Closet Clips

When it comes to fashion, I am a bit of a sissy. I do not lead the pack and revel in my bold style decisions. I do not wear plants on my head like Sarah Jessica Parker, hobo-chic body sacks like Mary Kate and Ashley, or full swan costumes like Bjork (though I admire any woman who can ruffle feathers). Rather, I adopt the safe, mainstream trends that, on a good day, earn me a sidewalk compliment, and, on a bad day, go generally unnoticed.

For this reason, I am thrilled to have a fashion book on our list this fall. Closet Confidential: Style Secrets Learned the Hard Way is the gift book of the season, penned by Daddy Likey blogger Winona Dimeo-Ediger. In her guide for the fashion wary, Winona shares fifty style lessons that are refreshingly accessible (for those of you who prefer your plants in a garden) and more addictive than peanut MMS. This is just a sampling of my favorites.

STYLE LESSON #2: The constitution guarantees freedom of speech, press, religion, petition, assembly, and to wear any style of jeans we want, so try something new you might be pleasantly surprised.

Boot cut jeans (aka Jeanus versatilus) are the most frequently occurring articles my wardrobe, which I credit to both their extreme versatility and my unsubstantiated fear of jeans that aren’t boot cut. I realize this makes me to use Winona’s words a complete style snore. So, last month, I finally summoned some retail bravery and headed to T.J. Maxx with plans to avoid familiar denim territory. Two trips to the dressing room and three unflattering try-ons later, I emerged with my first pair of skinny jeans (aka Extreme intimidatus). Despite the blue sparkles on the back pockets that were probably intended for pre-teen fashionistas, they were exactly what I didn’t know I’d wanted all along.

STYLE LESSON #21: Fill your purse with the necessities. You get to define necessities.

Closet Confidential offers a chart that displays purses of all sizes: from the teeny evening mini bag to the colossal Brontosaurus. My current bag definitely falls more into the prehistoric category. On any given day, my necessities include:

A bagged lunch that will inevitably be forgotten upon my arrival to work.

Reading material. I like variety: a novel about genetically altered prep school kids and a copy of Closet Confidential is a good combination for the bus.

Knock-off Chanel sunglasses (fondly referred to as Ohnel’s by my husband for the intersecting Os that, in the right light, almost resemble Chanel’s intersecting Cs).

A coin purse shaped like a cat’s head.

96 pens.

While friends occasionally make fun of me for my excess baggage, Winona informs me that purses large enough to hide a murder victim have come into style in a big way. Which is great news for me and my cat head coin purse.

STYLE LESSON #27: If you live, have lived, or ever plan to live north of the Mason-Dixon Line, you might want to consider one of those giant quilted jackets that look like a queen-size down comforter with sleeves.

I attended college in Ann Arbor, Michigan, along with 30,000 other freezing undergrads. In my five-mile walk to class what felt like five miles anyway since my eyelids were frozen open I quickly learned that if I was going to survive, I would need a puffy coat, fashion be damned. Along with bulk quantities of Easy Mac, the Gap down comforter coat I bought that year was, without a doubt, the best purchase I made in college. (As evidence of my purchase, I have a stack of photos from 2001 displaying my inability to put my arms at my sides). Like umbrellas for Seattleites, industrial coats for Midwesterners are essential. Sometimes there really are more important things than looking cute on the way to class. Like circulation. And being able to blink when you want to.

Tell us: What are the most valuable style lessons you’ve learned?