Monday, December 27, 2010

Would you...could you wear this???

I happened to see the Rachel Ray Show about a week's not something I normally watch. In fact I usually don't have the TV on when it comes on.

However, I stopped and watched the segment with Ms. Jenner on because I couldn't get over her shoes! They were definitely something to see! They were pure bright white heels with heavy gold chains on them!

I remember thinking what "old lady" would wear those ugly things? Well, I guess if you belong to the Kardashian clan and in the "biz" you'd wear them. As for me...I'm staying a little more classic.

My question for you is: would you...could you wear white shoes like hers? How about black tights with white shoes, would you rock this style that pops up every couple of years or so?

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Shop the Sales…But With a Plan!

Get ready! It’s time for after-Christmas shopping! Retailers definitely need to seriously move merchandise! Right now, the sales are tremendous with slashed prices already at 75% off at some stores! 

Retailers are now stocking the selves with resort wear and early spring shipments these next couple of weeks. This means fall/winter merchandise needs to be cleared out--now. Take advantage of this clearance mode, but spend your dollars wisely…and do so with a plan. 

Remember now is the time to get great basics—at the end-of-season sales!

  • Ask yourself over and over, “Do I need this?” Remember this mantra—DO I NEED THIS?
  • Does this look good on me? Is this the right style for my body type? Knowing the styles best for your body type will save you time and money…not to mention, you’ll look like a million bucks!
  • Is this my color? Is this a color that fits into my wardrobe plan and complements my own skin and hair coloring? (refer to your seasonal color guide in your Personal Profile)
  • Buy for the body you are currently in. Don’t beat yourself up and reminisce when you wore 3 dresses smaller! This negative thinking won’t help you. You need to dress for today!
  • Remember the MSP rule: you must be able to wear it at least 3 different ways to make it useful in your wardrobe. If you buy something but have nothing to wear with it—it’s not a bargain.
  • Stock up now on basics. Look for camisoles, tanks, tees, lightweight v-neck cotton sweaters and favorite bras or undies and such. Look for pieces that extend your wardrobe.
  • Fewer things, better quality. No one will remember if a dark neutral jacket is repeated later in the week. A bright fuchsia jacket is harder to repeat in the same week. (have fewer of these stand-outs)
  • Try a trend—don’t invest in a trend. Long gypsy sleeves never stay in style very long and same goes with many of the trends. No need to invest designer dollars on a passing trend. Try a trendy item when the price is right or pass on it all together.
  • Shop everywhere. Bargains are to be found at end of year sales in every price range. Don’t discount (pun intended) more expensive stores! Every store and every rack is where you are shopping this season---because you have a list, and know what you are looking for!
  • For serious shopping—go it alone. When you concentrate on the styles, fit and colors that you like and the clothes on your list—less chances of getting sidetracked.
  • Got to love it! Don’t buy anything unless you love it! This is true for sale racks, outlet stores and full priced clothing.

Happy “sale” shopping!
Love, Leslie MSP

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

DIY Holiday Body Butter

If you're like me, there's nothing more pampering than a good soak in the tub. However, in the winter months it can be so drying to my skin.

I found this fabulous DIY Holiday Body Butter recipe I'm drying to try out! I can get all these ingredients from my local EarthFare Market too!

This fabulous DIY Body Butter recipe is from Self Magazine:

What You Need:
1 cup coconut oil

1 cup cocoa butter

1 cinnamon stick

1 tbsp Vitamin E oil

1tsp vanilla essential oil

What To Do:

1. Warm the cocoa butter on medium heat in a pan until it becomes liquid.

2. Stir in the coconut oil for one minute, then turn off the heat and let the mixture cool for 20-30 minutes but don't let it set fully.

3. Once it cools, add the Vitamin E oil and vanilla essential oil. Using a whisk or a stick blender, whip the mixture until it becomes light and airy, like a mousse. Scoop it into an air-tight container, so it does't loose it's light texture. Break a piece of the cinnamon stick and place it in each container.

4. Slather it on right out of the shower for super soft, sweet smelling skin all day!

It's a delicious holiday treat for your skin!

Here is the link:
Merry Christmas! Love, Leslie

Friday, December 17, 2010

Divine Style = Simplicity

Divine Style = Simplicity

Simple dress...and one show-stopping necklace!
(Chico's Rosemary Wrap Dress)

So often when women get excited about re-discovering their style...they want to pull out all the fashion stops! They pile on the jewelry, match their shoes to their handbag + add a bit more accessories just for good measure.

In reality when you take a moment and disect what a well styled woman is wearing--there's not all that much to her outfit. Yes, she's got divine style but more importantly she's using the style rule of simplicity.

The phrase "less is more" certainly applies when it comes to great style. Wearing clothes that fit you well, allowing the simple lines of the garment drape over your body, allowing "blank space" just to BE...then adding that ONE show stopper item (it could be a fancy jacket, a statement necklace, a hat, a scarf, animal print shoes, or a handbag like no other)...the key word here is: ONE. One item reins supreme.

Simplicity does not mean boring. In case you're starting to think this sounds a little plain and boring, I promise you it's not. It simply means NOT overadorned!

