How to Make an Outfit That Works

In the same straight-talking style that has made TLC’s What Not to Wear a smash hit for eight seasons, Clinton Kelly shows women how to outfit themselves with confidence and style. From his book Oh No She Didn’t: The Top 100 Style Mistakes Women Make and How to Avoid Them.

I’ve heard so many people reminisce about Garanimals with longing and nostalgia. “Oh, life was so easy back then. You’d match the pants with the tiger tag to the top with the tiger tag and you’d be ready for school in no time! Man, those were the days.”

Is it just me or is matching rust-orange corduroys to a rust-orange polo shirt about as difficult as picking your eight-year-old nose? I mean, come on. If you can’t do this without the help of animal tags by the second grade, you need more than after-school tutoring.

Matching your top to your bottom makes you look simpleminded, completely out-of-date, or just plain old. Style has changed since the 1950s. It’s not about wearing the perfectly matching set as it is displayed on a mannequin. It’s about putting pieces together with your own twist.

Look, if you absolutely love a print that comes in both a blouse and a skirt, I suppose you could buy both pieces. But for the love of Lagerfeld, DO NOT WEAR THEM TOGETHER.

I know many women have a difficult time matching pieces, and that’s because things don’t need to “match,” they need to “go.” For example, forest green and sage green don’t match, but they go, so you can wear a sage green sweater with a forest green suede boot. Another example is gold and yellow; they don’t match, but you could wear a blouse that has some gold in the print with jeans and a yellow flat.

Speaking of jeans, they’re neutral, so any color or print works with denim. Other neutrals are black, gray, navy, brown, khaki, and white. Technically, any color goes with any neutral, and all neutrals go with each other. Some colors and neutrals pair better than others. A few combinations don’t work so well:

BLACK + ORANGE = Halloween
GREEN + ORANGE = Pumpkin
BLACK + YELLOW = Bumblebee
RED + GREEN = Christmas

And you may be wondering whether you can wear black and navy together or black and brown. The answer is yes and yes. The key to making both of those neutral combinations work is intention. A very dark navy blue that looks almost black paired with actual black will make it seem like you got dressed in the dark. But a lighter navy can be paired with black without a problem.

Black and brown have a similar relationship. Very dark chocolate brown is harder to pair with black than, say, a milk-chocolate brown. And I’ve found that the best way to combine black and brown is by using a print that contains both neutrals. Maybe you’ve got an abstract geometric print blouse that contains purple, black, and brown. You could wear it with black trousers (because there’s black in the print) and a brown jacket (because there’s also brown in the print).

When a woman tells me that she is absolutely hopeless at putting outfits together and still cannot grasp the concept of “going,” I advise her to keep all her bottoms neutral. If she owns:


she’ll be hard-pressed to find a top that doesn’t go with at least one of those bottoms.

Clinton Kelly is the cohost of TLC’s popular show What Not to Wear, a spokesperson for Macy’s, and a motivational speaker who has successfully talked thousands of women out of stirrup pants. He has worked as an editor at several noted fashion publications, including Marie Claire and Mademoiselle. In his book Oh No She Didn’t: The Top 100 Style Mistakes Women Make and How to Avoid Them (Copyright © 2010 by Clinton Kelly), Clinton points out the hundreds of fashion mistakes women most commonly make and describes how to fix them.



6 Style “Don’ts” and How to Fix Them

Clinton Kelly, the cheeky cohost of TLC’s popular show What Not to Wear, offers detailed and entertaining critiques of six of women’s top style mistakes and practical suggestions for fixing them. From his book Oh No She Didn’t, a delightful mix of hilarious dish and expert fashion advice

The most common alteration I do for my clients, besides hemming pants and sleeves, is fixing Gap in the Back, a problem of which you are all too aware if you carry your weight in your hips and/or rump but have a relatively small waist. Yes, it’s a drag when things don’t fit perfectly off the rack, but that doesn’t mean you should settle. People with great style don’t settle! When I see a woman who has chosen to walk around with all that extra room in the back of her pants, I wonder why she doesn’t make good use of it — you know, treat it as a marsupial-esque ass-pouch for storing her belongings, like a turkey sandwich and a romance novel.

Gap in the Back is really nothing to get yourself worked up about. When you find pants that fit you beautifully everywhere except in the waist, buy the damn things. Then find someone who knows how to sew. A small gap can be fixed with a little nip in the center of the waistband. A larger gap can be closed with two darts on the waistband, one over each butt cheek. When you get the pants back — voilà — they’ll fit and you’ll feel silly for whining about how pants never fit you.

You can be wearing the cutest freakin’ outfit in the whole world, but you’ll look a helluva lot less beautiful if you spend half the night adjusting your bra straps and picking a wedgie out of your butt.

People with True Style:

  1. Wear flattering clothes
  2. Behave appropriately
  3. Exude confidence

Fidgeting or fussing with a garment is a sign that something doesn’t fit (that’s strike number one) or that you don’t have the confidence or composure to successfully pull off the look you’re trying to achieve (strikes two and three).

If it’s a question of fit, you must determine the reason the garment doesn’t stay put — and fix it. Is your skirt riding up your thighs? It’s probably too tight. Maybe it can be let out. If not, you need to let it go. Does your strapless dress keep sliding down the boobies? Well, if you have to hoist it up every two minutes, the bodice is too loose! So have it taken in. Or, here’s a brilliant idea, wear a dress with straps next time. Whatever the reason, figure it out and do something about it.

If you’re fidgeting due to a lack of confidence, it might be because you haven’t found your true style just yet. But I’ll give you a piece of advice: Confidence can be faked. Just take a deep breath, relax, smile, and be in the moment. Before long, you won’t have to fake it anymore. Or you can just take a beta-blocker. Your choice.

You walked a 5K. Congratu-freakin’-lations. How about you just tell people you strolled the hopping 3.125 miles instead of wearing the free, one-size-fits-all cotton tee they gave you at the finish line.

You attended a huge family reunion and your third cousin-in-law made a commemorative shirt. News flash: Nobody gives a rat’s ass.

Your parents went to Aruba and all you got was this lousy T-shirt. That is so funny. Tell your parents you’re going to wear that shirt the day you check them into the nursing home.

Whether you were given a T-shirt or had a momentary brain fart and bought one, I urge you to really think about: a. what it’s doing for your body — probably nothing good — and, b. what it says about you — probably that you don’t have one original thought rattling around in that brain of yours.

