Less is More

Ada Polla share her thoughts on how less is more with a few
key signature pieces in your wardrobe.

My grandmother and my godmother both taught me that it is best to value quality over quantity. In life in general, and in your wardrobe in particular. Both always told me that the perfect fitted back slacks would serve me better than 5 cheap pairs bought in trendy colors. As such, I pride myself on a wardrobe that is filled with items I love and wear – and not too many of them.

Nonetheless, my interpretation of a “minimalist wardrobe” was recently challenged when my girlfriend Jenn Mapp told me about her 35 items. She recently decided to simplify her closet (thus her life), and pare it down to 35 items. And she loves the result – not just in her closet. Intrigued? Read on…

AP: What made you decide to reduce your wardrobe to 35 items?

JM: For most of life shopping was my favorite pastime. Now I have a toddler and an infant, a full time job and own a small (but charming!) house. This translates to no time, minimal storage and considerably less discretionary income. Earlier this spring, while searching Pinterest for closet organization tips, I discovered several boards dedicated to the idea of a minimalist wardrobe. The notion of turning my massive, unmanageable closet into a curated collection of seasonal apparel just felt right. Within a few days I ruthlessly edited my clothes down to 35 items and consigned, donated or stored the rest. My life has improved immeasurably.

AP: What are your 35 items? Does this include accessories, shoes, lingerie – everything?

JM: I define “35 items” as the apparel hanging in my closet — business casual separates worn mostly to work. My 35 items do not include accessories because these are my signature outfit makers and without them this would not be a plausible fashion experiment – for me.  Workout clothes, lingerie and sleep items do not count. However, my entire fashion collection now fits in one side of an Ikea Pax wardrobe. This makes me very proud.

AP: How has your life changed since undergoing this fashion experiment?

JM: In so many ways! Obviously I’ve saved money and time but I’m also happier and more present. You don’t realize how much energy it takes to manage possessions. Most tangibly, my fashion experiment motivated me to start a blog. I assumed #jennmapp would be a fashion blog cataloging multiple outfits created from 35 items but I’ve found that I am more inspired by the psychology of the process. Curbing the impulse to shop parallels instinctive behavior in every aspect of my life.

AP: Any tips on how others could reduce their wardrobes?

JM: Sure, how about a random numbered list? The internet loves a list.

  1. Purchase or borrow an inexpensive rolling rack.
  2. Assemble your entire wardrobe in one place.
  3. Automatically move formal or cocktail attire, out of season clothes, ill-fitting or damaged items to the rolling rack.
  4. Consider every item that remains. These will make up your current season collection. If you love it, you will know in one second – leave it in your closet. If you experience any hesitation towards an item, put it on the rolling rack.
  5. Ruthlessly edit until you are down to a collection that feels right. You will need an adequate assortment of tops, bottoms and outwear. Consider your lifestyle. Depending on the size of your wardrobe, you may require several rounds of edits.
  6. Store, repair, consign or donate the rest. Just do it.
  7. Repeat every three – four months, filling in gaps as needed.

As I listen to Jenn in awe, she concludes: “You only think you need hundreds of items. You don’t! I guarantee you only wear 30 – 50 pieces as it is. Closet reduction is an excellent exercise in defining your value system. If you read this and are inspired to act, you are ready. Take the plunge. If the idea doesn’t resonate at all or seems inconceivable, well someone has to keep the economy afloat, right?”

Right!

Resources to help you achieve this minimalist wardrobe:

http://jennmapp.tumblr.com/

@tinclosettonsofstyle

Project333.com

Theunfancy.com

Jewelry Styles for Music Festivals

It’s that time of year. Jazz Fest time. Just like people in New Orleans have a costume closet (for the many occasions this city offers to dress up), people in New Orleans have a festival closet (for the many music festivals this city hosts). And an outfit is never complete without the right piece(s) of jewelry, which inspired me to reach out New Orleans BFF and jewelry designer Ashley Porter, the creative force behind Porter Lyons. Here are her recommendations for festivaling in (jewelry) style.

It’s that time of year. Jazz Fest time. Just like people in New Orleans have a costume closet (for the many occasions this city offers to dress up), people in New Orleans have a festival closet (for the many music festivals this city hosts). And an outfit is never complete without the right piece(s) of jewelry, which inspired me to reach out New Orleans BFF and jewelry designer Ashley Porter, the creative force behind Porter Lyons. Here are her recommendations for festivaling in (jewelry) style.

