[VIDEO] raw hem jeans in less than 5 minutes

ndwc_video_raw hem jeans in less than 5 minutes

WATCH: Raw Hem Jeans in Less Than 5 Minutes

Check out my latest video on DIY raw hem jeans! Multiple clients have asked how to best do this with jeans, and it seemed like showing how easy it is with a video was the way to go.

Upcycling clothes with simple changes or fixes makes your wardrobe more functional, reducing the need to buy more clothes.  And it can make something old or outdated feel new and on trend. It’s a win/win.

Enjoy!

 

organizing your closet

I have nothing to wear

We’ve all had that feeling before. You open up the closet doors and look at the jumble. The despair comes creeping in. Even though the closet is full, you feel like there is nothing to choose from that will work – much less make you feel great – when you put it on.

A big part of the issue may be organization – you can’t actually SEE what the options are! As I said in my last post on my methods for clothing care, multiple clients have been asking about how best to organize their closets. Knowing what’s in your closet, purging the items that no longer work, and organizing it in a way that works for you is essential to a more functional wardrobe.

organizing 101

ndwc_wardrobe organization flow chart

Download this graphic for free! 

I organize my wardrobe in the hierarchy illustrated above. It’s not rocket science, which is why it works for me. I’m able to find pieces easily in each category, and nothing gets lost in the shuffle.

season

Even if your closet is big enough to hold all seasons of clothing (lucky!), it is still helpful to separate them. Some will be transition items that can either migrate or have their own section.

Organizing by season allows you to interact with your whole wardrobe at least two times a year, which helps you to remember what you have, think about what you are and are not wearing, and make decisions accordingly. This is a great time to purge pieces that you aren’t wearing, for whatever reason.

category

Some folks like to organize by work wardrobe and personal life wardrobe. I feel like pieces can be forgotten this way, and it’s easier for things to become disorganized. Organizing by category after season helps you to see regularly what pieces are there.

level of dress

This part of the flow chart is one that can make all the difference in the world. Many workplaces are becoming more casual, so pieces often cross over between work and personal life. Putting the pieces that can be worn both for work and casual between the two will make sure you see them when choosing outfits. These pieces can be used to dress more casually at work when appropriate and to dress up an outfit for going out or when you want to look more polished in your personal life.

color

I choose not to organize by color because my wardrobe isn’t that large, but some people find it to be really helpful. This way you know what all your choices are for the color you are selecting.

PRO TIPS:
  • Make sure you can see everything
  • Find a system that works for YOU
  • Organize by season, then use your system within that season
  • Engage with your whole wardrobe two times a year

you can do it!

The key to success is sticking with your system. Once you’ve got a system set, it’s easy to maintain, and the relief of not having to face the jumble every day is SO WORTH IT. And your wardrobe will be more functional, making daily dressing easier. And who doesn’t want that?

 

 

SaveSave

how to: laundry tips redux

There often seem to be themes to client questions – several clients I’ve worked with in the past few weeks have asked for laundry and clothing care advice, and several others have asked about the best ways to organize your wardrobe. I figure if several people are asking me outright, others would like to know as well. Here’s the lowdown of my current laundry and clothing care practices. Watch for how to organize your wardrobe in my next post!

Pigpen

Stains, wrinkles, and damaged or worn clothing don’t help you feel your best.

laundry 101

Taking care of your wardrobe helps it to last longer and increases its functionality, essential elements of practicing sustainable consumerism.

I have pretty good success in preserving the quality of my clothing with the products and techniques I use. Note: this is not sponsored content, nor is it an official endorsement of any particular product – just sharing what works for me!

Read on for ways to avoid the iron without looking like you just rolled out of bed and other tips for keeping your wardrobe in top shape. Because face it, stains, wrinkles, and damaged or worn clothing don’t help you feel your best.

laundry products

washing

Wash items in as cold water as possible to reduce wear and shrinkage as well as energy use. I wash whites (underwear, undershirts, and socks) in warm and lights and darks in cold.

