Know Your Numbers!

Believe it or not, I don’t really enjoy shopping all that much.  Stores often feel crowded and doing a lot of trying on (especially without success) drains me.  One little tip that can make shopping in stores and online a little easier is to “know your numbers”!  Online, look in the product details for measurement information.  Admittedly some stores are better about providing this than others.  If the info isn’t there, a quick call to customer service can often solicit the details.  In stores, carry a small tape measure with you.  Testing the numbers on a piece before you try on greatly heightens the chances of success.

Key measurements that I like to keep stored on my phone include:

  • Rise.  Super important for jeans/trousers!  Find a pair that you love the fit of and measure both front and back rise.  The rise fit is probably the #1 indicator as to whether a new brand of jeans will be a hit or a miss in my closet.
  • Inseam.  As a fairly short girl, most things I buy will need to be hemmed but getting as close as possible to the correct fit often makes the job easier.  You may want to track several versions for this measurement: one for shorts, one for crop/ankle pants, one for jeans, one for work trousers or pants you wear with heels.
  • Skirt length.  Again, you may need a couple of these, one for your short skirt sweet spot and one for maxis.
  • Chest.  Important for tees and sweaters.  Again, measure the outside front/back of well-fitting tee or sweater right under the armhole seam and use this to gauge size on a new item when shopping.
  • Heel Height.  How many times have you bought a new pair of heels or boots, worn them a few times only to realize they were just out of your zone for comfortable walkability?  Over the years, I’ve finally learned that my max is 3-3.25″.  This translates to about 80 millimeters (the measurement most heel heights are given in) and I now know not to go over that height if I want to be happy with a new pair.

These are the areas that effect my fit and comfort most greatly. Yours may be different.  Often athletic girls have trouble with fit in the thighs whereas petites can have trouble with overall shirt length – maybe those are numbers you need to record.  In the end, I just hope that “knowing (and using) your numbers” will help you find a better fit more quickly as it has for me!

Caring for Your Investment Footwear

This past winter I decided to treat myself to a long-standing item on my Wardrobe Bucket List, a classic pair of Gucci horse-bit loafers.  When our Northeast Ohio snow finally melted I was eager…perhaps too eager…to start wearing them.  Worn twice, this is what they now look like:

Top View – Fine
Soles – Yikes!

My thoughts turned to proper protection for investment footwear.  Clearly I needed a refresher course.  Luckily it is not to late to get these beauties protected!

  • Waterproofing.  Living in NE Ohio where we get an abundant supply of wet weather, this is the first step I take with any new pair of shoes.  Cover the entire shoe (soles included and with special attention on the seams) twice prior to first wear.  Refresh at the start of each wearing season for as long as you keep the shoe and apply a mid-season coat if it has been particularly wet or slushy.  Periodic application of a leather conditioner is also a good idea.
  • Protection.  A good shoe repair company will be able to add color-matched rubber soles and heel/toe caps that will extend the life of your investment.  Do your homework and find someone reputable.  Yelp often has useful reviews.
  • Wear.  With closed-toe shoes it’s a good idea to wear some sort of ped or footie.  In wet climates, get a nice pair of Hunter wellies and wear them while in transit, slipping on your good shoes once at your event.  When traveling, pack and store them in their dust bag.
  • Storage.  Make sure shoes are completely dry before you store them. Rolled up brown paper inside the shoe while they dry will help retain the shape.  Before storing wipe the exterior with a soft cloth to remove dust.  Keep on top of any scuffs or damaged heels by taking them to your local shoe repair before they get too bad.  Use shoe trees or keep them lightly stuffed while not being worn so they will hold their shape.  Much like furniture or artwork, UV light is not a friend to fine footwear so keep them in your closet where they won’t be exposed to light.  If your shoes came with a dust bag, use it! 

