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Although I've been an eBayer forever, my year of cutting back and my growing consciousness of how much we collectively waste has made me even more in love with eBay as a source for building my wardrobe and refining my style. 

Many people are scared of eBay and in some ways that benefits me because I have less competition when bidding on things I love. However, it is my mission to convince you that your style will improve if you start shopping on eBay, combined with some thoughtful planning and training yourself to have the restraint to wait for the right piece. Here are six things that I always buy on eBay, and will likely do so forevermore:

#1 That thing you should have bought and can't stop thinking about 

Reverse buyer's regret is a real thing. I'd be lying if I said I haven't spent time pining over things I passed on, then went back to buy and they were already gone. 

For example, these J.Crew cage heels. They are fabulous and I should have bought them years ago but they sold out before I could make up my mind. Since then, I've stalked them on eBay and when they finally came up in my size I  pounced on them. With the added benefit of being a fraction of the price new, and the time-tested confidence that buying them would not be a mistake.

Think about that thing you passed on, got a substitute that was never quite right. I bet you can find it on eBay with a little patience. My favorite time for searching these things are when I am in situations when I need to occupy my mind / kill time, such as Sunday Night Football events.

#2 Classic designer handbags 

I'll never buy these new because eBay has them aplenty, at practical prices by highly rated sellers who offer authenticity guarantees. Doing my research on the best bags and refining it down to the best choice is the hard part. Right now, I'm  good on the handbag front but when I'm ready to make an upgrade eBay will be where I get it.

#3 Anything by your favorite designer or retailer

There are a few designers that I love to source on eBay. When you already know you love a particular brand, it's pretty fail-safe to buy pieces from those brands on eBay because you're already familiar with sizing, fit and quality. Many of my favorite items from Vince, Isabel Marant and Vanessa Bruno are from eBay.

#4 Foreign brands that are hard to get locally

Transit and COS are two of my favorite European brands that are next to impossible to find in the US, so I hunt them on eBay to cure my need to shop. 

#5 Investment shoes 

You can get better quality and more beautiful shoes for the same price or less than what you're paying for a cheap equivalent on eBay. It's important to try on a few pairs of shoes by a particular brand first to get familiar with your size (especially if it is in IT or EU). I'd be lying if I said there weren't a few sales ladies at Nordstrom who were verrrrrry disappointed to see me walk away from $800 shoes to "think about it" (a.k.a. hunt it on the 'Bay).

#6 Fine jewelry

Just like upping the quality of your bags and shoes, you can have nicer jewelry for what you may be paying retail for cheap costume pieces. Buy confidently from a highly rated seller backed by eBay's customer satisfaction policy (which is similar to Amazon). I've gotten a 14k gold chain and sterling silver garnet earrings for a fraction of what they would cost retail. The garnet earrings were particularly satisfying, because I was almost talked into a pair of overpriced ones while traveling. (I think people are willing to spend a premium when traveling to have the ability to snobbishly declare: "Oh these? I got them in Praaaaague because I am cultured and worldly and fancy.") Rather than spend $275 on a pair to be able to make this statement, I got mine on eBay for like $20. And they remind me of the inspiration I found in Prague, and that I didn't get shaken down by the savvy jeweler next to my Airbnb.

To my fellow eBay lovers: what is missing from this list? 

To my hesitant, future eBay loving readers: what's holding you back?

(Special thanks to Becky Howe for the photo of me staring at my cage heels in wonderment.)

The book rumored to have inspired Bill Gates to drop out of Harvard to start his own venture was Charles Haanel's The Master Key System, a series of lessons originally published in 1912 that prescribe a way of thinking  that drives successful outcomes through a focus on harmonious principles, and the ability to concentrate. It is hands-down the best book I've read in years, and has reframed how I think about creative power, positive thinking, time efficiency, health, mental ability and capacity to concentrate.

For those of you not addicted to self-help books yet intrigued by mind control tactics, below is a summary of the takeaways for your reading pleasure slash consideration for improving your own life:

#1 Almost everything about you and your life is a direct product of your thoughts

Your past reactions to external situations, responses to other people, choices on what to put in your body, and control over your mind has led you to your current body and health, lifestyle, relationships, career and overall happiness.

