The Working Closet http://workitmom.com/bloggers/workingcloset Fri, 03 May 2013 18:10:04 +0000 http://wordpress.org/?v=2.5.1 en Game time! What do you wear to kids’ sporting events? http://workitmom.com/bloggers/workingcloset/2013/05/03/game-time-what-do-you-wear-to-kids-sporting-events/ http://workitmom.com/bloggers/workingcloset/2013/05/03/game-time-what-do-you-wear-to-kids-sporting-events/#comments Fri, 03 May 2013 18:10:04 +0000 Susan Wagner http://workitmom.com/bloggers/workingcloset/?p=663 J. CrewI am 43. I manage to dress ok for the office but I struggle with the baseball, soccer and hockey games. I feel like I always fall back on jeans and a tee with sneakers. Flip flops when it is warm. Like you said, bleachers are uncomfortable. The weather is also temperamental in the spring on the east coast. Freezing one day, scorching hot the next. I also worry about looking like I tried too hard or didn’t try hard enough.

I am a total Sports Mom. My ten-year-old plays baseball and basketball; my 12-year-old takes kickboxing and mixed martial arts classes. We have some type of class or practice or game virtually every single day.

And I love it.

Getting dressed for all these kid sporting events can be tough, for a lot of reasons: The weather, the bleachers, the other parents. How do you know what’s the right thing to wear to all those games and practices and classes?

Dress for the weather. In Oklahoma, baseball season covers the full range of weather options. Last week, it was 80 degrees at game time; tonight we’ll be lucky if it’s 50. And it is always windy here. For real.

I’m a fan of layers, especially for early morning or late evening games. A tee, a sweater, a jacket — add or subtract as needed. Swap your everyday bag for a simple tote that can hold all those extra layers (and your water bottle and sunscreen and hat and … )

Wear the right shoes. Playing fields can be wet and dirty, and bleachers can be dangerous. Running shoes and flip flops are an easy default, but you can do better. I have a pair of leather driving mocs that I wear for kicking around; they can be wiped clean if I wander into the mud.

Another good option is what we used to call “cute” tennis shoes — the type that aren’t made for actual sports participation but have a sporty look. My favorite option are the Converse Jack Purcell, in leather. Perfect with jeans or shorts and easy to clean.

Be practical. It’s hard enough keeping the team uniforms clean (my son’s baseball and basketball unis can’t go in the dryer, for example) — don’t head to an outdoor game in anything that can’t get a little dirty. You want to watch the game, not worry about your shorts.


Is there anything you should avoid for kid sporting events? Sure. Heels are a bad choice; they stick in grass and slide on hardwood and are a hazard on bleachers. Dresses and skirts are doable, but be careful, especially if you’re hoping to sit down, either in the grass or on the bleachers (no one wants to see your underwear, ladies, especially not your child’s teammates). And anything too short or too tight is just not appropriate around the kids. Save the hot pants and skimpy tanks for … well, never.

Stick with your style. Sometimes the hardest part of kids’ sports can be the other parents. The pressure to fit in can be huge, particularly if you’ll be sharing the bleachers with these parents season after season. But trust me on this: You just need to be yourself. Just because everyone else shows up in sweats and a team logo tee doesn’t mean you have to. Unless you want to, of course. in which case, go for it.

My go-to outfits for sports are pretty basic: Tee or button down with a pullover or cardi (and a jacket, that can go in the washing machine). Shorts, jeans, or skinny pants on the bottom (today, skinny cords). Driving mocs if it’s warm, LL Bean boots if it’s cold or wet. Hat, scarf, gloves as needed. And yes, I’ll wear a baseball cap to a baseball game. Why not?

What’s your go-to kids sports attire?

Photo via J. Crew

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Style after 40: dos and don’ts http://workitmom.com/bloggers/workingcloset/2013/04/08/style-after-40-dos-and-donts/ http://workitmom.com/bloggers/workingcloset/2013/04/08/style-after-40-dos-and-donts/#comments Mon, 08 Apr 2013 17:45:24 +0000 Susan Wagner http://workitmom.com/bloggers/workingcloset/?p=661 Show of hands: How many of you are 40? 40-ish? 40-something? 39 and holding? I thought so.

