Spring cleaning for your closet: Organizing Tips

Does your closet look like this?

Does your closet look like this?

Spring has sprung! Temperatures are rising and women are pulling out cute spring-ish fashions and even some summer-ish styles to stay cool during our warm afternoons. With Daylight Savings Time in place, I feel like we are well on our way to cocktails on the patio and dinners on the deck. Summer is around the corner!

We are also just a few days away from Easter Sunday and in Passover, two more milestones for the season, and everyone’s just loving getting together with family and friends for the holidays.

What does all this mean to your wardrobe? It’s time for the old closet switcheroo! Here are my Top Ten Tips for organizing for spring 2013 – along with notes on a worthy cause that might motivate you to tackle this task right away.

  1. Get out your supplies: a stepladder to reach high shelves, clear plastic bags for storage, extra hangers, and a notepad for your spring shopping list.
  2. Start with the golden rule of closet organizing: If you haven’t worn it in a year or it doesn’t fit you well, get rid of it. Donate it to someone who will wear it and be glad to have it. When you come across things you’re on the fence about, go ahead and donate. You know you’ll be glad you did. Start building a pile for donations.
  3. Next, pull out your “keeper” winter jackets, pants, sweaters, and tops that you won’t wear again until next fall. Put aside your fur coats to take to storage. Check out all those fall and winter clothes that need to be laundered or dry-cleaned before you put them away for the season. Start the washing machine and make a dry cleaning pile.
  4. Put plastic bags over the pieces that are ready and haul them to your guestroom closet, your under-bed storage boxes, or wherever you move your out-of-season clothes.
  5. Leave transition-type clothes in the closet for another couple of months, such as long-sleeve knit tops. You can cull those out in May.
  6. Now move to the spring/summer things currently hanging in your out-of-season closet. Take a hard look at the outfits and try them on if necessary. Begin the “keep or donate” sorting piles for those spring items.
  7. Then put the “keepers” in your current season closet. People have different ways of organizing their closets. I like to group jackets, pants, skirts, jeans, dresses and tops separately. Then I hang them from lightest colors to darkest.
  8. Move on to shoes and handbags. Go through the same season-switching process: evaluate and sort.
  9. Once your spring things are hanging up or shelved, look for wardrobe gaps and make a shopping list. Maybe you need colorful new tops to update basic outfits. Maybe you need something special for an upcoming wedding. Maybe you have some great evening shoes and would love to have a dress to go with them.
  10. Pack up the piles to dry clean or donate and enjoy your new closet!

Now, about that worthy cause: I’m sure you are familiar with the YWCA’s innovative Sara McKnight Transitional Living Center. This nationally acclaimed program provides housing to homeless women (and their children) who are working to get back on their feet. The TLC has a terrific track record for changing women’s lives.

Some women come to the TLC with very, very few possessions. The center continually needs gently used clothing and accessories to give them both wardrobe basics and appropriate ensembles for interviewing and working. For years Tres Mariposas has invited women to drop off nice clothing for these women at our Westside store (5857 North Mesa Street in Century Plaza). We’ll even mail you tax-deductible donation receipts.

This year, the Center needs about $1,350 to upgrade their security system. At Tres Mariposas, our goal is to collect 1,350 pieces of gently used clothing and accessories for the TLC – and then we will match that with a  $1,350 donation for the TLC security system.

We hope to complete the clothing collection campaign by April 25, the YWCA’s annual fundraising luncheon, and to give them our check that day. Suze Orman, the financial guru known for helping women achieve financial independence, is speaking at the luncheon; it should be an excellent presentation.

I’ll update you on the campaign next month as we get closer to our deadline. Meanwhile, tackle your closet and donate your clothes!

Shoe Organization.  Closet Nirvana!

Shoe Organization. Closet Nirvana!


Don't forget the jewelry too!

Don’t forget the jewelry too!