This is a simple concept, but a hard one to accept. However, it sank in for me when I thought about the most challenging times I've had in my life and realized how I'd mostly created them myself by dwelling in a negative mindset, allowing impulses to become actions and ultimately bad choices. It's so much easier to blame external forces, rather than considering how much control I truly have over every aspect of my life.

On the flip side, the most wonderful experiences I've had resulted from positive thoughts, enabling my desires to become actions and ultimately the exactly right choices that led me to my goals.

#2 Your ability to think about HOW you think is the secret to greatness

And the secret to abundant possibility. Taking time to consider why you're thinking in a certain way enables you to adjust your thought pattern. Positive thoughts lead to productivity, and you have the power to program your mind to focus only on those positive, productive thoughts and learn to tune out negative, unproductive thoughts regardless of what internal or external factors trigger them. However, it takes discipline to think about your own mind objectively, which is why most people haven't mastered control of their minds.

Practicing on my own mind, I realized that many of my negative thoughts stem from insecurities and fear. Thinking logically about how my negative thought patterns were unproductive has helped me tremendously. I've started to recognize when they're simmering and have learned to shut them down quickly to pave the way for productive thoughts.

#3 All thought is creative, and every single thought produces some kind of reaction or action

Haanel gives the great example of how thoughts can trigger physical reactions on our bodies. Laughter, tears, and chills are examples we're all familiar with, and can agree that our own thoughts produce these reactions. He takes it a step further with examples of how our thoughts can influence health, that prolonged negative thinking produces actions and reactions that stress our bodies and can lead to disease. Although this isn't a secret (doctors have linked common diseases to lifestyle choices, which of course are driven by thoughts), it's sort of astonishing to think that your body has a physical reaction to your thoughts.

So if we're in agreement that our thoughts can influence our bodies, it's also logical that our thoughts can influence our external environment. For me, I think about how my thoughts led me to walk into an open house all the way to selecting paint colors and filling it with my things. Having a vision in my mind, combined with the positive conviction that my vision would become reality, created a home that I now love out of an ugly-with-good-bones house. We can all think of examples where we've had a vision that we turned to reality out of pure excitement. Haanel suggests that training our minds to apply vision and concentration towards whatever we desire will lead to successful outcomes.

#4 The fastest way to fail to allow negative thoughts to take hold in your mind

If all thought is creative, then negative thought will create negative experiences and repeated, prolonged negative thought will drive you backwards. This is sort of common sense, but something that I never really actively considered. Thinking back to the times in my life when I allowed negative thinking to take hold, I realized that it manifested problems in almost everything about me. The condition of my skin, propensity to get sick, likelihood of a failed date, willingness to engage in an argument, etc. were directly related to my mindset.

Thoughts stemming in anger, jealously, self-pity, helplessness, fear and other negative emotions hold us back, and we have the power to consciously choose to let those thoughts go - and, more importantly - never let them take hold from the start.

#5 We are all connected to a greater mind

There's a passage in the book about the concept of a "Universal Mind" - it's not religious, or philosophical, or scientific - it's just a suggestion that there is a common, universal set of intelligent principles that guide the human progress and are rooted in positive, productive thought. Haanel argues that every successful human being to walk the Earth has in some form or another subscribed to these principles in order to drive their development.

I read this while sitting in the Starbucks at O'Hare, and had this odd realization that the concept of Starbucks started in a human mind and inspired thoughts in other human minds and then exploded into a reality that touches millions of people every hour of every day (and also started a global pumpkin spice trend that sort of scares me). Same thing goes for the concept of communicating via telephony, traveling through the air in a metal tube, selling products via the internet, conducting business on personal computers, breaking a host of colonies free from Great Britain to start America, etc.

In summary, our capacity to align all of our thoughts to positive, intelligent principles and develop a vision on which to concentrate our thoughts is the "master key" to all success. 

Thanks for reading this far, and I hope you'll pick up this book if you're intrigued to learn more on the theory behind these principles. I'm off to go practice mind control, would love to hear your thoughts on this in the comments!

For some reason, weddings make me overthink my outfits. I think it's the feeling of someone else's judgmental aunt sizing me up in front of the shrimp platter that leads to self-doubt and paranoia over dress code references on invitations. It shouldn't be that way, but it's part of the wedding tradition, right up there with picking China patterns and listening to the maid of honor talk about the couple-in-question as if no one in the room has ever experienced love before.