I’m turning 45 in a few weeks (cupcakes for all!) and I’ve been thinking a lot about what the rules are for style after 40. Should I still be wearing shorts? A bikini? Hot pink?

Julia RobertsJulia Roberts says, “What UP, 46?”

Fashion is so confusing. Especially when you’re not the target demographic for most fashion editorials but still want to look fabulous. Because who doesn’t want to look fabulous?

I do. And I assume you do, too. Right?

So what are the rules for women over 40?

DO: Wear what you love.
Are you a fan of the bikini? Shorts? Maxi skirts? Then make those pieces a part of your wardrobe. There’s no rule that says specific things are off limits after a certain age — or that other pieces are a requirement of your 40s. Wear the things that make you happy.

DON’T: Limit yourself.
Don’t assume that certain things won’t work for you because of your age. This is not to say that you can wear anything, but don’t base your choices on the year in which you were born. Instead, opt for a wardrobe that fits your body and your lifestyle. Find a swimsuit that fits, in a style that you love, and then wear the hell out of it.

DO: Dress like a grown up.
Borrowing clothes from your tween? Well, stop. Your 40s are a time to cultivate your own style, one that reflects who you are right now. Not who your middle schooler is.

DON’T: Sell yourself short.
Love the floral dress trend? Try it on! Fun patterns and bright colors aren’t just for the under-30 set. In the right cut and size, you can wear any trend — just make sure you’re not trying to look like a kid.

DO: Own your age.
Repeat after me: 40 is not dead. 40 is also not old, so stop dressing like you’re on your way to the retirement center. If anything, you’re finally old enough to wear all the things your mother said were off limits in high school. So act — and dress — your age.

DON’T: Dress like your 20-year-old self.
Neon is back, which is fun for those of us who were in junior high and high school in the 80s. But it also means that we need to really think about how we approach this trend. Don’t try to relive your glory days by recreating your younger look. There are grown up, sophisticated ways to wear neon, but they’re not the ways you wore it 20 years ago. Branch out!

DO: Wear what fits.
Your body at 40 is not the body you had at 20. This is just a fact. You may have a better body now, but it’s different, and you need to dress this body, not the one you’re nostalgic for. This doesn’t mean you need to avoid certain pieces, but it means they need to fit. And that might mean rethinking the sizes and styles you’re wearing.

DON’T: Assume that if you can zip it up, it’s ok to wear.

Look at all the cute things in the juniors department! And look at you fitting into them! Yeah, put it back: Just because you can get your body inside it, that doesn’t make it ok to wear. Junior sizes are not imagined for women’s bodies. Think about what you’re liking in the juniors section — the colors, the prints, the attitude — and then look for clothes that do all those things and are cut for your body.

DO: Have fun.
At 40, you’re the boss of you. Getting dressed should be fun — and knowing you look good is always fun. Always.

DON’T: Give up.
Yoga pants are truly awesome — unless that’s all you’re wearing. Up your game! Be daring! Push your comfort zone! And then at the end of the day, snuggle up on the sofa in those yoga pants. Nothing wrong with that.

What’s your style-after-40 secret?

Photo via Zimbio

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Toss or keep? How to decide http://workitmom.com/bloggers/workingcloset/2013/01/29/toss-or-keep-how-to-decide/ http://workitmom.com/bloggers/workingcloset/2013/01/29/toss-or-keep-how-to-decide/#comments Tue, 29 Jan 2013 18:43:08 +0000 Susan Wagner http://workitmom.com/bloggers/workingcloset/?p=657 I am constantly editing my closet, making decisions about what stays and what goes, based on what I’m wearing and what I’m wanting and what I’m loving. But every once in a while, I find myself staring at a piece — a blouse or skirt or dress — and thinking, hmm, maybe I should keep this … but maybe not.

I know you’ve been there. Right?

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I hear from lots of women who say, “I would love to do a big closet purge and edit my wardrobe, but I’m afraid I will get rid of something and regret it later. How do I know what to keep and what to part with?”

The short answer: You don’t, always. Not helpful, I know. But let’s think this through.

The ideal wardrobe is composed only of pieces you really love — and really wear. If you’re lucky, those are the same pieces, but we all have things in our closet that we feel strongly about — a beautiful skirt or a fabulous dress or a super cool t-shirt — but never wear. Maybe your Love It piece doesn’t fit right any more, or maybe you just don’t know how to style it, or maybe it’s not appropriate for your everyday life. Whatever the case, the first thing to do is admit that you’re not wearing that piece.

