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back to work basics

Categories: basics

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Photos via Talbots

Going back to work after a stretch at home with the kids can be stressful. Streamline your mornings with a wardrobe of basic, easy-to-style pieces that can be dressed up or down depending on what your week holds. Stick with neutral colors for maximum flexibility — these pieces are the building blocks, not the showpieces. Choose a silhouette that works for your figure and your style; you’re using these pieces to create a consistent, coherent look.

What do you need in your closet? Start with these five pieces and work from there.

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Why a blouse is worth having in your closet

Categories: basics

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Recently at The Working Closet Facebook page (did you know that The Working Closet had a Facebook page? Well now you do!), Shannon mentioned that she doesn’t own a blouse. “Can you tell I never go anywhere nice?” she joked.

But here’s the thing about a blouse: when you’re wearing a blouse — instead of a t-shirt, for example — it makes everywhere you go somewhere nice.

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how to wear color

Categories: basics

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Color is big for spring — always, of course, but this year’s colors are some of my favorites, a mix of preppy pinks and blues and greens, paired with navy and white stripes and polka dots. It makes me want to give away all of my black pieces and start fresh.

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Color can be daunting, especially if you’re a neutrals girl at heart (as I am). Neutrals are safe and classic, while color — especially bright hues — can feel a little over-the-top. But you can make a vibrant shade work with a neutral closet; the trick is to let the color speak for itself.

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Make 2012 the year of color

Categories: basics

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I’m not a big fan of New Year’s resolutions, largely because by the end of two weeks of everyone who lives in my house home from work/school and with me all the time, I’m pretty much resolving to go live in a hermitage and not talk to another person for the next 365 days. It’s hard to be rational after the holidays, people.

I do, however, like the “fresh start” feeling January brings, and I typically take a moment around the new year to think about my wardrobe. I don’t know if it’s because I’ve been hiding in my closet for the past week, staring at my clothes while I try to get a little peace and quiet, or if it’s because all the stores are rolling out their spring lines, but I’m ready for a sartorial change this new year. I don’t have the energy to overhaul my whole look, though, so I’ve decided to do something simple and make 2012 the Year of Color.

I own a lot of great neutral pieces, bought with careful thought and focused intent; neutrals are practical and versatile and are easy to mix and match with everything. Recently, though, I’ve started to notice that my winter wardrobe options consist almost entirely of neutrals that I’m combining with … other neutrals. Which is a little boring, frankly.

I’m looking for ways to inject color into my existing wardrobe, for pieces that I can pair with my neutrals. I recently bought a pair of red skinny jeans and I’m still a little stunned by how versatile they are — and also by how many navy and black tops I own. I’m currently on the lookout for a bright green cardigan and a hot pink maxi skirt, among other things, both of which will liven up my navy-and-black closet considerably.

What’s your New Year’s style resolution? On Friday, we’ll talk about strategies for making over-the-top color work with your classic basics. It’s easy, I promise.

Photo via Kate Spade New York

It’s family photo time!

Categories: basics

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The holidays are coming, which means that your holiday cards need to be going out — which means that it’s time to take a family photo. While it can be hard enough to get the people who live in your house organized for a photo shoot, once you add in the grandparents and aunts and uncles and cousins, well — godspeed to you.

Often the hardest part of the family photo isn’t wrangling the family on the day of but choosing everyone’s outfits ahead of time. Here are a few simple tips to make your family photo a keeper (and not a candidate for Awkard Family Photos).

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How to fake awake (when you’re really not)

Categories: basics

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My husband and I stayed up late last night, to watch Game Six of the World Series (go Cardinals!). Of course, we sent our baseball-crazed nine-year-old to bed in the fifth inning, because today is a school day and he needed his sleep. But we’re grown ups! We can maul through!

Maybe.

Being a grownup means getting too little sleep too often, for all kinds of reasons, good and bad. I was glad I stayed up until the end of the game last night, but this morning I’m beat — and I’m sure I look it. Here are a few quick tricks for faking awake on the morning after a late night.

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How do you jump start your style?

Categories: basics

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I’m in a style rut, you all. Ok actually, right this moment, I am in a pair of yoga pants and the universe’s most comfortable hoodie because I haven’t had time to get dressed today, but you get my point. I’m starting to feel like I wear the same things over and over again, and it’s getting a little bit boring.

I need to amp up my style. Somehow. Ideally, without buying anything new. Is that even possible?

Yes. Yes it is.

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The right shoes for every hem length

Categories: basics

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Finding the right hem length, for skirts and pants, can make you look ten pounds slimmer overnight. But that’s only half the battle; once you’ve figured out where your pants and skirts should hit, you need to know what shoes to pair them with. Here’s a quick guide to skirt and pants lengths and the best shoes for each.

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Alexa Chung for Madewell MaudeSkirt


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The underwear conundrum, take two

Categories: basics, shoes

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“I mean, you see how picky I am about my shoes, and they only go on my feet.”
- Cher Horowitz, “Clueless

So I tried the thong. And it was … uncomfortable. I wound up returning one of the two that I bought last week (don’t worry, I only returned the one that I did not wear) because I cannot see this becoming a staple of my lingerie wardrobe.

Which is unfortunate because I have about a half dozen pairs of pants that could really benefit from a thong. Or something similar.

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GAP 1969 lightweight corduroy leggings, $59.95 — hello, VPL!


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Is your underwear sexy, or practical?

Categories: basics

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Believe it or not, one of the things on my life list is “wear a thong.” And before you ask, no I have never tried the thong; I’ve just been making due, I guess. Or wandering around for 43 years with VPL. Either way, it’s time to put on some big girl panties. Very very small ones, apparently.

When you tell the Internet that you’ve never worn a thong, everyone has something to say. I got lots of recommendations for the Hanky Panky thongs, but it was my friend Rachel who offered the most concrete advice. “Listen, it takes three days,” she told me. “Buy yourself three thongs and make yourself wear them for three days straight. After that, piece of cake.”

Ok, three days. I can do that.

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