and modern.

But I spent so much money on it!

Yes, you did. The money is spent whether the item lives in your closet or not, so donate it to someone who can get better use out of it. 

I can wear it, I just need to loose 20 pounds.

I’m a big believer that all the items in our closet need to fit. Nothing is worse than waking up on then morning and going through all the clothes that are too small for you.

What a bummer. 

So at a minimum, move these pieces to a different closet or pack them up until you reach or goal. But also, hold them to the same standard as you would if they did fit. Would you LOVE it if it fit properly? How much use would it get? Does it reflect your style. 

A lot of times we use future fit as an excuse to hold on to a garment that doesn’t work for us for a number of other reasons.

Touch every piece of clothing

Keep moving through your pile. Touch everything, and immediately action each piece. 

Once you are done, you should be left with a rack of only things you love. 

Get Cleaning!

Care for your closet the same way you care for the other rooms in your home.

Before you place your keepers back in, clean it up. Wipe down the shelves and vacuum the floor, clean out the light fixture and sanitize the doorknob and any other surfaces.

You will be shocked and maybe a little grossed out by the amount of hidden dirt in your closet space. 

Replace Your Hangers

Keep your space visually tidy by using the same hanger. I love velvet hangers. They save space and help you see everything you have.

Uniformed hangers are my #1 game changing tip for a more calm closet.  It’s amazing what happens when your space is perfectly organized. You’ll be calmer and see more outfit options instantly. 

Pack Up and Put Your Clothes Away

Pack up any out-of-season items. Plastic containers with some cedar are an excellent and inexpensive solution.

If you have items in plastic dry cleaning bags, take a second to remove them and put them on new hangers. Plastic bags hold moisture and can damage your items if you let them stay in them for too long.

Properly put back the items you are keeping in your closet, neatly. 

I organize closets by category (sleeveless, short sleeve, long sleeve, etc.)  and then by color within each category. This way, my eye goes almost instinctively to what I need.

My Closet: After

My closet after: clean, simplified, organized

Before you run and buy new organizing tools do an inventory at home. Then see what your space needs.

Below is what I use to keep my small space high functioning:

Velvet Hangers: Keep everything neat and eye level. 

3M Hooks: to keep favorite necklaces in view and untangled. 

Stackable Jewelry Box: For all my other jewelry I purchased this customizable jewelry box – it’s fantastic! 

Shoe Drawers: I love these. As you can see above these really utilize the shelf space I have. I’ve since added even more and it makes a huge difference. 

Shelve Dividers: I use these to help separate my jeans and sweaters and keep them stacked neatly. I use to think they were a waste of money but they have made huge difference in keeping my space neat. 

Purse Organizer*: This acrylic purse organize is perhaps my favorite purchase. For years I kept my clutches and smaller, occasion bags in a basket. But I edited them down to just my favorites and properly displayed them and now I am using them more frequently and can put them back where they belong without thinking about it.  

* pictured is the six compartment organizer, which is currently sold out, so I linked to the three. 

Keep the Edit Going

I keep a small basket tucked away for donations. Often I’ll try something on and realize I don’t like it anymore, or it doesn’t fit well,  so I’ll drop it in the basket. Once it’s filled up, I sort it, send what I can sell to ThredUp and donate the rest.

A friendly reminder from my accountant: be sure to keep track of your donations for your end of year taxes!

Finish the Process

Before you finish, gather up any trash and dispose of it. If something needs to be dry cleaned or mended, add it to the proper pile and put it in your car.

Organize donations and pack them up neatly. Drop them off as soon as possible. Whatever you do, do not leave items hanging around or they will never get actioned and may end back up in your closet.

That’s it! In a few hours you will have turned your closet from chaos to inspiration!


 

 

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Our Content is Inspired by Our Readers

Our readership inspires all of our posts and is not sponsored or paid for by brands or retailers. 

Recommendations are based on my experience as a personal stylist and wardrobe consultant for over a decade. I worked with busy, down-to-earth women who wanted to look chic and feel confident but were often confused by so much of retail. 