Over the past several years, I've been to enough weddings to realize that there are some basic formulas to hitting the dress code expectations while still being true to your own style. I've also realized there are really only three types of wedding dress codes, or three "levels" of dressiness with the most stringent being black tie, then formal, and finally cocktail which I designate as "anywhere you would have a cocktail" which could include anything from a boat to a tailgate. 

Here are the formulas that I've employed in dressing for each of those levels of wedding dressiness this year using things already in my closet.

#1 What to wear to a black tie wedding

The above photo is what I wore to my friend Alyssa's black tie wedding in NYC. It's a simple black ballgown skirt with a silk / cotton blend blouse and nude heels, a combination that I landed on by considering the question "What would Jenna Lyons wear?" while perusing my closet. 

Jenna would not wear Rent the Runway. Instead, she would wear something undeniably fancy, with an unexpectedly understated piece, in simple colors. Black tie doesn't necessitate a gown or a full-length skirt, but it does require a key element of your outfit to be fancy enough to not be upstaged by your date's cumber bun. What, might you ask, are pieces that compete with cumber buns? Think ball gown skirts, feathered dresses, beaded blouses, tailored tuxedo pants, and anything taffeta. If you've got that key piece, the other elements can be simple and even unexpected to keep the look true to your style. 

#2 What to wear to a formal wedding

This is my favorite type of wedding dress code, because it still requires you to be fancy but with less stringent guidelines than black tie. Meaning, it's more fun! With a formal dress code, I can find ways to make my cage heels appropriate such as pairing them with a vintage red silk dress I picked up for $10 at my local Logan Square thrift store (there used to be a gold metal seashell sewn on the bodice, and chopping it off with a pair of nail scissors was the only "tailoring" necessary). 

When dressing for a formal wedding, I think of what fabulous people wear to an art gallery opening and dress accordingly. You want to look classy, with a twist. Look for items that keep your shoulders or knees covered, and add spice with accessories.

#3 What to wear to a cocktail wedding

A cocktail dress code is more casual, and the perfect opportunity to wear a matchy-matchy silk pantsuit like the one below. Or, that amazing embroidered pencil skirt that's been sitting in the back of your closet for four years because you're not sure how to style it. Or, that basic little black dress you've had forever with a pair of bold shoes. Shorter hemlines, bare shoulders, fancy flats and other indicators of comfort fair game. I like to imagine what flappers of West Egg wore to Gatsby's parties and dress accordingly.

I think the most difficult variations on these three levels of wedding attire are seasonal: what to wear to a black tie wedding in winter is a harder question (with the answer always including "add a fur stole"), as are the variations tied to the odd disclaimers added to cocktail attire wedding invitations intended to control weird relatives (such as "no jeans" which should be obvious to all invitees but then seeds doubt in your mind as you imagine your silk pantsuit dancing to Stevie Wonder, completely out of place in a sea of bedazzled Wrangler jeans).

Any thoughts on wedding attire rules that I've missed? And tips on dressing for winter weddings? I'd love to hear your thoughts on what to wear to a wedding while still honoring your personal style.

Vintage stores have kept me from dropping out of my challenge to not buy anything new for a year, and it is about time that I wrote an ode to my undying love of everything vintage. Whether you're currently an aficionado of legitimate grandma clothing or not, I guarantee you that spending 25 minutes browsing through the racks of a great vintage shop will lead you to some great discoveries (and soul searching about what's in your closet that would pass the test of time in the same way).

Without further ado, here are my top five things to hunt for on your next vintage shopping spree:

#1 Statement jewelry

Although I wear the same simple gold and silver fine jewelry almost every day, occasionally mixing it up with statement pieces is something that I love to do - and nearly all of my statement jewelry is vintage because it's affordable, unique and timeless. Every time I browse through a display of vintage jewelry, I'm amazed at how the same trends reappear decade after decade.

The key is to look for pieces that are a little offbeat, but still look and feel like a quality item. Avoid plastic pieces and tarnished metals and instead hunt for enamel, Lucite, glass, and natural materials like amber, stone and even bone.

When I was in Prague, I found an amazing carved bone bead necklace for $60 that became the perfect piece to wear with a simple long maxi skirt or spice up a tee shirt and pair of jeans. 

