Posts tagged with ‘dailyinspiration’

Random Monday Thoughts

  • Last week Brandon dropped me off at the airport for a business trip. It was an early flight. We woke up Iz right before leaving the house and buckled her into her carseat in her PJs. She loves airplanes and as soon as we pulled into the departures terminal, she got really excited seeing the planes taking off and landing. I got out and Brandon grabbed my suitcase and I opened the backdoor to give her a hug and kiss goodbye. She started to reach for her buckle. She thought I was taking her with me. She started sobbing before I closed the door. “Mommy, no!” I’ve had to leave her but now that she’s old enough to understand LEAVING? Ugh. It was really hard to walk away from the car. Brandon told me while I was gone the first thing she’d ask every morning was, “Where’s Mommy at?” And she’d look around. When they got home at the end of the day, she’d ask, “Where’s Mommy? Where is she?” 
  • When I got home later that week, she was already in bed (it was midnight, I was tempted to go in her room and see her but cooler heads prevailed). The next morning I jumped out of bed the instant I heard her start talking. I opened the door and she was laying in her bed and she saw me, sat straight up and said, “HI MOMMY!” I ran over and she gave me a big hug and a kiss. It was the best. 
  • Speaking of work, I don’t write about it a lot but I want to mention a few things. First, the event I traveled to is required attendance for most employees. There are several women with small babies and they were able to bring their children (and grandmas!) along and could take breaks at their convenience to breastfeed. Since I work remotely, sometimes the in-house family-friendly policies are less familiar to me so it was great to see them in action. Second, we lost our family healthcare coverage around December. My work had just implemented healthcare for the first time, but because it was a small company and a new pool, the rates for family coverage were really high (almost $1,800 per pay period!). We looked at our options and decided it would be more advantageous for me to do individual coverage through my company and try to use the Maryland Obamacare marketplace options for Brandon and Isobel. That was a nightmare, but after many hours of research, I finally got them settled and signed up with a good plan. It wasn’t cheap—we weren’t eligible for the subsidized plans—but it also wasn’t costing us $1,800 every two weeks! About a month ago, my company was acquired by a much larger company. This meant we were eligible for new benefits. And they are great. We now have paid maternity leave options, gym reimbursements and discounted healthcare premiums for meeting certain health goals. One of the coolest things I read was that if pregnant employees participate in a maternity wellness program, they can earn up to a $1,000 contribution into their health savings account. The premiums are wildly affordable compared to what we’ve been paying to insure our entire family. This is really exciting, but I’m grateful that we had the option of using the Maryland Obamacare plans when we needed them. I’m also thankful that we now have access to benefits that we didn’t before, but I know firsthand what it’s like not having them. Paid maternity leave (if I have to use it), a family-friendly work environment and affordable healthcare premiums aren’t things I will ever take for granted. Despite how common sense these things are, they are not common. They are still a privilege in this country. That’s sad and frustrating and I hope one day it will change. 
  • While I was in Atlanta, Alishan and I had dinner and it was The Best. I had met her briefly in DC for the Nike Half Marathon, but this was the first chance we had to talk and it was SO FUN. Why do we have to live so far apart? That is not The Best. 
  • I got my Fabletics order in the mail and I love everything. They really knocked it out of the park this month. I wore the tank in the link above today to spin and it was so comfortable and cool. It doesn’t have a built-in bra which seems kinda dumb, but it’s cute even with a sports bra on underneath. If you can, also grab the Cayman tank. It’s so flattering and I could easily wear it with shorts or jeans or whatever too. I got it in black. 
  • My mother in law was wearing a really great shade of pale pink nail polish when I saw her recently and she said it was OPI Bubble Bath. She raved about it. I picked it up at Target recently but you can get it on Amazon for $7.79 (add-on item). I’ve haven’t been wearing bright or dark colors on my hands much this summer (a lot of taupes and whites) and this barely-there pale pink is so natural-looking and pretty. If you work in a conservative office, this is a good color for you. 
  • I wrote about this 30 Day Push Up Challenge and Ab Challenge on Instagram. I haven’t done much work on my abs (aside from yoga, which I had to stop late last year because of wrist problems) since before I was pregnant and it was humbling to see how weak my muscles were. I’m on Day 11 of the abs and Day 12 of the push-ups (I skipped a few days while I was traveling). The cool thing about all this punishment, though, is that I’m actually seeing results and it’s only been 12 days or so. I feel stronger and I can see my muscles getting larger and more defined and that feels good. Earlier this summer, I decided that it was time to work on strength training after ignoring it for too long and letting my wrist problems be a handy excuse for putting it off. I’ve always developed lower body strength much faster than upper body strength (pull-ups are NOT my strong suit), so it’s really exciting for me to do 25 push-ups without stopping. That may not seem like a lot of push-ups, but for me? That’s huge. Another great side effect is that my wrist seems to be getting stronger too. I had forgotten to take my brace on my trip and tentatively started the push-ups in my hotel room and was able to finish the set without any pain during or after. A few months ago I couldn’t even hold a push-up position (let alone doing a full push-up) without my wrist radiating this terrible shooting pain. I’m not looking forward to Day 30 on either challenge (65 leg raises wtf) but I’m feeling more confident that I’ll actually be strong enough to handle it by the time I get there. 
  • This LOFT swimsuit is adorable and comfortable. Highly recommend. 
Inspiring me lately:
I don’t think I’m brave enough to wear something like this, but I love the way it looks on her! This crop top from Nasty Gal ($38) and this skirt from ASOS ($41) or this one ($66) are close matches. 
Lupita’s scalloped bikini is everything. I think this is actually the exact one (Marysia, $255). $$$. LOFT has a black one (really cute) for $49.50 (top) and $44.50 (bottom). Roxy has a yellow one for $21 (top) and $19 (bottom). 
I LOVE this outfit. Elastic waistband shorts and a sweater? Ahhh. Ultimate slug. BCBG has a pretty similar pair. They’re on sale for $70 (from $118). That’s still ridiculously expensive, I think. These C&C California ones are similar too ($68). Caslon has a b&w striped pair for $39! Splendid has a real cute pair for $42. Juicy Couture has one of the closest matches, marked down to $40 (from $68) on Shopbop or $47 on Amazon. 
These high-rise white jeans are fantastic. I love the chambray top tucked into them. As far as jeans, ZARA’s are the best I found for the price ($49.90). ASOS has a pair for $57 too. This Gap chambray top is similar to the one in the photo. It’s on sale for $33 (from $60). 
sources: top left, top right, bottom left (unknown), bottom right (unknown, maybe madewell or j.crew?)

