Posts Categorized: reader requests

Reader Request: Pairing Earrings and Statement Necklaces

earrings and statement necklaces

Reader Sarah e-mailed me this question:

I tend to gravitate toward matchy-matchy pieces, perhaps because they seem safe and that’s primarily what was modeled growing up in a rural community. In particular, I struggle to find earrings that go with statement necklaces, especially when one or the other contains colored stones or beads. Most of my earrings tend to be relatively short drops, but at times they seem to detract from or contrast with the necklaces. If I go without either the earrings or necklace, my look seems incomplete; earrings tend to disappear into my curly hair or my neck feels too open. Any advice?

With a statement necklace, I always default to studs. Since the necklace and earrings are close to each other, you don’t want them to compete and long, dangly earrings will definitely group with a big necklace and give the impression of a lot of jewelry. However, my ears are entirely exposed because of my short hair, so all earrings are quite visible on me. In Sarah’s case, she’s got thick, curly hair that can obscure small earrings. A large stud may still work, but the next step is simple drop earrings. You want your earrings to stay fairly close to your lobes so true danglers may look like overkill, but something with a single gem or small dangly element should work in most cases.

If your necklace has colored stones or beads and you’d rather not match their color with your earrings, you can do studs or drops in whatever metal is used in the necklace’s hardware. If that creates a visual disconnect for you, repeat the metal in your bracelet or watch. So, basically, match your bracelet and earrings and let the necklace stand alone.

Those are my rules of thumb. What are yours? How to you pick earrings to complement your big, statement-y necklaces?

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Reader Request: Style Maturation and Individuality

mature style

K emailed me this question:

At least for me (I guess all of us dealing with the time continuum), we are all getting older so many of the style shifts coincide with wondering if what I need now is a more mature style, but not wanting to lose the youth we still still feel, no matter our age, but wanting to dress appropriately for our bodies, career positions, and body size and shape in a kind, gentle way. Sometimes I feel this fear that I can’t identify about my shifting style-wanting to hold on to the old me yet let it go, and worry that I won’t get it back when the unknown new style is an unknown thing. Then I just throw on some jeans and a cardigan (my default) and I’m OK. However, after a stint in a more formal work environment I find myself wanting a blazer instead of a cardigan…I somehow feel older (jaded?) in a way I wasn’t expecting that makes me both sad and happy.

I remember the day I yanked open my bottom drawer and realized I was never gonna wear those bright pink tights again. I was just too old. It wasn’t my birthday, no one had made fun of me for having blazing pink legs, it was just an internal shift that took place overnight. And, like K, I felt a bit sad and worried that episodes like this would become more and more frequent until I’d lost everything fun and unique about my style. But I didn’t let that happen, and K doesn’t need to either. Here are some actions to consider and paths to ponder.

Don’t donate, store

I have experienced donator’s remorse fairly recently, so I’ll admit that I don’t always stick to this one. But when I went through my massive wardrobe purge, I did remove a number of items from my closet and stash them in the basement instead of actually getting rid of them. This allowed me to live without them for a while and see if they were actively missed. They weren’t. Not a one. But it still felt less overwhelming to know that they weren’t permanently gone, and that I had the option to work them into my revised style if I wanted. And this technique will be helpful regardless of the motivation. In this case, if you want to move toward a more mature, sophisticated style, you can stash your quirkiest garments out-of-closet, dress without them for a few weeks, and see how you feel. If you miss them desperately, it’s worth finding ways to keep them in rotation. And speaking of …

Wear one personality piece at a time

Eye-catching, funky garments and accessories can be made more subdued when they’re worn one to an outfit. So if you used to do a large-print cardigan AND leopard booties, try just doing one of those and making the rest of the outfit solid or neutral or otherwise quiet. A single unusual, conversation-starting element will make you look interesting while the rest of your ensemble helps you appear professional.

There may be some pieces that just won’t pass this test: For instance, tulle skirts and novelty prints will be hard to work into outfits that feel buttoned-up and über-professional. That doesn’t mean they should be nixed or that women over a certain age can’t wear and own them. Just that they aren’t stellar candidates for featuring in more formal groupings.

Lean on your fun accessories

If garments from your former style feel too disconnected from the style you’re moving toward, keeping a few accessories in the mix can be a great way to preserve your visual personality. Necklaces and belts, scarves and earrings in unusual shapes and bright colors can be worn in otherwise conservative mixes without disturbing the overall aesthetic too much. And even if no one else actively notices them, they’ll remind you that you haven’t completely jettisoned your old style.

In terms of the emotional part of this question, I think it is natural to conclude that your style needs to grow and mature, and it is natural to mourn that transition. Our society has taught us to fear aging, and feeling too old for bright pink tights is a very concrete reminder that YOU are aging. But continuing to dress in a more youthful way that no longer aligns with your desired aesthetic won’t stop you from aging, just as creating outfits with fewer funky items won’t make you a dullard.

I do believe it’s true that once you let go of a previous style, it’s incredibly difficult to revert back to it. But that’s a good thing. Style should evolve. And if you find that you miss aspects of a previous incarnation, think about how you can revamp and revisit them in the context of your current style. Some people say you should never wear a trend the second time it comes around, but others say just wear it differently. Tweak it, shape it, make it as new as it is old. That will feel more like progress anyway.

