Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Stylish staples: building a functional wardrobe

In my black & white post last week, I was harping at staffers at lifestyle (and some fashion) magazines, who love to provide us with lists of wardrobe staples that everyone "should" own. Am I the only one who usually rolls my eyes at those lists? Maybe such unsolicited advice is useful for clueless women who don't have their personal style down yet and might need a little help picking out some basics that work on almost all occasions - but please, can the rest of us get a break from these tedious staple lists?! Clearly, your needs depend heavily on your work situation, personality and taste, and a basic wardrobe consisting of "a classic black suit with interchangeable skirt and pants, a crisp white shirt, a classic LBD, a single breasted black or camel coat, another white tailored shirt", etc, etc, is not necessarily the optimal choice for all of us. No offense to anyone who relies on these staples, but I for one know those pieces would most likely remain forgotten in the back of my closet collecting dust, were I to invest in them. And yes, I am technically in the age range where suits and tailored shirts are appropriate daywear... it's just that I have neither the need for nor the interest in wearing them.

As I took a peek into my closet to figure out exactly what would be my staples, interestingly enough I realized that while my favorite styles span everything from prim and proper in bouclé or jersey, to flowy, romantic bohemian in lace, clogs and braids, to Eastern Euro gold-digger in fur and precious metals, the wardrobe staples I use to create each and every one of these very different looks tend to follow a much-predictable, never-changing pattern. My beloved bouclé, knits and faux fur materials are present in almost every outfit I put together, be it a preppy, hippie or a sultry one. The nautical stripe, oversize scarf and chunky hardware necklace or handbag strap seem to get a lot of play as well. And if my imagination fails me, I always reach for a romper or minidress, as they seem to never do me wrong.

This leads me to believe that everyone's wardrobe should be built not around a number of universal must-have items, particularly not those chosen by know-it-all fashion editors, but rather on a variable and versatile collection of your own favorite materials, shapes, prints/colors, shoe styles and accessories. In the case of my own wardrobe, styles and trends come and go, but there are a couple of important constants that I tend to always rely on for putting together outfits that are current, yet personal - regardless of season and current fashion musts. Let's find out which they are!

Materials:

1) Crochet and knitwear. My closet currently holds 10 crochet frocks and 7 non-crocheted knit dresses, as well as a crochet halter top with a matching pencil skirt (let's not even mention the plethora of knitted cardigans, sweaters, wraps and scarves). Some of these are sundresses, while others are more suitable for fall/winter season. And yes, I use all of them on a regular basis - currently with opaque black, white or bright-hued tights, layered necklaces, patent flats or thigh-high boots, and a biker jacket. My latest addition, from Mink on 11th & 1st, is pictured to the left. Right: SS10 look at Missoni - note that I usually like them shorter, though!


2) Faux fur. With so many beautiful fakes out there, why would you want to wear real animals? I currently own seven (faux, all of them) fur coats and jackets, five fur- or feather trimmed ones, one fur vest and one fur wrap - styles and colors ranging from vintage shearling to long haired swing coat, in silver, tan, black, white and chocolate chinchilla. As tacky as it sounds, I am crazy about the fur/ gold/ oversize shades glam look and try to alternate it frequently with my GG cutesy flats/miniskirt/blazer combos on the one hand, and my boho/hippie-luxe getups on the other. Always keep people guessing! Right: AW08 skunk look at Jaeger London.


Shapes:

3) Jumpsuits. Yes, they are a lot of work getting in and out of, especially when layered during the winter season. But no pain, no gain, right? I love them equally in silk, jersey and denim, and I have a penchant for pairing them with cage heels and any kind of chunky hardware jewelry - regardless of whether it is in style or not. Needless to say, I guess I got lucky this season! Right: SS09 look at Akris.

4) Jeans. I am obsessed with jeans - I don't even own regular pants, with the exception of a black skinny pair that only look good with rainboots (!) and a white bootcut pair that my boyfriend is frequently trying to get to see me in more often (without much luck, to his dismay). I believe the secret behind denim being such a relied-on staple of so many a wardrobe is its impressive versatility and amazing potential for being dressed up or down. What other garment could as easily take you through a day of brunch and shopping (or work - for some of us!), followed by a trip to the stables for a cuddling session with your horsie or a walk in the woodsier parts of Central Park? Left: Dorothea Barth Jorgensen in a SS10 denim look at Acne. I don't care much for the oversize blazer, but the gold plates, the gold plates....!

