If you have a closet full of clothes and nothing to wear then this post is for you. Building a wardrobe base that works is the answer to that problem. Have yo heard that before? I sure have but I have largely ignored that advice. However, after further research I am coming to the conclusion that I was wrong to ignore this sage advice. In fact, I first started realizing the err of my ways and wrote about basics here.
Now this will not appeal to everyone and that is okay – I firmly believe there are no universal rights and wrongs when it comes to what you wear and your wardrobe. What I am offering is assistance if you feel frustrated and like you just can’t get it quite right. This is the position I have found myself in time and time again. There are many people who have an eclectic closet and truly enjoy and wear everything in it. But I got tired of buying and buying thinking I was filling “holes” in my wardrobe and answering the proverbial question of what to wear. I also got tired of cleaning out my closet every year and bagging up clothes I no longer wore (even though they weren’t old). I noticed a pattern.
Enough of that, rather than focus on the negative let’s focus on the positive! This year I am focusing my energy on building a wardrobe that works. I am looking at each and every piece I own with new eyes and paying attention to how I feel when I wear said pieces. I’ll be adding fewer but better pieces. Does that mean everything will be expensive? No. I am an affordable fashionista at heart and that will never change.
These are the pieces that I believe will build a working wardrobe. They are the things you’ll reach for over and over again to build that cohesive wardrobe that answers the question of what to wear!
Staples will differ for each and everyone of us depending on where we live and what our lives look like. Clearly women who work in a professional atmosphere will need different pieces than those who work from home or who are retired, etc. But I do believe that these pieces will work in some capacity for us all.
Basic tops are a good place to start and there’s nothing more versatile than a white shirt. I’ll bet each and every one of you has at least one white button down shirt, am I right? A basic white tee is another essential. You’ll wear these separately or layered with jackets or sweaters.
Having a fitted white shirt as well as a relaxed and/or oversized version means you’ll have more than one but I think that’s a necessity. As far as tees go, you’ll want a short sleeve and a long sleeve too. Lately I have been really enjoying wearing bodysuits rather than tee shirts. They cut down on the bulk around the midsection and tucking is no longer an issue.
Sweaters will always play a role in a good base wardrobe for fall, winter, and early spring. a pullover sweater is a necessity, find a neutral color with a flattering neckline and you cannot go wrong. Personally I prefer a v-neck. Since I have a large chest and I’m short waisted this is the best neckline for me. This one from Target is perfect and on sale.
Don’t forget the power of a cardigan in your base wardrobe. There are many differing lengths these days so a longer one as well as a shorter one – again in neutral colors should cover it.
Jackets & Blazers
Depending on your climate, you’ll want to select jackets of varying weight. I have no need for a winter coat here in Florida but blazers fill that void for me. A good quality denim jacket is certainly a wardrobe workhorse! Mine is almost 20 years old but I still love it.
A leather jacket or moto jacket is yet another closet staple. Buy the best fit and quality you can afford and you’ll have it for years. These really don’t go out of style so this is one item worth investing in.
Blazers are another closet staple that you’ll wear for years to come. Pay attention to the fit and quality because again, blazers are a classic that we all need. Adding a blazer to any outfit immediately elevates the look. They are no longer considered work wear. I have been loving blazers from Express and ordered this one on Saturday!
Cargo or field jackets cannot be ignored as they can be extremely versatile and often help during those “transition” times – late summer, early fall, late winter, early spring, etc.
Every wardrobe needs at least one great pair of denim. Invest in a pair you love that look and feel great! If you are unsure of where to start, I suggest heading to a store like Evereve. Their stylists will help you and they carry many premium brands of denim. If premium denim is not in your budget, no worries, places like Old Navy and Loft have different styles and cuts too. While lots of different washes are available, if you are investing in denim, I suggest a dark wash – they are always a classic! As fun as distressed denim can be, invest in a pair free of cuts and holes – they’ll go the distance.
Leggings, whether they are faux leather or not deserve a spot in your wardrobe. Find a great quality fabric that you feel good wearing. Spanx faux leather leggings have a cult following but you can find more affordable versions almost anywhere. Cost per wear may play a role in your purchase; it’s certainly better to invest in a pair for more than one season rather than having to replace each year.
Trousers in a neutral color – black, camel, white, or grey will round out your wardrobe staples. When you are purchasing these, pay attention to the length and the shoes you are wearing. Unlike denim, trousers don’t get cuffed and nothing ruins a look like trousers that are dragging on the floor or not quite long enough when you wear a heel.
It’s true what they say about every woman needing an LBD! For cooler weather that LBD may be a sweater dress. I happen to love the one that I own. It’s more of a midi length and has a faux wrap top which is much better on my body type. In warmer months you cannot go wrong with a basic sheath – it’s classic and timeless!
Shoes & Accessories
Shoes and accessories add personality and fun to your wardrobe. Heels, booties, and sneakers will be paramount this time of year. Again, select neutral colors so you can mix and match with any outfit.
Handbags have major impact on an outfit. A great satchel in camel or black is a great place to start. A decent size of crossbody bag can take the place of a satchel if you prefer.
Jewelry can be so much fun! Delicate jewelry is trending right now and will probably always maintain a spot in a classic wardrobe.
Did you read the above as rules you must follow? I hope not. I wrote this to help both you and me build a wardrobe that works. I want to stop staring into a closet full of clothes and feeling like I have nothing to wear. This also does not mean you cannot buy a fun, printed top or a skirt or dress. Of course you can! The items I outlined above are intended to provide a good base wardrobe from which you can mix and match pieces to create multiple outfits you’ll love wearing.
This week I am going to share how to create at least 20 outfits using what I consider my base wardrobe. I hope you’ll follow along and find some inspiration. This year I am on a mission to spend less while making better choices. I want less clutter in my closet and a clearer view of what I own. Looking in my closet and seeing pieces I want to wear that look good on me is the goal.