Thoughts On Wearing Things Out

When was the last time you had to get rid of something because it was just too worn out to continue using?

I have an example from just last month. My sister gave me a pair of super cute booties from Kate Spade for Christmas a few years ago. In soft, tumbled black leather with a flat stacked heel and a bow on the back, they were cute, comfy, and went with everything. Like, if I had drawn the Platonic ideal of a bootie, these were it. I wore them CONSTANTLY.

Sporting The Booties at Catherine's Palace outside St. Petersburg...

Sporting The Booties at Catherine's Palace outside St. Petersburg...

...and again on a normal work day at home in San Francisco.

...and again on a normal work day at home in San Francisco.

And then… I picked them up one day to put back on my shoe rack and realized that the sides of the stacked heel were starting to peel off the plastic foundation of the heel. I am all about maintaining and repairing the things I love to get maximum use out of them, and if it had been possible I would have taken them to my favorite shoe guy in Cow Hollow stat. However, this was just not fixable. It was time for them to go. 

There’s something a little sad about wearing out something you love, because that means it no longer gets to be part of your life. I have a lot of good memories in those booties: they came with on me on trips to Europe, wine tasting weekends, errand days running around SF, and even client consultations. And they worked so well for me - if they had continued to hold up, I would have kept on wearing them!

However, you can also view wearing things out with a sense of accomplishment and pride. You know on a very deep level that the thing was extremely useful to you, an excellent purchase, and a good value, because you literally used it so often that you used it right up. There was no purchase regret or gift receivers’ guilt with these booties! They were just right and I got every last cent of value (that my sister paid…) out of them.

And here’s the thing about using something up: it provides you pretty much the only guilt-free opportunity there is in this life to go shopping. If you used something so often and so happily that you wore it out, that means that you do in fact need a replacement.

My weakness for bows is legendary.

My weakness for bows is legendary.

In my case, I mentioned the sad passing of the booties to my parents, since my birthday is coming up. Last week, a box arrived in the mail from Bally with, well… basically the grown up version of the pair I had loved so well!  In smooth, gorgeous black leather with a flat heel and laces up the front to tie in a bow, AND in wide width for my virtually square fee to boot, they are cute, comfy, and go with everything. I’m going to wear them CONSTANTLY.

This process of selecting something that perfectly fits your needs, loving and using it frequently, and then carefully choosing its replacement, is so much more fulfilling than buying a lot of things that only get used a few times. When I look at my closet, the things that bring me joy are those that I feel great in and wear all the time. The things I don’t really wear much only bring me guilt: guilt that I made a frivolous purchase, am not getting the value out of the money I paid, and took up space that could be better filled by something else.

This is the reason I continually edit my closet: because a wardrobe entirely composed of things that bring me joy is simple and satisfying on a very deep level. If this idea is resonating with you, give me a call and I'll help you edit your closet so that everything in it brings you joy!


Goop Knows Best

You guys, I have to admit it: I have a total love/hate relationship with goop.  If you haven’t already been introduced, goop is Gwyneth Paltrow’s lifestyle brand/newsletter/shop/advice column. 

Why do I love goop?  Well, for starters, the taste level is impeccable.  The goop aesthetic is simple, clean, and imbued with a mature yet cool style.  In addition, the editors really do their research.  When it comes to fashion and product recommendations, goop takes a less-is-more approach, and everything is clearly fully vetted and tested.

Why do I hate it?  Goop promotes a modern version of keeping up with the Joneses to a staggering degree.  Each newsletter leaves me feel like I can never possibly keep up with all the things I should be doing and buying to become a healthier, fitter, more self-actualized version of me – or at least, the version of a modern woman that goop is marketing.  Goop also does a serious amount of fear mongering, particularly when it comes to beauty products, which drives me batty.  Just because something is natural doesn’t make it nontoxic, and just because a chemical is lab-created doesn’t make it harmful!  And of course, many writers more eloquent than I have waxed poetic about how out of touch goop is with real women’s lives. 

In order to appropriately consume goop, I feel like the proverbial grain of salt is essential.  If you make it your bible, you’re just going to start feeling inadequate, but if you can filter for the information you need, you’ll find a lot that is helpful.