Overadorned is chaotic and cluttered. When you wear ruffles, belts, scarves, bangles, sequins all in one begins look too fussy. Overdone is not great style.

Go easy or avoid all together embellishments like these:
  • Ruffles. Yes, right now they are trendy. But honestly too much foo-foo ruffles are juvenile and not very stylish after all. Would you wear them if they weren't considered stylish?
  • Ribbons, bows and border embroidery. Does it add to the style of the garment or is it just added to keep you from ignoring the poor construction of the garment? Does the border trim ADD an unflattering horizontal line in the middle of your body? Do you need all this jazz added to look good?
  • Appliques. Need I tell you they give a cheesy homemade look to everything?
How to have simple, elegant, classic style:
  • Jewelry. A great way to dress up a simple outfit. The simpler the outfit the more jewelry you can get away with. Check yourself in a full-length mirror, if it looks too showy take something off.
  • Balance accessories. If you are wearing large earrings, do without a necklace. If you are wearing a large necklace, keep your earrings on the small side. Lots of bracelets stacked on your arm? No need for a big necklace too.
  • Use your tools. Style tools, that is. No woman should be without a full-length mirror. No one sees you from only the waist up...therefore YOU should see the WHOLE picture (head to toe) before heading out the door!
  • Experiment. Play around and try on (in front of your full-length mirror) various combinations of accessories to see what looks most pleasing to you.
Your style should come across as EFFORTLESS! Yves Saint Laurent once said, "The woman should wear the clothes, not the clothes wear the woman."

Divine style = simplicity.
Give it a try...or rather try not so hard and your style will show through with simplicity!

Love, Leslie

Monday, December 13, 2010

What type of shoe to wear with wide-legged pants

Dear Leslie,

I see a lot of wider-leg pant styles. You have also suggested them in my personal profile at
My question is, what types of shoes go with the wider pants?

Thanks for offering this much needed service. I’m looking so much better and hardly a day goes by that someone doesn’t say something about how great I dress now! Go Me!


Nordstrom Billy Blue Wide Leg Twill Pants


That’s a great question!

Generally speaking, the flatter your shoe, the more narrow your pants should be. So, if you choose a wider-leg silhouette, you should have a heeled shoe with a more substantial heel or a wedge type shoe. The thicker heel balances nicely with a wider pant leg and gives you a balanced look.

This shoe would be perfect: Dillards BCBG Wedge

Love, Leslie aka MissusSmartyPants

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Quick Tips to Dressing Well

Quick Tips to Dressing Well

One of the most important aspects of dressing well (and what MissusSmartyPants is all about) is learning what styles will or will not flatter your body shape.


Another important part of dressing well is wearing clothes that FIT you correctly. Clothes that are too baggy, or too tight will only make you appear out of proportion and often larger than you really are! Learning basics about fit and proportion can really set your style above and apart from the masses.

However, sometimes it’s the little things that can make a big difference in your appearance. ..

Here are five quick style tips to help you dress your best:

1. Have the pockets of your pants sewn shut. They “poof” out and make you appear 5 pounds heavier and grab attention at your hips. I've done this to several of my pants and it makes a HUGE difference.

2. Check your posture. Stand up straight and suck in the tummy—you will automatically look slimmer. Make this a conscious effort each day…and see what happens when you are standing taller--not hunched over.

3. Always use a full length mirror. Check yourself out from head to toe...before stepping out the door. Better yet, look in a three-way mirror…people do see you from all angles.

4. Shop during the week. The stores are better stocked from the weekend and you will get the help you deserve. Less chance of impulse buys when you take your time.

(Me, shopping at the Nordstrom sale)

5. Shop alone. You will focus more on your needs. Take your MissusSmartyPants profile recommendations shopping with you. You won’t get side-tracked and can take the time to find clothes that are the most flattering and suit your wardrobe needs.

Love, Leslie...your fashion stylist & friend

BIO: Leslie Gonzales AKA MissusSmartyPants helps women by assessing their body
types and building personal profiles for each woman dress her best.

Check out her website for more information,

Saturday, December 4, 2010

How to Accessorize Correctly

Dear Leslie,

I need help with accessories. Since you always seem to wear just the right accessories and just the right amount I know you can help. Are there rules that you follow when picking out your accessories to wear each day?

For example if I wear a bold necklace, should I not wear earrings? If I wear a chunky bracelet should I wear a ring on the same hand or on the other hand? What about mixing a pearl necklace and diamond stud earrings, yes or no? I just feel pearl earrings will look too matronly with the matching necklace, am I right about this?

By the way I love your website and your weekly style tips from your newsletter! My style has dramatically improved since joining your site. I’m also having fun playing dress up in my closet. Keep up the good work.

Thanks! Janella

Dearest Janella,

This certainly is a hard question to answer since the answer is somewhat subjective in nature. Stylists don’t even agree on what the right amount of accessories are that you should wear.  In magazines, you’ll see everything from no jewelry being worn to over-accessorizing—and everything in-between. It’s hard for the average women to know what is truly stylish and tasteful.

Coco Chanel said: "Always remove one thing before going out the door". I often see a lot of women who over-accessorize with earrings, rings, necklaces and bracelets all heaped on at one time. It often comes across as chaotic and distracting. Coco Chanel was right on this: less is more when it comes to accessories.

