It's so nice to meet you!
Get to know Kay...

How to Select the Most Stylish Wardrobe Essentials

Building a Wardrobe
January 16, 2020
Moving Toward Slow Fashion 2020 Style Series at Dressed for My Day

At this time of year I find myself turning my attention to purging, cleaning, reformulating and restocking my wardrobe. And that has had me thinking a lot about continuing to build a wardrobe that really works beautifully for me so that I don’t have to buy all new clothes every season. But I think part of that equation is learning to purchase the most stylish wardrobe essentials possible so that even those workhorses contribute to a more contemporary and fashionable look.

How to Select the Most Stylish Wardrobe Essentials

Sometimes when I talk about building a classic or timeless wardrobe, women misunderstand me to be saying that I want only very plain, classic cut pieces in that wardrobe. In fact, some seem to be concerned that a classic wardrobe will amount to a boring and even old-fashioned wardrobe.

5 Ways to Wear a Red Suit
See this post.

Trust me, I have no desire to look out-dated, frumpy or plain. Instead, I want to build a wardrobe filled with pieces that can be worn for years, but with which I can style contemporary, fashionable everyday looks.

Fun Casual Winter Outfit
See this post.

If we’re going to transition toward a slow fashion mindset about building our wardrobe, we’ll need to mindfully purchase wardrobe essentials that are both versatile and, to a degree, timeless. But we don’t have to sacrifice style. And we absolutely can still participate in trends…if we wisely purchase stylish wardrobe essentials.

What do we mean by “wardrobe essentials?”

Wardrobe essentials are simply the pieces of clothing and accessories you’ll need to make your wardrobe function. These essentials – such as t-shirts, jeans, solid dress slacks, a blazer, belts, pumps, etc. – are the pieces you have to have in order to even wear the other pieces of clothing you love and identify with.

The Most Modern Way to Wear Your Blazer
See this post.

Great wardrobe essentials also multiply the versatility of any new, trendier pieces we may later introduce to our closet. Remember, a good rule of thumb is not to add anything to your closet that can’t be worn with at least 3 items in your wardrobe. So if I have the essential black dress slacks, jeans and solid colored skirt, for instance, I can add a trending snake print blouse to my closet with the assurance of wearing it several different ways.

Why I'm Loving Neutrals
See this post.

I find that wardrobe essentials are somewhat universal, but your list will be slightly unique, too, depending on your climate, lifestyle and personal style essence. (Don’t know your personal style essence? Take this short quiz!) But I suggest you print out a list that works for you and keep it in a prominent place, maybe tacked to the wall of your closet or in a dresser drawer. Review that list as each new season rolls around and make sure you have what you need to create versatile, beautiful outfits.

Plaid blazer and Jeans
See this post.

Recently, I updated my Fall/Winter Wardrobe Essentials List and my Spring/Summer Wardrobe Essentials List. I make these available to all my subscribers in a special Freebies for Subscribers vault. Not a subscriber? Sign up for my newsletter today!

Psssst! If you are a subscriber and forgot the password, it’s always in the daily newsletter. And it could change at any time, so check there if you get locked out!

Now on to How to Purchase the Most Stylish Wardrobe Essentials!

Now that we have the definition out of the way, let’s consider how to purchase wardrobe essentials that serve us well. Here are my criteria for beautiful, stylish wardrobe essentials:

  • the piece is versatile
  • it’s in your chosen neutrals or signature colors
  • the construction is good enough to withstand lots of wear and laundering (if necessary)
  • it’s on the list!
  • it resonates with your personal style essence
  • you can wear it for at least three years
  • finally, it adds value to your outfits
See this post.

How to Purchase Pieces that Add Value to your Outfits

Let’s camp out now on that last criteria. The best wardrobe essential is one that does more than check the box on your essentials list. It actually adds value to your outfits.

I want to fill my closet with workhorses that are also beautiful thoroughbreds. Yeah, these wardrobe essentials get the job done, but they also…

  • add interest
  • look chic
  • help me look modern
  • elevate everything else I’m wearing
  • accentuate my female form
Chic Camel Cashmere Cardigan
See this post.