Inspiring me lately:

sources: top left, top right, bottom left (unknown), bottom right (unknown, maybe madewell or j.crew?)

Looking for Father’s Day gifts? Macy’s has two promotions running right now on select items. 
New Balance 574 Suede Sneakers, $75 - I like the colors on these. 
Tom Ford Extreme Eau de Toilette Spray, $130 - If you’re going to do cologne for Father’s Day, you have to do it BIG. 
Nike Dri-FIT 3/4-Sleeve T-Shirt, $29.99 (from $35, 25% off with code EXTRA) - These are perfect for wearing to the gym or with shorts on the weekend or with swimming trunks post-beach. 
Quiksilver Way Out Scallop Board Shorts, $49.50 (25% off with EXTRA)- A few weeks ago, Brandon and I went to a million stores looking for new swimming trunks for him. Most of the time they’re either ugly or boring or both. These shorts are not. I wish we’d seen them while we were hunting!
Quiksilver Measure Cargo Shorts, $44.50 (25% off with code EXTRA) - The only thing worse than looking for men’s swimwear is looking for men’s shorts. Oh, they’re terrible. They’re either too long, too short, too big, too denim, too dad. These are good though. I had to hunt for a bit to find them, but here they are. The khaki isn’t too light (that’s key) and they’re the ideal length. They have a slim (but not tight) fit. These are good for wearing all summer with any number of shirts or sweaters. 
FitBit Flex, $99.98 - This is still one of the best gadget gifts. Anyone can use it and everyone gets addicted to them. 
Michael Kors Men’s Chronograph Granger Watch, $225 - This watch is so cool. It’s a little sporty and a little dressed-up at the same time and I love the band. 
Reed & Barton Estate Glasses and Decanter, $50 (from $80) and $80 (from $140) (25% off with code EXTRA) - Booze accessory gifts are good gifts so long as they are given WITH the booze. 
Samsonsite Shuttle iPad Briefcase, $28 (from $56, 25% off with code EXTRA)- This small, lightweight briefcase is meant to hold an iPad or tablet, not a laptop. Handy for a dad that likes to travel light. 
Nike Solarsoft Moccasin Sneakers, $65 in Blue or Black/White - Other than the flip flop, the men’s sandal (or mandal, if you will) is a scarce sight. But sometimes flip flops aren’t practical AND the thought of wearing actual shoes when it’s 100 degrees is depressing. These are the answer. They’re open mesh with a leather upper. Cool, comfortable and they’ll look good with shorts. 
Fossil Mercer Duffle Bag, $178 (25% off with code EXTRA) - Planning lots of weekends at the beach this summer? This bag is great. I love it.  
This post was sponsored by ShopStyle in collaboration with Macy’s, but the items included are things that I independently chose based on my personal preferences. 