“Costume jewelry is not made to give women an aura of wealth,
but to make them beautiful.” Coco Chanel

A woman's accessories should describe her personality. If you aren't absolutely confident that you have your accessories right, then just wear one piece that you love and leave it at that. If you have style confidence, you can pretty much pull anything off!

So to answer your question... “What rules do I follow when picking out my accessories each day?”
Here goes:

1. I pick and choose my accessories by instinct and by my mood.

Since I don’t like to wear matched “sets” I choose my accessories based on the color I’m wearing and the occasion I’m dressed for. Sometimes I wear large silver hoops with a chunky necklace because the silver in the hoops bring out the silver pieces in the necklace, or because the look I'm going for is a bit more trendy or urban. I try to experiment and pick pieces that describe my mood or vibe for that day. In other words, try on different accessories and see what looks best.

2. I keep my look balanced.

I usually spread out my accessories to balance my look. If I wear a large necklace, my earrings are minimal. Or if I wear large earrings, I’ll wear no necklace. Or, if I'm wearing a statement belt, I don't wear a necklace so that the necklace doesn't compete with the belt. Again spread out your accessories—and use your full length mirror.

3. I look for style inspiration everywhere!

I read fashion magazines and peruse catalogs like J.Crew, Ann Taylor Loft, Chico's, Urban Outfitters and Anthropologie to see what's hot and what I like. Plus a regular shopping trip never hurt :)

I interpret the season's styles by using what I have in my closet to make up my own version. Sometimes I only need a small item to complete the look!

4. I always say YES to a sale!

I stock up on accessories when I run across a good deal—and I’m always on the lookout for an accessory bargain.

Why pay a lot for accessories, when you can buy them on clearance for a $2 or less at thrift stores, garage sales, Claire's, Wal-Mart, or Target? The more you have the more options you’ll have for creating your own unique look. DON’T buy junk! Only buy what you like in your seasonal colors.

At the beginning of each season I buy several trendy accessories to update my mostly classic wardrobe. I have a few pieces of real jewelry, quality shoes, and handbags to fall back on...but I love stocking up on inexpensive items to keep my wardrobe fresh and stylish.

5. I keep my accessories organized.

You won't be inspired to wear any accessories unless you can SEE them! How you organize and display your jewelry is up to you. You may want to use hooks or accessory hangers to see all that you have.

(This photo is from Deanna in my Facebook Group) Love your jewelry shelf, girl!

When I open my closet I can see all my options. I can see my necklaces, scarves, bags, belts and choose what to wear with my outfit. I organize each item by COLOR because I find that most helpful to me.

...Now to answer your other accessory questions you've asked. Should you forgo earrings when you are wearing bold necklaces?

You don't have to, but you certainly don't want your earrings to distract from your statement necklace. Small stud earrings that coordinate with the larger necklace always look great. They don't need to match perfectly, but they must compliment.

My rule of thumb is if my hair is up, I always wear earrings. I usually do wear small studs if I am wearing a bold necklace. If my hair is down and I'm wearing a statement necklace, I might forego earrings. But that is just my preference. I've seen women pull off bold earrings with a bold necklace.

Should you wear both bracelets and rings on the same hand?

Definitely! I would wear several bracelets too. You are making a statement by going strong in one area. I just would forego a necklace, but balance the bulk out with large earrings. Again, this is just my opinion.

Should you wear a chunky pearl necklace with diamond studs? I worry pearl earrings would be too “matchy-matchy” and old fashioned look—am I right?

You are correct, matched jewelry sets are quite outdated looking. However, if I'm going for a more classic look and I’m wearing a bold pearl necklace (chunky or several strands), I usually wear small pearl studs. If you are worried about looking too matronly, just forego the earrings and let your hair cover your ears.

Accessories can do so much! They can…

__Pull unrelated pieces together

__Transform an outfit into a completely different look

__They can make look taller, thinner, richer, or whatever

__They can be an inexpensive way to look current

__They bring attention to your desired areas (face, neck, earlobe, waist, forearms)

The most important thing about accessorizing is to take the time to explore and discover how they can represent and define your personality!

Try new ways to wear a scarf. Try a new bold necklace. How about a large ring?

Try, try, try! Once you get over your initial anxiety, you love “Showing Your Style”

Love, Leslie...MissusSmartyPants

Friday, November 26, 2010

Wardrobe Stretching Ideas

I thought I'd share with you some of the ways I've taken my wardrobe basics and "stretched" them into more outfits.

Instead of wearing the same clothes the same way all the time, try wearing them differently. You will save lots of $$$ and feel more stylish for it too!

Below, I'm wearing my classic LBD in jersey knit. It's an easy wash n' wear dress and packs great for a trip too. It's the perfect blank canvas for a dressy occasion. Simply decide what color accessories and shoes you want to wear and you're all set!

I also love my LBD for business meetings and such. Simply add any blazer from my closet, a snazzy necklace and pumps...and I'm out the door in no-time flat!

However, my LBD can work well for a casual day of running errands too! Below, I've matched my LBD up with black leggings, added a silky scarf and gold flats and grabbed my purple tote. Belting my waist makes me feel more put together, but you don't have to.