Are there funny statement tees in the world? Sure. Are there well-made ones? Yeah. Are there well-fitting ones? You betcha. But the vast majority — we’re talking 99.99 percent of all sloganed or giveaway T-shirts — are lame-o, unflattering, and of poor quality.

Oh, one more thing: If you think it’s funny to walk around in public wearing a T-shirt detailing the twenty-seven ways you can use the F-word, you are a loser and should be sterilized.

If you were house hunting and you found one with an avocado green refrigerator, a pink toilet, and a bunch of brass trim, you’d probably laugh about it later with friends. Well, I do the same thing when I see a woman wearing chintz, except I don’t wait until later. It’s like Tourette’s — I can’t help it.

Outdated patterns make you look out of touch with society and can age you at least a decade. Of course, retro patterns often become trendy, but they’re usually done in modern cuts and in modern fabrics. More often, over the course of any given decade or so, prints will develop a general feeling to them. For example, in the recent past, florals have trended away from looking like literal renditions of flowers and moved toward the abstract. And painterly prints have been gaining popularity.*

To look modern you have to shop on a regular basis in trendy stores and occasionally pick up a magazine to see what fashionable people are wearing!

*As this book was going to press, little pink & purple rosebud florals (á la “Little House on the Prairie”) became all the rage. Who can keep up with this crap?! You can!

The next time you want to give a man a piece of your mind for staring at your boobs, make sure the reason he’s looking at your rack is not that he’s wondering why you have four breasts instead of two. Double bubble occurs when a woman with a decent-size chest wears a bra that is too small, and then tops it off with a clingy knit. Disaster!

Ladies, ladies, ladies. How many times do I have to tell you this? You must have a professional bra fitting every two years, even if your weight has remained constant, or anytime you gain or lose a minimum of ten pounds. I can almost guarantee that after a professional bra fitter gets her hands on your bingo-bongos, you will discover that you are bigger in the cup and smaller in the band than you had previously thought. I know this because I have performed approximately one thousand booby makeovers in the past seven years. (See Low Boobies.)

And don’t confuse lingerie with supportive undergarments. The same bra you wear in the bedroom to get your partner’s blood flowing is not the same bra you wear to work.

Women ask me constantly, “What do you have against cropped pants?” The truth is, I’m kind of fine with cropped pants — when they look good. But they rarely do. I am beyond-a-shadow-of-a-doubt convinced that the vast majority of women buy them because their length is one less thing to worry about. “Well, they fit in the waist! It doesn’t matter what length they are.” That makes about as much sense as Carrot Top’s new face.

You can’t just go around wearing pants any length you want! It doesn’t work that way. Try to achieve one of the following lengths, or your look will have that neither-here-nor-there quality I find so damn annoying.

  • Full-length pants should rest about a half an inch off the floor in the back.
  • Full-length jeans should rest about a quarter of an inch off the floor in the back.
  • Skinny jeans should hit at the ankle or be worn stacked (pushed up).
  • Pedal pushers should hit just below the kneecap.
  • Walking shorts hit just above the kneecap.
  • Clamdiggers are meant to hit at midcalf.
  • Ankle pants should be cropped just above the ankle bone.

The shorter and wider you are, the more likely you are to look like Spanky from the “Little Rascals” in a cropped pant. Wear Bermuda shorts or long pants instead!

Clinton Kelly is the cohost of TLC’s popular show What Not to Wear, a spokesperson for Macy’s, and a motivational speaker who has successfully talked thousands of women out of stirrup pants. He has worked as an editor at several noted fashion publications, including Marie Claire and Mademoiselle. In his book Oh No She Didn’t: The Top 100 Style Mistakes Women Make and How to Avoid Them (Copyright © 2010 by Clinton Kelly), Clinton points out the hundreds of fashion mistakes women most commonly make and describes how to fix them.



How to Roll a Perfect Pastry Crust

The perfect pastry crust is the key to a divine pie. It all comes down to how you roll — the dough, that is. To perfect your technique, follow these rolling tips from Shirley Corriher, author of BakeWise: The Hows and Whys of Successful Baking with Over 200 Magnificent Recipes.

Techniques for Rolling

The Dough
The dough should hold together well but not be wet. Press the dough together into a 6-inch (15-cm) disc. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight. This will allow the moisture to distribute more evenly. If you roll a crust immediately after making it, the wet spots will stick to the surface and the dry spots will tear.

Wrapping the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerating for at least 2 hours or overnight allows the moisture to distribute more evenly.

The Surface for Rolling
Roll on a lightly floured counter, a pastry cloth or plastic sheet, or between two pieces of lightly floured wax paper. Carole Walter, in Great Pies & Tarts, recommends a canvas pastry cloth and rolling pin cover made by Ateco (available in some cookware shops). Rose Levy Beranbaum in The Pie and Pastry Bible says that the ideal surface for rolling pastry is marble covered with a pastry cloth. She recommends a 16 x 20 x 3/4-inch (41 x 51 x 2-cm) piece of marble available in gourmet shops or from marble supply companies. A marble slab stays cold and helps to keep the pastry cool.

Gourmet shops sell a plastic sheet that is marked with circles for the different size pie pans. It is very helpful to have a guide when trying to roll an even circle. My early pie crusts looked like strange-shaped amoebas!

Some cooks like to roll the dough between two sheets of wax paper or plastic wrap, or a layer of foil on the bottom and plastic wrap or wax paper on top. You may need to peel the paper or plastic off once or twice during rolling and reposition and smooth it out. Regardless of the surface — pastry cloth or countertop — you want to flour lightly to prevent the dough from sticking.

Rolling Pins
There are many different sizes and shapes of rolling pins available. Those that are straight cylinders are called straight French rolling pins and are usually 17 to 19 inches (43 to 48 cm) in length. There is one that is fat in the center and tapers narrower toward the ends — tapered French — and is about 19 inches (48 cm) long. This tapered French pin is designed to prevent the edges of the dough from getting too thin. Carole Walters feels that it is a little easier to roll evenly with the traditional ball-bearing pin with handles. These come in lengths of 12 to 15 inches (30 to 38 cm).

Your choice of the rolling pin and the rolling surface are personal preferences. Feel free to go with whatever works best for you.