Anyone else mid-transition and feeling apprehensive? How are you hanging on to aspects of your old style while still moving toward a new one? Have you ever opened a drawer and thought, “I am officially too old to wear [some item] ever again”?

Images courtesy Boden

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Reader Request: Proper Care of Wool Garments

get rid of moths

Sue sent me this request by e-mail:

This morning I dropped off a blazer at the dry cleaners. The blazer is a lovely purple and it’s a thrift find. The shop owner commented that it could have been attacked by moths, there are some tell-tale tiny holes. I’m now on the fence about whether to keep it or toss it. Anyway this experience made me realize how little I do know about wool, and seeing as the cold months are coming up, I was wondering if you might do a post on this on the site. Some of the things I wonder about are:

What to do if you think a garment could have a moth issue? In my case I would not want to have my other woolens ruined. How do you prevent moths in the first place? And in between trips to the dry cleaners, how do you “freshen” up those garments? Finally, can you get away with cleaning certain woolens or woolen blends in water? There is so much conflicting advice on the web.

So this is gonna be one of those posts where I tell you what I know from my own experience and research, and then ask you to contribute your own knowledge. Sue is right: I’ve read more conflicting advice on this topic than any other. (Except how to fit a bra, perhaps.) Which is frustrating, right? Because most of us have a woolen garment or two and we’d prefer to keep them moth-hole-free. So although I can’t offer definitive answers, I’m hoping to start a constructive conversation. Here we go:

If you’ve found moth holes in a garment …

… that means you’ve got moths. It’s similar to if you see a single mouse scampering around: That mouse is probably not flying solo, but instead a representative of the group of mice now living in your house. Same with moths: One moth = many moths. So that sucks. Best practice, sadly, is to wash or dry clean anything in your closet that might become a target: Woolens, cashmere, fur, angora, alpaca, and any other fabrics made from animal hair. Also sadly, it’s best to discard the damaged item(s) since it/they may still harbor moth larvae. (Or carpet beetle larvae, which can stick around for a year. GROSS. Also ANNOYING.) And if you’re bringing a used/vintage item into your closet that could be a carrier, wash or dry clean it before storing. If a certain closet or storage area has been attacked, vacuum it out before replacing your newly laundered clothes – including floor, shelves, drawers, everything.

In terms of storage and prevention, everyone has a favorite method: Pheremone traps, cedar storage, lavender, mothballs, airtight containers. During our last infestation I tried to stick to lavender and cedar, but they did virtually nothing to protect my clothes. So now I seal my super heavy wool garments in airtight bags with mothballs, at least during the summer. The airtightness is key, since it keeps adult moths from getting inside where they can lay eggs.

How do you prevent moths in the first place?

Well, you can certainly keep your clothes dry and well-aired, for starters. Moth larvae feed on fiber that’s moist with something – mostly sweat, but also beverage or food spills – so the drier your clothes, the safer they are. Moth and beetle larvae also hate bright light, so anything that’s worn frequently is slightly safer. These guys are most likely to turn up in clothes that have been packed away somewhere dark. However, since these insects can also infest carpet and furniture, your best efforts with your closet’s contents may not keep them at bay. This is, of course, not your fault but infuriating nonetheless.

Are there ways to freshen garments between dry cleanings?

Yes, though some are more moth-safe than others. I have found that clothing refresher sprays like Febreze are effective on all but the most stink-tastic garments. I turn my garments inside out, spray the armpits heavily, and mist a little over the rest. Then I leave the item to dry for 24 hours or more. You MUST do this in order for the spray to be effective, and if you don’t, you are storing a wet and dirty garment, which we’ve established is essentially moth bait. If you don’t dig the chemicals, I’ve been told that a vodka-water mist can help, though it never has for me. Airing garments outside in the sunshine, has worked for me and since this goes toward the clean/dry goal can also help keep the larvae away.

Can you wash wool in water?

Generally, yes. Natural fibers – including linen, silk, wool, cashmere, and cotton – can generally be hand-washed in cold water, even if care instructions insist on dry cleaning. Same goes for sturdy polyesters and nylon blends. BUT. If you’re dealing with a particularly thin or delicate fabric, a garment with loads of sewn-on embellishment, suiting, or just about anything lined, you’re safer going the dry cleaning route. If you’re unsure how a garment will fare when washed instead of dry cleaned, do a patch test. Wet a small, non-prominent area with cold water and blot with a dry, white paper towel. If the fabric puckers, shrinks, or bleeds color, take it to the cleaners.

Use your judgement and make calls on a garment to garment basis. But when in doubt? Do what the tag tells you to.

And that’s what I know. Please share your own experiences and advice in the comments! How do you moth-proof your clothes? How do you deal when you find those telltale holes? And other clothing-freshening advice? Let us know.

Image courtesy J.Crew

**Disclosure: Actions you take from the hyperlinks within this blog post may yield commissions for See Already Pretty’s disclosure statement for more details.

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