Polished Organization

One of my favorite cosmetic items is nail polish. There are so many different colors and finishes, there’s always one to fit your mood.

But how do you keep them organized? With so many options, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. I personally don’t want to spend hours searching through my collection for the right color, and I bet you agree. So here I present different methods for organizing your polishes:

  • Place them on a spice rack, preferably one hung at eye level. This is how most salons display their colors, so if you want to look like a pro, this is the option to choose.
  • Arrange them in an open plastic basket. This is my method of choice because it’s portable, can be tucked into a cabinet, and looks pretty.
  • Store them in a shoebox. This is definitely a less expensive option, and you can decorate the box however you wish.
  • Display them on a cake stand or tray. If your collection isn’t too massive you could arrange them on a stand or tray that you place on your counter or vanity.
  • Stash them in a train case. This is a great option if you want to have something portable that can also store all your tools, remover, and creams as well.

Regardless of which method you choose, we recommend grouping polishes by color so that it’s easy to find what you’re looking for. And as always, discard anything gloopy or otherwise expired.

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Welcome to Narnia

It’s no coincidence that Narnia was a magical realm located inside a wardrobe. Any woman’s closet can be magical if she has it properly organized. That means everything in plain sight, properly stored, and easily reachable.

  • Your closet is likely dominated by a hanging rack. This is where most of your clothing will reside, and where it should be appropriately displayed. We’re big fans of first dividing your clothing into categories: dresses, coats, jackets, blazers, hanging sweaters (not ones that belong in a dresser), vests, blouses, pants, and skirts. Next, arrange all items within these categories by color: white, cream, pink, red to purple (gold with yellow), brown, grey, to black. If you need to add a multi-colored section after the black go right ahead. This way, you know exactly where to look when putting together your outfit.
  • When it comes to shoes you probably have two types – expensive and not. Hang your inexpensive pairs, organized by color, in over-the-door racks, or along the floor. Expensive pairs should be stored in cardboard (NOT PLASTIC) boxes, preferably on a shelf above your clothes. Be sure to stuff any boots with paper so that they maintain their shape. Most shoeboxes have a description tag with a sketch of the shoe on one end (if not, make one). This end should face you so that you know what you’re reaching for.
  • Hang scarves by color on shower curtain rings that are attached to a pant’s hanger. Belts can be hung from hooks (or a clothesline) on the wall or you can purchase special belt hangers for them (men’s tie organizers work great as well).
  • The only other thing that should be kept in a closet is purses. Organize these by color. Inexpensive options can be hun on hooks along the top shelf of your closet. Expensive ones should be stored in their fabric bags and set on a shelf (not hung).
  • Keep a small box full of maintenance items – lint roller, razor, pilling stone, buttons, sewing kit, safety pins, fashion tape, etc – on the same shelf as your nice shoes. That way you can easily find what you need before you commit any fashion faux pas.

This should get you well on your way to enjoying your closet, and actually wearing everything in it.

Let us know if you have any other closet organization tips or ideas!

OOOHHH Shiny!

Earlier this week we discussed certain jewelry items you absolutely MUST have. Today we’ll be discussing how to care for these and other jewelry items so that your baubles will last as a long as possible.

Here’s a basic guide from our friends over at Zales on how to keep your jewelry sparkling:

Wearing Jewelry

Jewelry is worn by millions of people every day, but few recognize how they can preserve their treasures by using some simple advanced planning and thought. Here are some basic guidelines to consider when wearing jewelry:

    • Remove Jewelry During Tasks: When performing manual tasks, remove your jewelry to prevent physical damage or exposure to chemicals or cleaning fluids. Some tasks that should be avoided when wearing jewelry include kitchen work, gardening, cleaning the house and other common tasks.
    • Put Jewelry On After Applying Makeup: Cosmetics, hairspray, perfumes and lotion can contain chemicals that can often damage jewelry. Putting jewelry on after applying these materials will limit exposure to jewelry and any potential damage.
    • Don’t Wear Jewelry In Swimming Pools and Spas: Chlorinated water can react with the metals found in jewelry causing color changes and even structural damage. As a result it’s a good idea to remove jewelry before entering the pool or spa.
    • Contact Sports and Jewelry Don’t Mix: Hard blows during sports can damage jewelry not to mention the people involved. All jewelry should be removed before play begins.
Cleaning Jewelry