So what should I look for when purchasing wardrobe essentials? Anytime I’m shopping for something that is missing on my wardrobe essentials list, I’m going to look for the follow:

  • Fit – The item needs to fit perfectly. If it doesn’t, I need to have it tailored. Good fit will help my outfits look more contemporary and chic. Flattering fit also makes me look trimmer and younger.
  • Finesse – The item needs to be made with finesse. The stitching, buttons, seams, hem, etc., should be done well so that the item will last, but also so that it looks polished.
  • Flair – The item should be interesting. Even a solid white t-shirt doesn’t have to be plain. For instance, a pretty v-neckline that lays flat and elegantly will look more interesting than a crew neck. And if the shirt is ribbed or has a slight puffed sleeve, that’s interesting! I just need to make sure the “flair” of the item fits with my personal style. (More on this below.)
  • Function – The piece should work for me. Do I want pockets? Do I need the trench coat to also be a rain coat? Are those jeans the right length for the shoes I prefer to wear? Does the length of the skirt work for my workplace?
  • Fabric – Not only should I choose wardrobe essentials in natural fibers such as wool, cashmere, cotton, silk or linen (or natural fiber blends) when possible, but I should also make sure my wardrobe essentials have interesting and beautiful textures. Texture adds interest.
One of the things I love about this essential long sleeve black tee is that it features ribbing and a bit of sheen. Flair!

A little more about Flair

Let me say a bit more about one of those characteristics. Flair. There’s a fine line between an item having a little flair and too much fuss. Know what I mean? I’ve discovered that, while I may be drawn to clothing and accessories with lots of embellishment, I’ll probably also become disenchanted with those items more quickly, too.

Plus, when we older gals wear pieces with too much fuss, they actually date us. They make us look like we’re trying a little too hard. As we age, we’ll actually look more contemporary and stylish if we stick with clothing that has some flair – little touches of interest – but steer clear of fussy embellishments.

Transition into Fall with a White Tee and Denim Skirt
Depending on your personal style essence, distressed denim could absolutely work in a wardrobe essential. Flair!

I say all that, but I also encourage you to look for interesting essentials. Make your mark here. Take your personal style essence into account, by all means.

Here are a few little flairs you could look for:

  • an interesting hemline (think raw hem on jeans, for instance)
  • just a touch of metallic
  • a little bit of ruffle
  • an interesting weave or pattern in the fabric
  • unique buttons
  • something unexpected in the neckline
  • a touch of whimsy (just a little embroidery)
  • patch pockets
  • interesting lining that shows occasionally (like when you cuff the sleeves of your blazer)
  • distressed denim
  • exposed seams
  • upgraded fabric (like velvet or leather)
  • a unique color (that works in your wardrobe)

For instance, instead of going with a basic white, black or grey t-shirt, you could opt for one of these smocked yoke t-shirts in the same colors instead. You could wear it all the same ways you would the basic shirt, but your look would definitely be more interesting and unique.

Check out this smoked yoke t-shirt.

Bottom line? When you keep these five Fs in mind as you select your wardrobe essentials, you won’t really have to worry about whether or not the piece is timeless. More importantly, you’ll be accumulating the most stylish wardrobe essentials to complement your personal style.

Thanks so much for stopping in today. If you have questions or comments about anything I’ve shared here, I welcome them in the comment section below. My goal is simply to help you buy the most stylish wardrobe essentials so you can look and feel your best every day. Have a beautiful day!

Save + Share

If you enjoyed today’s post, I hope you’ll save it to one of your Pinterest boards. Oh, and share it with your friends on Facebook, too. I love it when new readers find Dressed for My Day because you’ve shared what you found! You’ll find share buttons just below the scripture in the Blessed for My Day portion of the post. And Pinterest buttons should appear when you hover over the following graphic (or any of the graphics in this post).

How to Select the Most Stylish Wardrobe Essentials

Today’s post is part of the 2020 Dressed for My Day style series: Moving Toward Slow Fashion. You can read other posts in this series here.

Don’t Miss a Post:

If you like what you’re seeing here at Dressed for My Day, I invite you to subscribe to my email list. You can receive an email each time I post (about 6 times weekly) or just on Saturdays. You choose! But you’ll also receive the password to open up all the subscriber freebies I offer.

Blessed for My Day

Have you ever felt completely trapped in a bad behavior or dysfunctional relationship or unhealthy habit? I certainly have. I wanted so badly to be free of it, but nothing I did seemed to turn the key that would release me. My bondage hurt me and I knew it broke God’s heart. It frustrated, exhausted and belittled me, too.

But I want you to know that today I am free from that thing that kept me in chains for years. By the grace of God, I no longer live in the walls of that prison. I tell you that because I want you to have hope that you one day will experience that same amazing freedom.