A classic sheath dress can be worn so many ways too:

By adding a sweater over the top, a dress looks more like a skirt which makes a classic dress even more versatile!

Take a look at your dresses and see what you can layer with them with to create "new" outfits. Add layers either OVER or UNDER your dresses and see what looks you get.

When you "stretch" your wardrobe like this, you'll save money while you are having fun being more stylish!

Love, Leslie aka MissusSmartyPants

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Another way to tie a scarf

Several weeks ago, MissusSmartyPants showed on her website a method of tying a long silk scarf.  She tied the opposite ends of the scarf together and made a circular shape out of the whole fabric of the scarf.  Then somehow she stuffed part of the scarf through that hole that she formed and the result made this beautiful shorten version of the scarf with draping fabric.  But I can't figure out how she did it.  Can you please let me know how this worked?  Thanks so much!! Elaine

Dear Elaine,

I've been getting tons of email about my lastest scarf tying I've decided to post it right here!

In order for this to look good, you will need a long rectangular thin fabric scarf (like the georgette fabric one I'm using here)...

Tie the corners together creating one continuous scarf...(there should be a opening in the middle between the knotted ends)

Now put it around your neck keeping the knot at the front...

Wrap it around your neck for a second time...

Now pull the fabric through (between the knots)...

Ta Da! You are done...

OR wear it turned to the side, like this below...

What do you think of my scarf?

Finding Style in Chaos

Everything in its place and a place for everything. It's certainly comforting to have organization in your life. However, it's not an easy task to keep things in order (especially when you tend to procrastinate). It takes daily routines to bring organization and peace into your daily life (thank you FlyLady for helping us).

 I love organization and everything in its place....but sometimes to get new ideas (and outfits) I have to get creative AND let chaos take over!

Give in to the closet chaos! Set your timer for 15 minutes and as you go through your closet (one shelf at a time) items you no longer wear. Think of new ways you might wear each item OR get them out of your closet! Don't hold on to something you are not going to wear (clutter)...bless someone else.

Get in your closet and create a mess (or go through the mess one shelf at a time).
Mixing things up creates new outfits!

Think about it. Any great artist had a messy studio! When the creative juices get flowing--it gets messy. Yeah, you have to clean it up, but some good comes of the mess so don't feel bad about it. It is part of the process and there are lots of great things "hiding" in the depths of your closet that you have simply forgot about.

Give an old sweater a new lease on life! Can you match up a scarf that has the same color in it and wear them together?

(photo Ann Taylor Loft)

Stop frowning at that pile of laundry. Instead, think of it as an opportunity. That pile of laundry holds potential outfits! As you start putting away laundry, think of ways you can wear that turtleneck under (or over) your sleeveless sheath dress, think of how you can layer that green cardigan (or wear it as a shirt) with a jacket over the top. What jewelry would look fabulous with that light lavender tank you are putting away? How about wearing two necklaces at the same time with that lavender tank???

Stop wearing the same predictable combinations. Yes, they look great together, but putting that purple jacket with something else besides the same gray pants would really wake up your closet's potential! You have more clothing choices (combinations) in your closet than you realize!

Is your "hot spot" the bedroom chair? If so, as you tackle this hot spot, perhaps you can see some new mixing and matching potential here. How about wearing those black pants with that curry sweater (you slung on that chair) and add your layered pearl necklace that never gets worn? You might just create some new looks as you do you de-clutter that hot spot!

Your chaos holds creativity! Embrace the chaos and work with it. Start your routines and let your creativity flow in the process. Who knows what you'll find..."you can do anything for 15 minutes"!

Would you have ever considered wearing a sequined top and a striped knit scarf one outfit?

(photo Ann Taylor Loft)

Find style in your chaos...15 minutes at a time. I like to put on up-beat music and put away my clothes...all the while I'm thinking of how else I might wear each item. It's a great thing to do as you lay out your clothes the night before too.

This outfit below was created out of my "closet chaos"...I had never worn this green tank over my sheath dress before. Since the tank is casual in style, I decided to wear my gray sweater hoodie to pull the whole look together.

Have you ever "found" new outfits amist your clutter? Share with me your closet creativity stories...

Monday, November 15, 2010

What did you do with your wedding dress?

What did you do with your wedding dress?

If I had known back then (29 years ago) what I know now (that I was going to end up throwing my wedding dress into the trash) I'd have donated it years ago!!!

After last week's post at telling how my dress after being stored and sealed for almost 30 years ended up with an ugly brown stain (and ruined) and I ended up throwing it into the trash! So sad...but what was I storing it for? I have 3 grown boys and they certainly don't want it. Two already married and the other I'm sure his one day "wife to be" would love to choose her own gown.

So, I asked you...all of my MSP SYSters: "What did you do with your wedding gown"???

I got hundreds of emails...but here is a sampling. They are varied, funny and quite interesting. It really makes you think about WHY you are still saving your wedding gown, LOL!