For those that wear jewelry regularly, keeping their jewelry clean and looking good requires regular effort. Here are some general guidelines that may help:

    • Remove Your Jewelry Before Bathing: Remove all jewelry before showering or cleaning. Soap can cause a film to form, making it appear dull and dingy. By preventing the formation of this film you immediately reduce the occasions of servicing.
    • Use Jewelry Polishing Cloths for Best Results: Polish silver or gold with a jewelry polishing cloth for best results. You can use a svelte or an old diaper, but the professional cloths are the best. Use of tissue or paper towels can cause scratches because of fibers in these products.
    • Clean Your Jewelry With Care: Cleaning your own jewelry regularly can keep it looking good, but be careful. You can either purchase commercial cleaners from a jeweler or make a cleaning a solution yourself. Rubbing alcohol can work wonders, but bleach can literally destroy jewelry so avoid it at all costs.
    • Use Warm Water to Clean Jewelry: Using warm water is the best bet when cleaning your own jewelry. How water can cause reaction with the cleaning fluids resulting in discoloration and Sterling Silver is especially susceptible to this problem. Should this occur, this problem can be remedied by buffing and the application of a tarnish remover.
    • Avoid Cleaning Damaged Jewelry: Never clean any jewelry that is damaged, cracked or broken, since the additional handling is likely to exacerbate or worsen the problem. If you find that a piece of jewelry is damaged, it should be set aside for repair as soon as possible.
    • Inspect Your Jewelry Regularly: Just like anything else, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. When having your jewelry professionally cleaned, it’s a good idea to have each item checked and inspected for any possible problems. Addressing signs of damage, or loose gemstones will prevent any further damage or loss and keep all of your pieces in excellent shape for years.
Storing Jewelry

Anyone that has a collection of jewelry can appreciate how difficult it can often be to keep it organized. To improve the enjoyment of your jewelry, we’ve assembled these suggestions that should keep your jewelry organized and orderly:

    • Keep Your Jewelry Secure: Store your jewelry in a container and prevent pieces from moving around. While fabric-lined jewelry boxes are ideal, this can be as simple as using a shoebox and pieces of fabric.
    • Prevent Your Jewelry from Tarnishing: Sometimes jewelry tarnishes went it’s not worn, especially silver and gold. To maintain the luster of your jewelry, place silver anti-tarnish strips in your storage container to absorb the oxidants that discolor and tarnish jewelry.
    • Inventory Your Jewelry: Unfortunately, jewelry can get lost or stolen. Taking a regular inventory can be incredibly useful when making an insurance claim or filing a police report. A photograph, a written physical description of each piece and it’s cost is ideal. Furthermore, store that information apart from your jewelry in the event it is taken too.
    • When Traveling with Jewelry, Use a Case: Traveling can be tough on jewelry, so it’s wise to use a travel case to protect your favorite pieces. Traditionally made of fabric or leather, a jewelry travel case can carry jewelry of all types and easily rolls up to a size that’s easily stored in most suitcases, makeup cases or business attaches. Clearly, a case like this is a good investment to protect your jewelry on the road.

Do you have any other questions about jewelry care or storage? Comment below and we’ll find you the answers!

Taming the Chaos

All women know how busy life can get. Between work, family obligations, exercise, hobbies, and a social life we can all be stretched a bit thin. Things can get really stressful really fast if you’re not organized.

The first step in taming the chaos is to choose your tools. For me those consist of three things: a planner, a bound to-do list, and my iPhone calendar.

