Clearly it’s important to build your wardrobe foundation. We hear about it all the time, right? Everyone and their dog has a list of “Must Have Wardrobe Basics.” It seems obvious. Having simple pieces that are neutral (versatile) and can be dressed up or down, well that’s just common sense.
But I firmly believe everyone’s necessary basics differ. I did some research when I started thinking about this topic and one list I found recommended a 3 piece suit. I have never in my life had occasion to wear a 3 piece suit. Not once. Some women wear them every day. And almost every list I found also recommended a “crisp white blouse.” I’ve been reading that one for years, so a few years ago I bought one. I’ve worn it twice. It’s just not me, I’m not comfortable in it–I wasted my money. I used to read these lists like they were instruction manuals… now I read them critically and have fun deciding which pieces fit my needs and style. I’m sure everyone realizes that ALL advice should be taken with a grain of salt. This is especially true for fashion advice (including this post). One size does NOT fit all. And breaking the rules is just as important as knowing what they are.
When thinking about what you need, logic dictates starting by evaluating what you have. Pull it all out. ALL of it. Empty the drawers! While you’re in there, cull out the weak pieces. If it’s worn past “cool” and more on the “decaying” end of the spectrum, let it go. If you have clothes that you pull at all day because you don’t like the fit, get rid of them. Life is both too short and too long to spend time feeling ill at ease because what you’re wearing isn’t flattering. There IS clothing out there that will flatter you, regardless of your body type. I’m not saying it’s easy to find great things if you’re 4’10” or 6’3”, but it can be done (we should all have a line on a great tailor), and it’s imperative that we not settle for less than a really comfortable fit. One of my sisters calls this “spiritual shopping” and swears she never buys anything unless, when she tries it on, she looks in the fitting room mirror and thinks she looks fantastic. Pure genius.
Purging is necessary since we buy clothes over years and years. Periodically, we have to take stock of how we’d like to present ourselves and how we are actually presenting ourselves. It’s a good time to evaluate your wardrobe from the perspective of work needs, social habits, and general lifestyle. Also consider the lifestyle you want. Integrate that with your budget, plan which items pack the biggest punch for your dollar, and which items can be added over time…
So once you’ve seen what you have, and thought about your priorities, it’s a good time to peruse a few essentials lists:
- I really like Tim Gunn. He’s insightful and sweet, but can definitely break it down when necessary. This video discusses the importance of fit and proportion, and here is the simplest of his lists that I’ve found.
- A Girl, A Style‘s list, here, is thoughtful and interesting.
- I didn’t think Oprah’s list was especially inspired, but I did agree we need to toss the ratty sweatpants. There are soft cozy pjs out there that are also attractive. Loungewear can look as good as if feels. I really like these pjs from Victoria’s secret, and the Gap Pure Body collection.
- This is a fun video, with a great perspective on basics and statement pieces. Don’t forget there are amazing deals to be had at TJ Maxx, Ross, and Marshalls. I have gorgeous bags and shoes from all 3 of them.
- Glamour has a bunch of different essentials lists, it’s fun to check out the different angles they take.
- Great ideas are often found in unexpected places. I am not a parent- but when researching basics and fashion advice, I found a GREAT posting on a site called Single Moms Ask Sara. I don’t agree with everything she wrote, but I agree with a lot of it, and loved how she talked about teaching her kids how to think of clothing. (Cliff Notes: If it doesn’t fit, it’s the fault of the clothing, not the person).
Well, I had more to say about this topic than I realized! I’ll leave my Basics List for another day.
What 5 items do you think every woman should have (and by that I really mean what 5 items do you think YOU should have)?