Fashion Forecast: Notes from New York Market


As I wrote last week, I’ve been to market in New York City twice this spring; our second trip took us to the annual spring Fashion Coterie at Jacob Javits Convention Center.   This is a huge show of women’s apparel from some 5,000 exhibitors spread out over a half a million square feet. With about 20,000 buyers and other industry attendees, this is a busy place during its three-day run every February.

The fashion industry categorizes apparel according to price point, with labels starting at mass market (or budget) and moving up through moderate, private label (a department store brand such as Charter Club at Macy’s), contemporary, better, secondary lines (such as Marc by Marc Jacobs), bridge, designer, and lastly, couture. The Coterie offers clothes in the better, bridge, and designer categories.

We like to shop the Coterie because of its incredible variety of designers, all vying to become the next big thing. Unless you are a real industry insider or a “Women’s Wear Daily” reporter or something, you will have never heard of the vast majority of the exhibitors filling the shared showrooms and major spaces.

What we want to do is discover the best of these new names while keeping the well-known designers our customers love. That’s what I like about the whole buying process – that combination of fresh and familiar, talent search and tradition.

We also like the Coterie because it provides a great preview of trends, both new and continuing. Here are some pieces and places that caught my.


Studded leather accessories, such as this geometrically interesting bag, continue even bigger going forward.

Studded leather accessories, such as this geometrically interesting bag, continue even bigger going forward.


Ippolita offers a more delicate version of a cuff bracelet: rows of different hammered silver bangles stacked for a rich look.

Ippolita offers a more delicate version of a cuff bracelet: rows of different hammered silver bangles stacked for a rich look.


It's the season of the wrist. Some women are giving in to cuff mania and enjoying a wide variety of statement bracelets.

It’s the season of the wrist. Some women are giving in to cuff mania and enjoying a wide variety of statement bracelets.


As we saw at the Kate Spade showroom, pointy-toe pumps are on their way back. After all the platforms of recent years, feminine single-sole shoes are gaining in popularity.

As we saw at the Kate Spade showroom, pointy-toe pumps are on their way back. After all the platforms of recent years, feminine single-sole shoes are gaining in popularity.


Alice and Olivia is one of the hottest lines around. Their show space at the Coterie was buzzing.

Alice and Olivia is one of the hottest lines around. Their show space at the Coterie was buzzing.


Thousands of people pour through the entrance into the massive Jacob Javits Center each day during the Coterie show.

Thousands of people pour through the entrance into the massive Jacob Javits Center each day during the Coterie show.





Fresh and fun: Trip Diary in Pictures

On a busman’s holiday: Shopping at Bergdorf Goodman and admiring their incredible Japanese Hanging Gardens display

Luxury Showroom: Escada makes a beautiful dress and it was a pleasure to visit their fabulous showroom.

As you know from my previous columns about market trips, a buying consultant previews all the lines, keeps abreast of trends, analyzes what is selling well in stores, and saves us a lot of time at market. For the last two decades, we have working with one of the premier New York buying consultants, a woman who came to totally understand what El Paso women liked to wear and who expertly shepherded our showroom buying.

Well, this consultant recently retired, so now we’re working with another highly recommended consultant.

Model at the Red Valentino Showroom: This line is for our feminine customers who love ribbons and ruffles.

Studying the style: Bobbie Baldridge and Monica Armendariz debate the merits of a dress at Escada

Our get-to-know-you trip was so fun! She wanted us to see some fabulous, fresh new lines from designers who were closing off their orders before our long-planned trip for the Coterie show a week later. The European designers she knew were particularly innovative and appealing. Their order deadlines were upon us so we had to work fast.

Throughout our exciting tour, the consultant kept watching how our lead buyer Bobby Baldridge, our longtime sales guru Monica Armendariz, and I reacted to each new line. She gauged our responses to quickly learn about our different customers, from sophisticated chic to free-spirited and stylish.

Watch our store’s inventory starting next fall as we bring in classics as well as introduce new designers to the border region!

Sneak Preveiw: Gorgeous dresses from Tadashi to try on at Tres Mariposas this fall

Writing an order: Nan Napier and Bobby Baldridge working hard to get every detail

Stripes: Around and around we go!



