The Power Pause: How I decided whether to pull the trigger.


The Schutz "Nildy" pump in action.

This fall, I've been quite good about shopping deliberately and specifically, for my wardrobe. I've been very happy with my purchases, most of which have enjoyed immediate and repeated wearings.  

I would love to say my wardrobe is complete, but really, does that ever happen? I can't think of anything I need.

But I can think of many things I desire.

These shoes, for example.  

They are the "Nildy" pumps, by Schutz - one of my favorite shoe brands. I've been watching these shoes on a sales site for the past 7 or 8 months. I've never pulled the trigger because they were pricey. I knew that if the price came down, I would seriously consider buying these shoes.

The seller recently brought the price down.  

These are the actual shoes - all black leather, no patent or suede.

I want these shoes. I crave these shoes. I desire these shoes.

Do I need these shoes?  


Why would I buy them?

1. They fit in well with my current cool weather uniforms of jeans or pencil skirt + knit top and sleek topper. 

2. The ankle cuff, straps and hardware give them a very Sado-Chic vibe.

3. They are made by Schutz, which leads me to expect that they will be superlative, in terms of materials and craftsmanship.

4. With the shipping, they come in under $40.  If they don't work out, I'm reasonably certain I can sell them and make back those costs.

Why am I hesitating?

1. They have a 4.5" heel, and the platform is about .25", which kind of makes it not a platform at all. I can wear a 4" heel comfortably, but anything higher puts them into 'special event' wear, i.e., anything where JC and a valet pick me up and drop me off at doors, and I don't have to do quite so much walking. Whereas, I envision these more for regular going out, i.e. wear with jeans and a turtleneck while I down alcoholic root beer and shoot down older gents who fancy themselves 'playahs'.

You know, proper bitch shoes.

2. I have half-a-dozen pairs of black leather heels that fit the 'going-out' bill. But I like to split wears, because that's what keeps my feet and ankles in good, stilettos-sporting shape.

What to do... what to do...

I'm taking a Power Pause, where I take a specific amount of time and consider, dispassionately whether to buy an item. This can last anywhere from 12 hours, to a year or more.

Here is what I'm asking myself...

1. Do I already have something similar to these shoes? Not really. I have one other pair of ankle strap pumps, my Schutz Ellas. The Ellas are patent leather, and have a daintier, and more formal vibe. I feel that the Nildys can be dressed down into a more casual look.

2. Can I express myself fully in these shoes? Black leather, Sado-Chic, Stiletto Bitch Shoes. YES.

3. Do they compare in quality to a benchmark item? Compared to my Schutz Ellas and Gilbertas, and my Tom Ford tassel pumps, I would say very likely, although I have not yet seen them in person.

4. Are they multi-seasonal? Can they be worn with or without hosiery? This is very important, because May to October can be pretty hot in the south.

I believe I can wear these in the summer with skinny jeans or pencil skirt + casual tee. I think they will work equally well with or without hosiery.

I recently purged a pair of black 'summer' stiletto sandals, that started squeaking. These could fill in for those sandals.

5. If they don't work out, can I re-sell them and recoup my losses? I'm certain I can.

So far, this is looking pretty good. But here is the big-money question:

How can I make these wearable for the six-block walk from condo to car, and car to venue?

These shoes are half a size larger than my regular size. My cobbler carries really good ball-of-foot pads in his shop. I feel I can pad these up another quarter inch. As mentioned already, if they don't work out, I can always resell them.

I have not yet pulled the trigger, but I plan to sit down and make the purchase later today. I will keep you posted!

The Nildys, in grey, multi-media

Do you ever pause, before deciding on a wardrobe purchase?

What I'm Trying to Say, Is...

I have recently finished a remarkable book, "Fear and Clothing: Unbuckling American Style", by Cintra Wilson.  

Amongst a wealth of fascinating observations and ideas, is this singular notion:   what we put on our bodies, every day, provides a very intimate snapshot of our inner selves - warts and all - to anyone who knows to look.

Mind = Blown.

In the book's introduction, Ms. Wilson notes, 

"Your style is your visual interface with the rest of the world... The way you dress reveals both what you know about yourself... and also what you don't.   When you compose an outfit, you are creating a statement that is, essentially, a shorthand mini-autobiography."

She goes on to add, 

"Your outfit can give the clothing-attuned eye a flood of semi-impressions - a peek into your bank account, an up-to-the-minute self-esteem update, and a periscope into your bedroom (to name a few). ....  an outfit can sum up a human being like a two-sentence TV Guide film synopsis".

I'm absolutely enthralled with this book.   I finished it about ten days ago, and I'm already re-reading it.  This book has changed how I look at people and what I notice about them, via their sartorial choices.   It is an exciting new language that I suddenly comprehend.