Baby steps, people.

Start by dealing with things that don’t fit. Those beautiful black pants you wore twice a week before the baby was born? Instead of lamenting the fact that your hips aren’t the size they used to be, say goodbye to the pants and get a pair that fit the body you have right now. (Caveat: If you’re currently nursing or your baby is less than a year old, be cautious about giving things away. Wait until you’ve gotten your body back and then assess what fits and what doesn’t.)

If you’re not wearing something because it needs to be mended or altered, take care of that — but give yourself a deadline. Write your deadline on your calendar and hang the piece in question where you will see it every day. If the deadline passes and you haven’t taken that item to the tailor, then it’s clearly not a priority for you. Time to say goodbye.

What about pieces you just don’t know how to style? Ask a friend for help, or look for inspiration in magazines and catalogs or on the Internet. You may just need to rethink how you’re wearing a particular piece — or you may need to admit that it’s just not working for you. If it’s something you really love, give it to someone who will also really love it; you’ll feel better about letting it go if you know it’s going to a good home.

Still having a hard time parting with that fabulous tee that doesn’t go with anything else you own? Move it to another part of your closet, ideally where you can see it but away from the clothes you always wear. If you find yourself gravitating toward that piece and trying to make it work, then you clearly ought to keep it. But if you put it on a high shelf and never even look that way when you get dressed in the morning … it’s time to let it go.

How long should you hold those maybe pieces before you say goodbye? No more than one year — in fact, I would say one season. If you go all winter without wearing that wool dress (and you have the opportunity to wear it during that season) then it’s time to move on.

What about fancy dresses, the kind you only wear for parties or special events? Those can stay around longer, but if you find yourself consistently passing something over, let it go.

What’s your strategy for cleaning your closet out? Have you ever regretted something you gave away? Or are you hanging on to everything?

Photo via California Closets

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Last-minute black tie http://workitmom.com/bloggers/workingcloset/2012/11/30/last-minute-black-tie/ http://workitmom.com/bloggers/workingcloset/2012/11/30/last-minute-black-tie/#comments Fri, 30 Nov 2012 12:00:57 +0000 Susan Wagner http://workitmom.com/bloggers/workingcloset/?p=653 Stacy has a rather enviable dilemma.

My husband and I are expected to be called nearly last minute (about 10 days) to substitute at an industry black tie event. The event is in NYC, at the W Hotel. That is all I know right now.

We don’t have black tie lives, so I would like to avoid buying something for one evening where I will know no one. I’m 52, 5 feet tall and about a size 10. I have a great LBD that is heavy satin material and tailored for me. I have great big pearls that were a gift and good diamond earrings. I’m thinking with evening shoes and a good bag. I’ll be set. I feel my only long option I own is dated and not appropriate. I’m also afraid that a long dress will make me look short and a little stumpy.

However, my mother, who is old school, says I must wear a long dress since it is black tie. Internet searches yield about a 70/30 split long/short with the older women wearing long on the east coast. My sister says there will be all kinds of outfits since people are coming from all over the country. She says channel my inner Audrey Hepurn, throw up my hair and wear the great LBD.

Now that’s a great problem to have.

First of all, the NYC W is one of my absolute favorite hotels ever; so swanky and hip and a great place for a party. Plus the idea of a fun black tie date night makes me a little jealous. I’m just hoping my husband and I can sneak away to see “Skyfall” sometime soon.

Anyway!

Stacy has a couple of options; the first, obviously, is to wear the dress she already has. This would be my choice — she knows the dress fits, she can try on all the pieces ahead of time, and she doesn’t have to scramble around trying to buy (and possibly alter) something. I would opt for a really fabulous clutch, something blingy and super cool, and go for it.

But isn’t the rule that black tie calls for a long dress? Well, yes and no. Once upon a time, a certain class of woman wore evening gowns on a fairly regular basis, and the rule was that black tie meant a hemline that touched the floor. Those were also the days when women wore beautiful suits to run to the grocery, of course. You know, back before yoga pants.