5) Minidresses. Who said they had to be knitted? Welcome to my closet! I tend to break out my minis and micros on a more regular basis during winter season, reason being I enjoy showing off some leg, but at the same time dread exposing too much skin... could there possibly be anything more tacky for a day look? Opaque tights usually solve this problem just fine for me. Further, as counter-intuitive as this may sound, I usually wear minis with over-the-knee boots for exactly the same reason. While to some this combo may come off as too provocative or risqué, to me the boot works wonderfully as a cover-up that tones down the flirtatiousness of the dress. Right: Hervé Léger SS10 runway look.


Prints and colors:

6) Stripes. My go-to pattern on dresses, T-shirts, socks, knitted scarves and sweaters. I have a strong preference for the classic black and white nautical stripe, but as long as the fit and the material is alright, I'd say pretty much anything goes. Right: Audrey Tatou in Coco Avant Chanel, sporting one of Coco's signature looks.

7) Printed T-shirts. Oh no, I just admitted it! You didn't think I dress up in Prada to take the pup to the dog run or for standing on line at Trader Joe's, right? I have a big, big collection of tees for those low maintenance days when I am too lazy to put together any outfits other than denim cutoffs or skinnies with something cotton-y on top. Most of them are band T-shirts or finds off of those endless UO racks, but I do get fancy once in a while with some Anna Sui or The Row. Left: representing my 'hood. Right: Lanvin wishlist item.


Shoes and accessories.

8) Boots. Flat suede, equestrian, over-the-knee, fringe, stiletto - I always find an excuse to wear boots, even in the summer. Not that I don't try to give my booties and ballet flats the same amount of love, but any kind of boot just seems to flatter my legs more. And how can you argue with that? Right: Kate Moss in thigh-high: definitely one of my go-to looks, except I prefer my denim dark.

9) Scarves. Do I need to explain myself? Just take a look again at Kate!

10) Statement jewelry. I always love a chunky necklace or a dangling, eye-catching pair of earrings! I used to be all about feathers, chandeliers and even pony hair pieces hanging from my earlobes, while using all other kinds of jewelry very sparingly, often wearing nothing more than a thin gold chain with a pointe shoes pendant around my neck - sometimes a single cocktail ring if I was in the mood. This fall, however, I seem to favor necklaces, bangles and cuffs over big earrings. I have worn the same pearl studs for weeks without a single thought of changing them up, while I am constantly switching around between different hardware around my neck and on my wrists. How can you not, considering all the options out there this season? Also, as we all know, buying (and even splurging on) jewelry is a convenient way to deal with shopping cravings when on a recession budget... enough said. Street fairs and art street markets offer excellent opportunities for finding unique pieces without breaking the bank. I almost bought a couple of bracelets at the Madison Square Market (pictured right) yesterday evening on my way home from work, but came to my senses at the last minute. For those of you (in NY) who have not exceeded this month's shopping budget already, do check out this event! Left above: SS09 look at Giambattista Valli.

And last but not least.... what about you? Any interesting staples or principles for building a functional wardrobe that you would like to share? Don't be shy! ;)

62 comments:

  1. OMG! What a fantastic post, Darling! I love reading. My faveourite is knitted things. :-)

    XoXo

    ReplyDelete
  2. amazing list-and further proof that many fashion mags are dated! xx

    ReplyDelete
  3. Fabulous, fabulous post. I would add flowy shapes (my favorite for dresses and tunics) balanced with leggings. I share your feelings for jeans, boots, scarves and minis with tights :)

    ReplyDelete
  4. Love this post, darling, especially #s 2 & 5! You really listed all of life's (fashion) necessities, here ~ fabulous work!

    xoxox,
    CC

    ReplyDelete
  5. Great list! It's nice to hear a fashionista spread some love for jeans. They are so much fun and you can get so many different styles and colors. Fabulous!

    ReplyDelete
  6. Great post!!! #4 & #5 are my favorites!!

    http://www.hottheels.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
  7. Fabulous post... I agree with you, your style must depend on your interests, personality and tastes. I have determined my style a long time ago. My closet is filled with black and white items. It works for me.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Loving this post. You have literally covered each and every aspect of fashion - and your devotion to denim is inspiring. I too live in jeans, and am happy to find someone who harbors the same way of thinking.

    Another thing I think all girls should possess are a few hats - for cold weather, bad hair days, etc. I'm obsessed with bright red knit ones myself - they're such a fun way to spruce up any ensemble! :)

    ReplyDelete
  9. Whoa. That necklace on Kate looks like it's attacking her!