Some links are affiliate links, which means if you purchase via our site, we receive a small commission.

If you enjoy our content and would like to help us grow, please consider following on Instagram and join our Private Facebook Group to access more advice and exclusive in-depth conversations with other like-minded women.

What to Wear When You Don’t Wear Shorts

What to wear when you don't wear shorts

If shorts are on your “do not wear list,” you are not alone. Over the years, requests for alternatives to shorts begin to flood my inbox starting in early May. 

I don’t mind wearing shorts. For me, they are a practical, sporty option for long, hot days jumping between working at home and raising three kids. But lately, as they have been getting shorter, and I’ve been getting older, they are not always my first choice. 

So today, I thought it would be helpful to highlight options to wear if you don’t wear shorts. 

Related: Top Pick! Classic Mid-Rise Chambray Shorts 

The good news is (1) there are a lot of options to choose from, (2) they are all more polished than a pair of shorts, and (3) in this season of staying closet to home, you’ll look and feel pulled together without even trying.

Plus, all the items below are on amazing sales with fabulous size options! 

What to Wear When You Don’t Wear Shorts

What to wear when you don't wear shorts

Tiered Maxi Dress, $129  |  Linen Pants, $59  |  T-Shirt Dress, $29  |  Ankle Pants, $69 

Maxi Dress

three maxi dresses

J. Crew Factory, $34.50 |  LOFT, $30 | Banana Republic, $89.40

Maxi dresses come in all kinds of styles, from stretchy cotton to linen blend. They can be cut slim or full, and work on a casual day at the beach to a sun-filled small outdoor wedding.

What’s nice about a maxi is that you have plenty of room to breath and because you are wearing a dress you look chic and pulled together.

This cheerful tiered maxi from J.Crew Factory takes no effort to wear. It’s available in sizes 00 – 20. 

I own and love this red maxi from LOFT. I wear it with a strapless bra and have no issues (remember I have an 18 month old so comfort for me is key). LOFT is doing an amazing job with sizes. This dress is available in regular, petite, plus AND tall. Also in black. 

Finally, if you would like something a little more finished, and with a proper sleeve, this floral print from Banana Republic is gorgeous. It’s available in regular, tall and petite sizes up to a size 20. 

Linen Pants

olive green and navy linen pants

Old Navy, $24 | H&M

If covering up your legs is your end goal than linen pants are a fantastic alternative. Yes, they wrinkle, so if the wrinkles bother you don’t wear them. 

For a full length, wide leg option, look no further than Old Navy. Available in six colors, in regular, tall and petite sizes, these are an easy, light weight option. Wear them with a simple tee shirt and flat sandals. 

I’m also a big fan of these slim lined ankle pants by H&M. I wear them casually with a cotton top and have also dressed them up with a silky tank and wedges. Sizes are more limited. 

Tee Shirt Dress

three t-shirt dresses

Daily Ritual, Assorted Colors Under $20 |  Everlane, $45 | Old Navy, $27 

If you don’t mind showing some leg, a tee shirt dress is ideal.

You can wear with sneakers, sandals, or flip flops. They almost always come in cotton or a cotton blend, so they travel and wash well. Pay attention to their length because, like a tee shirt, they may shrink a little bit. It’s always better to have it run long at first.

Add a baseball hat and a crossbody bag for a busy summer day with or take on vacation for a casual day of sightseeing. 

These are the definition of “throw on and go.” 

The options above are all similar. Amazon’s brand, Daily Ritual, makes a simple dress, in a ton of colors, up to a size XXL. I always order two sizes from Amazon since they tend to be all over the scale. 

Everlane is the most polished of the three, with a seam at the waist detail that really changes the whole look and gives just enough shape. The color options are also the most sophisticated. 

Finally, Old Navy has regular, petite and tall options up to a size XXL here. I don’t like the prints offered, but the solids and stripe are all winners. Plus size here

Ankle Pants or Skorts

a skort and ankle pants

 

Talbots, $24.50| Old Navy, $30

Skorts are rising again in popularity and I am here for it. If you like the idea of shorts, but wish for a little more coverage, try out a skort. They’re cute, preppy, and still look sporty.