Rolling in Detail
On limited counter space, rotating the dough works very well. This technique also ensures that the dough does not stick to the counter or pastry cloth. Flour the rolling pin and place it in the center of the dough disc and roll forward. Place the pin back in the center of the dough disc and roll back, taking care not to roll over the dough edges, making them too thin. Gently lift and rotate the dough 45 degrees, roll forward and back again, rotate, and so on. Keep a little bleached all-purpose flour on the counter to one side. If the dough tends to stick when rotating, drag the dough through the flour when rotating and repositioning the dough. If you enlarge the dough a little at a time, in different positions, it helps to keep the circle even.

Rotating the dough prevents sticking and aids in rolling an even circle.

Try to avoid rolling the dough thinner in one area. These thin spots will brown or burn before the rest of the crust is done. To get a very even thickness, stop when the dough is nearing the desired thickness. Place a ruler or a strip of wood (which is the thickness that you want) on one side of the dough, and another the same thickness on the other side. Rest the rolling pin on the two rulers or wood strips, and roll across the dough.

Another way to get a very even dough thickness is with rolling pin rings that are available in some gourmet cookware shops. Pairs of these elastic rings are of various thicknesses and fit on both ends of the pin. They keep the pin an exact distance from the counter so the dough is rolled to an even thickness.

Keeping the dough an even thickness prevents excessive browning or burning in the thin spots.

Shirley O. Corriher, author of BakeWise: The Hows and Whys of Successful Baking with Over 200 Magnificent Recipes (Copyright © 2008 by Confident Cooking, Inc.), has a B.A. in chemistry from Vanderbilt University, where she was also a biochemist at the medical school. She has problem-solved for everyone from Julia Child to Procter & Gamble and Pillsbury. She has taught and lectured throughout the world. She has long been a writer– authoring a regular syndicated column in The Los Angeles Times Syndicate’s Great Chefs series as well as technical articles in the Journal of Biological Chemistry. Her first book, Cookwise: The Hows and Whys of Successful Cooking is a bestseller and won a James Beard Award for excellence. Shirley has received many awards, including the Best Cooking Teacher of the Year in Bon Appetit’s “Best of the Best” Annual Food and Entertaining Awards in 2001. She lives in Atlanta with her husband, Arch.




  • Shirley Corriher talks about BakeWise and shares some baking tips

DIY Fall Flower Arrangement Ideas

Bring the hues of the season indoors with a fetching fall flower arrangement. Here’s the step-by-step how-to from Flowers: Style Recipes by Samantha Moss.

In late summer and early fall, when the vibrant hues of dahlias and zinnias are at their peak, create an artful display by tinting the water in the vases to match the flowers.

Dahlias and Zinnias in Layered Vases

  • 12 dahlias (various varieties)
  • 12 zinnias
  • 5 rectangular vases
  • bleach
  • food coloring
  • paring knife

Choose different flowers all in a single color, gather a harmony of yellows, oranges, and reds, or mix and match complementary colors (such as yellow with purple or red with green).

Select zinnias that are completely open, and dahlias that have flexible petals and partially closed blossoms. If the dahlias start to wilt, remove the outer petals to keep them looking fresh. The deeper the water, the longer flowers will last, so angle stems in the vases for maximum submersion. In spring, try substituting tulips; in autumn, use chrysanthemums to create the same effect.

1.    Sterilize the vases with a spritz of bleach before filling them with water. To prevent bacterial growth and prolong the flowers’ life, add 2 tablespoons of mouthwash or other antibacterial additive.

2.    Mixing colors as you would paints, add several drops of food coloring to the water in each vessel. The color for each vase can either closely match or be harmonious with the hues of the flowers it holds.

3.    Using a kitchen whisk or other stirring tool, stir the food coloring into the water to gauge the saturation of color. Add a few drops of the same color or of other colors until you get the tint you want.

4.    Using a paring knife, cut each stem on an angle. Arrange the stems in the vases so that most of the stem is under water, which prolongs the life of the flower.

Samantha Moss, author of  Flowers (Copyright © 2005 by Weldon Owen Inc. and Pottery Barn) and Photos, is a writer and editor based in San Francisco.


Winter Makeup and Skin Care Tips and Tricks

Winter challenges your skin and makeup more than any other season. Here, what you need to know to give your skin the extra care and attention it needs, plus tips on beauty products for achieving the right winter look. From Riku Campo author of Best in Beauty: An Ultimate Guide to Make Up and Skincare Techniques, Tools, and Products

The change of seasons is always refreshing, but winter challenges the skin and makeup more than any of the other seasons. Cold temperatures, snowy weather, heated rooms, and excessive hot showers to warm you up (which, unfortunately, also dry your skin) all make your skin need extra care and attention.

The biggest problem is dry skin on the face, hands, and knees, and sometimes all over the body. The best advice is to moisturize. And moisturize.

Sometimes the dryness can turn into eczema. In that case you must turn to a dermatologist, who can help you choose the right skin care products. You can also use 0.1% hydracortisone once a week on the areas that are really dry, irritated, and itchy. Eczema is genetic and is most aggressive in winter.

The indoor heat along with the cold outdoor temperature makes your skin drier, no matter what your skin type is.

Dry skin: Use a facial serum or oil under a thicker-formula moisturizer.
Oily Skin:
Use an oil-free serum and oil-free moisturizer.
Combination skin:
Use oil-free products on the T‑zone and a thicker moisturizer on the cheeks, which get drier in the wintertime.

Sometimes those with oily skin should protect their skin with slightly creamier face products, especially against extremely cold temperatures and wind. Look for oil-based moisturizers (including almond, jojoba, or avocado oil) that don’t clog the pores. Sometimes you might get whiteheads (tiny white cysts containing lamellated keratin that a dermatologist or esthetician can take out with a tiny needle) around your eye area or on your cheeks.

If you have dry skin, you must avoid water as much as you can; take short showers, and wash your face with a cleansing milk. And everyone should drink more water (or hot green tea) in the wintertime.

Many times dry skin gets flakes on the eyelids and cheeks and around the lip area. The best way to get rid of them is to exfoliate the skin right after showering, when the skin is still soft. After that apply a thick layer of a cream-based hydration mask all over your face. Leave it on for five minutes, then press a tissue on your face and let it absorb the mask. Don’t scrub your face; just gently tap it with the tissue so you get all the extra mask off your face.