It took time. But time alone accomplishes nothing. On the other hand, time spent memorizing and meditating on God’s Word, allowing it to do a transforming work in your life, that works. If you’re struggling to overcome the chains that bind, I encourage you to abide in the Word of God and implore the God of the Word to set you free.

So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” ~ John 8:31-32

Spread the love
xoxo, Kay
Join the Conversation

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

19 thoughts on “How to Select the Most Stylish Wardrobe Essentials

  1. Excellent post. Two things especially spoke to me. One – the importance of fit. I saw a woman at Talbots wearing a wool blazer very similar to one you featured. On you it looked great but on this petite woman the fit was off -too tight especially with a sweater underneath it. She looked stuffed although technically it fit since it buttoned. I realized I probably often do the same since I thought it flattered my waist. So will need to take pics before buying. I have found a few sales associates who will give an honest assessment but they are a minority.

    Second – flare not fuss. Fussy can lead to mutton dressed as lamb Issue. I used to shop a lot at WHBM maybe 9 years ago. Although you can still find some great pieces such as a black pencil skirt many of their clothes have too much going on – such as a jacket with peplum , epaulettes , back tie or top with sequins, sheer fabric, cheaper fabric, ruffles, asymmetrical hem- just too much for 1 piece. I still love my solid sheath dresses and pencil skirts from previous collections.

    1. Great takeaway, Ginny. Yes, I’m finding that some stores or brands serve me better than others too. But all in all I guess it’s really up to me to think long term when I select pieces. It’s definitely a challenge. Thanks for sharing.

  2. I have learned so much from you on creating my perfect, essential wardrobe! Learning the five “F’s” and putting them to practice will further enhance my ability to shop for the ‘right’ pieces I need. Before, I just bought something because I thought I liked it but in reality I ended up with something that wasn’t wearable, either because it wouldn’t go with anything else in my closet or was cheaply made, yada yada. Now, I’ve learned to look for pieces I wear with multiple items and that are well designed, classic pieces that fit my lifestyle. Also, I keep forgetting to mention how MUCH I enjoy your ‘Blessed for my day” every day. Thank you for that! It’s almost always a blessing to me.

  3. Great tips. Definitely sharing them!. Thank you for explaining each in detail. Regarding fabrics – would you also recommend some non-natural fabrics? My daughter and I are allergic to wool and cashmere.

  4. Another great post with so much valuable information! I am doing a better job with creating outfits with my closet content, but I am a work in progress. I have several thick cotton knit short sleeve tees by Kim Rogers from Belk that have a square neckline. I love that it’s different & has a nice sleeve length for those of us that don’t want to show our upper arms. I totally agree that too much fussiness can age us and really backlash on our attempt to look younger and in style. Today the pain from the arthritis in my spine is getting the best of me; my consultation with a doctor at a pain clinic is next Wed. The doctor now thinks that Larry’s T12 is fractured, causing his excruciating pain, so he’s having it pretty rough. He attempted to do an MRI yesterday, but the pain interfered, so with an additional meds, we’ll try again on Monday. God is good and He’s on this journey with us, so we will be okay.

  5. Another great post with solid advice! I am loving your theme for this year and taking this advice to heart, being much more mindful what I am bringing into my closet. I lost more than 30 pounds over the past year and am buying most of a new wardrobe, a few pieces at a time, so your posts are perfectly timed and giving me more confidence in what to buy (or not). I also love the Blessed For Your Day posts which feeds my spirit and refocuses my priorities on His word. Thank you so much!

  6. I’m having trouble accessing the Freebies for subscribers. When I enter the password it simply brings up the Passwor required page again. I’ve tried lower case an all caps but no luck?

  7. I will keep the Fs in mind when I buy from now on. A great post.
    I was touched by your blessings post because I have a rare skin disorder that I’ve been fighting and it’s like an anchor. Around my neck. But I find that your post uplift my spirits every day. and keep my mind stayed on him and not me. Thank you.

  8. I think in creating the perfect wardrobe you also have to look at your lifestyle. I wear a uniform for work so most of my clothing is casual. That red suit is gorgeous but I would have no need for it in my closet. I don’t dress up very much so I don’t need a lot of dressier clothing. I can Also “dress” up my casual clothing if I go out to a nice restaurant. It’s a lot of good information though!

      1. Yes, I did read your blog about dressing for your lifestyle. It has great information! I love your blog and even though I might not wear a red suit, I will get ideas and inspiration for outfits that do fit in my life. Thank you!