This bright and happy pattern one from Talbots (always size down) comes in missy, petite and plus up to a size 3X

An ankle pant is a more formal option, that you can wear casually or to the office, especially if you live in a cooler climate. Pair them with an open shoe and a sleeveless, lightweight top.

These pixie pants from Old Navy are a cotton blend with a little stretch. They are available in regular, petite and tall up to size 20 in an array of fun summer colors and year round neutrals. 

Finally, by now, we all know my opinion on capris. I skip over them as a category because they have been over-designed and mangled to the point that they are unflattering. They have too many pockets, are often over-embellished, and they hit you at the worst possible place on your leg. 

Any of the options listed above are a practical alternative to shorts and capris. 


Our Content is Inspired by Our Readers

Our readership inspires all of our posts and is not sponsored or paid for by brands or retailers. 

Recommendations are based on my experience as a personal stylist and wardrobe consultant for over a decade. I worked with busy, down-to-earth women who wanted to look chic and feel confident but were often confused by so much of retail. 

Some links are affiliate links, which means if you purchase via our site, we receive a small commission.

If you enjoy our content and would like to help us grow, please consider following on Instagram and join our Private Facebook Group to access more advice and exclusive in-depth conversations with other like-minded women.


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6 Reasons Why You Have Nothing to Wear

6 Reasons Why You Have Nothing to Wear
6 Reasons Why You Have Nothing to Wear - The Well Dressed Life6 Reasons You Have Nothing to Wear 

Waking up and feeling like you have nothing to wear is frustrating. It wastes time and starts your day off on the wrong foot. It’s also confusing because your closet is probably filled with clothes. 

Building a functional wardrobe is a lot of work. It takes an investment of time and money, two things we all feel a bit short on these days. 

Retail doesn’t do much to help us; many of us struggle with body image and changes, and we are constantly rushing and pressed for time. 

So shopping is overwhelming; finding the right fit is impossible, and dressing in a way that fells age-appropriate within a reasonable is the kind of advanced math that made college statistics almost the death of me. No wonder so many women feel like they have a closet full of nothing to wear. 

6 Reasons Why You Have Nothing to Wear

There aren’t many resources for grown-up women that provide easy to digest tips, honest recommendations and explanations for why certain outfit combinations are better than others.

I created The Well Dressed Life because I saw as a need for realistic style advice and practical shopping and product recommendations. I hope that our daily tips make your life a little easier and you feel more confident as a result.

So today, I’m breaking down a few of the reasons you feel like you have nothing to wear. We’ll talk about how to fix it, how to avoid it in the future and highlight our most popular posts filled with our best advice.

1. You’re Buying for One Time Use

6 Reasons Why You Have Nothing to Wear 

If you’re buying for an occasion rather than multi-wear use you’re going to have a closet full of pieces that don’t mix and match. You want your wardrobe to work together in a cohesive way that makes it easy for you to quickly put outfits together.

Instead, when you’re shopping, even if it’s with a specific event in mind, be sure you can wear the garment two or three different ways before you purchase.

This ensures you get the most out of everything in your closet, I call it the “Wear it Three Ways Rule.”

2. You Make Impulse Purchases

I often encourage our readers to step outside their comfort zone and try a new-to-you style, but if you’re all over the place with what you are buying, none of your clothes will “speak” to each other.

Personally, I have the most difficulty with this. Often, I think I should be braver with my style choices, and end up buying something so out of my realm that it sticks out like a sore thumb and doesn’t go with my other pieces.

If you have a defined style you’re happy and comfortable with, stick to it

3. You’re Only Shopping Sale

No one loves a bargain more than I do, but if you only shop sales, you’re really limiting your options and likely making do with pieces that don’t serve you well.

After more than ten years of cleaning out and reorganizing wardrobes with private clients, I know you will end up saving thousands of dollars over the years if you invest in better basics and use sales to discover a hidden treasure, or to add fun, novelty pieces.