Looking for Father’s Day gifts? Macy’s has two promotions running right now on select items. 

  1. New Balance 574 Suede Sneakers, $75 - I like the colors on these. 
  2. Tom Ford Extreme Eau de Toilette Spray, $130 - If you’re going to do cologne for Father’s Day, you have to do it BIG. 
  3. Nike Dri-FIT 3/4-Sleeve T-Shirt, $29.99 (from $35, 25% off with code EXTRA) - These are perfect for wearing to the gym or with shorts on the weekend or with swimming trunks post-beach. 
  4. Quiksilver Way Out Scallop Board Shorts, $49.50 (25% off with EXTRA)- A few weeks ago, Brandon and I went to a million stores looking for new swimming trunks for him. Most of the time they’re either ugly or boring or both. These shorts are not. I wish we’d seen them while we were hunting!
  5. Quiksilver Measure Cargo Shorts, $44.50 (25% off with code EXTRA) - The only thing worse than looking for men’s swimwear is looking for men’s shorts. Oh, they’re terrible. They’re either too long, too short, too big, too denim, too dad. These are good though. I had to hunt for a bit to find them, but here they are. The khaki isn’t too light (that’s key) and they’re the ideal length. They have a slim (but not tight) fit. These are good for wearing all summer with any number of shirts or sweaters. 
  6. FitBit Flex, $99.98 - This is still one of the best gadget gifts. Anyone can use it and everyone gets addicted to them. 
  7. Michael Kors Men’s Chronograph Granger Watch, $225 - This watch is so cool. It’s a little sporty and a little dressed-up at the same time and I love the band. 
  8. Reed & Barton Estate Glasses and Decanter, $50 (from $80) and $80 (from $140) (25% off with code EXTRA) - Booze accessory gifts are good gifts so long as they are given WITH the booze. 
  9. Samsonsite Shuttle iPad Briefcase, $28 (from $56, 25% off with code EXTRA)- This small, lightweight briefcase is meant to hold an iPad or tablet, not a laptop. Handy for a dad that likes to travel light. 
  10. Nike Solarsoft Moccasin Sneakers, $65 in Blue or Black/White - Other than the flip flop, the men’s sandal (or mandal, if you will) is a scarce sight. But sometimes flip flops aren’t practical AND the thought of wearing actual shoes when it’s 100 degrees is depressing. These are the answer. They’re open mesh with a leather upper. Cool, comfortable and they’ll look good with shorts. 
  11. Fossil Mercer Duffle Bag, $178 (25% off with code EXTRA) - Planning lots of weekends at the beach this summer? This bag is great. I love it.  

This post was sponsored by ShopStyle in collaboration with Macy’s, but the items included are things that I independently chose based on my personal preferences. 

Inspiring me lately:
I love the simple black swing dress with sneakers for summer. ASOS’ $33 swing dress is perfect and these $55 Jack Purcell Converse finish it off. 
Silver is such a good neutral and I like the idea of wearing silver sandals with dresses or shorts. Gap has an espadrille pair on sale for $30-$50, but I’m not the biggest fan of the espadrille trend. These Seychelles ones are nice ($70), but a little pricey. I like these t-strap ones from BCBGMAXAZRIA ($45). These ZARA sandals ($39) might be the winner. (Or they’re tied with these Sam Edelman sandals that are about $40). For a budget-friendly option, Target’s black and silver sandals are great ($20). 
This Emerson Fry dress is actually on sale right now for $99 (from $248). So you should probably buy it! It’s fantastic. 
I like how sporty a black watch looks. This Adidas one ($75) IS sporty. This Timex one is nice ($65). I’ve been eyeing this Michael Kors one for a while ($250).
sources: top left, top right, bottom right

