Fashion Friday: Poolside Chic

Heading to the pool this Memorial Day weekend? Stay stylish with our Zuni Layering Necklace, a trio of bracelets, and my new favorite lightweight hoops (which I am wearing right this very minute!)

Poolside Chic Stella & DotZuni Layering NecklaceVoyager CuffStrength BraceletEngravable Bar CuffIsadora Hoops

This outfit was fun to replicate. I found options for women who wear regular sizes and women with fuller figures. Add some sunscreen and a cold drink, and you’re ready for a barbecue.

Poolside Chic OptionsTop row: Gap Burnout Floral Tee, Gap Sexy Boyfriend Denim Shorts, Target Bandeau Bikini, WHBM Brown Fringe Sandals

Bottom row: Two by Vince Camuto Lace Top, Seven7 Roll Cuff Denim Shorts, Becca Etc. Festival Bikini, BC Footwear Maltese Fringe Sandal

What are your plans for the long weekend? Are you kicking off summer with a splash? I hope your weekend is full of sunshine, friends, and fun!



Fashion Favorite: Tutu Cute Boutique

Tutu Cute by Jacqueling SmookeIt’s no secret how much I love to wear tunics and leggings. I blogged about some of my fall favorites here, here, and here, but tunics and leggings aren’t just for fall and winter. The right style and material (lightweight and flowy) tunics are great for spring and summer, too. I love to wear them with cropped white or denim leggings and wedges or sandals.

Jacqueline Smooke owns Tutu Cute, a women’s and children’s clothing boutique. She has a selection of tops, tunics, short dresses, maxi dresses, and maxi skirts in a spare bedroom in her home in Memorial. You can go over to her house, try things on, and if she doesn’t have your size, she will order it for you. One thing I really like about the clothes Jacqueline buys is that many of the lines have plus sizes. I love the orange and navy tunic I got last fall, and I just bought a darling paisley tunic – aren’t the touches of leopard fun?

Tutu tunic havana selfie KGS framed

Havana Chandeliers, Havana Pendant Necklace, Engravable Bar Necklace

Paisley tunic with coral cay

Coral Cay EarringsCoral Cay NecklaceEngravable Bar Necklace

Jacqueline knows my style now, and she sends me pictures when she gets something new. She recently sent me these; all the tunics come in regular women’s and plus sizes. Click the images for a closer view.

(The tunic in the bottom right corner is the one I’m wearing in the picture above. The one in the gallery shows its true color. I don’t know why it came out teal when I took my picture.)

I went to Jacqueline’s house last week to style a few of her maxi dresses. We found the perfect Stella & Dot necklaces to complement each dress (and one jumpsuit.) Click the picture for a closer look.

Maxi Dress CollageFrom left to right, we used the Eclipse Pendant, Trellis Necklace, Aurelia Pendant Necklace, Isa Disc Necklace without the turquoise strand, and, because I love it with black, the Trellis Necklace again.

Necklace Collage Tutu Cute

Left to right: Eclipse Pendant, Trellis Necklace, Aurelia Pendant NecklaceIsa Disc Necklace

Jacqueline does home shows and vendor events – she set up at different markets around Houston during the holidays – and she also monograms. Her kids clothes are just adorable. Love this Fourth of July set!

Girls' and boys' 4th of July outfits

The clothes in the pictures are a fraction of what Jacqueline carries or can order for you. Visit her Facebook page, Tutu Cute by Jacqueline Smooke to see her latest clothes, including dresses she got at market in New York City.


Tidying Up the KonMari Way: Books

Tidying Up Books Collage

About a month ago, I learned about KonMari, a unique method of taking stock of all your stuff and purging what you don’t need. Developed by Marie Kondo, a Japanese cleaning expert, this method is simple but powerful: touch each of your possessions and ask yourself, “Does this bring me joy?” If it does, keep it; if it doesn’t, it’s time to say farewell. According to Marie, the best order for decluttering is clothes, books, papers, komono (miscellany,) and mementos. I’ve written an introduction to the KonMari Method and posts about sorting my linens, clothes, and shoes and accessories. Today, it’s all about the books.

I’ve done several rounds of book purging since I moved into my condo in 2008, including selling or donating all the books in my classroom library and many teacher resource books. The remaining books are on shelves in my living room, in a closet in my second bedroom, and in a cabinet in my garage. One of the principles of Marie’s method is that the more you purge, the easier it is to identify what brings you joy. I found this to be true. Fresh from the experience of wardrobe purging, I didn’t have a hard time deciding which books I wanted to keep and which I wanted to donate.

Some before pictures:

Before books living room

The living room is one of the only places I have shelves. I like to decorate with books, and I keep some just for their covers so I can group colors together.

Before books closet

All the other books are in a bookcase the extra bedroom. I want to get an etagere for my master bedroom so I’ll have more display space, but for now, this is the only other place to store books. The boxes above hold magazines going back several years.

Before books school

I got rid of most of my professional books when I quit teaching, but I held onto some, thinking I would use them for tutoring.