Oh, Leslie, I can identify completely with you on the wedding dress story; had mine sealed, moved from house to house for the past 29 years, etc. The only difference is that I do have a daughter, but she is 2 1/2" taller than me and we are built nothing alike. I found out after opening my wedding dress box last year (after my daughter's engagement announcement) that my dress had yellowed (even though I had paid dear money to have it sealed), and it was terribly out of style. My daughter wanted~ and deserved~ to pick out her own wedding dress. Like you, I tried my dress on. It did zip ~barely~ but it sure didn't make me happy to try it on and see the changes time had made to my body. So I just packed it up and took it to the thrift store the next time I went. The moral of this story is: keep the pictures, keep the memories, but get rid of the dress! Love, Sherry

I feel so much better -- I thought I must be horrible after I pitched my wedding dress after 35 years about 6 months ago. My mother in law certainly thought I was horrible. Here was my thought -- perhaps I would have it on display on my 50th anniversary, but then do I REALLY want people to see how much I've "grown" since then? Because, although I am maintaining a reasonable weight and stay in fairly good shape, no way am I ever going to be a size 1 again. Ever. Nor do I really want to cart that big box around from house to house as we downsize, which we are determined to do now that the kids are gone. Space will be at a premium, and I could have that one big box of never-get-to-wear-it, or a bunch of clothes that fit who I am now that I can wear every day and look great in. So I shelved my sentimentality, and will console myself by looking at wedding pictures when I get nostalgic. Love, Gini

Being frugal shoppers, 18 years ago, my mother and I purchased my wedding dress at a Goodwill donation store. After the wedding the dress lived in my closet with mother clothes, occasionally I would pull it out and admire it and think of the special day. Years went by, a few home moves, two children. Hmmm.... maybe my daughter will want to wear it someday? Last year, I pulled the dress out of the closet and thought.... WHO AM I KIDDING? My daughter is not going to want my wedding dress, she is going to want something beautiful of her own for her special day. I asked the dress where it would like to said "I'm still in good condition so send me back to where you bought me, so that I may be of use to someone else." That very day I took it and donated it with love in my heart.

Thank you for reminding me, MSP. The truth is, I still have it. It dates from 1979 and like yours, it is just sitting in the attic - not even in a special box, but in a big old suitcase. I haven't looked at it for years, and had forgotten all about it!

I am going to get it out tomorrow and see if parts of it are still worth salvaging for re-use, like the lace trim. Or, my little nieces are coming over for Christmas this year, and I just have the sewing machine out at the moment: maybe I could make some dressing-up clothes for them, how about Christmas-angel-type outfits? We will all have lots of fun that way, and it will be so much better than having to throw the dress out!

Now I can't wait...... thanks again for the tip!  Anna in France

Hi Leslie! Love the website and want to thank you for the fine tuning you have helped me do through my colors and my body type. Several years ago my parents had their home almost demolished due to Hurrican Ivan. After a hurricane and tornado,there was nothing left in the house. Across the street and several houses down we found some of their belongings. Two things we found were my mom's wedding dress ( she is 80 and has been married over 60 years) and my wedding dress ( I have been married 28 years and am 53). Because both the dresses were ruined with sea water, i took the liberty to throw them both in the dumpster. This was something my mother could not have done since she was still in shock from loosing EVERYTHING. I am not as sentimental as she but i did have a bit of trepidation about throwing those symbols of early love into a dumpster but after the toss I felt very liberated- after all those are only symbols of what has matured into 85 years plus of true love and life! As the lady in your column so rightly said, I would not go back to that time for anything yet I appreciate that time as it did help me become who I am today! Just like wine, we ladies get better as we age- thanks for reminding us of that!

-- Kathy

Good for you for finally letting go of the dress. It's just a shame you didn't do it 20 years ago when someone else could have been blessed with it before it was ruined by that hanger. I hope by sharing your story, many other women will pass on their gowns before they are worthless. :-)

I don't have a story about a wedding dress because I didn't have a big white wedding. 21 years ago, I was 6 months pregnant and made my own dress from a pattern with willowy models sketched on the outside of the envelope. Needless to say, my 4'11" pregnant body did NOT look all lithe and floaty in that dress, and I can't even think what happened to it. I suppose I gave it away many years ago.

It was hideous. If I did it again with what I know now, the dress would be a different shape, colour and fabric. Love, Kas

Thank you for this chance to share my story.

I kept my dress for 8 years. It was beautiful :) but no daughters to pass it along to, and what? keep it for 30 more years to offer my sons' bride? That's a relationship off to a happy start!

I gave it to my dry cleaner. Originally from Egypt, she has ties there still and at her church in Egypt they have a collection of gowns that they lend to brides who marry there. I'm happy to know that my gown, that made me sooooo happy and feel so special and beautiful may go on to do the same for some other woman. I took it to a photographer beforehand, and she was happy to take photos of it for free! as an experiment in photographing a still life. I sent along the veil as well. But I kept the tiara - and smile every time I see it in my dresser drawer :) Love, Mary

I had to laugh at your article. My wedding dress is still in its hermetically-sealed box in the basement. I haven't looked at it since I was married in it 36 years ago! That dress has lived in four states and moved five times without ever seeing the light of day. Although it would fit my daughter, she won't want it and there's no reason for me to save it. Perhaps it's time to declutter that large box and its contents! Sue in NoVa

I chose not to have my dress sealed. I have kept it on a wooden hanger and have a big piece of plastic over it. Nearly every wedding anniversary I take it out and put it on. Yes, there were several years when I could not zip it up, but now I can again. My kids always look stunned and amazed when I come out every May 6 with it on. I think they can't believe that I actually wore something with that much lace!!! I am glad that I chose not to seal it and I am glad that I kept it. I hope that our kids see this as a way that I honor that special day that my husband and I promised a lifetime commitment to each other. 21 years and counting........!! Lorrie

I got married while I was in the Air Force. Due to my job I was in Saudi Arabia up till 6 days before my wedding. I MADE my dress in a mad dash in 3 days.