Ashley’s Do’s

  1. Layer like Woah! It is haute to wear a large choker necklace and layer with a long 32” pendant, stack your fingers high with rings and layer on the arm swag. (Insert Picture of the 3 girls)
  2. Mix Metals. Whether it’s silver, the range of gold K’s, hematite, or rose it’s a geaux. You want to make sure you keep the finishes so they all work effortlessly together. Think different sizes and shapes.
  3. Ear Cuffs: Go Faux. Forever fading is the commitment to an actual piercing with the increased illusion of being pierced.
  4. Finish the look with a fresh gel manicure & some nail art. Use your imagination to come up with a design, or to follow @madnails to get inspiration – love MOD nails, or the ‘fat French’
  5. As long as you feel comfortable and confident, you can never lose.

Ashley’s Don’ts

  1. Wear NO jewelry. It’s such a fun way to express your style and add an additional dimension to your look. Each piece can tell a story and set off your outfit with some metal texture.
  2. Wear the real stuff. We all know that shit happens. Whether you’re dancing, laying in the grass, and/or making out with some beaux, don’t worry your mind about losing your small fortunes.
  3. Midi Rings. Guaranteed to fly off, and with the risk of being Mean Girl-esque, “They were so last year”.
  4. Forget your SPF…You don’t want to be ‘that girl’ looking like a lobster because you negated the sunscreen.
  5. Stress about your hair. It’s most like going to be hot, dusty and humid. Whether your hair is naturally curly or straight, let that mane run wild and throw in a braid or two to give it some shape.
  6. Don’t wear necklaces if you are going to be jump-dancing; they bounce around too much…

Tips For a Successful Boudoir Photo Shoot

I am always referred to as the most “conservative” of the Polla sisters. Not politically perhaps, but certainly when it comes to “those things.” (Indeed, Rachel might be at the opposite spectrum of the Polla sisters, I am sure you read her latest blog post…).

I am always referred to as the most “conservative” of the Polla sisters. Not politically perhaps, but certainly when it comes to “those things.” (Indeed, Rachel might be at the opposite spectrum of the Polla sisters, I am sure you read her latest blog post…).

Sometimes, however, the “crazy Polla” side of me comes out. For example, a couple of years ago, I did something I never thought I would do – a boudoir photo shoot. I was inspired by seeing the boudoir photos of one of my best friends, who is beautiful and looked absolutely stunning. My excuse was that it was a gift for my husband, but in the end, it was a gift for myself. I am pretty sure I look at those pictures more than he does. Often to remind myself that I look fabulous and sometimes to help motivate myself to go to the gym.

Should you decide this is something you wish to try, here are some tips, from actress and Stript brand ambassador Rachel Sterling (I love these women named Rachel!). We met in LA not too long ago and caught up over a glass of wine. Boudoir photos came up (don’t ask why), so I couldn’t help but pick her brains about it.

Getting in character

For Rachel, the most important key to success to any boudoir photo shoot is to get in character. “Part of my process of getting ready is getting my hair and makeup done; this helps me remember that I am transforming myself into a different version of myself and need to get in character.”

Make a playlist: pick songs that make you happy, make you want to dance, make you want to sing in the shower, make you feel powerful and sexy. Rachel adds “Even if you are doing it as a gift for someone else, it is really about you; It should be fun. Play the soundtrack a few times before the day of the shoot, dance in front of your mirror when no one is around as practice – use this as an opportunity to get to know your body. You would be surprised, but we all should know our bodies, angles we look good in, curves, much better than we actually do.”

Grooming tips

  • The number one tip is to be hair-free. Of course, legs and bikini line, but also think underarms, arms, legs, brows, mustache. On the brow front, make sure they are professionally shaped. Good brows make all of the difference…
  • Be careful about too much makeup – make sure you still look like yourself (from personal experience I can add that that is the one thing I would change from my boudoir photo shoot – the makeup is just too much, and I almost don’t look like me). Rachel’s personal favorite brand of makeup is Runway. She recommends that if you are getting your makeup professionally done (which is not a must) that you work with someone you have worked with before (again – this is where I went wrong; I had the photographer’s makeup artist do my makeup, and we didn’t do a practice run and she did not know my style).
  • If you can, get eyelash extensions; at the very least curl your lashes and layer on extra mascara.
  • Spray tanning is helpful to even bumps. Sterling’s recommendations are of course to apply after waxing (not before), apply with gloves to avoid orange hands, and again if you can get it professionally done. Stript offers professional spray tanning using South Seas Spray Tan, which is what she does. Her favorite at home alternatives are L’Oreal’s self-tanning wipes and the Norvell at home kit which is very user friendly.
  • Have your nails done. You don’t need polish, or to have them red or long, but do get a manicure and a pedicure so that you are perfectly groomed.