Do this in the evening, and by morning your skin will be much softer. You can use the same method on superdry lips: exfoliate your lips and the skin around them with an exfoliating cream or lip scrub (many cosmetic manufacturers make lip spa products with scrubs and various kind of balms and sealing creams).

You can also put a damp hand towel in a microwave for three minutes to heat it and then press it on your lips for a minute to soften the skin, then scrub the dead skin off gently with the towel.

Note: Scrubbing the lips with a toothbrush is really hard on them and can actually break the skin.

Slightly richer foundations are better than tinted moisturizers because there is more to cover on your skin in the winter (uneven areas on the nose, cheeks, and eyelids).

You must use SPF/UVA/UVB protection all year round. The sun that reflects from the snow is as strong as the sun that reflects from water. So choose a day cream with at least SPF 15, or a foundation with SPF. Skin is also paler in the winter, so you must use a wintertime base.

Powder is needed all over the face for oily skin. Those with combination and dry skin should use powder on the T‑area only to set the base. If your skin is dry and flaky, don’t use any base product, just a face oil and your protecting SPF 15 face cream (but you can still use mascara and tinted lip balm).

Most cosmetic companies launch autumn/winter collections full of darker shades for eye and lip makeup colors; dark grays, plums, burgundies, deep Spanish reds, and dark chocolate browns. That is because the fall/winter fashion shows give the direction to the makeup world as well. But there are no rules for which colors to use on a seasonal basis. Most of the products are matte and simply look better in winter: more dramatic and deeper hues that go hand in hand with fall/winter fashions. But remember that what works on the runway does not always work in real life.

If you love pastels in winter, go for them. Keep in mind, though, that if your face is pale, pastel colors will create a washed-out look that is not flattering; light pastel eye and lip makeup looks better on tanned skin, which is why pastels are very popular in the summer. For a cool-tone winter look, wear deeper colors on your eyes and give your lips a matte fuchsia tone instead of light icy pink. Or use some color on your eyes and keep your lips pale (as in the photo: I gave the lashes a shocking blue wintry color!).

Mascara should be waterproof; rain, snow, and going from outdoor to indoor temperatures will make regular mascara run. You don’t always have to use black mascara; try brown, blue, or green. Water-resistant eye pencil is excellent; because it’s made of waxes, it will stay through the rain. Water-resistant liquid eyeliners are good but don’t necessarily stay well because of their flakiness. There are some special eye makeup sealing products that you can apply on top of the eyeliner to make it hold longer. But an umbrella will do a better job in the end. I have also used water-resistant mascara as eyeliner, and sometimes it stays better than most of the real waterproof liners.

Cracked lips are the number one problem in winter. If your lips are superdry, skip the lipstick and use tinted lip balm, which is available in many different colors. The pigmentation is not that high, but you will get smooth, healthy-looking lips with a beautiful sheen. Make sure the balm has SPF and UVA/UVB protection. Exfoliate your lips regularly throughout the cold months. That way you will get rid of the dry flakes on the surface of your lips.

If you want a more dramatic winter look, fair skin looks really good with well-lined red lips, darker skin with well-lined deep brown or deeper cool reds. More moisturizing, richer-formula lip glosses are welcome products in the winter when the temperature drops below 0° Celsius. But on a really cold day, skip the glosses and use tinted lip balms. They protect and moisturize your lips the best.

Blush is a key item to the winter makeup look. It really gives some color to your skin and wakes up your whole face. Use the powder formulas, which sit better than gel or cream blushes. The color of your blush is completely your own choice; again, if you have a cool-tone look, use pink; for a warm tone, it can be peach, warm sand, or terracotta. The only color I would leave out are bronzes. They really don’t look great in winter.

Hands and Nails
Keep your hands moisturized. You can even sleep with cotton gloves on after applying a thick layer of hand cream to your hands. In the morning your hands and cuticles will be soft and moisturized.

Darker nail colors look trendy in the winter. You can buy a lipstick to match with your nail color because cosmetic companies launch the looks that way. It will always give a very sophisticated, mature look.

I have oily skin in the summer, and in the winter it’s dry. How can I make my skin behave in a more balanced manner from season to season?
Ole Henriksen answers:
It’s not unusual for an oily/eruption-prone skin to become surface dry in the winter season. Two things cause this: the products used to normalize the oily skin, and the dry indoor heating plus outdoor freezing temperatures. A mistake that many people with oily skin make is to use products with too many drying agents in every product they use.

This is not necessary. It creates a dry surface mantle and potentially more oil flow below the skin surface, which can cause blemishes. Balance is the key here, using a blend of oil-free formulations with humectants such as algae, aloe vera, sorbitol, and glycerin, combined with cell-proliferating and purifying extracts such as sugar maple, sugarcane, lemon peel, and lactic acid, and finally reparative antioxidants such as vitamin C, superoxide dismutase, green tea, and African red tea. In addition, an antiblemish stick containing benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid, bentonite, and kaolin is a must for this skin type. So the answer is to use products that contain the right blend of active ingredients and have a light texture.

Is Vaseline good for my lips in the winter?
Vaseline used on its own isn’t thick enough to stay on the lips for long periods, but if incorporated into a lip balm formulation it works well. For people who may not like the fact that Vaseline is a mineral oil extract, there are other extracts that work just as effectively at keeping lips soft and nourished, such as jojoba seed oil, mango seed butter, carnauba wax, and cranberry seed oil.

Use a humidifier to add moisture to your indoor space if you have to use drying central heating. Put one in your bedroom, and you will notice the difference in your skin in the morning, especially when using face serum and night cream. Your skin will be softer and moister.

If you have very dry skin, use soap-free body wash instead of a soap bar when showering.

You can use a thicker-formula face cream (at least 60% oil) as your night cream. The same cream works as a deep-moisturizing face mask: just apply a thicker layer of the cream all over your face, except in the eye area. Keep it on the face for 10 to 15 minutes, and then press a tissue on the face to absorb the extra oils from the skin. Do this in the evening, and your skin will be moist, especially if you have the humidifier in your bedroom.

If you have sensitive skin, use a protective barrier moisturizer.