When my daughter was about 3 I gave her the dress for dressup. She and her friends had a BLAST with it.

She was married last summer. She bought and wore a beautiful dress. She, unlike me, NEVER intended to keep it. She DONATED it about 3 months after her wedding to a group that gives the dresses to needy brides. She said she LOVED that dress and wanted another girl to feel beautiful on HER day. Lee Anne

I borrowed my best friend's wedding dress and gave it back to her after my wedding. I had it professionally cleaned and boxed like you did as a gift to her after I wore it. I hope she doesn't find her wedding dress ruined like you did. I have never regretted my decision to borrow a dress. I recently celebrated my 20th wedding anniversary and brought out a few things from our wedding to commemorate the occasion. My Born Organized daughter said," I am glad your anniversary is over so you can de-clutter those two totes full of wedding stuff downstairs." She is right, sometimes it's best to let go of those things - they do not define who I am anymore. I will always have sweet memories and pictures of our wedding and that is all I need. Susan B.

It's funny you should ask where my wedding dress is. I've been

divorced almost a year (after being seperated over 2 yrs) and just

yesterday I was looking in my closet at my old wedding dress that I

did not bother to get put in a cute keepsake's just still

hanging in plastic like you're not supposed to do. Almost 17 years

later. But it is there nonetheless taking up room that I do not want,

along with some random suits from my ex's great aunt who gave them to

me because they no longer fit her but were expensive. And they are

beautiful relics of the 1960's. So I almost threw them all in a bag

for the Goodwill because why am I storing that emotional clutter? But

I didn't. Why am I not having a problem editing my real wardrobe but

these 4 items in the back of the closet fill me with guilt when I

consider tossing them????? Seriously, I don't want to pass on this

wedding dress. We watch Say Yes to the Dress- I want my daughters to

find their own special dresses. I didn't want to burn the dress or

something equally destructive, as I've heard other divorcees doing....

I'm tossing them. Thanks for the timely reminder. I feel much better

now. (Why I needed an email to give me permission to toss the dress is

beyond me.) Sue

I appreciated your "shocking" wedding dress post. I agree with the philosophy of keeping the memories, but passing on the clutter. I was married 17 years ago, and the gown hung in my closet in a zippered bag for several years as I wondered what to do with it. Then, the perfect opportunity came along: I saw a local-newspaper story about a woman who was going to Africa and collecting used wedding dresses to give to african women so they could use them to start a business.

Apparently, in this part of Africa (I can't remember anymore what country, unfortunately), women rent western-style gowns to be wed in. So a nice business is to have several wedding dresses and rent them out to brides.

So that's where my beloved dress went, all the way to Africa to hopefully bless MANY brides, as well as the woman who owns it and her family. I've never regretted that decision!

I do have a teenage daughter, but if she ever gets married, I want her to have a special dress that she gets to choose and that suits her personality and figure and shape, not mine.


I wore a lovely lilac coloured dress for my informal wedding, which I loved. Unfortunately, it got dark stains on it at the reception. For 23 years it hung in the back of my closet, stains and all. I always had in mind to wear it again for my 25th, then finally realized that unless the stains came out, that would not happen. With great trepidition, I hand washed it using good old baking soda, and presto! - it cleaned up so well it almost looked new. There was the problem of not being quite the same size, but a talented dressmake was able to alter it, and my groom and I both wore our wedding clothes last year for our Silver Anniversary party. I still love it.

Alice, Ontario, Canada

My 37 year old wedding dress is still in the big gold box, up in the garage rafters! The box was opened 4 years ago when my daughter was getting married and thought she wanted to use my veil. The lace on the veil didn't work with her gown, so that was a no go. She said the dress style looked like something from Night of the Living Dead! I was finally willing to part with it before our move 3 years ago, but it was my husband who wanted to keep it! So there it sits, opened, in the big gold box, in the garage rafters. I believe the veil is stuffed in a green garbage bag somewhere. Sandy

For my (first) wedding in 1963 I wore my grandmother's wedding dress, which had also been worn by my mother for her wedding. My grandmother had married in 1909 and since she worked at Marshall Field in Chicago, she'd bought the dress there. It was a lovely gown and I have many photos of it from my wedding in 1963. When I retired 15 years ago, I became very interested in genealogy and had traveled back to Jerseyville, Illinois, to research my family, since that is where my grandmother had lived when she was young. The people at the historical society were very helpful, and I had enjoyed seeing the historic gowns they'd put on donated mannequins.