And go figure, goop’s closet organizing advice is absolutely on point.  In her Organization Tips from the Goop Fashion Closet, fashion director Laurie Trott shares some common organizing tips (seriously, huggable hangers are essential), but also brings up some strategies I and other professional organizers use that haven’t made it to the mainstream (organizing by accessibility and frequency of use, rather than just what fits where).  Of course, the unreachable standard still applies here: I am not a mood board person and I’m totally fine with that, so I’m a bit exasperated with the suggestion that a hard copy mood board in one’s closet is an essential organizing tool.

Do you read goop?  Love it, hate it, or both?


Shopping á la KonMari

When I was a recent college grad first living in San Francisco, I had a great group of girlfriends (nearly all of whom I’m still close with today), a fulfilling job, a new boyfriend (who would later become my husband)… and next to no money.  I wasn’t poor; I was just young, in my first job, truly independent for the first time, and living in an expensive city; but there wasn’t a whole lot of spending cash in my life.

It was kind of like being on a diet, really.  I’d abstain from shopping completely, refusing to even step into a store for fear of spending money.  And then if I did scrounge up some cash and decide to go shopping I’d go NUTS.  Anything on sale? Anything cheap?  Even if I didn’t love it or really need it at all, it came home with me.

Years, experience, and to my great good fortune a larger budget have combined to make me smarter about my shopping.  I find I have quite a bit in common with the shopping strategies of professional organizer Marie Kondo, as detailed in this charming New Yorker piece: Shopping at Anthropologie with Marie Kondo.

There are only two major points of difference between Kondo’s shopping style and mine.  First, I don’t delineate between purchases for private and business life.  I think this is a result of some combination of the less formal aesthetic of San Francisco (my cocktail dresses only get trotted out for weddings), the nature of my work (my actual work attire is full coverage athletic clothing so that I can bend, move, and lift), and the American tendency to combine high and low by repurposing pieces for a variety of uses (I can wear my leopard print pumps with boyfriend jeans and a white button down for a casual lunch with the girls, or with a sleek shift dress for a meeting).

Photo courtesy of

Second, I’m more inclined to wait for things I love to go on sale.  However, I can get away with this strategy because I wear a common, middle of the road size in both clothing and shoes.  If there’s something truly special I know I’ll regret not purchasing, I do buy at full price!  My latest such buy was a pair of Louboutin So Kate pumps in No. 1 "Lea" – I am freakishly pale, and most “nude” leathers look dirty or yellow next to my skin.

I highly recommend shopping KonMari style!


Some Good – And Not So Good – Closet Tips Part 2

As promised, here is the second part of my point by point critique of this article from Apartment Therapy: 20 Ways to Organize Your Bedroom Closet.

11)   I don’t see many spaces that are so small that taking off a closet door would materially change the room, but I can imagine this would work very well in the right place!

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12)   A good laundry storage solution is a key piece of keeping a closet organized.  Just one day’s worth of clothes on the floor often acts like a magnet and leads to an overwhelmingly cluttered closet.  Simple rubber bins work if they fit inside your closet, but if you’re like me and lack the space there are many attractive options for storing and separating laundry that you won't mind having out in your living space.  I use this one from Pottery Barn.

13)  I had never really used hooks in a closet until our closet designer suggested them when we installed our shelving system five years ago.  Now I’d recommend them to anyone!  They’re perfect for quickly stashing a jacket you’re going to wear again, tomorrow’s planned outfit, or this week’s pajamas.

14)   For those who have the luxury of a large enough closet: you have the freedom to consider color and texture!  For the rest of us: keeping your storage system neutral in color (from shelving to hangers) and having enough light will put the focus on your clothes and help you stay organized.

15)  I would only recommend that you seriously consider storage like this if you are truly limited on closet space.  I find that clients who are stashing clothes in various locations around the house, even under their beds, never actually put those items into regular rotation.  You’re much better off paring back your collection so that all your clothes fit in your closet and you can see them daily.  Seasonal rotation is a definite commitment and something you should consider carefully based on your own motivation and available time!

16)  Color coding is one of those things that is helpful if that’s how your brain works.  My brain doesn’t necessarily require it, but I do sort by item type, fabric, sleeve length, and other functional ways of categorizing clothes.