Riku Campo, author of Best in Beauty: An Ultimate Guide to Make Up and Skincare Techniques, Tools, and Products, lives in Los Angeles, where he has established himself as the makeup go-to guy for some of today’s most celebrated models and entertainers. For more information, visit



Tang in the Toilet and 17 Other Ingenious Bathroom Cleaning Tricks

Short on bathroom cleaning supplies? Maybe not!: All the tools you need for a good tile-to-tub scrub can actually be found in your garage, laundry basket, kitchen cupboards and medicine cabinets. Linda Cobb, author of Talking Dirty With the Queen of Clean, has done the dirty work to come up with this list of effective — and ingenious — cleaning concoctions.

To clean and polish a porcelain tub and remove stains, make a paste of powdered alum (available in drugstores) and water. Rub well, as if using cleanser. For stains, make a paste of powdered alum and lemon juice; apply and let dry, then moisten with more lemon juice and rub well. Rinse thoroughly.

Borax and water is also a great cleaner for porcelain. Make a paste and rub well, then rinse.

Heat white vinegar until it is hot, but not too hot to pour into a spray bottle and work with. Spray it on the shower and tub heavily. Wait 10–15 minutes and then moisten a scrubbing-type sponge with more of the vinegar and scrub down the shower, using additional heated vinegar as necessary. Rinse well and dry.

Many plastic-type tubs have a dimpled, slip-proof bottom that defies cleaning. I have found that using a good gel cleaner or a mild cleanser, and a piece of fine drywall sandpaper (looks like window screen) works the best. Cut the sandpaper into a workable size, apply the cleaner, and rub. Use this only on dimples in plastic and Fiberglas™ tub and shower bottoms.

For stubborn shower spots and scum buildup, use a dry, soap-filled steel-wool pad on a dry shower. Do not allow water to become involved in this process, as it will cause the steel-wool pad to scratch. Follow up with the previously described vinegar process.

To make shower upkeep simple, apply a coat of car wax. Do not use this on the floor of the tub or shower. After showering, use a squeegee to wipe down the shower door and walls, and your shower will stay clean and you’ll have fewer problems with mildew.

You can keep ahead of grout cleaning if you use a dry typewriter eraser on dry grout to remove mildew and stains as they appear. For bigger problems, make a paste of baking soda and chlorine bleach and apply to the grout. Let dry and then rinse. Do this in a well-ventilated area, using care near carpet or fabric. Even the fumes of chlorine bleach can remove color from towels left hanging in the tub area.

Combine 2 parts baking soda, 1 part borax, and 1 part hot water, adding additional water as necessary to form a thick paste. Apply to the tile and grout, and scrub with a soft brush. Rinse well.

This is a handy spray-on grout cleaner for frequent use, good for removing soap scum and cleaning tile counters:

1/2 cup of baking soda
1⁄3 cup of ammonia
1/4 cup of white vinegar
7 cups of water

Combine all the ingredients in a labeled spray bottle and shake well to mix. Do not use this in conjunction with chlorine bleach or where chlorine bleach has been used. Simply spray it on and then wipe with a damp sponge or cloth. No rinsing required.

Removing soap and scum buildup on glass shower doors is always tedious. Lemon oil or even plain old mineral oil will remove it quickly and easily, and will help to keep it from coming back. Apply the oil to a rough cloth, such as an old washcloth, and rub it across the dirty shower door surface. Next buff with a soft cloth or paper towels to provide a haze-free shine. The oil provides a protective coating that keeps the water beading and the soap scum from adhering. Never put oil or allow it to drip on the floor of the shower; this will prevent good traction in the shower and may cause someone to fall.

Put the shower curtain in the washing machine with 1 cup of white vinegar, 1⁄4 to 1⁄2 cup of your favorite liquid laundry detergent, and several old, light-colored towels. Fill the washer with warm water and run through complete wash and rinse cycle. Remove from the washer and hang on the shower rod immediately.

Fill a plastic sandwich bag with undiluted white vinegar. Tie this around the showerhead and leave overnight. In the morning, remove the bag, scrub the head with a brush, and it’s ready to use.

Put 1/2 cup of baking soda down the bathroom drain and follow with the vinegar from the plastic bag — great drain opener! Wait 30 minutes, then flush with water.

Use white vinegar on a cloth or sponge to remove water spots and soap scum. Dry and buff with a soft cloth. Rubbing alcohol is also a great spot remover. Apply, then dry and buff.

To shine chrome or any metal fixture in a hurry, use a used dryer fabric-softener sheet on a dry fixture.

Apply some lemon juice to chrome fixtures and buff with a soft cloth to a brilliant shine.

You can use this formula to remove hair spray residue from any hard surface — vanities, tile, floors, walls, etc. Mix a solution of 1⁄3 liquid fabric softener and 2⁄3 water in a spray bottle. Spray on the surface to be cleaned and wipe. Not only does it remove hair spray, it also acts as a dust repellent and shines vanities beautifully!

Mix 50 percent rubbing alcohol and 50 percent water in a spray bottle and use it to remove styling product residue.

Lay a sheet of aluminum foil over the decals and heat with a blow-dryer on high. Work up the edge of the decal with a dull straightedge (credit cards work great) and keep applying the heat as you pull. If the decal is stubborn, lay down the foil as necessary and heat well and peel again. To remove the residue, try petroleum jelly, denatured alcohol, or nail polish remover. Test these products in a small area first before applying.

HAIR TODAY: Dilute your shampoo and conditioner with water to save, save, save. No need to watch all that money go down the drain!

Plug the drain holes in the door track with a little bit of paper towel made into a ball. Pour in undiluted white vinegar. Let this soak for 30 minutes, unplug the holes, rinse the track with a spray bottle of water, and run a rag down it. This will flush the accumulated buildup out of the track.


If you have indoor plumbing, then you have to clean the toilet once in a while, whether you like it or not. Follow these tips and it will be a breeze:

Tang® Tune-up
To keep your toilet clean and your dog happy, put several tablespoons of Tang® Breakfast Drink in the toilet before you leave for work or at bedtime. Let it soak, use your toilet brush to swish around under the rim, and flush. The great thing about this is you don’t have to worry if the kids get into the toilet bowl cleaner.

Removing Hard-Water Rings

Shut off the water at the toilet tank and flush. Spray undiluted white vinegar around the inside of the toilet, then sprinkle borax onto the vinegar. Let soak about 30 minutes and then scrub with a piece of fine drywall sandpaper (looks like window screen — available at hardware stores and home centers). If you have an old hard-water ring, you may need to repeat this several times.