I use Whole Foods 365 2x Concentrated Unscented Powdered Laundry Detergent for whites and Seventh Generation Natural Free & Clear Laundry Detergent for lights and darks.

Both work well for me, but sometimes the powder does not dissolve completely in cold water –  especially in winter when the water is really cold – leaving residue marks on dark items. Both are environmentally friendly and scent-free as well as concentrated, so require very little product to be effective.

PRO TIP: Reduce fading and wear by turning clothes inside out, especially blacks, navys, and reds, before washing and drying. It significantly increases the life of the garment.

stain removal

True story: I was having a lunch meeting with a potential client and ordered a cheese plate with baguette drizzled with balsamic vinaigrette – YUM, right?

The server delivered our meal, and turned just a little sharply to set down my plate. Six slices of baguette drizzled generously with vinaigrette literally went flying and tumbled down my front and into my lap. I (politely) had my hands in my lap, so I had a pile of bread sitting on my arms. The moment I moved my arms, the bread continued its journey down my legs. At that point, the only item I was wearing that didn’t have dark vinaigrette all over it was my underwear. My linen scarf, sweater, shirt, and pants all were stained. Remarkably, I maintained my composure and shared laundry tips with my client. (And I got a free meal!)

PRO TIP: I wear many items more than once before washing (less washing = less wear on clothes and less energy used to wash and dry them). Important: check your clothes for spills and stains before putting them away. The sooner you treat a stain, the better luck you will have. If you can’t wash the item right away, treating the stain before you put the garment in the hamper will increase your chances of removing it because the stain won’t be able to set as well.

I was able to remove all of the vinaigrette from my clothes with Dawn Ultra Dishwashing Liquid. Dawn is the best product for removing oil and grease stains (including vinaigrette). I have a bottle of it in my laundry area.

Rub it generously into the stain and throw it into the wash with everything else. It can even remove a stain you missed and has already gone through the wash.

If it is a really tough oil or grease stain: apply Dawn, rub it in, rinse it thoroughly with warm water, and then apply it again. Do several times if needed.

PRO TIP: To remove oil stains from leather, apply baking soda to the spot, let it sit overnight, then brush off. Repeat if needed.

For other stains (food, grass, blood, deodorant/sweat, all things baby) I swear by OxiClean Multi-Purpose Versatile Stain Remover Free powder. I don’t use it in regular loads as a laundry booster, but as a highly effective stain remover. I have a laundry bucket in which I dissolve a scoop of OxiClean in really hot water and soak items for several hours – usually overnight. Rinse the items briefly and wash with the regular load.

It is important to rinse the soaked items a little before washing because sensitive skin can react to the concentrated OxiClean if it is not fully removed from the fabric in the wash.

bras and other delicate items

I wash my bras, other lingerie, and some sweaters and blouses (turned inside out) in mesh washing bags in the regular load. They reduce wear, stretching of straps, and shrinkage.

I use the Handwash setting on my washer for most sweaters and other delicate items that call for that. Again, I turn them inside out to reduce wear.

PRO TIP: Never put your bras in the dryer. It will wear out the fabric much more quickly, making them ill-fitting and useless. It is best to air dry all of your delicates to reduce shrinkage and wear. If they come out of the washer wrinkled, toss them in the dryer on Air/Fluff (no heat) for 5 minutes before hanging them to dry.

put down the iron!

I hate to iron. Really hate it. Just thinking about it makes me irritable. But I do want to look tidy. With these simple tricks I iron about two times a year – for real.

Disclaimer: My personal style is more relaxed – my clothes are wrinkle-free, but my shirts are not crisp. If you want a really crisp shirt, you will have to use starch and an iron, or invest in no-iron dress shirts like this one.

PRO TIP: Dry everything on LOW. Always. Less wrinkles, less shrinkage, less wear.

If you can’t remove the load from the dryer immediately, toss the load again for 10 minutes to remove wrinkles before taking it out.