These days, black tie is still dressy, but the rules are looser. Black tie events often mean men in suits rather than tuxedos and women in cocktail dresses instead of evening gowns. A short dress is perfectly appropriate for a black tie event, as long as it is dressy enough. The ensemble Stacy is describing here — perfectly tailored black dress, big pearls, diamond earrings, dressy shoes and bag — is spot on. Nothing about this look says running errands around town; it’s all party.

Having said that, though, I will also say this: There’s something for taking advantage of the opportunity to go all out and wear an actual evening gown. How often do we get to do that? Rather than buying a gown, though, I would suggest that Stacy check out Rent the Runway — she can rent a dress for the event and then send it back after. Perfect! Rent the Runway will send the dress in two sizes, just in case, to guarantee the right fit. It’s a fun way to glam it up without committing to a piece that will just wind up hanging in the closet.

Photos via Rent the Runway and Nordstrom

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Peplums: yay or nay? http://workitmom.com/bloggers/workingcloset/2012/10/17/peplums-yay-or-nay/ http://workitmom.com/bloggers/workingcloset/2012/10/17/peplums-yay-or-nay/#comments Wed, 17 Oct 2012 14:00:53 +0000 Susan Wagner http://workitmom.com/bloggers/workingcloset/?p=651 Last weekend, a curvy friend asked how I felt about peplums. My answer: Meh.

I am not entirely opposed to a peplum; properly deployed, that little overskirt can be kind of fun. For example, I’m loving this Alice + Olivia dress with the lace overlay. It’s simple and sleek and has a clean, minimalist line. Lovely.

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Alice + Olivia, $440

But that’s not really what we’re talking about when we talk about peplums, is it? Typically, a peplum is a little less minimalist and a little more … hippy.

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Topshop, $96

I don’t love this look; it’s hard to wear if you have any sort of curves at all. It is also painfully reminiscent of the 1980s, and I don’t know about you but I have no desire to relive those years. At all.

Of course, peplum dresses have come a long way since the 80s. They’re much cooler now, in lots of ways. This Cynthia Steffe mixed media dress is made for a grown woman, not a high school girl. And yet, it’s still not really working for me — the asymmetrical peplum makes the model look pregnant. Or bloated. Or slouchy. Either way, not good.

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Cynthia Steffe, $248

What if you’re curvy, like my friend? Steer clear of the peplum, dear. Why buy a dress with built in hips if you already have a set of your own?

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Tadashi Shoji (currently unavailable)

I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with having hips — au contraire! What I’m saying is that there are better ways to work your curves. I promise.

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Tadashi Shoji, $428

This dress is fabulous, and it does exactly what all those peplums are trying to do — calls attention to a tiny waist and some bangin’ curves — without adding bulk or making it look like the model’s butt is wearing a cape. The difference between these two Tadashi Shoji dresses is, in my mind, amazing — same designer, same model, completely different silhouette.

How do you feel about the peplum? Is it a yay or a nay?

Photos via Nordstrom.com.

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Printed denim after 40? Oh, I don’t think so http://workitmom.com/bloggers/workingcloset/2012/10/09/printed-denim-after-40-oh-i-dont-think-so/ http://workitmom.com/bloggers/workingcloset/2012/10/09/printed-denim-after-40-oh-i-dont-think-so/#comments Tue, 09 Oct 2012 16:28:13 +0000 Susan Wagner http://workitmom.com/bloggers/workingcloset/?p=649 My super cute friend Suzanne has a question: “What are your thoughts on printed jeans for women in their 40s?” Ooh, that’s a really good question.

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I would like to have an open mind about printed denim for grownups — I refuse to believe that age is ever a really valid reason not to wear something you love. In fact, I just bought a pair of neon pink skinny corduroys and I am totally smitten with them, even though the combination of neon and skinny really seems to be something that would work much better on a younger woman. I’m also hesitant to argue that a print is not appropriate for anyone’s post-40 body. I’m a big fan of printed pants, particularly for grown up women — I mean, is there anything more chic than a crisp pair of graphic print capris? I think not.

But I just cannot get behind printed denim for grown ups. Sorry.

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A bold print draws the eye, so a print pant — of any sort — is an invitation to have people gaze at your bottom half. But unlike a tailored trouser in a crisp graphic print, jeans are designed to fit your curves — which means you’re plastering a print right over those curves. And let’s face it: After 40, most of us are a little curvier than we were 20 years ago. That’s not a bad thing — at all — but it is important to recognize when we’re shopping for jeans, or pants of any sort.