The Planner

You want something with enough space to record everything you have to accomplish every day. The you get to cross everything out as it gets done.

The To-Do List

Here I take all the items from my planner and list them out in the order I want to accomplish them. Then once again, I get to cross everything off by the end of the day. If I don’t get to something, I add it to the next day’s list – no biggie.

The IPhone

Here I’ll enter everywhere I need to be, for the specific times I need to be there. I have separate colors for each category of event, including: family, work, appointments, blogging, friends, and misc. I’ll set reminders for when I need to leave place A to arrive at place B on time. That way I’m always on time.

Now that you have the what and how, here are our product recommendations. These are products we actually purchased and used (AKA we didn’t receive anything for these endorsements.)

Sugar Paper
Image courtesy of Sugar Paper.

Image courtesy of Sugar Paper.

Kate Spade New York
katespade05

Image courtesy of Kate Spade.

Lilly Pulitzer
Image courtesy of Lilly Pulitzer.

Image courtesy of Lilly Pulitzer.

Moleskine
Image c

Image courtesy of Moleskine.

Home Decor, Splurge vs. Save

I’m currently getting ready to start my final semester of college. Pretty soon I’ll be walking across the commencement stage and receiving my BFA. I can’t wait. But mostly I can’t wait to move somewhere new and start adult life. I love my college town and will be returning frequently for football games every fall, but the city is calling me. Yes, adult life means a new job, being financially independent, and a whole lot of responsible stuff that is exciting but also terrifying. However, I’m most looking forward to getting a new apartment and turning it into a home.

What distinguishes a house/apartment/duplex from a home (aside from who lives there) is decor. For me there is nothing more depressing than a room with bare walls and ragged furniture. I’m currently starting to save money for decorating my next place, and I thought that I’d share some advice on what’s worth splurging for when it comes to making a house your home.

Focal Pieces

  • Save: Save on items like nightstands, shelves, dressers and tables. Most of these items can be found at thrift stores and consignment centers and quickly updated with a coat of paint or stain. You’ll still have beautiful good quality furniture, but you won’t have to spend an arm and a leg.
  • Splurge: It is important to own comfortable and durable highly used furniture. Invest in couches, beds, and linens (comfortable sheets and towels will have a dramatic impact on your overall wellbeing). These are items you will use every day and won’t want to change often, so it’s okay to spend more for higher quality items.

Accents

  • Save: Items such as shower curtains, window coverings, rugs, lamps and throw pillows can be found for low prices at places like Target, Tuesday Morning, Kohl’s, and Bed Bath & Beyond. Most likely you’ll want to change these out frequently, so there’s no point in spending a fortune. Just make sure the item is durable enough to last a while and looks pretty. I always try to find items that are similar to one’s I’ve seen in expensive decorating magazines – that way they’ll look like quality items but will be more unique than that Pottery Barn rug everybody on the block has.
  • Splurge: Every home should have one or two luxurious blankets that can be used to curl up with on the couch. I also believe that if there is an accent item you absolutely fall in love with you should think about it for two weeks, then if you still want it go ahead and splurge. There are certain pieces in every home that bring joy to one’s life just by existing, these types of items are worth spending on – but you only need one or two of them.

Art & Wall Decor

  • Save: Save on seasonal items (holiday decorations, candles, etc.), paint, artwork and frames. I will find imagery and photographs online that speak to me and print them out on my large format printer (perks of being a designer) – some people may take issue with this practice, but I think it’s fine so long as you credit the artist and don’t try and sell the stuff. Once you can afford to buy their work you obviously should do so, but only if you really love it. Many seasonal items can be made inexpensively by following DIY tutorials, and that also allows you to change things up year to year. Save on frames, but do frame your decor – it will protect the art and make your home look “done”.
  • Splurge: Splurge on a items that speak to the depths of your soul, or have a personal value to you. If you’re on a vacation that you want to remember forever and stumble across a gorgeous etching of the location – get it. If you have always wanted a grandfather clock, buy one. Just be sure that the items you splurge on are ones you will use for the rest of your life – regardless of where you may move.