This book also prompted me look more closely at myself.  What am I trying to say to the world?  I've never quite thought of it in this way.   I knew that I wanted to 'appear' a certain way, but this goes so much farther - it is active, unspoken communication, via clothing and shoes.

Over the past two months, I have been wearing the same 'uniforms', over and over again:

1)  High-necked, fitted knit top + wiggle skirt + stiletto heels
2)  High-neck, very fitted knit top + skinny jeans + stiletto heels/low-heeled equestrian boots/low-heeled pumps

My topper is either a leather moto, a black knit jacket or a black zip cardigan.
Jewelry is simple:  pearl or diamond studs, a few matching bracelets.   
Hats are either cadet caps, a faux-fur Russian cossack, or a wool beret.
My bags are either large black handbags, or small colorful cross-body bags.
I always wear hosiery with the skirts, in the fall and winter.

The common denominators for my outfits, is that everything is covered up and very fitted.  Clothing is stretchy, for ease of movement.   Dark.  Sleek.  Spiky.    I think my love for sci-fi uniforms and sado-chic fetish is clearly presented.

What am I saying with my sartorial choices?    I was astonished at how clearly and quickly the answer presented itself...

"It's all here for you to see - but it is veiled, wrapped up, because I am a sacred mystery.   I'm not here for you to gawk at.   You're going to have to look me in the eye, smile, and speak clearly.    If you want to see more, you're going to have to 'see' me first, for who I am:  an intelligent, reasonable, human being, and you are going to accord me the time, attention, and respect that I deserve".

There is a societal trend to 'overshare'.   On social media, in conversation, on television, and in our collective manner of dress.   This trend makes me uneasy and uncomfortable.   I'm not that conservative, and I don't dress to hide my body.   Even though I am fully covered, my body is clearly outlined within the clothes.   I am happy with my figure, even with my weight gain this year.   However, I have a large bust, and I dislike that being the focus of attention when I first meet people.   I also dislike that many people - men and women both - seem to want to judge my intellect by my bra size, or the shape of my behind.

I go out frequently with friends and colleagues, in social situations.   Sometimes I know everyone in the room, but more often, there is a sea of strangers standing between me and the friends I'm meeting up with.

There is a clothing trend out there, that I see on women of all ages, where their 'going-out' outfit consists of a dress that is low-cut, strapless, strappy or sleeveless, and very short.   These little lampshades are inevitably paired with ridiculously high platform sandals, held precariously to their feet with inadequate straps.   There is usually a lack of hosiery.

I want to say there is nothing wrong with this outfit, but I cannot.   In my opinion, there are several things that are glaringly wrong.   In the absence of large amounts of alcohol, none of these women ever seem fully at-ease with themselves, in this attire.   Also, this is a chilly protoype to wear when it's below 65 degrees outside.   And this type of stiletto platform seems exceptionally heavy and awkward to walk in.

And need I say it?   Men don't seem to know how to behave or talk to women dressed in this manner.

What response do I get, in my fully-covered get-up?   With strangers, it's mixed.   For some people, how I dress is off-putting or intimidating.   On the surface, this isn't an open, friendly look.   For the person whose gaze goes past the outfit, to my eyes, the outfit doesn't matter, because I am an open, friendly person, and I wear that on my face.

For the people who know me, they are either complimentary, or non-committal, and we move on with our lives and have fun.

Have you ever considered your clothing in this manner?   If so, what is your message?   What would you like your message to be?    Do your choices reflect this?

Happy Holidays!

Happy Holidays!   I wish you a season full of magic...

... and glamour!

... may you always be the center of attention...

Here is hoping you have a lenient boss, when you stagger into work the morning after...

Bob Cratchit's Raise
"I am very sorry, sir, I am behind my time... It shall not be repeated.  I'm afraid I was making rather merry."

Crack open a cold one...

It's root beer, AND it's alcoholic.   MAGIC!

Have a wonderful, wonderful day today - and every day!  Whatever celebration you choose for your festivities, I wish you much love and joy this season!

In my world, every day is Festivus.

On Wardrobe Editing

I'm always searching for that Holy Grail of wardrobe editing articles - that magical, perfectly written post full of curating tips, that will open up the Cave of Wonders, and behold!   I will have a shiny closet full of precisely styled clothing, and everyone will bow down and worship me as the Queen of Super-Fierce-Awesomeness.

Turns out, the Holy Grail is elusive.

I find that most of these closet-purge articles say the same thing:   Pull everything out of your closet.  Try it on.  Does it fit?  Do you like it?   Does it need to be tailored/mended/deloused? What can be chucked out, because of fit, or wear or whim?

Most of them mention having wine while you do this.

I can't think of a single instance in which alcohol has led to me making a better decision.