See How to Mix High and Low Fashion and How to Look Stylish on a Budget

4. You Have Too Much6 Steps to Clean Out Your Closet in 60 Minutes

If you are short on time our post, How to Edit Your Wardrobe in 60 Minutes is a great way to kick off a good purge and get motivated. 

Back when we worked with clients, the one thing I was always blown away by was the sheer volume of clothes women had in their closets. You can’t see what you have when it’s hidden beneath clutter. Take some time to edit your wardrobe. Only keep what you love.

We have to redefine what it means to “have enough.” Americans in particular tend to value having a lot of “stuff.”  The fact is, you don’t need 25 pairs of jeans, you maybe need 3 or 4 depending on how frequently you wear them. 

5. You Lack Organization

Once your space is pared down, spend a little time getting it organized. You don’t have to spend a fortune, in fact, you might have everything you need in other rooms of your home.

Corral scarves in baskets, hang necklaces on 3M hooks, and keep like items together either folded or hung. To make the most of your space, invest in slim lined flocked hangers, so everything is at eye level.

6. You Don’t Know Your Style

6 Steps to Find Your Personal Style

Our post, How to Define Your Personal Style will walk you through our simple process. 

Clients used to tell me, “You know, I just don’t have any style.”  But that was rarely the case. With few exceptions, most women have style, they just don’t know how to articulate it.

If you’re not already on Pinterest, I highly recommend getting an account and creating a personal style board.  You can add images of outfits you like and “pin” all sorts of inspiration.

Once you fill a board with 50 plus pins, go over it again and edit it down. You’ll start to see common themes throughout. 

For example, do you prefer pants to skirts? 

Are you casual and cool or chic and ladylike? 

Are you attracted to neutrals or bold prints and patterns? 

You’ll start to see what you like and that will help you curate your wardrobe going forward.


Our Content is Inspired by Our Readers

Our readership inspires all of our posts and is not sponsored or paid for by brands or retailers. 

Recommendations are based on my experience as a personal stylist View Post and wardrobe consultant for over a decade. I worked with busy, down-to-earth women who wanted to look chic and feel confident but were often confused by so much of retail. 

Some links are affiliate links, which means if you purchase via our site, we receive a small commission.

If you enjoy our content and would like to help us grow, please consider following on Instagram and join our Private Facebook Group to access more advice and exclusive in-depth conversations with other like-minded women.


My Best Tips for Shopping Online

My Best Tips for Shopping Online

I’ve been hearing from readers and followers about how challenging they find shopping online for clothes. So today, I thought I would map out some of my best tips to help you navigate the world of e-commerce so you keep more of what you buy and save yourself trips to the post office. 

Our Current Situation

Retailers and malls were experiencing dwindling sales and low foot traffic long before the time of social distancing. Shopping, for many consumers, was getting not only frustrating but boring.

Many of the stores and shopping destinations currently on the cusp of never recovering from the freezing of our economy were in dire straits before this because they didn’t adapt to the changing world.

Now, all retailers are going to have to overhaul how they do business.

Yesterday, I drove my car for the first time in two months and headed to Target. If I didn’t need a few things to help celebrate my daughter’s birthday this week (that I couldn’t get delivered on time), I wouldn’t have gone at all.

Given the current situation, my Target, from a logistics and safety standpoint, is doing a great job. I felt safe, the staff was friendly and all the customers were in masks and followed the well laid out guidelines. 

But it wasn’t a “Target Run.” And so much of what makes Target, Target is the general joy women get out of picking up Starbucks and getting an hour to ourselves, roaming aisle after aisle, looking at things we don’t need all under the guise of “running errands.”

In my “expert” opinion, as long as we have to wear masks in stores and there is general uncertainty, consumers are going to be all business. Which means we’ll get in and out and skip the stuff that adds up, like pillows from Target, or an impulse beauty buy from Nordstrom.