So there you have my guide to buying home decor. As always, before you buy anything make sure you love it. Your home is a reflection of your authentic self. Everything within it should bring you joy and speak to the depths of your soul.

Fashion, Splurge vs. Save

Recently I decided I needed some new clothes for work and a trip to Germany. I really only needed a skirt and a dress, but I ended up coming home with 6 dresses, a clutch, new sunglasses, and 4 skirts. I couldn’t afford all that, so a few days later everything but the dress and sunnies were returned. Obviously it’s easy to spend too much on clothes. However, my bigest problem is that I buy tons of cheap clothes, and not enough quality pieces. I end up spending more money because these “fabulous deals” end up falling apart after a few washes – I should have just splurged on one luxury item and called it a day. So I’ve gone in search of advice on when to save and when to splurge on fashion, and I’ve found quite a bit of interesting information.

The following is an article I found on Bankrate. For the original piece, click here.

“When it comes to saving on fashion, experts say splurge on the basics that never go out of style, don’t get suckered in by trendy brands or en vogue styles, and always — always — seek quality. This translates for women into spending cash on that little black dress. In the business world, women are judged on their handbags.Women can go with one or two good pairs of pumps but can save money on the trendy shoes that come and go with each passing fashion season.

“My rule of thumb for saving and splurging is: I always ask myself how many seasons am I going to wear that for,” says Nikki Novo, a fashion writer who has been published in Allure magazine and on NBC.com.

Novo says she’s willing to pay for a good pair of slacks or that little black dress. “Anything that has a solid color and has a classic silhouette,” she says. As for the flavor of the season, such as loud graphic prints and the cute little dress or skirt, she’ll go to a Target or Forever 21.

Prices can reach the stratosphere for the well-known name-brand purses. The experts say trend away from brands such as Louis Vuitton or Coach, and spend that money on something that is high-quality but less expensive.

“Make sure it’s not imitation leather or anything other than good material,” Novo says. Cheap bags will break and become shiny with wear. They end up costing money because women have to buy another bag sooner than they would if they just bought a good one to begin with.

Natalie P. McNeal, author of “The Frugalista Files: How One Woman Got Out of Debt Without Giving Up The Fabulous Life,” says one good bag is good enough. Fashion bags that match a cocktail dress or a cute little summer bag to go with a sundress can be had for a steal at discount and big-box stores. She even used a makeup bag once as a purse, she says.

Women can also save money on secondary shoes. Shoe stores such as Nine West and Steve Madden turn out high-quality imitations of brand-name shoes that sell for 10 times the price, Novo says. So don’t overpay for those peep-toe heels, she says, because they are probably manufactured in a foreign factory just down the street from those expensive brands using the exact same material.

For women, they have to think about what accessories they can save on and which necessities to splurge on.

For men and women, follow the rule of thumb for handbags when it comes to belts. Buy one made of quality leather and not plastic. “You don’t want them puckering,” Novo says.

And go costume on jewelry, McNeal says. “Rhinestone studs, you can fake it with that,” she says.

Watches are a little more complicated, especially in the business world, McNeal and Novo agree. While a Rolex may not be within one’s price range, a good mid-range watch should complement a professional look.

While women can [and should] splurge on lingerie, it’s best to skip the top-of-the-line workout clothes. McNeal says not to become a gym queen and even suggests buying workout gear in the boys’ section of big-box or department stores if you can.

Be a savvy shopper. Your investment, in time, will pay off. High-quality clothing, even expensive name brands, can be had if the consumer is patient and timely.

Hit the mall during holidays such as Labor Day or after Christmastime when stores are shedding. McNeal says look for “flash sales” at the online clothing sites, which are proliferating.

And don’t be shy about going into a thrift store. They are full of treasures, especially in expensive neighborhoods.