#2 Silk scarves

There's a store in the Wicker Park neighborhood of Chicago (called Una Mae's for local readers) that is my secret source of silk scarves: they have a $5 bin that has fed my collection for a few years now and I get more use out of a silk scarf than most things in my closet: I use them for a wide range of purposes including spicing up a basic black crew neck, to tying my hair back, packing statement jewelry into pretty rolls in my suitcase, and tying around my wrist or to my tote to add a little je ne sais quoi!

Key is to look for 100% silk in crisp colors, without fading or stains. Avoid polyester - they don't look nearly as nice when tied, and they snag!

#3 Leather and fur pieces

There is no better source for affordable, sustainable 100% leather and natural fur than your local purveyor of vintage clothing. My absolute favorite leather pencil skirt is vintage, and it is one of the top pieces in my fall and winter wardrobe. (And, it was less than $20.) For years, I've lusted for a shearling fall coat but couldn't bring myself to spend $2,000 on one. This summer, I found the perfect one at my local vintage shop in Logan Square… for $19. That's right, folks, a 100% suede and shearling coat for literally 1% of the cost to buy it new. (OK, and $30 to have it professionally cleaned, if I'm being honest.)

#4 Quality blazers

Nothing irritates me more than a cheap blazer. There is just no need to own a cheap, polyester, ill-fitting and overpriced blazer when there are literally oodles of 100% wool, silk, and linen ones with beautiful pearl and tortoise buttons just waiting to be discovered on the racks of a treasure trove of old used clothing.

My absolute favorite blazer is a black wool and silk blend that surely cost some cute grandma a lot of money back in the day, but with a little spare cash and some tailoring it is like my second skin for work. Definitely competes with my run-of-the-mill collection of Brooks Brothers suit blazers.

#5 Boots

My addiction to all things vintage started in college, back at the BEST of the BEST vintage stores in Champaign, IL (shout out to Ivanka and call to action in making sure this place still exists…) called Dandelion Vintage. There, I found the most amazing pair of eel skin cowboy boots that are still my favorite nearly 9 years later and earn me compliments from fashionistas and respect from cowboys everywhere. The fact that I bought them on my college budget says all there needs to be said.

Again, looking for leather and quality construction is the key.

Ok, that's all I have for you this week. Would love to hear about any of your top vintage finds and anything that's missing from this list!

(Special thanks to Becky Howe for these fascinating photos of me perusing old clothing...)

The feeling of "closet full of clothes but nothing to wear" used to curse me: I'd find myself standing in my closet, combing through the hangers, trying things on only to toss them on the floor while feeling like I needed to go out to buy something to solve the issue.

In the process of dialing back over the past several months, I started noticing that the pieces that I wear the most have a few characteristics in common:

#1 They're almost all neutral in color (navy, black, cream, white, olive, pale pink)

One of the reasons I gravitate towards neutrals is because I love to wear bold shoes, bags and jewelry. Basic neutral clothing goes with nearly every color and metallic tone, and has the power to balance unusual tailoring, a wild accessory, or hot pink lipstick. 

#2 Each piece has either a simple, slightly oversize cut, or has been tailored so it fits me really well

A simple cut means that a piece will stay relevant longer, and oversize means that it will be comfortable and have the ability to layer. The pieces I've had tailored (including jeans, believe it or not) are by default the most flattering, so obviously will continue to be pulled from the masses of other just-not-quite-right items.

#3 They're conservative, even if slightly offbeat

When I first started working at 22, I remember going out with my friends in a (fabulous) white (short) dress and subsequently bumping into someone from work. Immediately, I second-guessed my hemline and exposed shoulders and spent the next few months purging my wardrobe of college-era items and replacing them with pieces that needed to pass the test of "Would I be OK if I ran into my boss while wearing this?" That experience was a just-in-time reminder that my outfit choices send messages, and I wanted them to be positive and classy. Since then, the only "sexy" thing about my outfits have been my smile, wit and charm. (And occasionally shoes, but only with long hemlines, of course.)

#4 They tend to either look expensive, or truly were more expensive than other items in my closet

Neutrals in general tend to look more expensive, but pieces that exude investment are ones that are made of high quality fabrics and construction. Natural fabrics like silk, cotton, linen, wool and leather always look amazing if you take good care of them. My small collection of Vince silk blouses have been part of my wardrobe for years, and earn a lot of compliments. Buying them up on sale, in multiple cuts and colors, was one of the best wardrobe investments I made! A black wool Transit Par Such car coat bought at a D.C. consignment shop for $75 has been a staple in my fall/winter wardrobe since 2012.