Printed denim can add bulk where you don’t need it — or create the illusion of bulk where there really isn’t any. I say pass on the printed jeans — stick with straight leg, mid-rise, dark rinse denim. If you’re looking to satisfy a deep urge for prints, go with cotton or cotton blend print trousers in a perfect fit.

What do you think: Is printed denim ok after 40? Are you working a print jean this year? Or are you skipping the prints all together?

Photos via Nordstrom

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5 ways to get out of the house faster in the morning (and still look good) http://workitmom.com/bloggers/workingcloset/2012/09/21/5-ways-to-get-out-of-the-house-faster-in-the-morning-and-still-look-good/ http://workitmom.com/bloggers/workingcloset/2012/09/21/5-ways-to-get-out-of-the-house-faster-in-the-morning-and-still-look-good/#comments Fri, 21 Sep 2012 13:00:34 +0000 Susan Wagner http://workitmom.com/bloggers/workingcloset/?p=643 Morning is my favorite time of day; I get up early and make a cup of tea and have some quiet time before I wake my kids. And then I run around like a crazy person trying to get them both ready for school. Fortunately, I work at home, which means that I can throw on my running clothes to take the kids to school and worry about looking presentable later in the day. Go me.

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On the days I have to be somewhere, though, the combination of waking the boys, making the lunches and getting myself dressed frequently leaves me in need of a nap by 10 am. So what’s the strategy for getting out of the house in the morning without losing your mind? Try this.

Plan ahead. Choose your outfit the night before; put all the pieces together. The last thing you want to discover in the morning rush is that you don’t have the right tights or bra or shoes. I have a valet hook on the closet door where I can hang everything; I lay my jewelery out on the dresser, right next to the closet. That way I don’t have to think at all.

Go with what works. Don’t try to reinvent your look on a busy morning. Instead, opt for a dress or separates combination that you know look and feel great. If you’re concerned about repeating an outfit, change up your accessories.

Layer up. Fall weather can be tricky — it’s cold at school drop off but warm by lunch time. Perfect layering weather! A basic tee plus a cardi plus a jacket carries you through your entire day. Layers can also carry you from day to evening, if you’re not heading directly home from work.

Check your bag. I keep my bag and keys in the exact same place, all the time, because it’s just embarrassing to be hunting for my things after I’ve yelled at the kids about keeping track of theirs. If I’m going to change bags, I do it the night before, when I can carefully unpack and repack all my essentials. As a rule, though, I carry a neutral hobo or tote that works with everything, because then it’s one less thing to worry about.

Stock your car. I keep a phone charger and a pair of sunglasses in my car all the time, because those are the things I find myself needing on the road. I have a friend who stores a stick of deodorant in her glovebox because … well, just because. It always pays to be prepared.

What are your strategies for getting out of the house looking good on a school day?

Photo via J. Crew

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skinny jeans after 40 http://workitmom.com/bloggers/workingcloset/2012/07/27/skinny-jeans-after-40/ http://workitmom.com/bloggers/workingcloset/2012/07/27/skinny-jeans-after-40/#comments Fri, 27 Jul 2012 12:00:11 +0000 Susan Wagner http://workitmom.com/bloggers/workingcloset/?p=640 love LOVE them. The amazing thing about skinny jeans is how great they look on just about everyone, including 40-something moms with curves. But there are a few tricks to looking super fab -- and age-appropriate -- in your skinnies.]]> I recently found a pair of dark-wash Eileen Fisher skinny jeans on sale — for a ridiculous price — and I took the plunge. I’m pleasantly surprised by some of the looks I have been able to pull off, but other looks have bombed, and I look like I’m wearing my daughter’s outfit.

My experiences suggest that the length of the top is critical. I was wondering if you have any advice — what guidelines should I keep in mind while choosing tops to go with my skinny jeans? I’m 41 and I definitely don’t want to look like I’m dressing in clothes or styles that are too young for me.

~Savitha

Eilleen Fisher Skinny Ankle Jeans

I love skinny jeans. Love love LOVE them. The amazing thing about skinny jeans is how great they look on just about everyone, including 40-something moms with curves. But there are a few tricks to looking super fab — and age-appropriate — in your skinnies.