I started by putting all the books from the closet and living room on the table in the second bedroom (which I use as a sitting room.) Believe me when I tell you this is less than 10% of what I used to have.

Before books denIt’s important to take all the books off the shelves and place them on the floor or table. Books stored upright are dormant; you can’t judge whether or not a book sparks joy while it is still on the shelf. The physical act of moving the books from a shelf or pile to another location “wakes up” the books, allowing you to feel their energy.

In her book, Marie addresses several stumbling blocks you may have to overcome when sorting your books. The first is holding onto books that you might read “someday.” This includes books you bought but never read, books you started reading but quit halfway, and books you’ve read that you might want to read again. I love her take on the “someday” books:

If you missed your chance to read a particular book, even if it was recommended to you or is one you have been intending to read for ages, this is your chance to let it go. You may have wanted to read it when you bought it, but if you haven’t read it by now the book’s purpose was to teach you that you didn’t need it. There’s no need to finish reading books you got only halfway through. Their purpose was to be read halfway. So get rid of all those unread books. It will be far better for you to read the book that really grabs you right now than one that you left to gather dust for years. p. 91

As for the books you’ve read that you might read again someday? Chances are, unless they’re books related to your profession or hobbies, you probably won’t reread them, so they can go, too.

The other obstacle you may have to overcome is deciding which books to keep in what Marie calls your reading Hall of Fame. These are books you absolutely love, the ones that make you smile when you see them on your bookshelves. I kept Cheryl Strayed’s Wild, Liane Moriarty’s The Husband’s Secret, and Mary Kubica’s The Good Girl because I really enjoyed reading them, and they conjure good memories. There are many other books I could put in my Hall of Fame, from To Kill A Mockingbird to A Prayer for Owen Meany to the Harry Potter series, but when I really thought about it, I realized I don’t need the book to retain the pleasurable memory of reading it.

I have to confess that I did break a few of the rules: I kept some books that I bought a long time ago but haven’t gotten around to reading. Some, like The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer and Life After Life by Kate Atkinson, are novels that friends have recommended. Others, like Daring Greatly by Brene Brown and Eat Move Sleep by Tom Rath, are informational books I will read at some point. Even so, I understand what Marie means when she says that “the moment you first encounter a particular book is the right time to read it.” By keeping my book collection small, I increase the chances of actually reading the books I have, which is the whole point, right?

After pictures:

After pictures booksOn the left are bags of books and magazines from the closet, ready for donation; the bookcase, once full of books, now holds a few that I want to read; and this is all that’s left of my professional books. I think my supervisors approve of my choices.

Books on table after

I kept a few novels, some home decorating books, and several non-fiction books. Handling each book and considering whether or not it brought me joy proved to be a good strategy for sorting. I didn’t keep anything “just because.”

After living roomI love how calm this looks. All the books on the shelves bring me joy.

Books on nightstand afterI’m excited about the books on my nightstand. The Girl on the Train is my book club book. I’m currently reading Amy Poehler’s Yes Please, and I can’t wait to read my friend, Chris Cander’s new novel, Whisper Hollow.

All books in garage donateThese are all the books I’m donating, including the teaching books.

Sorting books is easier than you might think. Once you’ve made the decision to keep only the ones you love, the books sort themselves. One of the things Marie says is that you should reduce until the point that something clicks, until you know you have the right amount of something. I feel this way about my books now. Everyone will have a different point at which they are done. For some, it might be 30 books; for others, it might be 300 (although if you’re keeping 300 books, you might want to revisit the criteria.)

The beauty of the KonMari Method is that you completely finish a category before you move onto the next one. I have no more books to sort. I might find a few buried underneath my next category, papers, but if I do, it won’t be hard for me to choose whether or not to keep them.

Kelly Gartner Style KonMariClick here to read more posts in this series.

Quotes are from The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Act of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo, Ten Speed Press, Berkeley. 

Tidying Up the KonMari Way: An Introduction

Life-Changing Magic Featured Image

Last month, I discovered a book called The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying-Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo, a Japanese cleaning expert. In the book, Marie describes how she helps her clients sort everything in their homes, encouraging them to ask themselves if each item brings them joy. Items that do, stay; items that don’t, go. It’s a simple but revolutionary idea – keep the things you absolutely love and get rid of the rest – and it’s taking the world by storm (the book was translated from Japanese and published in English in October 2014.)

Marie is straightforward in her approach; the book is divided into five sections which are subdivided into mini tidying lessons. The main points in the book are as follows:

  1. Tidying is a marathon – go through your whole house until everything is perfect.
  2. Finish discarding everything before you organize.
  3. Decide what to keep (not what to get rid of) by asking yourself this question: does it spark joy?
  4. Tidy by category, not by location.
  5. Store your things so they shine.
  6. Your life begins after putting your house in order.

Marie recommends tidying in this order: clothes, books, papers, komono (miscellany,) and mementos. Start with the easy things first and work your way to the hardest, things that have sentimental value. By proceeding in this manner, you will develop your intuition about what to keep and what you can live without.