Fold and hang everything right after you take it out of the dryer – saving several loads to fold at once will re-wrinkle your clothes.

for items that wrinkle easily (or might shrink) – cotton shirts, polyester blouses, 100% cotton knit tees, dress pants, cotton dresses and skirts, cotton or denim jackets, linen

Put the whole load in the dryer and turn it on LOW for five minutes, counting the items you want to remove as you put them in. I have to repeat the number to myself several times so I don’t forget!

Tossing them with the whole load actually removes wrinkles more effectively than just putting a few items in the dryer – more balanced rotation and friction, I guess? 

Pull out the counted items after five minutes and hang them on hangers or a drying rack. The European-style drying rack is my favorite – it holds a lot of clothes and is great for drying items outside as well.

Smooth the collars, button plackets, pockets, cuffs, and hems of relevant items. Allow them to dry fully. Give each item a shake/fluff when taking it off the rack or hanger, and you’re good to go!

Energy-saving Tip: Toss the whole load on low for 5 minutes in the dryer to remove wrinkles and then hang all of it on the drying rack to dry the rest of the way. Your clothing will last longer with less drying as well.

tailoring and repairs

Even if clothes are clean and unwrinkled, holes and tears, missing buttons, frayed hems, and pilled or worn fabric only drag you down and can look unprofessional. So does clothing that is ill-fitting. Addressing these issues right away with repair or tailoring not only increases the life of your clothing – the longer you leave damage, the worse it will become – but also helps you feel polished. Feeling polished leads to confidence, which leads to showing your best self. All good things! Because that’s what it’s all about – feeling great.

Feeling polished leads to confidence, which leads to showing your best self. All good things! Because that’s what it’s all about – feeling great.

What laundry tips are your tried-and-trues? Share in the comments below your favorite techniques and products.

 

a functional wardrobe: fewer items, more outfits

If you follow my Out the Door series on my Facebook page, you’ll know that I wear many of my clothes frequently, especially basics like jeans, tees, and jackets. This is intentional. When shopping (at least 90% of the time new-to-me), I choose pieces that are classic in design and well constructed, so they go with many things and are long-lasting in terms of both style and wear.

more with less

As a wardrobe consultant whose niche is to practice sustainable consumerism, I follow three steps with my own wardrobe and model them when working with clients:

  1. Make your existing wardrobe as functional as it can be
  2. Shop new-to-you whenever possible
  3. Shop ethically when shopping new

It’s a personal choice whether your wardrobe is large or small, although studies show that most people wear only 20% of the clothing in their closets. Often the other 80% languishes because the clothes either don’t work anymore (don’t fit well, outdated, damaged/worn out) or you don’t know how to wear them. Making your wardrobe more functional by purging the ones that don’t work and creating multiple outfits with what does allows you to have more choices with less clothing.

define your personal style

I have a classic personal style with preppy and French-influenced overtones. Think gingham, plaids, loafers, and tailored fitted cuts. My signature style is a polished jeans outfit – you’ll find me in that most days of the year. It works really well for my personal style, my body type, and my life/work style. In the hot summer months I switch to dresses, shorts, cropped pants and jeans, and some skirts.

Having a defined personal style helps you to be intentional both in shopping and in putting together outfits, which ultimately makes daily dressing easier. When you are clear about the clothes that suit you – both physically and in reflecting your authentic self – you inherently become more selective. This eliminates those impulse purchases that end up as unworn regrets hanging in your closet. The clothes that you are holding onto for whatever reason but aren’t wearing can be purged without guilt. Knowing your personal style frees you.

feeling current

I choose trends carefully. It’s important to feel contemporary – wearing something that’s on trend can help you feel current and confident – but choose only trends that resonate with you and your personal style. Wearing something you don’t really like won’t bring you joy, even if it is trendy!

Trends that are more enduring, like colors of the season (they really are all just variations on a theme), classic prints like polka dots and plaids, and timeless pieces like trench coats and silk scarves, are worth the investment. They won’t be “out” next year and end up a regret in the long run. Not only will they last, they also help you feel like you are being intentional (that word again – can you tell how important I think it is?) with how you dress. And that makes all the difference.

capsule wardrobe

Many people are embracing the idea of a minimalist wardrobe, like Courtney Carver’s Project 333 (wear only 33 pieces of clothing for 3 months), to have a smaller wardrobe and less stress. The idea is to put together a wardrobe where everything goes together, so that you can mix and match to create multiple outfits with fewer clothes. One caveat is that wearing the same items so frequently will cause them to wear out faster and you may tire of them more quickly.

