Revisiting Your Evening Wear

My niece is getting married next month, and I have been planning what to wear. I rarely get a chance to dress up, so it has been fun reminding myself what I already own.

If you are a longtime reader of my organizing tips, you’ll know that I advocate getting rid of any item of clothing that you haven’t worn in one year — with one exception. That exception is dressy clothing, because you don’t always have the need to wear them every year. However, I provide two conditions for keeping them: they must still be in style, and they must still fit you.

I have three nice dresses in my closet that would be suitable for the wedding, and I’m pretty sure I know which one I will wear. So I started thinking about the rest of the outfit.

I bought a pair of sexy black sandals back in 2013 for a family wedding. My feet are hard to fit, so I went to a shop that features a lot of comfy brands. I was impressed with this fashionable style and also impressed with the different ways to customize the fit of the shoe. I wore them to that wedding and then again in 2014 for another family wedding. I probably haven’t worn them since then.

I tried them on recently, and even though they still looked great, I was reminded that they were really not that comfortable for an entire evening. So I ordered some sandals online and decided on a fun (but comfortable) pair of gold sandals. As for the sexy black ones, I gave them away on Buy Nothing. Good riddance! Life is too short to wear uncomfortable shoes, no matter how sexy they look.

A few days ago, I started thinking about what handbag to wear. I have a few dressy handbags that I keep wrapped in tissue paper in my closet. It has been so long since I dressed up that I didn’t even remember what they looked like! I unwrapped them this morning, and at least two of them are good options for this outfit — maybe all three — so I think I’m covered there as well.

When I’m working with clients on reviewing their handbags, we inevitably come across the stash of dressy purses. Many of them were inherited from mothers or grandmothers, and clients are reluctant to part with them, even if the purses are in disrepair. I have developed a good rule of thumb to help clients decide: is it big enough to hold your smart phone?

Back when our mothers and grandmothers dressed up, they probably took along their lipstick and a few other small things. They didn’t have to worry about smart phones. But most of us will take our smart phone with us even to a wedding, especially if we plan to take photos. So give your dressy purses the smart phone test, and give away any that are too small to fit your phone, not matter how cute the bag is.

So here’s my bottom line on dressy clothes and accessories. You have my permission to keep them even if you haven’t worn them in more than a year (assuming they still fit and are still in style), but you should still review them every year and be honest about what you are likely to wear in the future. Uncomfortable shoes and tiny purses: be gone with you!

Space as a Finite Resource

I think we are all used to the idea of money as a finite resource. But space is a finite resource as well — not just for those of us who live in small homes, but for everyone. Even if you have an attic, basement, or garage to stash the stuff you aren’t using, eventually it will be so full that you will have to deal with it.

One way to avoid coming up against space limitations is to use them as an ally and not an enemy. Use space to help determine how much you own.

Here’s an example of this. I love cardigan sweaters. (For those of you not up on your fashion terms, a cardigan sweater is a sweater that opens in the front, as opposed to a pullover.) I wear them over turtlenecks in the winter, and I carry one with me in the summer to combat over-cooled restaurants and subway trains. But I can’t have an unlimited number of cardigan sweaters because space is finite resource.

So I have allocated one — and only one — drawer in my dresser for my beloved cardigans. That drawer is always full. If I decide to buy another sweater, I need to figure out which sweater to get rid of. Embracing my space limitations forces me to make choices, which is the key to avoiding clutter. And I can always find the sweater I’m looking for, because they are limited to just one place.

You can apply this method to anywhere in your home. When your bookcases are full and you want to buy another book, figure out which book(s) to give away. Don’t start putting books somewhere else (where you will never find them again) or lay them horizontally across the standing books or start another row of books in front of the existing books. That, my friend, is clutter.

Once you’ve allocated the space for a particular type of item, stick with it. If it’s something that gets used up — like toilet paper or breakfast cereal — you will easily be able to see when you are running low and need to buy more. If it’s something that doesn’t get used up — like handbags or neckties — having a limited number will enable you to find what you are looking for faster and more easily.

Great Reusable Bags by meori®

In New York City, where I live, a law went into effect on March 1 of last year banning stores from giving out plastic bags. In preparation, we all stocked up on reusable bags, including those distributed by our city’s elected officials. I started to note which bags served my purposes better than others.

Like many in NYC, I don’t own a car and I get around on foot or via public transportation. It’s helpful for me to have a small reusable bag in my backpack or purse (or in my coat pocket if I’m traveling light) in case I want to spontaneously stop off at a store while I’m out. There are also times when I go out expressly to shop, in which case I can bring along a more robust bag.