Fools! I think to myself as I read these articles, You do not know who you are dealing with!  I'm bigger, better, craftier than that.   I am a Fourth-Generation Hoarder of Unnecessary Things.  I can rattle off seventeen reasons to keep everything, and drink a latte all in the same breath.  

Until the inevitable day, when I have to pull together something specific, and I'm frantically digging my way through a lot of crap.   I always swear, That's it!   I'm going to get my closets sorted, once and for all.   It's only recently that I've made any headway, when pondering what it would take to edit down my wardrobe.

I've come up with a specific list of questions to edit my closet:

1.   Am I expressing myself fully in this?

2.  Do I feel energized when I wear this?

3.   Does this item express what I want to 'say', when I wear it?

4.  Is this a benchmark item?   Does this match the quality of my other benchmark items?

5.   If I were going overseas to live for six months, would I bring this item?  (Okay, it's Paris.  This scenario is always 'going overseas to Paris'.   Yes.  I am a cliche').   I go with the assumption that I would have to take the stairs everywhere - as was really the case on previous visits to The City of Lights and Out-of-Order Elevators-  so I would have to be willing to haul the item around.

Not all of the questions are touchy-feely.   I have a list of practical considerations as well:

6.   High heels or no, can I hike six blocks in these shoes, from wherever I parked, to wherever I'm going?

7.   Does this item require shapewear?  (It does?   Then, BYE!)

8.   Can I sit down and eat a full meal in this?

9.   Am I going to have a meltdown when I inevitably spill something down the front?

I've had great results with theses questions, so far.   In the past six months, I have purged at least 75 items from my closet, and my purchases have been fewer, and more in-keeping with what remains.   Which is still a LOT of stuff.

On to you:   what helps you move forward, when you're curating your closet?

Use Benchmark Items to Curate Your Wardrobe

Schutz "Ella" Pumps, in Eclipse

There are certain items in my closet that are 'benchmark' items.   They are the exemplary pieces that I use to decide whether to keep, purge, or purchase other items for my wardrobe.

This is an idea I discovered on my own, a few years ago - although I have since seen other people talk about this same idea.    

The photos below are of the shoes that first sparked the idea for me:  my first pair of Schutz shoes.   Schutz makes some glorious shoes, and as of this writing, I own four pairs by this brand:  two pairs of pumps, a pair of flat boots, and a pair of flat casual sandals.    (Please note that I receive no compensation by saying this.   I really just love these shoes).  

These shoes are the 'Ella' pumps, and the color is called 'Eclipse'.   They are truly breathtaking!  The front part of the shoe is a dusky grey-blue, and the back of the shoe looks either charcoal or pure black, depending on the light.   The shoes are all-leather, including the soles.

These shoes make me feel fierce and amazing when I wear them, and I quickly realized, I wanted all of my shoes to make me feel this way.   

So when I look at adding a pair of shoes to my closet, or keeping a current pair, I ask myself...

Are those shoes as awesome as my Ella's?

'Ella' pumps, by Schutz

If the answer is 'yes', then the other shoes stay in my closet/are purchased.   Provided, of course, that the new shoes aren't a close duplicate of the Ella's.   I do split my wears in shoes, because I find it keeps my feet in good shape.

I started with shoes, but found that this idea could be applied to other clothing.   I compared other pieces - bottoms, tops, jackets - that I brought into my closet, to the Ella shoes, asking myself:

Are these on a similar plane of 'awesome', as the Schutz shoes?

Would I wear this with the Schutz shoes?

Rear view of the 'Ella' pumps

Not long after that, I realized there were other benchmark pieces in my closet, and new questions came out of this realization...

Norma Kamali for Everlast Skirt

This skirt, for example.   I've had this skirt, I don't know, at least five years now.    I've taken it around the world with me, and I pack it every time I travel, even if it's for a weekend.   It's my go-to skirt for everything.  It's Norma Kamali for Everlast, and I bought it new, with the tags still attached, for $29 on eBay.   This skirt is a chameleon:   whatever I wear it with, immediately looks great.   Fancy tops, bodysuits, jackets, heels, tee shirts, casual sandals, with a belt, or without.   I've worn this skirt to everything:  receptions, business dinners, cocktail parties, and BBQs.  

After five+ years, it's starting to show wear.   When it dies, I'm going to buy fabric and have something similar made for me.  

When I look at other skirts or dresses or tops, I ask myself:

Is this as versatile as the Kamali-Everlast skirt?   
Does it flatter me on a similar level to the Kamali-Everlast skirt?
Does this item look like it will have the same longevity as the Kamali-Everlast skirt?

Schutz 'Gilberta' pump, in black.

