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5 Tips for Fashionable Fresh Start

Tuesday, January 04, 2011


A new year inevitably conjures up a palpable sense of new beginnings, and there’s no time better than the present to shed more than just pounds. Here are five helpful tips on how to achieve a fashion and beauty fresh start.

Show the Love

There’s a fine line between pack rat and savvy shopper, so start your closet makeover by clearing everything out. Everything. If time allows, give your closet a fresh coast of paint after washing down the walls and letting them dry fully. Next, ask a close confidant to join you (mimosas help…) and one by one, make a conscious decision about every piece that goes back in the closet. When was the last time you wore it? What kind of shape is it in? Do you have similar pieces that are in better condition? Pieces either make the cut or go into a “consign,” “donate,” or “toss” pile. You can call for a donation pick-up from Rhode Island Big Sisters in advance or drop off at area non-profit donation drops like the Salvation Army (various Rhode Island locations). Please only donate clothing and shoes in good to very good condition, the remainder can go into area clothing recycling bins. Visit www.rirrc.org/reuse for the Rhode Island Resource Recovery Corporation’s helpful donation guidelines.

Kick Out the Knickers

Time to fess up: what is your ratio for underthings that you actually wear compared to underthings collecting dust in the drawer? Unmentionables tend to fall into three categories: everyday panties and bras, the comfy I’d-be-mocked-if-anyone-saw-me-in these underwear (see: grandma panties), and the sassier, come-hither lingerie that are our best kept secret. Time to take stock of your drawers (pun intended) and purge the excess: anything older than a year, anything with worn elastic, and anything with holes. “A bra lasts no longer than for a year,” says Amy Winthrop Denneny of Deborah Winthrop Lingerie in Portsmouth, even if you rotate a number of bras weekly. Sports bras have an even shorter shelf life: 6 months on average. Denneny advises getting fitted at least once a year as weight fluctuations and body changes are common, or, take advantage of complementary expert fittings at lingerie specialty shops, like Deborah Winthrop. For panties, says Denneny says sometimes you need to take a good hard look at what is in tip-top shape and what fits comfortably, and then “cut your losses.” Consider donating unwanted bras to The Bra Recyclers, a textile recycling company that distributes unwanted underwires “around the world through exporters and Bra Recycling Ambassadors to deserving women and girls in transition.”

Stop Carrying Baggage

Blame it on beauty counter bonus days or being lured in by new colors and lines, either way, chances are your makeup bag is full of shadows and shades, and blushes and brushes, yet, you stick to the same top 10 products. If you haven’t used it in a year, chances are, you’ll never use it. Considering the price of many cosmetics, it can be hard to let go, but editing your selection is worth the cost. Donate unused, unopened makeup to the Rhode Island Chapter of Dress for Success, a non-profit organization that provides interview suits, confidence boosts, and career development to low-income women.

Shed Good Threads

That Louis Vuitton you no longer tote around town, those Via Spigas that pinch your toes after an hour, and the formal gown you wore once four years ago? Why not get a little return on your investment and send them to a local consignment shop? Before showing up with your lot, call ahead or pay a visit to a few local shops to get a feel for their inventory. “We look for higher end items,” says Sandy Picard, owner of Karma Couture in East Greenwich with daughter Sarah Kirinsky, “primarily because we want to offer products that you can't get

walking into a TJ Maxx or Marshalls.” Picard warns not to be persuaded by consignments shops that simply offer the highest starting price. “You need to consider how much exposure they have in the community, what their marketing is like, how quickly they turn items around, feedback from other consignors. Don't be afraid to ask for references,” she advises. While parting with that Prada might seems painful, if it never really fit perfectly, why not consign, make some money back, and buy something even better? Says Picard, “Consignment shopping is always the way to go!”

Clean & Clear

If you’ve resolved to live healthier this year, listen up. As one of the least-regulated industries in the U.S., cosmetics often contain dangerous, toxic ingredients, and with no FDA regulation, hundreds of prohibited and restricted chemicals and contaminants find their way into your makeup bag every year, even if you seek out “natural” products. Check your favorite makeup, cleansers, shampoos and conditioners against the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, the world's largest database of cosmetic chemical content, to assess the toxicity of and find safer substitutes before you buy--and to consider what to toss.


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