A few years later, it was evident my nieces were not interested in wearing the gown for their weddings and I had no children. I asked my siblings if they'd mind my donating the gown to the Jersey County (IL) Historical Society and they agreed it was the thing to do. I contacted the society and they were happy to have Grandma's wedding dress, so that is where it resides. I also donated the copper plate that was used for Grandma's wedding invitations and the plate that was used for her "at home" cards.

Marina, a happy Syster

My sister-in-law and I cut pieces from my mother's wedding dress and used them to make Christmas tree skirts. Lovely. Kathleen

I was married in 1970 and my mother made my dress out of satin, strapless, princess style, full length with a satin train and a matching headpiece. She used needles instead of pins while she made it so the holes wouldn't show. She put lace and buttons up the sleeves. It was gorgeous. She put it in a small, flat, plain box and gave it to me. I took it with me from place to place as I moved over the years. Around 2000, I pulled it out from under a bed and opened the box. It was as white and beautiful as 30 years before. My hometown was planning an exhibit of wedding dresses worn in that county over the past century. The criteria was that the dress had to be hand made locally and for a bride in that area. My mother approached the historical society about displaying it and they did! I didn't get to see the exhibit but it's stored now in a temperature controlled area with the other historical wedding dresses. I'm historical!

My mother has been married 52 years and has 5 daughters and 1 son. Her wedding dress was a size two. (A 1950's size 2!) I was the last girl to get married and her dress was never worn by myself or my sisters. My Mom LOVED her dress. She cut off the beautiful trim and attached it to sand dollars to make Christmas tree ornaments for all her children. Every year when I pull out that ornament it warms my heart to put a piece of my Mother's special wedding day on our family's tree. Betsy

I got married in jeans the first time and a two piece outfit the second time but.....I have cut up people's wedding dresses and made them into memory quilts in the Victorian Crazy Quilt style. They are GORGEOUS!!!! Rebecca

Hi Leslie,

My wedding dress is still in the box, however 5 years ago we took my mother's old wedding dress (approx 45 years old then, never cleaned or boxed properly) and used the best pieces to create 2 christening gowns for my twins. We had to use some new fabric, but used lots of the decorative lace and as much of the old fabric as we could. We are going to try to save those for their kids since my son was able to wear his great-great grandfather's christening gown which was over 100 years old. If it doesn't last, like you said, we have pictures and stories.

We also made some hankies for my niece to use at her wedding someday in the future. It will be her 'something old' and as a memory of my mom who has since passed.

Just a little sentimental re-purposing! Cheryl


I rented mine in the first place. If men can rent a nice Tux, why not rent a nice dress? Photos were nice, the rental included a bridal portrait day and the wedding day. I turned it back in after the honeymoon and never looked back.


After getting married I eventually took my dress to a second hand shop and they bought it. I have been married 20 years this past July. Some days I wonder if that was the right thing to do. After all I now have a 17 year old daughter. But she is totally fashion forward. Even wanting to major in fashion/journalism in college and writing a fashion column in her school paper.
Would the style I wore 20 years ago even appeal to her now? I’m about 99% sure it would not. Not to mention when I told her it cost me $500 in 1990 from JCP she told me, “What? That is nothing!” She of course watches those wedding dress shows from NY which show dresses costing thousands!

And after Leslie told the story of her dress being ruined even though it was in a box I’m glad that I sold mine all those years ago while it was still lovely for another bride to buy and wear.

I do still have my veil. Any chance the daughter will want to wear it? Only time will tell. Stephanie

I went a totally different route with my wedding dress: I was on a very tight budget for my wedding, but I still wanted THE dress. I went to every wedding shop in the area I live and I found it! However, the dress was more than half my budget for the entire wedding. One day I was rhapsodizing over my perfect dress and trying to rationalize the price, and describing it in detail to some distant family members during one of our occasional get togethers. Suddenly my cousin said "You can borrow mine". She had kept her dress, all cleaned and sealed. It was a stunning dress with lots of lace and beads and a beautiful, long train. It was just what I had been looking for. She told me that it may as well get used again - as it wasn't likely her daughter would wear it. So on my wedding day I wore the dress of my dreams, and I have the photos to show for it - without the attached clutter.

This is what I'll be doing with my daughter. The men rent tuxes, why can't we rent dresses?

Flybaby in Vancouver, Canada

I washed my wedding dress in the machine when I found it in the basement. It turned out fine. Then I hung it on a floor lamp in the living room to put it on display. I finally thought I must be out of my mind because I had divorced my husband years before and threw it out.

My sister had worn the dress when she got married. When she found out I had thrown it out she said I should have given it to her. She's a pack rat and would have no use for it. It would have gone into her basement.

I feel I saved us both from hanging on to a useless item and have no regrets.

I hung my wedding dress in the back corner of my closet. Twenty-three years ago when I had lost 40 pounds on Weight Watchers and finally landed my "dream job" -- teaching high school English -- I tried it on and discovered it was too big! But since I had sewn the dress myself, I saved it for my daughter's wedding. Her reaction? "It's so 1970s." True, but very stylish for 1972 when I wore it in my wedding.

Needless to say, she did not wear anything from my wedding in hers. It was a new century, so why should she dip back into the past?