Inspiring me lately:

sources: top left, top right, bottom right

Inspiring me lately:
I love Mary-Kate’s black and white layers with messy hair and aviator sunglasses. This H&M coat ($60) plus an oversized white blouse like this from ZARA ($60) and cheap aviators from Forever 21 ($6) would do the trick.
I have been stalking Nike’s Studio Wrap shoes relentlessly. They can be worn several different ways and are good for to/from the gym or yoga, Pilates, barre, etc. The leather version is on sale from Nike for $100 (from $160) and the black version is on sale from Macy’s for $90 (from $110).  
I like this are-they-or-aren’t-they-pajama-pants trend, but they look best with heels (boo) so I haven’t given them the attention that a proper slug probably should. I like the styles that have a cuff at the ankles—I think they’re more flattering than pairs that end mid-calf or ones that fall more loosely over the foot. These ones from H&M ($13) are a little shorter than I’d like, but the price! Aerie’s pants ($35) look good too. ZARA’s are great but really pricey ($119). I think my favorite choices are from ASOS: These are just $33 and these are $52. For a gray pair similar to the picture, try these from Forever 21 ($27.80) or these from Anthropologie ($78). 
One of my favorite purchases from last summer was Old Navy’s jersey pencil skirt ($20). It gives that sleeker pencil skirt silhouette but is still casual enough—since it’s jersey—to be worn with basic tanks and tees. It’s also crazy flattering (butt) and comfortable (stretch waist). I think it would look good with this Banana Republic silk blouse ($89) or, for a casual outfit, this H&M silk tank ($35). This Old Navy blouse ($28) would work too. I plan on wearing a slouchy tee with it this summer too—probably this one ($16). 
sources: top left, top right, bottom right

Inspiring me lately:

sources: top left, top right, bottom right

A few of my favorite things for my least favorite season:

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We are now approaching the grossest time of year.* 

These things make it bearable:

*If you live in MD/VA/DC. The end of May through the end of August is a swamp of disgusting nastiness, where everything sticks (your hair to your neck, your clothes to your body) and going for a 5 minute walk requires a 30 minute recovery time in a dark room in front of a fan.

Inspiring me lately:
I like the idea of metallic nail polish for summer (for fingers or toes!). Essie’s Good as Gold ($8) might work. Dolce & Gabbana’s gold nail polish ($25) looks pretty legit. This Deborah Lippmann gold ($18) looks more rose gold. Butter London’s gold ($15) looks nice. For silvers, Sally Hansen’s Hi Ho Silver looks prefect and it’s only $4! Essie’s Loophole ($8.50) looks good too. 
If you follow me on Instagram, you may have seen how I ripped up several pairs of jeans that I never wore. RIP ALL THE THINGS. I used this tutorial from Free People and this video. If you don’t want to DIY, just buy these from Old Navy for $35. 
I love that all-black outfit with black and white sneakers. These Nikes ($65) look similar. (They may be exact, I’m not sure.) I’d make this outfit more spring friendly with a slouchy black tank and a light scarf. 
I like how these thin rings are pushed down past the knuckle (I like doing the midi ring thing, but I get so paranoid about them falling off my fingers). Try this look with Gorjana’s set of 5 rings ($40 from $65). Or go crazy with Nasty Gal’s ring set ($18). Forever 21 has an angular ring set for just $2.50. 
sources: top left, top right, bottom left, bottom right