“Never, ever wear horizontal stripes.” Have you ever heard that old fashion mandate? “Stripes going around your body make you look fat.” Huh?

Well, guess what: not only has that style myth been disproven scientifically, it’s also contrary to one of the hottest trends around right now. We’re seeing horizontal stripes everywhere, and on all sizes of women.

If you want scientific proof, a few years ago, a psychology prof at the University of York in England and an expert in perceptions, published a whole paper on the stripe phenomenon in a scientific journal that studied “biological vision.”

He analyzed how experimental subjects perceived women of the same sizes wearing vertical and horizontal stripes. It turns out that women wearing horizontal stripes appeared thinner, not heavier. It was the vertical lines that added visual pounds. And in fact, horizontal stripes help women appear taller, as well. Interesting!

In all my long and glorious career in fashion, women would never wear horizontal stripes.  Thank goodness that over the last couple of years, stripes have been so fashionable that women have been willing to break that rule – and finding that horizontal stripes can be not only fun, but also flattering.

From fashion show runways and city streets to offices and schools, horizontal stripes continue to be a major fashion trend for 2013 for women of all ages and shapes. Black and white stripes, multi-colored stripes, variations of stripe directions in one dress: you’ll see some great pieces in stores right now to tempt you to give stripes a chance.

Try a top, a dress, or even just an accessory, like the Kate Spade purse shown here. Just in case you are still hesitant to break that old horizontal stripe rule, here are some great photos of outfits to prove the point!





Crazy for cobalt: Go for the blue

I have mentioned recently that we are in a trend cycle where color is the No. 1 element.

What a great stroke of luck! Color is the easiest way to make a statement, whether it’s changing the paint color on an accent wall or adding a colorful scarf to an outfit.

One day last week when I was reviewing new spring merchandise that had arrived at Tres Mariposas, I was overwhelmed with the amount of vivid cobalt blue and royal blue. Beautiful!

Cobalt is a flattering medium blue that works really well as a stand-alone solid or mixed with different shades of greens, aquas or corals and even tan or black. For a clean, crisp look to carry you through all of spring and summer, go for cobalt blue and white.

I recommend a cobalt handbag, a dash of cobalt in a scarf, a cobalt silk blouse, cobalt jeans and, of course, a little cobalt blue in just the right jewelry.

Some of my favorite models – Mary Lee Hughes, Emily Mouland and Aradne Lechuga – were at Tres Mariposas last week, helping us with the very successful and fun El Paso Pro-Musica High Tea fundraiser at the store. The two tried on some pieces in cobalt blue and they look great in them. You will, too!

Wear what you like, what looks good on you

Slim, trim jeans in bright, bold colorsAre short skirts in? Yes.

Are long skirts in? Yes.

Are muted pastels in? Yes.

Are bold neon colors in? Yes.

You get the drift.

Today women’s fashion trends are spun out so fast that dozens of trends, even contradictory ones, are whirling around at the same time.

With so many different themes and styles, fashion becomes a blur and then no trend stands out.

Why are trends important? Throughout fashion history, from ancient Egypt to 21st-century El Paso, women have watched what other women wear. I can’t speak for Egyptian empresses, but I know that here, we don’t want to wear the same ol’ thing year after year. We want to be up-to-date.

In the past, fashion’s “mandates” were very distinctive. When I started in this business, the most often-asked question was, “What will be this season’s hemline length?” No one wanted to be caught with her skirt long when it was supposed to be short.

Then there were trends like big broad shoulders or low, belly-baring jeans. Women devoured the trend of the moment – even when it didn’t look good on them.

Today, there are still trends, but they tend to evolve and not be set in stone. Fashion insiders are no longer able to deem something a must-have. Women are more likely to choose styles that flatter them while retaining an au currant look.

So even if we think we need some fashion direction, that clearly defined direction is not so clear anymore. What should women do?

The answer: “Wear what we like.”