The process of assessing how you feel about the things you own, identifying those that have fulfilled their purpose, expressing your gratitude, and bidding them farewell, is really about examining your inner self, a rite of passage to a new life. The yardstick by which you judge is your intuitive sense of attraction, and therefore there’s no need for complex theories or numerical data [about how many of each item you should keep/discard.] All you need to do is follow the right order. pp. 64-65

As of today, I have used the KonMari Method to declutter and organize my linen cabinet, clothes, shoes and accessories, and books. Sticking to the order, I will continue sorting papers, miscellany, and mementos. Papers shouldn’t be too hard to do because I have whittled down the piles of paper over the last couple of years. I have a massive amount of miscellany, which Marie defines as:

  1. CDs and DVDs (actually don’t have any of these)
  2. Skin care products
  3. Makeup
  4. Accessories
  5. Valuables (passports, credit cards, etc.)
  6. Electrical equipment and appliances (digital cameras, electric cords, anything that seems vaguely “electric)
  7. Household equipment (stationery and writing materials, sewing kits, etc.)
  8. Household supplies (consumables like medicine, detergents, tissues, etc.)
  9. Kitchen goods/food supplies (spatulas, pots, blenders, etc.)
  10. Other (spare change, figurines, hobby supplies/equipment – I will probably have to break this down into further categories as I’m very fond of seasonal decorations and what my family calls objet)

Marie recommends this order because it is easier to start with more personal items and clearly defined content. She urges her clients to take stock of their komono and save only the things that bring them joy. Surrounding yourself with things you’re keeping “just because” or out of guilt hinders your ability to enjoy your possessions – such an “aha!” moment for me!

The final category, mementos, will be tough, as I have all of the family photographs and sentimental items from my mom’s estate. I completely understand why she encourages you to save these items for last. She promises that if you reduce until you reach the point where everything “clicks,” all will be well. I’m going to hold her to that!

I’ve read the first three sections, which are all about sorting each of the five categories. Section four is about storing your items, and section five is about how to transform your life through tidying. It sounds farfetched, but I am already happier for tidying my wardrobe and books, so I expect to be ecstatic by the time I’m finished with mementos! I’ll review the last two sections once I’ve completed all the tidying.

Are you inspired to declutter and organize your home? Want to do it together? Buy the book, then come back and tell me how the KonMari Method is changing your life. (I’m not affiliated with the book and will not make any money if you decide to purchase it. I just think it’s the best thing since sliced bread, and I want to share it with everyone!)

Kelly Gartner Style KonMari

Click the links below to read all the posts in my Tidying Up series.

Tidying Up the KonMari Way: Linens

Tidying Up the KonMari Way: Clothes

Tidying Up the KonMari Way: Remaining Clothes, Shoes, and Accessories

Tidying Up the KonMari Way: Books

Tidying Up the KonMari Way: Papers

Quotes are from The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Act of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo, Ten Speed Press, Berkeley. 

Fashion Friday: Effortless Style

One of my favorite boards on Pinterest is Stella & Dot’s Style Board. Our merchandising team puts together outfit inspirations using our jewelry and accessories, integrating them with the latest trends. For the blog, I like to find similar pieces for women who shop for clothes in size 12 and up. I think it’s more realistic for my readers, and it’s certainly my size range.

This week’s outfit inspiration is a classic look with a twist. Combining a shirt dress and fedora with shooties gives this simple outfit a modern edge. I love the necklace options – a locket and alphabet charm for a subdued look and the Eclipse Pendant for a bold statement.

Effortless Style

Signature Engravable Locket/Clover Alphabet Charm/30″ Open Link Chain/Bianca Earrings/Eclipse Pendant Necklace/Signature Engravable Bar Cuff/Colorblock Cuff

It’s not easy to find dresses, tops, skirts, and pants that resemble the ones in the style board – shoes are a little easier to track down – but I have three great options for the darling light blue dress in the inspiration picture.

Chambray Shirtdress Collage

Mavi Tilda Denim Dress/Tasseled Shirtdress/Calvin Klein Shirtdress

You can’t go wrong with a shirtdress. It’s tailored and feminine – love the tie belt – and you can wear it to the office if you work in a casual environment or to brunch on the weekends. It’s also a great dress to take on vacation because you can easily change the look with shoes and accessories.

Shooties are on trend again this spring. I admit, I didn’t love this style at first. They’ve grown on me, though, and I bought a pair of black ones in the fall. I am considering adding a tan pair to my wardrobe this summer.

Tan bootie sandal collage

Via Spiga Norell Sandal/Via Spiga Fola Sandal/Charles by Charles David Imperial Bootie

I think these hats are really cute. Perfect for window shopping in a seaside town or for lounging at the pool.

Fedora collage

BP./Sole Society/Halogen

What do you think of this week’s outfit? Would you wear the locket or the pendant with this dress? For more outfit inspiration, visit my Stella & Dot Style Board on Pinterest.

       Follow Kelly Gartner Style’s board Stella & Dot Style Boards on Pinterest.