Wardrobe Building: Basics


In the past two years my wardrobe has changed more than during the ten years preceding that. I completely changed my approach to fashion, shopping, and getting dressed. I became more aware and conscious about my decisions, I started seeing my wardrobe as a system of outfits rather than a mere collection of garments, and I stopped making small, useless purchases to be able to afford better, more expensive items. My shopping habits became thoroughly planned, as I always had a list of specific garments I needed. I started listening to my inner voice that was making me frustrated every morning, yelling that I need a new pair of shoes, or a new cardigan to be able to wear an outfit. I turned my negative feelings about getting dressed in the morning into harsh advisors, and it paid off. I can now safely say that I am happy with the contents of my closet. Of course there is always room to grow, and as I write, my page-long shopping list of items that could make my style more chic and trendy is open on my laptop, but getting dressed every morning is neither a hassle, nor a source of feelings of inadequacy anymore.
One of the most important benefits of the past two years was that I collected a few basics that turn my wardrobe into a well-oiled machine, offering me a backdrop against which I can wear my staple pieces, and saving me every time I have no idea what to pair with my new purchase. I spent countless hours researching stylists’ and bloggers’ advice on the “10 must-haves every woman should own”, and even though I am grateful for their guidance, I realized that the final decision on what basics I need has to be mine. Every new piece has to fit into the system.
In the next few posts I would like to help everyone who needs to make the tough decisions about basics I had to make by sharing my thoughts on timeless wardrobe-builders, and other things I wish I knew earlier.
Let’s start with some general guidelines.
What are basics?
Basics are garments and accessories that are plain, classic in shape and neutral in color. Colors include black, grey, white, navy, tan, and brown. Garments often listed on blogs and in magazines include simple jeans, t-shirts, dress-shirts, blazers, coats, cardigans, skirts, pants, pumps, flats, boots, booties, but the list is endless and ever changing.
What are some things you should consider before purchasing basics?
I don’t believe in the one-list-fits-all model. Consider the following: for a teenage student a pair of neutral sneakers or a pair of black combat boots could represent the basic pair she can always turn to when getting dressed in the morning. However, a lawyer in her 40s will probably have to rely on something more elegant, maybe a pair of black leather pumps, or neutral high heel boots. While many women’s work makes it possible and/or necessary for them to wear heels on a daily basis, a stay-at-home mother’s money is way better spent if she invests in the flats that can make her every day life more comfortable and stylish.
Everyone’s wardrobe, and that includes the basics, should reflect who they are, and should be tailored to their specific needs. So before choosing any basics, I think everyone should consider at least the following four factors: their personality, lifestyle, profession, and age. What are the types of basics you like to wear, that reflect your personality?  Are you a blazer and trousers, or a leather jacket and boyfriend jeans type of person? What kind of clothes does your job require you to own? What is the dress code at your workplace? What are your after-work activities, and what types of clothes do you need for that? Never allow anyone to make these decisions for you, unless they are your personal stylist, as you are the one who will need to live with the consequences.
Spend money to save money.
The most important feature of basics is that they are worn, A LOT.  As they can be paired with most items in your wardrobe, expect to wear them the most. Their classic cut and color ensures that they don’t go out of style as fast as most of your trendy pieces do, staying in your wardrobe for a really long time. So invest in quality basics. You’ll end up spending way less money on a few quality pieces than on re-buying cheap versions over and over again.
Basic doesn’t mean boring.
Timeless clothing doesn’t need to be boring. Interesting textures, innovative cuts, leather trims and lace inserts are only a few options for those who wish to make their most versatile pieces interesting as well. Choosing the trendiest version of a garment, such as a tuxedo style blazer instead of a classic one, or a pointy toe pump instead of an almond toe one are always options for those who wish to have a completely progressive wardrobe. The trendier the pieces are, the faster they’ll go out of style, but sometimes it’s worth it.
So, what colors should I choose?
What happened to making your own decisions? According to my experience black and grey are the easiest to combine. But don’t let me tell you what you color need. List all the things in your wardrobe you are unable to wear due to a lack of basics, and try to figure out what neutral would look good with most of them. That’s the color you need.
I hope these guidelines helped those of you who are looking to invest in timeless basics. During the next few weeks I will address some of the garments that my wardrobe relies on.
Have a wonderful week!
Ildiko

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