I have more than 33 pieces per season, but there is value in thinking about the capsule approach. Determining that you can make at least 3 outfits with an item before you purchase it, with the added commitment that you will wear it at least 30 times before discarding it will lessen those impulse buys and the guilt that often comes with them. It also is easier on the environment, reduces the demand for poor-quality fast fashion that relies on unethical labor practices, and is more economically sound for you in the long run.

function fosters confidence

Having a wardrobe that meets the needs of your life and that represents who you are helps you to feel good about yourself. And feeling good about yourself conveys confidence, which not only impacts how others see you, but also impacts how you move through the world. It’s a cycle – what you are wearing impacts how you feel, and how you feel impacts how you live.

A functional wardrobe allows you to dress intentionally,  which makes that cycle positive rather than negative. You don’t need a lot of clothes to achieve that – only clothes that serve you well.

 

 

what’s the story of our clothing?

guilt-free style: practicing sustainable consumerism – part 1

On April 22 we celebrate Earth Day. This month’s posts will honor the tenets of Earth Day by exploring how we, as clothing consumers, can reduce our impact on the environment in practical, doable ways and feel great about how we look at the same time. Read on – knowledge leads to action.

what’s the story of our clothing?

Do we really know? Who makes it and where? How are those workers treated and paid? What resources are used in its manufacture? What pollution is created as a result? What are the real costs of transport, including energy use? What happens to clothing when we throw it away?

the true cost graphic

the true cost

Frankly, it’s a lot easier to live without knowing the answers to these questions, because they are grim. There IS hope, however.

A few weeks back I participated in a panel discussion following a screening of the powerful documentary The True Cost, which grapples with these ethical issues surrounding the fashion industry and, particularly, “fast fashion.” The film is a wake-up call to the industry and consumers alike. The way we produce our clothing today systematically supports the violation of human rights of garment factory workers as well as takes an enormous toll on the environment and human health.

Hosted by the department of Apparel, Merchandising, and Design at St. Catherine University, the screening was attended by ~200 people, and an interesting discussion with film director Andrew Morgan, myself, and a professor of philosophy at St. Kate’s delved into changes that must occur in the fashion industry’s practices as well as consumer behaviors.

My contributions addressed specifically the latter – consumer behaviors. The tagline for nancy dilts wardrobe consulting is “style for everyday: new to you – true to you.” I launched this business because I want to help others feel great about how they look AND to share the model of practicing sustainable consumerism.

the grim part

We want to feel fashionable and attractive by staying current with our clothing. And we want inexpensive clothing. Fast fashion is the culmination of those demands, providing new trends at an affordable price – for the consumer, that is. The true costs (thus, the title of the film) of creating our clothing are hidden.

Fast fashion has utterly changed how we perceive clothing and fashion. Trends are now weekly, rather than twice a year (Fall and Spring), causing a fevered desire for new things constantly to feel in style. And clothing is so inexpensive – and cheap in quality – that it has become considered to be a disposable item. It only cost $5.99, so who cares if I wear it only once or twice? I’ll just get a new one.

But we should care. Though WE are not bearing the actual costs of this approach, other human beings and the environment are and at an enormous cost. Workers in developing nations who manufacture most clothing today are paid pennies a day and work in conditions that first-world nations, including the United States, would never allow.

Practices utilized to grow cotton and to create other fibers for our clothing and to manufacture garments pollute the environment and impact the health of surrounding communities. Billions of garments are manufactured annually and are transported around the world to consumers like us, who wear them just a short time before throwing them away and moving on to the next item, continuing the cycle.