This is my other pair of Schutz pumps.   I stalked many pairs of these online, before scoring a new pair on eBay for $29 (I did a 'best offer', and was astounded when the seller accepted).

I wear these shoes to just about everything:  with ripped jeans and a turtleneck or tee for everyday casual, and I wore them last night to a huge holiday gala.     Like the Ellas, these shoes are leather, with leather soles.   They are lightweight, and very durable.

When I look at other shoes, or clothing items, to keep, purge, or purchase, I ask myself:

Are these as versatile as the Gilbertas?   
Are they as streamlined?
Are they as durable and easy to wear?

Using this 'benchmark' technique over the past several years, I've gradually introduced better quality pieces into my closet, and purged lesser-quality items as they have worn out.   

I feel I should mention... a benchmark piece needn't be expensive.   Several of my benchmark pieces (a St. John jacket I wear everywhere, a silk turtleneck sweater, a pair of coated jeans) were thrifted  or bought on eBay and cost under $30 each.

I hope you found this article useful!   So on to you... do you have benchmark pieces in your closet, that you use to help curate your wardrobe?

Nine Weeks Into My Capsule Wardrobe Experiment...

Tomorrow begins Week Ten of my capsule wardobe experiment.   

This hasn't gone entirely as expected or planned, but this has been such a worthwhile experience, I intend to continue, with a new capsule in mid-December.

Let me bring you up-to-date on all of this...

I.   My reasons for starting this capsule wardrobe experiment:

To spend less time thinking (obsessing) about clothing, and what I was going to wear.   

To reduce the amount of wardrobe items in my home, as part of a large decluttering project.

To spend less money overall, especially on things I don't need or love.

In this regard, the experiment has gone very well!   I have made real, measurable progress.   I realize these goals are not boxes to check off.   They are lifelong processes.

II.   Changes to My Capsule:

Ironically, as I stopped obsessing quite so much about my wardrobe.... I stopped being quite so careful in maintaining the capsule.   As a result, the capsule itself changed.    Some new items came in, some items were purged.   There were several reasons for this:

Non-wears:   Two words, infinite angst:  Weight Gain.   This has been the sole reason for non-wears that have happened since my last post.   Either the the item doesn't fit properly due to weight gain, or the item was something I paired with the things I am currently not wearing (due to weight gain).

Instead of allowing myself to dwell on negative thoughts, I decided to make substitutions from my existing wardrobe, including purged items that I intended to consign.  This has worked out well.   If I had to take a guess, my current wardrobe is around 55 items.   I am probably wearing around 40-45 of those on a regular basis.

Colors that looked great in the spring and summer, don't look the same in the changing light of fall.   I understand the 'why' behind the old "No-white-after-Labor-Day" tradition:  white can look very harsh in the slanted, dusky light of autumn.   I also found that my olive safari pieces of summer look faded and dusty in the fall light.

Most of my bright white pieces were purged.   Some were replaced with winter white and cream, or not at all.    Olives have been purged altogether, to wait for next summer.

Items that crept in from my closet, which were not part of this original capsule.   This was an organic process:  An unexpected temperature shift.   A backlog of laundry.   Something that goes really well with a weight-gain item that was already added to the capsule.   Being at my place, and pulling a substitute for something I left at JC's.   Wanting a little variety.  

I've realized that One Capsule To Rule Them All, is hard to put together, because any pre-planned capsule is going to be a little bit out-of-season by the time you are halfway through.   This is an ongoing process.

Items that I Purchased:   There have not been many of these, and happily, they have all been thought-out, and extremely useful.   Items include:   A pair of black leather equestrian boots.   A St. John black zip-up jacket that is an upscale duplicate of my black zip cardi.   A sexy black halter that I'm able to fit a bra under.   A black turtleneck, winter white slacks, and a winter white sweater.    These have already been seeing frequent wear, and it helps mitigate the negativity of the weight gain. 

III.   What I Have Learned Going Into the Next Capsule:

I've been able to narrow down, pinpoint, and get specific with what I want my wardrobe to say, and to do for me.    My current capsule, and the outlying items, are a great fit for my lifestyle, and I think that will only improve with time.

I've also learned that nothing is written in stone.  If I want to add something, I'll add it.   If I want to let go of something, I will.   No coulda, shoulda, woulda's.  

I am continuing my curation process, purging more items than I acquire.   I'm holding to a one-in, one-or-two-out process.

I've created a list of questions that I ask myself when I am deciding whether to keep an item, or purchase a new one.   I will talk about this in a future post!

I also have a list of 'benchmark' items, i.e., items that I consider set a high standard in terms of quality, and expressing my style.     This is very useful for making choices of keep, purge, purchase.   Again, I will talk about this in a future post!