Fit matters. Look for skinny jeans that fit properly in the waist, hips and thighs. Muffin top is caused by a too-tight waistband; if you’re rolling over the top of your jeans (or any pants or shorts) you’ve got the wrong size waist. Fortunately, the waist is the easiest part of your jeans to tailor, so start by getting a good fit in the hips and thighs — you don’t want them bagging, obviously, but you also don’t want them so tight that you can’t move. If you’re buying skinnies with stretch (which I recommend), find a pair that fits and then go down a size; they’ll expand as you wear them and after about the first 20 minutes or so should fit perfectly.

Proportion, proportion, proportion. Savitha asked what length her top should be to avoid the dreaded ice cream cone look. The simple rule of thumb is that your top should hit just at the widest part of your hip; any shorter and your hips will look extra wide, any longer and your legs will look extra short. But length is only half of the equation — think about the shape of your top as well. A flowy empire waist or baby doll top will overwhelm your skinnies (and make you look like you’ve raided your daughter’s closet); instead, opt for a top that is slightly wider than your hips but not terribly voluminous. If you’re curvy on the top and bottom, think about belting your top to give your waist some definition — a long sweater or tunic belted over a pair of skinny jeans is a chic, stylish look no matter what your age.

Dress it up. Sometimes the difference between looking like a kid and looking like an adult is in the accessories. Pair skinny jeans with pretty ballet flats or kitten heels instead of tennis shoes; add a necklace or striking belt or a beautiful bag. Swap your basic t-shirt for a woven shirt or structured sweater. It’s honestly not any harder to throw on a button down in lieu of a tee, and you’ll look less like you’ve robbed your teen’s closet and more like you’re making a style statement.

Your turn: How are you styling your skinnies? Or are you avoiding the skinny jeans trend entirely?

Photo via Eileen Fisher

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What I packed for my family vacation http://workitmom.com/bloggers/workingcloset/2012/07/24/what-i-packed-for-my-family-vacation/ http://workitmom.com/bloggers/workingcloset/2012/07/24/what-i-packed-for-my-family-vacation/#comments Tue, 24 Jul 2012 16:17:37 +0000 Susan Wagner http://workitmom.com/bloggers/workingcloset/?p=639 We’ve just come home from a week of family vacation, in the Colorado mountains. This was the first vacation we’ve taken with our kids where everyone was old enough — and interested enough — to do really big things. We went rafting and hiking and rock climbing and horseback riding.

It was awesome. And exhausting.

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Packing for a vacation with kids can be tricky; after all, you’ll essentially be doing exactly what you do at home (wrangling children) but in an unfamiliar place. Additionally, if you’re lucky, you’ll be doing some cool, out-of-the-ordinary things, stuff you wouldn’t do on a normal Tuesday. Like whitewater rafting, just for example.

So what do you pack? Here’s what I took with me.

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Shorts and tees. Since my everyday wardrobe is composed of pretty basic pieces, I was able to pack my regular clothes for this trip. I’m not a believer in dressy shorts — mine are all from Old Navy, which means that they’re essentially expendable, and thus kid-friendly. I packed tees that could go in the washer and dryer, because who wants to mess with hand-washing on vacation? Not me, that’s for sure.

Jeans and sweaters. We were in Breckenridge, where the temperatures were honestly 40 degrees cooler than Oklahoma City (thank heaven). I packed two pairs of jeans and two sweaters, one cashmere and one a heavy cotton, and I wore them both. The cashmere sweater was perfect for hiking because it was thin but warm; the cotton sweater was great with my pajama pants for lounge wear.

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Workout clothes. Here’s the rule about workout clothes for vacation: They are for working out only. Just like when you’re home. I wore my workout clothes to go running and for our big outdoor activities. The rest of the time, when we were hanging out at the house or sightseeing, I got dressed — just like when I’m home.

Appropriate shoes. I like pretty shoes just as much as the next girl, and when I go on a kid-free vacation, I take all my faves. But family vacay isn’t the place for pretty silk flats. I packed two pairs of running shoes (the ones I’m currently running in and an old pair), my driving moccasins and a pair of flip flops, for around the house. That’s it!

The take-away is this: Family vacation calls for comfortable, kid-friendly clothes — but that doesn’t mean you should spend all day in your running shorts. Simple basics like chino shorts and cotton tees are cute enough for photos but comfy enough for a day on the go.