But remember, even if you buy on the cheap, never look cheap. Because, McNeal says, in the professional world, the way you dress is the way you brand yourself. In an economy where jobs are scarce, every little advantage helps.”

So, that was a bit long winded and disorganized but I think it gets the point across. Spend on items that you’re going to wear regularly. Investing in quality, classic pieces is never a mistake. Instead, save on trendy items and accessories. That way you can look current without breaking the bank. Don’t forget to shop sales and outlets – I have a personal rule that I will only buy trendy stuff on sale. Additionally, I suggest that you plan what basics to buy meticulously – I’ve been looking for a specific LBD for three years now. Have a picture of exactly what you want and don’t settle for less.

I’d love to hear what all you ladies do to save money on clothes! Let me know in the comments below!

 

Skincare, Splurge vs. Save

Last week we discussed makeup and what’s worth spending money on, and what you’re better off buying from the drugstore. Today we’ll be doing the same for skincare. There are so many options when it comes to skincare ranging from $3 makeup removing wipes to $800 night cream. Today I’ll walk you through some of my recommended products and discuss what’s really worth a decent chunk of change.

Save

  • Sunscreen: You should be wearing sunscreen every day, but it shouldn’t break the bank. Find one you like at your local drugstore. As a general rule lotion formulas work better than sprays, but sprays are more convenient. (I use a spray every morning, and put a lotion on if I’m going to be outside for an extended period of time. I also ALWAYS use lotion on my face.)
    Recommendations: Neutrogena, Aveeno, and Coppertone
  • Daily Moisturizer: For your daytime moisturizer you really just need something basic. If you have super oily skin you could even skip a moisturizer all together. I personally like to rub a bit of almond oil into my face in the mornings because it moisturizes without making my makeup slide off my face. Definitely don’t break the bank on this one.
    Recommendations: Boots No. 7  and Olay
  • Cleanser (sometimes): If your skin is normal and doesn’t need any sort of treatment cleanser then you don’t have to spend a lot of money to find a good one.
    Recommendations: Neutrogena and Yes To Cucumbers
  • Masks: If you find a mask you absolutely love, go ahead and buy a large container of it regardless of price. However, if you’re like me you want something that addresses different problems each week. So my advice is to buy the little single use packets (they normally can last two or three uses if you store them in a ziploc baggie).
    Recommendations: The Body Shop, Freeman’s, Queen Helene and Montagne Jeunesse

Splurge

  • Cleanser (sometimes): If you suffer from acne, sensitivity, rosacea, or any other skin condition it’s worth it to find a cleanser that works, regardless of price. Definitely plan a visit to your dermatologist and get their recommendations for specific products. Clear, even skin is probably the single most attractive asset that all woman can possess, so it’s worth investing in.
    Recommendations: Philosophy, Murad, and Perricone MD
  • Serums: Serums are tricky to get right, and higher quality ingredients mean better results, and higher price tags. Definitely splurge on serums, you’ll see a difference.
    Recommendations: Ole Henrikson, SK-II, and Caudalie
  • Exfoliants: Your skin is a sensitive organ and many drug store exfoliants can be too harsh. I recommend splurging for a Clarisonic, you’ll definitely love it. And you can use it with your drugstore cleanser 🙂
  • Anti-aging Creams: If you’re upset enough about fine lines and wrinkles that you want to use anti-aging products (I personally think that you should embrace your age and find beauty in the wrinkles that show your life experience), then you want to invest in good ones that will actually make a difference.
    Recommendations: Lancome, Korres, and Givenchy
  • Eye Cream: Eye cream is one beauty product you MUST own, and you should get a good one. My mother has worn eye cream every day since she turned 12, and she is regularly mistaken to be 20 years younger than she is in reality. Make eye cream part of your routine, NEVER SKIP IT. It’s totally worth it, you want to be carded at 40 right?
    Recommendations: Orgins, Clinique, and Living Proof

There you have it, now go show off your beautiful skin and full bank account!