Three weeks ago we moved out of our house for a major remodel and I put the wedding dress in storage. I was not ready to let go of it, but as I look at the "new" construction, I have decided to get rid of everything that is not essential to my life. The couch, refrigerator, stove, and bed remain. The wedding dress will join its sisters (other garments that are out-dated and "out-grown) in the dump. I am keeping my husband of 38 years. We have both retired and are enjoying the "new phase" of our life. We don't need reminders of our wedding DAY. We have many years of past memories and are busy making new memories. We are enjoying the "gold" of our "golden" years.

HOPEFULL THESE ENLIGHTENING STORIES WILL HELP A BRIDE TO BE! It's my opinion to now just go ahead and rent a beautiful dress for your special day!!!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Attacking Closet Clutter

If I was to come unannounced and inspect your closet--what would I see? Is it organized and everything has a place, or is it where you stash stuff quickly to get it out of the way?

Do you sometimes feel like a squirrel storing things away 'just in case' you need them? If you find that you have stored everything in your bedroom closet (including maybe a kitchen sink-don’t laugh I’ve seen this!) you have created chaos- and now it’s time to attack the closet clutter and make some sense of what really should be in your closet.
When you organize your closet, it will give you more order in your life. Wouldn’t be nice to find what you are looking for right away? What if you could easily go into your closet and pull out something terrific to wear? How good is that? It can happen when you get the clutter OUT!

The best way to find out what you have is to get in your closet and follow the simple steps below. With an organized closet, you will enjoy a stress-free morning everyday!

Stop being a squirrel. Are you storing away "things" in your closet...just in case you might one day need them? Have you stored extra gifts, found things in your closet (years later) you didn’t know you still had, canned food, pantry items…bags of chips, and old household appliances in here? Stop! I know some of you do this! Remove the stored junk now! You need to remember this is your bedroom closet--a place to organize and store your clothes! You need to get the junk out of your closet!

Remember when? I am sure that you have a picture of you wearing that fabulous costume! It’s time to move on and purge it. Do you have clothes that are out-dated, haven’t been worn in years, clothes that no longer fit and ones that don’t make you feel good? You know the answer to that question! Yes! Purge them now! Forget the guilt of how much they once cost, or who gave them to you, or what occasion you wore them! Purge, purge, purge! This can be a very liberating experience to get rid of the OLD stuff & move on!

Sort and separate. Put together clothes in a bag or basket that need to be mended and altered as well as clothes that need to be dry cleaned. You need to get them out of the closet since they can’t be worn right away until something is done with them. (I always put this bag immediately in the car, so that next time I run errands-they can be taken in!)

For every thing there is a season… You need to separate your clothes into 2 main seasons. You should have spring/summer clothes together and clothes for the fall/winter seasons together. The off season clothes should be put at the back of the closet and out of the way of the current season. Or, if you have another closet (it’s rare to have an extra closet) available to use in another room-this is a great place to store out-of-season clothes. Plastic tubs can store out-of-season clothes safely for 6 months. You can hang up an expandable wood mug rack to display your necklaces and other jewelry on (this keeps your jewelry from tangling up and makes it easy to see what matches what).

What’s left? Now it is time to really organize and make a working wardrobe out of the clothes that are left in your closet! So let’s start by categorizing the same types of clothes together. Start with the shelves. Fold and put in piles like clothes together. I like to put the short-sleeved t-shirts folded together and the long-sleeved t-shirts together. Next, put cardigan sweaters together and so on. Group together same types of clothes on each shelf.

Hang in there! Almost done! Now it’s time to tackle the hanging clothes. First off, don’t use the “free” wire hangers-they are worthless! Instead, invest in wood or padded hangers that keep you clothes nice (it gives a nice uniform look too).Or, if you are like me, the white plastic tubular ones are not bad. Again, you are going to organize by category. Start with shirts and blouses. Put the long-sleeved blouses together, then the short-sleeved blouses. Do the same with your pants, denims, skirts, blazers, jackets, and then dresses.

In living color. Now colorize! Put the whites together; cream together, tans, pinks, reds, blues and so on. Go from light to dark with the blouses, pants, skirts, dresses, etc. When you colorize, you will see what colors you have a lot of, and what you are missing. Try it and see!

All together now. Now for the fun part! You will be able to shop in your closet and find new outfits! If you have organized by categories with like things together and then by short and long sleeves and then by colorizing--you will find you can mix and match and put together outfits you didn’t know you had! This system will also tell you what you need to help extend your wardrobe and have more outfits.

Just listed. As you begin to see new outfits in your closet, write a list of what goes with what so you can remember different possible combinations. It also helps to have a trusted friend or sister help you put together new outfit ideas! Make a note also if you need something new to help make more combinations.

Lay out your outfit and call me in the morning. Now that your closet is beautifully organized-set aside the clothes that you want to wear the next day. Include the accessories too. I know you will call me in the morning and thank me for making your life so much more stylish and stress-free! It's also now time to pamper yourself...enjoy a good soak in the tub, you've earned it!

Love, Leslie

BIO: Leslie Gonzales AKA MissusSmartyPants helps women dress their best! (check out my tips under "closet purge")

4 Steps to Chic

1. Start with a feminine top 2. Pair with classy slacks 3. Ground with bold shoes 4. Finish with statement earrings ...