Fashion Resolutions

By Karen R. Smith


New Year’s resolutions often involve diet, exercise and sacrifice. I’d like to suggest a different approach --- using your new “2020” vision to take a hard look in your closet and create a wardrobe that really reflects YOU.

Right now, that closet probably contains a number of things you accumulated as temperatures changed, decisions made out of desperation rather than contemplation. We don’t get much of a winter here in Tucson but it’s enough to require sweaters, jackets and pants!

Resolve: become friends with your cobbler

You already know the difference between cheap and expensive boots, because you can spot them easily. If you have inexpensive boots that are comfortable and work with your wardrobe, take them to your shoemaker and have a few small changes made that will take them up several notches.

The major indicator of cheap footwear is thin soles made from synthetic materials. Don’t let that stop you from purchasing a stylish pair of shoes or boots. Just head straight to the cobbler and have him add new soles. With the popularity of combat silhouettes this season, I had the shoemaker put dense lugged soles on several pairs of my boots and they are now worthy of endless hikes in the desert -- and long walks on concrete sidewalks when I’m visiting New York City!

Depending on the soles you choose, this improvement can cost as little as $8 a pair...and as much as $40. And the boots you’ve enhanced this way will look like a million bucks!

Resolve: forge a bond with a tailor

If you are like most Americans, the majority of the clothes in your closet were bought off the rack, and whether that was at a big box store or a chic boutique, those garments were created with a standard set of measurements that the designer and manufacturer thought would accommodate the most people of that particular size. But you are not “most people” and while the fit may work in the overall sense, individual adjustments can make a huge difference.

Every jacket in your closet will look better on you if the sleeves are hemmed to the perfect length (usually in line with your wrist bone...but some people prefer longer or shorter). In fact, even jackets that are too big or too small will suddenly look like they fit if the sleeves are right. If you are buying your clothing in person at a fine department store or boutique, most offer simple tailoring as part of their standard customer service. This even extends to some of the better discount outlets -- so do ask if tailoring is available.

But if you’re purchasing your clothes online or at a mass merchant’s establishment, you’’re going to need to find a tradesperson in the community who can make simple alterations that give your wardrobe maximum style.

Dresses and skirts might fit perfectly, but if they are the wrong length for you, they won’t flatter as they might. Not sure? Head to a tailor and ask for advice. You can count on their honesty -- they can only earn a living by making you look better!!

Pants that are too short will make a person look fat...and pants that are too long make anyone look like one of the seven dwarves, and pants that drag the ground will fray along the bottom edge. Pants that break precisely, and are the right length with the footwear you’ve got on look like designer clothing, even if they were bought at Walmart. Cost for a professional hem is about $10.

Resolve: learn how to maintain your clothes at their best

Stains, pulls, pilling, snags --- all sorts of calamities can happen to your clothing, but there are cures for most problems. Reality check: if you can see a stain/pull/snag on your clothes, SO CAN EVERYONE ELSE. Do not believe you can wear clothing that’s in sorry shape and still look your best.

Got wine on a favorite blouse? Google ‘remove a wine stain’ and dozens of tried and true solutions will turn up. I keep salt, cornstarch and vinegar along with a toothbrush in my laundry room, along with several specialty products that have rescued me time and again. The can advise you on what your clothes need, and can deliver it all right to your door. I am a huge fan of White Wizard spot and stain remover, which you can now find on Amazon. Hotels use this stuff to get all sorts of things out of upholstery, so you know it can rescue your pants from whatever you dripped onto your lap.

Do not presume that because you use a popular brand of detergent your clothes will be happy. Stains are most often set by standard laundering, not removed. Pre-treating stains with the right substance for the particular catastrophe can keep your clothes looking like new.

Resolve: sustainable style

As the true cost of fashion is becoming more transparent, I hope you will use the incentive of the New Year to make better investments. One well-designed, sustainably manufactured white tee shirt might do more for your wardrobe -- and the planet -- than a dozen cheap shirts from a fast fashion retailer. For 2020, let’s resolve to do no harm and look terrific!

About the Author:
Karen R. Smith is an award-winning journalist and publicist. Her book, "Stylishly Sexy" is available online and she takes private style clients throughout Arizona and across the country. Visit her at