IV.  My Plans For My Next Capsule:

1.   To create a capsule that will start in mid-December and run to the end of February, possibly mid-March.

2.  The clothing in the current capsule that doesn't fit, are all things I love.   I am going to set those aside, for future capsules.

3.   If one of those items fits again, I will allow them into the December capsule.

4.  More dance class-to-street style.

What about you?   Do you spend a lot of time thinking, planning, tracking, obsessing over the contents of your closet?

Signature Scents...

There are few things that make me feel more beautiful than perfume.   Even if I have on no makeup, and I'm hanging out in lounge clothes, with my hair deciding to f*ck off and do its own thing... a good perfume makes me feel like a million bucks.   

Give me a clean French manicure, a spritz of perfume, and a little lip gloss, and I can take on the world.

What makes a good perfume?   To me, it comes down to a two basic things:

1.   The fragrance smells real, not synthetic.  This is a little tricky to explain, because I'm pretty sure all perfumes, to some degree, have some synthetics in them.  But I would say that, in a good perfume, the floral notes smell like fresh-picked flowers, and the wood notes smell like freshly-cut wood.   In general, the more expensive the perfume, the better the quality of the ingredients.   This is regardless of whether you like or dislike a particular fragrance.  

2.   You feel an overwhelming sense of happiness or energy when you put it on.   

If you are curious about perfumes, I have found the Fragantica site to be an excellent place to research scents and learn about new releases.   

I want to share some of my favorite scents with you, as well as some scents I am currently trying out.   Please note that I do not receive any monetary or material gain by talking about these scents or posting links.   These are scents that I love, that intrigue me.

Enchanted Forest, by The Vagabond Prince:   This is my signature scent, and I never tire of it.  When I wear this, I spend the rest of the day sniffing surreptitiously at my own wrists.   

This is what they have to say about it on the Fragantica website:

"Enchanted Forest is inspired by the endless sea of Russian forests and fairytales, as well as the most sensual ancient Slavic celebration named Kupala, rooted in the times of darkness, when all on the Earth knew its soul and its name (often too powerful to be uttered in vain or at all)."

... And on the Vagabond Prince site...

"The fragrance was suggested by Nature itself. It's the smell of the forest, when you step in it in the night. Black currant, a core note of the composition, tries its delicious magic on you, unfolding memories and your desires."

I first read about it on the Fragantica site, when the perfume had its debut.   At the time you could order a sample for about $6 plus shipping.   I adored it, and JC gave me a bottle this past Christmas.   Since then, the price has increased significantly.   I don't know if they will do this, but I would recommend emailing to ask if they can send a sample, before spending $200 plus shipping!   

With regards to the scent, I find a little goes a very long way.   I usually apply half a spritz to one wrist, and rub it on both wrists and back of the neck.   If we're going somewhere fancy, I do a 3/4 spritz.   I feel like this scent goes with everything and every mood, whether its a slinky black sheath dress, wicked high heels, and a mind bent on sin, or in my Seven League Boots (I will tell this tale another day), leather jacket, and adventure.   I get a lot of compliments on this scent, and I think what makes it so unusual are the layers and depth of the fragrance notes.

I do find this scent to be a bit much in warmer weather, unless it is worn in the cool of the evening.

Sexual Sugar by Michel Germain:   This is my summertime, hot weather, fallback perfume.  I found this perfume at one of the Duty-Free shops when we were returning to the U.S. from Canada, in 2013.   It looks as though it is available at Macy's, online.

Here is what the Michel Germain site says about this scent...

"Hugs and kisses are guaranteed with Sexual Sugar.  Sexual Sugar tempts and teases with a burst of mouthwatering, juicy wildberries and crystalized sugar. Sprinkled with the light freshness of orange water flower, sensual passion flower, and aphrodisiacs, it does the flirting for you. This is not your ordinary fragrance."

Strangely, when I wear this, the first thing I think of is that it smells like something my great-grandmother would have used and loved.  I find it to be light, sweet, delicious, and not overpowering. Sweet, yes... but grown-up, too.  Online reviewers seem to have a love/hate relationship with this perfume - some people found it too sweet and cloying.   I feel that any fragrance that is over-applied, is going to have that effect.   I do a 1/2 to 3/4 depth single spritz and have gotten many compliments on the scent.

Tom Ford:   Tobacco Oud, Noir de Noir, Oud Wood, Venetian Bergamot:  On our recent trip to Las Vegas, I stopped in at the Tom Ford store at the Crystals at Aria, and a lovely staff member gave me a tour of their fragrances, as well as some samples to try.   I want to talk about these now.   They run the gamut of 'intriguing' to 'infatuated' for me, and I am in the process of deciding which of these scents to add to my collection...