#5 Almost every piece is versatile, with the ability to be dressed up or down

Versatility is actually a pretty easy quality to assess in a garment if you put a little bit of extra thought into it. Considering if a blouse or sweater would work with a suit, a pair of skinny jeans, a leather skirt, etc. and imagining it in your mind can help to quickly suss out a piece that will collect dust. If I had put this filter on most of my purchases in the past 5 years, I would have saved thousands. THOUSANDS! (Enter post on financial education that came a little later than ideal...)

Recognizing that there was a pattern to the items I wore consistently led me to start taking the time to identify each of these foundation items in my wardrobe (and donate the items that couldn't compete). It's actually very easy to proactively build outfits around these foundation pieces, because they're such a cohesive group that not only play well together, but also with my accessories. 

In previous posts, I've mentioned how taking iPhone documentation helps, and I'll repeat that again: the pictures in this post were pulled from my iPhone archive, and I used these reference photos to pack for a weekend trip to NYC and wore each outfit a couple of times this spring and summer! 

If you follow my Instagram account, you may have seen a post about my recent move. My new closet is about half the size of the one I left behind, a closet that Old Colleen would have abhorred and forced her husband to give up his closet to accommodate. Fortunately, I see this as a much-needed constraint that will help fuel my journey to a more minimalist wardrobe (and life). I'm currently in the process of ruthlessly cutting my wardrobe down to these foundation pieces only. When I'm done with this year of cutting back, anything new that I purchase will need to displace or upgrade an existing foundation element - meaning that I'll have to be extremely thoughtful in any and all investments.

That's all for now! Thank you for reading, I'd love to hear your thoughts on the key staples in your closet and any ideas on how to maximize space in my small closet while I'm in the process of pruning!

One of the things I really struggled with in my career, especially when first starting out, was figuring out how to handle all of the different personalities and communication styles. It took me a long time to learn that the only person I could control was me, and that often I was part of the problem. (Unbelievable!)

Realizing that I was not as lovable and easy to deal with as I thought led me to search for a way to change my prognosis. Learning to think more strategically about my interactions changed the game for me. Almost everything I learned came from one of the best-selling self-help books of all time, thanks to the practical and easy-to-apply advice. 
Dale Carnegie's "How to Win Friends and Influence People" was originally published in 1936, and I've been amazed at how effective the advice is eight decades later. After testing it out for myself over the past year, I've been equally amazed at how every step in this book seems to be "common sense," yet so few people seem to take those steps (myself included, prior to reading it).

You know that old adage that 80% of success in a job is your ability to deal with people? Applying the tips from this book proved to me it's true not just for the workplace, but for life in general. For those of you who don't sit in airports with your Kindle for several hours every week, I've synthesized Carnegie's tips below.

#1 Be genuinely interested in other people

If you want others to enjoy your company, you must enjoy theirs. This means develop real friendships. Ask questions. Get to know people. Remember their names! Encourage others to talk about themselves. Let the other person do a great deal of the talking. This one was a struggle for me, so I started focusing on asking continued follow up questions and it's amazing how much you can get to know about someone when you just ask. My friend Jocelyn told me that when she first started interviewing, her dad told her: "If you walk out of there and they did most of the talking, you've got it." It's so true! 

#2 Give people honest appreciation

Sigmund Freud argued that almost everything that we do stems from a desire to be important. Instilling in others a feeling of being appreciated is the fastest way to feed that desire to be important, and most people are starving for that feeling.

Carnegie notes that giving honest appreciation should not be confused with flattery, which is insincere. Genuine appreciation is specific, and true. The person receiving it can sense the difference.

#3 Talk in terms of the other person's interests

With the exception of your friends and family, most people don't really care what you want. They care about their own interests, what they want and need. Re-frame your interactions to consider what the other person wants, and figure out how to tie up what you want with what they want. This is sort of Sales 101 but works in so many different settings, because it makes the other person happy to do what you suggest.

#4 Give people a fine reputation to live up to

In addition to some of the basics of making people feel like they matter (such as learning and remembering their names), Carnegie suggests that you make the effort to give people a fine reputation to live up to, meaning that you treat them according to their ideal reputation. When someone makes you feel like you're the best-of-the-best, you feel the need to prove them right.