Wear what you enjoy, what looks good on you. Keep an eye on evolving trends that give you a current edge and freshness – and then pick and choose outfits within those styles that suit you. Some of the key trends right now include:

• Graphic black and whites

• Slim, trim pants

• Soft outfit completers like cardigans or ponchos instead of hard-edged blazers

• Peekaboo details including open backs, envelope backs and cut-out detailing

• Color blocking, especially zingy in handbags

• Stripes – bold and thin, vertical and horizontal

• Emerald green or mint green

I’ve written about this last trend before: Emerald green is the Pantone Color Institute’s 2013 Color of the Year. It’s interesting how this company, known for providing standardized colors to graphic designers, interior designers, fashion designers, and other professionals, has capitalized on the trend blur.

Pantone filled the void created by too many trends by stepping in and proclaiming a single color of the year. Last year, you may remember, it was tangerine orange. If women are going to choose styles that are flattering or that fit their personality instead of ones that are decreed, then color trends become more important.

The Pantone Institute studies cultural trends and moods and picks a color that hasn’t been “in” for a while, otherwise it can’t be new; and that fits the psyche of the moment. Greens are being described as the color of growth in 2013, the color of well being, balance and harmony, and the color of jewels and money.

While Pantone has decreed a strong emerald green as the color of the moment, I would say the fashion industry’s darling color this spring is a bright mint green. I think emerald will emerge more as we go into fall 2013.

The bottom line when it comes to following trends is fashion liberation. With all the options out there, pick a few new styles or themes that are flattering for you and enjoy.

Trends aren’t quite what they used to be. Neither are women. Hear us roar. Watch us have fun. Let freedom reign!

Fashion Sneak Preview for Spring 2013

Pantone fashion color report spring 2013It’s January. On one hand, the weather has been freezing cold and we’ve had snow on the mountain. Who cares about spring trends?

On the other hand, I’m already tired of my winter clothes! I have actually begun staring at my closet in the mornings wishing for something fresh. I’m ready to see spring fashions and plan for summer even while I’m in front of the fireplace.

That’s why designers have a fifth season thrown in the mix: resort wear! Resort collections harken back to when the East Coast elite wintered in Palm Beach and took January cruises to sunny destinations.

In addition to our forecasts and our buying trips at market, resort collections give us a wonderful sneak preview of what’s ahead – and the future looks bright, very bright!

This spring will focus on an optimism expressed in bright colors. The new normal is fresh and uncomplicated. Sounds like just what the doctor ordered.

• Color. The Pantone Fashion Institute has decreed emerald as the color of 2013. However, fashion’s love affair with green won’t just stop at one shade. Fresh underwater colors such as aqua, turquoise and deep ocean green are also going to be big.

We have seen strong selling at Tres Mariposas on a particular shade of jade green. Add to those shades a full spectrum of bright and neon colors and you’ve got a very colorful spring coming soon.

• Prints and patterns. We’re going to be seeing three popular types of patterns next season:

Sea and sand. You can almost hear the ocean in prints ranging from seascapes to palm leaves.

Flowers. It’s all about the power of the flower in every size and shape, from impressionist to stylized.

Graphics. Stripes keep on keeping on in all varieties – wide, skinny, broken and wavy. Grid patterns and digital looks will be big.

• Silhouettes. The skinny crop pant rules this spring. Tunic blouses will finish the outfit. Peek-a-boo pieces with open backs and daring cut-outs create an edgy excitement. Spring dresses will be sporty and easy, meant to go equally well with high wedges or feminine flats.

• Handbags. Structured bags will be dominant, with single and double top handles. Give the giant slouchy tote a rest.

• Jewelry. Get ready to make a statement this spring with beads, beads and more beads; stackable bracelets and cuffs; and inspirational pieces with special meaning.

Maybe just thinking about spring will energize us through some of the gray days that we’ve been having. No question, we have some fun styles ahead, so hang in there!


El Paso: Star of Wonder, Star of Night by Nan Napier

Thank you card

Thank you card

As Oprah said in the December issue of her magazine, “It’s the time of year when we show the people we love best what they truly mean to us, when we open our hearts and spread a little love around.”