Noir de Noir:   When I smelled the samples sprayed on the cards, this was my hands-down favorite.  I loved this when I first smelled it.   I still do.   The notes listed are: rose, earthy, warm spicy, patchouli, vanilla.   Every time I open the sample and sniff, the rose notes are absolutely divine.  To me, this is an old-fashioned scent, in the very best of ways:  Noir de Noir bespeaks Old World glamour and elegance.   This scent gives me great nostalgia; a very distant memory of the beautiful old Italian ladies who wore mink stoles to church, and pinched my cheeks and said 'bella, bella!' when I was very small.   There is a distinct femme fatale vibe to this fragrance.

Sadly, when I put this on my skin, there is no glamour and elegance.  There are only hippie, patchouli notes that really stand out.   The first time I tried it was bad.   I felt like I had spent a day in a head shop.

But I am nothing if not stubborn, so I keep trying the sample.   I have shaken it really well, carefully applied it.   I'm wearing it now.   Today I got some of the rose, but mostly patchouli.   At some point I plan to swing by Nordstrom and try the spray bottle, to see if there is some magical aeration that brings those rose notes forward.

The right woman, wearing this fragrance, could rule the world.

Tobacco Oud:   If Noir de Noir was my favorite in theory, this is my favorite in reality.   The notes are tobacco, warm spicy, whiskey, sweet, oud.   I have always loved the scent of tobacco, and the taste of a good bourbon - but this scent is more than that.   The sweet notes are there, but the whiskey and oud cut through the sweet, and give it just the right amount of discord.  I wish I could describe how oud smells to me.   It's adds a lushness to the fragrance.   I love it, and I love this scent:  it has a smell of mystery, intrigue, and adventure.   Like Noir de Noir, there is a sexual sort of vibe to this scent.   I feel like this fragrance would accompany my black leather pencil skirts and stiletto heels quite nicely. When I wear Tobacco Oud, I feel powerful, unstoppable, a force to be reckoned with.  Redhead coming through, get outta my way!

I am pretty sure that Tobacco Oud will be the next fragrance I buy, but I want to smell Tobacco Vanille once more. When I smelled TV at Tom Ford, I found it pleasing, but it did not leave a long-lasting impression, however, I was surrounded by scents, so I want to smell it again.

Oud Wood:  The notes in this are woody, balsamic, spicy, oud, aromatic.   This has been my second favorite choice, in reality, when worn.   The scent has that same intrigue for me that Tobacco Oud has... and something different.   I think it's the mood of the scent.   This scent, like Enchanted Forest, makes me think of fairytales.   It's a strange thing to say, but this scent stikes me as aloof, stand-offish.   I'm going to make you come to me.   I feel this lacks a little something when I smell it side-by-side with Tobacco Oud.

Venetian Bergamot:   Woody, fresh spicy, citrus, white floral, powdery.   I found this fragrance bright, energizing, and rich.   Alas, white floral has a high rate of triggering a migraine when I wear it.   I loved the scent in the bottle and sprayed on a card.   When I put it on my skin, the white floral note rose to the surface, and within five minutes, I was frantically scrubbing it off the insides of my wrists.

This is one of those delicious scents that I will have to admire on others.   For whatever reason, white floral notes on other people don't seem to bother me - as long as they had a judicious hand in the application!

Tobacco Oud is my first choice, but as I mentioned above, I want to try Tobacco Vanille on my skin.  I also want to re-try Tuscan Leather, which I thought had somewhat of a non-scent.   I want to try these apart from smelling a dozen other perfumes, and see if my impressions are the same.

When I do make my purchase, it will be via the Tom Ford store in Las Vegas, because I found the staff to be very friendly and helpful.

On a final note... when I think of perfumes, I always think of the film, American Hustle.   Rosalyn Rosenfeld (played by Jennifer Lawrence) has some great things to say about what makes perfume intriguing...

What is your favorite scent?  What makes it stand out, in your experience?

Some Tips on Shopping at Goodwill and Other Thrift Stores

I will be honest, the only thrift store I normally shop is Goodwill.   Goodwill, as a chain, is usually conveniently located, ofttimes in a place where I (probably naively) assume my car won't get looted.  The stores are kept reasonably clean - although sometimes it looks as though an army of toddlers has just marched through on the way to burn Atlanta.   In truth, that describes every Kohl's I've ever been to as well.

If I happen past a thrift store and I have time, I like to stop in those as well.   But mostly, Goodwill is my jam.

There are many reasons to love GW.   For one... they organize by items and color.   Long sleeve knits, long-sleeve sweaters, long-sleeve button-downs... short sleeves in each category... each category has its space, as do jeans, skirts, shorts, pants.   So if you are looking for something very specific, say, a white or cream long-sleeve ruffled blouse for your steampunk costume, or a black pencil skirt, it is very easy.

