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Wardrobe Building: Suiting

One of the most important building blocks in any woman’s wardrobe is a suit.  While it’s easy to think of this as a piece only relevant to bankers, lawyers or hospital administrators, a suit is an indispensable item for all women and can be broken apart into many flexible looks
The J. Crew Super 120s Collection is my go-to low/moderate brand and can be a steal when they are running a sale, while BOSS and Theory are two top picks for moderate/high investment suiting.

My recommendation is to invest in the best jacket-pant-skirt combo that your budget can handle in black, navy or a dark grey.  Look for quality stretch wool fabric.  One-button or two-button jackets will work better than 3+ or double-breasted as will a classic shaped trouser (not too skinny, too flared).  A pencil is the most versatile skirt shape.  Tailor for an impeccable fit!

Now have fun styling your new versatile look!  For work try the trouser with a print blouse and accent-color cardigan; for day try jeans with a simple tee, blazer, bold statement necklace and platform slides or the pencil skirt paired with a chambray button-down tied at the waist, sunnies and a pair of lace-up ballet flats; for date night pair the trouser with an embellished silk tank and metallic sandals.  And rest easy you’ll never have to worry again about what to wear to that unexpected interview, that funeral, that after-hours work function of your husband’s, etc. 

J. Crew Super 120s

J. Crew Super 120’s Collection – Skirts from $128, Trousers from $138, Jackets from $248; a variety of fits are available in each category so you can find something that fits your style and best suits your body type. 

Theory Gabe Blazer
Theory Testra Trouser
Theory Lanai Blazer

 Theory Suiting Separates – Prices range from about $215-515 depending on item. 

BOSS Jabina Blazer
BOSS Tulea Trousers

 Boss Suiting Separates – Range from $180-625.

Trendy Tuesday: Off-the-Shoulder

This spring you cannot pass a store or magazine without spying the off-the-shoulder look!  Different from seasons past where we saw single-shoulder sleeves, strapless or cold shoulder cutouts, this look is one that most women seem eager to try this season.  Fit can be pretty critical with these tops and there are a few key things to look out for:

  • Volume – be aware of too much fabric overall or non-draping fabric, even the looser versions of these tops should still skim your curves
  • Length – Tops that fall at high hip are going to be the most flattering on the most people
  • Sleeves – Go for a fairly even line right off the shoulders, don’t pull these tops halfway down your arm.  Check your back view as well.  If you have issues with motion and the top staying in place, try watching this Refinery29 Video that uses ponytail holders and safety pins to correct the problem.


Aqua Ribbed Knit Top – $48 – Natty Gal’s top pic for stepping into this trend.  A great way to update your spring/summer date night outfits by pairing with a walking short or mini to maxi length skirt.

Sanctuary Clothing Julia Vintage Off-the-Shoulder Top

Sanctuary Julia Top – $79 – Great for boho girls, this print screams to be paired with denim!

Velvet Lace Top – $138 – Another great pair for denim, this top gives off a more girly-girl vibe.  Can also see it paired with a dark (or white if you’re brave) ankle pant for a dressier look.

Below are two examples of “don’ts”.  In the first photo there is just too much fabric and no sense of a body shape.  It’s also very long which adds to the “cinched up trash bag” feel.  In the second photo, two issues are highlighted.  First the top is both full and cropped; a tough look for most of us to pull off.  Second, the angled down sleeves are unflattering on even this thin model and would result in horrid armpit cleavage on the rest of us.  Keep these shirts off-the-shoulder, not off-the-elbows!

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