Some people will still be shopping right up to closing time on Christmas Eve, but if you’re finished and want to go further to spread the love, I have an idea for you!

One of my favorite things to do is to put a meaningful note under the Christmas tree for each person who’s coming over to celebrate. After all, the holiday season is one of the very few times when the world becomes still and heartfelt expressions can be heard. Some notes are mushy, some are funny, but all reflect my gratitude for the individuals in my life.

What would I write if I wrote a holiday note to the whole El Paso community? I can think of several things I’d say. In that note, I would write I am especially grateful to the El Paso community for:

• Letting us adorn you! Thank you for allowing Tres Mariposas to be part of your fashion lives. You let us partner with you to make you gorgeous and you let us share the latest fashion forecasts and trends. You allow us to be a part of the most significant events of your lives – weddings, galas, baby showers, all kinds of special events that you dress for.

• Shopping local. Women living in our border region are on the go and have many shopping choices including online and out of town. Thank you for supporting your local businesses. It really does make a difference.

• Keeping El Paso employed. With your commitment to shopping local, we have been able to sustain this local business for more than four decades. I have led it for 34 years, but it was open eight years before that – a total of 42 years! That’s countless casual and special occasion outfits, business wear and sportswear ensembles, accessories and shoes enjoyed by women of all ages. That’s innumerable gift-wrapped Tres Mariposas packages placed under Christmas trees. And that’s many employees and their families over the years who have been fed, housed, educated and supported through your shopping.

• Making El Paso unique. Thank you to all for helping to make us such a rich, interesting and decidedly different community. El Paso has so many things that make us different in a positive way – our multi-cultural history, our lively future, our special geography and climate – and we all benefit when we celebrate our distinctiveness in our dealings with the world out there.

So, if I were to write a personal note to the people of this extended community, I would be sure to include these four messages of gratitude and recognition. This would be my mushy love note to the region!

Have an amazing holiday week. Wear only attire that makes you feel your loveable best. If that fails, drink more eggnog and Champagne!


How men can win at gift giving by Nan Napier

Shopping for Christmas

Shopping for Christmas

Tory Burch slippers

Tory Burch slippers

Does the average man love going through racks of women’s clothes to find just the right thing for the special woman in his life? Hardly.

I find that most don’t want to take time to shop for their own clothing. “Men would rather give blood than shop,” according to one pundit.

Around this time of the year, this is a major problem. Years of experience consulting with men have taught me that every man wants to give a gift that delights his lady, but most men absolutely dread the gift-buying process.

However, before a guy goes into procrastination and avoidance mode, he needs to know that most women just want to know that their man actually took time out of his routine to go to a store and think about her.

What she really hopes for is a gift that says he loves her, he understands her and he knows her.

Sometimes men need help translating what they know into a great present and that’s how a good sales assistant or friend can be of service.

If the gift is on trend, all the better. That helps her feel like she is both loved and fashionable!

Each holiday season, as a guide to help our men customers, I watch what women pick out for gifts to their daughters, mothers, sisters and friends – and for themselves!

Some of this year’s most popular fashion gifts are cashmere sweaters in contemporary styles; fur vests and scarves; and today’s new mid-size handbags by Valentino, Michael Kors or Marc Jacobs.

We’ve also seen women picking out jewelry from a wide variety of designers, like Ippolita and Jude Frances. Furry slippers from designer Tory Burch are also popular because women love both comfort and luxury.

Making shopping fun

Okay, so most men don’t like to shop – and we wondered how we could help. So a few years ago, my women’s boutique, Tres Mariposas, came up with a plan to make shopping fun and ease their gift-giving dilemma. It’s called “Men’s Night Out” and it’s Monday, Dec. 10.

Starting at 6 p.m., we put up huge flat-screen TVs for Monday Night Football, which, by the way, will be a good game between Houston and New England. We bring in some of El Paso Country Club’s favorite bartenders to make our guests feel at home. And we’ll have Asher Wildman, KVIA Channel 7 sportscaster, as the event’s energetic emcee.