On the other hand... you also have to dig.    It's half the fun - and it's how you find the very best treasures.

Another reason to love GW:  you always know how much an item will be:  as of this writing, tops, sweaters, skirts are $5.75.   Dresses are $6.96, unless they're formals, in which case I think they are $9.99 or something close.   Jeans are around 7 bucks and change - but I honestly cannot recall off the top of my head.

In addition, they normally have a huge selection of books.   I don't buy print books anymore, but I have friends that do and swear by GW.  I do browse housewares, and occasionally have found the occasional fantastic kitchen/barware item that we actually needed.  If I need props for a theatrical show, or costume pieces, GW is the first place I look.   Usually the last, as well.

Every week, Goodwill has a half-off color, where all items with that color tag are 50% off.   They also do discounts for seniors, military, and firefighters and policemen, on certain days of the week.

Here are my tips for a successful shopping foray into Goodwill, or any thrift store:

1.   Use common sense, and be aware of your surroundings.   Really... this applies to everywhere you go.   I'm just gonna say it:  thrift stores, even GWs, are not usually located in the very best or safest areas of town.   Try not to carry a lot of cash.   Use a crossbody purse with sturdy straps.   Be aware of where you put your keys, especially if your keys can remotely unlock your car doors and open your trunk (again, this is something you should always be aware of).

Don't wear too much jewelry - not just because it attracts attention - but also because it can catch on clothing on the racks, and you risk damaging or losing your bracelets or rings.

2.   Have an idea of your color palette, and your wardrobe holes, going in.    It's a rare day I don't find at least three really "oh, wow!" potential wardrobe or costuming items.  I don't want to live in a theatrical warehouse or a mini-store of my own making, so I always think carefully about whether the item fits my color palette, whether it fills any gaps in my wardrobe.   I try to imagine how it can be worn, at least three ways, with what is already in my closet.  I also ask myself, "Do I already have something like this?"

Most important of all, I assess the immediacy of use: is this an item I can wear or use immediately? If not, am I willing to clean it, care for it, and store it?   Asking yourself this makes all the difference between a well-curated wardrobe, and being the featured lead-in for an episode of 'Hoarders'.

3.  Consider the context of the item you're considering.   Where will you wear it?   What will you wear it with, that you already have?  Is this a home decor item?   What will it look like in the context of your home, with your other things?   Do you need this item?   Will it enhance your life?

GW is chock full o' other people's fantasy life clothing - so keep in mind, that unless you walk the red carpet every other weekend, there are only so many velvet or beaded gowns one person can wear in a lifetime.

If you are unsure... put it back.   If there is one absolute certainty I can tell you about Goodwill, eBay, and brick-and-mortar stores... there will always be another fabulous dress, pair of shoes, bag, set of wineglasses, cute little lamp waiting for you around the corner.   This isn't the last perfect little moto jacket you'll ever encounter.   I promise!

4.   Wear close-fitting clothes when you go to the store:  Some thrift stores don't have fitting rooms, and some limit the amount of garments you can take in with you - and usually the fitting room doors auto-lock, which makes swapping out garments in your cart a sort of Russian Roulette for your own clothes and purse.   Often, I will try on jackets, blazers, and button-down shirts over what I am wearing.  If I am wearing leggings, I can pull a skirt on over those.

Wearing shoes you can easily slip on and off is also very helpful, says the girl who wore zip-up, over-the-knee boots on her last, impromptu visit.  (And a turtleneck.  Bad outfit all around for clothes-shopping).

5.  If at all possible, give yourself a couple of hours, and go through all of the racks.  Earlier this year, I spent did just that, and wound up with some beautiful finds, most of which I kept and have enjoyed.

6.  If you find a skirt you really like, go back to the tops and look for something in the same color.   Even if the skirt matches a bunch of stuff you already have, if you can find a top, in good shape, in the same color, you've got a great ensemble for dressier events.   Make sure both items are free of stains, rips, tears, and odors.

7.   Check the items you select carefully, for odors.   Certain odors are very hard to remove:  mildew, strong perfumes, and certain detergents (Gain).   I think that thrift stores also spray clothing to help deter mildew and bugs, with something that smells similar to flowery laundry detergents (Gain or Tide), or like bubble gum.   It isn't impossible to get these smells out, but it may mean soaking them for a good long time in your regular laundry detergent, or oxyclean - or a trip to the dry-cleaners.

If the fabric is nylon or polyester and it has a sweaty smell, put it back, unless you have a tried-and-true method for removing this type of smell from synthetic textiles.

8.   Check the items you select carefully for stains, rips, tears, and moth holes.   I try and find a spot with good natural light, to search.   If a garment has moth nibbles, but you looooove it anyway, take it directly to the dry-cleaner or launder it immediately.

