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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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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
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
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.
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.
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.
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!
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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