“There was a time, not too long ago, when well-made clothes were standard, available in catalogues, malls, and chain stores. Sweaters were often hand-knit, jackets were tailored and lined, and dresses had blind hems. A look through a JCPenney catalogue from 1990 shows that most clothing was still made in the U.S. as recently as 25 years ago.
What’s changed since then, in addition to products’ quality, is consumers’ expectations about price. The cost of clothing was in a period of deflation for almost 20 years before edging up more recently. That drop was largely the result of the globalization of the fashion industry and the movement of garment manufacturing from unionized shops in the United States and other developed countries to low-wage factories with few environmental regulations, most of them in Asia.
Americans also buy a lot more clothing than they once did, on average 64 items and more than seven pairs of shoes per year—double what they bought annually in the 1990s.” –Elizabeth Cline, The Atlantic

In the last few years, the unethical practices of the fashion industry have been exposed by the deaths of thousands of garment workers in building collapses and fires, and the call for change is sounding. There are several startup ethical brands, and some high-end designers are shifting towards ethical manufacturing and transparency in their practices. A cohort of journalists, filmmakers, and activists are advocating for systemic change as well.

The supply and demand relationship between the fashion industry and consumers is like the chicken and the egg dilemma. Who needs to act first to make change – the industry or consumers? We grappled with this in the panel discussion at film screening.

I believe both must happen and that the power of numbers can drive change. We see this with other human rights issues; when enough people will no longer stand for something, change occurs.

Howard Zinn quote

the hope part

Consumer behaviors, if in significant numbers, CAN drive industry practices. If enough consumers shift away from supporting unethical practices, the industry will be forced to respond. By becoming aware of the real impacts of our purchasing choices – and acting accordingly – we can reduce demand for fast fashion.

How do we do that? We can’t wear the same clothes for the rest of our lives!

Here are three action steps you can take with your wardrobe to make the shift to sustainable consumerism:

  1. Maximize the functionality of your existing wardrobe.
  2. Shop new-to-you whenever possible when purchasing clothing.
  3. When buying new, shop ethically.
buyerarchy of needs

Graphic by Sarah Lazarovic: Source

maximize your existing wardrobe

Most of us have too many clothes in our closets, many of which we never wear. Purging ill-fitting, outdated, and worn out items is the first step in making the clothes you already own more functional. These items bog down your wardrobe and make it hard to even SEE the possibilities with clothing that does work. Less IS more. Read posts about making your wardrobe more functional here.

shop new-to-you

Shopping new-to-you is the most practical, and effective, way to be a sustainable consumer. Keeping high-quality clothing in the use stream reduces waste as well as demand for the manufacture of new clothing. It is also economically more feasible at 1/3 or less of retail prices, allowing consumers to purchase higher-quality garments that will last longer at affordable prices.

shop ethically

Sometimes we must buy new. When we do so, investing in high-quality pieces that last in both construction and style is a must. There are many brands selling ethically made clothing, and yes, much of it is expensive. By first shopping new-to-you, your budget will allow the purchase of fewer, but enduring, high-quality new items.

We shouldn’t have to choose between feeling good about how we look and feeling good about what we buy.

We shouldn’t have to choose between feeling good about how we look and feeling good about what we buy. The story of our clothing can change, and we can be a part of that. Watch The True Cost. Become informed and then share that knowledge with others. We, together, can make change in our consumer practices, one new-to-you garment at a time.

Stay tuned for my next post – a resource guide for shopping new-to-you in the Twin Cities and shopping ethically!

“meh” to spring shopping right now? do what these friends did instead

Clothing stores, even new-to-you consignment venues, are making the big switch to spring stock. It’s February. In Minnesota. We will not be wearing spring clothing for at least three more months!

Some folks are inspired by shopping for spring clothes now – it’s the carrot that leads them through the last cold months. Others can’t even fathom it. Here’s another option.

Prepare your closet for the spring season. Then, when you can imagine wearing spring clothes – say in April – you and your closet will be ready! That’s what this group of friends did.