When I was in eighth grade, my language arts teacher pulled me aside after class to talk. She must have sensed how awkward I felt, too skinny with big feet, a bowl cut, glasses, and braces;  entrenched in decidedly uncool hobbies that required me to lug around a violin case and a toolbox of all my paint supplies. She told me that I was smart, and someday that would be cool - and told me she would place me in the advanced language arts track for high school if I committed to continuing to work as hard as I did in her class. That conversation that she probably doesn't remember kept me going for years.

#5 Begin all conversations in a friendly way

Even when those are tough conversations or discussions. As Lincoln said, "A drop of honey catches more flies than a gallon of gall." I've personally tested this one on tough clients and even at the airport.

Once, I mistakenly booked my return flight from Nice to Chicago for the wrong day (!) and realized it at the airport. British Airways was in the middle of a strike, and the line at the check-in counter was filled with angry travelers. I approached the counter of an extremely agitated agent, and said to him in Kindergarten-level French: "Hello! I need to change my flight. It is all my fault, I booked for the wrong day. You have so many other concerns right now, and I am so sorry to be another bother to you! If it will take too much of your time to fix my mistake, I understand."

Beaming, he replied in English: "No problem at all! Let me see what I can do for you!" I flew home an hour later, in first class. (And wrote to British Airways thanking that agent by name.)

#6 Don't criticize, condemn or complain

At least when at work, or in public. When something isn't going your way, pause instead of allowing your negative impulses to take over. Make an honest attempt to understand where the other person is coming from, and why they do what they do. Finding a way to see things from the other person's point of view helps to diagnose their bad behavior and potentially resolve the problem. Remember that criticism, condemnation, and complaints are essentially unproductive - nothing kills ambition to change faster than these three.

#7 Assume positive intent 

In contrast to criticizing, condemning or complaining, assuming positive intent and appealing to nobler motives will never, ever fail. This is one of the hardest to do, but one of the most effective. Carnegie gives so many examples of daily interactions we can improve by drilling this assumption into our subconscious minds.

#8 Understand that you can never, ever "win" an argument

The only way to win one is to avoid it entirely. When someone disagrees with you, don't argue. Instead, follow Dale's tried-and-true steps based on Socrates' 'yes' method:

  1. Welcome the disagreement

Express thanks that it was brought to your attention. Acknowledge that the disagreement may be an opportunity for you to prevent or correct a serious mistake.

  1. Distrust your instinctive first impression

Which is to become defensive. This is another area that I struggled with for far too long. Be careful, control your temper, stay calm, and quiet your first reaction. They say you can measure the size of a person by what makes him angry.

  1. Listen first

Give whomever is disagreeing with you a chance to speak, and let them finish. Don't interrupt, resist or defend yourself as this just builds further disagreement. Remember that you're trying to build a bridge of understanding

  1. Look for areas of agreement, and be honest

After you've heard the person out, actually say out loud the points that he or she mentioned with which you agree. Look for opportunities to admit your own error and apologize. It will disarm the other person.

  1. Promise to think over the other person's ideas

And mean it, because they may be right. It's a lot easier to think over their points than to ignore them and then realize they were right down the road.

  1. Thank the other person sincerely

Anyone who takes the time to disagree with you is interested in the same things that you are interested in. Thinking of them as people that want to help you makes things easier.

  1. Postpone action to give both of you a chance to think things through

Suggest a follow up meeting the next day, and prepare for it by asking yourself hard questions.

#9 Show respect for other people's opinions and ideas

Even if they are terrible ideas, never say "you're wrong." Instead, be sympathetic with the other person's ideas and figure out how to get them to say yes to what you both agree on. Begin with praise, and call attention to mistakes indirectly and privately where possible to let the other person save face. Use encouragement, and make any fault seem very easy to correct.

Calling attention to your own flaws and mistakes before calling attention to other's is also effective in demonstrating respect. One of the best nuggets of wisdom I've gotten from my mom was to consider what Wes has to put up with about me before I judge or criticize him. Hard pill to swallow, but it works.

#10 Admit when you are wrong

And do it quickly and emphatically. Pride does not make you likable or influential, quite the opposite.

Once, I was late submitting a critical report because I was waiting on a (higher-ranking) colleague who didn't give me his inputs despite repeated reminders. I was FURIOUS, then entirely shocked that he admitted fault, cc'ing our boss to admit the blame was on him. Proof enough for me that honesty is disarming; I'll follow him anywhere because of that!