We are thrilled that Men’s Night Out has become a community-supported endeavor. We’ll have a miniature golf green set up to raise funds for the First Tee, El Paso golfer Kristi Albers’s non-profit that promotes life skills for youth. Men chip in for a good cause while they compete in a friendly chipping contest.

Hors d’oeuvres will include Dr. Tom Alost’s famous Salmon Cheesecake, which is a gourmet wonder, as well as generous donations of creative pizzas, delicious Mexican food and savory sliders from El Paso restaurants.

Door prizes will be given away throughout the evening. The men will go home with a party favor of “adult eggnog” donated in part by Gene Carrejo of Price’s Creameries.

Shopping can’t get any less painless. To make it even easier on their men, many women come in ahead of time to fill out special wish lists and leave them with our staff.

Their guys can be 100 percent sure to know their ladies will get gifts they will love.

This special Tres Mariposas tradition is a win-win situation. The men will have fun Monday and the women will have fun opening their gifts later!


The essential 6: Your jewelry wardrobe by Nan Napier

Everyday earrings

Everyday earrings

Statement ring

Statement ring

Party earrings

Party earrings

Stack of Bangles

Stack of Bangles

Jewelry with color

Jewelry with color

Just as there are pieces that every woman must have in her wardrobe – a little black dress, classic black pants, crisp white shirt and flattering jeans – you also need a few essential pieces of jewelry for everyday and special events.

And there are different ways to build your personal jewelry collection:

Silver versus gold. Most women favor either silver or white tones, including white gold and platinum, or golden yellow tones. This could be based on anything from current hair color to family heirlooms. But I don’t know anyone who owns only all gold or all silver. That’s just too confining. Some outfits really need silver, some gold. So while the emphasis may be on one or the other, both are needed.

Jewelry suites. A “suite” of jewelry is at least two matching pieces worn together, like a silver necklace with a mother of pearl pendant and matching mother of pearl drop silver earrings. It’s all ready to go. You’re not hunting for earrings to go with your statement necklace.

Individual items. I love having individual pieces to work with as I pick out a day’s jewelry. Sometimes suites get too matchy-matchy. What’s the downside? Sometimes I am stuck with great pieces that don’t necessarily look perfect with anything else I have. Still, I’d rather deal with the challenge of mixing items to create something interesting.

At Tres Mariposas, we carry the beautiful Ippolita collection, designed by Ippolita Rostango, the daughter of an American artist and an Italian intellectual who grew up in Italy and now lives in the U.S. Ippolita is so successful in part because of the versatility of her jewelry.

Rostango recommends building a collection with styles that work together and can be used in many ways. Her pieces can be worn together or apart, so women can be comfortable matching or mixing.

Ippolita recommends six essential pieces for your collection. Here are this year’s must-haves:

Stacks of bangles. Mix bangles of different metals and stones to create your own look. Bangles are your No. 1 essential right now in terms of popularity.

Everyday earrings. These are your go-to earrings that work with anything. For some, it’s a diamond solitaire; for others, it’s a silver hoop. Boom. Done. No more thinking.

Statement rings. Tell the world who you are with a ring that reveals your personality, bold, flirtatious or sultry. Make it edgy, like a large stone in an unusual setting or a fun combination of metal shapes and textures.

Long necklaces. Wear one significant strand or several long necklaces layered. Long necklaces have more drama and oomph than shorter pieces.

Anything with color. Don’t settle for an all silver or gold jewelry wardrobe. You wouldn’t settle for all-neutral clothes. Include pendants, earrings or bracelets that carry a punch of color.

Party earrings. This time of year, our everyday earrings just aren’t enough for evening affairs. Sparkly, dangly, shimmering and luxurious, party earrings elevate your outfit and your mood.

If you’re shopping for jewelry for the ladies in your life, have fun selecting something from this list of essentials.

You’re sure to receive a big hug this holiday season!