17)  I do recommend using storage items that you find aesthetically pleasing.  After all, you want to stay motivated to use them!  However, as I always say, consider the utility of an item first.  A whole set of pretty matching boxes is going to be useless if you can’t see the contents and forget to wear the items inside.

18)  If you have a deep closet, a rolling cart would be an excellent way to use that depth without consigning everything in the back to invisible oblivion.  However, as with any other storage, make sure you can see what’s inside and that it’s easy to remove those items.  Stacked opaque boxes often mean that you’re not going to haul out the upper boxes to get at the contents of the lower boxes.

19)  As with point 18, I strongly caution against storing anything – even off-season stuff – in places that are excessively hard to reach.  Needing to move a lamp, knicknacks, stack of books, and a full trunk as shown in this photo is going to prevent a lot of people from ever accessing the items stored in the bottom trunk.

20) I do think the use of storage furniture is a great idea, but again, I caution against stacking.  Storage can be attractive, but it should above all else be useful!

Let me know if you’ve tried out any of Apartment Therapy’s tips in your own closet and how they're working for you!


Some Good – And Not So Good – Closet Tips Part 1

Apartment Therapy is a super popular website for all things home décor, so it stands to reason that it covers aspects of home organizing as well.  One of their greatest hits is this article: 20 Ways to Organize Your Bedroom Closet.  It’s pretty typical of home organizing advice you see around the internet and in mainstream magazines, so I thought it might be interesting to go through tip by tip and give you my advice on their advice!

1)   Especially in the older homes and apartment buildings of San Francisco, closet space is often too small for modern wardrobes, misshaped, or in inconvenient locations.  Alternative approaches are definitely needed.  I recommend planning any exterior clothing storage carefully, as methods that are popular with Pinterest and bloggers such as rolling racks and open shelving can easily become cluttered and distracting.

2)   Ah, the old turn-your-hangers-around chestnut.  My clients, to a person, already know what they’re not wearing.  They just need the time and permission to go through and get rid of those items.  I don’t like the hanger trick because it doesn’t take into account the creation of a wardrobe over time, special events and keepsakes, or the fact that you can wear something literally weekly and still despise it!

3)   Storage should definitely be arranged by utility, and if you do this you’ll find that clutter is less likely to accumulate because it’s easier to put things away that you use frequently.

4)   A closet customized to your specific needs is always easier to keep organized.  There are options for a wide range of budgets, and this is one of the valuable services that I provide for clients: analyzing their wardrobe’s needs, pricing, and supervision of installation.

Photo courtesy of

5)   Coordinated hangers do make a world of difference visually, but I recommend you go with slim line flocked hangers like these (I get mine at Costco).  They allow you to fit more in your closet than fancy wood hangers, don’t let your silky pieces slip off like cheap plastic hangers do, and don’t crease the shoulders of tops like wire hangers can.

6)   I recommend decorative storage ideas like this sparingly.  They work best in larger storage spaces because they are less efficient, and too many together can be visually confusing.  Use of touches like this depends greatly on your personal esthetic and the effort you put into tidiness on a daily basis.

Photo courtesy of

7)   Dedicated shoe storage is SO important.  It allows you to keep your shoes in good shape (a tangle of beautiful shoes on a floor is so tragic!) and find them to pair with outfits at a glance.  There are lots of great solutions for small spaces – I use this cheap metal version you can get at Bed Bath and Beyond.

8)   Shelf dividers are sorely underutilized in many closets.  These will help you maintain neat stacks of sweaters, purses that keep their shape, and any number of other great uses.

9)   Vertical space is also commonly underutilized.  That high space you need a stepladder to reach is perfect for items you don’t use often but don't want to forget about, like off season clothes, hats, and evening bags.  I even have a super high hanger bar in my closet where I store clothing I really only bring on vacation, like shorts – it’s usually way too chilly in SF to wear them!

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10)  Light is critical - if you can't see something, you won't wear it.  If you don’t have the budget or permission from your landlord to install lighting, battery powered sticky lights like these will absolutely work in a pinch.

Stay tuned for my thoughts on the second half of this list!