Inspiring me lately:

sources: top left, top right, bottom left, bottom right

Inspiring me lately:
I’ve had a pair of leopard loafers for a few years now and worn them on and off, but I love them paired with the oversized sweater and cuffed denim above. Get a pair of loafers from Forever 21 for just under $20 or on sale from Nine West for about $50. This sweater ($51) is perfect. These Gap boyfriend jeans (on sale for $28) look similar too. 
Sneakers in shades of gray are more fun than black or white but are less flashy/athletic than silver. These ($84) from New Balance are nice. I like these from Diadora too ($109). These Nikes are similar ($121). 
D’Orsay flats can be tricky to wear for long periods of walking (my feet are pretty narrow and they can sometimes start to slip). That’s why I’m on the lookout for a pair with an ankle strap. Forever 21 has a budget-friendly pair for just $23. The ones above, from Madewell, are $85. This nude pair from Saks is on sale for $60 (from $125). I love Dolce Vita’s version too and I’ve had great luck with their shoes in the past ($51 from $129).
I’ve loved wearing my white jeans so much this past month. The newer pairs I got from Old Navy (this pair for $25, this pair for about $32) are great. I think white jeans with a gray top is one of the best possible outfits. Rag & Bone’s boyfriend tee on sale for $56 (from $80) looks like it will work perfectly. I got a FANTASTIC slouchy gray tee from Target recently too. The scoop tee in gray ($12) is darker than the gray in the photo, but for $12? Good enough. 
sources: top left, bottom left, bottom right

Inspiring me lately:

  • I’ve had a pair of leopard loafers for a few years now and worn them on and off, but I love them paired with the oversized sweater and cuffed denim above. Get a pair of loafers from Forever 21 for just under $20 or on sale from Nine West for about $50. This sweater ($51) is perfect. These Gap boyfriend jeans (on sale for $28) look similar too. 
  • Sneakers in shades of gray are more fun than black or white but are less flashy/athletic than silver. These ($84) from New Balance are nice. I like these from Diadora too ($109). These Nikes are similar ($121). 
  • D’Orsay flats can be tricky to wear for long periods of walking (my feet are pretty narrow and they can sometimes start to slip). That’s why I’m on the lookout for a pair with an ankle strap. Forever 21 has a budget-friendly pair for just $23. The ones above, from Madewell, are $85. This nude pair from Saks is on sale for $60 (from $125). I love Dolce Vita’s version too and I’ve had great luck with their shoes in the past ($51 from $129).
  • I’ve loved wearing my white jeans so much this past month. The newer pairs I got from Old Navy (this pair for $25, this pair for about $32) are great. I think white jeans with a gray top is one of the best possible outfits. Rag & Bone’s boyfriend tee on sale for $56 (from $80) looks like it will work perfectly. I got a FANTASTIC slouchy gray tee from Target recently too. The scoop tee in gray ($12) is darker than the gray in the photo, but for $12? Good enough. 

sources: top left, bottom left, bottom right

Get the look: J.Crew’s spring arrivals for less

I wrote a post last year about the similarities between J.Crew’s clothing and items available from Old Navy and Gap. This spring, J.Crew has some very cute new stuff, but you can get items that are nearly identical from other stores at a much lower price point. 

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Original: J.Crew Merino Mesh-Sleeve Sweater in Colorblock, $79.50

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Original: J.Crew Carrie Cami in Stripe, $98

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Original: J.Crew Silk Eyelet Bib Top, $148

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Original: J.Crew Stretch Reid Crop Jean, $115

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Original: J.Crew Collection Rylan Blazer, $325

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Original: J.Crew Side-Slit Tunic, $45

Spring Closet Cleaning

Last year I did a Spring Closet Makeover post and followed that up with a post about how to wear your entire closet. In addition to my spring cleanout last year, I did one pre-fall/winter and I just tackled my closet again yesterday. After several hours of sorting and re-sorting, I ended up with five large trash bags full of things to donate. It felt so good. I used to go through my closet and end up with maybe one small bag, choosing instead to hoard things or keep them JUST IN CASE. But I’ve gotten more ruthless and I like it. I really like it. 

I’m doing a Part II to last year’s post because I feel like I’m finally following my own advice. I did okay during last year’s cleanouts—I was finally able to part with a lot of things I was keeping around for sentimental reasons—but yesterday’s sort-and-toss was the first time I really edited with intention and desire. I wanted those things gone. It wasn’t a painful extraction and it didn’t feel like I was having to part with old friends. It was GIRL BYE. 

So, here are a few more tips to put into context how I changed this process from one I dreaded and avoided to one that I approach with glee and anticipation. Clean all the things! 