Depending on how crafty you are, or how much you love the garment, you can sew seams, darn small holes and moth nibbles, and replace zippers and buttons - or have a seamstress do this for you.

If the sweater is cashmere and it is pilled, a disposable razor from the travel section at the drugstore, will do wonders.  Caveat:   I have only tried this with tightly-knit garments, and they've always turned out beautifully.

For stains... I've had luck with perhaps 1 in 5 stains.   Underarm stains are a no-go.   So unless it is a fantaaaaaastic piece for stage, and I know the stage lights will wash it out, I usually pass on stained garments.   If it's just dust or dirt, though, that can be laundered.

9.   Canvas bags and shoes can be cleaned with carpet cleaner.   If you Google "how to clean a Coach bag", many people have posted great video tutorials.   I have used Resolve carpet cleaner to remove stains off of Coach bags and scrub canvas espadrilles, with great success.

10.   Often, leather shoes can be brought back to life with a good polishing.  If the shoe or boot is intact, but scuffed, don't rule it out.   Again, there are many great tutorials online, demonstrating how to polish shoes.  A good shoe repair person can replace taps, and even resole leather soles, if there isn't a lot of damage.   Also, if you're lazy, and want to throw $10-20 bucks, get a pro to polish them for you.   A guy friend of mine turned up in some glorious leather shoes, and I complimented him, only to find they were the crappy shoes I'd been making of fun of for awhile ("box car hobo", I believe, were my words).  He paid $20 plus a tip to a guy, and the shoes looked uh-mazing.

I strongly advise against buying shoes with broken heels.   I did that with a gorgeous pair of Charles David pumps that I paid $5.75 for.   I thought my shoe guy could fix it (he's a genius, really)...  $40 later, the heel popped loose again, after walking six blocks.   I re-donated them and reluctantly chalked it up as a learning experience.

It is late, and my eyes are closing, so I am going to end this here!   My next article will be about shopping in consignment stores.  Much of what I've written here applies - but there are some differences.   I will talk about that next time!


A Case of The Hiccups

In a previous post, I noted that I was feeling disinclined to continue with my capsule wardrobe experiment.

That is barely the icing on the cake. 

About 2.5 weeks into this project, I felt like I just didn't want to do this anymore.   I wasn't motivated to put together an outfit or get dressed up.   My clothes weren't exciting me.   I wasn't having fun planning and documenting my outfits - which I normally love to do.   Everything felt meh, bland, blah.   The urge to shop was almost overwhelming at times.   I admit, I did give in to those urges.   I visited all my usual thrift and consignment stores, and cruised my favorite online eBay shops.    

With a few exceptions, I left (or closed the browser window) without buying anything.   


Because at the end of the day, my capsule wardrobe is perfectly suited to my needs and my tastes.   With few exceptions, I did not see anything that I felt could out-do, enhance, move my style forward, or be more useful than what is already hanging in my closet.

When I realized this, the excitement came back.

This has been my goal all along - this elusive concept of a perfect wardrobe. To have actually reached this why I am continuing this experiment.

So with these feelings and experiences under my belt,  I sat and picked apart why I was feeling the way I was.

The big overwhelming reason?   I have gained about eight pounds since we wrapped up our WONDERLAND show in late June.   I have gone from a size 0-2, to 4's feeling snug.   Some of those lovely things in my capsule do not fit properly now - or even at all.

This didn't happen overnight.   And it happened because, as in so many things in life (shopping), I said 'what the hell', and ordered that drink (usually around 250-300 calories), or that amazing dessert (don't want to think about those caloreies) at the end of the meal.   I bought the candy or the snacks at the store.  I have not been eating a salad for lunch 4-5 days of the week as I used to.

And I have not been swimming or doing any dedicated cardio, currently

So now I am working to take that weight back off.   By breaking off the bad habits, and resuming the good ones.

I haven't been sitting around, mind you.   Things have picked up lately, and I've been working hard, trying to meet deadlines, keep my online eBay store going, and plugging away at acting, dance technique, singing, and writing.    There's just a lot I want to do, and I'm having to work at time management.

So chalk some of this up to stress, and just having better things to do - things that I love.   It means less attention to give my clothes.   Which is the entire point.

The third reason, is that, when I looked at the outfits I've worn the past two weeks, the color palette looks flat depressing.  What looked perfect in the summer is just drab in fall lighting.  I'm going to cut these dusty olive pieces.  I'm keeping the grays - the gray leather jacket, the silver bodysuit, etc. and add some more color via accessories.   I'm going to pair the grays with richer colors, and clear, brighter colors, via scarves, jewelry, belts, and shoes.

This makes me excited again, just thinking about what I can do!

So how about you?   Do you ever find yourself unhappy with your wardrobe?   How do you turn it around?

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