Plop-Plop-Fizz-Fizz Cleaning
Drop a couple of denture-cleaning tablets into the toilet and let sit overnight. Brush under the rim with your bowl brush and flush.

To clean stubborn stains from a toilet bowl, first shut off the water at the tank and flush the toilet to remove as much water as possible. Combine in a bucket:

1 tablespoon ammonia
1 cup of 3 percent hydrogen peroxide (drugstorevariety)
1 1/2 quarts water

Pour the solution in the toilet bowl and use a brush to apply it to the sides of the bowl. Let stand at least 30 minutes, then scrub the inside of the bowl with a scrub brush. Allow to remain in the toilet for up to several hours, reapplying the solution to the sides of the bowl frequently as needed. Do not use this with chlorine bleach or products that contain chlorine bleach. This solution cleans and disinfects.

Previously the owner of a cleaning and disaster-restoration business in Michigan, dealing with the aftermath of fires and floods, Linda Cobb, author of Talking Dirty With the Queen of Clean (Copyright © 1998 by Linda Cobb), started sharing her cleaning tips in a local newspaper column. After moving to Phoenix she became a weekly guest on Good Morning Arizona — then the product endorsements and requests for appearances started rolling in. A featured guest on radio and television shows across the country, Linda Cobb lives in Phoenix with her husband.



How to Become an Unclutterer

Scribbling “Be more organized” on a list of New Year’s resolutions doesn’t take much effort, but actually becoming an unclutterer requires change. Erin Rooney Doland, author of Unclutter Your Life in One Week, can help.

Unclutterer (un-’kl e-t er- er) n. Someone who chooses to get rid of the distractions that get in the way of a remarkable life.

Distractions, also known as clutter, come in many forms — physical, time management, mental, and bad systems. When your surroundings, schedule, and thoughts are chaotic, it’s hard to move through the day. If you’re constantly late to work because you’re having trouble getting out the door in the morning, then you may have a problem with organization. If your house is in such disarray that you can’t have friends over for dinner, then your problem is likely with physical clutter. If you are overwhelmed with e-mail at work and laundry at home, then you may be using bad processes. If you are repeatedly missing client deadlines, then you may need some time management help. The list of distractions is endless, and only you know specifically how clutter is interfering with your life. By getting rid of clutter and organizing your work and home life, you will free up time, space, and energy so that you can focus on what really matters to you.

As Albert Einstein explained, “Things should be made as simple as possible, but not any simpler.”

An unclutterer lives as simply as he or she can without making life difficult. For instance, I love books and devote an entire wall of my living room to them, but I don’t have more books than I can store on those shelves. You might enjoy television, but instead of being tied to the networks’ schedules, you record programs on your DVR and watch them when it is convenient for you. Simple living isn’t about depriving; it’s about enriching. You’re getting rid of what doesn’t belong to make room for what does.

The official unclutterer motto has been passed down from generation to generation by parents, teachers, and large purple dinosaurs: A place for everything, and everything in its place. Nothing in your home or office should be without a designated living space. Every pair of slacks should have a hanger and space in your closet to hang without getting wrinkled. Every pen in your office should have room in a cup or a container to rest easily when not in use. Think of it this way: If Oprah were to surprise you and say your home or office was going to be featured on her show, you shouldn’t have to run around tossing things into a box to get your space to look the way you want. When everything has a proper place, you never have to wonder where something is or think twice about where to put it when you’re done using it. This way of living might sound like a big change for you — it certainly was for me — but you’re totally capable of making it.

Why Change?
I can’t force you to become an unclutterer or go through the process for you, but I can give you the tools and information you’ll need to make it happen. You’re in control here, and you’re the one who is going to have to put in the elbow grease if you really want to make a change. The benefits of an organized life are so incredible, though, that all of the sweat you invest will be worth it.

If you think making changes in your life is difficult, you’re right. Considering an actual life-and-death situation, only one in ten Americans who has had heart bypass surgery changes his lifestyle to prevent future heart attacks. Most patients don’t adopt healthier lifestyles because they receive very limited information and minimal support about how to make positive changes. When patients are provided with resources and the opportunity to learn about the benefits of making significant changes to their lives, the statistic improves from 10 percent to 77 percent. Almost eight out of ten people will make significant changes to the way they live if given the proper motivation and information for success.

So why am I talking about the grim realities of bypass surgery patients in a book on organizing? Good question. I mentioned these statistics because change of any kind — the life-and-death kind and the not-so-doom-threatening kind — is difficult. Scribbling “Be more organized” on a list of New Year’s resolutions doesn’t take much effort, but actually becoming an unclutterer requires change.

Unclutter Your Life in One Week will be your support system and resource manual as you go through the process of uncluttering and organizing your life. Since I’m taking care of giving you the tools, you’re going to have to supply the second ingredient of success: motivation. You need to determine why you want to make a change. What is it that will drive you to keep working even when you’re struggling?

Close your eyes for a minute, take deep breaths, and let your mind fill with all the things that make you happy. I know it sounds silly, but do it anyway. Relax and focus on the good things in life.

What came into your mind? Did you see the faces of your friends and family? What were you doing? Where were you? Why did these things bring you happiness?

Now make a list of those things that came into your mind. Group items on your list that belong in the same overarching category. Family, friends, hobbies, personal time, good health, career, vacationing, and spirituality are common groups of items, but your list will be unique to your life. Also, no one but you is going to pay attention to this list, so be honest with yourself — don’t list what you think you should list, identify what really makes you happy. This list is your motivation. These items are the reasons you want to become an unclutterer. This list is a reminder to you of what matters most in your life.

Take your list and put it somewhere easily accessible. Fold it up and put it in your wallet or tape it to the dashboard of your car. There will be times when you’re ready to give up on the process and looking at this list will quickly remind you why you’re making a change. This is the life you want.

One of the things on my list is travel. I want to drink wine in Bordeaux, ski the Alps in Switzerland, and photograph elephants in Thailand. To make these trips, I have to save my money and be able to clear my calendar on short notice. Budgeting my finances and juggling my work responsibilities require scheduling, time management, and planning. The more organized and uncluttered my life is, the easier it is for me to be able to travel. Experiencing the world firsthand is a powerful motivator, and so is time with my husband, family, and friends, and being able to accomplish the other items on my list. Do a bit of soul searching and figure out what and who matter most to you. What is it you wish you could do more often or with improved quality?