#11 Let the other person feel that the idea is his or hers

I once heard an expression that you can accomplish anything on Earth if you don't care who gets the credit. This has been proven to be true over and over again in my career! Carnegie provided a great example in the book, about a colonel named Edward House who is famous for having enormous influence over President Woodrow Wilson.

The method House used on the president was simple:

"After I got to know the President," said House, "I learned the best way to convert him to an idea was to plant it in his mind casually, but so as to interest him in it - so as to get him thinking of it on his own account. The first time this worked was an accident. I had been visiting him at the White House and urged a policy on him which he appeared to disapprove. But several days later, at the dinner table, I was amazed to hear him trot out my suggestion as his own."

#12 Ask questions instead of giving direct orders

Instead of pushing people to accelerate their work and rush to accomplish your objectives, ask them questions: "Is there anything we can do to handle this in a faster way?" or "Can anyone think of a different process that would make this simpler and easier?"

One of my high school best friends, Michelle, has worked as a reporter for years. She once told me a story about this proud but cranky old cameraman who refused to take suggestions from reporters on anything related to the video, which is a huge problem if you want to do a fresh angle or a creative shot.

Michelle approached this cameraman, and asked him for advice: "I know you've been doing this a really long time, and one of the best in the business so I'm hoping you'll give me your perspective. I'm not sure if we have the ability to do the shot this way, but thought you could tell me if it's possible"

His response? "Of course it's possible! Here's what we need to do…"

If you've made it all the way through this post, congratulations and thank you so much for reading! I'd love to hear your thoughts on this list of tips, examples of what's worked well for you when it comes to winning friends and influencing people, or other great books on the topic. Let me know in the comments, or feel free to shoot me an email.

This navy silk dress (an eBay replacement of the original Fluet verison I've had for years) is one of the most comfortable dresses I own: it's a breathable washed silk, a super loose cut, and covers my shoulders. It's on the short side, so I've only ever worn it casually with flats and never considered trying to spice it up to wear for a dressier occasion.

That is, until complete closet boredom set in. Lately, I've been overcoming that kind of rut with some good old fashioned outfit planning, and this time around forced myself to rethink some of my tried-and-true basics. Breaking some of my own style rules and attempting to make this basic dress appropriate for a wedding was a stroke of genius that made me fall back in love with it all over again. 

There's a section of my closet that still has a few under-utilized items, including this pair of fancy Italian black suede t-strap sandals that I've been saving for dressy occasions (which are few and far between in my life these days). Pairing this dress with fancy shoes and a simple leather baguette clutch made me feel like that scene in Pretty Woman where Julia Roberts becomes classy. And it felt kind of wrong because I normally never wear heels with short hemlines but the sleeves, high neckline and loose fit convinced me it was just wild enough. (It also passed the Catholic schoolgirl test: hem must be minimum of two inches longer than fingertips.)

It worked equally as well with some old leopard sandals that I rarely wear, a vintage patent leather Gucci bag, and an 80's door knocker necklace that normally decorates my dresser. Breaking my own rule about wearing only one vintage thing at a time and then realizing that I was all wrong about that rule made me seriously question my judgement.

Try it, I dare you, the next time you feel like you're out of things to wear. Here are the highly scientific steps:

#1 Select a casual dress you love but kind of bores you.

#2 Unearth your favorite pair of fancy heels and put them on.

#3 Add a coordinated bag.

#4 Apply bright lipstick.

#5 Dance around your house, take a few selfies for reference purposes. 

Voila, instant wedding outfit you already own. I guarantee you'll be wearing it to a dinner party soon. If you're like me, all that excitement and newfound ability to change the lens with which you view your closet will cure your hunger to buy a new dress.

Ok, that's all for now. Please forgive my radio silence, it's been a crazy couple of weeks. (It's currently 9:35 p.m. on a Tuesday night and I'm sitting in a Marriott eating a Chipotle carnitas bowl with a plastic coffee lid because I was so distracted I left without silverware. If you're wondering whether to feel bad for me or admire my resourcefulness, I'm also pondering that question...)

Anyway, back to the topic on hand: I'd love to hear your thoughts on how you breathe new life into the old favorites in your closet. (I still have four and a half months to go on this no new things experiment and need all the ideas I can get.)