What’s on your vacation packing list?

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how to hand wash anything, in 5 simple steps http://workitmom.com/bloggers/workingcloset/2012/07/13/how-to-hand-wash-anything-in-5-simple-steps/ http://workitmom.com/bloggers/workingcloset/2012/07/13/how-to-hand-wash-anything-in-5-simple-steps/#comments Fri, 13 Jul 2012 12:00:20 +0000 Susan Wagner http://workitmom.com/bloggers/workingcloset/?p=638 I love everything in my closet; I try to make a point of not buying anything I can’t see myself still wearing in a year. Or two. Or, in some cases, 15. (I have a cashmere twinset that I bought in 1997. Still wearing it! Go me.)

In order to make things last, I hand wash a majority of my wardrobe — everything from pricey pieces, like my cashmere sweaters and washable silk blouses to super cheap shorts and tees. Why bother? Because no matter what the price point of my clothes, I want them to last as long as possible, with no shrinking or fading or excessive wear and tear.

#getdressed
These shorts do not do in the washing machine. Ever.

Things I make a point of hand-washing: Cashmere sweaters, bras, anything I don’t want to accidentally shrink, anything that would need to be ironed if it went in the washing machine (hand washing leaves things less wrinkled).

Things I do not hand wash: Running clothes, underwear, basic workhorse tees, anything belonging to my husband and children (although my husband’s fancy pants cycling kit doesn’t go in the dryer and he sends his dress shirts to the laundry because they do a better job, of course). Swimsuits — mine and theirs — go in the washing machine, in a lingerie bag, but get line dried. My jeans also go in the machine, inside out, and are hung to dry. Everyone else’s jeans? In the dryer, baby. Always.

(The dryer actually does the most damage to your clothes. Where do you think all that lint comes from? It’s your clothes, slowly disintegrating! Which is just sad.)

I typically do my hand-wash laundry once a week, often early in the morning when no one else is awake yet. It takes me maybe 40 minutes to launder everything I wear during the week. Here’s how I hand wash, in five easy steps.

sink
What you will need: sink, detergent, towel. That’s it!

Step One: Clean the sink.
I hand wash my clothes in the kitchen sink, because it’s big enough to easily accommodate multiple pieces at one time. And since I am totally crazy a little bit Type A fairly neat, the sink is essentially always clean, so prepping it for a load of washing is simple; I just scrub it out with dish detergent and hot water and rinse with cool water. Ready to wash!

Step Two: Fill the sink with cold water and gentle detergent.

For everyday pieces (shorts, pants, dresses, etc) I use Woolite; for cashmere sweaters, I use Johnson’s Baby Shampoo. I pour a little detergent under the running water and let the sink fill up. While the sink is filling, I sort the laundry by color. I have a basket that lives in my closet and just holds my hand-wash pieces — that way they don’t get mixed in with the rest of the laundry by mistake.

shorts

Step Three: Toss in the clothes.
I wash like colors together, to prevent bleeding. If anything needs to be pretreated, I take care of it before I toss it in the water. I make sure each piece is totally waterlogged by squeezing gently — no wringing, of course, because that stretches the fabric. Then I set the kitchen timer for 5 minutes and go do something else. Like browse Pinterest. For example.

Step Four: Drain and rinse.
Exactly like it sounds: Drain the sink, and rinse garments until the water runs clear. Then gently squeeze out any excess water. Again, do not wring — seriously, that’s so bad for the material. Give your clothes a little love and they will love you back. Or something like that.

towel

Step Five: Blot excess water with a towel.
This is the tricky part (and it’s really pretty easy): Spread a clean, dry towel on a flat surface (I use my kitchen counter) and lay your laundry flat on top of it, one piece at a time. Roll each piece in the towel and gently squeeze the roll to absorb any extra water. DO NOT WRING. (That should be my mantra, yes?) Unroll the towel and either hang or lay flat to dry, depending on the garment. I hang dresses and heavy shirts, and lay everything else out flat.

And that’s it!

To make hand washing even easier, I carry a Tide To Go pen with me at all times to deal with stains on the spot, which makes the actual washing that much easier. Those pens are the best thing to ever happen to your closet. Get three, now, and keep one with you at all times. Seriously.

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