    Jumpsuits are great but you're right...just going to the bathroom can be an ordeal. You feel like you have to take all your clothes off just to pee! Those suckers need a hidden trap door in them.

    ReplyDelete
  10. I do crochet..... maybe I should get rockin' that hook! I love green and try to at least accessorize with it if nothing else. :O)

    ReplyDelete
  11. I'm all about statement jewelry, fur and a great pair of jeans. Love that Lanvin tee!

    www.bagpoor.com

    ReplyDelete
  12. black,navy,brown mostly that's how my wardrobe is build:)

    ReplyDelete
  13. wow!! amazing post!! you covered everything! love!

    xoxo

    ReplyDelete
  14. Great post. So informative. Also, I always appreciate one who encourages others to wear the faux fur and spare the animals!

    ReplyDelete
  15. wowzers, you always have the best post. well to be honest i was gonna make one of my own list and post it up on my blog, i'm glad i didn't. but i think with those lists, the items are things that can be mixed and matched any which style. a white blouse can be used in so many ways. as for your own list, very fun, loving the FAUX fur. faux is always the best way to go.

    ReplyDelete
  16. lovely love thank you for getting me thinking about my own style. I always read magazines and think oh so thats the type of clothes i need to have a functioning fashionable wardrobe but after reading this i realised that the clothes they suggest i would never where...when thinking of my favourite kinds of materials, cuts etc i realised that i dont own enough and i own too much which is on trend but doesnt suit me. what i like is peter pan collars, floral blouses, gingham, a-line skirts, tulip skirts, dresses like reese witherspoon in walk the line! platform or wedged heels! oh man i want to shop shop shop.

    ReplyDelete
  17. I totally agree. My wardrobe staples never match what magazines suggest. You are so right, they should be what you want them to be, everyone is different after all.

    ReplyDelete
  18. I love a peek into personal choices! Fab stuff.

    ReplyDelete
  19. i'm sure i need more stripes in my life.

    ReplyDelete
  20. your posts just seem to get better and better! i'm so relieved to be validated in the "every fashion is not for every woman" philosophy i hold so dear...every one of just needs to be in touch with fashion that fits into our own lifestyle.....

    ReplyDelete
  21. Oh this is a genius list, CC! And I totally agree with you that most of those magazine list are not helpful and slightly depressing (black suit? sounds macabre in the wrong ways). You list also makes me wish I had more faux fur in my closet ;)

    ReplyDelete
  22. I totally agree with you those staples lists are often so bloody pointless! Im clever enough to know a suit is always useful for business stuff so dont need to be told or a bi monthly basis. Im quite like you with the fact that my wardrobe tends to rely on staples that are personal to me. My apple bottom jeans literally go with everything so are wonderful. I have a few key dresses that can be dressed up or down. Im not a mini dress girl but I love shorts in the winter, worn with opaque tights and boots!! lol! My blazer is great for smartening me up if needs be, but I love to snuggle into my huge fur collar on my woolen trench coat! Plus statement accessories can make an outfit even more than the clothes do.

    Thanks for such a great an honest blog!!

    ReplyDelete
  23. your posts always seem to tap into what i feel!

    i hate those "must-have" lists and their subsequent "out" lists. ugh. and your list is GREAT!!

    myglitteringcreation.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
  24. number 4, i like it the most.jeans...

    ReplyDelete
  25. I love this post ! Thank you !
    http://mimietnini.canalblog.com/

    ReplyDelete
  26. jeans are definitely a staple!

    ReplyDelete
  27. Its true: everyone does have different staples. For me a good pair of jeans and sneakers are essential to have, along with printed graphic t-shirts. But I do know people who never wear jeans at all and consider their staples to be dresses etc.

    ReplyDelete
  28. Am beginning an obsession over the gold plated jeans . . .

    ReplyDelete
  29. My essential black suit has been hanging in the closet for over a year now. I love it but it only gets brought out when I meet a client for the first time away from the studio. I live in a really laid back fashion climate and sometimes yearn for NYC. Also, I love boots with stacked heels but can tell I'm getting older when 5 minutes after I zip either pair up, my feet are killing me.

    ReplyDelete
  30. Thank God -- a list without the trite "crisp white shirt" in it.

    ReplyDelete
  31. im addicted to printed tshirt too! high five :]

    ReplyDelete
  32. I'm all over minidresses this season. As soon as it's cool enough to bust out the tights...it's on!