Work-Life Symbiosis
When people talk about what matters most and what they hope to achieve through the uncluttering process, I often hear responses that include the phrase “work-life balance.” People need to work, but they want to balance that need for income with a rich personal life.

“Work-life balance” is just a buzz phrase in the business world. As far as I can tell, it exists for the sole purpose of making people feel bad. We hear the phrase “work-life balance” and like Pavlov’s dog we’re triggered into thinking, “Ugh, if only I had work-life balance! I would be happy if I had work-life balance! It sounds so dreamy!”

Um, it’s not dreamy — it’s bullshit.

Seriously, do you want your work life to sit in perfect balance with your personal life? Do you want to be at work the exact same amount of time as your free time? (And, don’t forget, you spend a good portion of that free time sleeping.) Since there are 168 hours in a week, you would need to work 84 hours to keep things in “balance.” To keep things equal, you wouldn’t have time to enjoy the money you would be making.

Put aside the numbers for a minute and think only about the quality of your work. My guess is that you draw from experiences in your personal life to help solve problems in your work life. You remember something you encountered when you weren’t at your office or from your past and it helps to spur an idea that advances your work. You can’t flip a switch and immediately stop being Personal You when you’re in the office fulfilling the role of Employee You. You’re one person, not two, and you can’t be balanced.

Stop feeling inadequate about not having “work-life balance” and accept the fact that it is unachievable and undesirable. Instead, aim for something you can attain and enjoy: work-life symbiosis.

Work-life symbiosis is what you achieve when all aspects of your life exist together harmoniously. It’s as crucial to your achieving a remarkable life as simplifying, organizing, managing your time, uncluttering, maintaining your ideal level of productivity, and exploring your personal interests. In fact, the work-life symbiosis concept is the basis of how this book is organized. Explore a week of your life and see how you can smoothly transition from personal life to work life and back again. Arrive at work on time. Go hear your friend’s band play on a weeknight. Fall asleep without a stream of to-do items for work the next day racing through your mind.

As you continue to create your list of what matters most and your vision of your remarkable life, keep this big-picture perspective of work-life symbiosis in mind. Avoid the buzz phrase, and decide what is most important — truly important — to you.

Erin Rooney Doland, author of Unclutter Your Life in One Week: A 7-Day Plan to Organize Your Home, Your Office, and Your Life! (Copyright © 2009 by Erin Doland), is an organization consultant and the Editor-in-Chief of, a popular website that has been featured in The Washington Post, The New York Times, Slate, House Beautiful,, and on the BBC and HGTV. She is a twice-weekly columnist for Real Simple online, and has written for Ready Made, Women’s Day, and, among others. She lives in the Washington, D.C., area with her husband.



5 Top Fashion Mistakes Women Make and How to Avoid Them

How NOT to dress. Clinton Kelly, cohost of TLC’s popular show What Not to Wear and author of Oh No She Didn’t, pokes fun at five common fashion and style “don’ts” and, because he loves you, presents easy alternatives. From his book Oh No She Didn’t: The Top 100 Style Mistakes Women Make and How to Avoid Them.

Is your tracksuit cool? Are you sure? Take this quiz and find out!

You are wearing a tracksuit at this very moment and . . .

  • You are J.Lo. (Add 10 points.)
  • You are in the Mob. (Add 10 points.)
  • You are fitness-walking in the mall and you are over the age of sixty-five. (Add 3 points.)
  • The tracksuit is velour. (Subtract 2 points.)
  • The tracksuit is vinyl. (Subtract 2 points.)
  • The tracksuit is pink velour with a word on the ass and you are older than seventeen. (Subtract 375 points.)

0 to 23 points. Your tracksuit is acceptable. Congratulations!

-2 to 0 points. Here’s the thing about tracksuits: If they’re made of nylon, you obviously think you’re living in a different decade. If they’re velour, you’ve been brainwashed into thinking this is an acceptable casual look for women. I can pretty much guarantee that the manufacturers of such tracksuits are laughing at you — all the way to the bank. (I’ll give girls under the age of seventeen a little leeway here because you’re not old enough to know you’re being brainwashed.) In general, if you’re not in the actual process of working out, tracksuits make you look lazy, out of touch, or like some wannabe pop star. Try upgrading to jeans and a casual jacket.

Less than -2 points. You lose.


Let me begin by stating that I strongly support a woman’s right not to shave any part of her body if she so chooses; however, exercising that right should qualify you for mandatory military service. But that’s beside the point.

For the love of all things holy, if you have not shaved your legs in a month, do not, under any circumstances, wear sheer hose! There are few things in the world as revolting as the sight of what appear to be a thousand tapeworms squished between a woman’s legs and her stockings. Go opaque or go home. Better yet, use some kind of depilatory! And I hope all you drag queens and trannies out there are paying attention. Man up, and shave those damn gams. You too, Mo’Nique.


Manufacturing counterfeit products is unconscionable, because it’s stealing and it’s illegal. People who sell these fakes make me angry, and people who buy them have my sympathy. Yes, sympathy.

If you think that carrying a fake designer bag is going to make you more fabulous, your priorities are incredibly screwed up. That ill-applied label only tells the world you’re ashamed of yourself for not being able to afford the real thing. If you can’t afford an Hermès bag, who the hell cares? There are plenty of gorgeous, reasonably priced bags in the world, just waiting to be bought and carried with pride and style.

Sure, it sucks when someone else has the money to buy what you want, whether it’s a bag or a car or a house or a swimming pool or a trophy husband. But that doesn’t give you the right to steal profits from Hermès or Gucci or Prada or even Kate Spade.


Wherever your boobs rest naturally is just fine, and I hope you love them.

I will tell you, however, that pendulous breasts don’t look so good in clothes and that’’s because clothes aren’t constructed to accommodate a bust that hits the belly button. Clothes are designed on dress forms. Where is the bust on a dress form? About halfway between the shoulder and the elbow. (I know dress forms don’t have elbows, smarty-pants. Try to imagine where the elbow would be.)

So, if you want clothes to fit you better, it would behoove you to hoist your boobies up to that general position. You could have a doctor do that for you. Or you could try an absolutely incredible new product! It’s called . . . a good bra.

How do you get a good bra? You go to a professional bra fitter, not the sixteen-year-old who works at a lingerie shop in the mall after school.