  • Make it a habit. Seasonal cleanouts are easiest for me. By the time spring rolls around, I’m pretty sick of winter clothes anyway. This makes it easier for me to toss a sweater I haven’t worn in the past six months because SERIOUSLY HOW MUCH LONGER DO I HAVE TO WEAR SWEATERS IN GENERAL. I’ve been doing twice yearly cleanouts now (one right before spring, one right before fall/winter) and that seems to work great for me. Some people like to do the one in, one out thing: Buy something, donate something. That’s too much fuss for me but I like the idea. Anyway, now that I’ve gotten into the habit of regular cleanouts, I really look forward to them. 
  • Forget the money. I used to hold on to stuff that I spent $$ on but I’ve learned that money should be my last consideration if I want to do a really effective cleaning effort. Besides, most items I donate are ones that I bought because money was barely a consideration at the time of purchase. They were usually on sale or a good deal (or inexpensive and trendy). They were something I had to have until I didn’t. It’s disingenuous to worry about the money at the point at which said item is simply languishing, sitting. Someone else could be wearing that and they might love it. The transaction is done. Time to let it go. 
  • Keeping sentimental items can be okay. But keeping sentimental items that don’t fit is not okay. What does that pair of jeans from 6 years ago that won’t go over my hips remind me of? Nothing useful except that I used to have narrower hips. (-_____-) Getting rid of maternity items or nursing clothes/bras has been hard for me, but I realized that I could keep a few things—like my favorite robe or one nursing tank—and let the rest go without feeling guilty or sad. They don’t fit. Why keep them? This rule is tough when it comes to shoes too. I had several pairs of shoes that I loved but either didn’t fit quite right or weren’t comfortable. I would have kept them a few years ago but not now. I don’t care how much I love a pair of shoes. If they eat my feet, they’re gone. 
  • I want my closet to feel like a boutique and not a ROSS. Price point is not a factor when I say that. It’s JUST about presentation. If everything is crammed together with no thought or pattern or meaning, it’s just chaos all around. There MIGHT be a gem somewhere in the clutter, but who has time for that? Who has the energy for that? If things are spaced out, everything becomes valuable. I trust that what’s left is something that I have worn, do wear and feel comfortable in. 
  • Some closet organization advice sucks balls (maybe including this post), so do what works for you. I’ve read so many articles that say to organize by color or by function (work dresses here, sundresses there) but that does not—DOES NOT—work for me. Organize by color. OKAY. Half the closet is black. I cannot find a damn thing. Organize by function. SURE. Most of my clothes are casual now. Almost everything is the SAME FUNCTION. Either of these organization styles (or a combo of both) might work great for you, but I prefer to organize things straight down the line. Jeans, cardigans, maxi dresses, jackets, blouses. The casual jackets and activewear jackets are in the same area. Horrors! But at least I KNOW where all the damn jackets are. Tshirts and casual shirts get their own space. Hoodies another. The exception to this general labeling is that some of my activewear/slug stuff/leggings are organized separately: long leggings, cropped leggings, tanks, long-sleeved tops, etc. 
  • Undergarments matter. I don’t care how nice the rest of the closet looks: If my bras are losing their elasticity and shape or don’t fit correctly, I get LEVEL 10 annoyed. My most recent problem was that any and all bras I wore from 2010-2013-ish no longer fit. I had mercifully kept a few randoms around from my college days (sentimentality hoarding at its worst) and they fit. I wore these until I could get my hands on some new ones. My go-to spot for bras/underwear is Aerie because the quality is good, the fit is outstanding and the prices are best of all. Recent bra picks included this one ($20, so comfy), this one ($20, love the longline style) and this one ($35, another longline option). These Aerie seamless thongs (4 for $26.50) are the best, full-stop, for wearing with leggings. They’re so damn comfortable. I know you don’t believe me, but just try them. You’ll see. 
  • Don’t overlook accessories. The last few cleanouts I’ve forgotten to go through my scarves and tights and hats/gloves/socks and such. Yesterday I made a special note to finally go through that stuff properly and whoooooo boy. Lots of it had to go.
  • The best part of a really quality cleaning job is seeing what spaces need to be filled. Based on what I kept and set aside for donation yesterday, I can see that I’m good on shorts and tees/casual tanks for summer, but I want to get a few more neutral casual dresses—shorter ones and maxi dresses. I used to buy a lot of print dresses for the warmer months (stupid), so I’ll focus on finding some great black and white ones this year. 

Good luck and happy donating! 

P.S. Would love to hear your tips for closet organization. ?