    ReplyDelete
  33. I love a little striped tee. You can't ever go wrong with one.

    ReplyDelete
  34. fantastic post! i love the striped tee!

    Missy
    For all things fashion:
    http://thefashionfusion.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
  35. As I consider myself very versatile in the way of clothing, I try to buy different styles of clothes everytime I go shopping..

    Follow me on Facebook and Twitter

    @ MaisonChaplin.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
  36. Great post, seriously though those lists are hilarious and always, always the same!! I have one crisp white shirt which is stuffed at the back of my closet and only comes out when I have to be suited up for a conference. I do not own a little black shift dress, shock horror! Nor a black trouser suit! The 'capsule wardrobe' essentials get me every time too, two weeks on holiday and all you need is a cleaverly tied sarong LOL. Totally with you on the necessity of boucle though!!

    ReplyDelete
  37. Great post!! I love chunky necklaces, earrings or rings! I think one of those pieces can make an outfit really interesting and unique.
    I also love great bags and clutches. If my outfit is very simple, I just grab my favorite bag or clutch and everything changes and if I pair that with another accessory such as hats, headbands or sunglasses, the outfit becomes more fashionable :)
    Love your post!
    xoxo
    Giovanna
    www.bohomarket.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
  38. I am crazy about overknee boots like that! I can't have my own pair!!

    Many kisses :)))

    ReplyDelete
  39. awesome post!! but i must say, i kind of disagree with you on jumpsuits and printed tshirts.. nevertheless, it's an awesome post and you write very well (aka it's very informative and full of personality)!!
    xx
    neutraltuesday.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
  40. Love the post. I wish I could pull of jumpsuits. I'm short and it just doesn't flatter my figure! Oh well :) One can dream! However, I am all about the boots, scarves, PEARLs!, jeans, printed tees and statement jewelry! Pure love.

    xo

    ReplyDelete
  41. é sempre muito bom passar por aqui!!!
    otimo
    :)

    ReplyDelete
  42. I LOVE RIPPED JEANS AT THE MOMENT!
    Thanks for the comment also :)
    http://stoleninspiration.blogspot.com/

    ReplyDelete
  43. I love mini dresses & boots also! What a great post.

    ReplyDelete
  44. so...we should choose something classy...becauseless is more ^.^
    kisses

    ReplyDelete
  45. fabulous post. I love jumpsuits!
    xo

    http://ahautemess.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
  46. this is kind of adding to 'knits,' but a great cashmere sweater (v-neck, cardigan, or crew neck) in heather gray, black, navy, and/or creme are absolute essentials, in my opinion. OH!! and a black blazer :)
    xx
    neutraltuesday.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
  47. YES! I definitely agree that magazines harp about many stupid things, such as so called "staples." To be honest, I don't own a LBD, a neutral pencil skirt, or a white button down.. and I probably wouldn't ever where them! Love your list - especially statement necklaces! Definitely a must for me! And blazers!

    Thanks so much for stopping by!
    girlwiththebowtie.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
  48. now this is a "wardrobe staple" list I can appreciate. obsessed with faux fur and statement jewelry at the moment!

    ReplyDelete
  49. ahaha, great post!
    my favourite would have to be knitted and boots :D

    love annie <3.

    ReplyDelete
  50. I love mini dresses as well. It really makes me look longer since im barely 5'4! lol!

    ReplyDelete
  51. Hi there, thanks a lot for commenting back! Today there will be more pictures of Jimmy Choo vs. H&M, so stay tuned, hope to see you there! ;) ^^

    Follow me on Twitter and Facebook

    @ MaisonChaplin.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
  52. I agreee with this list!!!
    olivias-pizzazz.blogspot.com
    xx

    ReplyDelete
  53. Power to the magazines, love this stuff!@
    XOXOX
    Libby
    http://fashionconfectionairy.weebly.com

    ReplyDelete
  54. I am lucky that my work allows me to wear anything I want. I love that jumpsuit. Today I saw a couple in a store in Madrid and I am still thinking about them. I shall go and get one of them.
    xoxo
    B* a la Moda

    ReplyDelete
  55. such a wunderful list. i like the first, with the pecil skirt. black and white is never wrong and always elegant.

    ReplyDelete
  56. I'm a huge supporter of faux fur. Cheaper and most importantly, cruelty free!

    http://fashionroadkill-halifax.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete

Related Posts with Thumbnails