I was recently introduced to the products of the company meori®. They offer a line of high-quality foldable boxes and bags. These include trunk organizers and wine totes, as well as boxes to help organize your home. But what attracted me were the reusable shopping bags.

meori® Reusable Pocket Shoppers

The meori® Reusable Pocket Shopper turned out to be the ideal foldable shopping bag for me. It folds into a small pouch that measures 5 1/2 inches wide and 3 1/2 inches high. When opened, however, it holds a voluminous amount! I’m a petite person, and some tote bags drag on the ground when I hold them in my hand. This bag, even when full, does not quite reach the floor. It also sits comfortably on my shoulder due to its wide strap. I love having multiple options for toting my purchases home! The Reusable Pocket Shopper comes in a variety of solid colors and prints.

meori® Small Essential Tote

Another favorite is the meori® Small Essential Tote. This is the bag that I take with me when I’m going out expressly to shop. It measures 12 1/2 inches wide by 14 1/2 inches high. It folds fairly flat, so I can carry it on my shoulder without bulk when I’m on my way to the store, but when the bottom is expanded, it’s almost 7 inches deep. It has shoulder straps and also cutout handles in case you want to carry the bag in your hand. The bottom is reinforced to give you additional support. And it has an interior zipper pocket for your wallet or phone, so it’s really the only bag you need to take with you when you go shopping.

As you can tell, I’m very excited by the quality and utility of the meori® product line. I liked their products so much that I volunteered to be a guest blogger on their site. Check out my article on Small Kitchen Storage Ideas!

My Love Affair with Command™ Hooks

If you’ve been reading my organizing tips for a while, it should come as no surprise to you that I love Command™ Hooks. If you’re not familiar with them, let me elucidate. They are a line of hooks, strips, and other products that can be adhered to a wall or other smooth surface without damaging it.

Command™ hooks are all over my house. Here are some of the ways in which I use them:

  • Outside the entryway closet door: a hook for a wet coat to dry out before going back in the closet.
  • Inside the entryway closet door: hooks for my handbag, shoehorn, and spare keys.
  • In the living room: Round Cord Clips to manage a speaker’s electrical cord.
  • In the kitchen: hooks on which to hang potholders, a strainer, and my frequently-used pans. (See my tips Keeping a Lid on Your Pots and Pans and Little Things Mean A Lot.)
  • In my bedroom closet: two Quartz Jewelry and Scarf Racks to hang my necklaces, and a hook for pajamas. (See my tip Hang Your Necklaces.)
  • Outside the bathroom door: a hook for a nightgown or bathrobe.
  • In my daughter’s bedroom: hooks on the outside of her closet doors to hang damp exercise clothes and handbags.

Command™ Bath Satin Nickel Hair Dryer Holder

In my daughter’s dorm rooms over the years, we used various Command™ products, including hooks for bags and Poster Strips for decorating the walls. They are great for a dorm room because everything has to come down at the end of the year, and Command™ products are so easy to remove. I’ve used Command™ products with many of my clients as well, such as the Broom Gripper, which keeps your brooms and mops handy and off the floor.

Some Command™ products that I haven’t used yet but which fascinate me are:

Command™ hooks come in multiple finishes, including white, clear, and metallic. I’m particularly enamored of the metallic ones, as they complement any decor.

You can see the full Command™ product line and FAQs on the official website.

What’s In Your Wallet?

If you had to make a list of everything that’s in your wallet right now, do you think you could do it?

My daughter, who is a college freshman in D.C., had her wallet stolen a few weeks ago. Luckily she doesn’t carry much, so she could remember what cards she lost and we were able to replace most of them fairly quickly. But I was a bit nervous having her walking around without her college ID, bank card, or credit card for a few days.

When she was home for spring break last week, we took all of her cards and photocopied them, front and back. If she ever loses her wallet again, we’ll have a comprehensive list of what was in there, along with the account numbers and phone numbers. While I was at it, I did the same with my wallet and my husband’s wallet. I had not photocopied my wallet contents since 2012 so it clearly was time for an upgrade. I put the photocopies in the Important Papers section of my file cabinet, in a folder called Wallet. (I have a real way with names, don’t I?)

I recommend that you take some time to photocopy or scan the contents of your wallet. As long as you are emptying out your wallet, take the time to review what you have been carrying around. If you’re like most people, there is way too much stuff in there. Some things — like old receipts or expired membership cards — are no-brainers to toss. Others might not be as obvious, but if you are bulking up your wallet by carrying cards you don’t use very often, consider taking them out. You’ll appreciate the streamlined weight, and if you are unfortunate enough to lose your wallet, you’ll be glad that you were carrying less.