The Luxury of Less

At my book club, several girls mentioned that they had recently read and enjoyed The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo.  As I was looking to get a jump on spring cleaning and am a fan of order and organization in general, I decided to give the book a read as well.  Ms. Kondo makes several recommendations for the proper way to organize and I’ve throw in my point of view on her key take away’s:

KonMari Approach
Natty Gal POV
Tackle all at once over a relatively short period of time.
Agree.  Particularly as her timeframe is pretty lenient, a month or so depending on how much needs to be done.
Start discarding with less emotional areas and work up to sentimental items.
Agree.  Starting where it easiest gives momentum.
Sort by category not storage area (i.e., all books in the whole house, not bedroom first).
Mostly Disagree.  Really think it’s easier/more efficient to go room by room or area by area.  Can see her point that if you store similar items in multiple places you may not be aware of all that you have.  But it’s just not the approach for me.
Discard within a category first, then decide how to store/organize.
Agree.  Common sense.
Hold your items to know what sparks joy.  There should be an automatic visceral response.
Mixed.  Unlike Ms. Kondo I’m not opposed to keeping some utilitarian or sentimental items even if they no longer “spark joy”.  But agree that the more you cull down to only “joyful” things in your life the happier you will be.
Store all like things together and have a place for everything.
Mixed.  Agree with having a place for everything but don’t always agree with storing all like things together.  In a Japanese home, as Ms. Kondo describes it, this method may make more sense and it seems more common to have one large central storage area as opposed to smaller closets in each room, American-style.
Storage should reduce your effort to put things back, not to take things out.
Agree.  While I’ve never thought about this much in the past, it’s a good philosophy.  When you want something, you’ll go to some effort to take it out and most clutter is caused when things aren’t put back so it makes sense that you’d want to minimize that effort.
Fold things properly and store items vertically not horizontally (clothes, books, papers).
Mixed.  Agree that you can quickly get into a storage rut if you keep piling box on top of box or book on top of book.  Am curious about standing clothing items upright.  Will have to give that a try before I knock it.
One doesn’t need fancy storage items.  Keep it simple – store handbags in other handbags, use cardboard boxes, jars, etc. 
Mostly Agree.  This isn’t critical but I enjoy when things look nicer.  On a budget, I’d prefer to be organized than to have great storage containers.
Let your possessions rest (i.e. empty your purse every day, put away your shampoo bottle every day).
Disagree.  I think this is just too much for most people.  Drying a shampoo bottle and storing it in the closet until the next day?  If I was showing my home for sale, yes.  Otherwise, I prefer the convenience of “storing” the shampoo bottle in the shower.  Ditto for the purse-emptying thing.  I don’t feel those items need to “rest” and for transferring bags, find that those little purse organizers already make this a pretty easy task.
There is a noise to labels.
Agree.  A pet peeve of mine.  Can’t stand looking at non-product identifying labels.  Invest in some goo gone and remove labels, price tags, bar codes, whatever miscellaneous labels a manufacturer has glued onto your goods.

My favorite chapter was the last one, the “magic” part.  In this chapter Ms. Kondo delves into why it can be hard to let go of things.  She attests that a reluctance to letting go can be traced to two major causes:

  • an attachment to the past (I really liked it when my mom bought if for me in high school)
  • an anxiety about the future (I don’t ever use it but might need it one day)

To help ease the emotional turmoil caused by these two states, the author reminds us that our possessions want to help us.  When they no longer help us we should thank them and say goodbye or send them on their way to be of use to someone new.  For anxiety about the future, she suggests comforting yourself with the thought that you can always borrow it or go buy the item if it is needed in the future.  The benefit of the freed up space will outweigh the anxiety of one day needing the item. 

Not only is life far less stressful when you don’t need to search for something but
when your house is in order and your only own what you love, it lets you appreciate your possessions, brings happiness and lightens you mentally/emotionally to allow you to pursue new opportunities. 

Are you inspired at all?  If so, get tidying and enjoy the freeing luxury of less!
The question of what you want to own is actually the question of how you want to live your life.”  – Marie Kondo