Without an in store experience, retailers will find more ways to incentivize us to shop online, like deep discounts, bonuses and free shipping. 

But that brings along its own set of frustrations. So let’s net out how to do it well, so you save time, money and sanity. 

My Best Tips for Shopping Online

My Best Tips for Shopping Online

Know Your Measurements

The long held belief by almost all of us that we are a certain size is pointless. I can wear anywhere from a small to a large, and a six to a 12 – all depending on the brand.

You need to take your measurements and have them on hand to compare to the size guide provided on store sites. I keep mine in the notes app on my phone. You want to have your shoulder, bust, waist, hips and inseam. 

Use Retailers Sizing Guide

Next, you must refer to each retailers size guide before you add to cart. Every single one is different. The reason is because sizes are not regulated in the retail industry. Manufacturers can (and do) create their own size scale, with no rhyme or reason. 

Below, I captured the size charts from three of our most popular retailers: Old Navy, J.Crew and Banana Republic. 

Size Charts for J.Crew, Banana Republic, and Old NavyLet’s say your bust measures out at 38″. You would be a large in Old Navy and a Medium in J.Crew and Banana Republic. That’s a full size difference (which hold true in real life) and these brands are all under the same ownership. 

The discrepancy is even larger with brands that target different demographics – for example, I would swim in a size 10 suit from Talbots, but be a perfect fit in Theory. 

Read Reviews

Many retailers offer customer reviews that provide both a star rating AND comments. If you see something you like with a low star rating, be sure to read the accompanying comments. Often, customers write poor reviews because of shipping issues, or matters of personal tastes that have nothing to do with the fit and quality of a product.

Check the Return Policy

As the retail landscape changes, I can guarantee return policies will become more generous, and additional conveniences will be offered, like prepaid shipping labels, pick up, etc. Just give it some time.

However, it’s still important to check.

Not long ago, I made an impulse buy off of Instagram to try a brand that kept showing up in my feed. By the time I opened the package, a few days after receiving it, I had pretty much missed the window to send it back. They had a ten-day return period with convoluted requirements for return and refunds. 

It was so much extra work I ended up eating the order and learned a valuable lesson.

What (and Who) to Avoid

Speaking of what to avoid, proceed with caution when it comes to “social media brands.” These are brands like the above example that focus their marketing entirely on platforms like Facebook and Instagram.

Their shipping times tend to be so long you forget you even placed an order and have impossible return periods. More so, they’re not transparent about manufacturing practices.

This will change with time, and more legitimate, ethical businesses will have to sell on social, but the first round feel predatory.

If you see a product or brand you’d like to try, first do a quick Google search to find as much information as possible. Always read their “about” page. If they don’t have one, it doesn’t sound professional or they don’t provide key information like a customer service number or address, avoid it. 

Wear it Three Ways 

Follow the same guidelines online that we recommend for in store purchases. This is where I find online shopping incredibly helpful. It’s just you shopping! 

Before you pull the trigger on a purchase, ask yourself a few questions:

Do I LOVE it (assuming it fits the way you hope)? 

If it’s a mix and match item, can you wear it at least two, maybe three ways? 

If it’s a better basic, how frequently will you reach for it? 

Depending on the price, could you use multiples? 

What’s nice about online shopping is you have no pressure. You can toggle back and forth between your Pinterest boards and your shopping cart. You can search for discount codes, or options at different stores. You can walk away for a minute without feeling bad about wasting someones time. 

Online shopping can be incredibly efficient and fun with just a little prework!


Our Content is Inspired by Our Readers

Our readership inspires all of our posts and is not sponsored or paid for by brands or retailers. 

Recommendations are based on my experience as a personal stylist and wardrobe consultant for over a decade. I worked with busy, down-to-earth women who wanted to look chic and feel confident but were often confused by so much of retail. 

Some links are affiliate links, which means if you purchase via our site, we receive a small commission.

If you enjoy our content and would like to help us grow, please consider following on Instagram and join our Private Facebook Group to access more advice and exclusive in-depth conversations with other like-minded women.