Outfits and accessories  

When I ask Rachel about outfits and accessories, she reminds me that “When looking at the photo, the eyes of the viewer should go to the face. Yes, it is a boudoir shot, but the highlight is always the woman’s face.” She adds:

  • “If you are shy, a great prop is a boa – you can use it to hide certain parts and it makes you feel better or put it in front of you.
  • I love the retro theme of an apron and plate of cookies – it is particularly fun and slightly ironic if you never cook.
  • I also love a boudoir shoot in a sports jersey; there is something appealing about the very feminine photo and a traditionally masculine item of clothing being juxtaposed together.
  • Another great juxtaposition is a work shirt and glasses – kind of playing on the theme of sexy librarian.
  • Whatever do you, high heels are a must – ideally some you have not worn out so that they look pristine in the photos.
  • But remember, the eye of the beholder should go to your face – you don’t want too much distraction.”

As we finish our second glass of wine, I ask her what not to do. “Don’t have unrealistic expectations or be disappointed in your photos,” she says gently. “They will not look like pictures in magazines, nor should they. The most important thing is to love yourself and to realize that there are infinite definitions of beautiful and sexy. Every woman is beautiful and sexy in her own special way. That’s what a boudoir photo shoot is all about.”

Amen sister!

Style and Grooming Lessons from My Godmother

Once in a while, I wake up and feel like putting on my “fat pants” and sweatshirt and call it a day. I imagine we all have these days… When I have those days, I end up dressing extra well and looking extra good, because I imagine running into my godmother Dominique in that “fat pants” outfit. And I imagine her disapproving look. After all, she is the one who taught me so much about style… Here are my favorite style and grooming lessons from her, the ones I cherish and refer to on a daily basis.

Once in a while, I wake up and feel like putting on my “fat pants” and sweatshirt and call it a day. I imagine we all have these days… When I have those days, I end up dressing extra well and looking extra good, because I imagine running into my godmother Dominique in that “fat pants” outfit. And I imagine her disapproving look. After all, she is the one who taught me so much about style… Here are my favorite style and grooming lessons from her, the ones I cherish and refer to on a daily basis.

  1. Perfect manners are the most elegant accessory any woman can have.
  2. Great posture gives any woman class, elegance and a slimmer look.
  3. Leaving things to the imagination is more elegant than putting it all out there. Think backless dresses rather than low-cut dresses.
  4. There is no excuse for imperfect grooming.
  5. Nails (hands): The most elegant nail length is short; the most elegant shape is a slightly square oval; the most elegant polish color is clear; and there is nothing French about a “French manicure.”
  6. Feet: take care of them daily with a good moisturizer in the evening; but no socks in bed, please.
  7. Groomed eyebrows make any face look more elegant; overly-groomed eyebrows will age you.
  8. Don’t save your jewelry for special occasions. Wear your diamonds, pearls, chunky necklaces to celebrate the fact that it is Tuesday.
  9. You always look more elegant holding a champagne glass than a beer mug or a shot glass.
  10. You never look elegant smoking (no matter that Audrey Hepburn might disagree).
  11. You never sound elegant swearing.
  12. Drink water. Lots of it. Ideally, Contrex.
  13. It’s hard to look elegant in cheap fabrics. It is much easier to look (and feel) elegant in fabrics such as linen or cashmere. Buy less, but better quality.
  14. It’s hard to look elegant in an outfit that doesn’t fit; fit is everything; find (and be kind to) a seamstress you love.
  15. Elegance is not about trendy outfits; it’s about finding styles, shapes, fabrics and colors that work for you and sticking to those.
  16. If you find the perfect pair of pants, buy three.
  17. If you find the perfect pair of heels, buy two.
  18. On the shoe note, don’t walk around in heels that need TLC or shoes that need polishing.
  19. Pay attention to your weight and don’t let pounds creep up on you.
  20. It is always elegant to smile and be kind.