Most women I’ve worked with discover after a professional bra fitting that they are smaller in the band and bigger in the cup than they had thought. This is usually a welcome discovery, because if a bra fits better under the bust, the band can do the vast majority of the bra’s work, rather than the straps. This will result in a more comfortable fit. If your bra is sliding down your rib cage, even just a little, the straps are forced to hold up the boobs. That means they’ll be more likely to dig into your shoulders and cause fatigue.

Even when you know your bra size, you should try on a bra in a store before you buy it — especially if you’re buying a different brand. There’s no government office that regulates bra fit, so a 36DD in one brand or style might fit you, while a 34DDD in another might be the best choice.

Please, please, please . . . for the sake of fit and silhouette, give the girls a lift! They could use a little pick-me-up, and so could you:

1…2…3…4… Get your boobies off the floor!

5…6…7…8… Now’s the time to elevate!


Truly chic women have an air of mystery about them. They create and maintain the illusion that they roll out of bed looking perfect, even if their appearance is more engineered than a Dubai skyscraper.

Ladies, don’t divulge your beauty secrets — any of them. Beautiful people have their blackheads squeezed, their colons irrigated, and their ear wax candled. But they don’t let any Tom, Dick, or Harry watch. The same rule applies to curling your eyelashes while you’re on the bus, applying lipstick at the dinner table, or powdering your forehead in the lunchroom. It’s gross. It’s rude. And it’s beneath you. They put mirrors in bathrooms for a reason — use them.

P.S. If I look in my rearview mirror and see you applying makeup while driving your car at 60 m.p.h., I will intentionally slam on my breaks. So watch yourself, sister.


Clinton Kelly is the cohost of TLC’s popular show What Not to Wear, a spokesperson for Macy’s, and a motivational speaker who has successfully talked thousands of women out of stirrup pants. He has worked as an editor at several noted fashion publications, including Marie Claire and Mademoiselle. In his book Oh No She Didn’t: The Top 100 Style Mistakes Women Make and How to Avoid Them (Copyright © 2010 by Clinton Kelly), Clinton points out the hundreds of fashion mistakes women most commonly make and describes how to fix them.



Shoes Always Set the Tone for an Outfit

Clinton Kelly, cohost of TLC’s popular show What Not to Wear and author of Oh No She Didn’t, explains this fashion truth and offers advice on shoe repair, commuter shoes, and more.

Look, I don’t know how much information your brain can accommodate, but I need you to clear out a little gray matter for the following concept:

The shoe always, always, ALWAYS sets the tone for an outfit.

Think about that for a minute. It’s deep. It’s the reason nuns don’t wear stilettos and strippers don’t wear orthopedic shoes.

You could be sporting a five-hundred-dollar haircut, flawless skin, an Italian silk blouse, a fierce Dolce & Gabbana pencil skirt, and a diamond the size of Rhode Island, but if you do it wearing chewed-up, gnarly heels, people will think you’re a slacker. Seriously, I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve seen women wearing shoes well past their expiration date, and there’s this sloppy, careless vibe that clings to them. It’s a little like, “I sleep on a mattress without sheets, I have Chinese food in my refrigerator that’s older than Miley Cyrus, and the backseat of my car is filled with empty Big Gulps and ketchup packets.”

Sometimes shoes can be repaired and sometimes they can’t. The best way to find out is by visiting your friendly local cobbler. Mine’s a peach! Going forward, if you know you’re going to put a lot of mileage on a pair of shoes, bring them to the shoe repair shop before you wear them and ask for heel protectors or heel taps to be added. A very small investment of time and money will add months — maybe years — to the life of your shoes.

On a related note, I’m a big fan of the commuter shoe when executed properly. Your office shoes should be fabulous, but wearing exquisite crocodile pumps on the train, subway, and across five city blocks doesn’t make a ton of sense. Buy yourself a shoe bag and carry your good shoes with you in a tote. Not only will the shoe bag protect the shoe, it will prevent contamination of the contents of your commuter tote. While you’re traveling to work, wear something more comfortable — but still cute — like a ballet flat, a wedge, or a boot. You’ll notice I did not suggest sneakers, and that’s because they look really stupid with a skirt or a suit. And if you need evidence of that, it’s time for you to watch Working Girl again.

Clinton Kelly is the cohost of TLC’s popular show What Not to Wear, a spokesperson for Macy’s, and a motivational speaker who has successfully talked thousands of women out of stirrup pants. He has worked as an editor at several noted fashion publications, including Marie Claire and Mademoiselle. In his book Oh No She Didn’t: The Top 100 Style Mistakes Women Make and How to Avoid Them (Copyright © 2010 by Clinton Kelly), Clinton points out the hundreds of fashion mistakes women most commonly make and describes how to fix them.



How to Fake a Pair of Louboutins: Inexpensive Fashion Tips

Style secrets for looking fabulous without spending a lot of money, from J. Alexander, America’s Next Top Model judge and author of Follow the Model: Miss J’s Guide to Unleashing Presence, Poise, and Power

If you don’t have a whole lot of money but still want to look fabulous, spray painting your heels different colors to keep on matching them with different clothing options really does work, especially if your dress or outfit can distract the eye away from the shoe as much as possible. You know, in case some nosy friend wants to examine them up close. You’ll save a small fortune, even if it is only a temporary option. Another way to make your heels appear especially high-end is to simply paint the bottoms of them red so they look like Christian Louboutins. Why pay $1,200 for a pair of shoes when that’s rent and groceries for a month in most towns? You can also use nail polish to decorate an old pair of heels with new patterns or designs. Let yourself go crazy. Chloë Sevigny once wore thick kitchen rubber bands on a pair of simple pumps as a fashion accessory and it got written up in Vogue as a trend item, so you never know what’s going to be a surprise hit. Just follow your fashion instincts and, most important, have fun. Also, remember that when you first try on a pair of high heels, you’re usually walking on a store’s carpeted floor. Make sure to practice on hard surfaces inside your own home before you debut them, and baby-proof any sharp corners!

J. Alexander, the author of Follow the Model: Miss J’s Guide to Unleashing Presence, Poise, and Power (Copyright © 2009 by Alexander Jenkins), has traveled around the world casting and coaching models for countless top designers. Now he is a television personality well-known for his work as a runway coach and judge on America’s Next Top Model.