Jill, Jessica, Meredith, and Amy – each expressing her individual personal style after their Wardrobe Consults

Meredith has been a client since 2013. She first hired me for a True To You Voila Service Package (a Wardrobe Consult + two 3-hour personal shopping sessions), and then for other personal shopping sessions since. This time we did a Wardrobe Revisit, where we went back to her closet to do another round of purging and to integrate more recently purchased new-to-you items into her wardrobe. In essence, making her wardrobe fully functional and fun.

Amy, Jessica, and Jill are friends of Meredith’s and wanted to get in on the fun as well! Each of these fabulous women has her own individual style and desires for her wardrobe. We worked together (each on her own with me) to set goals for their personal styles and for making their wardrobes work better for them.

what does that look like?

The Wardrobe Consult is different for every person, depending on her goals (or his goals – I will use “her” in this post, since we’re talking about these specific women). Sometimes it’s doing a big purge of outdated or ill-fitting items. Sometimes it’s purging very little. In both contexts, I show a client how to pair items in new ways to best match her personal style and to make her wardrobe more functional.

During the Wardrobe Consult, we put together a “look book” of photos of new outfits (from clothes already in the closet) and ways to wear items so the client can remember them all. The photos illustrate many things: color pairings like Meredith’s teal cowl sweater with a fun pop of orange peeking out; the statement belt with the sweater partially tucked for definition; and skinny jeans worn with tall boots.

We also talk a lot about proper fit and cuts that are best suited for her body. I show my client the difference between something that fits well and something that doesn’t and explain “the why” behind it, so that she’s able to apply that knowledge later. When something fits well and is the best cut for your body, visual balance is created, which looks great. I help my clients literally see that with clothes in their own closets.

Accessories are an important part of an outfit – they add polish and personal style. A graphically-simple, chunky metallic bracelet goes well with this bold print tee and white pants for spring and summer.

Putting together color, patterns, and textures as well as accessorizing outfits are other big topics in the Wardrobe Consult. We use favorite accessories and incorporate others that have been sitting in drawers and closets unworn.

wardrobe consult - shoes and skirt pairing

As I tell all my clients, “Shoes can make or break an outfit.” These metallic ballet flats are perfect for creating balanced lines and adding polished fun to a knee-length skirt.

After the Wardrobe Consult, I put together a set of personal Style Guidelines and a shopping list for my client. With these tools, she can move forward with expressing her personal style and finding clothes that will fit well and be highly functional in her wardrobe.

let’s hear it from the girls

Here are some reflections from Meredith and Jill in their own words about their experiences in working with me.

Meredith

As an environmentalist, I’ve always valued “new to you,” so working with Nancy was a natural fit. Nancy embraces the “true to you” piece with her holistic approach – she is equal parts therapist and fashionista, both conservation-minded and fashion conscious.

“I was stuck in a bit of a rut after my daughter was born, clinging to all my pre-pregnancy clothing and feeling like I ‘should’ make them work for me again. But ‘true to you’ is not just about who we have been. It is also a window into who we are becoming.”

– Meredith

Working with Nancy has helped me get to know myself better, assess my goals, and focus on what’s most important. Feeling comfortable, purposeful, and confident in my own skin is not about having a jam-packed closet, but about having a few well-made, timeless pieces that help express what I bring to my professional and personal life on any given day.

Jill

My wardrobe, while clothing me fairly appropriately for work and fun, was dated and lacking in creativity and freshness. Nancy helped me purge my dated clothing while educating me on the subtleties of great fit.  She was discerning without being judgmental.  I really enjoyed our morning together — Nancy brought lots of curiosity and inspiration to our session.

Following our session, I have gaps in my wardrobe – but I’m excited by that because I’m armed with the specifics of what to look for (item, style, color, fit), and I will steadily refill my closet with functional clothing that is a joy to wear.

“At Starbucks this morning the barista took one look at me at and said ‘Wow!  Look at you.  You did great getting dressed this morning!’  When I looked at him with a quizzical smile, he said, ‘You look like a classy assassin.’

Maybe so…. and that makes Nancy Dilts my secret weapon.”

– Jill     

Ready to dive in to your closet? Contact me today to schedule your Wardrobe Consult.